Desire to Help in Trying Times: Ethically Responding to Disasters


This is a virtual event, accessible online. Access instructions will be provided after registration.


This skill building session explores the ethical principles involved in responding to disasters. A brief overview of the relevant ethical theories, principles pertinent to disaster psychology that can guide psychologists' actions will be given along with a contextual operational frame used in disaster situations. Common ethical challenges in caregiving situations and ways psychologists can identify their potential involvement in an ethical dilemma will be examined. Ethical decision-making models developed by psychologists for use in disaster contexts will be presented, along with ways to use these models in culturally diverse settings.

Learning Objectives

  1. Use APA's Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct as applied to potential challenges in disaster contexts.
  2. Explain the Incident Command Structure.
  3. Describe ethical decision-making models.
  4. Explain the importance of culture in ethical disaster response.
  5. Apply ethical decision-making models to disaster scenarios.


David J. Romano, PhD

Dr. Romano is the Florida Disaster Response Network coordinator and the Southeastern representative to the APA’s DRN 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. In addition to these activities, Dr. Romano has a private practice and is the Executive Director of the Orlando Institute for Psychology & Education. He served as Assistant Professor and Academic Coordinator (chair), for Behavioral Sciences, Social Welfare, and Human Services at Barry University, PACE. He has responded to numerous types of local and national disaster relief operations, including shootings, and hurricanes. Dr. Romano has received the award of Outstanding Contribution and Distinguished Psychologist from the Florida Psychological Association for promotion of psychology in the public interest and in recognition of contribution to disaster services.

Stephanie Vitanza, PhD

Dr. Vitanza currently works at Crisis Response Network in Phoenix, Arizona where she provides SMI determinations for the state of Arizona. Previously, she was a Professor and Program Chair for the CACREP Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling degree at Argosy University in Phoenix, Arizona for over 10 years. Dr. Vitanza has been Chair of the Disaster Response Network for the Arizona Psychological Association for 10+ years and Western Regional Representative to the Disaster Resource Network Advisory Committee for the American Psychological Association for the past 6 years. She has been a volunteer with the American Red Cross for 14 years and responded primarily to local and national disasters. Her publications, presentations and clinical work focus on trauma, childhood abuse, witness to homicide and treatment of PTSD.

Continuing Education

3.0 CE
Production Date:


Price: $80.00

Featured Products