Disaster and Recovery Activities

62606 Washed Away Home Haiti by Roger Ludwig 207

Hurricane Sandy 2012

Oklahoma Tornado 2013

Haiti Earthquake 2010



 In the aftermath of a disaster, unmet mental health needs can be met with on-site community training and support.

Disasters strike the U.S. every year; initially the physical needs overshadow a community’s mental health needs – physical wounds heal, while the psychological trauma remains unhealed.  Untreated trauma disrupts the brain’s ability to process in healthy, adaptive ways which can lead to depression, anxiety, alcoholism, chemical and behavioral addictions, and hopelessness. Trauma can be treated successfully using an evidence-based therapy, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), administered by qualified clinicians.

Arizona Wildfire 2013

The Arizona TRN (AzTRN) has been very busy responding to the needs of the communities affected by the Yarnell Wildland fires that resulted in the loss of 19 Wildland Hotshots and more than 125 homes. Through their coordinated volunteer efforts, on Saturday, July 13th a 6-hour training was provided in Prescott to almost 30 EMDR Clinicians throughout the State. Beverlee Chasse and Julie Miller worked tirelessly to develop the presentation which combined information on the Trauma Recovery Network (TRN), policies, procedures and forms to be used with pro bono clients, the importance of utilizing Early EMDR Interventions (EEI) for recent incident trauma in order to prevent PTSD and other trauma related difficulties, with how we fit in early psychological intervention and the continuum of care after a disaster. Midway through the training, the group could notice (in the background) a funeral procession for one of the 19 fallen firefighters; the group took nearly 10 minutes of silence to honor all those affected. This was a unifying, albeit solemn, part of the training. The last part of the training included a practicum in the IGTP protocol (group protocol). Several attendees shared how effective the intervention was in reducing their affective states.

The TRN is now busy with networking to ensure all those affected and interested in receiving pro bono EEI’s are able to connect with the services. This training has provided the Clinicians with the necessary resources and knowledge to utilize the EEI’s immediately in their communities to those seeking it.  Several Clinicians have already reported using the early interventions with clients days after the training. The AzTRN continues to collaborate with those living and working in the affected communities to ensure their needs are met; more trainings, consultations, direct services, etc. There are 49 TRN Volunteer Clinicians and 11 Approved Consultants committed to travel to provide the necessary services requested.

Oklahoma Tornado 2013

Update Coming Soon

Boston Marathon 2013

Update Coming Soon

Sandy Hook 2012

Volunteers are hard at work providing training and pro-bono services to the Newtown Community.  To date approximately 50 Newtown/Sandy Hook children, family members and first responders have received EMDR treatment from the Fairfield County TRN.  Stabilization workshops have been provided as well as EMDR presentations to CT State trooper and Newtown police.

On March 1st, 2nd and 3rd Karen Alter-Reid, Hope Payson and Judy Cabeceiras conducted a very successful Part 1 training for 18 local clinicians.  The Part 2 is being scheduled for this spring.  A TRN EMDR Therapy for Newtown Therapists project was completed for trainees prior to the training weekend.

The Fairfield County TRN is began Phase 2 of their disaster response efforts.  They will continue to form relationships with local first responders, the State and other communities within Fairfield County.  The TRN members will continue to provide treatment as well as support and supervision to local clinicians in Newtown and the surrounding communities.

A statewide steering committee, comprised of HAP’s Executive Director and volunteers, was created to assist with the coordinated response of this disaster.

Report from the Field

Hurricane Sandy 2012

Individual treatment to first responders, volunteers and residents hit by Hurricane Sandy number up towards 175 people since November 2012, and there have been two group sessions with children. In The Rockaways service provision began at St. Francis De Sales church, which became a hub for the emergency relief organizations, and at the Smallwater disaster-relief organization.

On Staten Island services have been coordinated by Ira Goldstein and Joyce Malerba Goldstein and provided at two churches and a community center.  The local volunteers have been assisted by a team from Boston.

An R-TEP training was held for 24 local therapists in Manhattan on February 16th. An EMDR Part I training took place in July for those living and or working in these same hard-hit communities.

Joplin, MO and Tuscaloosa, AL Tornado 2011

Trauma Recovery/HAP was contacted by the University of Alabama following the devastating tornadoes in late April. Because of the number of clinicians in the area who were already trained in basic EMDR, it was decided that a Recent Traumatic Events Protocol (R-TEP) workshop should be conducted. All clinicians were invited to attend at a reduced fee if they agreed to provide 5-10 hours of pro bono services, 29 clinicians were trained.

Trauma Recovery/HAP was asked to provide training in Missouri because local contacts heard of the work being done in Alabama.  Since there were no EMDR trained clinicians in the area, HAP conducted EMDR Parts I an II, training 30 clinicians.

Haiti Earthquake 2012

Trauma Recovery/HAP collaborated with HAP organizations in France and Belgium for the work in Haiti.  Together we formed the Partenariat EMDR Haiti, an alliance that will work with other organizations to provide EMDR training, promote the adoption of EMDR as a part of university clinical education, encourage sound EMDR practice in under-served communities, educates Haitian professionals in Traumatology and Stabilization, and encourage the rapid emergence of Haitian clinicians who can function as consultants, facilitators and ultimately trainers.

Trauma Recovery/HAP’s first initiative sent two volunteers to provide early treatment to over 100 children at an orphanage.

Trauma Recovery/HAP trained local clinicians in EMDR Parts I and II as well as specialty workshops.

Hurricane Katrina 2005

In New Orleans, Baton Rouge and the battered communities of southern Louisiana, Trauma Recovery/HAP brought psycho-education and individual counseling to 600 first responders in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The Gulf Coast had relatively few EMDR clinicians so HAP focused on quickly offering trainings to non-profit clinics in New Orleans and Hattiesburg, Mississippi. In October, large teams of Trauma Recovery/HAP volunteer facilitators trained 49 New Orleans clinicians from several agencies.

In the end of January 2006, 43 Mississippi clinicians gathered in Biloxi for Part I EMDR training. Six weeks later, Trauma Recovery/HAP’s second Part I training drew 50 clinicians, with 50 non-clinical social service workers attended a Traumatology and Stabilization workshop. Two weeks after that a third Trauma Recovery/HAP team delivered a Part II training to 63 Mississippi clinicians in Hattiesburg.

30 Gulf Coast EMDR clinicians participated in effort to focus on the children of Katrina and Rita. In New Orleans, the child clinicians attended a specialty workshop on using EMDR with children. Trauma is a lingering problem for many of the children on the Gulf Coast, not only because of the storm, but because of household disruption. A grant from the First Hand Foundation/Cerner Corporation supported the specialty training as well as previous rounds of training and consultation.

More than 200 regional clinicians were trained.

In October 2008 28 clinicians participated in “therapy for Therapists” and a refresher course on EMDR basics.

Thailand Tsunami 2004

In early February, the international team of Trauma Recovery/HAP volunteers conducted the first post-tsunami workshop in Traumatology and Stabilization and EMDR for nearly 70 clinicians. Two months later, the trainees had organized an EMDR Thailand Coordinating Committee and a smaller Trauma Recovery/HAP team returned at their invitation to train another 20 clinicians.

Trainees and Trauma Recovery/HAP volunteers went from Bangkok to coast communities near Phuket to provide treatment that was very well received and included group work with children. After group treatment, they elected to go back to the water, making little “waves” with their feet, inspiring adults in their village to follow suit.


In the wake of the collective trauma that engulfed the nation after 9/11, Trauma Recovery/HAP responded with an unprecedented organizational initiative: We built and funded an entire new arm of our organization. The Disaster Mental Health Recovery Network, now the Trauma Recovery Network, was create to meet the needs of people in New York and Washington, D.C. directly affected by the terrorist attacks. Over 850 people, including hundreds of firefighters, were successfully treated in pro-bono sessions.

Within a week after the attacks regional therapists initiated refresher courses and EMDR training for clinicians.

Report From the Field

Columbine, CO 1999

When the country was stunned by the tragedy at Columbine High School, calls from the HAP network came pouring in with therapists offering to help in anyway they could. Trauma Recovery/HAP was requested to provide training to 40 clinicians in order to provide them with the necessary tools to address the trauma and PTSD faced by students, teachers, parents and first responders.  Working through local crisis-response agencies HAP volunteers facilitated a series of workshops for community based therapists including Part I, Part II and a specialty workshop on using EMDR therapy with children and adolescents.

Oklahoma City 1995

For six months following the 1995 bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City, 186 Trauma Recovery/HAP volunteers rotated into the city, at the urging of an FBI agent, to treat the survivors and train clinicians. Trauma Recovery/HAP set up a free clinic and treated more than 250 blast survivors, fire fighters, and rescue personnel who had trauma symptoms. We also trained 300 clinicians, giving them the tools they needed to continue treatment.

“EMDR assists survivors in the immediate aftermath of violent trauma by breaking through the walls of denial, shock, grief and anger. [It is] ideal for those who have been unable to forget past traumatic life events, as it allows for a rapid processing of even deeply rooted memories, giving individuals back control of their lives and their conditions.” Dusty Bowencamp, RN CTR, Disaster Mental Health, American Red Cross.