The APA Practice Directorate and Disaster Response Network (DRN) sponsored a new American Red Cross (ARC) disaster mental health training program, "Foundation in Disaster Mental Health," at APA's 2005 Annual Convention.
Fifty psychologists participated in the one-day debut course designed to prepare licensed practitioners for volunteer service with ARC Disaster Services Program. Participants included newcomers to disaster mental health as well as ARC disaster mental health workers and veteran members of the DRN, an organization that includes volunteer APA members who offer psychological assistance to victims, Red Cross workers and other responders following a disaster.
The new program replaced and significantly updated the core disaster mental health training course offered by ARC for more than a decade. The course trains mental health professionals to provide for and respond to the psychological needs of people across the continuum of disaster preparedness, response and recovery. The course also addresses the legal and ethical implications of disaster mental health work, including licensing, HIPAA regulations, confidentiality and professional ethics.
Course instructors included Drs. Robin H. Gurwitch, child psychologist, Okla.; Susan Hamilton, ARC; Richard A. Heaps, Utah DRN coordinator and DRN Advisory Committee member; Robert E. Hayes, Indiana DRN coordinator; and Philip B. Terry and Linda Whitten, ARC National Capital Area Chapter.