Author Archives: Susan

Records Show EPPP Change Was Surprise

Public records and emails obtained from the state psychology board indicate that the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB) did not alert its members that a major change in policy was to be considered at the Board of Directors meeting, held on October 17 in Waikoloa, Hawaii. Furthermore, the policy change topic did not appear on the agenda for the members’ meeting that followed, held October 18 to 22, also in Hawaii.

The major policy change––the decision to mandate the Part 2 of the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) by combining it with Part 1, and doubling the price from $600 to $1200, was announced to jurisdictional members by email on Saturday, October 21. Robin Pence, an assistant at ASPPB, notified members that the Part 2 would no longer be optional.

Email records and published agendas show no items that would alert members to a major change in policy. A “Business Session” was listed for Thursday, October 19, but the EPPP was not listed. Also, while a revised agenda was sent out, for the state board administrators, it included only an “Education Session” about the “EPPP 1 and 2.”

On Saturday, October 21, Robin Pence notified the Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychology (LSBEP), who did not send a delegate to Hawaii due to costs, by way of the ASPPB Listserv, of the change.

“I am writing to you to share with all ASPPB member jurisdictions some important new developments about the EPPP Part 1 and Part 2 that were announced today during the 2017 ASPPB Annual Meeting. These new developments represent an important change from the original thinking about how ASPPB would implement the EPPP Part 2. The ASPPB Board of Directors, based on a number of factors, including feedback from our member jurisdictions and input from our legal counsel, has determined that the EPPP Part 2 is a necessary enhancement, and therefore an essential component of the EPPP.” She said that both parts will “… be the licensing exam for psychologists in the U.S.”

In the Listserv discussion on October 21, Dr. Kathleen Doyle of the New York State regulatory board asked, “… was this determination made by a vote of the members at the annual meeting, or a determination by the Board of Directors?”

On October 27, Dr. DeMers answered, writing, “The determination was voted on by the Board of Directors and presented at the annual meeting we just had this month. After we made the announcement at the meeting, we discussed the rationale and other issues and answered questions posed by the membership. Based on the overwhelming reaction at the meeting, it seemed that our members were supportive of these decisions and more
than a few appreciated the vision that lead to them.”

Dr. Doyle also wrote, “… please provide the rationale for the determination how the legal defensibility for the examination would depend on both parts being seen as one examination?”

To Doyle’s question about rationale, Dr. DeMers wrote, “Our legal counsel has advised us that he has concerns for us and for our jurisdictions if we allow some jurisdictions to use a lesser exam when a better exam is available and in use in other jurisdictions. Candidates failing either Part 1 or Part 2 would have a basis for claiming that they were not given a comparable exam to that offered in other jurisdictions, regardless of which part of the EPPP was failed. These concerns about legal defensibility center on potential challenges to both ASPPB and the individual jurisdictions when the need to assess both knowledge and skills to adequately assess professional competence has been publicly advanced, and the validity of both Part 1 and Part 2 has been demonstrated empirically. […]”

Dr. Doyle responded, “We have several concerns with the examination as it is being presented and we will send these concerns to you soon,” and said the rational “does not appear to make sense.”

“ASPPB is a vendor,” Doyle wrote. “As an organization, it was created to develop some kind of an examination that jurisdictions might use to meet their licensing responsibility and to some extent enable an examination to be endorsed by other jurisdictions if they choose to do so.”

She wrote, “The scopes of practice of the jurisdictions differ; few are the same. The requirements for practice differ, as well as the authority to practice. Each jurisdiction is an independent entity which is fully responsible for determining what it citizens need. ASPPB cannot ‘allow’ any jurisdiction to take any action regarding their licensees and no jurisdiction can fall back on saying ‘ASPPB made me do it.’”

“It was formed to provide its members with products that they might need to carry out their duties, or to gather information for members who might need it. It was formed to enable some form of unity among the many jurisdictions, but not to make regulatory decisions for the members. Hopefully, the Board of Directors will undertake additional consideration of this determination,” Doyle noted.

On October 27, Dr. DeMers wrote, “… ASPPB’s position is this is a necessary enhancement and revision of an existing exam that is used as a licensure requirement in most jurisdictions. The enhanced EPPP is not an additional requirement but a change to an existing requirement. ASPPB is a vendor offering a product to jurisdictions and this product is being updated and improved…”

Other Listserv members asked questions about various problems with administration and scoring of the sections if a candidate was retaking part of the new exam.

Dr. Amy Henke emailed members of the psychology board about the issues, writing, “I’m not surprised and I’m not sure there is much we can do. I’m very disappointed in the psychology community for allowing this to happen.” In one message she said she would contact Dr. Doyle.

Current Chair of the state board, Dr. Phil Griffin, wrote to Executive Director Ms. Jaime Monic, saying, “The public (psychologists, current and future) are not liking this at all.” On October 23, in an email from past Chair, Dr. Marc Zimmermann noted his concerns to board members.

“Today I received a communication from ASPPB. I may be paranoid, but when I read between the lines it appears that the EPPP-2 idea is not going over well so they are going to force it upon the various jurisdictions. I have long had concerns that ASPPB wishes to become the credentialing agency for psychology. I believe the Board should consider options. With or without other Boards the LSBEP should consider an alternative to the EPPP.”

“This examination is a huge moneymaker for ASPPB and it empowers them to flex muscles in their interest and not the various jurisdictions they purport to represent. […]”

On October 23, Ms. Monic responded back to Zimmermann, saying, “I just finished reading that communication also. You’re thinking is along the same lines of current board members also.”

In 2016 ASPPB had announced the Step 2 exam and objections mounted, mostly from student and early career psychologist organizations.

Last year in Louisiana, Dr. Amy Henke, then a Director on the Executive Council of the Louisiana Psychological Association (LPA) and Co-Chair of the LPA Early Career Psychologists Committee in LPA, put forth a Resolution to oppose the Step 2 for Louisiana, which passed unanimously.

Objections, from Henke and others, involve technical and scientific issues, but also the criticism that there is no problem that the new test needs to solve. “There is no evidence that the public is facing some sort of previously unheard of crisis in terms of safety from currently practicing psychologists,” said Dr. Henke in 2016.

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Arguments in LSBEP Lawsuit Draw on 2015 Supreme Court Decision

A federal lawsuit against the state psychology board is continuing with arguments over exactly who is the Defendant, the psychology board or the state of Louisiana, a matter that takes on importance in light of the 2015 Supreme Court decision ruling that the North Carolina Dental Board did not share in immunity under the Eleventh Amendment. And, after arguments about the board’s immunity, a supplement was filed on January 5, asking to add the board’s Executive Director, an employee of the State, as a Defendant.

In August 2017, Dr. Eric Cerwonka filed a lawsuit in federal court against the Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists (LSBEP) alleging violations of his Constitutional rights. This followed a July 2017 ruling by 19th Judicial District Court Judge Michael Caldwell negating the LSBEP disciplinary decision against Cerwonka, in February 2017, on grounds that the board’s methods “… violated the Constitutional rights of Dr. Cerwonka.”

On January 12 the United States Magistrate Judge, Carol B. Whitehurst, ordered that the oral argument scheduled for January 17, on the Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Jurisdiction and for Failure to State a Claim for Partial Summary Judgment, was canceled. She wrote “In the event the Court desires oral argument on the motion at a later date, the Court will contact the parties and schedule same.”

Written arguments, obtained from the federal records system, were filed in November 2017.
On November 13, counsel for the LSBEP, Attorney General, Jeff Landry, signed for by Jeremiah Sams, Assistant Attorney General, filed a “Motion to Dismiss.”

Sams wrote that the Defendant was “…incorrectly named by Plaintiff as the Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists,” the Defendant is the “State of Louisiana, through the Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists of the Department of Health and Human Services…” he wrote.

He cited limited jurisdiction of federal courts and lack of sufficient factual matter, and Eleventh Amendment Immunity, “Under the Eleventh Amendment, Plaintiff is barred from obtaining relief from the Board.” And, he wrote, “Alternatively, Plaintiff has failed to state a claim against the Board under 42 U.S.C. §1983, as the Board is not a ‘person’ under the meaning of §1983.”

In the “Motion to Dismiss,” Mr. Sams also wrote that, “Under the Eleventh Amendment of the United States Constitution, an unconsenting state is immune from any lawsuit seeking monetary damages or equitable relief brought in federal courts by her own citizens or by the citizens of another state …” And, he wrote, “The Board is an agency of the State of Louisiana.”

“The State of Louisiana has not waived its immunity from suit in the federal system,” wrote Sams. “Therefore, Plaintiff’s §1983 claims against the Board should be dismissed under the Eleventh Amendment.”

Attorney for Cerwonka, Brown Sims attorney Mr. L. Lane Roy, wrote in the “Opposition of Plaintiff to Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss,” filed on November 30, 2017:

“Defendant, erroneously stated in its Motion to Dismiss as the ‘State of Louisiana, through the Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists of the Department of Health and Human Services’, and actually, and legally, the ‘Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists’ …”

Regarding the Defendant’s claim for Eleventh Amendment Immunity, Roy wrote, “ The basis
for that claim is the unproven, and baseless statement that the Defendant is really the State of Louisiana. Here, when the Defendant seeks dismissal based upon immunity of the State, it must prove that the Board is the State of Louisiana. The contrary is correct.”

“Defendant’s assertion in citations, particularly on page four of Defendant’s brief, refers to cases that have no relationship to the present one.”

And, “Contrary to the Defendant’s argument, Cerwonka sues under 28 U.S.C.§1331 and §1343.” […]

“These two sections clearly apply hereto. It is precisely what we ask here. Further, we do not sue the State of Louisiana, which is not a defendant, has not been a defendant, and was not a plaintiff in the underlying prosecution of the case against Dr. Cerwonka resulting originally in the loss of his license to practice psychology.”

Later in the brief, Roy writes, “An important case for this Court’s consideration on the issue of the Eleventh Amendment Immunity is the United States Supreme Court decision in the matter of North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners vs. Federal Trade Commission, 135 Sup. Ct.1101(2015). While the North Carolina State Board case

involves as one of its principal issues federal anti-trust laws, one of the main topics decided by the court was whether the State of North Carolina possessed Eleventh Amendment immunity from application of the federal law and its being subject to suit before the federal courts. In a lengthy discussion, the court found that North Carolina did not possess Eleventh Amendment immunity.” […]

“Here, there is absolutely no showing whatever that the State of Louisiana had active control over the Board in this matter and in fact, the exact opposite is correct.”

In another section of the Attorney General’s “Motion to Dismiss,” Sams writes, “Alternatively, Plaintiff has failed to state a claim against the Board under 42 U.S.C. §1983, as the Board is not a “person” under the meaning of §1983.

“To state a claim under §1983, a plaintiff must establish that a person, acting under color of law, deprived him of some constitutional right.

“State agencies and state officials acting in their official capacity are not ‘persons’ within the meaning of the statute, and it is a well settled point of law that a state is not capable of being sued under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, as the state is not a “person” under 42 U.S.C. §1983.34” […] “Accordingly, Plaintiff’s §1983 claims against the Board should be dismissed.”

In response, Roy wrote, “The problem with the argument is that nothing here in the Petition, nothing in Motion and Memorandum filed by the Defendant’s herein, intimate in any way, much less prove, that the agency defendant is in fact a state agency or a state official. In fact the opposite is true. The State has virtually no control of this agency as shown by the decisions that its rendered in this matter, not involving a state person but private attorneys hired for the persons, private investigators, private members of the community acting as judges at the hearing before the Board, private employees acting as persons, though illegally, who made decisions on interim suspension without a hearing whatsoever.”

On January 5, Mr. Roy filed an “Amended and Supplemental Suit for Damages for Violation of Civil Rights,” with Judge Rebecca F. Doherty identified as the Judge.

The amendment seeks to add an additional Defendant, Jamie Monic, executive director and employed of the State of Louisiana and who, the claim alleges, took actions “reserved to be taken only by a majority vote of the Board itself.” And that she “… frequently acted as the Board in connection with matters addressable in this lawsuit.”

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State Facing $1 Billion Shortfall Says Governor, Offers Tax Plan

In a press release January 14, Governor Edwards told Louisiana Legislators to “Act now to address fiscal cliff.”

“Louisiana is well positioned to enter an era of prosperity the likes of which we have not seen in decades, but we cannot pretend there isn’t a very real threat to the significant progress we’ve made,” said Governor Edwards last month and restated his warning in an editorial in the Advocate.

“Louisiana is facing a nearly $1 billion fiscal cliff, which if not addressed by July 1, will force catastrophic cuts to critically important state programs and services that Louisianans rely on.”

“The fiscal cliff is a problem that has been festering since the Legislature approved temporary revenue measures 27 months ago instead of permanent measures that would have historically reformed our tax code.

While lawmakers committed in 2016 to return to Baton Rouge to implement comprehensive reforms, over the course of six legislative sessions the only things they have approved are temporary revenues that will soon expire. Without action from the Legislature, many of the most important services you rely on that are funded by state government will have to be cut. That’s not a scare tactic. That’s basic math.”

Edwards presented his plan for a balanced budget, saying that this is “… one that will show more than $1 billion in state general fund cuts on top of the nearly $600 million in such cuts I have made since becoming governor. Factoring in federal matching funds, the cuts will exceed $2.8 billion.”

He released notes on his plan which includes: Eliminating the 5th penny of sales tax; Making Permanent Reductions to Tax Credits, Deductions and Rebates (Acts 109, 123, 126 of the 2015 Regular Legislative Session); Compressing Income Tax Brackets & Reduce Excess Itemized Deduction to 50%; Cleaning all Four Pennies of Sales Tax based on Clean Penny Exemptions; Taxing Business Utilities at 4% and Industrial Utilities at 2%; and Expanding Sales Tax to Services.

The Governor wrote in an editorial in the Advocate:

“If the Legislature refuses to work collaboratively to fix this problem before March, there will be dire consequences.

“For example, our state is currently on a negative outlook by two credit rating agencies and in danger of being downgraded once again. This will mean it costs more to service our debt. Others are taking our budget problems seriously, and the Legislature should do the same. We must put Louisiana first.

“We can solve this problem, but it requires House leadership to keep its word and offer a plan of action. The speaker of the House and I agree, Louisiana cannot wait. As students decide which colleges to attend, their families need to know what will happen with higher education and TOPS. Long-term planning for major road projects will come to a screeching halt. Our stable and improving economy will lose momentum if the Legislature does not step up, and we will go backward. My commitment is to remain flexible and work with the Legislature. But lawmakers must be willing to work with me. They can’t continue to say no to every proposed solution and refuse to offer their own solution. Within recent months, I have held more than 30 meetings with hundreds of business owners, local government leaders and Louisianans across the state explaining the “fiscal cliff,” answering their questions and listening to their concerns and ideas for addressing our problems. They are weary of our recurring financial problems and want us to we roll up our sleeves and work together to solve this once and for all. I know that we can. Let’s make the most of this opportunity to make Louisiana better for everyone.

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The Post: A Review

by Alvin G. Burstein

It could be argued that words printed on paper are passé and newspapers are a format in the process of becoming extinct. Warren Buffet, the Omaha sage of Wall Street, does not agree. He thinks that, despite the fact that the number of daily newspapers is shrinking, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal will endure because of their gravitas, and that local newspapers have a unique ability to focus on local events.

Spielberg’s new movie The Post, starring Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks, joins McCarthy’s 2015 Spotlight as bracing reminders of the impact the press can have.

The latter film documented the role The Boston Globe played in exposing not only the extent of priestly involvement in the sexual exploitation of young children, but also the Church’s role in a cover-up. The Post chronicles the exposure of the United States government’s cover-up of the realities of the war in Vietnam.

In 1950 Daniel Ellsberg was part of a RAND corporation research team sent to Vietnam to study limited warfare. In 1965 he spent two years in that country working for the State Department studying counter-insurgency. In the movie, he is portrayed as being embedded with troops suffering heavy casualties.

When Ellsberg returned to Washington, again at RAND, he joined a team drafting a history of the U. S. political involvement in Vietnam. There he became privy to classified documents describing how administrations from John Kennedy’s to Lyndon Johnson’s recognized that the war was basically unwinnable, a reality that was concealed from the American public. Ellsberg made copies of the documents, sharing them with the NYT. He did so with the realization that he was committing a crime.

In 1971, The Times published an article describing the contents of the so-called Pentagon papers. They were ordered to desist by the U.S. Attorney General, but refused to comply, whereupon the government obtained a court order enjoining them.

The Washington Post, hearing that Ellsberg was on the run in Washington, managed to locate him and obtain copies of the papers. The Post’s editor, Ben Bradlee, broached the notion of publishing them to its owner, Katherine Graham. The decision was fraught for several reasons. Criminal charges might ensue. The paper was in the process of becoming publicly owned, and might lose investors. The Graham family was friends with Secretary of Defense McNamara, deeply implicated in the scandal.

The movie explores the play of these tensions and goes at least a half-step further, hinting at both Graham’s and Bradlee’s susceptibility to being seduced by the appeal of access to the powerful. The movie, too, dramatizes the power of the press in visual terms with a focus on linotyping and huge mechanical presses churning away.

In fact and in the movie, the question of governmental authority versus freedom of the press went to the United States Supreme Court for resolution. Justice Hugo Black’s words served as an epigraph to the movie:

In the First Amendment the Founding Fathers gave the free press the protection it must have to fulfill its essential role in our democracy. The press was to serve the governed, not the governors. The Government’s power to censor the press was abolished so that the press would remain forever free to censure the Government.

These words are particularly apposite in our time.

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BASS: The Beliefs about Stress Scale

by Susan Andrews, PhD

Do laypersons’ beliefs about stress influence their mental and physical health? In 2016, German psychologists from Berlin addressed this question and developed The Beliefs About Stress Scale (BASS), which is a standardized questionnaire to assess stress beliefs. The BASS consists of an item pool of 24 statements. To standardize the instrument, it was administered online to 455 university students at the start of term. Other information about students’ subjective stress levels, optimism, pessimism, neuroticism and somatosensory amplification was collected. A sub-group of these students were reassessed at the end of term exams 6 to 8 weeks later.

Analysis included factor analysis which suggested 3 dimensions of stress beliefs: negative stress beliefs, positive stress beliefs, and controllability. The item pool of 24 statements is given in the appendix of the publication. Some of the statements include:

“Being Stressed …
1 . . . is, for me, a sign of weakness 2 . . . impacts negatively on my ability to perform 3 . . . causes damage to my health in the long run 4 . . . is something I am able to influence through my actions 5 . . . enables me to work in a more focused manner 6 . . . makes me more productive 7 . . . makes my life more exciting in a positive sense 8 . . . causes damage to my health in the short-term

One study in 2016 by Drs. Johannes Laferton and Susanne Fischer, published in the International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, showed that students who held negative beliefs about stress being dangerous to one’s health did, in fact, complain of more somatic symptoms during a stressful period.

It is interesting to see the wide range of negative to positive statements included in the BASS questionnaire. Further research using the BASS with differing populations is needed.

In the light of these self-fulfilling and predictive beliefs, I might behoove all of us who are active and busy to take time to examine our own beliefs about stress. And, our beliefs about how well we believe we manage our stress is also critical. We may need to decide that Stress is NOT the “Bad Guy” after all. Dr. Kelly McGonigal, a health psychologist, gave a TED talk in which she said, “For years I’ve been telling people ‘stress makes you sick!’ …But I’ve changed my mind.” And, she quoted several large N studies to prove her point that changing how you think about stress can change the outcome.

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Dr. Chaney Serving on Governor Edwards’ Task Force to Prevent Sexual Harassment and Discrimination

Governor Edwards named Industrial-Organizational Psychologist Dr. Courtland Chaney to the Governor’s Task Force on Sexual Harassment and Discrimination Policy.

In a statement on December 15 the Governor’s Office announced the new Task Force and stated that seven members are included who will “review current harassment and discrimination policies within every state agency that falls under the executive branch, as well as research and identify the most effective ways to create work environments that are free from any form of harassment or discrimination.”

Dr. Courtland Chaney is a licensed industrial-organizational (I-O) psychologist in private practice in his company, Human Resource Management Associates, Inc., located in Baton Rouge. Chaney currently serves as a Director on the Executive Council of the Louisiana Psychological Association. He was a faculty member in the Department of Management at Louisiana State University until his retirement in 2010.

“Sexual harassment and discrimination,” said Governor Edwards in the December announcement, “have no place in the workplace and this task force will provide critical feedback on the current policies and procedures in our state agencies that are working and what improvements are needed in order to provide safe work environments for our employees.”

Also appointed to the task force were Terrence Ginn, deputy commissioner for finance & administration at the Louisiana Board of Regents; Sandra Schober, deputy director of administrative services for the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office; Makayla Weber-Harris, staffing assistant division administrator of the Louisiana State Civil Service.

Also appointed were Janice Lansing, chief financial officer of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority; Tina Vanichchagorn, deputy executive counsel, Office of the Governor; Suzette Meiske, human resources director for the Louisiana Community Technical College System.

“Every member of this task force brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the table, and I have confidence in their ability to meet the goals and objectives set before them,” said Gov. Edwards.

In an Executive Order he outlined the duties of the group:

• Review the sexual harassment and discrimination policies of each state agency within the executive branch.

• Research and identify the most effective mode of training to prevent workplace sexual harassment and discrimination and evaluate the effectiveness of the existing video state employees are required to view each year.

• Develop a protocol for sexual harassment and discrimination policy orientation for new employees, those participating in any state sponsored training academy and employees promoted to supervisory positions.

• Research and identify the specific conduct that should be prohibited by sexual harassment and discrimination policies.

• Research and identify a clear reporting process when an allegation is made as well as the most appropriate action that should be taken once an investigation is completed.

The Task Force was created after Governor Edward’s deputy chief of staff, Johnny Anderson, voluntarily resigned amid an investigation of a harassment claim against him. Anderson says he is innocent of any wrongdoing. Some critics noted that Anderson should not have been hired because he had a similar problem while at Southern University, according to reports in the TimesPicayune.

Dr. Chaney commonly provides anti-harassment training for businesses that he assists and believes all decision-makers should ask themselves certain questions, involving, “Am I acting in an ethical manner? Am I treating people fairly, the way I would want to be treated, the way I would want my loved ones to be treated?” And, “Am I in compliance with all federal, state and local laws?”

He often engages his attendees to talk as a group and or individually, to dig into these types of questions even more thoroughly where needed.

“In my judgment, most antiharassment training––including sexual harassment––focuses on following the EEOC guidelines …” he said.

But after that analysis, which can be comprehensive, Dr. Chaney believes that the issues can extend to the organizational culture.

“I believe our next effort should be focused on describing the type of organizational culture we aspire to have and articulating the behaviors we expect of organizational members,” he explained. “The expected behaviors should then be reinforced through human resource management practices, including performance management, feedback, and progressive discipline.”

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Lady Bird: A Review

Lady Bird: A Review
by Alvin G. Burstein

Lady Bird is a coming of age story, a bildungsroman. We follow its protagonist, a teen-ager discontent with herself and her situation, beset with a vague yearning to change her life
and herself, as she struggles to free herself from what she feels confining her. The film opens with an epigraph displayed on the screen: Anybody who talks about California hedonism has never spent a Christmas in Sacramento. That is where Lady Bird lives, and, moreover, on the wrong side of the tracks. Living with her are her father who is unsuccessful in fending off unemployment, her critical and controlling mother who works double shifts as she scrabbles to make ends meet, a brother, who is tattooed and decked with body piercings, and the brother’s live-in girlfriend.

Lady Bird dreams of becoming someone, leaving home, going to an Ivy League college. Her grades, alas, are mediocre and its financial demands overwhelming. She steals looks at a classmate’s paper during a math exam and hooks the instructor’s grade book so that she can finagle a B in the class. She lies to classmates about where she lives, representing her home as being in an upscale neighborhood. She steals fashion magazines that she cannot afford to buy.

The film is a brilliant debut effort by Greta Gerwig, who wrote the story and directed the film. Gerwig leavens the grimness of Lady Bird’s struggle with genuinely comic elements. The
director makes the young girl sympathetic—no, loveable— because of her wit, her self-awareness, and the universal and urgent nature of her adolescent struggles with self-esteem.

The film opens with Lady Bird riding with her mother in an auto while they listen to a recording of The Grapes of Wrath, an elegant bit of foreshadowing. That book ends with the mother of the Oakie family shooing the men away and supporting her daughter, whose infant child has just died, to nurse—literally— an elderly starving man. The novel ends with a reference to the  daughter’s “mysterious smile.”

Lady Bird and her mother both weep as the reading ends, but begin to squabble when Lady Bird wants to move on to another tape. The fighting escalates, and the daughter jumps out of the moving car, breaking her arm.

A 1989 publication by the SUNY Freud Museum, Sigmund Freud and Art, cataloguing and describing Freud’s collection, contains a chapter by Ellen Handler Spitz, Psychoanalysis and
the Legacy of Antiquities. Spit draws our attention to the head of Demeter owned by Freud, and reminds us of the story of Demeter, the goddess of harvest and of the cycle of birth and
death, and her daughter Persephone. In the Greek myth, Persephone is kidnapped into marriage by the king of the underworld. Demeter, distraught, searches for her lost daughter. When, after much effort, she finds her, only to learn that during her captivity Persephone has swallowed six pomegranate seeds, and thus can only spend half of each year with her mother, returning to the underworld for the other half.

Spitz suggests this tale is as figural for psychoanalysis as is the more famous one of Oedipus, the latter with its emphasis on the tension between fathers and sons. Spitz explores various
interpretations of the Demeter myth and argues for its potential to counterbalance the patriarchal focus in psychoanalytic practice and theory. At a minimum, she sees the Demeter
myth as central in directing our attention to mother-daughter relationships, especially as they relate to issues of birth and loss, and of separation and reunion.

Lady Bird ultimately leaves home and mother. Do they find each other again? Yes and no. You will have to see the film to decide.

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“Hoffman Report” Defamation Suit Continues in Washington, DC Defendants Claim Free Speech Rights; Plaintiffs Point to Leaks as “Actual Malice”

A dispute involving the ramifications of the “Hoffman Report,” a document prepared by the Chicago attorney David Hoffman and commissioned by the American Psychological Association (APA), during conflicts over the role of military psychologists, APA ethics decisions, and human rights policies in APA, was filed in Washington D.C. in late August, immediately following dismissal by an Ohio judge who said the case was not in his jurisdiction.

Motions put forth in the Ohio pleadings and in the new D.C. litigation indicate that the defense attorneys may be positioning themselves to argue that the report falls under free speech protections.

The defamation lawsuit is being brought against David Hoffman, his law firm, and APA, by retired Colonels and psychologists Morgan Banks, Debra Dunivin and Larry James, and also two psychologists who are former employees of the APA, Drs. Stephen Behnke and Russ Newman. The lawsuit alleges reckless disregard for the truth and false statements in a 2015 Hoffman Report.

In December, defense attorneys filed a motion seeking the Court to compel arbitration based on the employment agreements of Drs. Behnke and Newman with APA. Hoffman’s law firm, Sidney, also filed a request that Behnke and Newman arbitrate the dispute with Hoffman’s firm.

In both Ohio and D.C., the defendants filed motions asking for dismissal based on free speech protection laws, called Anti-SLAPP laws. “SLAPP” or “strategic lawsuit against public participation” are lawsuits without merit which are aimed to intimidate or silence free speech, according to the Public Participation Project.

The defense wrote, “Here, APA’s publication of the Report constitutes an ‘[a]ct in furtherance of the right of advocacy on issues of public interest.’ Id. § 16-5501(1). The publication of the Report is a ‘written . . . statement’ that APA allegedly made ‘[i]n a place open to the public or a public forum.’”

The motion to dismiss also says that the Plaintiffs are public officials or limitedpurpose public figures, calling for the higher standard of not only false statements but of the level of “actual malice,” to be met.

The Plaintiffs filed a Motion for Discovery, saying that they are entitled to limited discovery and that the Plaintiffs are private citizens and plaintiffs should not have to show “actual malice.” AntiSLAPP laws narrow discovery provisions.

The Plaintiffs’ attorneys say that the report was given to James Risen, a New York Times reporter, prior to review and publication, and these actions are evidence of actual malice, said the attorneys.

Mr. Hoffman was hired by APA in 2014 to review interactions between military psychologists, APA officials, and the Bush administration. Then APA president Dr. Nadine Kaslow sought to resolve ongoing accusations that APA was involved in supporting unethical behavior by military psychologists.

The accusations were voiced by human rights activists and psychologists, and had been outlined in several publications, including a book by New York Times’ journalist, James Risen, Pay Any Price.

Hoffman said that communications of a 2005 APA members’ task force amounted to “collusion” with military psychologists and therefore with the Department of Defense. A media furor commenced following publication of the Report, splashing the issue of “torture” and APA across national news outlets. APA paid Hoffman $4.1 million for the Report, according to sources.

In February 2017 plaintiffs filed the defamation lawsuit in Ohio, alleging how the expansion of the investigation was hidden, how Hoffman over-relied on the accusers and aligned with the accusers’ goals, and that Hoffman failed to consider and follow evidence that contradicted the final conclusions.

The attorneys also allege that APA failed to adequately review the Report, failed to give Plaintiffs an opportunity to respond to allegations, and failed to respond to evidence of the mistakes and errors in the Report.

The Complaint states, “The false light in which the Plaintiffs Behnke, Dunivin, and James have been placed would be highly offensive to the reasonable person,” and has caused mental anguish, emotional distress, and “severe personal and professional humiliation and injury to their reputations in the community – reputations they have built over many years.”

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State of Louisiana, BRF, Ochsner Health System, LSU Sign Letters of Intent

Ochsner/LSU Jointly Plan to Operate Health System in Shreveport and Monroe

On December 19, the Governor announced that the State of Louisiana, the Board of Supervisors of Louisiana State University (LSU) on behalf of Louisiana Health Sciences Center Shreveport (LSUHSC-S) and the LSUHSC-S Faculty Group Practice, the Biomedical Research Foundation and Ochsner Health System announced that they have signed Letters of Intent to create a new, long-term, Public Private Partnership agreement in Shreveport and Monroe.
Under the proposed agreement, LSU and Ochsner will jointly form a new University Health System (UHS) structure to coordinate activities between the school and the healthcare delivery system.

“Both Ochsner and LSU are proven partners who are committed to leading the advancement of healthcare in our state,” said Governor John Bel Edwards. “LSU has significant strengths in medical education and research while Ochsner, also committed to academics and research, has tremendous expertise in operating hospitals and supporting the clinical activity of large physician groups. Working together, in a more integrated fashion, we plan to successfully deliver quality, cost-effective patient care in an environment that is optimal for the continued teaching and training of our state’s future doctors and healthcare professionals.”

The UHS structure under consideration would be governed by a new UHS board of directors made up of Ochsner, LSU and community board members from Shreveport and Monroe and in addition a Community Advisory Board made up of Shreveport and Monroe community members, and representatives from Ochsner, LSU and BRF to provide insight into the healthcare needs of the greater Shreveport and Monroe region.

 

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Murder on the Orient Express: Movie Review

Murder on the Orient Express: Movie Review
by Alvin G. Burstein

The birth of a literary genre cannot always be dated without dispute, but there is a strong consensus that the first detective story was The Murders in the Rue Morgue, published by Edgar Allen Poe in 1841. The detective, C. Auguste Dupin, called his method “ratiocination,” disciplined thinking. The story begins with Dupin’s appearing to read the mind of his companion, detecting his thoughts by closely observing his behavior. There is an intuitive opposition between thinking and feeling, and Dupin’s method seems to decisively favor rational thought over emotion.

In 1886 Arthur Conan Doyle published the first of a long string of Sherlock Holmes adventures, A Study in Scarlet. Holmes, repeating Dupin’s mind-reading trick in several of his cases, styles himself the first consulting detective. He energetically searches for information about the details of the crime and mulls over them extensively. In several of his cases, he refers to the time needed to think about the situation, clocking the number of pipefuls to be gone throughin the process. Holmes’ companion, Dr. Watson, describes Holmes as “a calculating machine” and cites the detective’s view that emotional qualities are antagonistic to clear reasoning. Holmes, even more clearly than Dupin, privileges rationality over feeling.

Of the many detectives that have emerged on the literary stage following Dupin and Holmes, the two that have most strongly emphasized intellectual process, as distinguished from emotion, are Rex Stout’s Nero Wolf and Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot. Both, after talking to those who report the details of the crime to them, engage in extended reflection. Wolf sits, eyes closed, pursing his lips, until he has found a solution. Poirot relies on what he calls his “little grey cells,” cogitating until, his green eyes glowing with satisfaction, he settles on the solution.

Although Wolf does not inveigh against the dangers of emotion, unmarried, he rarely leaves his home, has a rigid daily routine, and is uneasy about relating to women. Poirot, too, is unmarried. Though he is gallant in relating to women, he twits Captain Hastings about his companion’s interest in young ladies.

A focus on intellectual activity and avoidance of emotional involvement raises a question about the psychological defense mechanism called isolation of affect. Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot, as portrayed in the 2017 film, Murder on the Orient Express offers an opportunity to explore that question.

In the film, as in Christie’s many Poirot writings, the detective appears as a compulsive person, scrupulously neat, intolerant of any form of messiness. In short, what some psychoanalysts would call an anal character. In an opening scene, this epitome of tidiness, walking in a bustling middleeastern market steps into a pile of camel dung. Intentional or unintentional psychoanalytic gesture, the mishap foretells a challenge to any neat logic based separation of right from wrong in dealing with this murder.

Although the story and its outcome are well known, to avoid a possible spoiler I will not recount the details. The point is that Poirot is confronted with a messy situation. One in which neatness is not an option, and in which he cannot be an external, after-the-fact observer. One in which he must become emotionally involved, an uncomfortably direct participant.

In a biography, as opposed to a fiction, this might have been a life-changing experience. But Murder on the Orient Express is fiction, and the fictional Poirot went on for decades of later
adventures without giving evidence of change in his character. Perhaps that is why, trapped by financial considerations, Christie is said to have tired of writing of him, and why—though I have not been able to document the source—she once described him as “a detestable, bombastic, tiresome, ego-centric little creep.”

 

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Americans Are Officially Freaking Out

by Susan Andrews, PhD

The above headline is the conclusion of the 2017 Stress in America survey
conduced by the Harris poll for the American Psychological Association. Nearly
two-thirds (63 percent) of the people who responded say that this is the lowest
point in US history – and it is keeping a lot of them up at night. The poll, which is
the 11th annual Stress in America survey done by the APA, was conducted
online between August 2 and August 31. Only Americans who are 18 and over
and living in the United States responded. Interviews were conducted in English
and in Spanish.

The group of 3,440 respondents was proportioned in the following manner:
1,376 men; 2,047 women; 1,088 whites; 810 Hispanics; 808 blacks; 506 Asians;
and 206 native Americans

The data was weighted by age, gender, race/ethnicity, region, education and
household income to reflect America’s demographics accurately.
Those who are being kept up at night reported that they are worried about
health care, the economy and an overall feeling of divide between them and
their neighbors. One comforting thought is that their neighbors very well may be
lying awake and worrying too. Many people reported being stressed about the
future of the nation. Past surveys have reported that the top stressors were
money (62 percent) and work (61 percent). This year 63 percent report that their
top concern is the fate of the nation. Of interest, more Democrats (73 percent)
agreed that this was their top concern than Republicans (56 percent).
Nonetheless, the sentiment that this is the lowest point in our nation’s history
spanned generations, which includes World War II, Vietnam, and 9/11. Only 30
percent said that terrorist attacks are a source of concern.

Even though politics and specific names were not directly questioned, many of
the issues identified as significant sources of stress, are policy issues.
Bloomberg generated a chart that is reproduced below.

Health Care ___________________________________________ 43%
Economy ___________________________________ 35%
Trust Gov? _________________________________ 32%
Hate Crimes ________________________________ 31%
Crime ________________________________ 31%
Wars _______________________________ 30%
Terrorist Att _______________________________ 30%
High Taxes _____________________________ 28%
No Job/LoWage_________________________ 22%
Climate Change________________________ 21%

However, keeping up with the latest developments is an even larger source of
stress for 56 percent. Further, sources of news which include social media, cell
phone news apps, and network news media blowing things out of proportion
causes them even more distress, a whopping 72 percent.

Dr. Anthony Rustain, a professor of psychiatry at U. of Penn. suggests the
following ways to cut down on stress. 1.) Set guidelines for Social Media time
and time spent watching/reading about the news. 2.) Complete all other
important tasks before checking with social media or with other new sources.
3.) Don’t lie in bed with your cell phone in your face, scrolling through the social
media and news sources. 4.) Don’t check your messages, social media, or
news frequently during the day. 5.) Balance your day with relaxation methods,
such as meditation, music, entertainment, and physical exercise.

And, above all, remember to breathe.

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Dr. Gormanous Sole Candidate for LSBEP

The Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists (LSBEP) opened self-nominations at their Long Range Planning Meeting held in Baton Rouge on November 17 and found that
Dr. Greg Gormanous was the only qualified candidate for the upcoming election.

Dr. Gormanous is the retired Chair of the Psychology Department at Louisiana State University at Alexandria, and served briefly in June to September 2015 as the LSBEP’s Executive Director.

Gormanous has also previously served on the board twice, the first time in 1981 to 1984 and then from 1986 to 1989

In a message to licensed psychologists the board’s Executive Director Jaime Monic wrote, “ LSBEP’s policy on elections states that the Board will proceed with the election process if at
least one (1) nomination has been submitted. One nomination was received, therefore the Board is proceeding with the election accordingly.”

Licensed psychologists may vote until the election closes on December 22.

Following that the results will be transmitted to the Louisiana Psychological Association who will submit a list to the Governor.

Dr. Gormanous noted several goals of his service on his self-nomination form. “My view for regulating psychology in LA is helping the board become more effective and efficient in protecting consumers of psychological services,” he wrote, “while simultaneously ensuring due process, irrespective of particular staff, board members, issues and personalities.

He noted that his purpose and goals are: “To proactively enhance effectiveness, collegiality
and transparency with administrative, legislative, media, professional, psychological & public stakeholders in order for the LSBEP to ensure statutorily that consumers have access to qualified providers of psychological services and to ensure enforcement of ethical standards of practice to which providers are required to adhere, with appropriate over sight of the Board’s function by the state of Louisiana.

“In both Louisiana and North America, there have been cataclysmic shifts in regulatory  psychology in the last three years. And rapid transformational regulatory changes are on the immediate horizon. Thus, LSBEP is facing & will face additional significant challenges in the next five years.

“1. Revising the “complaint” rules, procedures and practices by focusing on two equally  important objectives: protecting consumers of psychological services AND ensuring due process for all.

“2. Achieving more effective outcomes for the expenditure of legal fees – presumably underway now.

“3. Staying a pace with changes in education and training. For example, other jurisdictions will be moving toward eligibility for candidates to sit for the EPPP 1 after doctoral course work is
completed.

“4. Adjusting to implementation of the competency model (EPPP 1 Knowledge and EPPP 2 Skills) by other jurisdictions and considering what is best for consumers in LA.

“5. Revisiting Generic versus Specialty Credentialing. Does the board stay with its “opportunity for registering…within a limited list of recognized specialties…” or does it implement the health service psychologist (HSP) & general applied psychologist (GAP) categories recognized by APA and ASPPB?

“6. Exploring any ramifications of implementation of the ASPPB’s PEP for LA.”

He also wrote: “A common view in the regulatory community – be it pharmacy, psychology, social work, veterinary medicine, or whatever-is that it takes a year or two for a new board member to figure out her/his role. Past & current experiences as an active member of ASPPB
and FARB & short term services as ED of LSBEP have prepared me to serve.”

Dr. Gormanous is Professor Emeritus of Psychology, LSU Alexandria, and earned his PhD from the University of Southern Mississippi in General Psychology in 1976. He member of
Association of State & Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB), the Federation of Associations
of Regulatory Boards, the American Psychological Association, the Society for
Industrial & Organizational Psychology (APA Div. 14), the Society of Consulting Psychology
(APA Div. 13), and the Association for Psychological Science.

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ASPPB Limits Choice, Doubles Price of Psych Licensing Exam

The Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB) has announced that its previous plan for a voluntary, “Step 2” section to the national exam for psychologists is no longer going to be optional. The new test will be combined with the existing test, which means that additions will be mandatory. The price will increase to $1200, up from the current $600.

The national exam is called the EPPP, or Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology, and is required by most regulatory boards as a hurdle for licensure in psychology. ASPPB, who owns the rights to the test, said the updated exam is planned for sale in January 2020.

The new strategy was first announced at the ASPPB Annual Meeting held October 18 in Hawaii, and communicated to regulatory boards in a letter from ASPPB CEO, Dr. Stephen DeMers.

“The ASPPB Board of Directors, based on a number of factors, including feedback from our member jurisdictions and input from our legal counsel, has determined that the EPPP Part 2 is a necessary enhancement, and therefore an essential component of the EPPP,” wrote DeMers.

He explained that the original plan was for “encouraging, but not requiring” the use of the additional exam, called EPPP Step 2.

“However, as the Board considered the unintended implications of allowing jurisdictions to choose a time frame and mechanism to adopt the EPPP Part 2,” he wrote, “the Board determined that the integrity and legal defensibility of the EPPP depended on treating
Part 2 as an essential and integral part of the assessment of competence to practice for all those using the EPPP as a requirement for licensure.”

In 2016 ASPPB had announced the Step 2 exam and objections mounted, mostly from student and early career psychologist organizations.

Last year in Louisiana, Dr. Amy Henke, then a Director on the Executive Council of the Louisiana
Psychological Association (LPA) and Co-Chair of the LPA Early Career Psychologists Committee in LPA, put forth a Resolution to oppose the Step 2 for Louisiana, which passed unanimously. Dr. Henke is now serving on the state psychology board.

Objections, from Henke and others, involve technical and scientific issues, but also the criticism that there is no problem that the new test needs to solve. “There is no evidence that the public is facing some sort of previously unheard of crisis in terms of safety from currently practicing psychologists,” said Dr. Henke in 2016.

Who is ASPPB and How Did We
Get Here?

The ASPPB is listed as a private, non-profit, 501(c) tax-exempt corporation located in Tyrone,
Georgia. The company states its mission is to “Facilitate communication among member
jurisdictions about licensure, certification, and mobility of professional psychologists.”

ASPPB grossed $5,933,473 in 2016 and listed assets of $8,954,240.

The “members” appear to be 64 representatives from regulatory boards from across the United
States and Canada. The boards pay dues to be a member of ASPPB.

While many members are government officials, ASPPB does not follow open meetings laws.
Deliberations and decisions are private. “If you are not a member or staff of an ASPPB
Member Psychology Regulatory Board or an individual member, you are not eligible to access
this section of our website,” they write. Their conferences are also members only.

ASPPB’s mission is to facilitate communication, but it also owns the intellectual property rights to the EPPP and the data generated by the testing program, which they seem to have acquired in or around 2013.

In a Letter of Agreement from ASPPB to the boards in late 2012, ASPPB wrote that the EPPP is “made available as a service to psychology licensure boards that are ASPPB members in good standing as signified by payment of membership dues.”

ASPPB’s main income producing product is the national exam for psychologists, which brings in about $5,000,000 in gross sales each year. They have a few other products, such as the
Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact (PSYPACT), a service to coordinate psychologists working across state lines.

While state boards are not required by law to use the EPPP, they uniformly do, since most  licensing laws require a national exam.

Around 2012 ASPPB appears to have embraced a more aggressive corporate strategy. An insider told the Times, “In 2010 or somewhere around that time they were in New Orleans
and they implied that they would be making a lot of money on the new test.”

In 2012, ASPPB acquired the rights for the national exam, taking over from Professional
Examination Service (PES). In 2013 ASPPB wrote the boards that their contracts with PES
were being “replaced with a contract between your jurisdiction and the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards.”

In that letter, ASPPB officials said, “ASPPB and PES have agreed that it would be simpler and more appropriate for ASPPB to contract directly with the 64 psychology regulatory agencies that are members of ASPPB.”

ASPPB said that the change would be “mutually beneficial because ASPPB can now provide a  simplified agreement that is more specific to the needs of psychology licensure boards. In addition, the renewal of contracts is expected to be more efficient…” And, “Finally, as voting members of ASPPB, each jurisdiction exercises more oversight of this important examination service by contracting directly with ASPPB for examination services.”

At the same time, ASPPB increased candidates’ exam fees from $450 to $600.

ASPPB’s plan to create additional testing products may have been in place as early as 2010. One
undisclosed insider thinks the corporate objective for ASPPB is to be a central source for
regulation of psychologists. “They want to ultimately do all the licensing and regulating for
psychology,” said the insider. “They want to regulate all the telepsychology.” And, “They want
to be the Walmart.”

In 2013 ASPPB officials were instrumental in conducting and designing the 5th International
Congress on Licensure, Certification, and Credentialing of Psychologists, held in Stockhom,
which focused on “… defining professional competence rather than specifying curricula or
training requirements,” reported the Norwegian Co-chair. The invitation-only conference was
primarily funded by ASPPB.

Dr. Emil Rodolfa, Chair of the Implementation Task Force for the EPPP Step 2, and past president of ASPPB, facilitated at the Congress. His goal, according to reports published by the Cochair, was to address assessment and credentialing issues for competence for psychologists.

APPB’s Profitability

ASPPB brings in $5 plus million yearly for its testing products, the main profit source being the
EPPP.

Exams and related fees grossed $5,296,421 for 2016, or 89% of all ASPPB venues. In 2015 this
amount was $4,775,213 and in 2014 it was $4,826, 421.

For 2016 they list 12 employees, the most highly compensated is Dr. DeMers, at $243,842. Another four fall between $131,949 and $125,860. Others are modest.

For exams in 2016, they claim expenses of $1,859, 374 against revenues of $4,916,406 for exams, a profit margin of 38 percent. One of the two major expenses is to Pearson Vue,
Minneappolis for $956,598. The second major expense appears to fall under “Other salaries and
wages,” and comes to $906,995. No employee names are given and it is not clear who receives
this money.

ASPPB claims a large expense for travel. In 2016 the corporation reported $867,217 spent for
travel and also another $200,583 for conferences.

Travel expense is consistently high. For example, in 2014 they reported $863,340 for travel and
$222,083 for conferences. According to various other records Dr. DeMers traveled to Paris, Oslo, New Zealand, Milan, and to Beijing, to meet with international colleagues.

Of note is that ASPPB does not report payments of travel or entertainment for federal, state or
local public officials on the tax returns. However, it appears to be a regular occurrence and
openly discussed. In a June 2016 review of the Louisiana State Board of Examiners of
Psychologists (LSBEP), the Legislative Auditor wrote:

“Based on information provided by the Board, the former executive director may have improperly charged $2,343 to the Board for airfare, hotel, baggage, and parking fees related to participation in Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB) committee meetings during October and November 2014. ASPPB stated it pays for flights, hotel rooms, and associated travel expenses for committee meeting participants, either directly or through reimbursement.”

Charging to Fix What Isn’t
Broken

Dr. Henke and the 2016 LPA Resolution to oppose the new test point out that multiple checks
on competency already exist for psychologists and appear to be working to protect the public.

“Trainees are already held to high standards through a variety of benchmarks,” Dr. Henke wrote in the Resolution, “including but not limited to: APA approval of doctoral programs, multiple
practicums where competency is repeatedly assessed, completion of formal internship training (also approved and regulated by APA and APPIC), and supervised post-doctoral hours obtained prior to licensure. There is no evidence to suggest this is not sufficient for appropriate training.”

Henke and others have also pointed to multiple hurdles that candidates already must clear,
including two years supervision, a written exam, oral exam, background check, and
jurisprudence exam. Additionally, the law allows the board to require additional physical and
psychological assessments whenever needed.

However, Dr. Rodolfa questions if these standards are enough, saying that supervisors have “…
difficulty providing accurate evaluations of their supervisees to others who may have to
evaluate the supervisee’s competency.”

Dr. Henke has also said, “I am particularly concerned about regulatory boards encroaching
ownership of training standards. The goal of a regulatory board, in my personal opinion, is to provide the least restrictive amount of guidelines possible in order to protect the safety of the public.”

Dr. Rodolfa disagrees and said, “Licensing boards have a mandate to ensure that the professionals they license are competent. Competence is comprised of the integrated use
of knowledge, skills, attitudes and values.”

In the LPA Resolution, Dr. Henke said about the new test, “There is no scientific data that support better outcomes regarding patient safety or quality of care. Given that psychologists are uniquely trained to design and create tests, it is concerning that this test is being
proposed without any indication of its necessity for either the field or for the safety of the public.”

Henke and others point out that the evidence from disciplinary statistics suggests that problems are very low.

For the most recent year with records, 2016, total reported disciplinary actions across the
U.S. and Canada dropped 32 percent from 2015. There were 130 disciplinary actions
nationwide in 2016, the lowest number in the last five years. This from the ASPPB
Disciplinary Data System: Historical Discipline Report. This number gives a rate of .001 based on 106,000 psychologists nationwide.

Rates of disciplinary actions for psychologists are consistency low. In 2015 there were 191  actions, in 2014 there were 170, and in 2013 there were 238. Rates remain around 1 or 2 in 1,000.

Louisiana’s rate is similar to the national average. Based on reported disciplinary actions for a five-year period, there were eight separate disciplinary actions by the Louisiana State Board of
Examiners of Psychologists (LSBEP) from 2010 to 2014. (Six of the eight involved child custody.) The rate of 1.6 disciplinary actions for approximately 700 psychologists, is consistent with the national rate 1 or 2 per thousand.

Adverse actions and malpractice payments for psychologists and/or medical psychologists in Louisiana over the period of 2004 to 2016, based on National Practitioner Data Bank. Five
medical malpractice payments were reported. The lowest settlement was $10,000 and the highest was $170,000.

For the same 11-year time period, 21 “Adverse Actions” which include board actions, occurred. This is about 1 in 400 for psychologists and medical psychologists, and an estimated 1 in 8,000 if using patients/clients.

“There is no evidence that the public is facing some sort of previously unheard of crisis in terms of safety from currently practicing psychologists,” Dr. Henke has said, and she bases this on facts that even ASPPB helps to gather in their report, ASPPB Disciplinary Data System: Historical Discipline Report.

In her LPA Resolution, Dr. Henke wrote about the EPPP2: “There is no scientific data that support better outcomes regarding patient safety or quality of care. Given that psychologists are uniquely trained to design and create tests, it is concerning that this
test is being proposed without any indication of its necessity for either the field or for the
safety of the public.”

Some say that the technical standards used by ASPPB are insufficient. In 2009, Brian Sharpless and Jacques Barber authored “The Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) in the era of evidence-based practice,” for Professional Psychology: Research and Practice.

“Professional psychology has increasingly moved toward evidence-based practice,” said
the two authors. “However, instruments used to assess psychologists seeking licensure, such as the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP), have received relatively little
empirical scrutiny.” They write, “… there is a paucity of criterion, predictive, and incremental validity evidence available.”

Dr. DeMers responded in the same journal attempting to clarify issues and giving some information not published. He agreed with some of the recommendations, according to
the summary of his article.

Industrial-Organizational Psychologist Dr. William Costelloe, Chair of the I-O and Consulting Psychology Committee of LPA, told the Times, “… predictive validation studies must be conducted.” This type of research proof is not optional, he said. “Well conducted, scientifically based predictive validation studies must be conducted if the EPPP2 is intended to be used
as a selection tool,” Costelloe said.

Henke and LPA also point to the issue that the test costs fall on the backs of those least able
to shoulder them, new psychologists. According to the American Psychological Association these psychologists carry on average between $77,000 and $200,000 in student debt.

The current EPPP contains 225 items and costs $600 for 225 items, with a four-hour time
limit. Physicians pay $605 for an eight-hour exam, and Social Worker candidates pay about
$250 for a 170-item exam.

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