From the Practice Directorate
Survey Helps Document the Substantial Impact of Terrorism
PracticeNet is the Practice Directorate’s new Internet-based data collection system that surveys licensed psychologists about significant issues affecting professional practice. The system was designed to allow the directorate to rapidly develop and implement surveys related to special developments. Shortly after the tragic events of September 11, PracticeNet was put to its intended use. An online survey conducted the second week of October explored what clients are reporting and what psychologists are experiencing in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks.
PracticeNet works by asking participants to respond regarding a single episode of care they provided to a client within a defined window of time - in this case, between October 5 and 11. If participants were not providing a clinical service to an individual client during the specified time, they are asked to respond about the client they saw most immediately prior to the randomly determined time, provided it was within 72 hours.
Four hundred seven (407) psychologists completed the online survey. Because PracticeNet participants are volunteers, this is not a random sample and cannot be generalized to all the psychologists or to all APA members who provide clinical services. Rather, the intention is provide a “snapshot” of what occurs is practice at a particular time. Over time, these snapshots combine to provide a more detailed and accurate picture.
Preliminary descriptive data from the survey focused on the September 11 terrorist attacks portray the increased anxiety and other emotional consequences that health consumers and psychologists were experiencing a month after the attacks. The initial results also document ways in which practitioners are helping patients/clients and themselves with psychological needs in this stressful time.
Among the preliminary survey findings:
In addition to having their own personal reactions, 58 percent of responding psychologists said that they had been affected (somewhat, quite a bit, or a great deal) by the cumulative effect of their clients’ discussion surrounding September 11 and subsequent related events.
Survey participants were asked if, during the specified clinical encounter, the client discussed the implications of the September 11 events and their aftermath in terms of several designated factors. 34 percent of clients seen by survey participants discussed the implications in terms of their world view, while 30 percent spoke about the implications in terms of their priorities.
39 percent of responding psychologists used specific interventions such as relaxation techniques and supportive interventions with their client to help him or her cope with the terrorist events and their aftermath.
Additional findings appear in the Fall 2001 issue of the Practice Directorate's Practitioner Update newsletter (Fall 2001 issue, Vol. 9, No. 2) sent to all APA membes who pay the special assessment.
The Practice Directorate intends to have thousands of volunteer psychologists participate in PracticeNet. To apply for PracticeNet, please go to the PracticeNet website at http://www.apapracticenet.net/Enroll/application.asp and follow the instructions.
Online Resources For Dealing With the Psychological Impact of Terrorism
APA members are encouraged to access and use the following online materials to help patients, clients and others in dealing with the psychological consequences of terrorism.
The APA Help Center for consumers features a document, Coping With Terrorism. From this document, readers can access several additional materials provided by APA, including: Managing Traumatic Stress; Handling Anxiety in the Face of the Anthrax Scare; Reactions and Guidelines for Children Following Trauma/Disaster; Resources on Coping With Traumatic Events; and Coping With the Aftermath of a Disaster.
The Practice Directorate also has made information available to help practitioners in this difficult time. A publication entitled, “Tapping Your Resilience in the Wake of Terrorism: Pointers for Practitioners” is found in the Practice section of the APA website.