Throughout the spring and summer, Merry Bullock, PhD, senior director of APA's Office of International Affairs, coordinated the second phase of APA's tsunami relief efforts, which the association's Board of Directors and Council of Representatives finalized in February.

The plans aim to have a multiplier effect, she says.

"We hope that every person who receives immediate benefits from APA's tsunami-related programs has an immediate impact on a number of other people," she says.

Some of APA's activities include:

  • Offering institutions, such as hospitals and accredited universities in targeted regions, no-cost access to PsycARTICLES, PsycBOOKS and PsycEXTRA through 2006.

  • Providing opportunities for psychologists from each of four tsunami-affected countries to obtain more in-depth training in disaster psychology and disaster mental health intervention at international workshops and conferences.

  • Offering a convention session last month at APA's 2005 Annual Convention in Washington, D.C., to discuss relief projects.

One of the opportunities APA supported through a grant was the May 18-20 International Union of Psychological Science (IUPsyS)-organized workshop "Building psychosocial interventions in the tsunami aftermath," in which international crisis- and disaster-intervention trainers--including APA member and consultant Gerard Jacobs, PhD, and APA member Michael Wessells, PhD--provided tools and networking opportunities to support the mental health intervention programs developed by representatives from Sri Lanka, India, Thailand and Indonesia.

The goal of many of the second phase activities is to foster the use of psychological expertise in the affected countries' relief efforts, according to Jacobs, a psychology professor at the University of South Dakota, one of six disaster mental health managers in the American Red Cross national disaster team and the primary consultant to APA's tsunami relief efforts.

"The recovery process has already begun and that's the key," he says. "But we need to be sure that government and nongovernmental leaders understand the strength that psychology can lend to the process."

So far, Jacobs has been working with the American Red Cross psychological support programs in the region, as well as the Asian Disaster Preparedness Center, to provide training and consultation in the region. Psychologists and other mental health professionals' creative efforts in the affected countries have made inroads into serving the affected countries' psychological needs, he says. For example, the American Red Cross programs in the region, led by psychologist Joseph Prewitt, PhD, have developed region-specific and nonverbal training materials.

Elizabeth Nair, PhD, the organizer of the IUPsyS workshop, cautions that psychology must attend to the long-term goals and that the process is only just beginning.

"Our main agenda is looking to see not only just the immediate impact, but the impact over the next three years," she says.

In addition to APA's current activities, the association aims to advance disaster-related capacity for the future by encouraging graduate curricula to include training on disaster intervention and developing a conference on ethical issues in disaster intervention and research.

--Z. STAMBOR