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October 28, 2018

WASHINGTON – Following is a statement by Jessica Henderson Daniel, PhD, president of the American Psychological Association, in response to the shooting at the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh.


“We are horrified and heartbroken by this terrible crime and send our thoughts of compassion to the victims, their families and first responders, several of whom were also injured, and to the larger Jewish community.


“Hate crimes are the most extreme expression of prejudice. Compared to other crimes, hate crimes have a more destructive impact on victims and communities because they target core aspects of our identity as human beings.


“People victimized by violent hate crimes are likely to experience more intense psychological distress than victims of other violent crimes. These can take the form of post-traumatic stress, depression, anxiety and anger.


“Hate crimes also send the message to members of the victim’s group that they are unwelcome in the community, decreasing feelings of safety and security. Furthermore, witnessing discrimination against one’s own group can lead to psychological distress and lower self-esteem.


“The American Psychological Association urges those who are experiencing trauma in the aftermath of this tragedy to take care of yourselves. Connect with family and friends, talk about your feelings and limit your exposure and that of your children to news media. Remember that professional help is available.


“As always, APA supports the efforts of researchers, law enforcement, clinicians, teachers and policymakers to reduce the prevalence of hate crimes and to alleviate their effects upon victims.”



October 2, 2018

Rain is forecast in the Santa Barbara area this week for the first time in many months.  The Santa Barbara Psychological Association (SBCPA) wants to support our community in managing any anticipatory stress about weather events and help recognize the varied responses that may be artifacts of the dual disasters our community experienced last December and January.  Upon hearing about the potential for rain, you or family members may experience anxiety and stress.   This is often a normal reaction to a weather event that triggers memories of the natural disaster.  SBCPA’s Disaster Response Team offers the following suggestions to help our community during this upcoming rain season:

Get the facts from authorities:  Do not rely solely on anecdotal information, media stories, or hearsay.  Seek factual information about the weather predictions and risk assessment by authorities.  Up to date information from the National Weather Service and Santa Barbara County’s Office of Emergency Management is available online at https://readysbc.org/2018/10/01/weather-advisory/

Fact check your thoughts:   When we perceive the 

potential for danger, our minds generate a variety of thoughts to alert us to any risk.  Some thoughts about the upcoming rain are likely helpful signals, such as those alerting you to prepare your home for rain or make sure your gutters are free of material.  After a natural disaster, it is common for the mind to overestimate the danger of weather events that may have some similarities to the events preceding the disaster.  

Tune into your body:
 Take a moment to focus on your breath and any physical sensations of stress.  You may have heightened emotions or be more sensitive to environmental sounds that remind you of the disaster. If you notice your heart rate is elevated or tension in your muscles, take a few moments to help your body press reset.   Techniques such as mindfulness meditation, diaphragmatic breathing, yoga, cardiovascular exercise, or listening to nature are a few helpful strategies to manage the physiological stress response. 

Tune into your family members and children: The National Child Traumatic Stress Network offers the following suggestions for parents and families:

        Model calm behavior. Children may mirror the reactions of adults around them and will learn how to take care of themselves in times of stress from what parents and caregivers do.

        Provide children simple but accurate information in a quiet, steady voice. Emphasize that experts are working hard to predict what is likely to happen, and to keep us safe.

        Encourage comforting or distracting activities. Children may benefit from doing slow breathing to calm their bodies, having a stuffed animal or blanket to hold, or being distracted from the storm by dancing, singing, or playing games. Parents and caregivers should not force children to talk about what is happening. Playing outside may not be safe. Here are additional activities for children to do inside.

        Practice your own self-care. Parents and caregivers may benefit from finding opportunities to take a moment for themselves, express their feelings, acknowledge that it 

might be a scary or unknown situation, and engage in a coping strategy.

Seek help from a professional: If you notice persistent feelings of distress and you feel like you are barely able to get through your daily responsibilities and activities, consult with a licensed mental health professional such as a psychologist. Psychologists are trained to help people address emotional reactions to disaster such as disbelief, stress, anxiety and grief and make a plan for moving forward. To find a psychologist in your area, visit SBCPA’s Find a Psychologist locator (http://www.sbcpa.org/find-a-psychologist).

We  invite you to search for a Psychologist on our Search Engine, which gives you access to our more than 120 Licensed Psychologist Members.

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