As many of you may remember, after the fires last year the RPA partnered with the Healthcare Foundation and other agencies to create the Mental Health Collective. One of the ways the collaborative has been active was to offer a series of trainings to mental health practitioners to bridge the service gap between immediate disaster response and more long-term therapy.

This effort culminated in a two-day training on Skills for Psychological Recovery in late April. Over 150 local MFTs, nurses, psychologists, students, and physicians came together to learn these skills. It was a dynamic training with lecture, small group activities, and group discussion. Participants engaged in important conversations both in small groups as well as with the general audience regarding personal experiences with the fires and subsequent challenges, experiences being both a survivor and sitting with clients that were survivors, and ongoing needs in both the professional community and the community at large including finding housing and resources.

The training also provided space for clinicians to discuss different ways of integrating SPR practices and tools into their current work and have first hand experience using the tools. On a personal note, using one of the tools in a small group setting led to a deepening of my own professional relationships as resources and reminded me of all the support I have access to. This was a great reminder for me as it was one of the areas that was most impacted by my experience with the fires – I forgot how many people I can reach out to and get support.

By the end of the program, many clinicians agreed to provide pro-bono services as well as participate in data gathering to rate the effectiveness of the program and service delivery. All those who have been trained now have the future opportunity to go into the community and promote these skills for a modest reimbursement.

Additionally, the website is now live. This site provides an interface for accessing tools and resources to promote resilience in both English and Spanish.

We have begun advertising for a second set of trainings that will be taking place on July 27thand 28thwith Dr. Doug Walker, Dr. Patricia Watson, and Wendy Wheelwright, MFT. We are hoping many more RPA members will be able to attend this training so that we have a large pool of clinicians that can provide these needed services in the community. This is especially important as we are moving back into fire season.

By Justin Forman, RPA Vice President