Psychologists are among those leading up a new national center that will fund much-needed research on terrorism and prepare psychologists to help victims of a wide-scale terrorist attack or similar tragedy.
The National Center on Disaster Psychology and Terrorism seeks to create funding opportunities for scholars and develop a template program for doctoral-level training, as well as for the training of community volunteers and the media. The center will also organize a national mental health corps that can mobilize to help victims after a terrorist attack.
"Terrorism is all about psychology, it is about understanding the motives, values and ideology of terrorists to induce generalized fear, anxiety and helplessness in target populations," says Zimbardo. "Psychologists are best equipped to integrate research, education, preventive actions, and treatment interventions in this new domain of human behavior."
The national center will be a collaboration between the Pacific Graduate School of Psychology and the Palo Alto Veterans Health Care System. Running the center will be APA President Philip G. Zimbardo, PhD, Div. 12 (Society of Clinical Psychology) President Larry Beutler, PhD, Bruce Bongar, PhD, of the Pacific Graduate School of Psychology and Stanford University School of Medicine, and James Breckenridge, PhD, chief of the Palo Alto VA Health System psychology service.
In October, 30 experts in disaster response, trauma and terrorism met in Palo Alto, Calif., for a two-day, invitation-only planning conference for the center. Attendees represented the full spectrum of the different professions tackling terrorism, including experts from the FBI, CIA, the American Red Cross and APA's Disaster Response Network.
The group is seeking funding for a mental health corps of therapists, researchers and educators to work through a new collaborative network of the VA system, the Pacific Graduate School of Psychology, Stanford University and local religious centers, says Zimbardo.
Conference participants identified numerous research priority areas for the center, including the nature of terrorists and response to terrorism, acute and long-term treatment for victims, identification of resilient and at-risk victims, buffers against psychopathology, coordination with community resources and information dissemination.
More information on the center can be obtained from their Web site at www.ncdpt.org or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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