From the Practice Directorate
Practice Directorate and Psychologists Team Up to Help a Nation in Distress
The APA Practice Directorate has worked with psychologists throughout the country in recent weeks to provide much needed assistance to the public in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks. The help has taken a variety of forms, including support for individuals directly affected by the attacks and relief workers as well as information to help the public cope with the trauma.
Coordinated by the Practice Directorate, in collaboration with the American Red Cross, the APA’s Disaster Response Network (DRN) has mobilized in many parts of the country to help families of victims, emergency response personnel, police and fire departments. The DRN is a network of psychologists with training in disaster mental health who provide assistance on site of disasters. Practice Directorate staff has worked closely with DRN state coordinators and state psychological association executive directors in the states most directly affected by the terrorist incidents.
In states where the attacks occurred, DRN members and local psychologists have staffed Red Cross Disaster Operations Centers aiding loved ones of victims and supporting relief workers, fielding requests for assistance from companies that lost employees, providing time-limited pro bono crisis counseling sessions, and a variety of other support services. In states where flights that crashed had originated or were scheduled to land, DRN members staffed Red Cross family assistance centers set up at the airports to aid families and airline workers.
Through the combined efforts of the DRN and APA Public Education Campaign coordinators, the Practice Directorate developed resource materials for psychologists to use in responding within their own communities to public reaction to the terrorist attacks. The materials, which are largely geared toward helping youth, were posted on the Practice section of the APA web site, www.apa.org/practice, and on practitioner list servs within 36 hours of the attacks. The resources include a discussion guide for use by psychologists in conducting youth forums, a list of Internet resources as background materials, suggested steps for reaching out to schools, and a publication entitled, “Reactions and Guidelines for Children Following Trauma/Disaster.”
The APA Help Center (www.helping.apa.org) for consumers has a new section called “The Trauma of Terrorism” that features a document, “Coping with Terrorism,” tailored to the events of September 11, along with several additional materials to help the public.
APA also has begun developing and making available information and guidance to help practitioners sustain their professional capacity and bolster their resilience as they work with patients and clients. In October, members of the Board of Professional Affairs’ Advisory Committee on Colleague Assistance and Practice Directorate staff produced a document entitled, “Tapping Your Resilience in the Wake of Terrorism: Pointers for Practitioners.” This material is posted online at www.apa.org/practice/practitionerhelp.html.
As a result of changes that Congress made to the Social Security Act, Medicare expanded its coverage of telehealth services in October to include certain individual psychotherapy services. Medicare is now required to reimburse practitioners for services provided via telehealth to eligible beneficiaries under CPT codes 90804 through 90809 for insight-oriented, behavior modifying or supportive psychotherapy in offices or other outpatient facilities. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have proposed criteria in federal regulations that practitioners must meet to qualify for payment for telehealth services. Additional details about the new rule appear in the November 2001 issue of APA’s Monitor on Psychology.
APA is one of the co-sponsoring organizations for an American Journal of Health Promotion conference, “Creating a New Vision for Health Promotion,” being held February 25 through March 1, 2002, in Lake Tahoe, Nevada. According to Lisa Osborn, PsyD, the APA Practice Directorate’s assistant executive director for corporate relations and business strategy, “This conference offers a great opportunity for professionals from several disciplines to share their relevant perspectives on health promotion. Psychology is uniquely positioned to help other health practitioners fully integrate various aspects of healthy lifestyles.”
Several psychologists whose work is highly regarded in the field of health promotion are on the roster of conference speakers. The conference is being considered for continuing education credit and there are student internships available in connection with this event.
To learn more about the health promotion conference and obtain registration materials, go online online to www.healthpromotionconference.org or call (248) 682-0707.