Author Archives: Susan

Stress Solutions


Tapping Reduces Cortisol by 43%

That is what Dr. Peta Stapleton on Bond University in Australia found when she replicated Dawson Church’s 2012 cortisol study. In the original study, Church et al examined salivary cortisol levels in 83 subjects who were randomly assigned to either an emotional freedom technique (EFT) group, a psychotherapy group (SL for Sympathetic Listening) or a no treatment group (NT). The EFT group had a 50-minute session of tapping with a certified EFT coach. The NT group waited 50 minutes in the waiting room and the SL group had a 50-minute session with a licensed therapist. Cortisol was assayed just before and 30 minutes after an intervention. Emotional distress was assessed using the Symptom Assessment-45 to measure the subject’s level of anxiety and depression. The EFT group measured a significant decrease (p<0.03) in mean cortisol level (-24.39%) compared to a decrease of -14.25% in the SI group and -14.44% in the NT group.

Dr. Stapleton replicated the original Church study almost exactly. However, her results were even more dramatic. The EFT group reduced cortisol after 1 hour of EFT by 43%. There were 53 subjects in this study randomly assigned to one of the three groups. The Symptom Assessment-45 was again used to assess psychological distress. Salivary cortisol assessment was performed 30 minutes before the intervention and 30 minutes after.

Cortisol is considered to be an important biological marker of stress. EFT or acupoint stimulation is shown to be an effective method to reduce stress-related cortisol in a person. In an experimental situation, this is “interesting” and often that is all that happens with a reader who has an interest in stress reduction. In a real life situation, however, where someone has a history of not dealing well with stress, finding a short, easy to apply method that reliably reduces the amount of cortisol circulating in their body, the importance cannot be over-stated.

Creating a list of people who have a history of “not dealing well with stress” is an important first step. These are people who for some reason tend to hold the stress producing situation in their minds and continue to think about it, such as people who are more likely to have anxiety disorders like GAD or PTSD. The list should also include people who because of their physical condition, such as being pregnant, do not want to maintain high levels of cortisol in their blood.

An important second step as clinicians is for us to introduce them to various techniques to help them reduce their stress related cortisol. The Tapping Solution is possibly NOT the best technique. That remains to be seen. However, it is surely experimentally proven to reliably reduce cortisol and it is easy to do.

It might make a good tool for your therapy box if you see and treat people with anxiety.


Stapleton, P., Crighton, G., Sabot, D., and O’Neill, H.M. (2020). Reexamining the effect of emotional freedom techniques on stress biochemistry: A randomized controlled trial. Psychol Trauma.doi: 10.1037/tra0000563 (epub ahead of print.)

Church, Dawson, Yount, G., and Brooks, A.J. (2012). The effect of emotional freedom techniques on stress biochemistry: A randomized controlled trial. J Nerv Ment Dis., 10, 891-6.





A Review

by Alvin G. Burstein

Parasite, a South Korean film, premiered at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, becoming the first South Korean film to win the Palme d’Or. It went on to win four awards at the 92nd Academy Awards (the Oscars), winning Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best International Feature Film—the first non-English film to win the Best Picture award. Subtitles make it accessible world-wide.

It is a piece of work, hard to describe. A mashup of Beverly Hillbillies, Tobacco Road, and Upstairs/Downstairs. Slapstick humor, teenage romance, gore splatter and trenchant social commentary dazzle.

The title? There are at least three levels of parasitic involvement. The husband of the housekeeper of an elite, sumptuous mansion’s has been hiding from creditors for years in a bunker hidden deep under the house, living on food stolen with his wife’s complicity.

New owners, a couple, their teenage daughter and hyper-active four year old son, are losing the daughter’s college student prepping her for college entrance exams. The tutor persuades an old friend, the son of a dirt-poor, hard-scrabble family to take his gig, using fake credentials.

The new tutor, learning how gullible the rich and naïve parents are, embarks on a scheme to have his sister, pretending to be an art therapist, work with the owner’s son. Hiding their identities, the two conspire to have their parents usurp the roles of the rich family’s chauffeur and housekeeper.

The poor family pretend to be unrelated, and using fictitious credentials, rake in lots of money. The parasites are on easy street.

It is an obvious irony that the wealthy family can be seen as parasitic too. Their way of life depends on the labor of the less fortunate.

When the wealthy family leaves for a weekend at the seashore to celebrate the birthday of the young son, the imposters take over the house, freely feasting on the up-scale goodies that surround them.

Their revelry is interrupted by a visit from the former housekeeper, who persuades them to let her go to the basement for something she has forgotten. They admit her,
and sneaking after her, discover her husband. A battle royal ensues, with fights over a cellphone recording that reveals the interlopers’ scheme. Blood flows freely. The original housekeeper and her husband, badly injured, are left hidden in the basement.

The owners return unexpectedly because of flooding rains, but the interlopers manage to conceal themselves. The mother, in her housekeeper role, remains at their home, while the father and two children sneak out of the mansion, returning to their slum dwelling, only to find it flooded and uninhabitable.

The wealthy family plans a spontaneous, but elaborate birthday party the next day, making a point of inviting the supposed chauffeur the tutor and the art therapist to attend.

The climax of the party is a melee. The original housekeeper’s husband escapes from the basement bunker, stabs the pretended art therapist to death as she presents her student with a birthday cake, and is in turn killed by the supposed housekeeper. The replacement chauffeur kills the wealthy husband but manages to escape to the hidden bunker, taking the place of the original parasite.

In the aftermath, the poor family’s mother and her son are convicted of murder and sentenced to jail. He requires brain surgery to deal with the injuries he received during the melee.

When he is discharged, he learns that the mansion has a new owner and that his father is still hiding in the concealed bunker—doing well as a parasite. He makes plans— unrealistic ones—to make a lot of money and re-unite his family by becoming the owner of the mansion.

It is quite a movie. Did I say “Slap stick humor, teenage romance, gore splatter and trenchant social commentary dazzle?” They really do.


Dr. Bonner Recognized for Psychology in Public Interest


Dr. Mkay Bonner has been recognized as the 2020 recipient of the Award for Psychology in the Public Interest by the Louisiana Psychological Association,
announced last month by the association officials.

The recognition is given to an individual who has made significant scholarly or
practical contributions to the health and well-being of the general public through their
work in psychology, said officials.

Dr. Bonner is an industrial-organizational psychologist who has worked closely with the police in Northeast Louisiana for decades. She is the Public Safety Psychologist for several police, sheriff, and fire departments. For almost 20 years, she has conducted a variety of evaluations for pre-employment, fitness-for-duty, and officer-involved shootings. Dr. Bonner is also an Associate Professor at the University of Louisiana at Monroe and teaches in the Criminal Justice & Psychology Departments, is a reviewer for the Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology, and authored or co-authored many journal articles and book chapters.

Dr. Bonner and her husband, Assistant Chief of Police at University of Louisiana at Monroe, Dr. Mark Johnson, serve on the Advisory Council of the Northeast Delta Crisis Intervention Team, known as CIT, covering 12 parishes in the northeast part of the state. She and her husband have now trained over 1300 individuals, mostly in the
law enforcement field, through a combination of more than 100 classes, ranging from 4 hour continuing education classes through the 40 hour complete CIT class. Johnson recently finished his EdD in Curriculum and Instruction, specializing in Law Enforcement
training and evaluation.

The nominating psychologist said, “During the events following the tragic death of George Floyd there have been calls for radical police reform, perhaps even wholesale police abolition. Louisiana has a heritage of excessive police behavior and much to overcome. Yet some of us see this as a moment to apply the solutions that Dr. Bonner has been advocating throughout our state and beyond for a long time. We see an opportunity for hope in the midst of our current despair.

“For over 16 years Dr. Bonner has been working quietly, working intensely to provide evidence-based training to prevent police misconduct and to minimize police use of
deadly or inappropriate force. This work has occurred at an organizational and at a tactical level. At an organizational level she and her team have analyzed systemic and
institutional conflicts that result in disparate use of deadly or inappropriate behavior. They have subsequently worked to change specific dysfunctional cultures or systems associated with excessive applications of police use of force and of cultures of racism associated with citizen abuse by first responders. Interventions like this by nature do not get publicized. They are confidential. Who wants their region, their own jurisdiction, their town, most of all their police to be labeled and singled out? But change seems effective and reasonably long term, perhaps a source for a bit of optimism in the present American confusion.”

The nominating psychologist continued, “At a more tactical level Dr. Bonner and her colleagues’ work has developed theory-based training to address common situations involving crisis intervention that police and other first responders frequently encounter. Mental illness is one of these problems. Racism is another. This work is not unique, but I believe it is uniquely effective. There are numerous programs in the country for police and first responders that address race, class, and poverty. Many more attempt to train providers about general mental health issues. But the data shows that they are not particularly effective and don’t do much good over the long term. Perhaps this is because they too often teach generalities rather than train specific skills for high risk situations. They may succeed in raising awareness but do not impart lasting behavioral changes because they do not apply discrete knowledge to risky, emotionally charged situations and back it up with practice and continued training.”

Dr. Bonner is a regular participant and presenter at the Society for Police and Criminal Psychology, an eclectic professional organization that encourages the scientific study of police and criminal psychology and the application of scientific knowledge to problems in criminal justice.

Bonner has also presented at the professional conferences of the Society of Police and Criminal Psychology, the American Psychological Association, and Professional Training Resources, Inc. Examples include, A Successful Rural Mult-jurisdictional CIT Program: A
Quantitative & Qualitative 10 Year Review
, presented at the 2017 APA Annual
Conference; “Recruiting and hiring minorities into policing, with international
considerations,” in International Journal of Crime, Law and Social Issues; “The Intersection between law enforcement and persons with a mental illness,” in Crime, Punishment, and the Law; and “Doing more with less: The advantage of reserve officers in law enforcement,” in Innovations in Police Volunteering.

Dr. Bonner has taught multiple courses at the North Delta Regional Police Academy, including courses such as Emotionally Disturbed Persons–Mental Illness, Deescalation, Stress Management, Cultural Diversity, and Police Survival.

The nominating psychologist said, “Dr. Bonner’s and her colleague’s work has been different because it trains police and first responders to think through these necessary specifics. She addresses unusual situations, but situations that might not be unusual to first responders.

“Evidence shows that they reduce the use of deadly and inappropriate police actions by giving participants opportunities to learn and to think through and rehearse. They do not provide miracles, but they help us come closer to where we all want to be as a society.

“She, her husband, a former detective, with a great deal of ‘street credibility,” and colleagues can reach the people, the fellow officers, the paramedics, the fire personnel, the prison guards and correction personnel, that most of us academics just cannot. They can, have, and will continue to be able to address racism, culturalism, classism, and inequalities because they have an authenticity gained through years of experience and a much-earned trust.”

In a recent Times interview about Police Psychology, Dr. Bonner said that not only do psychologists need to stick to their scientific base of facts, but to be truly helpful and comprehensive, psychologists must learn the culture and work environment law-enforcement personnel.

“We must learn and understand the culture and environment that they work in,” she
said. “We cannot leave our office, open a book, lecture to them for two hours on mental illness, and expect it to make a difference. We must spend time with them, go on ride-alongs –at midnight, experience some of their training classes. We must understand them, how to talk to them, the best methods for them to learn…” she said.

“Psychology has much to offer. However, we cannot dabble in research and training with law enforcement,” she warns. “We must be committed and remember our roots of scientific research and competencies. That is how we can make a difference. And, it is an extremely worthwhile endeavor.”
Selection for awards were made by
members of the Louisiana Psychological
Association’s awards committee composed
of Drs. Mike Chafetz, Beth Caillouet
Arredondo, Brian Mizuki, Kim VanGeffen,
and Laurel Franklin. The committee
accepts nominations from the community


Dr. Frick Honored for Scientific Achievements


The state psychological association has named leading international authority, Dr.
Paul Frick, for Contributions in Psychological Science. The 2020 honor is given to an individual who has significantly increased knowledge of psychological concepts by scientific research and dissemination of findings.

Dr. Frick holds the Roy Crumpler Memorial Chair and is professor of psychology at Louisiana State University (LSU). Previously, he was Chair of Psychology at U. of New Orleans. His research investigates the many interacting factors that can lead children
and adolescents to have serious emotional and behavioral problems, such as aggressive and antisocial behavior.

Dr. Frick was noted to be one of only four researchers from LSU who achieved an
h-index over 100, based on the Google Scholar Citations database. Worldwide, only 3,160 scholars reach this level.

Dr. Frick and his colleagues have focused on the importance of “callous–unemotional” traits in children and adolescents.

“We are still working to advance research on callousunemotional traits,” Dr. Frick
told the Times, “especially in light of its addition to both the DSM-5 diagnosis for Conduct Disorder and the ICD-11 diagnoses of Conduct-dissocial and Oppositional defiant disorder,” Dr. Frick said. “In the upcoming September issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry, we have a paper that will be the featured manuscript showing that CU traits predicts gun carrying and gun use in a crime in the four years following the adolescent’s first arrest,” he said.

The study will also be featured in Am. J. of Psychiatry ‘s audio podcasts found at

“Also,” Dr. Frick said, “our work to advance clinical assessment of CU traits has also been progressing, with the first papers being published on the reliability and validity of the CAPE 1.1., the Clinical Assessment of Prosocial Emotions, Version 1.1, which
provides clinicians a way to assess the specifier. Finally, an open trial for our early
intervention for young children with CU traits has also recently been published,” he said.

Last year, Dr. Frick and his international co-authors published an article in Nature
Reviews, and pointed out that society pays a heavy price for its failure to diagnose and treat conduct disorders.

Conduct disorder is associated with an exceptionally high costs for individuals and society, noted the authors of the the report. “The health and personal burden of it is seven times greater than that of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, a much more widely known disorder. While it is likely that children diagnosed with ADHD may also show signs of conduct disorder, very few will be diagnosed or receive treatment for it. Conduct disorder is also associated with a greater health burden than

“Despite the fact that it is associated with a very high personal, familial, and societal
burden, conduct disorder is under-recognized and frequently goes undiagnosed and untreated. Unfortunately, the longer this goes on, the more difficult it is to treat. It truly
exemplifies the old saying that ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.’ Also, many treatments that are being used in the community have not proven effective,” Frick
previously said to LSU News.

Authors noted that “Conduct disorder (CD) is a common and highly impairing psychiatric disorder that usually emerges in childhood or adolescence and
is characterized by severe antisocial and aggressive behaviour. It frequently co-occurs with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and often leads to antisocial personality disorder in adulthood. CD affects ~3% of school-aged children and is
twice as prevalent in males than in females.”

“Callous-Unemotional Traits and Risk of Gun Carrying and Use During Crime,” authored by Emily Robertson, MA, Paul J. Frick, PhD, Toni Walker, MA, Emily Kemp, BS, James Ray,
PhD, Laura Thornton, PhD, Tina Wall Myers, PhD, Laurence Steinberg, and PhD, Elizabeth Cauffman, PhD, can be found in AJP in Advance (doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.2020.19080861)

Authors note, “This study demonstrates the importance of considering callous-unemotional traits in gun violence research both because callous-unemotional traits
increase gun carrying and use in adolescents and because the traits may moderate other key risk factors. Notably, the influence of peer gun carrying and ownership may have been under- estimated in past research for the majority of adolescents by not considering the moderating influence of callous- unemotional traits.”

Another study, “Parent-Child Interaction Therapy Adapted for Preschoolers with Callous-Unemotional Traits: An Open Trial Pilot Study,” is published in Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology.

“The Clinical Assessment of Prosocial Emotions (CAPE 1.1): A Multi-Informant Validation
Study,” was recently published in Psychological Assessment. This study examined the validity of the Clinical Assessment of Prosocial Emotions, a newly developed clinician-rating measure of CU traits in children and adolescents.

The “Public Significance Statement” for the research noted, “This study provides empirical support for a new interview-based method for assessing limited prosocial
emotions (e.g., a lack of guilt and empathy) in children with conduct problems (e.g.,
aggressive and disruptive behavior). This is important because existing clinical tools
for assessing limited prosocial emotions have been limited to questionnaires alone despite the important role of clinical interview data in the formulation of psychiatric diagnoses.”

Dr. Frick is a leading international authority in child and adolescent diagnosis and
behavior and his work focuses on the pathways by which youth develop severe antisocial behavior and aggressiveness. He has published over 180 manuscripts in either edited books or peer-reviewed publications and he is the author of 6 additional books and test manuals. He has been Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychology at the University of New Orleans, and was named the recipient of the Robert D. Hare Lifetime Achievement Award by the Society for the
Scientific Study of Psychopathy.

In 2017, he was named the Editor-in-Chief for the prestigious Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, the official journal of the International Society for Research in Child and Adolescent Psychopathology, a multidisciplinary scientific society.

Dr. Frick’s research has been funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, and the John T. and Catherine D. MacArthur Foundation. In 2008, he received the MacArthur Foundation’s Champion for Change in Juvenile Justice Award for the state of Louisiana. He has been the editor of the Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, is past president of the Society for the Scientific Study of Psychopathy. He has an Honorary Doctorate from Orebro University in Orebro, Sweden in recognition of his research contributions in psychology. He is also Professor in the Learning Sciences Institute of Australia at Australian Catholic

Selection for awards were made by members of the Louisiana Psychological Association’s awards committee composed of Drs. Mike Chafetz, Beth Caillouet
Arredondo, Brian Mizuki, Kim VanGeffen, and Laurel Franklin.

The nominating psychologist said, “Dr. Frick has brought a rich and inspired analysis to
psychology and is one of the great minds in our field. His research exemplifies what it
means to advance psychology for the benefit of the larger society.”


Gov Edwards Signs State Budget


State Agency Heads Directed to Prepare for Possible Mid-Year Budget Cuts
Gov. Edwards Signs State Budget to Preserve Critical Funding During the Covid-19 Pandemic

Baton Rouge – On July 8, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced that he has signed the
state’s budget for the FY 20-21 operating year, preserving funding for critical health
care, workforce and education services that are needed during the pandemic, especially
as new COVID-19 cases rise again as school systems prepare to return to campus
in the fall, according to the press release from the Governor’s office.

Additionally, the Governor Edwards has ordered cabinet agencies to prepare for possible mid-year budget cuts by sequestering at least 10 percent of their budgets, which he also recommends for the judicial and legislative branches.

He will also issue an executive order to freeze hiring of state employees.

“Right now our budget is in a far better shape than we could have hoped just three
months ago, with funding for critical services in place as we continue to respond to the
COVID-19 pandemic and see case counts as well as hospitalizations rising,” he said.

“I have directed state agencies to prepare for possible mid-year cuts and, we will continue working with the Legislature to make any adjustments that may be necessary this fall,” Gov. Edwards said. “While there are cuts in the budget, federal CARES act funding allowed us to avoid making them even more catastrophic. In addition, we were able to invest CARES act funding into programs for local governments, aid to businesses and direct payments to essential front line workers.”

The Governor also vetoed language that cancelled meritr aises for classified state employees

Gov. Edwards vetoed a provision that impermissibly delayed pay raises for classified state employees and other provisions that sequestered funds appropriated to the executive branch, but not funds appropriated to the legislative and judicial branches.
He also vetoed more than $9 million in
new spending, as well as a provision
contrary to Centers for Medicare and
Medicaid Services guidelines that would
negatively impact the Louisiana
Department of Health and require the
expenditure of more than $10 million of
state general fund plus $32 million of
federal funds.


Cases Rise, Governor Extends Phase Two


Cases Rise, Governor Extends Phase Two

On July 23, Gov. Edwards signed orders and extending Phase Two and the Statewide Mask Mandate as Louisiana surpassed 100,000 known COVID-19 cases.

State officials put out a graphic highlighting the fact that Louisiana was first in the
nation based on a July 26 high of 3,840 new cases.

The Gov. Edwards signed a renewal of the current proclamation extending Phase Two
in the state, which includes the statewide mask mandate and additional restrictions,
until August 7.

“Today, we are reporting 2,408 new cases, which means that the state has now
surpassed 100,00 total cases. And of course, these are only the cases we know about. There are undoubtedly more,” Gov. Edwards said. “When you hit a milestone like
this one and when you see death totals that are higher than they’ve been in months, as we did yesterday, it’s a reality check.”

“For anyone out there minimizing the seriousness of this situation, you are doing
yourself and this state a terrible disservice. The same is true for anyone questioning the validity of the data that we’re using and releasing every day,” Gov. Edwards said. “COVID-19 is very prevalent throughout our state, and it is more widespread than ever before. We are certainly not where we want to be in Louisiana. I’ve extended Phase 2 with the mask mandate and other restrictions, but we are perilously close to having to make tough decisions that no one wants. This is why we have to follow the mitigation measures that are in place. We have to wear our masks, keep social distance, wash
our hands frequently and stay home when we are feeling sick.”

The statewide mask mandate applies to all 64 parishes in Louisiana. However, parishes with a COVID-19 incidence of fewer than 100 cases per 100,000 people for the most recent two week period for which data is available can choose to opt out of the mandate. Under the state’s policy, parish presidents in parishes with lower incidence rates do not have to opt out and may choose to keep a mask mandate in place.

The Louisiana Department of Health updates its incidence data every other week and at the time of the announcement, no Louisiana parish meets the standard to opt out of the current mask mandate.

The order requires face coverings for everyone ages 8 and older except for the following

Anyone who has a medical condition that prevents the wearing of a face covering
Anyone who is consuming a drink or food
Anyone who is trying to communicate with a person who is hearing impaired
Anyone who is giving a speech for broadcast or to an audience
Anyone temporarily removing his or her face covering for identification purposes
Anyone who is a resident of a parish without a high COVID incidence that has opted out of the masking mandate
Masks are strongly recommended for children
ages 2 to 7.

All bars, including those with food permits from the Louisiana Department of Health, will be closed to on-premises consumption. They can operate for curbside takeout or delivery service only.

The order also limits the size of social gatherings to 50 people indoors. Outdoor
social gatherings are also limited to 50 people if individuals cannot avoid being within six feet of one another.

Experts warn of a mental health crisis due to the impact of Covid-19.

According to a report by ABC News, authored by Alexis Carrington, the impact of Covid-19 could include 20 additional firearm-related suicides per day.

In the July 7 report, the author wrote that a new study has found that there may be a 20 to 30% increase in firearms suicides due to the mental health impact of Covid.

“The uncertainty brought on by the pandemic has been impacting people’s mental health and increasing feelings of anxiety and depression. The pandemic has also led to
increases in gun purchases with an estimated 1.9 million additional guns sold during March and April 2020 compared to the same time period last year. Having access to a firearm in the home triples the risk of death by suicide.”

“The study comes from the research arm of Everytown for Gun Safety, a non profit
organization which advocates for gun control. Rearchers at Everytown looked back at prior crises that led to massive unemployment, including the Great Depression of the 1930s and the Great Recession that ended in 2010.”


Judge Rules Ms. Monic Entitled to Immunity


The conclusion of a drawn-out legal dispute over a psychologist’s due
process rights concluded with a US District Court judge confirming that the
psychology board, as well as the board’s employee, Ms. Jaime Monic, are both
entitled to immunity under the 11th Amendment, which bars individuals from
suing a state in federal court.

The lawsuit was brought by Dr. Eric Cerwonka who alleged violations of his
Constitutional rights to due process, when his license was suspended without
a hearing and amid other alleged irregularities by the investigations
subcommittee of the Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists.

A jury trial had been scheduled for June 4, 2020, but Judge Michael Juneau ruled in February on a Motion for Summary Judgment and arguments by Atty. Gen. Jeff
Landry, ending the dispute. A representative from Cerwonka’s legal firm said that there would be no appeal.

The Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists is the law enforcement and regulatory agency for the practice of psychology.

In August 2017, Dr. Cerwonka filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court Western District of Louisiana Lafayette division. In his complaint, Cerwonka and his attorneys alleged that the board acted on an interim basis before any hearing had taken place, that Cerwonka was denied a proper opportunity to defend himself against specific charges, that an emergency action was taken because he exercised his right to
free speech, and that evidence was manipulated and obtained illegally. Among these and other violations of his rights, he and his attorneys also noted that the prosecuting
attorney for the board had previously represented Cerwonka in a hotly contested custody battle and that the attorney had information that, allegedly, was used in the board’s prosecution.

In January 2018, Cerwonka and his attorneys amended the complaint against the psychology board to include Executive Director Jamie Monic.

In March 2018, Magistrate Judge Carol B. Whitehurst recommended dismissal based on lack of federal jurisdiction, writing, “The Eleventh Amendment bars an individual from
suing a state in federal court unless the state consents or Congress has clearly and validly abrogated the state’s sovereign immunity.”

United States District Judge Robert James agreed, and issued a Judgment on April 18, 2018, stating, “After an independent review of the record, and consideration of the objections filed, this Court concludes that the Magistrate Judge’s report and recommendation is correct and adopts the findings and conclusions therein as its own.”
Therefore, Judge James dismissed the matter in part on the grounds that the state is immune. However, a second aspect of the suit continued, naming the Executive
Director as an individual.

On April 18, 2019, in response to another Motion to Dismiss, Judge Juneau ordered that a Motion to Dismiss was partly granted and partly denied, leaving Ms. Monic as the sole defendant.

In late 2019, Ms. Monic and her attorneys at the state requested a jury trial. Judge Juneau granted the unopposed Motion to reset the Bench Trial to a Jury Trial, and
scheduled the matter for June 4, 2020 in Lafayette.

On December 19, 2019, Atty. Gen. Jeff Landry submitted a Motion for Summary Judgment and memorandum in support of the motion.

Landry wrote, “Plaintiff cannot prove the Jaime Monic acted outside of the scope of her duties. Absent evidence that Ms. Monic acted outside of the scope of her duties, she is clearly entitled to absolute immunity. Alternatively, Ms. Monic is entitled to qualified
immunity as her actions were reasonable actions to assist the Psychology Board is carrying out its duty to protect the public. Plaintiff cannot demonstrate any violation of a clearly established law and therefore, has no claim pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983
against Ms. Monic.”

Defending attorneys argued, “… all of the facts alleged arise out of Ms. Monic’s performance of her official duties. It is clear from Ms. Monic’s deposition that Ms. Monic never acted outside her official capacity.”

“Qualified immunity protects public employees and officials from individual capacity suits under 42 U.S.C. §1983 for performance of ‘discretionary duties’ when their
actions are reasonable regarding the rights allegedly violated.” They quoted that, “Qualified immunity protects public officials from suit unless their conduct violates a
clearly established constitutional right.”

Cerwonka’s attorneys argued that the Supreme Court has refused to extend absolute immunity beyond a very limited class. “Absolute immunity extends only to those ‘whose special functions or constitutional states requires complete protection from suit.’
However, ‘state executive officials are not entitled to absolute immunity for their official actions.’

And, they argued that, “In professions requiring specific licenses, ‘the licenses are not to be taken away without procedural due process required by the Fourteenth
Amendment,'” wrote the attorneys.

“An essential principle of due process is that a deprivation of life, liberty, or property be preceded by notice and opportunity for hearing,” said the attorneys for Cerwonka.


Ex. Order Aims to Boost Valid Assessments for Federal Hiring/Selection


On June 26, the President issued an Order to modernize and reform the hiring
process for federal work candidates.

In the introduction, President Trump wrote, “America’s private employers have
modernized their recruitment practices to better identify and secure talent through
skills- and competency-based hiring. As the modern workforce evolves, the Federal
Government requires a more efficient approach to hiring.

“Employers adopting skills- and competency-based hiring recognize that an overreliance on college degrees excludes capable candidates and undermines labor-market efficiencies. Degree-based hiring is especially likely to exclude qualified candidates for jobs related to emerging technologies and those with weak connections between educational attainment and the skills or competencies required to perform them.

“Moreover, unnecessary obstacles to opportunity disproportionately burden low-income Americans and decrease economic mobility.

“My Administration is committed to modernizing and reforming civil service hiring through improved identification of skills requirements and effective assessments of the skills job seekers possess. We encourage these same practices in the private sector. Modernizing our country’s processes for identifying and hiring talent will provide America a more inclusive and demand- driven labor force.

According to the President, this effort “…directs important, merit-based reforms that will replace degree-based hiring with skills- and competency-based hiring and will hold the civil service to a higher standard — ensuring that the individuals most capable of performing the roles and responsibilities required of a specific position are those hired for that position — that is more in line with the principles on which the merit system rests.

The President is directing the heads of the Office of Personnel Management and
Office of Management and Budget, the Assistant to the President for Domestic
Policy, and the heads of agencies, to review and revise all job classification and
qualification standards for positions within the competitive service, nd that changes
to job classification and qualification standards shall be made available to the
public within 120 days. Reforms include the following:

An agency may prescribe a minimum educational requirement for employment in the Federal competitive service only when a minimum educational qualification is legally required to perform the duties of the position in the State or locality where those
duties are to be performed.

Position descriptions and job postings published by agencies for positions within the competitive service should be based on the specific skills and competencies required to perform those jobs.

Section 3 of the Order addresses “Improving the Use of Assessments in the Federal Hiring Process.”

“(a) In addition to the other requirements of this order, the Director of OPM [Office
of Personnel Management] shall work with the heads of all agencies to ensure that, within 180 days of the date of this order, for positions within the competitive service, agencies assess candidates in a manner that does not rely solely on educational attainment to determine the extent to which candidates possess relevant knowledge, skills, competencies, and abilities. The heads of all agencies shall develop or identify
such assessment practices. (b) In assessing candidates, agencies shall not rely solely on candidates’ self-evaluations of their stated abilities. Applicants must clear other assessment hurdles in order to be certified for consideration. (c) Agencies shall continually evaluate the effectiveness of different assessment strategies to promote and protect the quality and integrity of their hiring processes.

“For purposes of this order: (a) the term “assessment” refers to any valid and reliable method of collecting information on an individual for the purposes of making a decision about qualification, hiring, placement, promotion, referral, or entry into programs leading to advancement;…”

The Order is available at


Dr. Erin Reuther Honored for Service


The Louisiana Psychological Association (LPA) has named Dr. Erin Reuther, PhD, ABPP,
recipient of the 2020 Distinguished Service Award, announced at a recent meeting.

This award is given to an individual who has made significant contributions to the
professional field of psychology in Louisiana and beyond, by their professional service, noted to the officials.

The Awards Committee recognized Dr. Reuther for her dedication and leadership in
legislative issues and as special task team leader for matters related to Covid-19, as well as for her accomplishments in the role of President-Elect.

“In her leadership of the Legislative Affairs Committee, Dr. Reuther has created an active work group of psychologists who have been monitoring legislation which affects mental health issues in Louisiana. She is also leading LPA’s efforts to gather and disseminate information on COVID-19 during a time of crisis for psychologists in the state.

“Through her work on these committees, Dr. Reuther has demonstrated the abilities of a true leader who is able to bring together psychologists of different backgrounds and to shape them into an effective work group,” said the Committee. “In her role as President-Elect of LPA, Dr. Reuther has also provided outstanding leadership to the
Executive Council.”

Dr. Reuther is a licensed and board-certified clinical psychologist. She works at Children’s Hospital New Orleans, providing patient care to children and adolescents with pediatric illness in both inpatient and outpatient health/pediatric psychology.


Dr. Buckner Named LSU Distinguished Faculty


Julie Buckner, PhD, Professor of Psychology and Director of Clinical Training, has been
awarded the 2020 LSU Distinguished Faculty Award. This award recognizes faculty
members with sustained records of excellence in teaching, research, and/or service.

Dr. Buckner is a Professor and Director of Clinical Training in the Department of
Psychology at Louisiana State University and the Director of LSU’s Anxiety and
Addictive Behaviors Laboratory & Clinic. She is also a Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at LSU-Health Sciences Center and a Visiting Professor at the
London South Bank University School of Applied Sciences. She is also a licensed clinical psychologist.

Dr. Buckner’s program of research primarily focuses on: (1) delineation of causal and
maintaining factors implicated in substance use disorders, especially the role of affect-related vulnerability factors; and (2) development and evaluation of empirically-informed treatment and prevention protocols for substance use disorders, including treatment for cooccurring anxiety-substance use disorders.

Dr. Buckner has had over 150 publications and has been involved in several NIH grants. Earlier this year, Dr. Julie Buckner was named the G. Alan Marlatt Mid-Career Research Award winner for 2020, announced at this year’s annual meeting of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT) Addictive Behaviors & Anxiety Disorders Special Interest Group.


Could More Police Psychology Help?


“Start to finish, in that nine minutes you see a murder in progress,” Tom Fuentes, former FBI Assistant Director and vice president at Morris & McDaniel, told Channel 11 of Pittsburgh. George Floyd’s death was the worst case of police brutality he’s seen in more than 30 years of law enforcement, Fuentes told the reporter. The officer, Derek
Chauvin, should never have been hired, he said.

Morris & McDaniel, with Dr. David Morris, a Louisiana licensed industrial-organizational
psychologist, as founder, conducts psychological testing for police applicants around the world. Dr. Lana Whitlow directs the New Orleans Regional Office, where she and Morris focus on using multiple procedures to screen candidates in order to reduce
problems from individuals hired or promoted.

Fuentes told the reporter that Chauvin exhibited sociopathic behavior and that this tendency, while seven percent in the general population, jumps up to more than 40 percent in applicants for law enforcement, Fuentes said. Dr. Morris and his colleagues been assisting public sector law enforcement organizations in designing and implementing screening instruments to help deal with these issues for over three decades. Morris is both a psychologist and attorney, and studied the concept of natural justice at the World Court in The Hague to better understand of how to test fairly.

Dr. Mkay Bonner, an industrialorganizational psychologist in Monroe, said that not only do psychologists need to stick to their scientific base of facts, but to be truly helpful and
comprehensive, psychologists must learn the culture and work environment of law-enforcement personnel.

“We must learn and understand the culture and environment that they work in,” she said. “We cannot leave our office, open a book, lecture to them for two hours on mental illness, and expect it to make a difference. We must spend time with them, go on ridealongs –at midnight, experience some of their training classes. We must understand them, how to talk to them, the best methods for them to learn…”.

Dr. Bonner has worked closely with the police in Northeast Louisiana for decades. She is the Public Safety Psychologist for several police, sheriff, and fire departments. For almost 20 years, she has conducted a variety of evaluations for pre-employment, fitness-forduty, and officer-involved shootings.

Dr. Bonner and her husband, police Sgt. Mark Johnson, serve on the Advisory Council of the Northeast Delta Crisis Intervention Team, known as CIT, covering 12 parishes in the northeast part of the state. She and her husband have now trained over 1300 individuals, mostly in the law enforcement field, through a combination of more than 100 classes, ranging from 4 hour continuing education classes through the 40 hour complete CIT class.

Dr. Charles Burchell has also worked in this area for decades. While he currently has cut
back on his independent practice, and does not render police psychological services on
an ongoing basis, he maintains professional connections, such as his membership in the Society of Police and Criminal Psychology.

“Police Psychologists continue to address two law enforcement agency concerns–
negligent hiring and negligent retention–through specialized services such as psychological pre-employment screening,” said Dr. Burchell, “rendering of clinical
support services to sworn officers and other personnel, fitness for duty evaluations,
consultation to law enforcement management, training on behavioral issues that are pertinent to law enforcement, and provision of services that may be peculiar to
law enforcement operations …”.

Negligent hiring and negligent retention may be relevant to the Minneapolis tragedy, where Mr. Floyd was killed. Personnel records cited widely now in the media report that Chavin had numerous complaints.

Minneapolis had had problems. In 2017, APM Reports found that four of the five psychological tests had been eliminated, dropping below national standards. As
recent as October 2019, City Pages reported that Minneapolis activists were pushing for mental health screenings and reforms in how officers were hired, assigned, and disciplined. One proposal called for the officers to be subject to screenings every three years.

Responding to public criticism, the Minneapolis police department hired a new psychologist in 2018 to improve screening procedures. However, officials’ choice for
the contract came under criticism when it was found that they hired a psychologist
with limited experience in police psychology.

Not many psychologists have worked to build the comprehensive networks related
to policing and developing trust with various segments of the community, as Dr.

“Psychology has much to offer. However, we cannot dabble in research and training with law enforcement,” she warns. “We must be committed and remember our roots of
scientific research and competencies. That is how we can make a difference. And, it is
an extremely worthwhile endeavor.”

Bonner has taught multiple courses at the North Delta Regional Police Academy,
including courses such as Emotionally Disturbed Persons–Mental Illness, De-escalation,
Stress Management, Cultural Diversity, and Police Survival.

“Psychologists can be key to helping the current crisis in the U.S., Dr. Bonner said. “We can especially help with law enforcement research and training. But, it is critical that
we remember our educational and professional training. We need scientific research to
guide decisions – not just based on emotions or what we think but what we can prove. We need to know what will help and what will be a waste of time, resources, or actually be detrimental.”

Bonner follows this model with intensive involvement with all aspects of the law enforcement community systems. As Co-Coordinator and the Co-Lead Instructor for the Northeast Delta Crisis Intervention Team, spanning 12 parishes in the northeast part of the state, she has extensively worked with and trained law enforcement and public safety personnel throughout Louisiana, as well as the nation.

Dr. Bonner and Sgt. Johnson serve on the Advisory Council and help achieve the
overarching goals of the CIT, goals that also address the larger community, to promote
safety for everyone by providing law enforcement individuals with the training needed to effectively respond when encountering a person with a mental illness or in mental

Their mission statement includes the following:

The Northeast Delta CIT Program promotes officer safety and understanding when
dealing with persons in a crisis. We emphasize safety to all concerned – consumers, the
communities, and law enforcement.

…We are grounded on the principles of dignity, kindness, and hope for persons with a
mental illness. Our endeavors are only possible through the collaborative efforts between persons with a mental illness, family members, advocates, government and elected leaders, community professionals, mental health providers, and law enforcement professionals.

We cannot succeed alone. The Northeast Delta CIT goes beyond a crisis intervention
team. We are truly a “Community Intervention Team.”

The effort has been very successful. “We have received recognition for our work,” said
Dr. Bonner, who has presented information about the innovative program at the CIT International Conference. The group has also been awarded the Louisiana Peace Officer’s Standards and Training accreditation, called POST. This, “… is a really big deal,”
Dr. Bonner said.

“We have also conducted CIT Train-The-Trainer for agencies throughout Louisiana and
published about the work in an international journal,” she said, which extended the benefits greatly across the state. They have found that CIT skills, including verbal de-escalation, were used in over 80% of the CIT officer reports.

Officers learning the crisis-management skills have praised the training. “One of the
best and most relevant classes I have ever taken for law enforcement.” And, “I will use
these skills every day,” and “Every officer, really everybody, needs to take this class.”

Dr. Bonner is also an Associate Professor at the University of Louisiana at Monroe and teaches in the Criminal Justice & Psychology Departments, is a reviewer for the Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology, and authored or co-authored many journal articles and book chapters.

She has also presented at the professional conferences of the Society of Police and
Criminal Psychology, the American Psychological Association, and Professional
Training Resources, Inc. Examples include, A Successful Rural Multijurisdictional CIT
Program: A Quantitative & Qualitative 10 Year Review
, presented at the 2017 APA
Annual Conference; “Recruiting and hiring minorities into policing, with international considerations,” in International Journal of Crime, Law and Social Issues; “The Intersection between law enforcement and persons with a mental illness,” in Crime, Punishment, and the Law; and “Doing more with less: The advantage of reserve officers in law enforcement,” in Innovations in Police Volunteering.

Bonner is a regular in the Society for Police and Criminal Psychology (SPCP), an eclectic professional organization that encourages the scientific study of police and criminal psychology and the application of scientific knowledge to problems in criminal justice.

Another organization of police psychologist is the Consortium of Police Psychology Services (COPPS). In 2011, Dr. Penelope (Penny) Dralle and colleague Dr. Charles
Burchell met with colleagues in New Orleans where Dr. Dralle served as President for
the Consortium.

Dr. Dralle, a clinical and consulting psychologist, has served as Consulting Psychologist for the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD), as associate professor for the Louisiana State University School of Medicine (retired), and member of the Blue Ribbon
Committee on NOPD Police Recruiting (now Consortium of Selection and Recruitment
for NOPD). She coordinated and supervised pre-screening operations for the hiring of
officers for the city.

Dralle has been in the middle of the reforms in the field for over 40 years. “Testing for police officers started before the ’60s,” Dralle noted. “In 1967, a Presidential commission
recognized the importance of assessment. The goal was that by 1975 every law enforcement agency would be using some sort of standardized test to determine the emotional stability of law enforcement candidates.”

In 1976, the FBI and the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA) of the Department of Justice sponsored the National Working Conference on the Selection of Law Enforcement Officers at the FBI Academy in Quantico, VA. The first conference of the LEAA, was held at Quantico, Va., in 1979. The meeting attracted professionals from all over the country. In 1984, at another later informal meeting at the FBI, Gabriel Rodriguez, of Louisiana, helped organize COPPS.

“I started working with the city in the mid 1970s, with Dr. Arthur J. Gallese,” Dralle said, “who moved to New Orleans after leaving a position as Research Coordinator at the Dept. of Public Welfare in St. Paul, Minn. He had trained at University of Minnesota and
was an expert in the use of the MMPI when he joined the faculty at LSUMS.”

Over the years the standards of practice for screening and assessment of law enforcement have become more codified with guidelines published by the Psychological Services Section of the International Association of Chief of Police and the Society for Police and Criminal Psychology, looking at what is acceptable for how a department goes about assessing candidates.

Dralle was asked to take over preemployment selection work for the NOPD after Hurricane Katrina, and she offered the Police and Civil Service Departments of New Orleans a standardized approach to the selection and evaluation of their candidates, enlisting other experienced professionals in the community to participate.

She has worked to share information with others in conference presentations such
as “Developing a Partnership to Enhance the Police Recruitment and Retention in
New Orleans: A Case Presentation,” “Critical Incident Response for Louisiana Law Enforcement Personnel and their Families: A Journey in Crisis Intervention for the Unrecognized Victims of Crime,” and “Ethical Issues in the Psychiatric/Psychological Evaluations of Police Recruits.”

“The commonly used tests have been ‘normed’ and ‘renormed,'” Dralle notes, “and new tests have been developed to address specific problems. For example, the Matrix-Predictive Uniform Law Enforcement Selection Evaluation Inventory was published in 2008 by Drs. Robert Davis and Cary Rostow of Baton Rouge.”

The late Dr. Robert Davis, founder of Matrix, Inc., a Police Psychological Services Corporation, was senior author of the M-PULSE™ ––the MatrixPredictive Uniform Law Enforcement Selection Evaluation Inventory, as well as the comprehensive post-offer
evaluation methods.

Dr. Davis was one of Louisiana’s examples of a psychologist closely involved with the police. He served as Chief Police Psychologist for the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office, and as Police Psychologist for the Louisiana State Police in Baton Rouge. He was
trained at the Law Enforcement Training Program, Louisiana State University, 147th Basic Training Academy.

Board certified in Police Psychology and Forensic Psychology, he was nationally known for the development of inferential statistical models for the actuarial prediction of discrete liabilities in law enforcement and other public safety professions.

Over the years, Davis and colleague Dr. Cary Rostow published numerous articles about employee selection for law enforcement professionals, most notably the M-PULSE Inventory: Matrix Predictive Uniform Law Enforcement Selection Evaluation Inventory,
published in 2008 by MHS, Inc., Toronto.

Rostow and Davis also wrote Fitness for Duty Evaluations for Law Enforcement Officers: A Guide for Law Enforcement Executives and Police Psychologists, by Haworth Press in 2004.

Their many scientific publications included, “Psychological Police Officer Selection” for Law Enforcement Executive Forum, “An Investigation of Biographical Information as a Predictor of Employment Termination among Law Enforcement Officers” in Journal of
Police and Criminal Psychology
, and “Group Differences in Detected Counterproductivity among Law Enforcement Personnel: Implications for Organizational Diversity,” in Quaderni Di Psicologia Lavoro, with S. Dilchert, and Denise Ones.

Davis and Rostow, along with colleagues, also published “Compulsive Traits and Police Officer Performance,” in J. of Police and Criminal Psychology, and “Law Enforcement Officer Seniority and PAI Variables in Psychological Fitness for Duty Examinations,” in J. of Police and Criminal Psychology, and “Psychological Screening,” in Law and Order.

In 2010 Drs. Davis and Rostow provided chapters, “Issues in Law Enforcement Fitness-For- Duty Evaluation,” and “The Use of the M-PULSE Inventory in Law Enforcement Selection,” for Personality Assessment in Police Psychology: A 21st Century Perspective.

Dr. Davis worked closely with many colleagues in the Louisiana community including Dr. Ivory Toldson, a leader in the Black community. Along with Dr. Rostow, Drs. Davis and Toldson worked together on a grant awarded by the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, and produced, “Profiling Police: Evaluating the predictive and structural validity of an actuarial method for screening civil liabilities among police officer candidates.” The three presented together at the 2004 Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association in Hawaii and also at the Annual Meeting of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences in 2004.

Today, Matrix is led by Dr. Wm. Drew Gouvier and Dr. Joseph Comaty.

Dr. Gouvier has been practicing in neuropsychology and clinical psychology for 30 years and currently holds the rank of Professor Emeritus in the Department of Psychology at Louisiana State University, and remains active there in research and graduate training, where he also served as the Department’s Director of Public Service.

“In homage to Paul Meehl,” said Dr. Gouvier, “it is all about having science behind the
selection, and that absolutely requires a database of actual officer feedback over time
to establish the validity of the evaluation. The data collection needs to be an integral
and ongoing part of the evaluation system,” he said.

“There is not a single Good Cop profile to serve as a match to sample criterion. Rather,
empirical prediction is actuary based, and not subject to the simple Daubert Challenge
that is directed at decisions based–even in part–on clinical decision making,” Dr.
Gouvier explained.

“Practice models must favor a risk management mentality much more than the
traditional clinical service model. Tests must be validated for their purpose, and test
batteries need to be validated as a whole. Even with a selection of valid measures, the
use of clinical judgment to combine and differentially weigh discordant test results
make the decision open to the Daubert Challenge as well.”

The M-PULSE Inventory is a screening instrument designed for law enforcement
officer selection. It can be used either pre-offer to identify candidates’ liability potential,
or post-offer as part of a total assessment battery that includes historical, interview,
and observational data, notes the company.

The assessment produces results which help predict officer misconduct, and
gauges attitudes, values, and beliefs and facets of personality that are of importance
to police work. Examples include:

• Interpersonal Difficulties – At risk for problems with personal relationships.
• Chemical Abuse/Dependency – At risk for problems associated with chemical
• Inappropriate Use of Weapon – At risk for inappropriate use of a weapon.
• Unprofessional Conduct – At risk for conduct that is inappropriate for an officer
while on duty (e.g., verbal abusiveness, aggressiveness, rudeness, ethical
• Excessive Force – At risk for use of excessive force or aggressive behaviors that are inappropriate.
• Sexually Offensive Conduct – At risk for violation of sexual boundaries.
• Criminal Conduct – At risk of being arrested, charged, detained, or convicted of criminal activity or corruption.
• Racially Offensive Conduct – At risk for racially inappropriate behavior (e.g., racism
or targeting a particular race in law enforcement).

Dr. Charles Burchell, a Black psychologist, believes that the public is calling for change. “The increasing scrutiny of law enforcement by the general public with regard to racially differential employment of overly aggressive, violent, and in many cases illegal behavior of police–see Black Lives Matter movement–appears to be calling for a fundamental change in policing in America,” he said. Examples include some calls for defunding of police department or overhaul of police operations and functions, Dr. Burchell said.

“Beyond continuing deployment of police psychological services […], I feel that psychology’s role in this public health crisis is limited because psychologists function in
an advisory capacity and do not have authority to mandate any of our professional recommendations,” he said. “I do think structural changes are needed in primarily municipal law enforcement. Even where federal monitoring is in place, changes can be significant but slow and incomplete.

“For example, in 2011, the New Orleans Police Department was placed under a federal consent decree and many recommendations have been implemented, but a recent news report said that NOPD task force officers routinely stop people on questionable
legal grounds, engage in unsafe practices, and operate with insufficient supervision, and that almost identical problems were identified nine years ago,” Dr. Burchell said.

“The City of Baltimore, MD is also under federal supervision, has also made changes, but serious problems remain. One area that I believe that the role of psychologists can be strengthened is increased research in a variety of areas. But here again, what is the willingness of departments to deploy such evidence-based recommendations?” he said.

“I think that going forward, psychologists––clinical/counseling, industrial-organizational, social––can be valuable resources in helping to design new law enforcement and criminal justice delivery systems that hopefully can serve and protect all citizens in an
equitable and trustworthy fashion. We will see.”

Dr. Dralle is also concerned. “There are serious problems in policing today and
there is a need to address long-standing and widespread implicit racism. After the
publication of the guidelines for screening and evaluation by the Police Psychology Services Section (PPSS) of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) and participation in the training programs for PPSS, our screening program continued to evolve to meet the new standards,” she said.

“Over the years the research associates from the Department of Civil Service and
I have assessed the psychological screening process for disparate impact and we have never noted any violations of the four-fifths rule used to assess racial or sex discrimination. […] Psychologists have also been involved in the training and ongoing assessment of police recruits.

“During the recent Department of Justice (DOJ) consent decree, a member of the consent decree monitoring team strongly suggested that we should use a test
based on Australian applicants to screen our applicants. In addition, the DOJ
monitoring team wanted more information about applicants’ psychological history and suitability of recruits to be exchanged with them, with NOPD, and with the citizen police

“In 2017, I decided not to renew my contract with the city for consultation with the NOPD. It was based on differences of opinion with some of the suggestions made by the DOJ consultants. In addition, I was dealing with professional concerns about my ability to select candidates who could respond to the needs of community policing and who could handle the societal shifts in support and attitude towards policing. As policing has become the last social program with adequate funding and facilities to handle persons who are outside the acceptable norms, their scope of responsibility has become excessively broad and possibly overwhelming,” Dralle said.

Dr. Courtland Chaney has been involved in discussions regarding civil rights/racism and policing from his professional perspective of an I-O psychology practice. He also is Public Affairs co-chair for the Louisiana Psychological Association.

In late 2016, after the death of Alton Sterling, Chaney began advocating for the development of a behavioral sciences training series for police in Louisiana.

“In order to facilitate this advocacy,” Chaney said, “I involved LSU Digital and Continuing Education and other individuals, including Mkay Bonner, who had done police training for some years.

“These efforts culminated in a pilot training session on July 25, 2018 in which we provided an overview of the kinds of topics we thought would help the police and briefly presented some substantive behavioral science information. Upon the conclusion of the session, participants said they would discuss it further among themselves, though there was so much mandated training now, it would be unlikely that more training could be required,” Chaney said.

“Police Psychology,” said Dr. Bonner, “has a much longer history than most psychologists realize. Many decades of work have occurred to help psychologists do a good job with preemployment evaluations, law enforcement training, stress counseling, etc. This is not a new field of study.”

… there is another important area that is not my area of expertise,” Bonner said, “counseling with the families of the LE [law enforcement] officer and/or the officers themselves. Right now they are needing emotional support. Psychologists can help,” she said. “… it will be most effective if the psychologist is well-versed in the LE culture and environment.

Dr. Dralle said, “Prior to the end of my work with NOPD, it seemed to me that the job of effectively selecting police officers was becoming very confusing. If we selected officers who were invested in community policing, how would these individuals handle the
negativity and lack of support from the community or the policing culture. As the job of police officer became less desirable and the applicant pool became smaller the job of policing also became more negative and less respected.

“The criteria for success were also harder to define. I chose to back away from this work and hope that a new generation of police psychologists might be better able to handle the issues and questions that were confronting me,” Dralle said.

“Personally, I know there are many more good police officers than bad ones. In addition, I cannot imagine safety if there are no officers available to protect the older and physically weaker citizens. There has to be some equitable and effective way to work this out that does not require taking sides for or against policing.”




A Review

by Alvin G. Burstein

This is a brilliant, daring 2019 Russian film directed by Katimir
Balagov. It takes the American viewer to a place that many of
us have never been, one in which survival is an open
question. The circumstance of its actors being unknown to us
makes them more real, gives their anguish more bite. The
trials of their lives, grinding poverty, agonizing shame,
crippling post-war injuries, are not familiar to many of us, but
the central question posed by the film is stark and existential:
what makes life worthwhile?

The question is not glib. Its answer is not a given. Not in this

The setting is 1945 Leningrad. World War II is over, but the
city is in shambles. Food is scarce and many buildings
remain in ruins. We see a hospital staffed by overworked
nurses and doctors with only primitive and limited resources
at their disposal struggling to care for injured soldiers not yet
recovered from their battlefield injuries.

The film’s central characters are Ilya, nicknamed Beanpole
because of her slenderness and height, now working as a
nurse in the hospital, and Masha, her battlefield companion in
the past, who has just left the military and is returning to
Leningrad to join her former colleague as a nurse at the

The two veterans, intimate friends, contrast strongly in their
appearance and behavior. Ilya is blonde and pale-eyed, her
height intensifying her fragility, Masha is short, red-haired,
dark-eyed, vibrating with tension and purpose. Ilya suffers
from what the subtitles call “post-concussion syndrome” but
seems a form of catatonia. She experiences seizures, during
which she becomes mute and unresponsive, though not
unconscious, lasting for minutes. Masha had left a physically
challenged young son in Ilya’s care, but Ilya had suffered a
seizure during which the child died. Only when she arrives in
Leningrad will Masha learn that her only child is dead, and
that her wartime injuries have made her unable to bear

This intensely tragic situation has a counterpart. Stephan is a
veteran whose injuries have left him quadriplegic, completely
paralyzed from the neck down, with no chance of recovery.
His wife comes to the hospital to see him and learns for the
first time of his hopeless condition. They talk about what this
means to them and their children. Given their economic
situation, they recognize that he cannot be cared for at home.
He thinks of a transfer to a nursing home as a dark and
humiliating slide into death. They find the courage to ask his
doctor, Nikolay Ivanovitch, if euthanasia, a mercy killing,
could be arranged. Nikolay, concerned about the risk to his
career, arranges for Ilya surreptitiously to give Stephan the
fatal injection.

The tragedies ratchet up. Masha has an intense, almost
monomaniacal, need to have a replacement child. Because
her injuries foreclose that, she pleads with Ilya to become the
surrogate mother and wants Nilkolay to be the father. Both
are shocked, and in different ways, repelled by the notion.
With manipulative cunning, Masha, having learned of the
doctor’s complicity in Stephan’s death, threatens him with
exposure, and taxes Ilya with guilt for having permitted the
death of Masha’s son, pressuring the couple to carry out her
design. Ilya agrees, finally, but with a stipulation. Masha must
be in the bed when she and Nikolay have sex. They comply.

There is more to the film. Masha’s frail son. Her feckless
suitor. His mother’s privileged elegance.

The movie ends with a flicker of hope, but those questions
nag: What is a life worth? When is it worthwhile?


Stress Solutions


Sleep – More Important
Than Ever

Research says the average American misses 200-300 hours of needed
sleep each year. This is known as a sleep debt.

Studies suggest that healthy adults have a basal sleep need of seven to
eight hours every night. Where things get complicated is the interaction
between the basal need and sleep debt. For instance, you might meet
your basal sleep need on any single night or a few nights in a row, but
still have an unresolved sleep debt that may make you feel more sleepy
and less alert at times, particularly in conjunction with circadian dips,
those times in the 24-hour cycle when we are biologically programmed
to be more sleepy and less alert, such as overnight hours and midafternoon.

What do obesity, chronic high stress, heart disease, diabetes,
hypertension, and depression have in common? If you guessed sleep
deprivation, my hat’s off to you.

While there is no “magic number” of hours that we should sleep, it is
now firmly established that you cannot lose weight if you do not sleep a
solid 7-8 hours a night.

Cortisol is not the only factor that inhibits weight loss but it is a big one.
Some physicians are willing to flatly state that you cannot lose weight if
you do not get to bed early and get a solid 7 or 8 hours.

What getting a good night’s sleep can do for you:

  1. A good night’s sleep has a positive effect on your blood pressure,
    meaning that for most of us it goes down at night. If your hours of sleep
    are interrupted or too short, your blood pressure may never fall low
  2. Insulin resistance is reduced by good sleep. Dr. Michael Breus, a
    psychologist and sleep specialist, emphasizes the fact that even short-term sleep loss (being awake for approximately 36 hours) can cause
    blood glucose levels to be higher than normal.
  3. A routine schedule for sleeping will help your body keep its internal
    biological clock running smoothly. You will be more alert, with good
    reaction time and physical ability, in other words, less accident-prone.

How psychologists can help
Many psychologists are focusing on sleep habits in the patients they are
treating. A study in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, looking at
adults with insomnia, found that more than 85% of the study sample
who completed 3 or more sleep-focused treatment sessions were able to
nod off faster and stay asleep longer. A 6-month follow-up revealed that
those patients who had 3 or more sessions spent significantly less
money on health care and had fewer doctor visits – compared to the 6
months before their therapy sessions focused on sleep habits. The
weekly therapy sessions included relaxation exercises and education on
topics such as activities to avoid doing 2 hours before bedtime (like
exercise, heavy meals, and smoking).


Stress Solutions


More on The Tapping Solution:
A Basis in Ancient Chinese Medicine

Tapping evolved out of work that Dr. Roger Callahan, a psychologist treating a
woman with a severe water phobia, developed in 1979. Dr. Callahan had been
studying meridian points at the time he was treating this woman. Since he had
been making no progress with her, he hit upon an idea of tapping on the
endpoint of the stomach meridian as the client said that whenever she thought
about water, she got a “terrible feeling in the pit of her stomach.”

Meridians are the basis of the Chinese medicine system of acupuncture. They
are defined as energy channels that run thru the body and carry the “qi” energy
to the organs and other systems. Each meridian is associated with a different
organ system. The map of the meridians is known and easy to find even though
no one has ever actually measured or proven the existence of them as far as I
know. Nonetheless, the meridian system is hundreds of years old and to this
date Chinese medicine relies on it. The meridians are mostly named for the
organ system they feed or energize, like the Stomach Meridian, the Gall Bladder
Meridian, and so on. The Stomach Meridian ends at a point just below the eye.
Dr. Callahan asked his client to tap on that spot with her fingertips and after a
few minutes, her horrible feeling in the pit of her stomach was gone and the
story is that it never came back.

Dr. Callahan had a student named Gary Craig who worked out a way of making
tapping easier. Craig created a single sequence of tapping which became
known as EFT, Emotional Freedom Techniques. The EFT sequence was
designed to hit all major meridian endpoints and thus was more of a general
solution to whatever was the problem. The EFT sequence starts tapping on the
hand, moves to the eyebrow, under the eye, under the nose, the chin, the
collarbone and the side of the rib cage. It ends at the top of the head.

Since stress and its near-relation, anxiety, affect our organs and many aspects
of our nervous system, it stands to reason that it would reduce stress and
anxiety. One thing about a system like the Tapping Solution that may put some
therapists off is that it seems on first look to be fairly mechanistic. However, that
may not be fair. The current evolution of the Tapping Solution has grown
substantially and now there is a large literature including studies which deserve
a review.

In short, research over the past 10 to 20 years has shown that one can
measurably decrease limbic system (amygdala, hippocampus) activity by
stimulating selected meridian acupoints. PET and fMRI brain scans show the
amygdala calming when acupoints are stimulated. Studies have also shown
reduced cortisol levels when tapping is done during a stress response. In fact,
the level of cortisol reduction has been labeled “dramatic and unprecedented.”

The growth of this technique among others is now in an area of psychology
called, Energy Psychology. Evidence is coming from many countries now that
suggests that Tapping is not only fast and effective, but also the effects are
lasting. The discussion of this technique is broaching on a concept that is
making a lot of news: you CAN change Your brain.

J. Fang et al. “The Salient Characteristics of the Central Effects of Acupuncture Needling: LimbicParalimbic-Neocortical Network Modulation.” Human Brain Mapping 30, no. 4 (April 2009): 1196-


The Plague


A Review

by Alvin G. Burstein

Any recommended reading list for the COVID-19 era would
include Defoe’s A Journal of the Plague Year and Camus’
The Plague. With theatre going still interdicted because of the
virus, I checked Google for on-line movies of either.
Nothing for Defoe. A foreign language version of Camus’
work was listed., But, for some reason, it was said to be
unavailable. However, there was another, recent American
film called The Plague, said to be inspired by, though not a
translation of Camus’ work. Clive Barker’s 2006 film, The
Plague, was available on Amazon Prime. Three ninety-five
brought it to our big screen TV.

The litcrit concept of intertextuality argues that one’s
understanding of a story, its meaning to the reader, is
conditioned by the other stories known to one. Intertextuality
is central to any analysis of The Plague, because its codirectors/authors, Masonberg and Menton, invoke without ambiguity in the film’s opening scene.

The protagonist, Tom Russel, just released from prison, is on
the road, walking toward his home. Sound familiar?

As he passes the camera, we see him from behind. There is
a book sticking out of his back pocket. We see the title: The
Grapes of Wrath. Remember that in Steinbeck’s classic tale
of Oakie migrants fleeing the Dust Bowl, the book begins with
its protagonist, Tom Joad, just released from prison, on the
road, walking home.

Can there be doubt that the film’s creators want us to see a
link between their film and Steinbeck’s story? To jog our
memory, there is even a discussion of The Grapes of Wrath
in the movie. Tom Russel tells one of his friends that
Steinbeck’s book is about love and hope and family.

There is a second relevant text that the writers use to condition our
understanding of the film. Actually, a filmdom genre in its own right:
Zombie flicks. The Plague is a blatant Zombie flick.

It takes us to a fictional 1983 when, simultaneously, all the world’s
children under the age of nine fall into a catatonic state,
experiencing twice daily convulsions. We are told that the
international response to the catastrophe includes a ban on
childbirth—underscoring its calamitous nature.

In a flashback to that time, we see Tom’s brother-in-law startled
awake to discover his eight-year-old son unconscious, foaming at
the mouth. The boy’s father races to the hospital with him. He finds
the institution is overwhelmed with the influx of cases and feels
forced to take his son home to care for him.
The film then fast forwards ten years to Tom Russel’s arrival at the
house to meet his brother-in-law caring for the disabled boy, now
an eighteen-year-old.

Shortly, the boy, along with the scores of other afflicted children
who have been institutionalized simultaneously wake from their
catatonia as zombies. As dictated by the genre, they wake, and
zombie-like, are infused with hate for those that are human. Bent
on extermination, they descend on humans as a ravaging horde.

The balance of the film focuses on Tom and a coterie of humans
attempting to escape the zombie cohort. The film transitions into
horror flick replete with bloody slash and splatter.

The contrast between the grounding texts—The Grapes of Wrath
and zombie horror flicks—is enormous. Steinbeck’s novel is grittily
realistic. The Okie’s enemy is climate and rapacious capitalism.
The movie’s focus is on nightmarish horror. The zombie horde is
unreal, the stuff of nightmares. What do they have in common?

In The Grapes of Wrath Tom Joad sacrifices himself fighting to
organize the Oakies against predatory employers. He is portrayed
as a Christ-like figure sacrificing himself for others. Emphasizing
the religious motif, the book closes on a scene of Tom’s family
taking shelter against a storm. They discover an abandoned old
man dying of starvation. Tom’s sister, whose infant has just died,
Madonna-like, suckles the old man. Hope and love. Faith in a

In The Plague, Tom stops fleeing the zombie horde and, inspired
by a religious text he had found, surrenders himself to them, an act
of faith and love that restores the zombies’ humanity.

The gross, gratuitous horrors of the film’s zombie component
contaminated the effort to picture Tom Russel as Christ-like.