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Disaster Ethics: The Road Beyond Good Intentions

CE Credit: 2

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Length: 2 hours

Exam Items: 10

This program was orignially webcast on November 20, 2014, and is now available on-demand.

The nature of disaster response requires an ability to quickly assess, adapt, and act under chaotic conditions and provides unique challenges to maintaining ethical practice. In a disaster, psychologists practice outside the traditional office, classroom or clinic environment and provide services “in the field”. There is limited privacy and confidentiality, opportunity to become embroiled in multiple relationships, limitation on intervention methods and modalities, and other areas for potential ethical concern.

Presenters from APA’s Disaster Response Network and Ethics Office will discuss ethical dilemmas that can arise in disaster contexts. The workshop will begin with a general discussion of ethical theories and principles that guide psychologists’ actions. Presenter will then explore potential ethical challenges in disaster context and the importance of weighing benefits and risks to psychologists’ actions. During this workshop, speakers will also describe decision-making models that can be used to identify key issues and possible actions. Participants will have the opportunity to apply the models in breakout group exercises. Participants working remotely will be able to participate in the discussion following webcast instructions.

Learning Objective 1
Use APA’s Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct and explain potential challenges in disaster contexts.

Learning Objective 2
Describe ethical decision-making models.

Learning Objective 3
Apply ethical decision-making models to disaster scenarios.

Presenters: David J. Romano, PhD; Donna M. Hastings, PsyD; and Kevin Rowell, PhD

David J. Romano, PhD

Dr. Romano is the Florida Disaster Response Network coordinator and the South Eastern representative to the program’s Advisory Committee. For the American Red Cross, he serves as a Disaster Mental Health volunteer, the Mid Florida Regional Mental Health Lead, State subject matter expert and adviser, and a face to face and webinar instructor for ARC. In addition to these activities, Dr. Romano is Assistant Professor and Academic Coordinator (chair), for Behavioral Sciences and Social Welfare at Barry University, PACE. He also is Executive Director of the Orlando Institute for Psychology & Education. Dr. Romano has responded to numerous local and national disaster relief operations, frequently hurricanes. In 2010, he received a Distinguished Psychologist Award from the Florida Psychological Association for his promotion of psychology in the public interest and in recognition of his contribution to disaster services.

Donna M. Hastings, PsyD
Dr. Hastings has worked in the human service field for over forty years in private and public organizations. Since 1988, she has maintained a private practice where she has seen adults, children, and families, and provides crisis response to corporate critical incidents. Since the beginning of Red Cross’s Disaster Mental Health activity, she has been a volunteer and instructor and now serves as the NH ARC Disaster Mental Health Advisor. Dr. Hastings has been the New Hampshire’s Disaster Response Network Coordinator for many years and was elected in 2011 to serve as the Northeastern Representative to APA’s Disaster Response Network Advisory Committee. She is founding member of the NH Disaster Behavioral Health Response Team Advisory Committee whose training team has trained over 600 NH disaster behavioral health professionals. Dr. Hastings has deployed on large-scale disasters as a Mental Health Officer with the National Disaster Medical System, Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team - Region 1. She is a member of the Granite State Critical Incident Stress Management Team which serves first responders.

Kevin Rowell, PhD
Dr. Rowell is a full-time associate professor of psychology at the University of Central Arkansas and also has a part-time psychology practice. He began disaster response work in January 1999 in response to tornadoes in Arkansas and has continued as a Red Cross disaster mental health volunteer. Dr. Rowell is a certified Red Cross instructor and a Supervisor on Red Cross disaster relief operations. He as responded to numerous local disaster and 7 national disasters including 9/11 in NYC. In 2008, Dr. Rowell was honored by the Arkansas Psychological Association with its Volunteer of the Year award.


Supplementary Materials

  • Disaster Ethics: The Road Beyond Good Intentions