Members of APA's Disaster Response Network (DRN) work with the American Red Cross to provide emotional support to those affected by a disaster. Although psychologists do not offer therapy at disaster sites, they do provide the first steps to help victims build their internal strength for recovery, says Helen Mitternight, assistant executive director of public relations in APA's Practice Directorate. A few of the areas of support they offer are to:

  • Listen to people's concerns about such issues as missing or injured family members and pets, and lost livelihoods or homes.

  • Help people manage their temporary living conditions and acclimate to shelters that may be far from their home state.

  • Provide information about available resources, such as where people can find clothing and health care.

  • Advocate for particular individuals' or families' needs as they navigate the relief systems.

  • Boost people's resilience by helping them connect with family and friends, accept that change is ongoing, maintain a hopeful outlook and develop their own personal recovery plans.

-Z. Stambor

Further Reading

For more information on psychological assistance following a disaster, visit www.APAHelpCenter.org.