• Home
  • Disaster Psychology Committee Updates

Disaster Psychology Committee Updates

Glenn Lipson, Ph.D.
DATE: 11/12/20
 The virtual meeting was called to order at 6:00 PM.  We welcomed Natalie to the committee and gave her a bit of our history and discussed the role she might play. I indicated that I had not heard back from Seth and that I would again reach out. Until my approval as chair, we decided to hold off on media-based recruitment. We would continue with word of mouth. Robert McGlenn had before the meeting provided two documents for review and discussion. These are attached to this document below. He wants to revise one to be shared with Tami for possible inclusion in an e-newsletter from the Association.

Growing membership remained a discussion point. Deb was unable to attend because of illness. We ended the meeting at 7:10 PM.

Document 2

Request for Endorsement Letter from SDPA

COVID-19 has tested the resiliency of all of us, but it is our youth who may be facing the greatest challenge.  They have experienced the anxiety of the threat of getting infected, the disruption of their daily routine, and the isolation from friends and loved ones just like everyone else.  But, for them the long-term impact may be the greatest.  They are experiencing interference in their normal developmental routine.  They are not going to school, interacting with peers, learning the social skills that will be needed to integrate successfully into society.  Their educational process is distanced and less personal, limited to what can be taught through a computer screen.  And this is a sector of our population who were already, even before the pandemic, displaying an alarming rise in anxiety, depression, drug abuse, and suicide. 

It is time that we take, as other states have done, the necessary steps to address these alarming trends.  New York has implemented a statewide, K-12 curriculum to teach mental health skills to all students.  Virginia has designated classes at the middle and high school level to teach such things as social skills, problem solving, and the identification of and intervention in anxiety, depression, and drug abuse.  These states and others are implementing programs to teach their students how to successfully interact with one another and to be more resilient.  California does address some of these issues in its newly revised health curriculum, but a limited number of districts in the state use it.  In many states, a health class is required to graduate with a diploma.  In many California districts, such a class isn’t even offered.

We ask the San Diego Psychological Association to formally endorse the creation of legislation that would mandate school districts in California to implement curriculum that would teach mental health principles and skills.  By exposing all students in California to positive coping and social skills and increasing the understanding of good mental health, we can better prepare our children for the challenges they will face, reduce the rise of the anxiety and depression they are displaying, and mitigate some of the impact they are experiencing from the COVID-19 pandemic.

DATE OF NEXT MEETING: December 10, 2020

Bob McGlenn, Ph.D.
DATE: 11/24/20

How this Pandemic Disaster Has Made My Job Harder:

From the Perspective of a Psychologist

Bob McGlenn, Ph.D.

This COVID 19 Pandemic is like no other disaster and as such requires the creation of new approaches to treat the mental health damage it is causing.  With most disasters there is the event and then the recovery phase, where the traumatized are supported and kept safe by those not affected.  The victims are provided temporary lodging and food.  There is concern to provide a safe water supply to avoid contamination leading to diphtheria or other health problems.  In other words, there are precautions to cause no further harm to the victims from the interventions intended to help.  But this pandemic doesn’t follow this normal pattern to recovery.  This pandemic affects everyone.  There are no victims and supporters, there are only victims.  Everyone is worried about contracting the virus and everyone must take steps to ensure the safety of their loved ones and those around them.  This invisible killer could strike anyone at any time.  Such a possibility raises the anxiety and collective blood pressure of everyone.  Everyone takes steps, or at least should, to be safer.  We are advised to wear a mask, wash our hands frequently, and to keep social distance, sheltering in place as much as possible.  But it is the very thing we do that keeps us safe, also causes more stress, anxiety and depression.  Social distancing for many causes’ further trauma and mental health problems.  For those who tend to be anxious, they are more so.  For rocky marriages, they are crashing on the rocks.  For those who are lonely, they feel even more isolated and forgotten.   

After over forty years of providing therapy to victims ranging from victims of school shootings to individuals struggling with their direction in life, I have gained many skills and techniques to help my patients discover order out of the chaos they present.  I can reassure and guide those who are anxious about COVID on how to structure their life to limit news intake, to get exercise safely, to socialize in a safe way, to escape in movies or hobbies to find comfort, ways to cognitively restructure their thoughts, and to be more mindful of the joyful moments.  I can still conduct marital therapy in the same way if we are meeting in person or via telehealth.  I can still create a plan with a parent on how to handle their acting out child as I would have pre-pandemic.  What is more difficult to treat are those who suffered from a form of social isolation before the pandemic.  Distance learning, while necessary, has made it more difficult for a child or adolescent who struggles with fitting in.  A few of such students find distance learning as a reprieve from having to force conversations, from being made fun of or bullied, or just feeling stressed over not being accepted for who they are.  There are some who turn to social media for validation and to find a connection.  In their loneliness, they may find their way down rabbit holes that lead to extremist views of society and how to punish the society that has rejected them.  With time on their hands and the social isolation created by distance learning, they get a warped view of society and miss out on learning the needed skills to communicate face-to-face, to listen to one another, to develop understanding of the differences between people, and to problem solve together.  These are the fundamentals of interacting with and uniting with other humans.

The disaster which COVID has brought requires a more global approach to treatment as opposed to a targeted approach.  In addition to a COVID vaccine, everyone will need a mental health vaccine to recover.  In regards to children and adolescents, the best place to inoculate them is through school.  Teaching social skills, problem solving, and other mental health related topics enhances the student’s ability to be resilient and secure in the crisis before us.  While schools have curriculum to teach the three Rs, reading-writing-arithmetic, there is a lack of teaching of the fourth R… resilience.  The COVID-19 disaster has traumatized everyone, but especially our youth.  They have been derailed from their normal course of development, detached from peer social interaction, thrown into isolated distance learning at a time when trends in anxiety, depression, drug abuse, and suicide were rising pre-pandemic.  Curriculum is needed for all grades that teaches coping and social skills, the identification of and intervention in emotional distress, and what it takes to increase resiliency.  By doing so, we will be teaching future generations how to swim in the river of problems, rather than just waiting for psychologists and other mental health professionals to rescue those who are drowning.  By implementing mandatory instruction in mental health we would not only be responding to the damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, but also preparing our youth to cope with future disasters.   


BY: Deborah Hopper, Ph.D.
DATE: 6/24/19

Opportunity for early career clinicians! 

We want you to join our Disaster Psychology Committee because the existing members are aging out!  We are an innovative, forward thinking group but we need fresh minds, experience and ideas for the future!! 

As an introduction to this area of psychology practice, we invite you to go with us on a tour of the SD County Office of Emergency Operations (OES) in Kearny Mesa on September 6that 2 pm. This opportunity is unique and informative!  You will learn how our county is prepared for natural and man-made disasters, more about your role as a clinician and citizen, how you can counsel your clientele and options for training in disaster preparedness and response. 

Contact Dr. Wendy Tayer at:  wtayer@ucsd.eduwith your RSVP, questions or comments.   I look forward to hearing from you!


BY: Deborah Hopper, Ph.D.
DATE: 6/7/19

On Friday, June 14th, APA is hosting a 3 CE webinar,

Desire to Help in Trying Times: Ethically Responding to Disasters

David Romano, PhD and Stephanie Vitanza, PhD​,

starting at 10 am PDT.  Please see the on-line content for more information.

If needed, you can copy and paste this link to register:  https://apa.content.online/catalog/product.xhtml?eid=12411

Deborah Hopper, Ph.D., Chair, Disaster Psychology Committee

docdkhopper@gmail.com ; Cell/text:  (858) 245-4461


BY: Deborah Hopper, Ph.D.
DATE: 4/29/19
 Disaster Psychology Committee Update – 4/29/19

For any psychologists and licensed clinicians interested in being able to assist in response and recovery efforts after a traumatic man-made or natural event, CAMFT San Diego is collaborating with the local chapter of the American Red Cross to offer a training, Disaster Mental Health (DMH) Fundamentals Part 2, on May 18thfrom 9:30 to 12:30 at ARC Headquarters in the Kearny Mesa area.  Please note DMH Fundamentals Part 1 and other Red Cross courses you can take onlineare prerequisites.

Here is the link to SD CAMFT’s flier:  https://www.camft-sandiego.org/event-3335127

This is a FREE course for psychologistsAPA no longer offers CEs for the class.

For further information, please contact Deborah Hopper, Ph.D., Chair, Disaster Psych Committee at docdkhopper@gmail.com, or cell/text (858) 245-4461


BY: Deborah Hopper, Ph.D.
DATE: 12/10/18

There is an ongoing need for mental health clinicians to support trauma and disaster survivors.

Give an Hour (GAH), which CPA and APA have partnered with, involves treating clients via phone. On the GAH website, you can register to work with survivors of the Tree of Life and Thousand Oaks shootings,California Wildfires, or the Border Humanitarian Crisis, among others.  If you want to sign up, please visithttps://giveanhour.org/disasters-and-traumas/

The Red Cross has a variety of open roles; current American Red Cross DMH volunteers, please update your availability onVolunteer Connection and contact our local chapter volunteer coordinator/DWE -- cathy.wolfe@redcross.org   To become a Red Cross Disaster Mental Health volunteer, go tohttps://www.redcross.org/volunteer/volunteer-opportunities/disaster-health-mental-health-volunteer.html    

Consult with PTSD Experts:  The PTSD Consultation program is “temporarily able to provide consultation to providers whose clients (Veteran or non-Veteran) were impacted by recent natural disasters or mass violence events.”

The PTSD Consultation Program offers free PTSD consultation to any provider who treats Veterans in any setting.

If you want more info or have questions, contact Deb Hopper, Ph.D., Chair, Disaster Psychology Committee at docdkhopper@gmail.com or (858) 245-4461 (cell/text).The PTSD Consultation Program offers free PTSD consultation to any provider who treats Veterans in any setting.


BY: Deborah Hopper, Ph.D.
DATE: 10/15/18

Disaster Psychology Committee Update, 10/15/18

…and now Hurricane Michael

First Hurricane Florence, now Michael, and likely more to come.   Fall wildfires in California are a possibility as well.

  If you’re interested in volunteering, here are some leads: 

(1)  For the American Red Cross (RC) Disaster Mental Health (DMH) clinician role, please go to https://www.redcross.org/volunteer/volunteer-opportunities/disaster-health-mental-health-volunteer.html.  (At times national RC is overwhelmed; please contact me if you don’t hear back and I’ll follow up via a local contact.) -- “Through the ‘Direct Deployment Process’, professionals who are eligible to support DMH (but who are not currently RC volunteers) are able to deploy as RC volunteers…training will be provided before volunteers travel.  RC will do our best to match staffing needs with each volunteer’s availability, but we cannot guarantee deployment within any one person’s available timeframe.  The RC covers costs for transportation, housing, food and incidentals while they are deployed.”

(2)  Less time consuming options include:  “Give an Hour” – speak by phone to a disaster-impacted member of the military or their family member – www.giveanhour.org/give-help/ .  The Red Cross also offers “remote” phone support to its own volunteers; register and train with them to be able to offer your mental health services to deployed volunteers.

Any monetary donations for hurricane relief will make a difference:  give to the national, regional or state Disaster Response Agency of your choice.  You can go to a rating site, such as https://www.charitynavigator.org or https://www.charitywatch.org/home -- to assist you in making your decision.

Thank you for your consideration!

Deb Hopper, Ph.D., Chair, SDPA Disaster Psychology Committee; docdkhopper@gmail.org


BY: Cynthia Cotter, Ph.D.
DATE: 2/3/18


What if...a disaster such as a major earthquake or wild fire or terrorist attack occurs in San Diego?  What will you do?  The question is not what if...but rather when it occurs...will you be ready?  As a mental health provider your instinct will be to provide comfort and service to those confused and in emotional pain.  But, will you know how you fit into the emergency response system?  The first responders, the police, fire fighters, and medical personnel know what to do. They have procedures and have been trained for such disasters. Do you, a second responder, know your role in the response and recovery process and do you have the training needed to help heal our community, our patients, and ourselves if disaster occurs?

The DISASTER PSYCHOLOGY COMMITTEE is producing an exciting one-day Spring Workshop (date to be determined targeting in May or June) to give mental health providers the critical information they need to guide their involvement in disaster response, both on national and local fronts.  Contact committee members Deb Hopper and Bob McGlenn for more information.

BY: Deborah Hopper, Ph.D.
DATE: 11/6/17

Dear Colleagues:

The National Center for PTSD focusses on “Advancing Science and Promoting Understanding of Traumatic Stress.”  Its October “Monthly Update” features Resources for Managing Stress after Trauma. 

For Providers, importantly, there’s information about its PTSD Consultation Program, which is temporarily offering free consultation to providers treating ANYONE (Vet or non-Vets) coping with the psychological after-effects of the hurricanes, tragic shooting in Las Vegas, or the California wildfires.

Email PTSDconsult@va.gov or call (866) 948-7880 to schedule a consult, or go to www.ptsd.va.gov/consult to learn more.

Deb Hopper, Chair, docdkhopper@gmail.com; (858) 245-4461


BY: Deborah Hopper, Ph.D.
DATE: 10/21/17


For those of you who registered with the EMSA Disaster Health Care Volunteer Program, here’s an update (10/18) from CPA DRN Coordinator, Merritt “Chip” Schreiber, Ph.D.:

Greetings CPA DRN and Colleagues:

We heard from State of CA Emergency Medical Services Authority (EMSA), Disaster Health Care Volunteer Program Manager that over 128 Psychologists have registered on Cal DHV as of 48 hours ago.

 I think they are still trying to gauge the actual need and hopefully some or all of those who registered will be contacted based on EMSA’s revised needs.  The fact that 128 psychologists are willing to help our state is really an achievement.  I thank you and CA EMSA extended their thanks as well to all of you...

I add my sincere thanks as well!  Deb Hopper, Chair, docdkhopper@gmail.com, (858) 245-4461


BY: Deborah Hopper, Ph.D.
DATE: 10/16/17 


(1)  URGENT REQUEST via CPA DRN Coordinator:

The California Psych Assoc. Disaster Response Network received an urgent request for additional mental health providers to support shelters and facilities in the numerous Northern California fires from the Director of the state Emergency Medical Services Authority.  At this time, they are requesting any licensed providers to register:  https://www.healthcarevolunteers.ca.gov/

At the Disaster Healthcare Volunteers landing page and registration option, individuals should enter their local county from the drop down box options.

There is tremendous acute and long term impact and we are needed right now to help. We need to rally to support our own state with more of our colleagues than ever before in recent history...

(2) LAS VEGAS SHOOTINGS:  Resources for Southern California Crime Victims:

(a) Please encourage any victims/families for those (i) next of kin, (ii) injured or (iii) at the event to register with the FBI’s Office For Victim Assistance, at this website:


(b) At this time the Red Cross is offering financial resources to anyone that was injured during the event along with other types of support.  Contact erin.mccann@redcross.org , 858-309-1324

(c) Application for state-funded Mental Health Support: California Victim Compensation Board- Las Vegas Incident application https://victims.ca.gov/lasvegas/ .  For an advocate’s assistance in San Diego County:  (619) 531-4041

-- Deb Hopper, Ph.D., Chair, docdkhopper@gmail.com , (858) 245-4461


BY: Deborah Hopper, Ph.D.
DATE: 10/9/17 


If you’re interested in supporting ongoing disaster response efforts, but aren’t yet a current ARC Disaster Mental Health volunteer, here are choices for you to please consider:

  1. Contact our San Diego/Imperial ARC chapter to start to become a volunteer
  2. Medical Reserve Corps:https://mrc.hhs.gov/HomePage
  3. CaliforniaDisaster Volunteers: https://www.healthcarevolunteers.ca.gov/
  4. TeamRubicon: https://teamrubiconusa.org/join-the-team/

This is anewer group, I don’t have much info, I am not endorsing or recommendingthem, but providing CPA members who want to be involved a range of choicesincluding but not limited to ARC.

Deb Hopper, Ph.D., docdkhopper@gmail.com; (858) 245-4461 (cell/text)


BY: Deborah Hopper, Ph.D.
DATE: 10/2/17 


On behalf of APA, CPA’s Disaster Resource Network (DRN) continues to call for psychologists who are Disaster Mental Health volunteers to respond – now, to support Red Cross volunteers in Puerto Rico telephonically.  Our psychological first aid in supporting them helps them cope as they work with survivors, in an effort to lessen their vicarious trauma and support building their resilience.

Even if you can’t offer to do this now, please consider training with an agency to be able to volunteer in the future.  APA’s chosen partner is the American Red Cross, but there are other agencies (CERT, Medical Reserve Corps, California EMSA) that train and certify disaster mental health volunteers.  Unfortunately, it appears natural and man-made disasters, and the trauma that ensues, are a current reality; I write this after hearing about the mass shooting last night in Las Vegas.  Disaster Psych plans a CE event in Spring, 2018; our prospective speaker is a disaster psychologist who worked over time following up after the Sandy Hook school shootings.

Deb Hopper, Ph.D., docdkhopper@gmail.com; (858) 245-4461 (cell/text)


BY: Deborah Hopper, Ph.D.
DATE: 9/18/17 

URGENT NEED:  Hurricane Maria Disaster Mental Health Volunteers

Colleagues – National American Red Cross is actively and urgently recruiting teams to deploy to the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico as soon as possible following the imminent landfall there of Hurricane Maria, which is now a Category 4 storm with the potential to be a Category 5—the most dangerous—by landfall on Wednesday.  If you’re interested and able to operate in prolonged, austere conditions (no power, substantial damage, MREs, little sleep, no creature comforts), we need you.  Please contact disasterstaffingcenter@redcross.org

​If you need additional info: Deb Hopper, Chair, docdkhopper@gmail.com

cell/text (858) 245-4461


BY: Deborah Hopper, Ph.D.
DATE: 9/15/17 


APA has worked closely with the American Red Cross in Disaster Mental Health for over 25
years – see APA’s DRN webpage for clinical resources and additional information:


National American Red Cross Disaster Mental Health (DMH) indicated it will be processing and relying on the 5,000 applications it already received for both Harvey and Irma operations.

However, new DMH volunteers are encouraged to join their LOCAL Red Cross region.  San Diego ARC is still in need of volunteers and is holding training events.  Soon a “virtual casework hub” will stand up to help process the thousands of clients affected by Harvey and Irma for many months to come.

Delivering Disaster Mental Health, under the auspices of the Red Cross and for which they provide training, isn’t equivalent to doing psychotherapy, so the issue of practicing across state lines is not involved.

Go to http://www.redcross.org/volunteer/become-a-volunteer to submit your local application.

Registering with a different organization, Give An Hour, https://giveanhour.org/ is another option for offering pro bono services to military members and their families and requires obtaining a temporary license in Texas.  Interested Psychologists and Social Workers:  contact Deb Hopper (info below) for the licensing links

Please note:  If you become involved as a DMH Volunteer in any capacity, would you let me know?  APA wants to track this information.

Deb Hopper, Ph.D., Chair 
Disaster Psychology Committee at (858) 245-4461 or docdkhopper@gmail.com


BY: Deborah Hopper, Ph.D.
DATE: 8/30/17 

The California Psychological Association has asked SDPA to share the following information, as the need is great.

The CPA Disaster Resource Network coordinator, Dr. Chip Schreiber, has sent the update below.  Please note there is a link for anyone interested in volunteering in relief efforts due to Hurricane Harvey.  Note that in this situation you may volunteer even if you have not yet received training from the Red Cross.  There is also information for those of you who are already trained.


The Red Cross is implementing the Health Professionals Direct Deployment process to recruit and deploy new Disaster Mental Health and Disaster Health Services volunteers for the Hurricane Harvey response.  


These Event Based Volunteers (EBVs) will be 'screened' and followed by a mental health volunteer to guide and support them through the process.  They must deploy for 9 days which includes 1 day on each end for travel, plus take a few classes online and other paperwork.  Also, FYI, they do not go through the local Red Cross offices.


1) NEW DMH Volunteers go to the link above to become an event based volunteer for direct 9 day deployment.

2) CURRENT DMH Volunteers:  Current volunteers are encouraged to note their availability in Volunteer Connection or contact their local Staffing person in their home chapter of record to be deployed to Harvey.  It looks like an extended operation from early indicators with many displaced for an extended period.

For more info, contact:

Deb Hopper, Ph.D. 
Disaster Psychology Committee Chair


BY:  Deb Hopper, Ph.D. 
DATE: 7/28/17


September is National Preparedness Month… but disasters don’t seem to know about calendars!  So get a head start now on being prepared, if you haven’t done so already.

Go to http://www.ready.gov/ for valuable information about preparing for emergencies you can act on during the dog days of summer!

Here’s a short video on the advantages and “how to” of you and your family being prepared for any type of disaster: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6D_MmRz8gsU&feature=youtu.be

Stay Resilient, San Diego Psychologists!

Please note:  The Disaster Psychology Committee next meets on Tues., Aug. 29th at 5:30 pm, UCSD Campus on Villa La Jolla Drive.  We’re always looking for new members with a passion to serve their community.  Contact me for more info:  Deb Hopper, Ph.D., Chair; (858) 245-4461; docdkhopper@gmail.com

Contact Us:
San Diego Psychological Association
4699 Murphy Canyon Rd.  Suite 105
San Diego, CA 92123

Tami Magaro (Office Manager)
(858) 277-1463
Fax (858) 277-1402

San Diego Psychological Association is a 501(c) 6 non-profit organization.
Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software