Step 4 American Red Cross

Crisis Response Education and Resources



Mental Health Professionals (MHP) who desire to serve their communities in times of disaster or crisis are urged to join their local American Red Cross Chapter. With its effective infrastructure and resources, the Red Cross is at the forefront of disaster response education and training. The Red Cross actively recruits, trains, and deploys mental health professionals to provide support services to disaster survivors and workers across the stages of preparedness, mitigation, response and recovery.

The American Red Cross Disaster Cycle Services (DCS) is client-facing throughout the entire disaster cycle of preparedness, response and recovery. DCS response provides relief when disasters strike for those affected by residential fires, earthquakes, floods, wildfires, transportation accidents, terrorist attacks, mudslides and other man-made and natural disasters 24 hours a day, 365 days-a-year (over 70,000 disasters in the US each year). All American Red Cross assistance is free. Disaster Cycle Services activities include casework, health services, mental health, logistics, sheltering, feeding, communications, governmental liaison, community partners, etc. Disaster Action Teams (DAT) are the staff and volunteers who actually respond to the event. Red Cross Disaster Mental Health (DMH) volunteers support DAT activities and may be deployed with the Team.

Red Cross DMH volunteers often experience great collegiality and satisfaction in being able to use their mental health skills in service to the public. The Red Cross is a pioneer in emphasizing the importance of self-care and caring for its own so DMH volunteers have a prominent role in supporting the mental health resiliency of volunteers and staff who respond to disasters.

Red Cross DMH volunteers in California are mental health professionals including Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists, Associate Marriage and Family Therapists, graduate level Marriage and Family Therapist Trainees, and Retired Marriage and Family Therapists.

While personnel in mental health disciplines who do not meet the current eligibility requirements cannot participate in Red Cross Disaster Mental Health activity, they are encouraged to serve as volunteer providers of other client-oriented Red Cross services such as client casework services and recovery, working in shelters, and mass feeding. These vital disaster services require excellent people skills and working in close collaboration with disaster health and mental health service systems.

To become an American Red Cross volunteer:

  1. Go to and select “Your Local Red Cross” at the very top of the page.
  2. At your chapter website select “Volunteer” to create an account in Volunteer Connection.
  3. Take the required free Red Cross on-line or in-person trainings.

Finally, you’re ready to research, select, and become trained with the crisis intervention approach and method that best suits you by selecting STEP 5 – CRISIS INTERVENTION MODALITIES