Author Archives: Susan

A Large Share of Americans Say Country is in Decline, a PEW Research Study Finds

In a research study conducted by PEW, Americans are pessimistic about the current and future state of the country.

The vast majority expressed dissatisfaction with the economy and overall national conditions.  “And when they look toward the not-too-distant future, they see a country that in many respects will be worse than it is today,” concluded a new Pew Research Center survey, reported by Andrew Daniller on April 24.

The majority of adults say that in 2050, “the U.S. economy will be weaker, the United States will be less important in the world, political divisions will be wider and there will be a larger gap between the rich and the poor. Far fewer adults predict positive developments in each of these areas.”

When asked if the US economy would be weaker or stronger, 66% of the respondents said they believed it would be weaker by the year 2050. And, 32% judged that it would be stronger.

A full 71% of respondents said the US will be less important in the world at that time in the future, while 27% said the US will be more important.

In the study, when participants were asked if the country will be more politically divided or less, 77% said more and 21% said less.

When asked if the gap between the rich and the poor will grow or get smaller, 81% said it would grow and 18% said the gap would get smaller.

“Americans’ negative views of the nation’s future are influenced by their bleak assessments of current conditions,” said the authors. “Only 19% of Americans say they are satisfied with the way things are going in the country, while 80% are dissatisfied. Ratings of the economy remain largely negative, and an increasing share of the public expects economic conditions to worsen over the next year.”

There is an age gap. “Differences between older and younger Democrats account for most of this age gap. A sizable majority of Democrats 50 and older (80%) have at least some confidence in the country’s future. That compares with 62% of Democrats ages 35 to 49 and 53% of those 18 to 34. Among Republicans, by contrast, there are only modest differences on this question across age groups.








APA Speaks Out on Confidentiality and Reproductive Decisions

Representatives of the American Psychological Association passed a “Resolution on  confidentiality and reproductive health” in February 2023.

According to the statements put forth by the APA representatives, the resolution affirms that a  psychologist’s allegiance to the ethics code should be given utmost attention when psychologists are faced with an ethical conflicts regarding law of disclosure and confidential information about sexual and reproductive health.

In the resolution officials noted the following:

“WHEREAS psychologists must be able to speak freely with their patients, and patients must know they have confidentiality when speaking with their psychologists, a concept recognized by U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland in asserting that, despite the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, “under fundamental First Amendment principles, individuals must remain free to inform and counsel each other about the reproductive care that is available in  other states;” and

“WHEREAS Standard 4.01 of the APA Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct  (Ethics Code) states that psychologists have a “primary obligation… to protect confidential information”; […]

“WHEREAS the Ethics Code does not require that a psychologist follow the law when a conflict arises between the law and the Code, but instead allows “each psychologist [to]. . . weigh the consequences of their decision when navigating these [reproductive justice] issues and attempt to resolve the conflict in ways that are consistent with the APA Ethics Code based on their own circumstances” […]

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the APA that the American Psychological Association, in accordance with the APA policy on reproductive rights, and human rights, affirms that a psychologist’s allegiance to the Ethics Code, including ethical standards related to patient confidentiality, should be given the utmost attention and significance especially when psychologists are faced with ethical conflicts with a law requiring the disclosure of confidential  information regarding sexual and reproductive health, including birth control; fertility  treatment; contemplating, seeking, or having had an abortion; and related issues.

The report is available at health.

FAQ at



Gov. Edwards Makes Appointments

On April 10, the Gov. announced several appointments, including:

Ms. Amanda Brunson of Baton Rouge was appointed to the Children’s Cabinet Advisory Board. Ms. Brunson is assistant secretary of child welfare for the Department of Children and Family Services.

Ms. Krystle H. Mitchell of Slidell was appointed to the Children’s Cabinet Advisory Board. Ms. Mitchell is interim executive director at the Louisiana Alliance of Children’s Advocacy Centers in Covington. She will represent LA Children’s Advocacy Centers.

Ms. Reshonn A. Saul of Vacherie was appointed to the Children’s Cabinet Advisory Board. Ms. Saul is the assistance program manager for FINS (Families in Need of Services) with the Louisiana Supreme Court. She will represent the LA Families in Need of Services Association.

Ms. Cheri A. Crain of Zachary was appointed to the Louisiana Developmental Disabilities Council. Ms. Crain is a compliance and planning manager with the Governor’s Office of Elderly Affairs. She will represent the Governor’s Office of Elderly Affairs.

Ms. Julie F. Hagan of Springfield was appointed to the Louisiana Developmental Services
Disabilities Council. Ms. Hagan is director Office for Citizens with Developmental Disabilities. She will represent the Office for Citizens with Developmental Disabilities.

The Louisiana Developmental Disability Council’s mission is to lead and promote advocacy, capacity building, and systemic change to improve the quality of life for individuals with developmental disabilities and their families.

Other recent appointments included: Ms. Doris G. Brown of Baton Rouge was appointed to the Louisiana Department of Health, and will serve as the assistant secretary of the Office of Public Health. Torrie T. Harris, Dr.P.H., of Baton Rouge was appointed to the La Department of
Health. Dr. Harris will serve as the assistant secretary of the Office on Women’s Health and Community Health. Mr. Louis P. Lipinski Jr. of Greenwell Springs, Ms. Danielle G. Rhodes of
Houma, and Mr. Thomas G. Mungall of Baton Rouge were appointed to the Louisiana position of Licensed Professional Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors Board of Examiners. Mr. Lipinski is the owner of Lipinski & Associates LLC. Ms. Rhodes is a co-owner and vocational rehabilitation counselor with Bailey McCaffery LLC. Mr. Mungall is a vocational rehabilitation counselor at Thomas G. Mungall, LRC.








RRR: A Review

by Alvin G. Burstein

Although I miss the silver screen and the ambience of the movie theatre, I have found that streamed television has given me access to films that I might not have encountered in a theatre.

RRR, released 2022, is one of those. When I learned film writer and critic Robert Cargill described it as the “craziest, most sincere, weirdest blockbuster,” I searched for it on Netflix and settled myself down for its over three hour running time. The RRR of the title are from Telugu, one of the major languages spoken in the sub-continent of India. The three R’s are taken for the three individuals who developed this film, Rajamouli, Ram Charan and Rama Rao. They also  stand for Roudram, Ranam, Rudhiram. Translated into English as Fierce, Fear, Death, they bespeak a serious, even ominous element in this Indian film. The film is dubbed and subtitled in English, and, I would guess, several Indian dialects.

Ferocity, fear and death abound in the film, but another element of the movie is providing an origin myth with the hopeful intent of uniting the complex of societies and cultures in the sub-continent of India, in the same way that the myth of Romulus and Remus helped bring the varied elements of the Italian peninsula together into a nation.

The film does so by propagating a myth about two well-known figures who fought against the colonial rulers of India during the first half of the 20th century, Komoram Bheem and Alluri Sitarama Raja. These two, who never in fact met, are mythologized by providing them with invented back-stories and differing relationships with their common enemy.

Bheem becomes the shepherd of a tribe, one of whose members, a young girl, is abducted, stolen from her mother by the British Raj, Governor Scott Buxton and his wife. Bheem embarks on a long and dangerous quest to recover the child and return her to her family.

At the same time, Alluri Raja is portrayed as a “good” Indian, one who is seeking to succeed as a British soldier under the Raj’s command. Because of his color he is denied deserved promotion. Later, promised a valued position if he discovers and punishes those whom the Raj hears are seeking to recover the child, he swears to accomplish that mission.

Without recognizing each other, these fatefully opposed crusaders, Bheem and Raja, by chance, meet in a shared effort to rescue a young boy caught in an accidental marine inferno. Their joint effort welds them into a companionship diametrically their competing but secret missions. They become boon companions. The more sophisticated Raja helps the more rustic Bheem attract  the beautiful daughter of the Raj, in whose household the abducted child is held. Their  companionship reaches a crescendo when the duo involves a large social gathering at the Raj’s palatial home in a long weird and wild song and dance scene, Naacho Naacho (Dance Dance), thatvleaves everyone exhausted—except Bheem.

Raja ultimately identifies, captures and tortures Bheem,winning his reward from the Raj. But when Raja is poisoned by another of the revolutionaries he has captured, Bheem saves his life. The two of them then collaborate to touch off a revolution that involves unleashing a horde of wild animals and the bloody death of scores of British including the Raj and his wife.

In what I take to be an unintentional irony, an announcement at the film’s beginning assures us that no real animals are used in the film—they are computer generated avatars.

Cargill was right. This is a crazy, sincere, weird blockbuster meant, I think, to propagate an origin myth intended to help all Indians, maybe all humans, become brothers.

Stress Solutions

10 Stress-Free Minutes a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

It is true that most of us cannot avoid stress, especially if we want to continue to be an active participant in the world. Stress goes with the territory of juggling a career, a family, and a social life. Most of us understand only too well the dangers of continuing to schedule full days, of adding new projects to an already overlong list, and still trying to find some time for ourselves at the end of the day. We routinely overbook ourselves. Some of us have the grace to promise to do better next week and might even believe that we can make it up later. But, can we?

Chronic stress is now linked to so many problems related to illness, chronic health problems, anxiety, loss of memory, and reduced longevity that it would take the rest of this column to simply list all the ways it affects our lives.

We know, for example, that the things we think about and dwell on can have a direct effect on how much cortisol, or stress hormone, is produced in our body. Keeping the cortisol down has become a new goal for the health conscious. Researchers from the University of California, Davis have published findings from a long-term study, called the Shamatha Project, that studied how meditation influences the brain and mental health. The article, published in the journal Health Psychology, reports that meditation, and particularly mindfulness training, helps lower stress and cortisol levels, which in turn can help you lose excess weight and avoid developing “cortisol belly.”

It’s time to draw a line in the sand and start reducing stress and cortisol. What I am proposing is not perfect, but it is a start that you can build on. If you keep waiting until you have the time, or until you can do it “right,” it could be too late. Stop letting your calendar manage you. Don’t try” to do better. As Yoda says, “Do or Do Not!”

Begin Your 10 Stress-Free Minutes Today

You might think that 10 minutes a day is not much help. But it is. A few minutes goes a long way toward recharging your energy and breaking up your resistance to taking breaks. You can gradually add more mental “down time” and physical relaxation to each day.

Get started by making yourself push away from your desk or daily routine for 10 minutes. Take this break with the intention of taking a brief mental holiday; give your mind a rest. Why not begin with 10 minutes of Mindfulness? Or, spend 10 minutes in focused breathing (with longer  exhale). Add some music or put your feet up, close your eyes and direct your favorite piece of music.

Remind yourself to do this daily by putting the reminder into your smart phone.

And, by the way, those of you who work with stressed-out clients, I have found that many seriously stressed patients are so overwhelmed that they cannot even begin to think about how they can reduce their stress.

The above suggestion that they start with just 10 minutes a day has helped many people start adding relief to their day. Once they begin, the time can be gradually increased.

Psychology tells us that making a conscious choice with commitment is a powerful tool.

Do as I say AND as I do.

Legislature Churning Away; Gov. Makes Remarks and Presents His Bill Package

On April 10 Gov. Edwards made remarks to open the 2023 Regular Session. As prepared for delivery, he noted that in this final year of his second term, the work is far from over. “When I took office in 2016, the state had a $1 billion dollar budget deficit to close out that fiscal year and a $2 billion deficit for the following year,” said the Gov. “It took numerous special sessions
and a lot of bipartisanship, but we were able to navigate a balanced approach with no gimmicks and no one-time money spent on recurring expenditures. […]

“Ever since my administration was fully responsible for the budget, FY 17, we’ve run surpluses. Because of those surpluses, the state’s rainy day fund will be the healthiest it has ever been.
Added to the revenue stabilization fund created in my first year as governor, we will start next fiscal year with more than $2 billion available for future shortfalls and emergencies. […]

“We’ve gone from a state that was disinvesting in higher education more than anywhere else in the country to a state making historic investments in higher education,” he said. “We are fully funding TOPS and have increased GO Grant dollars. We are dedicating money this year to address deferred maintenance and important safety enhancements on our campuses. Every student should have the opportunity to receive a high quality degree or credential right here in Louisiana and they deserve to feel safe when they are on campus. Through increased formula funding and new initiatives targeting critical workforce shortages and opportunities, we are  creating a world class workforce. […]

‘As you know, my first act as governor was to expand Medicaid to the working poor. […] Now, more than 500,000 working Louisianans have access to healthcare who otherwise wouldn’t. In 2015, 22.7% of working age adults in Louisiana did not have health insurance. As a result of
Medicaid Expansion, in 2022, the uninsured rate among adults fell to 9.4%, below the national average of 10.2%.”

In an April 18 press release, Governor Edwards reviewed the bills in his 2023 legislative package.

“This package of bipartisan legislation aims for a Louisiana that lives our pro-life values,” said Governor John Bel Edwards. “To truly be pro-life in my estimation, we must make it easier for parents to feed, educate and house their children. We need to raise the minimum wage, close our gender pay gap, and offer our people paid family and medical leave. We must also find empathy for victims of rape and incest who become pregnant. And I am calling on the legislature to abolish the death penalty, which promotes a culture of death and has proven to be expensive and ineffective at deterring crime.”

The governor’s priority bills are in addition to his state budget request, unveiled earlier this year, which calls for a $3,000 teacher pay raise, the largest-ever state general fund investment in early childhood education, a permanent increase of $100 per month (a 20% increase) in 
supplemental pay, and historic funding for higher education, according to the announcement.



Dr. Phillips Resigns as Head of La Department of Health

Last month Gov. Edwards announced that Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) Secretary, Dr.  Courtney N. Phillips, had submitted her resignation, effective April 6, 2023.

LDH Director of Legal, Audit and Regulatory Affairs, Stephen Russo, who has served LDH for 27 years and as executive counsel since 2008, will serve as secretary upon Sec. Phillips’ resignation, according to the announcement.

“Secretary Phillips is one of the hardest working, most capable, and most accomplished people I’ve ever met,” said Gov. Edwards. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, her decisive and thoughtful leadership saved lives. She spearheaded our response as we established an unprecedented mass testing program and innovative vaccine rollout and distribution program. Remarkably, she didn’t let the response to the COVID-19 emergency stop LDH from making progress on other important initiatives, like our work to improve health equity, address maternal mortality, and expand access to critical health services. I have no doubt she will continue her dedication to service in this next chapter for her and her family,” said Gov. Edwards.

“I’m a big believer in public service,” Sec. Phillips said, “so the opportunity to return to my home state and give back in such a meaningful way at such a critical time is something that will stay with me for the rest of my career,” said Sec. Phillips. “There’s a great deal to be proud of as the head of LDH, but the intentional effort that went into equitably rolling out the COVID-19 vaccines and ultimately saving thousands of lives ranks among my top accomplishments. I want to thank Governor Edwards for his leadership and all LDH team members, the Louisiana  Legislature and the entire healthcare system of Louisiana for their support and partnership over the past three years.”

According to the announcement, Phillips, who had previously led two state health and human services agencies in Nebraska and Texas, was named LDH secretary in April 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. She guided the agency through unprecedented challenge, overseeing LDH’s responses to the COVID-19 pandemic and Hurricanes Laura and Ida, but also led proactive efforts to strengthen the pipeline for a more diverse healthcare workforce; expand access to critical health services, including a suite of additional behavioral health services, the extension of dental benefits to adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities, the expansion of postpartum Medicaid coverage from six weeks to one year, and a focus on preventative screenings and services; and develop and implement a new, more sustainable payment model for hospitals, dental providers and ambulance providers.

Also according to the announcement, Phillips led the successful development and implementation of LDH Business Plans in FY22 and FY23 and the Department’s commitments, priorities and measurable goals on a range of health issues, including maternal health, behavioral health and chronic diseases. 


Board Publishes New Rules

After dismissing any significant changes suggested by the community members given at the December 16, 2022 public feedback meeting, the Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists has gone forward and finalized almost 19,000 words of new regulations published in the April Louisiana Register.

The most dramatic change may be the creation of a new registration category for assistants to psychologists, including new rules and regulations on how these assistants must be supervised.

In Chapter 11, Supervision of Assistants to Psychologists, the new rules note: “An assistant registered under the provisions of this Chapter shall utilize the title ‘assistant to a psychologist’ also referred to as ‘ATAP’ only within the context of their employment with a licensed psychologist or their employment within an agency or hospital while under the direct supervision of a licensed psychologist; […]

“An ATAP providing psychological services must be under the general and continuing professional supervision of a licensed psychologist. In order to maintain ultimate legal and professional responsibility for the welfare of every client, the supervisor must be vested with functional authority over the psychological services provided by an ATAP.

“Upon, or pending, employment of an ATAP, but prior to assisting in psychological duties, the Supervising Psychologist shall submit a complete application for initial registration, required registration fee, and documentation on such form and in such manner as may be prescribed by the board to demonstrate that the registrant meets all of the following criteria:

[…]”In §1103, Responsibilities of Supervisors, the new rule requires that the psychologist, “provides general professional supervision of the ATAP that shall include one cumulative hour per week as a minimum for direct supervisory contact,” and that “exceptions to this  requirement must have prior approval of the board;”

The board points out that, ” Neglect in maintaining the above standards of practice may result in disciplinary action against the supervisor’s license to practice, including suspension or revocation.”

The new rules also include changes in roles, for examples the inclusion of an advisory workgroup and a position, licensing examiner. Changes to the definition of an applicant include the criminal history background check. There are also changes in the definition of and requirements relating to the Provisional Licensed Psychologist and the applicant phase of the provisional license.

Chapter 3, training and credentials in the doctoral programs of psychology, includes changes. Qualifications for doctoral programs that are not accredited by the American Psychological Association are specified as having to meet several detailed standards.

In a section regarding specialty areas, the new rules outline definitions for Health Service Psychology and General Applied Psychology.

“The provision of direct health and/or behavioral health services requires training in an applied health service area such as clinical psychology, counseling psychology, clinical neuropsychology,
school psychology, or other developed health service areas that are offered under training programs that are accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA) in a health service area. […]

And, “General Applied Psychology. The provision of psychological services in applied non-healthcare areas include services outside health and behavioral health fields; direct services to individuals and/or groups for assessment and/or evaluation of personal abilities and characteristics for individual development, behavior change, and/or for making decisions about the individual; and may also include services to organizations that are provided for the benefit of the organization. […]

The new rules also define clinical neuropsychology and add to the description, “[…] specialty internship in clinical neuropsychology (one year minimum), followed by the completion of one year of post-doctoral supervised experience in clinical neuropsychology; or, the equivalent of two full years (4,000 hours) of post-doctoral experience in clinical neuropsychology under the
supervision of a qualified clinical neuropsychologist […]”

For Chapter 7, supervised practice leading toward licensure, the new rule adds the following: “supervised practice and establishes that the legal, administrative and professional responsibility of supervision rests with the licensed psychologist or medical psychologist licensed in accordance with R.S. 27:1360.51 et seq., designated as supervisor.”

The text for §705, qualifications of supervisors, includes: “Responsibility for the overall supervision of the supervisee’s professional growth resides in the licensed psychologist or medical psychologist. Supervising psychologists shall be licensed to practice psychology at the doctoral level by the regulatory body that is vested with jurisdictional authority over the practice of psychology in the respective jurisdiction.”

Also, “The supervisor may not supervise any more than two candidates for licensure at the same time.”

New information on telepsychology and telesupervision is included in the new rules. Examples are: “The use of telecommunications is not appropriate for all problems. The specific process of providing professional services varies across situation, setting and time, and decisions  regarding the appropriate delivery of telepsychology services are made on a case-by-case basis.
The rules instruct psychologists to, “reflect on multicultural issues when delivering telepsychology services to diverse clients; obtain the necessary professional and technical training, experience, and skills to adequately conduct the telepsychology services that they provide;” and “have an Emergency Management plan.”

n §1702, Definition of Psychological Testing, Evaluation and Assessment, the rules note: “The Board of Examiners of Psychologists finds it necessary to formally define psychological testing in order to protect the people of this state from the unlawful, unqualified and improper use of
psychological tests. The intent of this rule is to provide a definition of psychological testing sufficient to allow this board to effectively regulate this aspect of psychological practice. […]

In §803, Requirements, the Board is adding: “Within each reporting period, two of the required hours or credits of continuing professional development must be within the area of multiculturalism or diversity in accordance with the limitations specified in §807.

In §805, Acceptable Sponsorship, Offerings and Activities, the board is making changes and clarifications to who may offer continuing education.

“A. Any individual or entity may apply for board approval of a proposed CPD offering or activity as follows. 1. The individual or entity providing the proposed CPD offering or activity files a completed CPD Approval Application on the form provide by the board. 2. The individual or entity providing the proposed CPD offering or activity provides information sufficient to the board that the CPD meets requirements set forth under §801; […]”

For Chapter 9, Licensees, the board is establishing §905. Psychologists Emerit: Retired.

“A. A psychologist emeritus: retired is eligible to renew their emerit status license provided they submit such renewal application along with the annual renewal fee at the reduced rate established under Chapter 6 of this Part; and are fully retired from the practice of psychology, not rendering psychological services in any form, and are not engaging in any activity that might be construed as the practice of psychology within the state of Louisiana.”The retired individual is not required to complete continuing professional development.

Also included was an extensive code of ethics for the License School Specialist in Psychology.
The complete rules maybe found in the Louisiana Register, April edition, pages 657-679, at



Psychological Scientists Present at Southwestern, Southeastern Psych Association Annual Conventions

by James Glass

The Southwestern Psychological Association (SWPA) annual convention was held at the  Embassy Suites in Frisco, Texas, March 31 – April 2, and the Southeastern Psychological
Association (SEPA) held its 69th Annual meeting at the Sheraton in New Orleans from April 5 – 8, 2023. Both hosted numerous psychological scientists, researchers and students from around the state.

SWPA featured invited speaker, Dr. Janelle McDaniel, University of Louisiana – Monroe. Dr.  McDaniel provided a presentation on, “Changing Demographics in Higher Education and the Mentor Relationship.” Some of the topics discussed in the presentation focused on the increasing shrinking number of traditional students enrolling and the many changes and challenges occurring in mentor relationships between students and faculty.

Among the many Louisiana researchers presenting at this year’s SEPA, were Nathan Brown, PsyD, Sebastian Del Corral Winder, PsyD., Amy Rinner, PsyD, and Amy Dickson, PsyD, from Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, who conducted continuing education workshops.

Drs. Nathan Brown and Sebastian Del Corral Winder also presented a workshop on, “Exploring bilingualism and biculturalism with Latinx patients.” Several topics of discussion during the presentation were: Cultural, linguistic, and racial factors impacting psychological services with Latinx individuals. Emphasis on cultural sensitivity and humility to approach differences and similarities with Latinx individuals while providing psychological services and addressed common challenges when working with Latinx individuals.

Dr. Amy Rinner also collaborated on, “Trauma informed supervision: A framework.” During the workshop, attendees learned the basic principles of trauma informed care and how this translates to the supervisory relationship. The presentation also covered the basic
framework and interventions to implement in supervision to support a trauma-informed space and relationship.

Drs. Sebastian Del Corral Winder, Amy Rinner, and Amy Dickson, PsyD, also conducted a presentation on, “What is infant mental health? A time for exploration.” During their presentation they explored the contemporary theories and components of infant mental health, which encompassed birth to five years of age. The presentation also defined the core components of providing psychological services to infants, young children, and their caregivers. The brief also identified innovative ways to provide psychological services to infants by utilizing telehealth and in-person modalities.

Drs. Amy Rinner, Sebastian Del Corral Winder, and Amy Dickson, PsyD, presented a workshop on, “Fathers are caregivers too!: Clinical work with fathers.” During the brief, attendees learned the foundational knowledge about the role of male caregivers in young children’s lives and development, with an emphasis on the protective factors of having a male caregiver. The presenters shared vignettes and addressed nuances to working with male caregivers while citing relevant research.

The Southwestern Psychological Association annual convention also hosted researchers from around the state who presented a variety of topics, including:

Louisiana Tech University 

Kristen Hooper and Brandon Waits discussed, “The impact of social support and self-compassion on attitudes toward those who misuse substances.”

Edward Craig and Walter Buboltz presented on, “Food, Mood, Life.”

Walter Buboltz and Sarah Prather presented, “The Relationship Between Sleep, Coping with College, and Satisfaction with College.”

Lakyn Boone and Walter Buboltz conducted a session on, “The Moderating Effect of Drug Use and Emotional Dysregulation on the Relationship Between Sleep and Health.”

McNeese State University

Dena Matzenbacher and Kane Vest, Linda Brannon presented, “Perceptions of Factors
Contributing to Problems Among Young Adults.”

Dena Matzenbacher and Kane Vest, Linda Brannon discussed, “A Replication of Emerging Adults’ Perceptions of Emerging Adults.”

Northwestern State University of Louisiana

Charles R. King and Billie Clare Myers presented, “The neurobiology of Addiction:
The Process of Transitioning from Recreational Substance Use to a Substance Use Disorder or Addiction.”

Southeastern Louisiana University

Paula Varnado-Sullivan, Claire Huston, Jacey Fitzmorris, and Nele Gudermann discussed, “A Comparison of Faculty and Student Perceptions of Academic Integrity.”

Paula Varnado-Sullivan, Claire Huston, Jacey Fitzmorris, and Nele Gudermann conducted a presentation on, “Further Examination of Neutral Party Affiliation and Non-Voters: Have Recent Events Impacted their Political Attitudes.”

University of Louisiana at Lafayette

Brittany Milton, Valanne MacGyvers, and David Perkins conducted a session on, 
“Adult Attachment and Relationship Behaviors.”

Kiara Martin and Valanne MacGyvers presented, “The role of ACEs on academic achievement and psychological well-being.”

Jaci Philliber, Cy Dupuis, Brielle Jones, Joy Martin, Sydney Guidry, Cantika Nasution, Isabel Lanciotti, Kathie Li, and Hung-Chu Lin presented, “Alcohol Misuse in College Students:  Childhood Adversity and Somatic Symptoms as Correlates.”

Ayodeji Adegoke and Valanne MacGyvers conducted a session on, “Impact of ACEs on
personal identity formation among emerging adults.”

Cydnei Meredith, Taylor Guillory, Madison Gordy, and Christie Charles presented, “What’s in a name? Perceptions of first names in the workplace.”

Alexis Walker, Dahja Antoine, Braden Teer, and Erika Caramillo-Hatch conducted a session on, “The effects of N-acetylcysteine on nicotine addiction in zebrafish.”

Austin Foreman, Victor Smith, Bella Patterson, and Erika Caramillo-Hatch presented, “The effects of ARID1B gene knockout on ASD related behavior in zebrafish.”

Brianna Sadighian and Manyu Li University of discussed, “Social Restrictiveness as a Predictor for Treatment-Seeking Attitudes in Asian Americans.”

Valanne MacGyvers, Andrea Eggenberger, Taylor Gage, Emily DeGruise Ayodeji Adegoke, and Ella Garlington conducted a session on, “Motivating Factors in Academic Cheating, Part 2.”

Matthew Andersland, Mateo Chavez, Kalli Segura, Ashlyn Suchand, and Valanne MacGyvers presented, “Academic Motivation, Course Delivery, and Academic Dishonesty.”

Jaci Philliber, Brielle Jones, Cy Dupuis, Joy Martin, Sydney Guidry, Cantika Nasution, Isabel Lanciotti, Kathie Li, and Hung-Chu Lin discussed, “Somatic Symptoms in College Students: Childhood Trauma as a Correlate.”

Hunter Sudduth, David Perkins, Matthew Andersland, and Nicole Pyke collaborated on, “Exploring the Interpersonal Consequences of Existential Isolation in College Students.”

Ashley Fromenthal presented, “Perceived social support and life satisfaction in older adults: The role of sense of autonomy.”

Ariana Milner discussed, “Exploring the Relationship Between Prodromal Schizophrenia, Emotion Dysregulation, and Distress Intolerance.”

Mateo Chavez, Valanne MacGyvers, and David Perkins presented, “Implementing a Grit and Growth Mindset Intervention to Reduce Social Anxiety.”

Theresa Wozencraft and Jon-Patric Veal discussed, “SES and Race Differences in Predictors of Mental Health Treatment Seeking.”

Theresa Wozencraft, Tanya Castaneda, and Savannah Hidalgo conducted a session on, “Binge Eating, Body Image, and Weight Concerns in Black and White Individuals.”

Aidan Guidry, Prynceston Fant, and Hung-Chu Lin collaborated on, “Empathy, Attachment Insecurity, and Perceived Parenting: Differences between Inmates and College Students.”

Valanne MacGyvers, David Perkins, Mateo Chavez, Brittany Milton, and Kayla Rico presented, “Empathizing or Systemizing Cognitive Style as a Predictor of Music Listening Experience.”

Ashley Messina discussed, “Predicting Racebased Traumatic Stress among Black and African Americans.”

Emily DeGruise, Valanne MacGyvers, Andrea Eggenberger, Taylor Gage, and Ella Garlington presented, “Experienced corporal punishment and empathy, leadership, and achievement in college.”

Kalli Rose Segura conducted a session on, “Predictors of Manding Outcomes in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.”

Katelynn Benge discussed, “College Students’ Attitudes Towards Cohabitation.”

Ashley Messina, Brianna Sadighian, Ashley Fromenthal, Brad Parfait, Prynceston Fant, Joshua  DeLacerda, and Valanne MacGyvers conducted a session on, “History of Sex Education as a Predictor of Attitudes Toward Sexual Pleasure and Sexually Coercive Behaviors.”

Kayla Rico, Valanne MacGyvers, and David Perkins presented a session on, “Coping with Covid Isolation: The roles of personality, music, and pets.”

Prynceston Fant, Anna Romero, Kinsey Hatfield, and Hung-Chu Lin collaborated on, “Mood and Somatic Symptoms in Direct Support Professionals: The Correlates of Self-efficacy and Job Satisfaction.”

University of Louisiana at Monroe

Kaitlyn Morris, Chad Lewing, Rick Stevens, and Carlie Silvis had a session on, “Motivational and Cognitive Predictors of Belief in Conspiracies.”

Madelyn Williams presented, “Psychological Reactance as a Motivation in Psychopathy:  Validation among Incarcerated Males.”

At the Southeastern Psychological Association annual convention researchers also presented their work. A number of representatives from around the state presented various topics at SEPA.

Included were the following:

Louisiana State University of Alexandria

Austin Souphanthalop and Mark LaCour presented their research on, “Asian Values, Regardless of Western Acculturation, Predict Hesitancy to Use Formal Mental Health Systems.”

Ronna Matthews, Mark LaCour, and Zebulon Bell discussed, “The Effects of Political Affiliation on Conceptualizations of Drug Addiction and Drug Policy.”

Louisiana State University HSC

Sebastian Del Corral Winder, Amy Dickson, and Amy Rinner collaborated in the presentation on, “Does the Type of Allegation Impact the Time to Reunification?”

Nathan H. Brown and Sebastian Del Corral Winder presented, “Exploring Bilingualism and Biculturalism with Latinx Patients.” Sebastian Del Corral Winder was in collaboration on,  “Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome: Advocating for Multidisciplinary Teams.”

Northwestern State University of Louisiana

Neeru Deep, Susan Thorson-Barnett collaborated on, “College Students: Keep Working on Your Grit.”

Southeastern Louisiana University

Brooklyn Sherrod, Elizabeth Dockter, Joshua Mclain, and Susan Coats presented a session on, “Pseudoscience to Psychological Treatments Among University Students.”

Cecilia LaFosse and Claire Houtsma presented, “Effects of TBI on PTSD Symptom Cluster Severity Among Veterans.”

Sara Sohr-Preston presented research on, “Assessing Change in Knowledge Among Developmental Psychology Students.”

Louisiana Tech University

Mary Margaret Livingston, Mitzi Desselles, and Donna Thomas conducted a session on, “History of the Department of Psychology and Behavioral Sciences at Louisiana Tech University.”

Loyola University & Southeast La
Veterans Health Care System

Grace Patrick, Mara Ferrie, Jennifer Petell, Rosie Hunter, Loyola University New Orleans, Kelly Maieritsch, Laurel Franklin, and Amanda Raines, Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System presented their research on, “Psychometric Properties of the PCL-5 in Black Veterans.“

Loyola University

Evan Zucker collaborated in the presentation on, “Comparative Psychology in Zoological Parks:  One Lab’s Story.”

Victoria Blondell and Madison Silverstein discussed, “The Role of Negative Childhood Experiences in the Development of Disordered Eating Habits and Posttraumatic Stress.”

Kennedy Chatman and Madison Silverstein presented, “Revictimization, Cognitions, and Reporting Behaviors Among Survivors of Sexual Violence.”

Jessica Ward and Madison Silverstein provided their research on, “Associations Among Type of Animal Ownership, Attachment Style, and Social Adeptness.”

Zia Sampson and Kim Ernst presented their study on, “Effect of Body Neutrality and Body Positivity on Body Appreciation and Self-Compassion.”

University of Louisiana Lafayette

Nicole Pyke, Matt Andersland, Hunter Sudduth, and David Perkin collaborated on, “Mutual Aid and Psychological Distress: Moderated Mediation to Investigate the Role of Religiosity and Perceived Recovery Using a Nationally Representative Sample.”

Kiara Davillier, Ariana Milner, Paula Zeanah, Hung-Chu Lin, Manyu Li, and Amy Brown presented, “The Race and Gender Differences in Sexual Self-Esteem.”

Alondra Meraz, Caroline Ybos, Caroline Dalton, and Amy Brown collaborated on, “Immigration and Sex-Trafficking: Victim Blame Differs Based on Participant Gender but not Country of Origin.”

University of Louisiana Monroe

Burton Ashworth and Krista Parker discussed, “Content Analysis of Presidential Inaugural Addresses.”

Ruthie Menou presented her research on, “Exploring the Incremental Validity of the State of Surrender Scale Within the Psychological Flexibility Framework.”

Burton Ashworth and Krista Parker conducted a presentation on, “A Pilot Study Investigating Disgust Sensitivity Toward People of Age.”

Burton Ashworth presented, “Reducing ADHD Symptoms Using Biofeedback Protocols.”



All That Breathes

A Review

by Alvin G. Burstein, PhD

All That Breathes is said to be a documentary, and it almost is. It is a Hindi-language film directed by Shaunak Sen and coproduced by him, Aman Mann and Teddy Leifer for Rise Films. I say almost a documentary because it goes beyond recording to make philosophical and moral  points, elides some realities, and hints at a dramatic issue. The film has won worldwide awards at Cannes Film Festival and Sundance as well as ratings in the high nineties by both critics and  audiences by the Rotten Tomato ratings aggregating service.

The dramatic center is the relationship between two brothers, joined in a heroic effort that is on the edge of collapse: saving Black Kites, raptors that abound in Delhi. The elided issue is that a  very frequent cause of the raptors’ injuries is the use of manja, kite strings with glass imbedded  used in the ironically named kite flying/warring sport popular in Delhi. Manja is not only a  hazard to the raptors, but also to humans flying the kites and, especially, to riders of the rapidly  moving two-wheelers that crowd Delhi streets.

The two brothers, Mohammed Saud and Nadeem Shehad, are conjoined not just by blood, but  by one of what C. S. Lewis describes as one of the four basic loves: a shared dedication. The  New York Times chronicled that dedication in a 2020 article headlined Meet the Bird Medics of  New Delhi. You can read it at Arguably, the article sparked the transformation of the brothers’ rescue effort from  a personal mission to an international charity with its own website

A key dramatic element in the film is the decision of the younger brother, Mohammed, to emigrate to  the United States, leaving his older brother—along with a few helpers—to the hands-on  struggle to save birds. Nadeem, whose wife, Tabassum, does what she can while caring for their two children, tries to support his efforts, but she makes it clear that she fears he is “ruining his  life.” Although Mohammad says he can contribute to the effort from abroad, his brother clearly feels abandoned, reflected in a key scene, the “freezing” of an international facetime call  between the two.

The film’s central focus is on the interconnectedness of all living things—everything that  breathes. It works to underscore the point that our planet is a shared space. It also sees a paradox. One of the brothers, I think Nadeem, remarks that humans’ speciesism makes them  the loneliest species. I don’t know Shaunak Sen’s religious beliefs, but the film seems to be a testimony to ahimsa, a Hindu commitment to non-violence, respect for all things that breathe. I  found that moving.

Perhaps less centrally, the film also involves human perversities—dangerous kite war  celebrations that persist despite injuring human and non-human creatures so seriously that they became technically illegal, and riots in which professors of non-violence attack non- believers. These are the kinds of self-destructive behaviors that make a Freudian death instinct persuasive.

Dr. Hung-Chu Lin at the International Convention for Psychological Science

Psychological Scientists Attend International Event

Psychological scientists from Louisiana joined the nearly 1500 researchers that came together in Brussels, Belgium for the 2023 International Convention of Psychological Science. Organized as a branch of the Association for Psychological Science, researchers from Louisiana contributed to the 70 countries and six continents that were represented at this year’s event, held March 9 to 11.

Hung-Chu Lin and co-authors Manyu Li, Amy L. Brown, and Paula Zeanah, all from University of Louisiana at Lafayette, presented “Sexual Wellbeing: The Pathway from Childhood Adversity Via Cognitive-Emotional Functioning. According to the abstract: Multidimensional nature of sexual wellbeing (SWB) was examined for its latent indicators including sexual self-esteem, comfort with sexual consent, and sexual self-efficacy. Structural equation modeling revealed an indirect pathway from childhood adversity to SWB via current cognitive-emotional functioning (CEF), suggesting that enhancing current CEF as a means for improving SWB.

Hung-Chu Lin from University of Louisiana Lafayette, presented “Temporal Relations of Perception and Emotions in Response to Infant Crying: Observations Nested within Subjects.”

From the abstract: Using a digitally edited 4-minute-long cry bout of a 4-week-old male infant as the stimulus, this study described within-subject sequential relations of cry perception, empathic concern, and personal distress across time. The findings underscore mutual influences and shed light on the dynamic and complex nature of responding to infant crying.

Julia D. Buckner, Caroline Scherzer and Paige Morris, all from Louisiana State University, along with Andrew H. Rogers and Michael J Zvolensky from University of Houston, presented “Sex Differences in Opioid Misuse Among Adults with Chronic Lower Back Pain: The Impact of Negative Affect and Opioid-Use Motives. The abstract noted: Among 207 adults with chronic lower back pain who use opioids, men endorsed more anxiety, depression, opioid misuse, and enhancement, coping, and social motives than women. Men endorsed more severe opioid misuse via the serial effects of anxiety and these motives and depression and coping (not
enhancement, social) motives.

Faith Stoneking and Julia D. Buckner from Louisiana State University presented, “Social Anxiety and Cannabis Use: The Impact of Body Dissatisfaction.” The abstract noted: Among 252 adults reporting current cannabis use, social anxiety was significantly correlated with more cannabis problems and body dissatisfaction. The relationship between social anxiety and cannabis problems was moderated by body dissatisfaction such that social anxiety was only related to more cannabis problems at higher levels among men and women.

Hillary Colleen Sinclair, Jonathan Yevuyibor, Shriya Thakkar, Kristina Little and Andrew Burns, all from Louisiana State University, presented, “ ‘That’s Just the Way It Is:’ Understanding Obstacles and Facilitators in Interventions to Reduce Underage Drinking in Louisiana.” From the abstract: We conducted 5 focus groups with Louisiana Coalitions overseeing underage drinking interventions. Coalitions identified enduring cultural factors as their primary obstacle to effectively reducing underage drinking. Conversely, intervention team diversity was credited for intervention successes. COVID was a challenge but also an opportunity to enhance group resilience and innovation.

Colleen Sinclair from Louisiana State University and Sydney Wicks from University of Mississippi presented “Refining the Enemy Impact Inventory Scale: Integrating Ostracism Detection Theory to Better Understand the Impact of Enemy Relationships.” Their abstract noted: Research has examined the influence of friendships on well-being. Less is known about the impact of enemyships. The present study focused on integrating Ostracism Detection Theory in the development of the Enemy Impact Inventory- Revised and establishing the reliability and validity of the scale.

The Times talked with Dr. Hung-Chu Lin about attending the event. She is Professor, Department of Psychology and Chair, the Institutional Review Board, SLEMCO/LEQSF Regents Endowed Professor in Liberal Arts, at University of Louisiana Lafayette.

“It was an amazing experience,” Dr. Lin said. “Meeting and interacting with European scholars was incredibly enriching and left me feeling inspired and energized. As always, attending an international conference like this one offers the opportunity to network with international scholars and the chance to learn from different cultural and societal contexts that enrich and broaden my research perspectives.”

Was there anything else she enjoyed about the trip? “I got to visit the museum of one of my favorite artists, the Gelgian painter and sculptor, Rene Magritte,” she said.







La Behavioral Health Notes Emergency in Children’s MH Needs


According to a March press release, the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH), Office of Behavioral Health, is introducing five new initiatives focused on the behavioral health of children and adolescents and their families. These initiatives focus on improved access to early childhood, adolescent, and family behavioral health services.

The COVID-19 pandemic has magnified the challenges facing adolescents’ and children’s mental health, said officials, causing altered experiences at home, school, and during in-person social interactions. The pandemic also highlighted the need for increased access to healthcare and social services as an alarming number of young people struggle with feelings of helplessness, depression, and thoughts of suicide.

According to the announcement, the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the Children’s Hospital Association have declared a national state of emergency in child and adolescent mental health.

Improving and expanding mental health services for Louisianans of all ages is the culmination of years of deliberate planning and focus, and I’m proud my administration has taken on this task in a thoughtful and targeted way,” said Governor Edwards. “The Louisiana Department of Health’s work to expand crisis services, add capacity for substance use treatment, and use evidence-based treatment for other behavioral health needs will help us address the trauma and other challenges brought on by the pandemic and the many disasters Louisianans have become so accustomed to.”

LDH Secretary Dr. Courtney Phillips said, “It has been our top priority over the past few years to confront the crises Louisiana residents have been facing with behavioral health strategies that improve the quality of life for our residents and hold the promise of a brighter future for Louisiana’s children. The five initiatives we are announcing today are critical new additions to the current array of specialized behavioral health services, and I am confident that our behavioral health partners will be able to use them to increase access to services and ultimately improve health outcomes.”

According to the announcement, OBH is building upon services currently available to Medicaid eligible children and adolescents through five additional initiatives currently under development through Fiscal Year 2024.

Initiative 1: Expanding substance use residential treatment facilities for women and dependent children – Pregnant women, and women with dependent children, are among the most vulnerable of all populations in need of stable residential services for substance use disorder (SUD) treatment. Louisiana currently has 3 statewide providers. However, in order to geographically diversify and expand capacity of treatment programs that allow children up to
12 years old to accompany their mothers, OBH will identify additional providers to fill statewide gaps in services to establish additional treatment beds.

Initiative 2: Implementing Early Childhood Supports and Services (ECSS) – ECSS will provide screening, evaluation, and referral services and treatment for children from birth through age 5 and their families through evidence-based behavioral health treatment. This includes support for enhancing positive caregiving relationships and comprehensive care coordination addressing family needs, including families’ environmental risks and social determinants of health. OBH intends to pilot ECSS with an early adopting entity, while pursuing a contractor for long-term management of the statewide program through a request for proposal (RFP), which is expected to be released in calendar year 2023.

Initiative 3: Building the foundation for statewide youth crisis services – Expanding upon the Medicaid adult crisis services continuum introduced in LDH’s Fiscal Year 2022 business plan, LDH is committed to extending Mobile Crisis Response (MCR) and Community Brief Crisis Support (CBCS) services to youth. With an anticipated launch in spring 2024, MCR is an initial
intervention for individuals in a self-identified crisis; while CBCS is a face-to-face ongoing 
crisis intervention response, designed to provide stabilization and support. LDH has identified start-up funding for providers and the budget proposal includes funding for Medicaid coverage of these services in late fiscal year 2024, said officials.

Initiative 4: Treating trauma through the implementation for Dialectical Behavioral Therapy –(DBT) programs DBT is an evidence-based, comprehensive intervention designed to treat adults and adolescents with severe mental disorders and out-of-control cognitive, emotional, and behavioral patterns that often result from early and/or chronic experiences of trauma, neglect, and abandonment. LDH will begin provider DBT training in the fall with initial implementation of service delivery expected in late calendar year 2023.

Initiative 5: Cultivating Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facility (PRTF) services to treat youth with co-occurring developmental disabilities PRTFs are non-hospital facilities offering intensive inpatient and educational services to individuals younger than age 21 who have various behavioral health issues. OBH is currently developing this programming for a highly specialized PRTF with up to 25 beds, with treatment focusing on co-occurring mental health and developmental disabilities. This population will achieve better outcomes in a highly specialized setting tailored to their needs, said the officials.







Dr. Susan Tucker Returns to Shreveport

After a year in Mississippi as Mental Health Director for Mississippi Department of 
Corrections, Dr. Susan Tucker, innovative program designer, has returned to Louisiana to serve as Chief Operating Officer at Whole Health Treatment Center in Shreveport.

Dr. Tucker has been at the forefront of innovations for Louisiana for over two decades decades. She has earned state and national recognition for these achievements, including from the Vera Institute of Justice. She was also commended by Louisiana legislators for her work and the related cost savings of $15 million by earned “good time credits” through participation in the psychological programs designed by Tucker.

“I am so happy to announce I am the COO for Whole Health Treatment Center in Shreveport, Louisiana,” said Dr. Tucker. “It is a part of Intensive Specialty Hospital. I am so thrilled about this IOP/OP program for offering offenders re-entering the community, substance use disorders, and dual diagnosis, and alternatives to prison programs.”

North Louisiana Whole Health Treatment Center is committed to holistic care brings together an experienced multidisciplinary team to offer the most innovative and impactful treatment options possible.

Dr. Susan Tucker was the Assistant Warden at Forcht Wade Correctional Center-Clinical Substance Abuse Treatment Facility in Keithville, Louisiana, near Shreveport. She also served as clinical psychologist and the Assistant Warden at the Bossier Parish Medium Security Facility. 

She and her team used innovative approaches, modern communication technology, community coordination, and a keen awareness for doing what works, to improve lives, families, and
community safety.

Having worked in Mississippi this past year, Dr. Tucker said, “I am extremely proud of Louisiana as I see them as successfully being on cutting edge of prison reform.”

In late 2022, the Governor’s office pointed to a Pew news report highlighting the positive impacts of criminal justice reforms have had on Louisiana. Reporting for PEW, Michelle Russell wrote, “The state’s prison population has fallen 24%, driven entirely by a decline in people convicted of nonviolent offenses. Louisiana’s reforms sought to steer people convicted of less serious crimes away from prison and shorten the time incarcerated for those who could be safely supervised in the community. In the summer of 2017, before the new laws took effect, there were about 35,500 people under the Louisiana Department of Corrections’ jurisdiction held in prisons or local jails throughout the state. By the summer of 2022, that number had fallen nearly a quarter to about 27,000.”

Dr. Tucker has focused on treatment and research innovations that reduce recidivism. Her work is based in the fact that most inmates have a substance abuse problem, and few get the right kind of treatment. Due to her continuous efforts to work with inmates and provide services, and overall reforms, Louisiana no longer holds the title as “Incarceration Capital of Nation.”

The Times asked Dr. Tucker to tell us what her thoughts about the improvements.

“So, to a large degree,” Dr. Tucker said, “I believe the Louisiana Justice Reform Package is a broad move in the right direction. The legislation is reducing prison populations in the state and developing community partnerships to reduce recidivism. It is a logical and effective way to address an all-time high incarceration rate that was costly and offered little benefit. This bi-partisan reform package has seen a reduction in property and violent crimes. The reform of sentencing laws was long overdue for 1st or 2nd time drug offenses with no violent or sex crimes. This allowed shorter sentences and early release of thousands of offenders,” she said.

“The pandemic offered some additional challenges which slowed, if not impeded some of the progress of this reform movement,” Dr. Tucker explained. “With the decrease in community Mental Health centers and outpatient substance abuse treatment subsequently in our communities due to the pandemic, community resources were limited and sometimes void.
Probation and Parole offices had an increase in their caseloads of early releases and increase in probation cases as opposed to Innovator and Program Designer, Dr. Susan Tucker, incarceration. With the pandemic, the supervision of the probation and parole cases and the lack of community resources created a lag in our initial goal of justice reform,” Dr. Tucker explained.

“However,” she said, “the legislation for reform is in place, new P/P officers are being hired to manage new community supervision cases and resources have increased in the communities. If, in fact, the pandemic has helped our goal, it is the increase in telehealth. We are now able to reach those offenders in rural areas and those low-income communities that often did not receive services.”

“As so many agencies struggled through the pandemic, “Dr. Tucker said, “so did Louisiana Department of Corrections. We are now seeing a ‘return to our new normal’. We have ‘regrouped’ and are headed in the right direction again.”

How does this relate to the programs that she initiated and promoted in Louisiana?

“As you might guess, it’s hard to just walk away from the rehabilitation program I developed and ran for 23 years in LADOC. Rather than simply ‘warehousing offenders’ who will eventually be released into our communities,” Dr. Tucker said. “We are focusing on offering intensive treatment, skill development, and educational opportunities, as well as post release support and care.”

Dr. Tucker explained, “The philosophical approach to our treatment includes focusing on the thinking patterns, emotional reactions, and behavioral events that often lead to self-defeating patterns and eventually to criminal activity. We utilize psychological assessment instruments to illuminate areas of concern, including low cognitive ability, personality disorders or features, mood disorders, and thought disorders. We individualize a treatment program for that offender, and he works closely with his assigned counselor to meet the goals that treatment plan.”

Dr. Tucker said she is thrilled to be part of the reform here in Louisiana, as the COO for Whole Health Treatment Center in Shreveport, part of Intensive Specialty Hospital system. “The continuum of care is as ‘whole’ as it can get,” she said. “We can take a homeless person, male or female, directly off the street and treat them medically, physically, mentally, substance use, detox, and we can get them on Medicaid, Disability, or in Vocational Training through LRS.”

“We also provide transportation and housing! We treat substance use disorders with CBT, Risk Management, and Medication Assisted Treatment. This hospital has spared no expense in allowing us to develop a full continuum of care in a beautiful setting with professional counselors and an effective administrator,” Dr. Tucker said.

“The Clinical Director is Karen Baird, a well-established clinician and administrator. We are lucky to have such a dedicated and knowledgeable director. The entire group is enthusiastic, creative, and on the cutting edge of effective treatment. I am proud to be affiliated with such a treatment-oriented agency.”

What are her current major goals and programs?

“My goal for the rest of my public service life will focus on pre-trial alternative programs and re-entry programs exactly like what Whole Health Treatment center is doing,” she said. “It is imperative to continue to help the justice reform movement of removing the punitive aspect of incarceration and offer solutions for change in the pursuit of justice.

“There is a need for the implementation of fitness for duty assessments for correctional officers and police officers. To ensure the capability of new hires is reflective of a solid officer with the ability to stay calm and manage a difficult situation successfully with the least amount of force,” Dr. Tucker said.

“In addition, reaching mentally ill and substance users in rural areas is an important piece of this where minimal to no treatment access is available,” she said. “Obviously, more resources are needed in our schools for training on mental health, violence, and substance use disorders. The increase in the Seriously Mental Ill in prisons and jails is a direct reflection of our lack of community access to appropriate care.”

From her perspective, in terms of public health, what are the most important things that psychologists should be aware?

“Much work is needed from psychologists regarding how the mentally ill are managed with regard to the criminal justice system. We need more training of police/correctional staff about how to engage with mentally ill on the streets or while in custody.”

In 2015, Harvard honored Dr. Tucker’s Work the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation of the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University named Dr. Tucker and her treatment programs as one of this year’s recipients of the prestigious Bright Ideas awards for innovation. In the article, Stephen Goldsmith, director of the Innovations in
American Government Program at the Ash Center said, “The Bright Ideas program  demonstrates that often seemingly intractable problems can be creatively and capably tackled by small groups of dedicated, civic-minded individuals.”

Dr. Tucker’s programs have earned state and national recognition for results. The group received The Residential Substance Abuse Treatment grant for eight years. In 2010 they
were awarded the governor’s grant for prevention. Also, in 2010 the Vera Institute of Justice, an organization dedicated to improving justice systems through research and innovation, noted that Forcht Wade Correctional Center’s family program, should be a model for the nation.








Bills Flowing in for April 10 Start of 2023 Legislative Regular Session

The 2023 Regular Legislative Session is booming already with hundreds of bills being filed and the kickoff day set for April 10. New measures are being introduced and some familiar themes are reappearing in the Legislators’ efforts.

Rep. Green is introducing HB 226 which eliminates the death penalty. Rep. Travis Johnson is seeking Medicaid coverage for mental health and substance-abuse services via the Psychiatric Collaborative Care Model. SB 34, authored by Sen. Bernard, requires that the state add “Suicide Lifeline dial 988” to on the driver’s license, and Representative Larvadain aims to add firefighters to his previous effort that created peer support training methods for those in law enforcement. Rep. Hilferty is introducing HB 242 which would prohibit corporal punishment in elementary and secondary schools unless authorized by a parent.

See pages 5–6 for a number of other bills that are being introduced this year.








A Man Called Ove/Otto

A Review

by Alvin G. Burstein

In 2012, The Swedish author Fredrik Backman published a novel, A Man Called Ove. His book was on the The New York Times best seller list for almost a year. A film version appeared in 2015 that won multiple awards and is reportedly the most frequently viewed Swedish film.  Unsurprisingly, 2023 saw the appearance of an American version, A Man Called Otto.

Because the protagonist is a quintessentially cranky old man, what may be surprising is that the American film stars Tom Hanks, who in both his public persona and in most of his starring roles appears as almost quintessentially likeable. That paradox tempted me into binge viewing both  Ove and Otto. I wanted to see how Hanks handled the challenge and how the American version of the film might differ from its predecessor. So, I shall focus on the differences and similarities  of the two films. Both are available on Amazon Prime, the latter is also playing at theatres.

The basic plot is the same. A long-time employee is forced into retirement and finds himself  diminished in his central role in his residential community. He is recently widowed. If Freud is  right about the central role of work and love in mental health, Otto/Ove has experienced massive blows. It may well be that one of the reasons for the popular appeal of the story  inheres in its capturing the painful injustice of ageism in modern society. In neither film,  however, is the protagonist portrayed in a way designed to elicit the classic tragic reactions of pity and fear. They are almost stock comic characters: the cranky old man hollering for the kids to get off his  lawn.

But there are important differences between Ove and Otto. Both movies open with the  protagonist making a purchase. But Otto is purchasing five feet of rope that he intends to use in his suicide, Ove is purchasing a bouquet that he intends to take to his wife’s grave on his  customary visit. Both get into a dispute with the cashier. Otto because the rope is sold by the
yard and he doesn’t want to pay for six feet when he needs only five. Ove has picked out  bouquets with a “two for…” price and he doesn’t want two,

As both scenes unfold, Otto’s grumpiness has a clearly angry edge, while Ove’s objections seem  more morally or logically grounded. He takes both bouquets to the cemetery. This difference is amplified in another variation. Both movies make heavy use of flashbacks to flesh out the  protagonists’ history and character. Ove’s begin in childhood and portray the early loss of his mother and father. Otto’s begin in young adulthood, with his being rejected for military service. I think overall, one feels more sympathy for Ove.

While Otto is not a carbon copy of Ove, their stories are alike in the extraordinary, almost Chaplinesque combination of comedy and pathos. We find ourselves laughing at them, while our hearts ache at the blows they suffer. If you want my advice about which one to watch, I would say A Man Called Otto, if only because in the flashbacks young adult Otto is portrayed by Hanks’ son, Truman. You don’t want to miss the opportunity to wonder at and about that.