“Are you the sort of person who gloats when they see a woman fall, or the kind that celebrates a magnificent recovery?” (J.K. Rowling)

2017 has been quite a year. Besides the ongoing aftermath of the 2016 elections, it has been a record-setting year for relentless, devastating natural disasters in our country, ending with the massive wildfire outbreaks first in Northern California and presently, much closer to home. As the Thomas Fire continues to ravage areas north of Los Angeles, I cannot seem to shake the sense of foreboding for the future of our planet. Even as we deal with the obvious physical losses from these events, the psychological toll they take can often be overlooked. It is safe to say that our role as mental health professionals has never been more vital to disaster relief efforts than it is today. We are among the privileged few who witness the remarkable resilience of the human spirit in our work with victims of disasters. This last issue of the year, themed “Disaster Psychology,” features three articles focusing on the role of psychologists and allied professionals in the recovery efforts aimed at mitigating the fallout from disastrous events.

The Rebuilding of a Heart by Gayle Madeira, 2005

The Rebuilding of a Heart by Gayle Madeira, 2005

Dr. Stevens has written a poignant narrative about his first-time experience working as a Red Cross volunteer; his descriptions of the damage caused by Hurricane Irma and his work in aiding and supporting the victims paint a vivid picture. Dr. Tayer’s article on her experiences as a CERT volunteer is full of valuable information on how you, as a citizen, can help in local disaster relief efforts with confidence and competence. Finally, Dr. Hopper’s article on building resilience and self-care should be required reading for all mental health professionals; we need to be resilient and emotionally well ourselves in order to care for our patients as well as our family, friends, and colleagues. I am particularly proud of this timely issue, and I hope you learn greatly from these thoughtfully written pieces.

I want to close by expressing my gratitude to Dr. Annette Conway for her kind words of encouragement and support through this year. I am delighted to continue as the Editor of the San Diego Psychologist through 2018 with Dr. Cindy Cotter at the helm of the SDPA.

Thank you for your continued support and readership. I look forward to receiving your contributions to future issues of the Newsletter.

Happy and peaceful holidays to all, and best wishes for the new year; may it be a far less tumultuous one.


Dr. Savla’s private practice in Encinitas, CA is mainly focused on seniors with aging-related challenges and/or mental illness. Before devoting her professional life to clinical service, she studied primary psychotic disorders among older adults at the University of California, San Diego and the VA San Diego Healthcare System. She has co-authored 30 peer-reviewed papers and book chapters to date. She has been the Editor of the San Diego Psychologist since 2016.


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