Category Archives: Front Page Story

New Members Join Psychology Board; Short A Public Member

Two new members, Dr. Gina Gibson (formerly Gina Beverly) of Lafayette and Dr. Michelle Moore of New Orleans, have taken their places on the Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists. They were appointed July 23, by Governor Edwards.

The consumer member, who was announced twice by the Governor’s Office, Amitai Heller of New Orleans, will not be serving, due to a conflict, noted a source at the board. Because of this, the board is still open for a consumer, public member. The individual must have no connections to psychology.

In a June 20, 2019 press release the Governor’s Office announced that Amitai Heller of New Orleans, was appointed to the Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists. The Governor’s office has previously announced Heller’s appointment in December 2018 but another undisclosed source said that it was premature and not final. Heller is an attorney with the Advocacy Center.

This leaves the consumer position open, ever since the bill was passed in 2018 to require all regulatory boards to include a public member.
The two new psychologist board members were appointed on July 23, by Governor Edwards. Both were nominated by the Louisiana Psychological Association.

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.

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. 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.

Louisiana Psychologists, Researchers Present at American Psychological Assn

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.

 

April is Cell Phone Distraction Month

April is Cell Phone Distraction Awareness Month. Scholars, researchers, psychologists, attorneys, counselors and others are asked make efforts to advise the public about the realities of cell phone distraction, explains Dr. Theodore S. (Scott) Smith from the University of Louisiana Lafayette.

Dr. Smith is Assistant Professor in the Psychology Department and leads research in his lab, The Louisiana Applied and Developmental Psychological Sciences Laboratory, where he is interested in how cell phone distraction affects the learning process, not only in the classroom. He also looks at how applicable distractions may affect driving behaviors and eyewitness memory. Smith has authored Cell Phone Distraction, Human Factors, and Litigation, published by Judges and Lawyers Publishing and which is becoming a popular resource for legal professionals.

The impact of cell phone distraction while driving is emphasized each year in April by the National Safety Council (NSC). The NSC says that the first time since the Great Recession, the U.S. has experienced three straight years of at least 40,000 roadway deaths. This is a 14 percent increase from 2014. Overall, this escalation of roadway injuries is the most dramatic seen in 53 years, said the Council.

Every day at least nine Americans die and 100 are injured in distracted driving crashes, according to the Council. Cell phones, dashboard touchscreens, voice commands and other in-vehicle technologies pose a threat to people’s safety. An NSC survey of the risky things drivers do while on the highway, found that 47 percent of people either text manually or work through voice controls, while driving.

Louisiana State University cognitive psychologist Dr. Melissa Beck also conducts research for “inattention blindness” that affects us when we are driving. Working with simulators at the Civil Engineering Department, Beck and her associates have published results of her studies in this area. She directs the Beck Visual Cognition Lab at Louisiana State University Psychology Department, where she and her researchers uncover the ways that visual attention and memory work or don’t work in various situations.

For Cell Phone Distraction Month, Dr. Smith also explained the serious issues of cell phone distraction in education. “While much emphasis has been placed on cell phone distraction and driving,” Smith said, “it is recognized that cell phone distraction affects both young and older students in the classroom.”

Technology has been advantageous to education since students can respond quickly through online formats, collaborate in real time regarding homework, and obtain references instantly, says Smith. But there are many issues now recognized.

“The assumption that students may disengage from their cell phones when entering a classroom is incorrect. Often students will utilize your cell phones in order to text,
resending receiving emails, and other tasks during classes. Multiple studies have indicated that as many as 90 to 95% of college students use their phones to send text messages during class on a constant basis,” Dr. Smith said.

“An effort to reduce or eliminate cell phone use in the classroom and at high school or college level has been difficult. Often students become physically and emotionally attached to their phones, perhaps reflective of addiction, and find themselves very socially awkward and fervently uncomfortable when they do not have their cell phones in their physical presence.”

“Another argument against technology in the classroom evolves around the discomfort that students have when other students are using their cell phones. Some student report being uncomfortable listening to a lecture when other students are texting or performing other activities not related to learning,” said Smith.

At the same time, Dr. Smith points out that there are numerous arguments in favor of technology in the class. “It’s been recommended that teachers may incorporate social media in daily teaching lessons, use clickers to quiz students during lecture, and encourage students to identify resources online during lecture, as opposed to having stagnant lectures limited to verbal talks.”

“Indeed, the argument for and against technology in the classroom will be ongoing.”

Finally, Dr. Smith reminds everyone to remember the potential harm related to cell phone distraction and driving. “This research has consistently indicated drivers pull their attention away from road conditions while driving, further prompting unsafe practices.”

He hopes that readers will consider the wide range impact of technology on their daily lives, including education and performance of daily tasks such as driving.

Psychologists Travel to Advocacy & Leadership Conference at APA

Four psychologists talked with members of Congress about legislation impacting the public and involving healthcare. Representing the Louisiana Psychological Association (LPA) were Drs. Alan Coulter, LPA President-Elect; Lucinda DeGrange, LPA Council Representative; Amanda Raines, Early Career Psychologist Representative; and Lacey Seymour, Louisiana Federal Advocacy Coordinator. The psychologists also attended a black tie dinner honoring Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy sponsored by the Psychology Political Action Committee, held in March in Washington, DC.

While in D.C. the psychologists helped lobby for legislation, said Dr. Seymour. These efforts included these topics:

1) to ensure access to mental health and substance use disorder treatment;

2) to pass the Medicare Mental Health Access Act, H.R. 884. The bill removes a roadblock that hampers and delays mental health treatment for Medicare beneficiaries by ending unnecessary physician sign-off and oversight of psychologists’ services. Private sector health plans, the Veterans Health Administration, and TRICARE all allow licensed clinical psychologists to practice independently in all inpatient and outpatient settings. Medicare should, too; and

3) to pass the Mental Health Telemedicine Expansion Act, H.R. 1301. The Mental Health Telemedicine Expansion Act would make it easier for older adults to obtain mental health care in their own home by removing current-law restrictions on the use of telehealth services.

“Senator Cassidy has been a supporter of mental health legislation on both a federal and state level,” Dr. Seymour told psychologists in a recent letter. “Since his election, Senator Cassidy has championed legislation that addresses access to mental health care for our most vulnerable citizens by removing barriers to care.”

Senator Cassidy has promoted measure to helped access to services through integration of primary and behavioral care. Among his achievements, Senator Cassidy worked to design and pass the “Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Reform Act of 2016” and first advocated mental health reforms while he served in the House of Representatives.

In 2015, he introduced mental health reform legislation that became the template for the Mental Health Reform Act of 2016. He helped strengthen accountability at HHS by creating an Assistant Secretary of Mental Health and improved interdepartmental activities related to those with serious mental illness.

Pennington’s Dr. Tiffany Stewart in Spotlight for Innovative Health Programs

Clinical Psychologist and Pennington Biomedical research scientist, Dr.  Tiffany Stewart, is applying her innovations for a community health program at the Knock Knock Children’s Museum, located at 1900 Dalyrmple Drive, Baton Rouge.

The program is a collaborative effort between the Baton Rouge Mayor’s Healthy BR Initiative, the Museum, Pennington, and other community organizations, noted a release in January.

Dr. Stewart, who directs the Pennington Biomedical Behavior Technology Laboratory, and her team will provide the program called “Sisu & You: Healthy Kids and Healthy Family Workshop.” Sisu is the Finnish word for resilience.

The workshop will be held on the fourth Thursday of each month through May and is free for children ages five to 15.

Parents are encouraged to join their children in “connecting ideas with actions for a lifetime of health and happiness.”

“How we view our bodies is a key component of successful health behaviors and significantly affects our quality of life,” said the developers. “This workshop series teaches children and adults to keep their bodies healthy through nutrition, fitness, sleep, and body image.”

The Behavior Technology Laboratory at Pennington is dedicated to Translational Research: Dr. Stewart and her team focus on taking health behavior change programs and technologies from the workbench of science and craft them into programs everyone and anyone can use.

She and her team investigate the novel assessment, prevention, and intervention approaches for eating disorders, obesity, and body image disturbance on health behaviors and chronic disease outcomes.

Dr. Stewart’s work has attracted multimillion dollar funding from the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense. She develops programs and technologies to improve nutrition, fitness, and sleep of U.S. Army Soldiers and their family members.

Recently her work with the US Army was showcased in an article by Stephanie Riegel for the Baton Rouge Business Report.

Stewart’s Healthy Eating, Activity, and Lifestyle Training Headquarters or H.E.A.L.T.H., is part of the Weight Measurements and Standards for Soldiers Project.

H.E.A.L.T.H. is an ongoing, fifteen-year collaborative effort between Pennington and the Department of Defense, designed to aid Soldiers in maintaining healthy weight status, fitness status, combat readiness, and Warfighter performance.

H.E.A.L.T.H. includes programs to aid soldiers’ family members in reaching overall health and fitness goals and incorporates cutting edge interactive technology such as with the Internet and Smartphones, so soldiers and their family members can use it wherever they are in the world.

H.E.A.L.T.H. is considered a population health program, used and tested in two pilot projects, at Ft. Bragg, NC, and New England Reserves, and is being tested in the Louisiana Army National Guard.

The program is currently being disseminated Army-wide as part of the U.S. Army Surgeon General’s Performance Triad Initiative to improve nutrition, fitness, sleep, overall health, and resilience for our technologically advanced fighting force and their families. Approximately 15,000 individuals have used the H.E.A.L.T.H. program.

Stewart explained, “The mission of the H.E.A.L.T.H. program is to translate evidenced–based concepts into a nutrition and fitness tool that Soldiers can use to not only improve Warfighter health and performance, but the overall health well-being of their family members.”

Another of Stewart’s programs has been to improve body image, nutrition, and eating disorders in female collegiate athletes. “Female Athlete Body Project: A Randomized Controlled Trial”, is a partnership with Louisiana State University Athletics, American University in Washington, D.C., and Trinity University in San Antonio, TX.

Research suggests that disordered eating among female athletes is prevalent, and is especially dangerous in female athletes because it increases risk for the Female Athlete Triad (i.e., low energy availability/disordered eating, menstrual disorders, and decreased bone mineral density/ osteoporosis and subsequent injury).

Research supports the use of a program targeting small lifestyle modifications in the prevention of ED onset and in reducing ED and obesity risk factors.

Dr. Stewart is also an inventor and entrepreneur, and named 2015 Woman of Excellence by the Louisiana Legislative Women’s Caucus Foundation. She was also commended by the Louisiana Legislature in a House Concurrent Resolution for her work and research, and for “spearheading unique, large, multi-site prevention studies that have included the development and deployment of novel approaches for health behavior change, …”.

In the private sector, Stewart is Founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Body Evolution Technologies Inc., a venture capital-funded entrepreneurial project dedicated to taking e-health assessment, prevention, and treatment programs and technologies from the lab to those who would benefit most, “… especially among young women as they face enormous pressures concerning body-image, weight, eating behavior, and selfesteem.”

Body Evolution Technologies was designed to commercialize evidencebased health behavior technology and is an entrepreneurial venture, formed as a result of scientific discovery at Pennington, and funded by angel and venture capital investors. The programs and assessment tools are integrated within a social network environment to reinforce learning and promote adherence. See programs at http://www.emergebodyimage.com/, an e-health, online platform.

 

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.

More Mental Health, Less Incarceration – Prison Reforms Launched

In an announcement this week, Gov. Edwards said that key parts of the “Justice Reinvestment Initiative,” a package of reform measures passed by the 2017 Legislature, will begin to be implemented. Certain inmates in Louisiana who are currently serving a sentence for non-violent, non-sex offenses, as defined by Louisiana law, will be released an average 60-90 days early. This is an effort to reduce the state’s incarceration rate, the highest in the nation, a pledge the Governor made in taking office.

“Louisiana’s label as having the highest incarceration rate in the nation may be part of our past, but it will not be a part of our future,” said Gov. Edwards.

The package of 10 pieces of legislation is designed to steer less serious offenders away from prison, strengthen alternatives to imprisonment, reduce prison terms for those who can be safely supervised in the community, and remove barriers to successful reentry.

“For more than a year, stakeholders from every walk of life in Louisiana publicly met to
thoroughly review our criminal justice system. Following a model set forth by other Southern,
conservative states, their goal was to make Louisiana a safer place for our children while
being smarter on crime than we have been in the past…” he said.

“Along the way, we will, undoubtedly, find areas where we can improve these changes,” the
Governor said, including “alternatives to incarceration.”

The effort is estimated to save approximately $262 million, with more than $180 million of
those savings being reinvested in programs that reduce the recidivism rate and empower offenders to leave a life of crime.

Louisiana is the latest state to enact such reforms; many others have experienced simultaneous drops in their crime and imprisonment rates. For example, the Texas incarceration rate is down 16% and crime down 30%. In North Caroline incarceration is down 16% and crime down 16%.

The House and Senate votes for S.B. 139 (the bill that includes changes to parole and good time) passed by 26- 11 in the Senate, 75-30 in the House, and then 20-13 in the Senate
concurrence.

This past June, Dr. Raman Singh, Director, Medical and Behavioral Health, Louisiana Department of Public Safety & Corrections, told psychologists at the Louisiana Psychological Association, that the leverage for dramatic changes in the state’s incarceration rate was to institute behavioral health reforms in the Louisiana criminal justice system.

Singh, a medical doctor and cardiologist by training, said, “Louisiana’s incarceration rate
contributes to over-representation of the mentally ill in the criminal justice system.”

Dr. Susan Tucker, clinical psychologist and the Assistant Warden at the Bossier Parish
Medium Security Facility, and President-Elect of LPA, introduced Dr. Singh and explained the
significance of comprehensive psychological programs in the corrections and justice system.
Tucker developed the Steve Hoyle Intensive Substance Abuse Program nationally recognized for excellence.

In 2016 the Louisiana Legislature commended Tucker and her team in a House Concurrent Resolution pointing to multi-million dollar cost savings to the state because of shorter incarceration times of those offenders who participated in the psychological programs designed by Tucker.

Singh explained to the audience of psychologists and professors that the reasons for over-incarceration in Louisiana are well-established. Based on a 2016 Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s review Singh said the top reasons were mandatory sentences and habitual offender laws, high rates of local incarceration without treatment programs, and “not addressing issues driving criminal behavior such as substance and mental illness.”

“Incarceration of mentally ill exacerbates symptoms of mental illness. Rarely does incarceration of the mentally ill lead to an improvement in their mental status,” said Singh.

In a related story, in October Attorney General Jeff Landry wrote that taxpayers should be concerned about this “dangerous legislation.” He said that some of those released will
qualify for welfare and that the savings, targeted toward programs to help prisoners with addiction, mental health, and job skills, “…has apparently now morphed…” into more grants rather than taxpayer savings.

Governor Edwards replied that Landry should “Learn the Facts, Stop the Fear Mongering,” in a press release this week.

 

Psychological Scientists Study Hazards of Distracted Driving

Safe driving

The National Safety Council (NSC) estimates that up to 40,000 people died in auto accidents in 2016, marking a six percent increase from 2015 and a 14 percent increase from 2014. This is the most dramatic increase in 53 years, said Council officials. One of the factors thought to be causing the increase is cell phone use.

An NSC survey of the risky things drivers do while on the highway found that 47 percent of people text, either manually or through voice controls, while driving.

“Our complacency is killing us,” said NSC President Deborah Hersman. “Americans believe there is nothing we can do to stop crashes from happening, but that isn’t true,” Hersman said, as reported by the Safety Council.

Dr. Theodore S. (Scott) Smith from the University of Louisiana Lafayette, and Dr. Melissa Beck, at Louisiana State University, are two of those in the community who are working to uncover the elements of this problem and make a difference.

Dr. Smith is Assistant Professor in the Psychology Department and leads research in his lab, The Louisiana Applied and Developmental Psychological Sciences Laboratory, where he is interested in how cell phone distraction affects the learning process, not only in the classroom, but also how applicable distractions may affect driving behaviors and eyewitness memory. Smith has authored Cell Phone Distraction, Human Factors, and Litigation, published by Judges and Lawyers Publishing and which is becoming a popular resource for legal professionals.

Louisiana State University cognitive psychologist Dr. Melissa Beck is also tracking down the “inattention blindness” that affects us when we are driving. Working with simulators at the Civil Engineering Department, Beck and her associates recently published results of one of her several studies in this area.

For the April issue we take a look at what some of our psychological scientists are trying to do to discover how to make driving less dangerous, and to help stop that one call, that changes a life forever.

Psychology Board Proposes SB 37

SB 37

The Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists (LSBEP) is proposing legislation, Senate Bill 37, authored by Senator Daniel Martiny.

The bill would exempt the LSBEP from requirements for time-limits, called “prescriptive” provisions, in the law regarding disciplinary hearings, according to the digest of the bill.

The Psychology Practice Act currently has a clause that limits the board’s disciplinary investigations to one year, from the time that a formal complaint is acknowledged and the investigation begins, to the hearing.

The present wordings, reported by some to have been added by Dr. Jim Quillin, is as follows:

“… no disciplinary proceeding shall be commenced more than one year after the date upon which the board knows or should know of the act or omission upon which the disciplinary action is based.”

If passed, SB 37 would delete this language. The bill also adds to the psychology statue, provisions for fees in disciplinary actions. These activities are managed by the subcommittee called the “Complaints Committee,” which does not contain a board member.

The current statue allows, “A hearing fee may also be charged at the discretion of the board.”

The new language, if passed, would read:

“(4) The board may charge a hearing fee to include reasonable costs and fees incurred by the board for the hearing or proceedings, including its legal fees, stenographer, investigator, staff, and witness fees and any such costs and fees incurred by the board on any judicial review or appeal.

(5) The board may charge an informal resolution fee to include reasonable costs and fees incurred by the board for a disciplinary action that is resolved by settlement, consent decree, or other informal resolution, including its legal fees, stenographer, investigator, staff, and witness fees.

If passed, the board would also add “or informal resolution” to a paragraph for collecting fees for hearings. Included would be legal fees, investigator and staff fees, as well.

Finally, the bill would also allow applicants for a state license to substitute 5 years of license level experience for one of the two years of post-doctoral supervision, currently required.