Top: Dr. Alan Coulter at a conference. He is currently serving as President of the LPA. Below: Dr. Erin Reuther presenting. She is the current President-Elect
The Louisiana Psychological Association announced its newly elected officers to their Executive Council, who began serving last month. The 2019–2020 Council are Drs. Alan Coulter (President), Dr. Erin Reuther (President-Elect), and two new Directors, Dr. Christopher Parkinson and Dr. Amanda Raines. Returning officers are Dr. ValaRay Irvin (Secretary), Dr. William Costelloe (Treasurer), Dr. Bridget SonnierHillis (Director) and Dr. Kim VanGeffen (Director).
Dr. Alan Coulter will serve as the 2019– 2020 President. He is the Director of Program Area for the School of Allied Health Professions, Human Development Center, at LSU Health Sciences Center. He is the Director of Educational Innovations for the Human Development Center and LAS*PIC, and the Principal Lead for the TIERS Group. Dr. Coulter served on the President’s Commission on Excellence in Special Education, was a member of the National Monitoring Stakeholders Group, a recipient of Child Advocacy Award from the National Association of School Psychologists, and a past president of the National Association of School Psychologists.
Dr. Erin Reuther will serve as PresidentElect. She is a Pediatric Clinical Psychologist at Children’s Hospital-New Orleans and obtained board certification (ABPP) in Clinical Psychology in 2015. Dr. Reuther earned her doctoral degree from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge where she focused on research in anxiety and cognitive-behavioral treatment with children and adults. She completed her clinical internship at the University of Florida-Shands Hospital in the child/pediatric track, where she further specialized in exposure with response prevention for OCD, CBT for anxiety, and health psychology working with inpatient and outpatient pediatric and adult clients with medical illnesses including gastroenterology disease, pediatric diabetes, and those preparing for surgery.
For her service, Dr. Reuther will focus on “… communication of all that LPA does to advocate for the profession, including direct coordination and communication with APA and national efforts, interacting with governmental agencies to educate and advocate for the profession, keeping psychologists in Louisiana informed of best practices, and organizing psychologists together.”
Newly elected were Dr. Christopher Parkinson and Dr. Amanda Raines.
Dr. Parkinson is a Clinical Psychologist with an emphasis in Health Psychology from Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine & Science. He completed his internship at the Gulf Coast Veterans Healthcare System and his postdoctoral residency in Health Psychology and Pain at the Southeast Louisiana Veterans Healthcare System. He currently holds a staff position at the SLVHCS as the Palliative Care Psychologist engaged in clinical care, program development, training, and research. He also serves as adjunct clinical instructor within the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences of the Tulane University School of Medicine. He is the 2018 recipient of the LPA Early Career award.
Dr. Raines serves as a Clinical Investigator at the Southeast Louisiana Veterans Healthcare System and as Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Louisiana State University. Her doctorate is in clinical psychology from Florida State University and her internship and residency was with LSVHCS. Her research focuses on identifying and empirically examining risk and maintenance factors as well as the development of novel interventions that can be used to treat and prevent anxiety and related pathology. She has published over 75 peer-reviewed manuscripts and was the Early Career Psychologist delegate to the 2019 Practice Leadership Conference of the American Psychological Association.
Gov. Edwards released a statement on Louisiana’s record high GDP of $256.45 billion, an annual growth rate of 3.8% in 2019Q1. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), Louisiana has the 10th fastest growing economy in the U.S., the Governor’s Office said on July 25.
“This latest ranking is further proof that Louisiana’s economy continues to grow and move in the right direction,” said Gov. Edwards. “Just this month, we have seen the largest unemployment decline since last year of any state, the lowest it has been in 11 years, personal income is at an all-time high and for the first time in a long time, our state debt is declining.”
“We are continuing to attract new business and industry while retaining and expanding our existing businesses and implementing programs in Louisiana to further strengthen our workforce.”
Louisiana’s GDP is at a new record high: $256.45 billion, compared to $247.2 billion in 2018Q1 and $255.5 billion in 2018Q4.
Non-durable goods manufacturing was the main contributor to growth, contributing 2.09 percentage points.
Retail trade contributed 0.82 percentage points and mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction contributed 0.80 percentage points.
In a related story, the Governor’s Office announced that Louisiana has the largest drop in unemployment rates of all states since last year.
Louisiana’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in June 2019 is 4.3 percent, which is a .7 of a percentage point decline since June of 2018, the largest such drop for any state.
Louisiana’s unemployment rate is the lowest it has been since January 2008.
“Louisiana is no longer the incarceration capital of the nation, we have saved over $12 million which is more than double what was projected and are reinvesting those dollars into programs that are helping to reduce recidivism, improve public safety and support crime victims,” Gov. Edwards said in a July 19 press release.
“Everything we have put in place is based on data-driven policies that are successful in other southern states and are now having the same impacts in our state,” Edwards said. “It is still early in this process and there are more lessons to learn and more challenges to meet, but we are taking significant steps toward improving our criminal justice system.”
The comment followed the release of the Justice Reinvestment Reforms 2019 Annual Performance Report, presented to the Legislature in June. The report listed the following:
• Reduced Prison Population: Louisiana’s total prison population has continued to decrease. It has fallen from a peak of 39,867 individuals at the end of 2012 to 32,397 individuals as of the end of 2018. As an immediate result of reduction in nonviolent offenses, Louisiana no longer has the highest imprisonment rate in the nation.
• Sentence Length Down for Nonviolent Offenses: The State has seen significant decreases in sentence length for nonviolent offenses. Drug offenses have seen the largest decrease by the end of 2018 with a drop of 17%, followed by property offenses with an 8.3% decrease. The average sentence length for new felony admissions decreased from 76.6 months to 73.2 months (3.7%).
• Decrease in Use of Habitual Offender Enhancements: The use of Habitual Offender enhancements, which allow for increased penalties for crimes based upon the existence of previous convictions, decreased significantly (74.3%). This reduction is attributed to both prosecutorial and judicial discretion as well as legislative changes which limited the scope of its application.
• Reduction in Probation and Parole Population and Officers’ Average Caseloads: The State has seen a significant decrease in the total supervised population as well as the average caseload of Probation and Parole Officers; from 149 in 2016 to 123 by the end of 2018. The reduction is attributed to new incentives that allow people to earn time off supervision based upon compliance with supervision conditions.
The report can be found at http://gov.louisiana.gov/assets/docs/CJR/2019JRI-Performance-Annual-Report-Final.pdf.
Psychological science and practice has played an important part in the Governor’s reforms.
Dr. Susan Tucker, the 2019 recipient of the Award for Psychology in the Public Interest, has been a key figure for innovations in the state correctional system. She is Psychologist and Assistant Warden at the Bossier Sheriff’s Office.
Dr. Tucker has focused on treatment and research innovations that reduce recidivism and that are based in the fact that most inmates have a substance abuse problem and few get the right kind of treatment.
She launched the Steve Hoyle Intensive Substance Abuse Program to offer intensive treatment, skill development, educational opportunities, and post release support and care. Her approach has achieved a significant reduction in recidivism, from an expected first year rate of 18 percent to only 3 percent.
Tucker has earned state and national recognition for these achievements, including from the Vera Institute of Justice. Dr. Tucker was also commended by Louisiana legislators for her work and the related cost savings of $15 million by earned “good time credits” through participation and successes in the psychological programs designed by Tucker.
The last arguments from the defense were heard in the $17.5B bellwether opioid crisis lawsuit against Johnson& Johnson, reported the Courthouse News Service last month.
The state Oklahoma sued Johnson & Johnson, Janssen, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma in 2017 on claims of fraud, unjust enrichment, public nuisance and violation of state Medicaid laws for allegedly pushing doctors to prescribe opioid painkillers while downplaying the addiction risks and overstating their benefits.
Purdue settled in March for $270 million. Israel-based Teva reached a similar settlement in May for $85 million – two days before the trial began, according to Court House News service.
Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary are the only remaining defendants. In the weeks before trial, the state dropped all claims except its public nuisance claim to prevent further delays caused by defense appeals, said Courthouse News.
“For its last witness during the seven-week bench trial, the defense called Dr. Terrell Phillips of Oklahoma City. He explained that many insurers and workers’ compensation laws reimburse doctors for only “reasonable and necessary” treatment that excludes physical therapy, counseling, injections and surgery. He said that leaves doctors with no choice but to prescribe opioids over the excluded treatment options.
“Phillips testified the situation leaves him effectively ‘handcuffed.’ He said patients with chronic pain are left improperly treated, leading to even depression and suicide.
On July 23, Governor Edwards announced that he appointed Dr. Gina Gibson of Lafayette and Dr. Michelle Moore of New Orleans to the Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists. Both were nominated by the Louisiana Psychological Association.
Dr. Moore received the top number of votes in a regular election held this past February to fill the opening left by the normal completion of service by Dr. Jesse Lambert. Dr. Gina Gibson (who has since changed her last name from Beverly) was nominated and ran in an April special election to fill an unexpected vacancy caused by the resignation of Dr. Leah Crouch.
Dr. Gibson is a neuropsychologist with the Department of Veterans Affairs, licensed in 2008. She lists her specialty as Counseling/Clinical Neuropsychology. Her training is from Louisiana Tech University and employment is with Dept. of Veterans Affairs and also private practice. She is a member of the National Academy of Neuropsychology and the American Academy of Clinical Neuropsychology.
In her statement, Dr. Gibson wrote that “there are numerous critical issues facing psychology, including revising the complaints process,” and “exploring the use of healthcare designations in place of specialty classifications.”
“Moving forward,” she wrote, “I believe that the board’s primary obligation is to the public consumers of our services and psychologists themselves. Examining these issues and finding balanced solutions that work to support and advance the profession should be at the forefront. My goals for the psychology board are to be an advocate for psychology as a progressive and critically important discipline that is well-suited to use our collective knowledge and training to help others and solidify our place in the current healthcare environment.”
Dr. Michelle Moore is an associate clinical professor at the LSU Health Science Center. She has served as Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry, LSU Health Sciences Center, New Orleans, LA, Department of Psychiatry, Section of Psychology, and Training Director of Clinical Psychology Internship Program.
From 2016 to present her research and scholarship has included: Working with ReNEW Charter School Network to provide needed clinical services to students either in special education or seeking evaluations for possible special education services; Primary Investigator and Mentor, AsianAmerican Mental Health among Medical Students; and Primary Investigator, Collaborating with Community Partners.
She is a member of the American Psychological Association; Association of Psychologists in Academic Health Centers; Louisiana Psychological Association; Southeastern Psychological Association; and Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers. “In my current role as Training Director for the internship program at LSU Health Sciences Center, School of Medicine,” Dr. Moore said in her statement, “I have the pleasure of directly training students and trainees who are the future of our profession. Being in this position, I would bring a unique perspective to the Board from the graduate program applications we review, the training of psychology interns and fellows and how we are preparing individuals for independent practice. […]”
Among other appointments announced in July 23 press release, the Governor also reappointed Bambi Polotzola of Opelousas, the executive director of the Governor’s Office of Disability Affairs, to the Statewide Independent Living Council. “Bambi has been a leader in disability issues for over a decade working with people with disabilities and their families as an educator and as a home and community-based service provider. She has served on state councils and boards of numerous disability-related non-profit organizations. Her work has primarily been centered in capacity building and systemic change that supports people with disabilities and their families to be fully included and valued members of their communities,” said the author of the announcement.
Louisiana psychologists will present at the American Psychological Association Annual Convention, to be held August 8-11 in Chicago, with highlighted keynote on “Deep Poverty,” a theme that current APA president, Dr. Rosie Phillips Davis has made a focus.
An array of Louisiana psychological scientists, professors and practitioners from Louisiana will be presenting at the convention.
Bonnie Nastasi, PhD, Tulane University, will co-chair the Symposium: “A Child Rights Empowered School Psychology—Toward a Better Future,” along with Stuart N. Hart, PhD, Independent Practice, The Villages, Florida.
Dr. Nastasi will also present on, “Conceptual Foundations for School Psychology and Child Rights Advocacy.” Presenters will include discussions on, “Promotion of Family Support,” “Child Rights, Enlightened Child Protection,” and “Toward a Preferred Future for School Psychology.”
Nastasi is active in the promotion of child rights and social justice within the profession of school psychology and is an Associate of the International Institute of Child Rights and Development. She has conducted work in Sri Lanka, India (Mumbai), and New Orleans, and was the lead partner on an international study of psychological well-being, with colleagues at 14 sites in 12 countries (New Orleans is one of the sites). She has served as President of the International School Psychology Association, as president of Division 16 of APA, and as co-chair of APA’s Committee on International Relations in Psychology, among many other positions. In 2015, she spoke at the 8th Annual Psychology Day at the United Nations, held at the UN headquarters in New York City, on, “Promoting Psychological Health and Well-Being of Children, Youth, and Families Under Stressful Conditions: Engaging Local Communities in Cultural Construction of Programs.”
Dena Abbott, PhD, Louisiana Tech University, and Victoria Rukus, MEd, also from Louisiana Tech University, will discuss “Isn’t Atheism a White Thing? Centering the Voices of Atheists of Color,” for the APA Symposium: “Atheist Research in Psychology—Current Trends and Future Directions.”
For the APA Symposium, “The Cost of Caring—An Examination of Healthcare Providers’ Recovery in Puerto Rico Post-Hurricane Maria,” Jen Scott, PhD, from Louisiana State University along with others will discuss, “PostTraumatic Stress and Burnout Among Healthcare and Social Service Providers Post-Hurricane Maria.”
Dr. Scott will also discuss, “Long-Term PTSD Symptoms Among Health and Psycho-Social Workers Hurricane Maria Survivors,” and “Coping Styles and Resilience of Health and PsychoSocial Service Providers Who Are Also Disaster Survivors.”
Sarah Black, PhD, University of New Orleans, will participate in a discussion of “Is This Treatment Helping My Patient? Utilizing Modified Brinley Plots to Measure Clinical Change,” for Symposium: Secondary Analyses in Randomized Trials of Psychosocial Treatments for Pediatric Mood Disorders. Dr. Black runs the Biological and Environmental Risk for Affective
Disorders Lab at UNO and is interested in how “parenting, parental psychopathology, and stress may interact with biological processes to leave children and adolescents especially vulnerable to psychopathology across the lifespan.”
Stacy Overstreet, PhD, Lea Petrovic, MS, and Whitney Davis, MA, from Tulane University, will present, “Advancing an Equity Agenda in Trauma-Informed Schools,” for the Symposium, “The Social Justice Implications of Trauma-Sensitive Schools—A Critical Dialogue.” Dr. Overstreet has led a group of psychologists and community partners in a first-of-its-kind study for learning how schools can best meet the needs of traumatized youngsters. She and her team received a $2.1 million grant from The Institute of Justice.
Alexandra E. Bookis, from Tulane University, will present, “Practicing and Teaching Parental Control,” in the Skill-Building Session: Leading Parenting Groups—How To Teach the Art of Balancing Warmth and Control.
Julie Arseneau, PhD, Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System, New Orleans, will join Penelope Asay, PhD, Illinois School of Professional Psychology for the Roundtable Discussion V, “Addressing Sexual Harassment of Clinical Trainees in an Ethical, Empowering, and Compassionate Way.”
In the Paper Reading Session: III—”Social Value and Social Justice,” Pallavi Singh, PhD, and Tracey Rizzuto, PhD, Louisiana State University will present, “Understanding Partnerships in a PolicyMandated Environment Through Social Network Analysis.” Dr. Tracey Rizzuto is Associate Director at the LSU School of Leadership and Human Resource Development and has worked in violence prevention at the Baton Rouge Area Violence Elimination (BRAVE) program and Crime Strategies Unit (CSU). She has helped build a partnership with the Centre for Counter– Intelligence in Denmark where they have a jihadi re-entry program very similar to the BRAVE program and was selected by the Department of Justice to participate in the Office of Justice Programs Diagnostic Center.
For the APA Poster Session: I Kimberly Hutchinson, PhD, Lawrence Dilks, PhD, and Billie Myers, PhD, of the Southwest Louisiana (SWLA) Psychology Consortium, Lake Charles, Louisiana; Burton Ashworth, PhD, University of Louisiana at Monroe; and Mindy StutzmanMoore, PhD, SWLA Psychology Consortium, will present research on, “Mixed Dementia: What Does It Really Look Like?”
For a Poster Session: Early Career Research and Innovation, Michael V. Garza, MA, Louisiana Tech University; and Ashley C. Santos, BA, Northwestern University, and Lore M. Dickey, PhD, North Country HealthCare, Bullhead City, AZ, will present “Functions of Self-Injury in a Transgender Sample: Exploratory Factor Analysis.”
In Poster Session: II, Keoshia Harris, MA, Louisiana Tech University, will present, “A Qualitative Examination of the Strong Black Woman Schema in Black College Women,” with co-researchers.
“Cognitive Variability Is Related to Cognitive and Functional Status: Findings from the Civa Study,” will be presented by Alyssa N. De Vito, MA, Matthew Calamia, PhD, Scott Roye, MA,
Ashley Pomes, Kristen Chedville, Lainey Henican, and Gabriel Daniels, all from Louisiana State University.
Eric Deemer, PhD, Purdue University; Stacey Duhon, PhD, Grambling State University; and DiLean SaintJean, MS, Louisiana Tech University; and Seoyoung Lim, MS, Purdue University, will present, “Validation of the Stereotype Threat in Science Scale-Race (STSS-R),” in the Poster Session: II—”Theory, Methods, and Measurement.”
Theresa A. Wozencraft, PhD, Manyu Li, PhD, Thomas Cain, BS, Marissa Pitt, BS, Alexandra G. Nordman, and Caroline Wegener, from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, will present, “Coping, Distress, and WellBeing in Gulf Coast Natural Disaster Victims.”
Christopher Monceaux, MS, Louisiana Tech University; Melanie Lantz, PhD, Oklahoma State UniversityStillwater; and Dena M. Abbott, PhD, Louisiana Tech University, will present, “The Relationship Between Bisexual Counseling Competence, Moral Reasoning, and Attitudes.”
In Poster Session: III— Contemporary Issues in Counseling Psychology, Dena
M. Abbott, PhD, Louisiana Tech University and co-authors will present, “Sexuality Training in Counseling Psychology.”
Yang Yang, PhD, Hung-Chu Lin, PhD, and Manyu Li, PhD, from University of Louisiana at Lafayette, will present, “Resilience and Gender Moderating the Relation Between Paternal Rejection and Health-Risk Behaviors.”
Jarrad D. Hodge, BS, and Michael Cunningham, PhD, from Tulane University, will present “Academic Achievement, Youth Experiences, and the Role of Academic Self-Esteem as a Potential Buffer,” for Poster Session: I—Assessment and Intervention to Improve Mental Health and Behavior Across Contexts.
Dr. Cunningham is Professor of Psychology at Tulane University, who holds a Joint Appointment as Provost in the African and African Diaspora Studies Program. Dr. Cunningham’s work is uniformly esteemed and he was honored in 2013 with the Distinguished Contributions Award from the prestigious Society for Research in Child Development, among others. He is Editor for Research in Human Development (20182024), Associate Editor for Child Development (2007 – present), and on the Editorial Board Member Journal of Negro Education (2011 – 2017), among many other scholarly activities where his expertise in the psychology of racially diverse individuals is utilized. He is the 2018 recipient of the 2018 Award for Psychology in the Public Interest by the Louisiana Psychological Association.
For Poster Session: IV— Critical Topics in DataBased Decision-Making and Professional Issues Kathryn A. Simon, MS, MEd, Lea Petrovic, MS, Stacy Overstreet, PhD, and Courtney N. Baker, PhD, from Tulane University will present, “The Cost of Caring: Predictors of Compassion Fatigue Among Urban Public Charter School Teachers.”
In Poster Session: III— System-Level Assessment, Intervention, and Consultation, “Assessing the Association Between Teachers’ Emotional Regulation Strategies and Self-Efficacy,” will be presented by Jason S. Frydman, PhD, MA, Courtney N. Baker, PhD, and Stacy Overstreet, PhD, Tulane University.
by Susan Andrews, PhD
Using Aromatherapy to Reduce Stress
Among the countless ways to reduce stress, Aromatherapy has been growing in appreciation as a viable and easy to use method. Aromatherapy has been around for approximately 6,000 years. The history of aromatherapy is believed to have begun with the burning of fragrant woods, leaves, needles, and tree gums in ancient times. Some oils were used by the ancient Chinese, Indians, Egyptians, Greeks in cosmetics and in perfumes. The Oracle of Delphi is supposed to have entered a semiconscious state from the aroma of gases coming up from a fissure in the rock under the Temple of Apollo. No one is quite sure what the aroma was composed of, but information provided today in Delphi states that leaves were burned. There is now evidence that the gases were actually toxic hydrocarbon and the Oracle often died. The practice of aromatherapy today is much less toxic and as we learn more about different essential oils that are now extracted from the roots, leaves, and blossoms of certain plants and trees, we find that aromatherapy can be used as a complementary or alternative therapy for stress, anxiety and pain. Aromatherapy is often used in connection with massage therapy, yoga and meditation. The exciting thing is that research is now revealing that smelling certain aromas sends signals to your brain that can affect your moods, emotions, and even physical health. Some scents or oils rubbed into the skin can boost your immune system and ease anxiety. There are receptors in the olfactory bulb that connect with the limbic system and the amygdala. Topical application of certain oils has an antibacterial and even antiinflammatory effect of the body. The research that I have reviewed seems to miss an important connection to certain memories. Many a smell is associated with old memories, some wonderfully relaxing and even comforting. Some may even have the ability to alarm or stress a person due to a connection to a past negative incident.
Where are those neural connections are stored?
Cynthia Deng in Yale Scientific (November 2011) explains, “When you smell lemon oil, some molecules dissolve in the mucus lining of the olfactory epithelium on the roof of the nasal cavity. There, the molecules stimulate olfactory receptors. Olfactory sensory neurons carry the signals from the receptors to the olfactory bulb, which filters and begins processing the input signals of the lemon scent. Mitral cells then carry the output signals from the olfactory bulb to the olfactory cortex, which allows you to perceive and recognize the tangy scent of lemon. Interestingly, the mitral cells do not only lead to the olfactory cortex, they also carry the signals from the lemon scent to other areas in the brain’s limbic system. Some mitral cells connect directly to the amygdala, the brain structure involved in emotional learning and memory.”
“The researchers found that Sandalore, a synthetic sandalwood oil used in aromatherapy, perfumes, and skin care products all bound to the receptor, triggering cells to divide and migrate, processes characteristic of skin healing.” Sandalwood is also known to positively affect depression and anxiety. Lavender has positive benefits for many things, helps to induce sleep, headaches, skin burns and relieves stress. It is a main ingredient for mosquito repellents. Topical use is considered safe, but it is not recommended to be ingested.
It is important to learn how to use essential oils in aromatherapy. Books are published on this and there are ways to train in the safe use of oils. The National Association of Holistic Therapy is a good resource for finding aromatherapists that are properly trained or to find out how you can learn more about aromatherapy and include it in your practice or use it for yourself to reduce stress or any number of other benefits.
by Alvin G. Burstein
This film is a many-layered confection, like a pousse-café or a Dobosh Torte. At one level, it is the latest link in the seemingly inexhaustible Avenger series of Marvel world films. As such it provides the hectic action and mind- boggling special effects that characterize the super-hero film genre. That is the genre that, in our age, offers the infra-human special powers of super-heroes to allay the woes that beset the human world, a striking contrast with genuine heroes who inspire ordinary humans to struggle against them. Superheroes may offer a modern alternative to religious belief, as it were.
Then, too, the film is a nostalgia fest for devotees of the Avenger series. Deeply involved with its characters, they have an opportunity to relish references and reminders of what has gone before.
On another level, it is a hokily comic account of a high-school class on a whirlwind end of semester tour of Europe. They do the tour of obligatory sights and activities and doubtful accommodations. Leadership is in the hands of their teacher, a guide who insists they are having the time of their lives and an experience they will never forget.
On a third level, the film is a sweetly romantic teen age love story, touching on the anxieties, conflicts and gratifications that characterize puppy love.
A fourth, elaborate level, is an almost post-modern one, calling into question the meaning of reality. To avoid a spoiler, I am limited to saying I that it manages to echo the question posed by Magritte’s famous pipe painting labelled “Ceci n’pas une pipe.”
The topping is the movie’s gnomic element. In the original Spider-Man film, Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben’s dying words were “With great power comes great responsibility.” That becomes the super-hero’s mantra. In this latest film, Mysterio, dying, says to Spider-Man, “People, they have to believe. Nowadays, they’ll believe anything.” Uncle Ben’s adjuration is a pretty clear one. But is Mysterio bewailing modern gullibility or is he saying the need to believe outweighs the nature of what is believed?
Maybe, at least sometimes, as Freud pointed out, “A cigar is just a cigar.” And maybe it’s important to know when a pipe is a pipe.
Winners were named in the state-wide research poster presentation and competition, held at the Louisiana Psychological Association Scientific Poster Session, on June 14. The session was organized by Melissa Dufrene PhD, chair of the Early Career Psychologist Committee for the Association.
Tiffany Augustine, MA, Shaely Cheramie, MA, and Christoph Leonhard, PhD, authored the winning research presentation for the Evidence-Based Practice category for graduate students, titled “Making a difference in marginalized populations: mindfulness and adjudicated youth.”
The authors represented The Chicago School of Professional Psychology at
Xavier University of Louisiana, New Orleans.
The undergraduate winner for Evidenced-Based Practice was Anna Elysse Lee, with research titled, “Esketamine as an adjunct to psychotherapy, efficacy and possible side effects: Implications for therapists.” Ms. Lee represents Louisiana Tech University, Ruston, and her sponsor is Mary-Margret Livingston, PhD. In the category for Original Research, the graduate student entry winner was for the research, “Posttraumatic stress symptoms and gender: Independent and interactive associations with suicidal ideation among veterans with military sexual trauma.”
Authors were Chelsea R. Ennis, MS, from South Central Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Center (MIRECC), New Orleans; Taylor Ceroni, MA, also from MIRECC, Amanda M. Raines, PhD, from MIRECC, Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System, New Orleans and School of Medicine, Louisiana State University, New Orleans; and C. Laurel Franklin, PhD, from MIRECC, Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System, New Orleans, and Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Tulane University School of Medicine, New Orleans.
The undergraduate winner in the category for Original Research was Sarah Grace Guillaume for “Racial socialization of Black preschool-aged children: The influences of child sex and maternal arrest.”
Ms. Guillaume represented Tulane University, New Orleans, and was sponsored by Justin Carreras, PhD.
by Michael Butz, Linda Chamberlain, and William McCown
In Strange Attractors: Chaos, Complexity, and the Art of Family Therapy, William McCown, PhD, Louisiana psychologist and Associate Dean at University of Louisiana Monroe, stretches readers’ minds to the edges of the galaxy.
A fun, inspiring, and seriously theoretical look into connections between the “Third Revolution in Science” and psychotherapy concepts, Strange Attractors is at the same time surprisingly useful.
Despite the publication date of 1997, the concepts still fascinate. Strange attractors, fractals, bifurcations, chaos, and complexity – the authors show how the concepts relate to the course and sometimes chaotic movements of family systems. It feeds the reader with fantastic notions from theoretical physics.
“It’s become so mainstream in physics,” said Dr. McCown to the Times, “and well accepted in psychology.” There is an organization for this area of study, the Society for Chaos Theory in Psychology & Life Sciences, he noted. “The area is now usually called non-linear dynamical theory,” he explained.
Drawing on chaos theory, and showing how chaos has inspired advancements in almost all scientific fields, guiding our attention to the unexplained phenomena, the authors make their major point: nature includes disorder. Sometimes there is no cause and effect, regardless of how much we want to believe in it.
The value of the work is to shake us up, to cause us to drop or at least reconsider our linear, mechanic thinking about things.
The concepts and writing are poetic, as authors grab new ideas from chaos theory and apply them to family systems. Titles are imaginative and intriguing: “Warning, Objects Behind the Mirror May Be More Complex Than They Appear;” “The Eerie Beauty of Strange Attractors;” “Fractals and Forks in the Road;” and “Trying to Unscramble the Eggs.”
There is much that does seem more art than science in Strange Attractors, but the wisdom is the intuitive truth that some things don’t fit, are not linear, and cannot be predicted. Often the eggs cannot be unscrambled. A system must adapt to the new state. Therapists should be able to recognize this in psychology.
We are reminded of a lesson we should not forget, the dramatic limitations of the machine model, the linear model. “… the Age of the Machine is screeching to a halt … the decline of the industrial age forces us to confront the painful limitations of the machine model of reality,” the authors quote Alvin Toffler from Order out of Chaos.
“What does chaos theory do that cybernetics and general systems theory do not do?” The authors pose the question and explain that on a pure systems model, cybernetic theory relates to characteristics of mechanistic processes. These ideas were adapted to family therapy by Haley in 1959 and organic systems by Von Bertalanffy in 1968, with concepts of “steady state and transformative states,” they write.
Chaos goes further. To show us five paradigm shifts in family theory, they take us on a trip through the advances in family therapy, through familiar names of Don Jackson, Jay Haley, John
Weakland, Lidz, Bowen, and Whitaker, and Laing, Minuchin, and Satir.
Bateson’s double bind and metacommunication tangles were first. Then came Jay Haley and his use of cybernetic theory to describe how a “totality that autocorrects.” The third shift came with General Systems Theory, a shift, once and for all, from thinking of organisms as machines. With Bertalanffy the concept of open systems and transformative states made permanent the recognition of homeostatsis in concert with transformation.
By the early 90s Maturana and Varela had described the idea of “autopoiesis,” that living things are self-producing.
And the fifth paradigm, and the Third Great Revolution in Science, came at the turn of the century, “self-organization and chaos theory,” pointing to a constant motion of systems and the constant non-linear change, explained the authors.
For this new paradigm we give up predictability, viewing the therapist as a force, and the traditional view of resistance, and we take up the circular rather than linear reasoning, changing from “cause” to “fit” and adding positive to negative interpretations. It is a lot to change, for a linear mind, but the authors move us along tenderly.
The work opens Part One with “Sensitivity to Initial Conditions,” and “Warning, Objects Behind the Mirror May be More Complex Than They Appear.”
In “A Walk Through the Canyon,” authors give us a partial definition. “Chaos theory, as an umbrella term, describes a holistic process of adaptive transformation, where over time, small instabilities may result in complex behavior, that eventually appears random and is experienced as chaos by those accustomed to linear science.”
The authors introduce the reader to chaos theory concepts of attractor, point attractor, strange attractor, and also perturbation, bifurcation, sensitivity to initial conditions– called the butterfly effect, and also self-organizing, and period-doubling route to chaos.
“Where chaos begins, classical science stops,” they quote Gleick and tell us that new theory is essential for understanding reality, pointing out how quantum theory challenged how we tried to understand the nature of the world, and crystallized the limits of reductionism.
Part Two, “Families … Complex Terrain,” brings it closer to home. For “Into the ‘Phrase Space’,” the authors help define the clinician’s role, looking through this new view finder, and in particular the focus on the system’s attempt to adapt and its fluid boundaries.
In Chapter 4, “The Eerie Beauty of Strange Attractors” authors show the reader how a dynamic system can settle into a pattern, how a system can function between stability and change, that phenomena repeatedly observed in nature change once scientists began looking for it. It is a state that can be “thought of as an idealized state toward which an unpredictable or dynamical system is attracted.” The concept can be applied to mental states of people in therapy, fluctuations in mood, and personality dynamics, explain the authors.
“Catching the Butterfly–Chaos in Therapy,” Part Three, expands on the activities and thinking of a family therapist embracing this new perspective. Authors describe what the “butterfly” means in family therapy, and relate it to more traditional concepts of reframing, paradoxical, surprise, confusion, and strategic techniques.
The metaphor of the butterfly effect, the chaos theory idea that the flapping wings of a butterfly can impact the weather, points to the importance of small changes, magnified by the system.
“Any small difference that can be magnified by the existing family system can generate new and potentially more adaptive patterns,” the authors explain. Therapists need to be aware of small interactions that are not receiving notice, attention, or energy, such as “playfulness, humor, privacy, affection, diversity, conflict, forgiveness, respect …”
In “Fractals and Forks in the Road,” authors expand on the concept of fractals and bifurcations. When researchers starting looking for fractals they found them to be everywhere in nature. While the Western mind typically thinks in symmetrical shapes, “fractals are devoid of transitional symmetry. This means they are infinitely jagged,” a concept authors relate to work with undifferentiated family systems.
“At the Turning Point,” may be one of the most salient chapters for the application of chaos theory to family therapy, focusing on issues of family crisis, with constructs of steady states, change, and self reorganization.
Authors show how Chaos Theory helps to highlight issues in crisis, such as the meaning of abrupt changes, the unpredictability of changes, and the self-limiting aspect of crisis.
“Trying to Unscramble the Eggs,” looks at destabilization. Authors provide case studies and define the dangers, ethics, and prediction about when destabilization is countertherapeutic.
In “The Critical Moment,” the authors apply the concept of bifurcations and the “irreversible path cut by the system over time.” The authors say to look for bifurcation points in the family’s history, and this will help see stability, flow of information, and boundaries.
“No Predictable Period,” Part Four, continues with “From Chaos to Order, or … From Order to Chaos.” The authors look at the future of family therapy, the impact of the concepts of chaos on the present theories, training, ethics, and how we measure outcomes. They note their belief that therapist will become less invasive, and that views regarding psychotherapy outcomes, measurements, and ethics, will need to change to encompass this perspective.
The text closes with Chapter 11, “Epigram: Measuring Change in Chaotic Systems, Problems with Modeling, and the Need for Case Studies.” Authors approach the challenge of how to collect data and create models for this new paradigm in family therapy.
He explained that many theorists call the approach non-linear dynamical systems, and the term chaos sometimes less favored, but that the concepts are appealing and the text is still selling well.
Strange Attractors is a delightful walk through the canyon, apt to bring about some very new views for the reader. It can be acquired through for the Kindle from Amazon.