Author Archives: Susan

Dr. Melissa Dufrene Named Early Career Psychologist

Dr. Melissa Dufrene has been named the 2017 Early Career Psychologist by the Louisiana Psychological Association, announced at the association’s annual convention held in June in New Orleans. Dufrene is a licensed clinical psychologist with numerous community and professional involvements. “I am honored to be recognized,” she said.

Her post-doctoral supervisor, Michael Chafetz, PhD, ABPP, said, “It was indeed a pleasure to learn that Dr. Melissa Dufrene was honored for the Early Career Psychologist award of 2017, as she is clearly deserving.”

“She is a strong and compassionate practitioner who fully understands the application of evidence-based methods to achieve desired clinical outcomes,” Chafetz said, “which she also measures. Before I met her for a post-doctoral position in my clinic, she had strong training, especially in her work in the inpatient OCD unit of Rogers Memorial Hospital in Milwaukee, Wisconsin,” he said.

“In my mind, it is this combination of scholarship and treatment sense that makes her so effective.” In 2014, Dufrene co-authored with Chafetz, “Malingering-by-proxy: Need for child protection and guidance for reporting,” in Child Abuse and Neglect.

Dr. Dufrene currently is a licensed Clinical Psychologist affiliated with the Algiers Neurobehavioral Resource, LLC, where her time is devoted to therapy and psychological evaluations. She leads the clinic’s initiatives surrounding women’s therapy, assessment, and behavioral health needs. In this capacity, she provides services to women patients for issues such as postpartum depression, general anxiety, relationship issues, abuse, and general mental

Her primary areas of interest are anxiety related disorders, PTSD, OCD, depressive disorders, and child behavioral problems.

She has also serves as Adjunct Instructor at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology at Xavier University where she teaches Basic Psychopathology. She has also taught at Delgado Community College and for Instructional Connections. This year she also began working as Gratis Faculty of LSU, where she serves as a supervisor to one of the interns in the program.

She was recently named co-chair of the Early Career Psychologist Committee for the Louisiana Psychological Association. Along with her co-chair and colleague, Dr. Ashley Jefferson, she plans on engaging early career professionals. “We are focusing on increasing the level of involvement of EC’s and students across the state, and addressing pertinent issues in the field,” she said.

Dr. Dufrene serves the broader community in a number of ways. She has served as a member of the Regional Advisory Board for the Alzheimer’s Association where she contributes to community education and support efforts. In 2015 she served as chair of the annual fundraiser event for the association.

She has served as a Partner in Multiple Sclerosis Care, a segment of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society to assist patients in accessing quality care and outreach for those living with MS. She provided training on issues of stress management for those with MS.

She has also served as a Each One Save One Mentor, where she works with at risk-elementary students and with school staff to assist youngsters.

Dr. Dufrene trained at Rogers Memorial Hospital, a nationally recognized residential and behavioral health hospital, treating individuals with serious mental health disorders. At this facility, she worked in the Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Center, one of only two residential treatment centers in the United States for males and females age 18 and older with obsessive-compulsive disorder and obsessive-compulsive spectrum disorders.

She earned her doctorate in clinical psychology from The School of Professional Psychology at Forest Institute in Springfield, Missouri. Her dissertation was Examination of Executive Functioning Among 9-12 Year Olds with ADHD, Obesity, and Comorbid ADHD/Obesity.

Along with her professional and community service, she has a very busy family life. “And just to keep things interesting,” she said, “my husband and I are expecting baby #2 in December, which will make our two-year old a big brother!”


Governor Appoints Dr. Leah Crouch to Psychology Board

The Governor has appointed Leah Crouch, PsyD, to serve on the Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists (LSBEP) according to a Boards & Commission announcement July 21. Dr. Crouch will begin serving the five-year appointment this month, according to sources.

Outgoing chair is Darla Burnett, PhD, MP, who ended her term in June. Currently serving are Drs. Phil Griffin, Koren Boggs, Jesse Lambert, and Amy Henke. Dr. Lambert is the only medical psychologist with Dr. Burnett completing her service.

In February 2017, Dr. Crouch captured 58 percent of the votes cast in the election and Dr. William Schmitz received 42 percent. The Louisiana Psychological Association submitted both Dr. Crouch and Dr. Schmitz to the Governor, with the association’s request that Governor Edwards appoint the top vote getter, according to sources.

Dr. Crouch is owner of River Bends Psychology, a Private Practice located in New Orleans, where she provides psychological services to adult population. She received her PsyD from the University of Denver in 2006 in Clinical Psychology.

She is also with Tulane University, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, where she is a Clinical Assistant Professor and previously an Assistant Professor, and providing services on an adult, acute, inpatient psychiatric unit for those with chronic and severe behavioral illness.

Dr. Crouch has previously worked for the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, at the Naval Consolidated Brig Chesapeake, providing services at a Joint Regional Correctional Facility, where she helped restore and prepare prisoners for return to duty or re-enter civilian society. She also worked as a psychologist at the Naval Hospital in Beaufort, South Carolina from 2010 to 2012.

In 2009 and 2010 Dr. Crouch provided services in a juvenile correctional center for Louisiana State University, Health Science Center –New Orleans, School of Public Health Juvenile Justice Program.

Dr. William Schmitz, Jr., is a clinical psychologist with the Department of Veteran Affairs and resides in Baton Rouge. He earned his PsyD from Baylor University in 2006.

Dr. Schmitz, previously served as the President of the American Association of Suicidology, and clinical psychologist, and presented in 2015 as the plenary session speaker at conference of the Louisiana Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers.


LSBEP to Appeal Judge’s Decision

The Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists (LSBEP) will appeal a recent decision by District Court Judge Michael Caldwell, who ruled that the board’s process violated the Constitutional rights of a psychologist.

On July 27 the Times asked LSBEP Executive Director, Ms. Jaime Monic, if the Board was going to appeal Judge Caldwell’s decision.

Ms. Monic responded the following day, writing, “The Board thoroughly discussed this matter and the Order from the 19th Judicial District Court at a special meeting held on July 7, 2017. With consideration being given to the costs of a new hearing as well as the Administrative Procedures and other statutorily supported procedures that were followed by LSBEP staff, and in consultation with Attorney Amy Groves Lowe, the Board voted to appeal the decision of the 19th JDC.”

On May 2, Judge R. Michael Caldwell of the 19th Judicial District Court in Baton Rouge said that the procedures leading to the suspension of Dr. Eric Cerwonka’s psychology
license included so many Constitutional violations that the decision could not stand, according to Cerwonka’s attorney, Mr. Lane Roy, in a previous interview.

Judge Caldwell agreed to hear additional arguments from the LSBEP attorney, Ms. Amy Lowe. On June 26 Judge Caldwell heard the additional views but stood firm on his initial opinion, this time using the term, “reeks” to describe some of the process, as described by Mr. Roy.

On July 7 the LSBEP met in a special meeting at Children’s Hospital in New Orleans scheduled from 3:35 to 5:00 pm. According to the agenda the members were to have discussed two matters in executive session from 3:35 to 4:30. The agenda listed the two topics for the closed session as: “1. Review qualifications of applicants for prosecuting attorney. 2. Other in-house personnel matters.”

Also according to the published agenda, the members were then to have discussed the following matters from 4:30 to 5 pm in open session:“1. Prosecuting Attorney Contract 2017-18; 2. Complaints Coordinator II Position 2017-18; 3. 201718 Budget Recommendations; and 4. Eric Cerwonka vs. LSBEP, 19th Judicial District Court Decision.”

At the most recent regular board meeting of the Board, held July 28 at the Baton Rouge office of the LSBEP, Dr. Tom Hannie attended and asked about the appeal. Dr. Kim VanGeffen, Professional Affairs Chair for the Louisiana Psychological Association, was also in attendance. Hannie provided the Times with a recording of the discussion.

Dr. Hannie: “I have questions about that case. As I understand it, the lawyer that was running the trial also had represented Cerwonka in a previous case, and the person who was prosecuting, was a member of the same firm. I’m wondering if the attorneys were committing malpractice by not recusing themselves and if y’all have looked at that?”

Dr. Phil Griffin: “We’ve looked at every aspect of it. I, you know…His attorneys, to me, did a pretty damn good job. I was impressed with Cerwonka’s attorneys. And I don’t know, if there’d have seen something awry … that should have brought that up at the trial, in terms of our prosecuting attorney. Those things, those things quite frankly don’t even enter into what all was going on, why the guy was in the hearing in the first place.”

[Many speaking at same time…]

Dr. Amy Henke: “I would encourage anyone who has questions about these hearings, please come. See what you think. They’re open to the public. Julie was there. I encourage LPA, someone from the association, to see what you think. Watch what we watch, and see what you would do.”

Dr. Kim VanGeffen: “… At least as I understand it, it was not so much the hearing itself, but what led up to the hearing.”

Ms. Monic: “Unfortunately, complaint investigations are confidential. There are avenues for reviewing the board’s policies and procedures. The Inspector General could certainly come in and take a look at that case and how it was handled. That wasn’t an option that was pursued and so now we’re in litigation. Whether or not, as an administrative agency, we acted properly administratively, I believe we did.”

[Many speaking]

Dr. Hannie: “I understand that you, you’re shackled, but when I see that the board is going to appeal I look at the cost of appealing, and sometimes when you appeal, you not only pay your legal fees but you pay the other person’s legal fees and it can get outrageous.” He described an unrelated example where an appeal may be costing $100,000 or more.

“In some of these cases they get six figures, paying on an appeal, just paying the other person’s fees, not just their own.”

Dr. Henke: “We worry about costs too, but our number one charge is public safety. We can’t not pursue something, we can’t just say it’s too expensive–– ‘we’re not going to protect the public on this one because it’s too expensive.’ ”

At the May 12 meeting of the LSBEP, following Judge Caldwell’s initial opinion on May 2, the minutes indicate that the board members discussed the alternatives to either appeal the ruling or to conduct a rehearing of the case involving Dr. Cerwonka. The minutes noted:

“Petition for Judicial Review: Eric Cerwonka vs. Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists: No. C656587 Section 24 – The Board reviewed the Petition for Judicial Review in this matter and the Summary Report provided by Attorney Amy Groves Lowe concerning the Status Conference held on April 21, 2017. The Board approved moving forward with a judicial review before the 19th Judicial District Court in lieu of rehearing.”

Discussion items for that meeting also included the review of Legal Contracts for 2017–2018. The minutes listed the following:

“1. Taylor, Porter, Brooks & Phillips (TPBP) – By motion of Dr. Griffin, the Board unanimously approved an amendment to the July 1, 2016 – June 30, 2019 contract with TPBP to add an additional $12,000, needed for continued legal services.” Taylor Porter is the firm for the Board’s General Council, which includes Mr. Lloyd Lunceford and Ms. Amy Lowe.

The minutes also noted: “2. Breazeale, Sachse & Wilson (BSW) – The consideration of this contract was tabled until July 2017.” BSW is the firm for Prosecuting Attorney, Mr. James Raines.

And the other items were: “3. Roedel, Parsons, Koch, Blanche, Balhoff & McCollister – The consideration of this contract was tabled until July 2017. 4. Other – The Board designated Dr. Amy Henke and Ms. Jaime Monic to conduct interviews for additional legal counsel for the 2017-18 Fiscal Year.” The Roedel firm is the firm for Ms. Deborah Harkins, the attorney often hired for legislative issues.

According to public records the board has had escalating legal fees which stem primarily from charges from the Board Prosecutor, held at one point by Mr. James Raines. Over 2015 to 2016, and into January 2017, Mr. Raines prosecuted 16 cases. Three of these 16 cases amounted to $146,987 of charges from Mr. Raines.

This past legislative session the LSBEP helped pass legislation that removed a oneyear time limit for investigations from the psychology licensing law. The measure also gave the board’s complaints subcommittee the ability to charge fees to psychologists being investigated for activities that do not reach the hearing level.


Dr. Constance Patterson Beloved Leader in Psych Community Dies July 8


Constance Kindrick Patterson passed away on July 8 after a battle with renal cancer. She was a leader in the psychology community who touched many lives as colleague, supervisor, mentor and friend. She embraced her community and the people in it with integrity, wisdom and a genuine caring for others and dedication to excellence in the profession.

She served as President of the Louisiana School Psychological Association, as Coordinator of the School Psychology Program and Professor of Practice in the Psychology Department of Tulane University, and as Director in the Executive Council for the Louisiana Psychological Association. She conducted a private practice, supervised interns, and served as an investigator for the state psychology board, as well as many other community roles.

A private tribute and ceremony was held on July 23 in Slidell where family and friends shared stories about Dr. Patterson, “Conni,” and afterward spread her ashes in Moonraker Lake.

Later that day a public gathering was held at one of Conni’s favorite places in Algiers, her adopted community and neighborhood. Friends honored her at The Old Point Bar, located at 545 Patterson Street, Algiers Point, at the curve of the Mississippi River.

Constance Kindrick Patterson, PhD, born in 1952, had a full professional life–she branched out into the social fabric of school psychology and was embraced for her character, values and dedication to excellence.

Tulane colleague Dr. Bonnie Nastasi said, “School psychology in the U.S. is a complex network, with changing relationships and crossed paths. Conni’s presence in my professional life is a great illustration of this. I initially met Conni when she was a doctoral student at Illinois State University and I was a faculty member. I moved on from there, Conni completed her program, and later joined LAS*PIC (located in New Orleans, my hometown) as director of internship program in school psychology and remained in that position until Katrina,” Natasi said. “For several years, she and I were faculty members in the school psychology program at Walden University where she directed field placements. Eventually we both returned to New Orleans and assumed faculty positions in the School Psychology Program at Tulane…”

“Over the years,” Nastasi said, “Conni has been a dear colleague and friend. I have had the utmost respect for her wisdom, professional knowledge and expertise, integrity, and caring spirit.”

Mark Swerdlik, PhD, CoCoordinator, Graduate Programs in School Psychology and Professor of Psychology at Illinois State University, also
knew Conni in many roles. “My relationship with Conni spanned over three decades,” said Dr. Swerdlik, who was her colleague in clinical practice, then her program advisor, internship supervisor and dissertation co-chair when she was a doctoral student at Illinois State University. “…and since 2012 we were university educator colleagues,” he said. “Conni was a wonderful colleague always willing to offer case consultation.”

“I remember being very impressed with her clinical insights,” he said. “Over the years she was coordinator, I recall being impressed with how seamlessly she seemed to be able to mentor interns and then transition to that of colleagues and so many former interns became her close friends.”

Dr. Alan Coulter, Senior Manager at the Human Development Center LSU Health Sciences Center (LSUHSC) also knew Conni as both intern and colleague. “I knew Conni from 1994 until the day she died,” Dr. Coulter said. “I have known her as intern, school psychologist, coordinator of LAS*PIC, graduate educator, independent practitioner, and friend. Conni Patterson was a stalwart professional who embodied the highest ideals of our profession. She was a deeply caring individual who solemnly upheld her commitments especially in the guidance of interns as they expand their knowledge and skills.”

Dr. Constance K. Patterson earned her doctorate in 1999 from the APA Accredited school psychology program at Illinois State University, where she also received her masters and undergraduate. She had earlier begun her career in clinical and worked with children and families.

She completed her School Psychology Internship in 1995 from the Human Development Center, the then LSU Medical Center, and worked as a Certified School Psychologist in Harvey, Louisiana, for the Jefferson Parish Public School System.

Her dissertation was, “Student, Teacher and School Setting Factors Affecting Classification of Students with Emotional/ Behavioral Disorders: A Study of One School System in Louisiana.”

Between 1997 and 2006, she served as Assistant Professor in the Department of Interdisciplinary Human Studies, School of Allied Health Professions LSUHSC and was the CoDirector for the Internship Consortium, then moved to the Quality Assurance Coordinator, for the National Center for Special Education Accountability Monitoring, at the Human Development Center, LSUHSC. By 2004 she had received her license from the state psychology board in School Psychology.

“I seem to also recall,” said Dr. Swerdlik, “that when Conni was searching for a school psychology internship among several sites she was considering the Louisiana School Psychology Internship Consortium,” he said. “She wasn’t sure about this internship as she had not previously lived in New Orleans. As we all know Conni fell in the love with the city and it’s people and they with her and as they say the rest is history.”

In 2006 Conni worked at Unified School District in Tucson, Arizona and also took a position as Assistant Professor in the School of Psychology for Walden University.

By 2011 she turned all of her attention to Louisiana, working for Plaquemines Parish School, and taking a position with Tulane, where she served as Professor of Practice in the Department of Psychology, advancing to Coordinator of the Tulane School Psychology Program.

Conni was an active community member and held a variety of leadership roles. She served as President for the Louisiana School Psychological Association and also as President– Elect, Futures Committee Chair, Membership Chair, Presenter Coordinator, and as Associate Editor and later as Coordinating Editor of the Louisiana School Psychologist.

Some of her other many roles included serving on the Oversight Committee and then on the Advisory Board for the Louisiana Health and Disability Project, on the Advisory Board for the Louisiana Center for Excellence in Autism, and as a School Psychology Focus Group member for the State Department of Education. She served on the Dean’s Committee on Multicultural Issues at LSUHSC and on the Multicultural Training Advisory Committee at the LSU Human Development Center. She was Chair of the Supervision Interest Group for the National Association of School Psychologists.

Conni was a regular speaker and lecturer and spoke on a variety of topics. Her presentations at the National Association of School Psychologists included: “Meeting the challenges of providing internship supervision,” with colleague Dr. George Hebert; “Distance education and field experience;” “Practical strategies for supervision of school psychologists;” and “Generational diversity: Implications for consultation and teamwork,” and she presented research with Drs. Alan Coulter, George Hebert and others, on “Fantasies vs. Job Realities: How interns spend their time.”

Dr. George Hebert, friend and colleague, related that he and Conni were the first psychologists to re-enter the New Orleans Public Schools after Katrina. “… History shall record that she was first,” he said, “because as a Southern gentleman, I held the door open for her.”

Conni also presented at the American Psychological Association including: Has school psychology lost its way? New rules for accountability, a symposium with colleague Dr. Coulter; and Creative training partnerships: Designing internship consortia to support preferred practices, a symposium.

She presented at the annual meeting of the Council of Directors of School Psychology Programs, Traditionalists, Boomers, Xers, and Millenials: School psychological practice across generations and implications for training;” at the American Society of Ophthalmic Nurses, “Meeting the challenge of working across cultures;” and at the Council of Directors of School Psychology Programs.”

She published “Collaborative supervision of internship experiences,” in the Handbook of education, training, and supervision of school psychologists in school and community, with colleague Dr. George Hebert; “Impact of generational diversity in the workplace,” in The Diversity Factor; “School Psychologists as Leaders in a time of change,” in Louisiana School Psychologist; “ Generational diversity: Implications for consultation and teamwork, in Louisiana School Psychologist; and “Working with Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Questioning youth: A new training curriculum for school psychologists,” in NASP Communique.

Dr. Carmen Broussard, Professor in Psychology at Nicholls, said, “Conni was available. She was usually in attendance at the state and local level in a number of Dr. Constance Patterson, Beloved Leader continued university and organization events. Her varied experiences in and out of Louisiana led to her thoughtful insight about any matter being discussed,” she said.

“Conni was a friend. She remembered people and she remembered things about them, in a way that made you feel so comfortable. I tried to never miss an opportunity to stop and talk awhile when we crossed paths,” she said. “Conni was a fierce supporter of our profession. She was willing to speak up when needed. She was willing to do some of the work. We owe her many thanks for her service to our organizations and to the many students that she has groomed to carry on.”

Following the announcement of her death, the Louisiana Psychological Association passed a Resolution in her honor, writing: “… Dr. Patterson’s distinguished life includes multiple areas of service and contribution, exhibiting in all she did her dedication to excellence, scholarship, mentoring of others, and the protection and support of the dignity of all people, in all walks of life; …”

One of her interns, Levi Zitting, said, “Her breadth of influence and commitment to quality work in the field was awe inspiring. I hope she can rest in her well deserved peace and that her friends can find comfort.”

Another of her interns, Ms. Connie Morris, said, “She had a way of leading me to answers that helped me develop confidence in my own professional judgment. Even more fortunate for me was the friendship that we shared over the past 20 years,” she said. And, “…we also had several wonderful conversations about life in the abstract and what is truly important in life. During one such conversation, Conni spoke of how meaningful it was to have an impact on the professional development of those who become your peers. For her, it was both an awesome responsibility and a privilege…Truly,” she said, “the privilege was ours.”

“I will miss her terribly,” said Bonnie Nastasi, “but will always cherish the moments of
professional commiseration and casual laughter and companionship. I will miss the opportunity to walk down the hall and visit with her on campus or relax over a glass of wine. Conni’s contributions to the profession will be long remembered and I expect many others will miss her spirit as I will.”

“Everyone that knew her was impressed with her strong character and firm self-control,” said Alan Coulter. “Conni modeled for others that a professional embodies high standards, deep humility, and a good sense of humor…” “Her passion for life and for teaching others was strong and she fought her disease until the last day,” Coulter said. “For Conni, she was intent on being in charge of her own life to the end. There is no way to adequately describe the magnitude of our loss.”

Family and friends composed an obituary including these excerpts:

“Dr. Patterson had a distinguished career during which she mentored more than a hundred professionals and influenced countless others.

“…she carefully shaped training to model effective and ethical practices of interns. Those interns now practice as school psychologists throughout the U.S.

“Dr. Patterson mentored countless school psychologists, teachers, school administrators, and families experiencing challenges. At her passing, many people reached out with stories of how Conni served as an inspirational role model of ethical and family-focused practice. She was an active member of the Algiers Point community in New Orleans supporting the arts, music, and people in need. No one can adequately capture or describe the breadth of her reach and influence on the practice of school psychology and her spirit of reaching out to others.

“During her illness, Conni was supported by her school psychology family and close friends who maintained communication with Conni’s many friends, colleagues, and her family in Virginia. All involved are grateful for mutual support and for Conni’s relief from suffering.

“Conni is survived by her mother, Lorena McCann, her daughter Melanie Hoerner (husband Jerry), her 3 grandchildren, Jared, Caleb and Marley, her sisters, Jean Kindrick, Becky Gibson, Trish Lutz, and Stacey Moffet, and numerous nieces and nephews.

“A memorial school psychology internship fund has been established in her name with the LSU Health Foundation. Donations should be addressed to the Dr. Conni Patterson Scholarship Fund, c/o”



Why Stress Causes Us to Overeat

by Susan Andrews, PhD

Researchers have long linked weight gain to stress, and according to an American Psychological Association survey, about one-fourth of Americans rate their stress level as 8 or more on a 10-point scale. Stress eating or “emotional eating” seems to be triggered almost automatically when stressed. A 2010 study from the University of Michigan indicated that when levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, are up because you are stressed, you eat more snack foods.

We increase fat, salt, sugar, and caffeine intake. • We skip meals regularly. • We eat more fast food, mindlessly munching. • We tend to seek out foods that we consider “comfort food.” • We drink less water. • We may drink more alcohol. • And, some who still smoke, will smoke more cigarettes.

Stress does not always cause us to overeat or to eat more high-fat, sugary comfort-foods. The first reaction of our brain and body to high stress is to shut down appetite. The hypothalamus produces corticotropin-releasing hormone, which suppresses appetite. The brain then sends a message to the adrenal glands to release epinephrine or adrenaline. This triggers the body’s fight-or-flight response and – once again – eating is put on hold.
Fortunately, or unfortunately, this does not last if the stress persists, then the adrenal glands release cortisol. Cortisol immediately increases your appetite. As long as the cortisol levels remain elevated, the fat and sugar cravings continue.

Women are more likely than men to turn to food, while men are more likely to turn to alcohol and smoking. In 2007, an ingenious study in Britain showed that people who responded to stress with high cortisol levels were more likely to snack in response to daily hassles in their regular lives than low cortisol responders.

WebMD offers some interesting thoughts on breaking the stress eating cycle and enjoy a healthy diet.

  • Prepare your brain and body in advance of a known period of stress and you will be better able to handle stress when it happens. Keep your emotions in better balance by eating regularly every four or five hours.
  • Eat Complex Carbohydrates, like oatmeal, bran, brown rice, vegetables, beans, and fruits. Complex carbs help your brain synthesize serotonin.
  • Eat healthy fats, like avocado, nuts, seeds, fatty fish, nut butters, and olive oil.
  • Recognize the stressful event or thoughts that trigger the urge to eat. Stop first and decide if you are really hungry. Remind yourself when you last ate.
  • Try a little Mindfulness.
  • Always keep healthy snacks available wherever you go. Small packets of nuts or trail mix. • Eat good protein in the morning and complex carbs during the day.
  • Please do not forget your small piece of dark chocolate (72% cocoa is good).
  • Have cut up celery and carrots in the refrigerator.
  • Avoid driving or walking past snacks and vending machines.
  • Put that music on and do some breathing!



War for the Planet of the Apes

by Alvin G. Burstein, PhD

War for the Planet of the Apes is a rich and textured film; it has impressive psychological, social and moral depth. It is about war, slavery, racism and loss at multiple levels.

Civil war General Sherman told us, “War is Hell.” World War II General Curtis LeMay said, “War is about killing people.”

The film is a powerful critique of war as a social institution. As a critique, it is especially valuable in an era when concepts of “surgical strikes” and “collateral damage” blur the central issue of killing and its moral costs. The film makes full use of the opportunity offered to dazzle and shock with explosions and carnage. More impressive is its insistence on reminding us of the singular personhood of those killed and the necessity of asking, “Is this right?”

In an obvious reference to the Nazi death camps of World War II, much of the film’s action takes place in a camp housing apes taken prisoner by the human army. They are called “donkeys”, enslaved, ill-fed and subject to horrific physical abuse. The commander of the army unit makes it clear that he regards apes, who are evolving the capacity to speak, as a threat to human hegemony on the planet. The threat is intensified because a simian virus has spread to humans, and, in humans, the disease results in adverse mutation and mental deterioration. The commander sees himself as making a desperate attempt to ward off a future in which apes will become the dominant species. In his view, warding off the threat requires the killing of all apes. His argument parallels Adolf Hitler’s views that Aryan superiority was threatened by the inferior Jewish race. The film’s linkage of war, slavery and racism is powerful. It also has special relevance to our society, constituting another critique, not the easy one against slavery, but the more unsettling one of slavery based on the “peculiar institution” in America, a race enslaved on the basis of racial inferiority.

Caesar is the film’s central figure, leading the simian forces in the war. After a battle involving many deaths on both sides, he returns four captured human soldiers safely to the commander, offering peace. An apartheid solution, each species occupying separate areas: cities for the humans, the forests for the apes. The offer is spurned and Caesar’s wife and one of his children are killed in a subsequent military attack. Caesar undertakes a heroic effort for singular vengeance, but is caught and enslaved. He sparks a rebellion which is successful in which he is mortally wounded. Nevertheless, he leads his group to asylum, an Edenic setting in which death precludes his participation. Caesar’s dying reminds us of Moses leading his people to Canaan before his death, of Martin Luther King’s “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech on the eve of his assassination. In an America, where four of presidents have been slain in office, we know how the loss of a charismatic leader, a national hero, a father figure, wrenches.

Freud described the death of one’s father as “the most significant event, the most poignant loss, of a man’s life.” The War for the Planet of the Apes evokes those feelings.


Get Out: A Review

by Alvin G. Burstein, PhD

Jordan Peele, well known for acting in comedy skits for fifteen years, has earned his chops as director in his first film, Get Out.

The film is a tasty dish, an innovative combination of horror, comedy and social commentary. The film opens with an amuse bouche, the relationship of which to the main story line is not clarified until later in the film. A young black man is walking alone down an affluent suburban street late at night. He becomes frightened by a car tailing him and is ultimately attacked and manhandled into the trunk of the car which, to end the episode, speeds off. A mood of danger and racial tension is set.

One of the strengths of the film is Peele’s artful invocation of mood changes. The first switch is the opening of the main story. An attractive young interracial couple, Rose and Chris, undertake a visit to introduce her black boyfriend, a talented photographer, to her upper class white parents. When he expresses mild concerns about their reaction to his race, she reassures him about their liberal views—they would have voted for a third term of Obama’s presidency.

Fright interrupts their drive when their car hits a deer; a hostile policeman called to the scene finally sends the couple on their way. At the parents’ palatial home, as the visit unfolds, manifest expressions of welcome are punctuated by an increasing tempo of eerily peculiar events. Odd behavior by black servants, a maid and a yard man; the girlfriend’s brother; and a bevy of white, upper class friends, which includes one black man married to an older white woman, all combine to introduce a thickening sense of dangerous tension.

The weirdness ratchets up when Rose’s mother, a psychiatrist, asks Chris about his past and learns about his mother’s death, run over in a car accident when he was young. Rose’s mother goes on to hypnotize an unwilling Chris to eliminate his cigarette addiction. She uses the sound of stirring her cup of tea to induce a deep trance that sends Chris spinning into a deep, dimensionless space. In the trance Chris recovers a memory of sitting at home watching television, unaware, while his mother is dying.

Uneasy, Chris makes a phone call to his roommate, a black TSA officer who is dog-sitting Chris’ pet. The officer introduces comic relief warning Chris about the dangers of relating to white women based on slapstick fears of being made a sex slave.

Finally, unsettled to the point that he decides to follow his roommate’s advice to get out, Chris tries to leave, to learn that Rose and her family are involved in a bizarre scheme of using the bodies of black people as vessels for the brains of white people whose bodies are compromised in some way. Chris is wanted to provide a body to replace that of a white photographer who has become blind and needs Chris’ photographer’s eyes and talent. It would be a spoiler to reveal the outcome of Chris’s struggle to escape this fate.

A psychoanalyst, Charles Brenner, has argued that there are three central fears of childhood: abandonment, loss of love, and physical injury/castration, at the hands of parents. Much of the horrific impact of Peele’s film inheres in the impact of all three on Chris: his mother’s abandonment of him is echoed by his girlfriend’s transformation from a lover to something worse. That concatenation is heightened by another archaic dread, the fear of losing control of one’s self.

Early in the film, Chris’ TSA roommate comically talks about hypnosis in those terms: a hypnotist can make you bark like a dog. Behind that comic distortion is the fear of an alien possession of one’s body, represented in religious terms by demonic possession and in psychiatric terms by identity disorders.

Peele serves us a dish in which that fear is pictured in racial terms—black bodies utilized by white minds. He suggests, I think, a metaphor for slavery and perhaps, some aspects of professional athletics.


Behavioral Health Key to Louisiana’s Problems in Corrections says Director

Dr. Raman Singh, Director, Medical and Behavioral Health, Louisiana Department of Public Safety & Corrections, told psychologists last month that the leverage for dramatic changes in the state’s incarceration rate was to institute behavioral health reforms in the Louisiana criminal justice system. The legislature passed laws in its 2017 session to begin the reforms that Governor Edwards said was a top priority, and some of the key changes Singh explained were needed to overhaul the problems Louisiana has in its corrections and justice system.

Singh, a medical doctor and cardiologist by training, spoke to a packed session at the Convention of the Louisiana Psychological Association (LPA) held June 2 and 3 in New Orleans.

“Louisiana’s incarceration rate contributes to over-representation of the mentally ill in the criminal justice system,” Singh told the audience, noting that the United States has the highest per capita incarceration rate in the world and that Louisiana has the highest per capita incarceration rate in the US. Dr. Susan Tucker, clinical psychologist and the Assistant Warden at the Bossier Parish Medium Security Facility, and in-coming President-Elect of LPA, introduced Dr. Singh and explained the significance of comprehensive psychological programs in the corrections and justice system. Tucker developed the Steve Hoyle Intensive Substance Abuse Program which has earned national recognition for excellence. In 2016 the Louisiana Legislature commended Tucker and her team in a House Concurrent Resolution pointing to multi-million dollar cost savings to the state because of shorter incarceration times of those offenders who participated in the psychological programs designed by Tucker. Dr. Singh is responsible for the functional supervision of medical and behavioral health staffs who coordinate on-site care for 19,000 offenders assigned to state prisons, for all off-site health care needs for 38,000 DOC offenders and 16,000 local offenders housed in all state prisons and 104 local jails or detention centers. Singh explained to the audience of psychologists and professors that the reasons for over-incarceration in Louisiana is well-established. Based on a 2016 Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s review Singh said the top reasons were mandatory sentences and habitual offender laws, high rates of local incarceration without treatment programs, and “not addressing issues driving criminal behavior such as substance and mental illness.” Singh said that the 599 criminal statute and 164 mandatory minimum sentences contribute to over-incarceration in Louisiana, which are sentences without benefit of probation, parole or suspension. He said that 55 percent of mandatory minimum sentences are for non-violent crimes and that these minimums “shift sentencing discretion from judges to prosecutors.” Another serious factor is the high rates of local incarceration in Louisiana where there is no treatment. Jails and prisons have a disproportionately high number of persons with mental health issues and people with a serious mental illness (SMI), Dr. Singh explained. He noted that of the mentally ill in society, greater than 40 percent have been arrested and the majority of these are brought in for minor offenses. Those with mental illness spend two to five times longer in jail. Singh told the attendees that there was a complex interplay of multiple societal factors stemming from problems in education, stressed family structures, socio-economic challenges and lack of job opportunities. He pointed out that the unemployment rate in the mentally ill adults in Louisiana is 88.3 percent.

And while 16 percent of the DOC prison population has been diagnosed with a SMI, 82 percent are diagnosed with a substance use disorder. “Incarceration of mentally ill exacerbates symptoms of mental illness. Rarely does incarceration of the mentally ill lead to an improvement in their mental status,” said Singh. His vision is to reduce the criminalization of those with mental illness and to resolve the crisis with a comprehensive solutions that provide treatment to those who need it. He promotes the Medicaid expansion and mental health parity. He said that 43 percent of the entire eligible Medicaid Expansion population in Louisiana has a mental health condition, and that offenders with mental illness or substance use disorder can be treated effectively. He wants more outpatient mental health care, more Rapid Stabilization Centers, and emerging models that prevent arrest and incarceration of adults with mental illness, called the Forensic Assertive Community Treatment Programs. To help create alternatives to incarcerating those with mental illness, Dr. Singh said that Forensic Diversion Facilities are needed to help alternative sentencing for offenders with mental health issues and who have committed a minor crime. Expansion of the Mental Health Courts are essential, especially because a majority of offenders are incarcerated for “crimes of survival” such as theft of food or breaking in to find a place to sleep. He wants to strengthen family and communities and help judges divert nonviolent offenders away from jails with better mental health legislation. Dr. Singh serves on the Louisiana Governor’s Drug Policy Board, Louisiana Task Force on Telehealth Access, Louisiana Re Entry Council, Louisiana Medicaid Quality Committee, Louisiana Commission on Preventing Opioid Abuse as well as chairs the Louisiana Commission on HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C. He has also been appointed by Governor Edwards to be his liaison to the White House Data Driven Justice Initiative project.


One Way to Calculate Your Daily Stress Level

by Susan Andrews, PhD

Think about your day today or any day. Is anything causing you to be upset or worried? Are you  working on a timeline, for example, or have a deadline? Is today one of those days that you have too many things on your list? Check the list below and assign a value based on the duration of the aggravation or situation. If the situation or problem lasts less than an hour, assign a number value of 1. If it lasts for several hours, give it a 3. If the situation is chronic, assign a value of 5. Continue reading


Wonder Woman Redux

by Alvin G. Burstein, PhD


I got a kick out of this film on many levels. The first is its portrayal of bang-up battles between unambiguous villains and good guys, both human and divine, amped up by super-duper special effects. The movie also involves an old-fashioned sweetheart relationship, nicely seasoned with sprinkles of humor, between its attractive co-stars, Gal Godatas Princess Diana, and Chris Pine, as Steve Trevor, the American pilot she rescues. Continue reading


Dr. Salcedo Named LPA Distinguished Psychologist 2017

Dr. Rafael Salcedo, known for his advocacy and comprehensive treatment program for the young victims of human sex trafficking, has been named the 2017 Distinguished Psychologist by the Louisiana Psychological Association. The award was announced last month at the association’s annual conference held in New Orleans.

Dr. Salcedo was honored for his excellence in psychological practice and his dedication to “saving the minds, bodies and souls of little girls,” from the devastation of human traffickers.

Salcedo is a licensed Clinical Psychologist with subspecialties in the area of forensic and neuropsychology, providing services for issues such as competency to stand trial, sanity at the time of crime, and other legal issues. He consults to the court system in Orleans, Jefferson, Lafourche and Terrebonne Parishes, to the Office of Community Services, and has worked with the Department of Children and Family Services for the last 25 years, conducting evaluations of children who are in need of supervision/care.

Dr. Salcedo also chairs the Louisiana Psychological Association (LPA) Committee for Community Psychology & Psychology in the Public Interest.

In 2012, after becoming aware of the depth and tragedy surrounding child sex trafficking, Rafael and wife Beth, a licensed speech-language pathologist, founded the non-profit, advocacy group, the Louisiana Coalition Against Human Trafficking.

The Coalition is a faith-based 501(c)3 nonprofit aiming to alleviate human trafficking in Louisiana through community and government agency awareness, and organization partnerships.

Recognizing the extreme need for genuine, comprehensive treatment for the young victims the couple founded the “Free Indeed Home,” named from John 8:36, “Whom the Son has set free is free indeed.”

Dr. Salcedo volunteers his time and serves as Executive Director and Clinical Coordinator of the Home, the only licensed, therapeutic group home in the state for helping teen girls escape the physical and psychological bonds of sex-trafficking.

The Free Indeed Home is the rescue and restore extension of the Coalition’s efforts. Because of the need for intensive therapy to break the traumatic bonds created by the abuse of the trafficker.

Dr. Salcedo and Beth Salcedo are experts in Complex PTSD, which many, even many in the mental health field, do not fully understand, Salcedo said.

They recently presented an invited address at the Convention of the Louisiana Psychological Association,“ Diagnosing Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Complex Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, and Other Adolescent Psychiatric Disorders Commonly Encountered in Victims of Sex Trafficking.”

They have also presented at the Summer Symposium, an event presented by Dr. John Simoneaux and Professional Training Resources.

In Complex PTSD, Dr. Salcedo explained, the pathology is similar to the Stockholm Syndrome. “Complex trauma bonding is an entity in itself,” he said. “At the heart of complex PTSD is the phenomenon of trauma bonding.” So, while there is complexity in symptoms, the challenge for treatment is the victim’s attachment to the individual who caused the trauma, he explained.

In a previous interview, Dr. Salcedo said that the Free Indeed Home is a unique setting, for a variety of reasons. The girls’ trauma is very different from typical PTSD. For most forms of PTSD the issues are avoidance of the emotions surrounding the trauma and generalization of symptoms.

“The differences between this type of Complex PTSD and the typical PTSD are huge,” he said. “The victim identifies with and establishes a bond with their tormentor. The girls want to go back to the life. That is why the home is isolated and not in the center of New Orleans. It is the ideal situation if they run, which they do.” He said that 30 percent try and run and staff are not allowed to force them to stay. “All we can do is follow them,” he explained.

This is why the Home located in a beautiful rural and remote setting with large acreage. This helps in treatment when a girl tries to go back to the pimp.

“Most importantly,” Dr. Salcedo said,” it is a safe house. The pimps try and get them back because they are a source of income. They are a reusable commodity,” he said. Unlike with drugs, where the commodity is used up, the girls can produce income over and over, he explained. And that is why there is always the threat of the pimps reacquiring the girls, and how intensive the work can be.

Child sex trafficking is a subset of human trafficking, considered to be the second fastest growing criminal industry in the world. Drug trafficking is first. Current estimates are that 100,000 children in the United States are sex trafficked each year, sold into prostitution, and used for pornography and other commercial sexual acts. The Baton Rouge and New Orleans metropolitan area is one of the top 10 areas in the U.S. for human trafficking.

Dr. Salcedo is a graduate of the Clinical Psychology program at Louisiana State University, having obtained his Doctorate in 1983. He resides in St.Tammany Parish, has been married 27 years, and has three grown children currently in college.


Judge Caldwell Stands Firm on LSBEP Ruling

In an ironic twist of events, the Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists (LSBEP) has shepherded a bill through the legislature giving them more time to investigate complaints and more authority to charge fees. At the same time a District Court Judge has ruled that the board’s investigation and complaints subcommittee blatantly violated a defendants’ constitutional rights of Due Process.

“It is a huge issue and a major decision,” said Lane Roy, attorney for defendant Dr. Eric Cerwonka, “because it flies in the face of the procedure that we know this board has used time and again.”

The most recent hearing was held on Monday, June 26, with Judge R. Michael Caldwell of the 19th Judicial District Court in Baton Rouge. This latest ruling followed a May 2 review where Caldwell informed both sides that he considered the LSBEP procedures to violate Constitutional rights of the defendant.

On May 2 the LSBEP attorney, Ms. Amy Lowe, urged Judge Caldwell to allow her to present additional arguments and Caldwell agreed.

However, Mr. Roy did not see any meaningful additions presented by Ms. Lowe at the recent June 26 hearing. “She had nothing,” said Mr. Roy. “Zero.”

Mr. Roy also told the Times that Judge Caldwell used the term “reeks” three times at the June 26 hearing to describe his [Caldwell’s] views.

“The Judge ruled in open court and he used the phrase three times–– ‘This matter reeks with denials of Constitutional rights. I don’t care what he did or didn’t do. I can’t put up with this. As a Judge, I can’t,’ reported Mr. Roy. “He [Caldwell] was resolute. He said it was not a close call. That it was basic.”

Mr. Roy also said that the issues ruled on by Judge Caldwell are so basic that there is no possibility that the LSBEP attorneys do not know of these requirements.

“These are good people from good firms,” said Roy. “They all know the laws in these areas. What it tells me, is that they are bold enough to do it anyway.”

“The statute gives the board authority, but how can you have an administrative person, staff workers, who decide, who make decisions that affect the livelihood of people?” said Roy. “It’s the first step in taking the legs out from under the defendant. The defendant is concerned with their livelihood and ability to make a living, and can lose employment, before anyone on the board has even heard their case.”

“They run the costs up so high,” said Roy, “and put them [defendants] under political pressure and economic pressures. In Baton Rouge, where all the boards are, it is a cottage industry for attorneys.”

The Times asked Mr. Roy if he thought that the LSBEP would appeal. “She [Ms. Lowe] said she would appeal. I can’t imagine that this board would appeal, but I’ve been surprised by their decisions before.”

The District Court is not a court of publication explained Roy, but the Appeals Court is. Decisions handed down from the Appeals Court are widely distributed. “If they go to the Court of Appeal, they invite everyone to see their mistakes.”

On May 2, Judge Caldwell mentioned some of what he viewed as Constitutional violations, such as the hearing officer being the law partner of the board attorney and also someone entering Cerwonka’s home illegally to attempt to gather evidence. Another of these issues was that Cerwonka had previously been a client of the LSBEP prosecuting attorney, Mr. James Raines.

Mr. Roy noted in a Pre-Hearing Memorandum, “The prosecuting attorney for the Board had represented Dr. Cerwonka in a hotly contested custody dispute, had obtained much personal information about his then client, and provided information obtained to his Board client, all without authority or consent.”

“The Administrative Law Judge, Lloyd Lunsford, the person who at the hearing made all rulings on questions of law, admissibility of evidence, what was relevant and not relevant, and generally acted as ‘judge’ at the hearing, was and still is the law partner of Amy Lowe, who represented the Board at the hearing and who in fact, is representing the Board in this appeal,” wrote Roy in the memorandum.

Mr. Roy said in an interview with the Times, “It doesn’t mean that the board can’t go back and do it again. They have to do it in the correct way. My opinion is that if they do that, they will not be successful,” he said.

“The interest is not to police the profession, it is some other interest,” said Roy. “Some say it is political, but whatever the interest is, it is not to police the profession.

” The Complaints Committee of the LSBEP is a subcommittee that operates without direct oversight of the board members. The reason for this is so board members will avoid being exposed to information prior to disciplinary votes.

The Policy & Procedures for investigations have been changed dramatically over the last decade, so that once staffed by experienced psychologists and past board members, now there is a Private Investigator and a Prosecutor.

According to public records the board has had escalating legal fees which stem primarily from charges by the Board Prosecutor, held currently by Mr. James Raines. Over 2015 to 2016, and into January 2017, Mr. Raines prosecuted 16 cases. Three of these 16 cases amounted to $146,987 of charges for Mr. Raines.

After seeing the legal charges in this case, Mr. Roy said in a previous interview, “I was shocked at these fees. I’ve never seen these types of fees. It clearly is punitive,” he said. “I’m convinced that they don’t want anybody to appeal.”

Mr. Roy said that he has a good deal of experience with boards and that costs average around $10,000. A previous review of public documents suggested that fees for the Cerwonka case had come to $78,000 for the LSBEP. Mr. Roy noted a total of over $100,000 was closer.

During the recent legislative session, the LSBEP put forth legislation, SB 37 now Act 234, that removed a one-year limit on investigations from the psychology law. The measure also provided for fees to be charged for the investigations subcommittee. The bill was eventually amended so that the subcommittee fees would be capped at $10,000.

The Times asked for comments by the LSBEP after Judge Caldwell’s latest ruling, but has not received comments by publication time. The LSBEP has a policy of no interviews with the press.

[Editor’s Note: See “Judge Says Psych Board Procedures Unconstitutional,” in June issue of the Times. Also see “What’s Behind Door No. SB 37?” in the April Times.]


LSBEP Publishes Rules for Ethics, Fees, Supervision

The Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists (LSBEP) published its final version of the new Chapter 13. Ethical Standards of Psychologists,” composed of ten pages of guidelines based largely on the ethics code of the American Psychological Association. The Rules was published in the June issue of the Louisiana Register.

Sections include: Preamble, Resolving Ethical Issues, Competence, Human Relations, Privacy and Confidentiality, Advertising and Other Public Statements, Record Keeping and Fees, Education and Training, Assessment, and Therapy.

The psychology board also published a new Rule for Chapter 6 of the Louisiana Administrative Code (LAC) on Fees. License renewals are increased from $320 to $350 and the Emeritus category will go up from $150 to $175. Reinstatement fees drop from $570 to $550.

Additional changes to Chapter 7 on Supervised Practice Leading toward Licensure, includes “Postdoctoral supervised practice hours can begin accruing after the date on which all requirements for the doctoral degree are met, …” For Licensed Specialists in School Psychology, a change is made to Chapter 33, Definition of Applicant for Licensure as a Specialist in School Psychology. Included is, “5. has completed an internship of at least 1200 hours and nine months in duration, …” with 600 hours in a school setting; .. Also, one year of employment or experience, obtained as part of an acceptable internship may be applied toward required supervision.


Legislature Wraps Up

Financial issues dominated the legislative session but some bills drew the community’s attention. A measure by the state psychology board aimed to help the regulatory board deal with its mounting legal fees, passed with amendments. An effort by the Counselors to remove the Rx consultation clause moved through after some initial bumps with the psychologists.

Senator Mills’ bill to reform the health boards’ disciplinary hearings and create oversight, bit the dust. One source reported that a board member said, “We killed it.” A new commission was created for prevention of human trafficking and limits were placed on prescriptions for opioids.

In this review we summarize a few of the actions of the 2017 Legislative sessions.

Legislature Finally Passes Budget

Legislators were called to another special session to pass a budget they had failed to negotiate before the regular session, a sign of continuing problems for the state. A $1.2 billion shortfall is expected next July, according to the Advocate.

For now, higher education fared better than expected, and was funded at higher levels than in the last decade. Mental health in Medicaid took a severe cut. State workers, especially the lower paid employees were given a 2 percent increase, amid concerns that employees such as prison guards would not be retained due to low comparative rates.

Governor Edwards warned that the fiscal cliff is coming. He said that if the conservatives would not renew taxes in 2018, it would result in the closing of hospitals and universities, reported the Advocate.

SB 37 (Act 234) Gives LSBEP More Leeway In Investigations

Senate Bill 37 by Senator Martiny, a measure to remove the current one-year time limit for disciplinary investigations at the Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists and to allow the psychology board to collect fees when psychologists are being investigated by the subcommittee, was signed into law as Act 234 on June 14.

The measure allows for the board to start charging fees for informal hearings, including fees incurred by the board for a disciplinary action that is resolved by settlement, consent decree, or other informal resolution, including its investigator, staff, and legal fees. Previously they were allowed to charge only for formal hearings.

The measure was amended in committee to cap the fees for informal hearings at $10,000.

Previously psychologists enjoyed a one-year limit for the board to bring them to a hearing over a complaint, and in the original version the board would have been exempt from all time limits. However, in the Senate Committee, the measure was amended to conform with the time-limits set out in R.S. 37:21.

At the November 2016 LSBEP Long-Range Planning meeting, the board had said it would work collaboratively with the community to develop administrative Rules, not a new statute, to deal with its problems. In early March, the board sprung the news on the Louisiana Psychological Association (LPA) that it was crafting legislation for the 2017 session.

SB 38 (Act 235) Frees Counselors from Rx Consultation Clause

A measure removing a consultation clause for counselors and marriage & family therapists passed the House floor with 88 yeas and 2 nays on June 1, and returned to the Senate and was approved 33 to 0. The measure was signed by the Governor on June 14.

The bill became law upon signing and relieves those under the Licensed Professional Counselor board of a burden to consult with a professional who prescribes and who is licensed under the state medical board.

The measure hit a snag when psychologists objected to what some viewed as an opening to psychological testing, even though counselors said testing was not part of the bill.

At the June 23 meeting of the House Health & Welfare Committee, author Senator J.P. Morrell told members, “Working with the association of psychologists we came to a compromise in which, working with those groups over a period of time, there was an agreement that the testing provision for a variety of those different conditions would remain with the psychologists and the testing provision would be removed from the practice act.”

“So we removed the language that requires the consultation but we changed the practice act to say that the testing provision should be in the purview of psychologists while the diagnosis and treatment will remain with the mental health counselors and with marriage and family therapists.”

Morrell said that with this change the association of psychologists removed its opposition. The committee reported the bill favorably with an 11 to 0 vote. Then it was passed in the House with 88 yeas and 2 nays.

SB75 Stalled Out in Committee

Senator Fred Mills’ effort to reform and curtail boards’ powers when it comes to disciplinary hearings was stopped in the House Health & Welfare Committee after passing the Senate. At the committee meeting Mills said that there had been some misinformation and he clarified that the measure did not affect the duties or powers of the boards, or the scope of practice that some members of the boards had believed.

He said that the changes are not new ideas. “Forty-four states have Administrative Law Judges for disciplinary hearings,” he said. “We don’t want you to be the sheriff, the DA, and the judge.”

This is a lot less costly Mills said, with the Administrative Law Judge costing on average from $1,500 to $2,000 for a hearing. The measure would have also added a consumer member to those boards that do not currently have one.

“We revised the Ethics laws in 2008 and said that, as a body, we don’t want the sheriff and the DA to be the judge and the executioner,” said Mills. “This bill is for the little man and the little woman. If you have to go in front of a full hearing, you should not go in front of a hearing that are those who’ve been investigating you.”

One source told the Times that board members helped derail the effort.

SB42/Act 181 Creates the Human Trafficking Prevention Commission

The measure creates a 17- member commission with a variety of legal, law enforcement, educational, social and other leaders, and also an Advisory Group, to prevent human trafficking in the state.

Act 162 Limits Service on Medical Board

Amends present law, instead of repealing it, and limits service to three consecutive terms.

SB216/Act 254 PEC Expanded

Prior law authorized any physician, psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner, or psychologist to execute an emergency certificate after an actual examination of a person alleged to be mentally ill or suffering from substance abuse who is determined to be in need of immediate care and treatment in a treatment facility because the person is determined to be dangerous to self or others or to be gravely disabled. Act 254 expands this authority to (1) Physician assistants when acting in accordance with their respective clinical practice guidelines; (2) Nurse practitioners with or without a clinical specialization who act in accordance with a collaborative practice agreement and receive verbal approval from a collaborating physician for executing the certificate.

SB192/Act 82 Limits Prescribing of Opioids

The measure prohibits a medical practitioner from prescribing more than a seven-day supply to an adult for outpatient use or to a minor at any time.

HB341/Act 369 Changes Terminology from Mental Health to Behavioral Health

The measure changes the heading of Title 28 of the La. Revised Statutes of 1950 from “Mental Health” to “Behavioral Health,” and defines “behavioral health” as a term which is used to refer to both mental health and substance use.

HB79 to Act 266

A measure which prohibited the administration of corporal punishment to students with exceptionalities, was signed into law.