Committee Updates


BY: Deborah Hopper, Ph.D.
DATE: 10/16/17 

Disaster Psychology Committee, 10/16/17 update

(1)  URGENT REQUEST via CPA DRN Coordinator:

The California Psych Assoc. Disaster Response Network received an urgent request for additional mental health providers to support shelters and facilities in the numerous Northern California fires from the Director of the state Emergency Medical Services Authority.  At this time, they are requesting any licensed providers to register:

At the Disaster Healthcare Volunteers landing page and registration option, individuals should enter their local county from the drop down box options.

There is tremendous acute and long term impact and we are needed right now to help. We need to rally to support our own state with more of our colleagues than ever before in recent history...

(2) LAS VEGAS SHOOTINGS:  Resources for Southern California Crime Victims:

(a) Please encourage any victims/families for those (i) next of kin, (ii) injured or (iii) at the event to register with the FBI’s Office For Victim Assistance, at this website:

(b) At this time the Red Cross is offering financial resources to anyone that was injured during the event along with other types of support.  Contact , 858-309-1324

(c) Application for state-funded Mental Health Support: California Victim Compensation Board- Las Vegas Incident application .  For an advocate’s assistance in San Diego County:  (619) 531-4041

-- Deb Hopper, Ph.D., Chair, , (858) 245-4461


BY: Deborah Hopper, Ph.D.
DATE: 10/9/17 


If you’re interested in supporting ongoing disaster response efforts, but aren’t yet a current ARC Disaster Mental Health volunteer, here are choices for you to please consider:

  1. Contact our San Diego/Imperial ARC chapter to start to become a volunteer
  2. Medical Reserve Corps:
  3. CaliforniaDisaster Volunteers:
  4. TeamRubicon:

This is anewer group, I don’t have much info, I am not endorsing or recommendingthem, but providing CPA members who want to be involved a range of choicesincluding but not limited to ARC.

Deb Hopper, Ph.D.,; (858) 245-4461 (cell/text)


BY: Deborah Hopper, Ph.D.
DATE: 10/2/17 


On behalf of APA, CPA’s Disaster Resource Network (DRN) continues to call for psychologists who are Disaster Mental Health volunteers to respond – now, to support Red Cross volunteers in Puerto Rico telephonically.  Our psychological first aid in supporting them helps them cope as they work with survivors, in an effort to lessen their vicarious trauma and support building their resilience.

Even if you can’t offer to do this now, please consider training with an agency to be able to volunteer in the future.  APA’s chosen partner is the American Red Cross, but there are other agencies (CERT, Medical Reserve Corps, California EMSA) that train and certify disaster mental health volunteers.  Unfortunately, it appears natural and man-made disasters, and the trauma that ensues, are a current reality; I write this after hearing about the mass shooting last night in Las Vegas.  Disaster Psych plans a CE event in Spring, 2018; our prospective speaker is a disaster psychologist who worked over time following up after the Sandy Hook school shootings.

Deb Hopper, Ph.D.,; (858) 245-4461 (cell/text)


BY: Don Miller, Ph.D.
DATE: 10/2/17 


There is still time for you to call or text Janet Farrell, the chair of the Government Affairs Committee, at 619-507-5750 and sign up for the Meet and Greet with San Diego County Supervisor Kristin Gaspar. The meeting will be Tuesday, October 3 at 12 Noon to 1:30 P.M. at the home of current  SDPA President Dr. Annette Conway, at 13004 Brixton Place, San Diego, Ca 92130, near Del Mar Heights Road. The GAC at times makes efforts to meet with, influence and discuss with legislators issues that are important to our profession.  The Board of Supervisors is in charge of the Diego County Mental Health yearly budget which is $182,226,222. There is a concern there might not be enough psychologists attending this function. This could be an embarrassment to our association. Though this is short notice, please consider finding a way to join us at the function and meet Supervisor Gaspar and fellow psychologists.  Food and drinks will be served.  Supervisor Gaspar represents the communities of Encinitas, Del Mar, Escondido, Carmel Valley and Mira Mesa among others.  This meeting will give psychologists a valuable opportunity to discuss important mental health issues with an influential decision maker. Supervisor Gaspar is Vice Chairwoman of the San Diego County Board of supervisors. She is the youngest woman ever elected to the Board prior to becoming a Supervisor. She was an Encinitas City Council Member and later Mayor of Encinitas. 

The County Mental Health Plan that Supervisor Gaspar reviews and approves is large, 222 pages.  Here is a link to the Plan.  It might be helpful for some of those attending to have familiarity with the plan as it impacts on psychologists in many areas.  Here is part of the introduction by Alfredo Aguirre, Director,  HHSA Behavioral Health Services, County of San Diego.

“In Fiscal Year 2015-16, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors approved recommended
actions to authorize the expansion of current services, including services to homeless
individuals with a serious mental illness, Psychiatric Emergency Response Teams (PERT), and
behavioral health programs for youth involved in the justice system. These actions align with
priorities identified during the Fall 2015 BHS Community Engagement Forums and creation of the Health and Human Services Agency Behavioral Health Services’ Ten-Year Roadmap, a recent call-to-action addressing the most serious behavioral health issues affecting San Diego County.”

The County of San Diego’s MHSA (Mental Health Services Administration) planned expenditures for FY 2016-17 are $182,226,222. This includes expenditure plans for each of the five MHSA components listed below. This is an overall net increase of $54,436,444 from the MHSA Three Year Program and Expenditure Plan: FY 2014-15 through FY 2016-17 (MHSA Three Year Plan). See Appendix A for the detailed MHSA Expenditure Plan for FY 2016-17.  Among the many programs is the 100 Homeless Project is a collaborative partnership with San Diego Housing Commission, which provides a hybrid integrated service model to homeless individuals with a SMI (Serious Mentally Ill) who may have a co-occurring substance use disorder.  Full Service Partnership and Assertive Community Treatment Team services will provide intensive community-based services for 45 persons who are homeless and have a SMI. Alcohol and Drug (AOD) treatment and recovery services will be provided for 55 persons who are homeless and have a substance use disorder. Sponsor-based subsidies may be available for clients enrolled in this program. This program supports Project One for All. Allocated $825,000 to serve the 45 persons with SMI. IMPACT and Downtown IMPACT are FSP ACT programs for homeless adults with a SMI who may have a co-occurring substance use disorder. An array of housing options are also provided to enrolled clients. This program will increase staffing to support growth in the programs. The increase to Downtown IMPACT supports Project One for All. Increased by $248,727. Additional details on housing can be found on page 23 and 24 of the plan.


BY: Michelle Carcel, Psy.D.
DATE: 10/2/17 



Date: Wednesday, October 11th
Time: 6:00PM – 8:00PM
Location: Eclipse Chocolate Bar & Bistro
2145 Fern Street, San Diego, CA 92104
(619) 578-2984

The Early Career Professionals Committee is delighted to have Sarah Ray, Psy.D., Jennine Estes, LMFT, and Natalie Masson, Ph.D. present on a range of topics for those starting out in private practice to our more seasoned clinicians!

Get your questions answered on topics such as:

  • Earning passive income while being in private practice
  • Balancing your entrepreneurial spirit while maintaining empathy as a therapist
  • How to navigate the demands of owning your own business with your personal life
  • And much more!

Mix and Mingle from 6:00pm to 6:30pm and event begins at 6:30pm to 8:00pm

This event is a collaborative so bring your questions!

Please email Michelle Carcel, Psy.D. at for more information or to be added to this event. Thank you!


BY: Deborah Hopper, Ph.D.
DATE: 9/18/17 

URGENT NEED:  Hurricane Maria Disaster Mental Health Volunteers

Colleagues – National American Red Cross is actively and urgently recruiting teams to deploy to the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico as soon as possible following the imminent landfall there of Hurricane Maria, which is now a Category 4 storm with the potential to be a Category 5—the most dangerous—by landfall on Wednesday.  If you’re interested and able to operate in prolonged, austere conditions (no power, substantial damage, MREs, little sleep, no creature comforts), we need you.  Please contact

‚ÄčIf you need additional info: Deb Hopper, Chair,

cell/text (858) 245-4461


BY: Abby Brewer-Johnson, Psy.D
DATE: 9/18/17 

The SDPA Children and Adolescent Committee will be meeting on September 29th at the office Dr. Abby Brewer-Johnson 12625 High Bluff Drive, Suite 105 San Diego Ca 92130. If you are interested in joining the committee please join us. For more information send an email to or call 858-465-0984.  


BY: Bruce Sachs, Ph.D
DATE: 9/17/17 

Governor Signs Psychologists Suicide Prevention Training Act

SAVE THE DATE, October 3, for a Meet and Greet with County Supervisor Kristin Gaspar

The Psychologists Suicide Prevention Training Act was signed into law by Governor Brown earlier this month after vigorous opposition by the California Psychological Association.  The California Board of Psychology, singling out psychologists, sponsored this bill that will require ALL first time applicants for licensure as a psychologist to complete a minimum of six hours of coursework and/or applied experience (to be determined what this is) in suicide risk assessment and intervention.  The law further mandates that ALL renewing licensees must meet a one-time requirement of six hours of coursework and/or applied experience in suicide risk assessment and intervention.  The law will take effect on January 1, 2020. 

The Government Affairs Committee will be hosting a lunchtime Meet and Greet with County Supervisor Kristin Gaspar on Tuesday, October 3 at Dr. Annette Conway’s home.  Supervisor Gaspar represents the communities of Encinitas, Del Mar, Escondido, Carmel Valley and Mira Mesa among others.  This meeting will give psychologists a valuable opportunity to discuss important mental health issues with an influential decision maker.   Be on the watch for more details on this important event.  


BY: Deborah Hopper, Ph.D.
DATE: 9/15/17 


APA has worked closely with the American Red Cross in Disaster Mental Health for over 25
years – see APA’s DRN webpage for clinical resources and additional information:

National American Red Cross Disaster Mental Health (DMH) indicated it will be processing and relying on the 5,000 applications it already received for both Harvey and Irma operations.

However, new DMH volunteers are encouraged to join their LOCAL Red Cross region.  San Diego ARC is still in need of volunteers and is holding training events.  Soon a “virtual casework hub” will stand up to help process the thousands of clients affected by Harvey and Irma for many months to come.

Delivering Disaster Mental Health, under the auspices of the Red Cross and for which they provide training, isn’t equivalent to doing psychotherapy, so the issue of practicing across state lines is not involved.

Go to to submit your local application.

Registering with a different organization, Give An Hour, is another option for offering pro bono services to military members and their families and requires obtaining a temporary license in Texas.  Interested Psychologists and Social Workers:  contact Deb Hopper (info below) for the licensing links

Please note:  If you become involved as a DMH Volunteer in any capacity, would you let me know?  APA wants to track this information.

Deb Hopper, Ph.D., Chair 
Disaster Psychology Committee at (858) 245-4461 or


BY: Hugh Pates, Ph.D.
DATE: 9/15/17 




With HB 89 now a law, all Psychologists now have to demonstrate proof of some form of suicide prevention education in order to be re-licensed - the details  still to be worked out.  We are once again made aware of the influence of politics on our profession and practice.  The Government Affairs Committee has as it's purpose informing the membership of political actions that influences our practice as well as influencing those who make decisions about out practice.

In San Diego the Board of Supervisors has significant influence over our practice as they are in charge of the distribution of state funds for mental health services in the county.  They are in charge of medical funds for the amount to be paid for each therapy session and the number of sessions allowed for each individual patient.   They also allocate funds for mental health education, organizations, clinics and other forms of mental health services.  They are powerful players in the local mental health arena.

ON OCTOBER 3RD FROM 12:00 P.M. - 1;30 P.M the Government Affairs Committee is sponsoring a Meet and Greet opportunity for association members with County Board of Supervisor Kristin Gaspar at the home of President Annette Conway.  Ms. Gaspar is the newest member of the Board and professes a strong interest in improving and extending mental health services in the County.   It is a special opportunity for members to learn up close and personal, where, how and how much of the County's budget will be spent on mental health during the current fiscal year.  It is also an opportunity for those interested to learn just how they could become more involved and influential in mental health activities in the county.

I encourage you to set aside an hour and 1/2 on Oct. 3rd to attend this most informative gathering.  Lunch will be served - who says there is no free lunch?    


BY: Deborah Hopper, Ph.D.
DATE: 8/30/17 

The California Psychological Association has asked SDPA to share the following information, as the need is great.

The CPA Disaster Resource Network coordinator, Dr. Chip Schreiber, has sent the update below.  Please note there is a link for anyone interested in volunteering in relief efforts due to Hurricane Harvey.  Note that in this situation you may volunteer even if you have not yet received training from the Red Cross.  There is also information for those of you who are already trained.


The Red Cross is implementing the Health Professionals Direct Deployment process to recruit and deploy new Disaster Mental Health and Disaster Health Services volunteers for the Hurricane Harvey response.  


These Event Based Volunteers (EBVs) will be 'screened' and followed by a mental health volunteer to guide and support them through the process.  They must deploy for 9 days which includes 1 day on each end for travel, plus take a few classes online and other paperwork.  Also, FYI, they do not go through the local Red Cross offices.


1) NEW DMH Volunteers go to the link above to become an event based volunteer for direct 9 day deployment.

2) CURRENT DMH Volunteers:  Current volunteers are encouraged to note their availability in Volunteer Connection or contact their local Staffing person in their home chapter of record to be deployed to Harvey.  It looks like an extended operation from early indicators with many displaced for an extended period.

For more info, contact:

Deb Hopper, Ph.D. 
Disaster Psychology Committee Chair


BY: Annette Conway, Psy.D.
DATE: 8/28/17


A group of concerned SDPA psychologists formed a peer consultation group one year ago regarding letters that were received from EquiClaim on behalf of Anthem Blue Cross.  EquiClaim is a third party contracted by Anthem, that has repeatedly sent letters to SDPA members who billed the CPT code 90837 (psychotherapy 53 minutes or more in duration) more than 50% of the time.  According to Anthem, the official guidance for CPT codes is to “use CPT code 90834 (for psychotherapy lasting 38-52 minutes)”.  SDPA, CPA, and APA Practice Organization have expressed concern and commitment towards expressing this concern to Anthem.  Many therapists continue to be concerned about the intrusion and lack of privacy in their private practice.  Others have shared they “felt the letters were intimidating and threatening”. The initial peer consultation members and the SDPA Government Affairs Committee members have discussed a professional response to both Anthem Blue Cross and to the Department of Insurance.  Attached is the course of action the SDPA has taken in filing a complaint in response to the letters that are being received from EquiClaim.  If you have any additional ideas or suggestions, or would like to share your experience regarding EquiClaim and Anthem Blue Cross, please contact Tami at the SDPA office


BY: Chad Cox, Psy.D.
DATE: 8/21/17

SDPA MEN'S ISSUES COMMITTEE - The MIC is a group of Psychologists and Future Psychologists who gather the second Tuesday of every month, 8am at the Corner Bakery in UTC.  We gather to discuss how men's issues play a role in our professions, culture and community at large.  We also build connections and community among the members.  Traditionally we have had mostly male participants but we are open to any person of any gender joining in the fun.  In the past year we teamed up with AIU for a movie night and post-movie discussion with students regarding how masculine gender roles can affect family functioning.  We are currently planning a MIC Legacy dinner in celebration of our 25 year plus history.  Please e-mail the current committee chair Chad - if you'd like to join in the fun.


BY: Claudia Law-Greenberg, Ph.D.   
DATE: 8/11/17


As many of you already know, David Leatherberry provides invaluable legal and ethical counsel to the San Diego Psychological Association (SDPA) Ethics Committee whenever they need assistance with a legal or ethical question. In addition, as a benefit to SDPA members, he provides one free consultation per year. He is the go-to person for the question, “How do I get an answer to my legal or ethical concern”? Needless to say, the Ethics Committee and the SDPA membership at large are deeply appreciative of his indispensable expertise and the service which he has provided, pro bono, for the last ten years. He answers every concern one might have, large or small, in a thoughtful way. Contact information for David is listed on the SDPA website.

The road to which David became an attorney includes a Bachelor of Arts degree from University of California, Berkeley and a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree from University San Diego School of Law (USD).  While at USD he worked extensively with the law school’s mental health legal clinic. His work included advocacy for patients and regulatory guidance to staff of psychiatric acute care hospitals, long-term care and residential care facilities. Because of his advocacy skills, he was selected to be a member of the USD National Trial Team. After remaining with USD School of Law for several years after graduating, he joined Gordon & Rees, LLP, one of the nation’s “Top 100” law firms in 2006. However, he continued volunteering legal services for the mentally ill, for which in 2010, he received both the California State Bar Association’s Wiley W. Manuel Award and the San Diego Legal Aid Society’s Outstanding Service Award.

In addition to the pro bono consultation work he gives to SDPA members, he is a partner at with what is now Gordon & Rees. Scully, Mansukhani located in their San Diego Office where he heads their Health Care Group.  He is also the Secretary and Vice Chair of the Health Law Committee for the California State Bar Association’s Business Law Section. His Owever, Has aHpractice at Gordon and Rees primarily consists of advising hospitals with regard with regard to mergers and acquisitions, regulatory compliance, as well as representing licensed health care providers who are called to appear before licensing boards. In addition, to acute care hospitals and individual providers, his clients include long-term care and behavioral health facilities, adult residential facilities, and drug and alcohol rehabilitation facilities. He often comments that his experience advising individual psychologists and mental health facilities is the part of his work that he most enjoys and that he intends to continue work in that area.

Among his other professional activities, David has taught mental health law in the Forensic Psychology Department at Alliant University and currently teaches the Law & Ethics course for counselors and MFTs at Bethel Seminary. And as a benefit to SDPA, he participates as the key expert speaker whenever an educational panel is formed to discuss legal and ethical issues.  

David has published numerous papers in the California Psychologist for the California Psychological Association (CPA) and has been an invited ethics panel member at the California Psychological Association’s Annual Meeting. He has also been providing HIPPA training to psychologists through periodic free webinars.

It’s well established that David has a wealth of information regarding legal and ethical concerns.  This knowledge and proficiency is demonstrated in a website that he’s developed. The website offers links to answers and their primary sources for many of the questions one might have regarding law and ethics.  The web address is: 

In a previous communication with David, his strong advice was that it is vitally important for practitioners to pay close attention to the ethics standards and to be aware of the rules and laws that enter into the scope of practice.  Resources to assist with this knowledge are:

Decoding the Ethics Code:  A Practical Guide for Psychologists by Celia B.

American Psychological Association’s Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct. by David K.Leatherberry, Esq.  You can also connect with David via LindedIn and look for his periodic updates regarding legal issues that affect psychologists.


BY: Rebecca Gill, Ph.D., LPCC, RAS  
DATE: 8/8/17

Hello! My name is Rebecca Gill and I have recently accepted the new position as the chair of the Cultural Diversity Committee for SDPA. I am really excited about this opportunity and will work to increase cultural awareness relevant to mental health!

In this first invitation letter, I am honored to be able to introduce Dr. Abigail “Abi” Weissman as the speaker in the next Cultural Diversity Committee meeting on September 16th, 2017 9:30am,-11:30am in 5665 Oberlin Drive San Diego, CA 92121 (Dr. Divya Kakaiya’s office).  I believe the key to breaking through any form of prejudice is to increase knowledge and understanding.  I love the words “I don’t know” since the admittance of lacking information is the first step to invite in new facts that can displace ignorance-based prejudice.  Learning is dormant inside every person waiting to be stirred awake; we all want to know in order to reflect and relearn.  To this end, I welcome the opportunity to learn from Dr. Abi Weissman who will share her wealth of knowledge about the LGBTQIQAP population.  Please read her bio below and join us in increasing awareness that will punctuate growth and development as people particularly in human service professions. 

I look forward to meeting you!


Rebecca Gill, PhD, LPCC, RAS

Abigail “Abi” Weissman, Psy.D. is the founder and clinical psychologist of Waves, A Psychological Corporation that prioritizes LGBTQIQAP-mental health care . . . but you might also call her an empowering supporter and a self-love affirmer.

She helps people who wish they could be their full queer, transgender, religious, liberal, polyamorous, and/or kink selves but hold themselves back because they are scared they will be unloved, unemployed, and rejected by their loved ones and communities.

She encourages them to share their deepest wishes so that they can learn to be happy being themselves. She knows from her own path to wellness and years of working with LGBTQIQA clients that it is possible to survive the fear of others’ judgment, hurt, and disappointment to live your true self.  In addition to providing individual, group, and relationship counseling psychotherapy in Poway and Hillcrest, she provides supervision to the wonderful Dr. Sarah Jacobs-Paul and is in the process of expanding Dr. Weissman's company to include another licensed psychologist.  Dr. Weissman also provides training and consultation to individuals and organizations.  She is the chair of the LGBT Committee of the San Diego Psychological Association and a member at large on its Board. When she has the energy and sometimes when she doesn't, she can often be found protesting injustice.  In her spare time, she enjoys tending to her garden, cooking vegetarian food, swimming, reading about Jewish trans experience or enjoying a good mystery novel, and spending time in her hammock with her wife.  


BY: Mary Mulvihill, Ph.D.   
DATE: 8/7/17


SDPA member, author and developer of Superhero Therapy, Dr. Janina Scarlet, fresh from Comic Con, gave an engaging and informative workshop at the SDPA office, August 5, on how to use Superheroes in therapy. Forty people attended, with enthusiastic participation.

Superheroes have appealed to people since the days of Greek mythology, likely before. They have value in transformational work, as that is basically what they are all about – changing themselves and their world, helping others.  One of the main things they offer to clients is Connection – to values or traits they resonate with, to a part of themselves that is  human & whole, and to a part of the world where they can belong. In this way, they serve to offset shame, a core element of so many mental health issues.

Clients choose the Superhero, they Identify with – most people have one or two already, no matter their age.  Most Superheroes are flawed, even exaggeratedly so, yet heroic, characters, who rise above their adversity.  They are appealing and very useful in therapy, which is all about positive transformation.  Yet many clients lack a language or a hook that they can relate to, to conceptualize, talk about or commit to positive changes.  Superheroes are the door into the realm of change.

One interesting aspect to be aware of are the Superhero Origin stories – most heroes have one – and this very informed group of attendees knew many of them.  It’s a valuable exercise to examine the turning points in life, the difficult challenges you faced which made you who you are.  Both for our clients and ourselves –it is interesting to see how our greatest adversity likely had many positive benefits and may have given us skillful means we would not have acquired otherwise – our “super powers”.  Fleshing this out is a form of values clarification.  Superheroes can also inspire clients to behavioral activation – In your situation, what would Batman do?  Finding the answer and acting on it can be empowering to clients.

A barrier for therapists in using Superhero Therapy can be not feeling very well informed about different Superheroes, but in this realm, the client can be the expert, and lead the therapist to what is important for them.  There is also therapeutic value for the full Discovery process to be done together, which strengthens the alliance.  Superheroes are a novel way to communicate with hard to reach clients.  Superheroes also add humor, and may open a gateway to self-compassion.

Dr. Scarlet has extensive experience using Superhero Therapy with teen and military clients. Veterans like them so much that they have her come to speak at their self-organized conferences.  Many vets feel like failed Superheroes or even characters that have passed over to the dark side.  Greek figures exposed to violence, such as Ajax, Star Wars figures, and the Hulk are resonant to vets.  Hulk is very useful, as he must learn to modulate his super strength through anger management and restraint.  She was commissioned by DARPA to do a comic book series addressing mental health issues based on Superhero popularity with veterans.

There are a wide variety of different Superheroes from comics, movies, TV, and books – Batgirl, Veronica Mars, Ron from Star Wars (he has lots of fears), Dr. Who.  Some clients may be attracted to anti-heroes like the Joker, who may offer something they feel they lack or need.  Used therapeutically, Superheroes are integrated with evidence-based approaches – typically CBT, ACT, but can be incorporated with many.  They help foster acceptance, recognition of issues and challenge limiting beliefs.  The wayward oracle from Harry Potter, Professor Trelawney, who is always full of catastrophic, mostly wildly wrong predictions, is perfect for use in CBT.  Others can be resources used as part of exposure.

Using Superheroes adds a visual/poetic dimension to therapy, bringing imagination and possibility into the work, where this might spur posttraumatic growth.  There is much humor, as their exaggerated depictions, which touches on the tragicomic side of the human condition.  We all, as therapists, are privileged to hear stories of traumatic things which have happened to our clients, yet see how many, clients to go on, thrive, even help others.  Use of Superheroes validates the everyday courage of clients on their healing journey.  At every turn, self-compassion is accessed and reinforced.

Dr. Scarlet demonstrated that through Guided imagery, a visit from a Superhero for advice can be very useful and comforting– Dumbledore often shows up to impart his wisdom. One attendee pointed out that Faith-based clients may have their own set of Superheroes– from Jesus to Buddha, Blessed Mother to Kwan Yin, and extending to various saints, spirits, angels or sages. A part of the magical realm of Superheroes is the concept of a defusion charm, which can offset destructive forces, such as shame or bullying. This highlights the need for inner resources & their symbols.

Finally, the world of Fandom was discussed as a rich and interesting social system, now widely available on line, and in virtual communities.  In keeping with the Fun factor – the passion of clients attracted to Superheroes may–extend into role-play, Cosplay, & games. Many clients are isolated and don’t have sufficient recreation, even just for the stress relief it offers.  Fandom is a way to belong and a way to interact on a social path.  This is especially helpful to clients on the autistic spectrum since it offers structured activities around a common interest they feel passionately about and can talk about more easily. 

Fan-fiction in which a client may write a new chapter for a Superhero they love and identify with, opens new possibilities for creativity and social interaction.  They may post this online or share with the fan community, where their contribution may be, widely appreciated.  A central question in therapy is:  What kind of character do you want to be?  And Who can relate to and appreciate me with my flaws and gifts?  Using similar skills, clients can become empowered to write a new chapter for their own life.

Overall, this was an interesting and enjoyable training, full of natural humor, which toured through pop culture as it fleshed out this playful and creative modality applied to psychotherapy.

The workshop wrapped up with SPDA presenting Dr. Scarlet with a colorful “Batgirl” ice cream cake – Congratulations Superhero! to celebrate the launch of her new book, Superhero Therapy. The book sold out at the workshop, where Dr. Scarlet signed copies, but you can pick it up easily from Amazon.  It’s also a great read for clients and teens.

Stay tuned:

Dr. Scarlet’s Upcoming Books:

Harry Potter Therapy – This is a self-help book, ideal for clients.  The Harry Potter series offers some of the most realistic and nuanced characters for dealing with loss, grief and trauma. This book will be available in September 2017 on  

Therapy Quest – This is a fictionalized account of the incorporation of gaming into therapy.

 Save the Date –By popular demand, Dr. Scarlet agreed to come back February 17, 2018 for a Therapy Quest workshop– the use of gaming in therapy (her book on this will come out the week prior, so will be hot off the press!) Join us for a fun-filled Saturday and get some novel ideas about how to use games to extend or amplify your therapeutic work!

Further Resources

To access Dr. Scarlet’s Defense Department Comic books –

Paths for recovery for Military Sexual Trauma


Family Support for Military Sexual Trauma

To access Dr. Scarlet’s Superhero Therapy Blog – keep up with new developments in characters and games and read her many insightful analyses of popular characters and games, click HERE.


BY: Richard Levak, Ph.D.   
DATE: 8/1/17


The PEM Committee was revitalized as part of the SDPA commitment to strengthening the brand of the association.  Its purpose is to give SDPA members a chance to interact with the media and, in the process, to promote their practice, the field of psychology and the SDPA.  In order to provide our members with as much support as possible, we have begun a successful case conference series, now called Cases & Cuisine, where members can discuss cases in a relaxed dinner environment.  We are also providing training on how to interact with the media and we are developing relationships with the media in order to raise awareness of how psychologists can provide consumers information on psychological matters.  The Committee is in the process of operationalizing a system that would allow psychologist experts to provide commentary on current newsworthy issues.  


BY:  Deb Hopper, Ph.D. 
DATE: 7/28/17


September is National Preparedness Month… but disasters don’t seem to know about calendars!  So get a head start now on being prepared, if you haven’t done so already.

Go to for valuable information about preparing for emergencies you can act on during the dog days of summer!

Here’s a short video on the advantages and “how to” of you and your family being prepared for any type of disaster:

Stay Resilient, San Diego Psychologists!

Please note:  The Disaster Psychology Committee next meets on Tues., Aug. 29th at 5:30 pm, UCSD Campus on Villa La Jolla Drive.  We’re always looking for new members with a passion to serve their community.  Contact me for more info:  Deb Hopper, Ph.D., Chair; (858) 245-4461;


BY:  Steve Tess, Ph.D.
DATE: 7/24/17

THE COMMUNITY MENTAL HEALTH (CMH) COMMITTEE'S PURPOSE is to involve itself in what's happening with the organizational delivery of mental health services to underserved populations in San Diego County.  The committee has representatives to the following organizations, agencies or coalitions:  Optum Health Credentialing Committee, the Adult Council of Care, the Children's Council of Care, and the San Diego Coalition for Mental Health.  We are looking to find a representative to TERM.  The representatives go to meetings to obtain information on what's happening with that particular organization, agency or coalition as well as to provide input that hopefully represents the interests of psychologists.  Besides myself, the other current members of CMH are Sherry Casper, Ph,D, Mary Clark, Ph.D., Barbara Cox, Ph.D., Andrea Karp, Ph,D., Don Miller, Ph.D., Laura Otis Miles, Ph,D., Alexa Rabin, Psy.D., and Karen Zappone, Ph.D.   We meet every other even month on the first Friday from 1:30 - 3:00 pm at Kings Fish House restaurant in Mission Valley.  We are always looking for additional members.  Our next meeting is Friday August 4.  Steve Tess, Ph.D. Chair


BY:  Katherine Nguyen Williams, Ph.D.
DATE: 7/24/17

THE CHILD AND ADOLESCENT PSYCHOLOGY COMMITTEE is dedicated to supporting mental health professionals who treat children, adolescents, and families.  The committee connects SDPA professionals to free monthly CE trainings in collaboration with local institutions/universities, offers social networking opportunities with fellow child and family-focused professionals, and focuses on professional cross-collaborations.

We offer case consultation, support, community, referrals, food, and social networking.  We welcome new members and would love to have more students and trainees join us.  We are always looking for new ideas for programs and leadership opportunities.  Please contact SDPA Child & Adolescent Psychology Committee Co-Chairs, Katherine Nguyen Williams, Ph.D. ( or Abby Brewer-Johnson, Psy.D. (, for more information or to provide suggestions.  We look forward to hearing from you!


BY:  Ruth Samad, Ph.D. and
Karen Hyland, Ph.D.
DATE: 6/22/17


Telepsychology, also known as Telemental Health Therapy (TMHT), is becoming more widely utilized for providing therapy to those clients who require or prefer distance counseling.  Since this type of therapy is an emerging modality, many of us have not had coursework on this topic in our graduate programs.  Thus, it is necessary for psychologists to inform themselves about the ethical and legal issues involved in TMHT.  

Although the APA Ethics Code (2010) did not address TMHT, in 2013, the APA adopted "Guidelines for the Practice of Telepsychology" (American Psychologist, 2013).  Other mental health professions have specifically revised their ethics codes to include TMHT.  For example, the ACA Code of Ethics (2014) has added a section on "Distance Counseling, Technology, and Social Media." (p.17).  We recommend reviewing both of these sources as a place to start.

Included in the APA Guidelines are the familiar areas of competence, privacy and confidentiality, informed consent, and ethical and professional standards of care as they relate to TMHT.  While we realize there is much overlap between these areas, we will attempt to briefly describe each of these while giving examples of behavior.

1. Competence

  • Demonstrate knowledge of "...both the technologies used and the potential impact of the technologies on clients..." (American Psychologist, p, 793).
  • Assess whether certain technologies (Skype, teleconferencing, email, videoconferencing, etc.) are appropriate for specific clients based on the client's particular needs and multicultural issues as well as how the technology may impact effectiveness of therapy with each client.
  • Continue to assess the appropriateness of the medium throughout the delivery of services.

2. Privacy and Confidentiality

  • Understand the risks involved in TMHT, including the security of the software being used and encryption processes.
  • Consider where this service will take place both for the therapist and the client since computer screens in one's home may not be private.  Walls at home may not be soundproof. 

3. Informed Consent 

  • Include in this process the unique circumstances of TMHT.  Revise consent forms to include additional concerns such as managing the need for emergency, crisis intervention, and discharge plans in the jurisdiction of the client. 
  • Review with the client the issues of possible malfunctions of equipment and disruption of services during the session. 
  • It has even been suggested by Lustgarten and Colbow (2017) that the informed consent process can include a discussion of the client's computer system and suggestion for software, which would require the psychologist to have a working knowledge of secure telehealth products, for example. 

4. Ethical and Professional Standards of Care 

  • Understand the laws and regulations of the jurisdiction in which the client is receiving services, including the validity of the psychologist's license in the client's location and approval from the insurance company for TMHT if insurance is the payor. 
  • Consider the environment in which the TMHT is occurring on both ends of the communication.  When a camera is utilized for video calls, consideration of what is in our background (and the client's), both visually, and aurally is important.  Is a dog barking, a baby being comforted by a sitter, a family member within earshot? 

This article was written with the goal of sharing some of the concerns to be addressed by the psychologist before embarking on TMHT with your clients.  Since it is more of an introduction to the types of issues involved rather than an in-depth presentation, we recommend the references that follow the article be utilized as resources for further study.


2014 ACA Code of Ethics. (2014). American Counseling Association.

Guidelines for the Practice of Telepsychology. (2013). American Psychologist, 68(9), 791-800.

Lustgarten, S. D., & Colbow, A. J. (2017). Ethical Concerns for Telemental Health Therapy Amidst Governmental Surveillance. American Psychologist, 72(2), 159-179.

TeleMental Health Institute. (n.d.). Retrieved May 27, 2017, from

Digital Ethics, HIPAA, & TeleMental Health. (n.d.). Retrieved May 27, 2017, from


BY:  Julia Rosengren, Psy.D.
DATE: 6/12/17


SDPA joined forces with San Diego High School's Psychology Club students and asked them to pick mental health topics they believe are important.  They then researched the topic, wrote storylines, and filmed public service announcements (1-2 minutes) geared toward their peers.  With little assistance, the students produced 13 PSAs.  The students' hard work has been evident throughout the process and we feel honored to have been able to work with them. 

SPDA is giving out cash awards for Best Overall, Most Informative, and Most Creative in addition to other notable mention awards. Myrna Zambrando will be attending for Senator Atkins to support the students and to support mental health awareness.  Bruce Sachs, Ph.D. and Julia Rosengren, Psy.D. will be hosting the ceremony with SDHS's Maya Salameh.  Come watch and support this Tuesday June 13th from 6-7:30 PM at SDHS's Perkins Auditorium.

Contact Julia Rosengren, Psy.D. for questions @ 

Please follow the SDPA Government Affairs Committee on Facebook to get information on issues that affect you:


BY: Steve Tess, Ph.D.
DATE: 6/5/17


This is a busy time in Sacramento as the State Legislature is considering a number of bills.  Over 2,500 bills were introduced in the Legislature earlier this year.  Bills are presently in committees which are being debated as hearings are being conducted in which input is garnered from a variety of sources - the public, lobbyists, etc.  The legislative session continues until September.  The California Psychological Association (CPA) is actively monitoring nearly 100 bills.  One of these bills is Assembly Bill 89 (Levine) which is sponsored by the Board of Psychology.  It is to be heard in a Senate committee in early June and it pertains to a new CE mandate.  The bill involves suicide risk assessment and intervention.  It would mandate that all applicants for licensure as a psychologist complete a minimum of six hours of coursework and/or applied experience in suicide risk assessment and intervention.  It would also mandate that all psychologists renewing their licenses must meet a similar requirement one time.  CPA is opposing this bill because it is directed only at psychologists and it's felt that this topic is already covered in the training that psychologists receive,

No matter how you feel about the above mentioned bill, it is very important that psychologists "make their voice known" as  our livelihoods are regularly affected by what goes on in Sacramento.  Besides providing your opinion to legislators, another significant way to make a difference is to consider getting involved with CPA and SDPA's Government Affairs Committee (GAC).  The GAC meets monthly (usually on the first Friday of each month with in-person meetings alternating with phone meetings.  We'd love to have more SDPA members join us and particularly early career psychologists and students.  Janet Farrell, Ph.D. is our chairperson and can be reached at


BY: Annette Conway, Psy.D.
DATE: 7/31/17


The Board of Psychology will be holding the second of two special Licensing Committee meetings on August 22, 2017 in Los Angeles, CA.  This meeting will be a stakeholder meeting led by the Department of Consumer Affairs SOLID Training & Planning Solutions unit, to review the Board’s statutory and regulatory language relative to pathways to licensure.  If you are interested in attending this meeting, please RSVP to

To view the agenda, go to:    

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