Psychologists lend a hand on the home front

APA is partnering with three groups that offer free mental health services to military personnel, veterans and their families

By Public Relations Staff

November 20, 2008 — At a press conference in Washington, DC, on the eve of Veteran's Day, the national organization Give an Hour (GAH) announced partnerships with an assortment of mental health and health organizations, including The American Psychological Association (APA), the American Psychiatric Association, the National Association of Social Workers and the American Association of Pastoral Counselors.

Give an Hour, founded by American Psychological Association (APA) member Barbara Romberg, PhD, is a nonprofit organization that has created a national network of licensed mental health providers. Volunteer providers agree to give one hour of their time each week to provide free counseling and other mental health services to military members, veterans and their families who are experiencing the psychological effects of their deployment, combat and reintegration into society after serving their country in Iraq and Afghanistan. Currently, there are nearly 3,000 providers nationwide.

The APA Practice Directorate will help spread the word about GAH, its mission, commitment and the process by which psychologists can volunteer their services to military personnel and their families.

In addition, APA is planning to enter similar supporting partnerships with:

  • Strategic Outreach to Families of All Reservists (SOFAR). Co-directed by Jaine Darwin, PsyD, and Kenneth Reich, EdD, both members of APA Div. 39 (Psychoanalysis), SOFAR offers pro-bono psychotherapy, psychoeducation and support services to extended families of National Guard and Reserves deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq from deployment through return and reintegration. Based in Massachusetts, SOFAR has chapters in New York and Michigan.

  • Support Our Family in Arms (SOFA). A program of the Colorado Psychological Association chaired by Edward Cable, PsyD, SOFA provides a wide range of pro-bono psychological services to National Guard members and Reservists and their families.

In remarks at Give An Hour's November 10 press conference, APA Practice Directorate Deputy Executive Director Randy Phelps, PhD, noted that psychology has a long history of working with the military and veterans. Dr. Phelps observed that psychologists have been at the forefront in research on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) related to military combat and instrumental in developing many of the most widely used treatments of psychological trauma and PTSD.

"As a professional association representing psychologists and educating consumers, APA has engaged in a variety of efforts to help military personnel and their loved ones," Dr. Phelps told the audience.

These include "Resilience in a Time of War," an APA tips and brochure series aimed at parents and teachers of children in preschool, elementary and high school, and "Homecoming: Resilience after Wartime," a brochure for returning service members and their families dealing with homecoming adjustments and issues.

The APA Practice Directorate has distributed more than 700,000 copies of the Resilience in War series, an outgrowth of APA's Road to Resilience Campaign launched in response to the September 11, 2001 attacks. The Directorate has permitted Give an Hour to reprint and distribute the series.

In addition, the Directorate has distributed more than 2000 Resilience and Mind/Body Health Tool Kits to APA members for use in grassroots resilience-building activities in their communities. Interested APA members may request a copy of the toolkits by e-mailing the Practice Public Relations Office.

The partnerships with GAH, SOFAR and SOFA are "a natural next step for APA and our public education efforts to help those affected by war," Dr. Phelps said.

For more information:

Give an Hour

Strategic Outreach to Families of All Reservists

Support Our Family in Arms

"Resilience in a Time of War," tips and downloadable brochure for parents and day-care providers of preschool children

"Resilience in a Time of War," tips and downloadable brochure for tips and downloadable brochure for parents and teachers of middle school children

"Resilience in a Time of War," tips for teens

"Homecoming: Resilience after Wartime"

"Treating Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Related to Military Combat," Dr. Randy Phelps' interview with Terence M. Keane, PhD, director of the Behavioral Science Division of the National Center for PTSD at VA Boston Healthcare System, in Good Practice magazine