Author Archives: Susan

Heat Deaths Now at 25 LDH Issues Warnings

On August 22, the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) reported  that they updated the total number of heat-related deaths to 25 for  the months of June, July and August after an extensive examination of data from Louisiana Vital Records. The previous total reported on August 4 was 16.

Twenty-two of the deaths were male; three were female. Data shows  men are often overrepresented in heat deaths because they are more likely to work outdoors. The age breakdown among individuals is as  follows: 30-49: 7, 50-64: 6, and 65+: 12.

Governor Edwards issued a state of emergency due to excessive heat  on August 14. There have been 4,766 heat-related emergency department visits in Louisiana since April 1. From 2010 to 2020, there  were an average of 2,700 emergency department visits annually,  according to an Office of Public Health (OPH) report released in April.

“Every life lost to a heat-related cause is tragic, and it is a reminder  that excessive heat can carry dangerous health consequences,” said  LDH Secretary Stephen Russo.

“It is critical that everyone in Louisiana take precautions during extreme heat events, especially workers in physically demanding occupations who are frequently outdoors. Heat-related illness and death are preventable, and I encourage Louisiana residents to know  the signs of heat-related illness, stay indoors with air conditioning if  possible, and remember to hydrate, rest and stay in the shade if they  must be outdoors. They should also check on their neighbors, and  loved ones, especially those who are elderly.”

LDH officials warn, “Heat stress can be fatal. In Louisiana, heat was  the most common cause of death during hurricanes Delta, Zeta,  Laura and Ida. Of the 65 deaths attributed to the four storms  collectively, 23 were due to extreme heat. “Know what to do about heat exhaustion. Heat exhaustion symptoms can include muscle pain  or spasms; cold, pale, clammy skin; tiredness or weakness and  dizziness; and headache and fainting. Move to a cool place and loosen your clothes, put a cool, wet cloth on your body or take a cool bath.  Sip on water, and seek medical attention if you’re throwing up and/or  if your symptoms last longer than an hour.

“Know what to do about heat stroke. Heat stroke symptoms can  include a high body temperature (103F or higher); hot, red, dry or  damp skin; fast, strong pulse; headache and dizziness; nausea and  confusion; and loss of consciousness (passing out). Call 911 right away: Heat stroke is a medical emergency. Move to a cool place and  loosen your clothes, put a cool, wet cloth on  your body or take a cool  bath. Do not drink anything. Be aware of your risk.

“Groups at higher risk of heatrelated illness include: Outdoor workers; Individuals with heart, lung and/or kidney disease, high  blood pressure, diabetes and obesity; Pregnant women; Older adults;  Athletes; Young children.

“Air conditioning is the strongest protection against heat-related  illness. Exposure to air conditioning even for a few hours a day will  reduce the risk of health-related illness. If your air conditioning is not working, go to a public place with electricity, like a library or mall, or  local heat-relief shelters. Follow the news and social media, including  LDH and local health departments, for locations. Drink plenty of fluids. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty. Avoid alcohol, caffeine and  sugary drinks. Stay in the shade. Limit outdoor activity to morning  and evening hours. Check on people who live alone, especially the elderly.” 



CDC – Suicide Rates Continue to Rise; Life Expectancy Falls Again

In August, the CDC released its report on suicide in the United States.  The provisional estimates released indicate that suicide deaths increased in 2022, rising from 48,183 deaths in 2021 to an estimated  49,449 deaths in 2022, an increase of approximately 2.6%. At the  same time, life expectancy has hit the lowest point in nearly two  decades.

According to the CDC numbers, adults 65 and older saw the largest  increase in suicide deaths of any age group from 2021 to 2022, with an 8.1% rise. More men died by suicide than women, following a  trend from 2021, but both men and women saw their suicide death numbers increase by 2.3% and 3.8% respectively.

Also according to the CDC, Americans who identify as White saw the  largest number of deaths by suicide with 37,459, an increase of 2.1%  from 2021. Most racial and ethnic groups saw an increase in suicide deaths, with Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders seeing the largest jump at 15.9%. However, The CDC found that those who  identify as American Indian or Alaska Native saw the largest  percentage decrease in suicide deaths.

Specific data was as follows: Ages 10-24 years saw 7,126 suicide  deaths in 2021 and 6,529 in 2022, a decrease of – 8.4%. In the age  group 25-44 years the number was reported as 16,724 in 2021 and  16,843 in 2022, an increase of 0.7%.

The age group of 45-64 years increased 6.6% from 14,668 to 15,632.  And the age group of ≥ 65 years increased 8.1% from 9,652 to 10,433.

Male suicide deaths were 38,358 in 2021 and 39,255 in 2022, an  increase of 2.3%. Female suicide deaths were 9,825 and 10,194, an  increase of 3.8%.

“Today’s report underscores the depths of the devastating mental  health crisis in America. Mental health has become the defining public  health and societal challenge of our time. Far too many people and their families are suffering and feeling alone,” said U.S. Surgeon  General Vivek Murthy, M.D., M.B.A.

“These numbers are a sobering reminder of how urgent it is that we further expand access to mental health care, address the root causes  of mental health struggles, and recognize the importance of checking  on and supporting one another. If you or a loved one are in emotional distress or suicidal crisis, please know that your life matters and that  you are not alone. The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is available 24/7  for anyone who needs help.”

Suicide being one contributing factor, life expectancy for Americans  has dropped for the second year in a row. PBS news reported the life expectancy dropped around the world in 2020 but that other countries rebounded while the United States continues on its downward course in life expectancy, hitting the lowest point in nearly  two decades.

Dr. Stephen Woolf told PBS that life expectancy for the U.S. has  actually been declining for decades. Back in the 1990s the pace of  increase in life expectancy began to fall off and in 2010 it began to  stop increasing all together, Woolf said.

“It’s being driven by an Increase in death rates in the young and middle-aged adults, 25 to 64,” Woolf said. “And most of those relate  to the problems of drug overdose, suicides, alcohol related causes –  these are sometimes called deaths of despair. Also metabolic problems related to obesity.”

In a report by the WSJ, authors noted that, “For decades, advances in  healthcare and safety steadily drove down death rates among  American children.

“In an alarming reversal, rates have now risen to the highest level in  nearly 15 years, particularly driven by homicides, drug overdoses, car  accidents and suicides,” authors noted.

“The uptick among younger Americans accelerated in 2020. Though  COVID-19 itself wasn’t a major cause of death for young people.”

According to WSJ, researchers say social disruption caused by the  pandemic exacerbated public health problems, including worsening  anxiety and depression. More lethal narcotics also helped push up death rates.

“Between 2019 and 2020, the overall mortality rate for ages 1 to 19  rose by 10.7% and increased by an additional 8.3% the following  year…That’s the highest increase for two consecutive years in the half  century that the government has publicly tracked such figures,” reported WSJ.

“Covid, which surged to America’s number three cause of death  during the pandemic, accounted for just 1/10 of the rise in mortality among young people in 2020, and 1/5 during 2021.”

Stephen Woolf told PBS, “There was something disturbing in the new  data for 2021, that it showed this massive decrease in life expectancy. But it also showed an increase in death rates in children and teenagers. And an increase of that size has not been seen in my  entire career,” he said.

“This upward trend is the result of four causes– suicides, homicides,  drug overdoses and car accidents– mainly in young people 10 to 19 years old.”


Tulane’s Dr. Baker Named for Psychology in The Public Interest

Tulane’s Dr. Courtney Baker, leader for Project DIRECT, a community-engaged program for children who live in poverty, has been honored with the Award for Psychology in the Public Interest, announced this summer by the Louisiana Psychological Association (LPA).

Dr. Amanda Raines, spokesperson for LPA said the award 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.

“This year we are recognizing Courtney Baker, Ph.D. Dr. Baker is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at Tulane University. Her program of  work is designed to bridge the gap between science and practice, with a  particular focus on disseminating and implementing evidence-based programs  into school and community settings that serve children, youth, and families at risk for poor outcomes. Dr. Baker has published numerous peer-reviewed manuscripts and received support for her work through various intramural and  extramural agencies. She routinely disseminates her work and gives back to the  profession through her volunteer work with her academic institution, the field,  and the community.”

Dr. Baker is the Project DIRECT Team Leader and Principal Investigator, and an  Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at Tulane University. She is also a licensed clinical psychologist with a specialty in child clinical psychology  and she directs the APA-Accredited School Psychology doctoral program at  Tulane. She also co-directs the Tulane University Psychology Clinic for Children  and Adolescents.

Dr. Baker and her team members are partnering with 13 New Orleans  childcares, Head Starts, and pre-K/K classrooms within charter schools, which  serve low-income children, in a program named Project DIRECT, a community- engaged approach, aimed to reduce disparities in mental health and academic achievement.

Baker is reaching children who live in poverty, racial and ethnic minority  children, and children who have experienced trauma. The efforts created by Dr.  Baker and her team are designed to deliver high-quality evidence-based  prevention and improve intervention programs for real-life applications,  especially for children who are vulnerable to poor outcomes.

Following the best practices for working with marginalized communities, Baker  and her group use a community-engaged research approach, to create high- quality, community-based mental health programs. They work to bridge the gap  between research and practice and to ensure the results deliver effective prevention and interventions.

The Times asked Dr. Baker how she felt about receiving the award.

“I am beyond thrilled to be honored by my colleagues at LPA for my work in the  area of psychology in the public interest. I have the beautiful award sitting  prominently on my bookshelf behind me ––which is a lovely addition to my still  numerous Zoom meetings!

“I have worked throughout my career to engage in meaningful, relevant research that can change systems and improve lives,” she said. “I am proud of  my work so far, but I also strive to contribute so much more over the course of  my career. The only way to do this work well, in my opinion, is to partner meaningfully with stakeholders who have more knowledge about the problems  and solutions than I do. What I bring to the relationship is expertise in research  methods and statistics (this may sound boring, but I think it’s a lot of fun!). I love  that my partners are not only patients or caregivers of those who might one day  receive the interventions I evaluate but also the educators, clinicians, trainers,  and other practitioners who are responsible for actually delivering the program.  We have all seen that interventions developed without these key perspectives  front and center often fail, and quickly.”

Dr. Baker hopes to increase understanding and facilitate effective programs into  community settings that serve children. One of the foundations of her work and  scientific plan is the community-engaged research approach––to make sure all efforts are “relevant, culturally competent, and with a partnership focus and  commitment to capacity building.”

Dr. Baker’s work is also guided by the fields of dissemination and implementation science and prevention science. Implementation science  addresses the use of strategies to integrate evidence-based interventions and  change practice patterns within specific settings.

Dissemination involves the distribution of an intervention or innovation to a  specific audience. One of Dr. Baker’s main research goals is to disseminate  findings nationally via conference presentations, invited presentations, and  publications in academic journals and books.

She turned her considerable understanding of trauma sensitive education into a useful and innovative guide for teachers who want to be responsive to trauma in their students and themselves. Dr. Baker has teamed up with Arlene Elizabeth  Casimir to author Trauma Responsive Pedagogy: Teaching for Healing and Transformation. The book is part of the Heinemann series, dedicated to  teachers and edited by Nell Duke and Colleen Cruz.

Trauma Responsive Pedagogy is based on the foundational principle that children  who are experiencing significant stress, either chronic or acute, cannot learn in a regular classroom. What is required are insightful teachers who understand  trauma and its ramifications. The authors add the complex notion that often the teachers are also experiencing their own chronic stress.

One of the pillars of thought offered by Trauma Responsive Pedagogy is that  teachers must find the center of compassion and understanding, for dealing  with chronic stressors of poverty, discrimination, health challenges, and  environmental crises.

The small but profound work is chocked-full of ideas to help educators develop  ways to acknowledge trauma and its correlates, and support students to help  them learn and reach their full potential.

What is she working on currently? “I’m working on several active and funded  projects related to crisis intervention and trauma-informed approaches, especially in schools. My colleague Dr. Bonnie Nastasi and I, along with trainer  and Nationally Certified School Psychologist, Mr. Brandon Wilks, recently held a  crisis intervention training in New Orleans. We welcomed district staff from five Parishes, as well as staff from several non-profits with school-based mental  health programs and school psychology faculty and trainees from two of the  four programs in the state of Louisiana,” she said.

“Together, we were trained in the national, evidence-informed PREPaRE model  of school crisis prevention and intervention. The training was incredible, and we  look forward to offering additional trainings in New Orleans and across the  state. This project is funded by the U.S. Department of Justice STOP School  Violence Program, and you can learn more at

“Second,” Dr. Baker said, “I am so grateful to be part of a national Center funded  by SAMHSA called the Coalition for Compassionate Schools. We are  working to disseminate and scale up traumainformed approaches in New  Orleans schools, by training educators in the intervention and providing  consultation and technical assistance.

“Over time, we’ll also work in after-school settings and with national partners. I  have been particularly interested in measuring outcomes, evaluating processes,  and understanding the impact of traumainformed schools on students and  educators. My role on the project focuses on these areas of inquiry, and I am so  happy to spread the word nationally about the amazing work that the Coalition  has been doing here in New Orleans,” she said.

“Finally, I have been working for over five years as the external evaluator of  Trauma Smart, which is a widely used, evidenceinformed curriculum for trauma–nformed approaches in early learn and school settings. We published the  findings of our aggregate evaluation data in 2021 […] and our most recent  efforts have focused on understanding how and why some programs sustain the intervention even years into the future while others flounder.

“We developed the instrument with our partners at Trauma Smart, combining  what is known from empirical investigations with what is understood from the day-to-day work of implementing and sustaining trauma-informed approaches  in schools. We came up with an instrument, which our colleague Ryan  Pankiewicz at Trauma Smart spearheaded and named the Trauma Smart  sustaining Organizations Scale (TSSOS, pronounced T-Sauce), and our next step  is to evaluate how scores on the TSSOS relate to other metrics we already gather such as attitudes favorable to trauma-informed care. Stay tuned, as we hope to  present this work at an upcoming conference!”

We asked her about what else is on the horizon.

“The future is always so exciting! I am very pleased to welcome my newest PhD  student to my lab, Tulane, and New Orleans – Ms. Alanna Manigault, who comes  to us from Pittsburgh and is interested in school discipline and equity, especially  for marginalized youth. I can’t wait to explore that topic with her during her time  in our program!” Dr. Baker said.

“We are also working hard to get some funding from the federal government to  conduct a randomized controlled trial of Trauma Smart, which I mentioned  above. As you know, randomized experiments provide the best evidence of  efficacy, although they are exceedingly difficult, complex, and expensive when  the intervention happens at the whole school or system level.

“My other plans for funded projects include some evaluation of and improvements to one of our more popular instruments, the ARTIC, as well as a  recommitment to some of my early childhood social emotional learning and  classroom behavior management work,” she said.

“I’m also continuing in my role as the director of the APA-Accredited School  Psychology program here at Tulane, and enjoying seeing our students move  through the program and gain so much valuable experience in their pathways to becoming doctoral-level school psychologists––and hopefully remaining here in  New Orleans and Louisiana once they are done!” 



Healthcare & Education Alliance Secures $400 Million for La Children

Since 2006, Healthcare & Education Alliance of Louisiana (HEAL) has helped schools secure  more than $400 million in Federal Medicaid funds to support inschool healthcare and health  equity, officials said in an August press release.

HEAL partners with schools to successfully access federal Medicaid dollars that  are currently being untapped by most Louisiana schools. These schools may not know the funds exist or might not have the information, staffing and resources  to apply for these critically need funds.

Dr. Deborah Palmer, lead psychologist with HEAL, works in the Central City area  of New Orleans where generational poverty is common and healthcare limited.  As lead psychologist, she has worked in multidisciplinary team settings, assisting those with autism, depression, anxiety, ADHD and trauma. She follows  the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child model developed by the  Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Health & Education Alliance’s mission is to eliminate the health and  educational disparities for children who live in poverty in Louisiana. HEAL works directly with students, families, and schools to ensure students are healthy and  academically successful, note officials.

“HEAL continues to work in New Orleans charter schools as well as several  districts across Louisiana,” Dr. Palmer explained. “We continue to help schools  effectively screen for and provide appropriate treatment for both physical and  mental health concerns. I’m spending more of my time these days providing  professional development regarding appropriate behavior plans for students  with emotional dysregulation, professional development regarding Medicaid  implementation, and compliance checks for healthcare documentation  requirements,” she said.

“I find this type of work incredibly rewarding,” she previously explained to the  Times, “as we are addressing student challenges in the environment in which  they spend a majority of their time.” In addition, she noted that helping  educators learn more about behavioral interventions supports them not only  with a single student, but with all their students.

“The multidisciplinary nature of our project ensures that we are addressing the whole child, and not just an isolated symptom of a larger issue,” Dr. Palmer said. “The integration of mental health services into the school setting makes so  much sense in terms of access to services, but also in maximizing student  outcomes.”

Dr. Palmer provides classroom observations so she can identify a student’s  triggers and behaviors, as well as teacher related behaviors and strategies. She  also provides behavior management strategies, small group interventions for  social skills, emotional literacy, emotional regulation, grief, and anger  management, for example. She provides, “a clinical  psychology ‘lens’ in meetings addressing students’ with challenging behavior to ensure that real mental health issues aren’t missed or misrepresented,” she noted.

Results from a three-year pilot cohort study between 2014 to 2017 showed that schools that  partnered with HEAL had seen a school-wide grade point increase of 25% on average during the three-year study with growth as much as 60% among high-risk children. During the study, HEAL  reached 90,784 children in Louisiana and also saw a 25% reduction in failed vision screenings.

According to officials, HEAL is the only organization known to provide a system for schools to  address all aspects of childhood health in school. HEAL also teaches schools how to fund the  Coordinated Care for the Whole Child™ model permanently and sustainably as part of every  school year.

Why is this approach so important to Louisiana? “Students spend a good portion of their day in  school and receiving healthcare services at school can save time and travel for the family,” explained Dr. Palmer. “Also, the services in school are in addition to the services they can  receive via traditional outpatient services––they can receive both!” she said.

“Funding for these services via Medicaid means the student/family does not have to pay for the  services; and the free care ruling means that students that do not have Medicaid are also  eligible to receive services in the school setting. Medicaid funding for school based services continues to be underutilized in the state of Louisiana.”

According to the press release, this matters for three important reasons:

• One in four school-age children has a vision disorder that could go undiagnosed without  access to regular screenings, according to the American Optometric Association.

• Undiagnosed hearing loss leads to speech delays and is the primary cause of misdiagnosed  learning or behavioral disorders.

• More students are behind on regular healthcare checkups due to the Covid-19 lockdown.

“Louisiana schools are essentially leaving free money on the table,” said Connie Bellone, RN  SHSC CCRN-K CCHC, Chief Executive Officer for HEAL. “Our goal is to use these funds to get a nurse in every building and a therapist in every school in our state, with a priority on lower- income communities where inschool healthcare is even more critical to the wellbeing of our  students.”

HEAL also works with schools to create access to on-site nurses and critical health screenings  including mental health, vision, hearing and dental.

“Not being able to see a smartboard or hear a teacher are obvious barriers to a child’s  education,” added Bellone, “but we also need to address mental health and undiagnosed  chronic illnesses that prevent Louisiana students from reaching their full potential – especially  in low-income communities and communities of color. By addressing these health barriers, we  can give children a chance to break the cycle of poverty and receive an education.”

One of the success stories from their webpage tells the story: Three boys, aged 16 but still in  the 8th grade, had been labeled “emotionally disturbed” and were spending their school days in isolation due to disruptive behavior in the classroom. All three boys were legally deaf.

When the faculty of their school was informed, suddenly everything made sense. The boys  weren’t refusing instructions—they weren’t hearing them. They weren’t intending to disrupt the  classroom—they just weren’t aware that they were speaking or acting at inappropriate times  because they couldn’t hear what was happening. Worse yet, these boys didn’t know they couldn’t hear. They just knew they were always in trouble, but they didn’t know why.

All three boys received interventions for their deafness. Two received hearing aids, and the  other received a cochlear implant. They are now close to being on level for their age and were saved from an eventuality that is unthinkable.

“HEAL was instrumental in changing the Louisiana Medicaid State Plan to cover more students,” said Dr. Palmer. “Previously only students with an IEP would be eligible for Medicaid  reimbursement. With the change in the state plan, any student with Medicaid coverage and a  medically necessary plan of care would be eligible for reimbursement,” she said.

“HEAL continues to work with LDH to update the fee schedule to appropriately reflect the  services provided in schools. HEAL is working with the Children’s Cabinet to address the  challenges schools face in appropriately documenting healthcare services. It is HEAL’s belief that if there was a Universal Documentation system available to all schools; then students wouldn’t  miss out on their services if they had to change schools,” Dr. Palmer explained.

According to the HEAL website, “Children from low-income households face the greatest  challenges to completing school and achieving long-term success. You can teach a child only so  much when that child is hungry, hurting, not sleeping at night, or simply can’t see or hear well.  Experts agree that health and academic achievement are inextricably linked. The CDC agrees  that providing health services in schools, both mental and physical, plays a critical role in  helping children achieve academically.”

The HEAL program has three essential components. Health screenings, student support teams,  and program sustainability. The approach is The Coordinated Care for The Whole Child™ Program. By bridging the gap between education leaders and health professionals, our  program ensures comprehensive care for every child in our partner schools. 

Jared Frank at  HEAL partner Morris Jeff Community School, has seen the difference on-site healthcare can make in the lives of students. “We are grateful for the work of HEAL with our  school. With improved and increased access to on-site health care, we’ve seen a dramatic  improvement in academic and socialemotional outcomes for our students. They feel better and  have better access to health resources which allow them to thrive.”

HEAL officials point out, “It’s important for parents to understand that these are additional  health services provided by schools and do NOT count against a student’s individual Medicaid  benefit limits. HEAL partners with schools statewide to expand school healthcare services at no  additional cost to families.”

HEAL has served 87 schools, districts, and education centers in Louisiana and reached 21% of  those students. And 29 local education agencies in Louisiana have obtained Medicaid provider status thanks to HEAL. Since its founding in 2006, HEAL has served more than 147,000 children  from early education through K-12. HEAL has performed 100,437 preventative health screenings in schools in Louisiana.

The movement is gaining momentum. According to the HEAL website, on May 10, 2023, Nevada  Congresswoman Dina Titus reintroduced her Nurses for Under-Resourced Schools Everywhere  Act, legislation that would help public elementary and secondary schools hire registered nurses  by creating a grant program at the U.S. Department of Education. According to the National  Association of School Nurses, only 39.3% of schools employ full-time school nurses, even  though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that more than 40% of school- aged children and adolescents have at least one chronic health condition. “This legislation  would help provide resources for schools to invest in public health and make sure our students have the support they need to thrive,” said Rep. Titus.

We Remember Dr. Alvin Burstein

Dr. Alvin G. Burstein passed away suddenly andunexpectedly near his home in Knoxville,  Tennessee on June 27 after his morning walk. He was 92 years old.

After what most would consider a full career, and one with ample, rightly deserved prestige, Dr. Alvin Burstein relocated to Louisiana to serve as the head of psychology at Southeastern. He  embraced our community, including engaging with those in the psychoanalytic discipline. He brought with him considerable wisdom and knowledge, and graced us with it freely.

He had the soul of a poet, a finely honed sense of morality,  and the enviable delight of a  person who truly enjoyed whatever he was doing.

Current Department Head at Southeastern, Dr. Paula Varnado-Sullivan, said, “Although Al was  a member of our department and our department head for a relatively short time in his career, he left an indelible mark on our department and my career. He shaped how I define my role as  a faculty member and department head. He was passionate about academia and fiercely  advocated for his students,” she said. “He truly defined the role of mentor in his relationship  with his students. His impact has lasted long after he taught his last class here at Southeastern. I know that he will be greatly missed by his family, friends, colleagues and former students.”

Dr. Matt Rossano, a past Chair at Southeastern, said, “I’ll always remember Al as a kind soul  who threw himself into his work with joy and dedication. My sincere condolences to his family  and close friends.”

In his work at Southeastern Dr. Burstein touched many lives. Current President of the Louisiana Psychological Association (LPA), Dr. Jesse Lambert, said, “Dr. Burstein was the  Department Chair when I was a graduate student at SELU. I received my first training on the  Rorschach under Dr. Burstein. He was a brilliant psychologist and an enthusiastic teacher.”

Dr. Erin Tarcza Reuther, past president of LPA, said, “Dr. Burstein was my thesis mentor when I  was at Southeastern as a grad student. I have very fond memories of him. He was a great  contributor to the field, and, more personally, had a positive influence on my career. […] He  was a brilliant and kind mentor who challenged his students and colleagues to think deeply  and grow from reflection.”

Dr. Burstein engaged with those in the Louisiana psychoanalytic discipline through New  Orleans-Birmingham Psychoanalytic Center, where he served as a faculty member.

“The  psychoanalytic community suffers at the death of Al Burstein who brought such energy,  inspiration, and fervor for consciousness in those who were fortunate to know him,” said  friend and colleague, Dr. Del McNeely. “His stimulating discussion groups, book and movie  reviews, and incitement to seek depth from each of us personally will echo in us, our dear  mentor and friend.”

Dr. Randy Harper said, “He wore his many accomplishments gracefully as he contributed to  our Center and the psychoanalytic community in New Orleans. I have very appreciative and congenial memories of his reorganizing our psychoanalytic library; teaching with him; and  being enriched by one of his discussions of a creative artist. It would be impossible to have a  conversation with him that wouldn’t be interesting and engaging. Certainly a life well and fully lived. Thank you Al.”

Colleague from the Center, Dr. Kathy Nathan, said, “I always was impressed by his intellectual,  eternal curiosity, love of teaching, and ability to apply psychoanalysis to film and literature. What a force…. and what a loss to psychology.”

Dr. Burstein grew up in Omaha, Nebraska and attended University of Chicago, Chicago (UCC)  on a scholarship. He later earned his PhD in Clinical Psychology from UCC in 1959. After  consulting at the Chicago State Hospital, he went on to be Acting Director of Clinical Training  and Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. During this time, he was  also a Consultant at the VA Hospital and Adjunct Associate Professor of Psychology for the  University of Illinois in Chicago.

By 1963, Dr. Burstein took on the role of the Director of Psychology Training, Acting Director  Division of Psychology, at the Neuropsychiatric Institute, University of Chicago, Chicago.

In 1970, he became Professor and Chief of Psychology, at the University of Texas Health  Science Center, San Antonio, Texas.

Dr. John Worsham, friend and colleague, said that when Al came to San Antonio, “He  immediately began to develop an APA approved clinical psychology internship which attracted trainees from across the US and several foreign countries, and brought in outstanding young  psychologists …” he said. “As Al and his energetic young psychologists reached out into the  community they transformed psychology in San Antonio and South Texas.

“Al brought the  group together to create an active Bexar County Psychological Association, and that group  moved to further energize the Texas Psychological Association, […] Ultimately Al and one of his  faculty became presidents of TPA, while several others held key positions in the TPA  organization,” he said.

Another Texas colleague, Dr. Lawrence Schoenfeld, said, “He firmly believed in the scientist- practitioner model and guided the new faculty to be involved in research, training and clinical  practice.

The Division in the Department of Psychiatry grew rapidly under his leadership. He also helped  many medical departments recruit psychologists for their Departments and arranged for them to have joint appointments with the Division. […] He was an ethical role model and loyal friend  to those who had the privilege of calling him a friend.”

In 1982, Dr. Burstein was appointed Professor and Director of the Clinical Psychology Program,  at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK). During this time, he served as Convenor of  Colloquy on Psychoanalysis and the Humanities, the Director of the Social Science Research  Institute, and Associate Department Head, Department of Psychology, all at UTK.

He retired with the title of Professor Emeritus in 2000 from UTK, and relocated to serve as  Professor and Head, Dept. of Psychology at Southeastern Louisiana University.

During these years he also served as a faculty member of the New Orleans-Birmingham  Psychoanalytic Center.

Dr. Burstein was President of the Louisiana Conference of the American Association of  University Professors (AAUP) from 2006-2010, and remained actively involved.

AAUP colleague Tulane Professor Emerita, Italian, Dr. Linda Carroll said she “… had been  thinking of his phone call to me some months ago about assisting him in a possible pending editorship of a journal concerned with professional ethics. An undertaking at the heart of his  concerns. […] Al was a true intellectual, a true professional, and a warm and caring person.”

Throughout his years in academic service, Dr. Burstein provided psychotherapy, psychological  testing, and psychoanalysis in his part-time private practice.

He earned the Diplomate from the American Board of Professional Psychology in 1965.

He was an active member of the professional community and was an active contributor to the  American Psychological Association (APA), He was a fellow in APA Divisions 2, 12, 27, and 39. He  served as Chairman for Division 12, the Membership Committee; for Corresponding Committee of Division 5; as Liaison to Education & Training Board; in the Visiting Psychologist  Program; and in the Task Force to Revise Accreditation Criteria.

He served as chair of the Education and Training Board, on the APA Council of Representatives,  and on the Committee on Employment and Human Resources where he also served as Chair.

He was president of the Southwestern Psychological Association, president of the Texas  Psychological Association, and president of the Louisiana Conference, American Association of  University Professors. He earned the American Board of Professional Psychology Award for  Meritorious Service, the UTK Chancellor’s Teacher Scholar, the UTK Psi Chi Outstanding  Undergraduate Teacher Award, the UTK PanHellenic Council Outstanding Teacher Award, and  the UTK University Studies Award for Contributions to Interdisciplinary Scholarship.

Dr. Burstein served as Consulting Editor for the Journal of Abnormal Psychology and as  Advisory Editor for Contemporary Psychology.

He served as Editorial Consultant for American  Psychologist, the InterAmerican Journal of Psychology, the International Journal of Psychiatry  in Medicine, and Professional Psychology. He was on the Editorial Board of Soundings: An Interdisciplinary Journal.

He co-authored two books, Psychosocial Basis of Health Care (3rd  edition) and Rorschach’s Test: Scoring and Interpretation, the latter co-authored with wife and  colleague, Dr. Sandra Loucks.

Dr. Burstein authored or co-authored a range of book chapters including, “Group  psychotherapy and group dynamics enter the 1970s,” in Vol. 26, and “Group Psychotherapy,”  in Vol. 28, of Progress in Neurology and Psychiatry.

He authored, “Psychotherapy for the poor,” in Successful Psychotherapy, “Social and moral  values in the health sciences,” in, Human Values Teaching Programs for Health Professionals  and “Program evaluation: Defining and evaluating quality,” in Evaluation and Accountability in  Clinical Training.

Dr. Burstein also authored, “Core elements in doctoral education: A minimalist view,” in  Preparing Psychologists for the 21st Century: Proceedings of the National Conference on Graduate Education in Psychology and “What’s Wrong with Psychology: A Freudian Interpretation,” in Psychology: Themes and Variations.

With his colleague and wife, Dr. Sandra Loucks. he coauthored the chapter, “Psychologist as a  health care clinician,” in The Handbook of Clinical Health Psychology.

He had a voice from early in his career. In 1971, Dr. Burstein and J. C. Kobos authored,  Psychological testing as a device to foster social mobility,” for American Psychologist. He and  his co-authors also wrote, “The changing face of American psychology,” in 1986 for American  Psychologist.

And in 1987, he authored, “The virtue machine,” for American Psychologist. In this article, Dr.  Burstein discussed the origins and status of institutional review boards (described as virtue machines) and argued that they tended to dampen curiosity and trivialize bioethical concerns.

He and Dr. Loucks and co-authors produced numerous works including, “Psychological  characteristics of medical students and residents,” in Journal of Medical Education; “Sex related
psychological characteristics of medical students,” in Journal of Psychology; and “The real cost  of psychology intern services: Are they a good buy?” in Professional Psychology.

He and Dr. Loucks authored, “A comprehensive scoring manual for Rorschach’s test,” in British  Journal of Projective Psychology and Personality Study.

Dr. Burstein did not shy away from weighty subjects. For example, he took on the topic, “The  doctor as ethicist,” in Health Science Center Mission, and he authored, “Distinctions meaningful,” a position paper prepared for the 1987 National Conference on Graduate  Education in Psychology, in APA Monitor.

With his Renaissance-man mind and his love of science and literature, he began doing reviews  early in his career.

For Contemporary Psychology, he authored, “None there embrace,” A review of The Suicidal  Patient: Recognition and Management; “The road to Camelot,” A review of Community  Psychology in Transition; and “Out of the past, thundering hoofbeats,” A review of The  Anatomy of Change: A Menninger Foundation Report on Testing the Effects of Psychotherapy

In 1980, he authored, “Review of Psychology and medicine: Psychological dimensions of health  and illness,” for General Hospital Psychiatry, and also “Taking the fall,” A review of Tragic Posture and Tragic Vision: Against the Modern Failure of Nerve,” for Soundings.

He also authored, “Review of Bioethics, Culture and Identity: A Philosophical Disease, “Review  of Education in the Marketplace,” and “Review of Psychoanalysis at the Margins,” all for Soundings.

Strongly engaged in the community, he was a frequent presenter at conferences and conventions. Dr. Burstein presented at the American Psychological Association, Southeastern  Psychology Association, Society for Values in Higher Education, and the International Federation for Psychoanalytic Education Annual Conference.

Examples include: “The future of psychotherapy: Fiscal and legal issues,” for Proceedings of the  American Institute of Oral Biology, in Palm Springs, California; “Psychoanalysis and Academic  Psychology,” at the International Federation for Psychoanalytic Education Sixth Annual  Conference, in Toronto, Canada; “Perversion in Higher Education,” at the 1997 Conference on  Values in Higher Education in Knoxville, Tennessee; and “Against the Grain: The Natural History of an Inter-disciplinary Faculty Development Program,” at the 1999 AAHE Conference on  Faculty Roles and Rewards, in San Diego, California.

He and Dr. Loucks presented, “Burstein-Loucks scoring system (BLRSS): Introduction and  overview,” in 1984 at International Rorschach Congress in Barcelona, Spain. The two presented  again in 1986 with, “Sense and nonsense on Rorschach scoring,” at the American Psychological Association, in Washington, D.C.

In retirement, he turned his interest to literary and creative publications. He was a member of  Inklings, a writers’ critique group in Mandeville, Louisiana, and a reader for Silver Blade, a  fiction quarterly. He published fiction with Flash Fiction Press including, “A Dog’s Tale,” “The Smokers,” “Bonehead,” and “Mimicry.” He wrote a novella, The Owl, available on Amazon.

He contributed a monthly film review, A Shrink at the Flicks, for The Psychology Times, and  won an award for Best Column from the Louisiana Press Association.

Dr. Alvin Burstein is survived by wife, Dr. Sandra Loucks, two children from a previous  marriage––Daniel and Jessica, four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

He is preceded in death by his parents and a young son. Dr. Loucks wrote, “We married in 1978 and were married 45 years. Al and I came from very different backgrounds, yet we found  commonality in our love for psychology, teaching, the application of psychoanalytic technique, and other shared values such as hard work and speaking truth to power. We ultimately both  became full professors and were both ABPPs.”

Dr. Loucks was born in New Orleans, and received her undergraduate degree in psychology  from what was then LSUNO. She is accomplished in her own right––she has served on state  boards, in associations, and has numerous professional publications. She has served as the  head of continuing education at the New Orleans–Birmingham Psychoanalytic Center.

“Al and I have been described by friends as ‘joined at the hip.’ During our years of retirement  we were inseparable. We were devoted to each other through many professional battles and  accomplishments. I’ll never feel truly whole without him though he’ll always be part of me.”

A celebration of Dr. Alvin Burstein’s life will be held 10:00 AM Saturday, November 11, 2023 at  Rose-Mann Funeral Home in Knoxville, Tennessee.

[Editor’s Note: We thank Dr. Loucks for her assistance with this article and wish her and the  family our most sincere condolences.]

Tapping Reduces Cortisol by 43%

That is what Dr. Peta Stapleton on Bond University in Australia found1 when she replicated  Dawson Church’s 2012 cortisol study.1 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 stressrelated 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.

1. Stapleton, P., Crighton, G., Sabot, D., and O’Neill, H.M. (2020). Reexamining the effect of   motional freedom techniques on stress biochemistry: A randomized controlled trial. Psychol  Trauma.doi: 10.1037/tra0000563 (epub ahead of print.)
2. 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.

Office of Behavioral Health Celebrates 988 Crisis Line Success

The Louisiana Department of Health’s Office of Behavioral Health (OBH) is celebrating the  anniversary of the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline this July with a focus on growth, increased  capacity and the lives that are being changed with increased access to mental health  resources. Call volume has increased 11% since launch in July 2022, according to the news  release.

“We are proud of the work we have done to increase awareness of the 988 Lifeline, which has  been a valuable resource for Louisianans in crisis. The Lifeline offers hope and reassurance instantly with compassionate, professional intervention through calls, texts and chats, helping  to reduce stigma and build a healthier Louisiana,” said LDH Secretary Stephen Russo.

OBH set a goal of reaching vulnerable populations and expanding the reach of this important  mental health resource. OBH also led an effort to increase the in-state answer rate, recognizing that Louisiana-staffed call centers were best positioned to understand local culture, direct  callers to additional mental health resources and have familiarity with local stressors such as  natural disasters.

“Louisiana’s trained call center responders have been working to provide a robust response to  crisis situations and to Louisiana residents who are experiencing emotional stress over the last year, and we know that their work has saved lives,” said OBH Assistant Secretary Karen Stubbs. “Our goal with 988 has been to reduce the stigma around mental health, remove barriers and ensure Louisiana residents can make additional connections to local resources. We are making  significant progress, but we hope to expand our reach even more as we begin our second year   of 988.”

Since launch, call volume for 988 has increased by 11%, and the in-state answer rate rose from  64% in June 2022 to a rate ranging from 85% to 91% over the last year. The Lifeline offers specialized supports to veterans and their families, Spanish speakers, LGBTQ+ youth, and deaf  and hard of hearing people. Veterans, service members and their families (press 1) Spanish speakers (press 2) LGBTQ+ youth and people under the age of 25 (press 3) Deaf and hard of  hearing people (use your preferred relay service or dial 711 then 988) 988 is also offering text  and chat for those who prefer not to call. Louisiana has responded to an average of 224 texts  and 157 chats per month since December 2022.

The Louisiana Department of Health includes the Office of Public Health, Office of Aging &  Adult Services, Office of Behavioral Health, Office for Citizens with Developmental Disabilities,  and Healthy Louisiana (Medicaid).



Times Wins Honors at Louisiana Press Assn

The Psychology Times earned second place in the prestigious General Excellence Award for its  division in the Louisiana Press Association Better Newspaper Competition for 2022-2023, announced in late July. The General Excellence honor is sought after by newspapers as a top award in the divisions.

The Times staff members achieved a third place in Best Special Section for their community  awards project. Julie Nelson earned both a second and third place for Best Single Editorial  for her opinion pieces on the medical and healthcare professions and health outcomes in  Louisiana.

Tom Stigall’s photography composition won third place for Best Photo Package. Susan Brown and Jake Nelson-Dooley won second place recognition for Best Overall Website. Jake Nelson-Dooley placed third for his Best Web Project.

The Times-Picayune-New Orleans Advocate, The Ruston Daily Leader, The St. Tammany  Farmer (Covington), The Pointe Coupee Banner, Central City News, and the Loyola Maroon (New Orleans) earned Newspaper of the Year honors in their respective divisions in the Louisiana Press Association competition.

In the Freedom of Information Competition, The Times-Picayune was the winner, writing  about a sexual harassment scandal at a prep school and the efforts by wealthy donors to  cover it up.

The coveted “Freedom of Information” award originally came from an idea that Gordon  Nelson, long-time member of the Press Association and publisher of the Coushatta Citizen,  and Bob Holeman, current Psychology Times journalism consultant, presented to the  Louisiana Press Association in the 1980s.

The late Gordon and Lynn Nelson owned and operated the Coushatta Citizen, and were  parents of the Psychology Times publisher, Julie Nelson. Gordon and Lynn won the first  Freedom of Information award almost four decades ago.



Dr. Calamia Named for Early Career Honors

Dr. Matthew Calamia, Associate Professor of Psychology at Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, has been named for the Early Career Psychologist Award by the Louisiana  Psychological Association (LPA) for 2023.

LPA spokesperson, Dr. Amanda Raines said, “This year we are recognizing Dr. Matthew  Calamia. Dr. Calamia is an Associate Professor of Psychology and Director of the  Psychological Services Center at LSU. He is also an adjunct faculty member at the Institute for Dementia Research and Prevention at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center and has been affiliated with the Jefferson Neurobehavioral Group in New Orleans,” she said.

“Dr. Calamia has published over 100 peer-reviewed manuscripts, books, and book chapters  and presented his work at local, regional, and national conferences. He is a licensed clinical  psychologist with a designation in clinical neuropsychology providing direct patient care as  well as training to graduate students,” Raines said.

Dr. Calamia said, “I have spent the majority of my life in Louisiana. It was my dream to come  back and work at LSU and I have been beyond lucky to have the timing work out for that to  happen. It has been incredibly fulfilling to do training, research, and provide clinical services in my own community. I’m thankful to LPA for acknowledging my work with this award.”

As well as authoring peer-reviewed publications, Dr. Calamia has completed projects such  as the Keller-Lamar Health Foundation Validation of a Novel Web-Based Assessment of Cognitive and Emotional Functioning, as well as the Pennington Biomedical Center Nutrition  and Obesity Research Center Apathy, Unintentional Weight Loss, and Cognitive Decline in Late Life, with co-investigators, Drs. Owen Carmichael and Corby Martin.

Dr. Calamia provides direct patient care as well as training and supervising graduate  students with the neuropsychology emphasis.

Dr. Calamia’s contributions include several areas. In partnership with the Institute for  Dementia Research & Prevention at Pennington Biomedical Research Center, he and his team have explored predictors of cognitive change in cognitively healthy older adults and individuals with mild cognitive impairment. He also collaborates with the Adult Development and Aging Laboratory led by Dr. Katie Cherry at LSU.

Some of Dr. Calamia’s most innovative applications and research efforts involve technology.  He and his team are working on creating and validating computerized tools for use within a  variety of clinical populations. Currently they are looking at the effectiveness of incorporating a non-immersive virtual reality paradigm into functional rehabilitation for older adults with moderate cognitive impairment.

Dr. Calamia and his team have piloted virtual reality as a quality of life intervention for older adults in assisted living facilities. At Francois Bend Senior Living in Gonzales he and his team have residents participate in enjoyable activities using virtual reality headsets.

“There is one resident there who is not from this area originally,” Dr. Calamia previously aid,  “who cried from being able to go and ‘visit’ her hometown––in what is basically VR Google  Maps––and each week she ‘visits other places she has lived and traveled. This is such a neat  technology for reminiscence and also escape given how people have been limited in that  due to the pandemic. We are planning to expand to other senior living communities,” he  said.

Dr. Calamia’s projects also look at using specific memory scores on list-learning tasks to  predict future cognitive decline. His team is examining the impact of natural disaster on health, well-being, and cognition in adults and older adults.

Among other goals, Dr. Calamia and his group are examining the benefit of a brief memory  screening program to community dwelling older adults.

“I have conducted studies examining predictors of cognition functioning and decline in older adults,” he explained previously. “These studies have sought to carefully unpack associations by moving beyond global measures of cognition or other variables and using  multiple measures as well as statistical techniques such as structural equation modeling to address gaps in prior research.”

Along with co-authors, Calamia has published numerous articles including, “Serial Position Effects on List Learning Tasks in Mild Cognitive Impairment and Alzheimer’s Disease,” in  Neuropsychology, and “Social factors that predict cognitive decline in older African American adults,” in International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.

Dr. Calamia is also involved in the study of the psychometrics for neuropsychological tests.  Some of this research involves using archival clinical data from the Psychological Services  Center and Jefferson Neurobehavioral Group and data collection at the Baton Rouge Clinic.

Current projects in this area include examining associations between measures of  noncredible performance and selfreport in clinical and forensic settings. He and his team  are also examining practice effects on neuropsychological tests of attention, the validity of  existing neuropsychological measures in diverse clinical samples, comparing the predictive  validity of multiple measures of everyday function in older adults with and without cognitive  impairment, and examining psychometric properties of self-report measures across the  lifespan.

“A major emphasis of my research,” he said, “has been on examining the validity of  psychological or neuropsychological measures including the validity of measures in terms of  their hypothesized brain-behavior relationships, examining the validity of new scores  derived from existing measures or new measures being used in the field, and examining the degree to which different measures of related constructs yield different associations with  cognitive functioning,” he said.

He and his team members have authored, “The Incremental Validity of Primacy as a  Predictor of Everyday Functioning,” which is in press at Neuropsychology. “Psychometric  Properties of the Expanded Version of the Inventory of Depression and Anxiety Symptoms  (IDAS-II) in a Sample of Older Adults,” is another example of his team’s contribution, this one for Aging & Mental Health. Advance Online Publication.

Dr. Calamia has conducted meta-analyses on practice effects and test-reliability for a  number of popular neuropsychological measures. “Both of these projects involved the  integration of a large amount of published literature. The practice effects publication  included nearly 1600 individual effect sizes,” Dr. Calamia explained.

Findings were published in a prestigious journal read by neuropsychological researchers  and clinicians, The Clinical Neuropsychologist, and designated for CE credit.

Other examples of his work include, “Test-Retest Reliability and Practice Effects of the Virtual Environment  Grocery Store (VEGS),” in Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology; “Practical  Considerations for Evaluating Reliability in Ambulatory Assessment Studies,” in Psychological Assessment, and “The Robust Reliability of Neuropsychological Measures: Meta- Analyses of Test-Retest Correlations,” in The Clinical Neuropsychologist.

Dr. Calamia and his team are also conducting studies examining ethnic and racial disparities in cognitive aging. Collaborators in this area include Dr. Robert Newton at Pennington  Biomedical Research Center. Current projects include examining racial differences in the  association between trauma symptoms and their impact on cognitive and everyday function. They are also evaluating the utility of a novel cognitive screening measure in a diverse  sample of older adults and minority representation in neuropsychological research.

Dr. Calamia has led or been involved in neuroimaging studies using either the lesion  method or functional magnetic resonance imaging to study brain-behavior relationships in  patient populations. This research has focused on clinical populations with the aim of  improving understanding of the neural correlates of emotional and cognitive functioning.  “Examining the Neural Correlates of Psychopathology Using a Lesion-Based Approach,” in Neuropsychologia, is an example.

Throughout the variety of his work, Dr. Calamia is committed to issues around diversity  within neuropsychology. He participates in the Society for Black Neuropsychology mentorship program and is on the executive board of the recently formed Queer Neuropsychological Society. He has recruited graduate students from diverse backgrounds  into his lab. One of his students led a lab publication in the special issue on “Black Lives  Matter to Clinical Neuropsychologists” in The Clinical Neuropsychologist focused on  reporting practices and representation in neuropsychology studies.

In 2021, the National Academy of Neuropsychology named Dr. Calamia as the recipient of  their prestigious Early Career Award. The National Academy of Neuropsychology is the professional association for experts in the assessment and treatment of brain injuries and  disorders, and its members are at the forefront of cutting-edge research and rehabilitation  in the field of brain behavior relationships.

“I was excited,” Dr. Calamia said about the honor. “I worked in a neuropsychology lab at LSU  as an undergraduate. When that professor retired, I was lucky enough to be able to come  back home and start my own lab. Over the years, I’ve managed to recruit an amazing group  of graduate student mentees into my lab,” he said. “The work coming out of my lab is all a  shared effort and so this award is really theirs as much as it is mine. It’s nice to be  recognized and I hope this little boost in visibility makes future graduate applicants consider LSU.”

What are some of his future plans?

“As part of my sabbatical last fall, I learned more about the healthcare industry from  Covenant Health Network,” said Dr. Calamia. “The long-term care industry is facing immense
challenges with a large number of workers leaving the field. To support those workers, out of that partnership, we have recently received a grant with a colleague of mine in I/O  Psychology, Dr. Rebecca Brossoit,” he said.

“Dr. Brossoit and I will be developing an intervention for employees and organizational  leadership in long-term care facilities with the goal of reducing employee burnout and turnover.”



Worldviews Clash in Veto Session Results

In July 18, Louisiana lawmakers overturned Governor Edwards’ veto of a bill banning certain medical procedures for transgender children. House Bill 648 was the only one of 26 vetoes  by the governor that was overridden in the special session.

Representative Firment’s HB 648 bans the use of puberty-blockers, hormone treatment and gender-reassignment surgery for children under age 18. The veto required a super majority in both the House and the Senate chambers of the state. The House vote was 76 to 23 to  override. The Senate vote was 28 to 11.

Lawmakers failed to gather enough votes to overturn Edwards’ veto of two other bills with ongoing controversy regarding transgender issues. HB 466 would have prohibited discussion of gender identity and sexual orientation in classrooms and HB 81would have required  teachers to use birth names and pronouns of students associated with their birth certificate unless a student’s parent or guardian directs otherwise.

Neither were able to be overturned by the lawmakers. The vote on HB 466 was 68 in favor to  override and 29 against. The vote on HB 81 was 67 to override and 29 against.

Edwards said in a statement, “Today, I was overridden for the second time, on my veto of a  bill that needlessly harms a very small population of vulnerable children, their families, and  their health care professionals. I expect the courts to throw out this unconstitutional bill as  well.”

Attorney General Jeff Landry, said, “By overriding the governor’s veto of Rep. Gabe Firment’s  bill, we send a clear signal that woke liberal agendas that are destructive to children will not  be tolerated in Louisiana.”

In the June Senate Health and Welfare Committee hearing, Clinical psychologist, Dr. Clifton  Mixon, was among those who testified in opposition to HB 648.

“I work in a gender clinic that  prescribes hormone therapies to youth,” he said. “At the heart of this debate is mistrust in  our medical and mental health providers to provide ethical, individualized care without prejudice and based on best practices and established research,” Mixon said. “I’m here to  address these concerns in opposition to a mean-spirited bill that defies science and humanity.

“The evidence is clear––gender affirming medical interventions are safe and effective  treatment for gender dysphoria and resulting mental health problems for many trans youth. Unfortunately, you’ve been exposed to false information that misrepresents the established  research and practice guidelines on gender health care medicine. I am here with actual studies that can help you understand the actual facts. I have a doctoral degree with training  in how to conduct and interpret research,” he said.

“These medical interventions reduce risk for suicide and improve overall mental health  functioning and quality of life. We are not providing access to youth for whom it is not  appropriate.”

Psychologist, Dr. Jesse Lambert, also testified in opposition, representing the Louisiana  Psychological Association.

“A lot of research has been discussed today scientifically sound research that indicates that  this is a true phenomena and that individuals who are trans have suffered greatly.

“Citing from the American Psychological Association, we have data that indicates that  individuals who are trans experience more victimization, be that bullying, be that acts of  violence occurring in school. They feel more ostracized, more isolated and this generalizes  into relationships including close family relationships.”

He explained that a model of triage issues with different intensities and that practitioners  don’t automatically jump to biological modalities.

“If this bill should pass, psychologist would not be able to take part in a team based  approach, involving endocrinologists, psychiatrists, pediatricians and contribute to an  individual’s care from a holistic standpoint.”

Speaking in favor of his measure, Rep. Firment said, “Perhaps the most compelling scientific  evidence to consider today is the fact that several progressive European nations who  pioneered chemical and surgical sex change procedures like England, Sweden, and Finland  have completely reversed course on this issue[…].

Dr, Quenton Vanmeter, a pediatric endocrinologist from Atlanta, Georgia, cited evidence  from European countries that suggests that there is no benefit in transgender surgery or  hormonal treatment and that the suicide rate is not impacted.

Dr. Stephen Félix, a pediatrician, said, “The problem with the studies that the AEP reports  and others, they do not have significant randomized control trials. They have small sample  sizes, they have poor follow up, they have a lot of people lost to follow up, they have  individuals who they have a very short period of time that they follow them.” he said.

“The studies that are coming out of Sweden, Finland or long-term studies where they looked  extensively and they said, ‘wait, this is all wrong.’ The quality of evidence that supports this  transition therapy is poor. The level of evidence that we’re presenting is strong.”

Sen. Mills said that he just needed them to understand organizations’ views. Dr. Griffin said,  “Policies are created by organizations, a small group of individuals in organizations. That is  then broadcast out and physicians like ourselves, in the trenches, […] “



Pointing to New Treatments New Study Links Gut Bacteria to Autis3

Researchers at Simons Foundation’s Autism Research Initiative (SFARI) have identified a  microbial signature for autism spectrum disorder, a finding that offers information about  how the gut microbiome influences this neurological syndrome.

The study was published on June 26 in Nature Neuroscience and challenges the idea that  autism is a primarily genetic condition. The new research suggests that environmental  factors may be behind the rise in rates of autism.

The researchers noted, “The presence of this core microbiome in combination with the  depletion of most ASD-associated taxa further suggests a causal role for these  microorganisms in shaping autism symptoms. “Despite our inability to determine actual metabolomic profiles at this point (Methods), our  metabolite analysis based on microbiome-derived and brain-derived metabolite inferences  as well as the dietderived metabolite data reveals a picture of a unifying and distinct ASD  functional architecture. With the brain, the immunome and diet as major effectors, the  multi-factorial complexity of ASD is reduced to a multi-scale set of interactions centered  around human and bacterial metabolism that, in turn, determines phenotypic, genomic and metagenomic attributes via multiple feedback loops.”



Chicago Prof. School PsyD Program at Xavier Closing

Rumors were circulating last month that The Chicago School of Psychology Xavier would be closing. The Times asked officials from the school about these rumors and on June 6, 2023, Vivien Hao, Public Relations Manager, provided a statement.

“The Chicago School’s New Orleans clinical psychology program will not be accepting new students starting Fall of 2023. University officials said several factors went into this decision, including future enrollment projections,” noted Ms. Hao.

“The University emphasizes all current students will continue to be supported towards completion of their programs, regardless of whether they decide to stay or transfer to another The Chicago School campus,” she wrote.

“The Chicago School’s leadership team is evaluating the long-term future of the New Orleans program in consultation with the American Psychological Association,” Hao said.

The American Psychological Association (APA) currently lists The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, New Orleans (Clinical PsyD) as “Accredited, on contingency,” with the next site visit scheduled for 2023.

The first class of doctoral students started at The Chicago School of Professional at Xavier in 2015.

The effort was innovative in a number of ways, including getting a head start on aligning with new standards for “Health Service Psychologists” to be approved by the American Psychological Association.

The Xavier based program is also innovative because it focused on applied clinical psychology specifically for the diverse and multicultural context in south Louisiana, and on “growing PsyD Psychologists here,” explained Dr. Christoph Leonhard in a previous interview, the then department Chair. “We developed the program to meet the needs of local social service providers of psychological services and of the community,” he said, “and frankly, to provide culturally competent services by people who understand this community, which is a very unique place in many ways.”

The program organizers said, at the time, that they limited their recruitment to students inside Louisiana. The hope was to grow PsyD psychologists here, and who will remain here, in order to serve the sometimes unique needs of the Louisiana culture. “Studies indicate that newly graduated psychologists who have to leave the state to get an advanced degree do not return,” said Leonhard previously. “So the emphasis of this program is to educate and train our own.”

To help them reach this goal, Leonhard and his colleagues created an Advisory Committee of local professionals, including two area psychologists, the late Dr. Janet Matthews and Dr. Michele Larzelere.

Dr. Kelli Johnson took over as Department Chair in 2018 and more recently, Dr. Margaret Smith serves as Department Chair. Current faculty  members Dr. Richard Niolon, Dr. J. Michael Bradley and Dr. Adriana Pena.

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology is a private university with its main campus in Chicago, Illinois. Established in 1979, The Chicago School of Professional Psychology was primarily focused on the professional application of psychology. It currently has about 6,000 students across all campuses and online, according to its .

Louisiana State University (LSU) hosts the only other clinical psychology  doctoral program accredited by APA in Louisiana. LSU also offers an accredited school psychology doctoral
program. Louisiana Tech University offers an accredited counseling doctoral program and Tulane is accredited for their school psychology program.








A Review by Alvin G. Burstein

BlackBerry premiered February 2023 at the 73rd Berlin International Film Festival. Although it won no awards there, following its release to theatres and its on-line streaming, it attracted a great deal of positive comment. Directed by Matt Johnson, who also played one of the three main characters, Doug Fregin, the film is obviously a critical success. Rotten Tomatoes, the review aggregator reported an astonishing 98% positive reviews by critics and an impressive 91% positive comments by viewers, and CBS announced that it planned a mini-series using an augmented version of the film in the Fall of2023.

Many of the reviews remarked on the film’s humor, others saw it as a political critique of capitalism in the mode of The Wolf of Wall Street. Intrigued, I found it on Amazon Prime. I thought it, despite comedic elements, deeply tragic.

In what may be a Jungian synchronicity in 1946, Dick Tracy, Chet Goulds’s comic strip detective, Dick Tracy, adopted a mobile two-way communication device, the wrist radio, anticipating a host of communication devices.

In 1973, Martin Cooper, the head of the communications division of Motorola made the first mobile phone call on Sixth Avenue in New York City, using Motorola’s brick-sized device. In 1996, U. S. Robotics introduced Palm Pilot, a PDA (personal digital assistant). BlackBerry, combining the functions of a PDA and a cell phone emerged in 1999, and by 2011 had acquired 85 million users. This film is basically a biopic describing the BlackBerry’s  emergence and its 2016 death—and telling us about the people involved in its meteoric rise and fall.

Research In Motion LLC (RIM) was a Canadian firm manufacturing electronic gear, led by Mike Lazardis (played by Jay Baruchel), and Doug Fregin (played by Matt Johnson). These two entrepreneurs had assembled a madcap group of workers and had resolved to build a
device that would combine the functions of a PDA (personal digital assistant) and mobile phone, encrypting the data and minimizing the electronic traffic. They cobbled together a prototype device, and, seeking funds to begin manufacture, approached the third main character, Jim Balsillie, a corporate shark, played by Glenn Howerton.

The film opens with Lazardis and Fregin nervously awaiting an interview with Balsillie in the latter’s office. Lazardis is nervous and rattled by a noise coming from an electronic device on Balsillie’s desk. He opens it, notes that it was made in China, “the Mark of the Beast,” and repairs it using a paper clip as tool. When Balsillie arrives he shows no interest in their device, and the partners leave, crushed. A few days later, however, Balsillie arrives at RIM and announces that he will invest in their device if he is awarded a major interest in the infant firm and co-CEO status. Overriding Fregin’s concerns, Lazaridis agrees.

Balsillie aggressively reshapes the organization, ultimately diverting Lazaridis’s attention from the quality of the product to a focus on the acquisition of customers. To meet the needs of the exploding numbers, Balsillie also recruits engineering superstars, using back-dated stock options, and office managers who convert the mad-cap but dedicated staff into
frightened wage slaves. Disgusted, Fregin leaves the company.

BlackBerry becomes a major player in the PDA/cell phone field, but, increasingly plagued by mainframe overloads, service failures and increasing supply demands, Lazaradis is ultimately persuaded by Balsillie too outsource manufacture of the device to China.

When Apple’s iphone, with a keyboard on its screen, hits the market, BlackBerry plummeted. The film depicts federal agents launching inquiries into illicit stock option arrangements and Balsillie’s foiled attempts to acquire a hockey team to move to Ontario diverting his attention from BlackBerry. The final scenes show Lazardis throwing Balsillie to the wolves to avoid prosecution, and then, surrounded by boxes of myriad defective BlackBerries bearing the Mark of the Beast, absorbed in an impossible task of—one by one—repairing them.

Lazardis is like Icarus in Greek mythology, whose waxen wings melted when he ignored his father, Daedelus’ advice, and exhilarated, flew too close to the sun, melting his wings and
plunging to his death. Hubris, error rooted in pride, that Aristotle saw as the core of tragedy, had swept Lazardis to his doom.

In this biopic, the director opted to screen chyrons describing the outcome for the protagonists: Lazardis resigns from RIM; Balsillie also avoids prison; Fragin, having sold his stock at  BlackBerry’s peak, is a billionaire.

Stress Solutions

Test Your Stress IQ

There is a reason we talk about stress. And, we all do talk about stress. Lately, it has become  a major topic. There is so much change in the world around us – everything from the  weather to our daily schedules to our bodies as we get older every day. So, we should all  know how stress affects us. Each of us is affected in unique combinations of ways by stress. And, each of us would define different things as being “stressful.” For example, one person  might find loud noises very stressful. Another could be totally unaffected by loud sounds or  noises. I imagine that many of you try to help colleagues, friends, family, or clients with their stress. So, why not test your stress IQ.

1. Name four symptoms that stress is affecting your brain.

2. Stress is the body’s reaction to harmful situation. Do the harmful situations have to be real?

3. Can plants reduce stress?

4. Can a mother’s uncontrolled stress affect her unborn child?

5. Can stress trigger an autoimmune disease in humans?

6. How does a sleep-deprived bee show stress?

7. It is just a fanciful belief that seeing birds can reduce your stress. True or False.

8. What is the first thing that is lost when your schedule gets too busy?

9. Growing up in poverty can have a lasting impact on a child’s brain. True or False.

10. Chronic stress can harm a lot of things but one thing it doesn’t do is age you prematurely. True or False.

Answers to Stress IQ Test – Each correct answer earns 10 points. A perfect score is 100.

1. If you listed 4 of the following 6 general symptoms indicating that stress is affecting your brain, give yourself 1 point. a. Constant worrying; b. Racing thoughts; c. Forgetfulness and disorganization; d. Inability to focus; e. Poor judgment; f. Being pessimistic or seeing only the negative side

2. No, whether the harmful situations is real or perceived or even “just” imagined, if you feel threatened, a chemical reaction occurs in the body to help you deal with the situation. That chemical reaction or the stress response is known as “fight or flight.”

3. Yes, some indoor plants can reduce stress. Of course, a walk in nature and the beauty of nature have long been known to make people feel better. Science backs up more benefits to keeping indoor plants around you. Indoor plants improve our mental health. A study at the University of Vermont showed that visual just seeing plants in the space around you helps reduce stress in only five minutes. Another study showed that plants in the same room while working increases a person’s ability to pay attention and stay focused (J. Environmental Psychology). Flowers are even more impressive. Research at Rutgers showed an immediate  impact on happiness. One hundred percent of the people in the study immediately responded with a smile.

4. Definitely. A pregnant woman’s chronic stress during pregnancy can cause behavioral and emotional problems of childhood that last into adulthood. The fetal brain responds to maternal chronic stress by making subtle changes in the development of the brain. These subtle changes lead to behavioral issues as the baby grows, such as ADD/ADHD, high levels of anxiety, learning differences, and even autism.

5. Yes. Almost all research papers on the topic of autoimmune disease start by saying that there is a multifactorial group of causes, including genetic, hormonal, some environmental and immunological factors. Despite the known causes, at least 50% of autoimmune diseases can be attributed to “unknown trigger factors.” And, that is where stress as a trigger fits in. Subjects of retrospective studies on autoimmune disease have identified that they experienced an unusual amount of emotional stress prior to onset of an autoimmune disease.

6. Some bee species who are sleep deprived perform their waggle dances with less  precision. The “waggle dance” of a bee is their equivalent of a GPS. So, a sleep deprived bee who is supposed to be communicating with the rest of the hive as to the direction of food could be off in the directions they are giving the others.

7. False. A study done at King’s College London examined the immediate effects on well- being when the 1,292 study subjects were in green spaces of nature and seeing/hearing birds at the same time. After statistical analysis the data showed that people rated their well-being in the moment highest when birds were present. The analysis eliminated the presence of nature (trees, plants, and water) thus isolating the positive effects of birds on
human emotions. The positive effects were found regardless of whether the participant had a prior diagnosis of depression/anxiety or no mental health issues.

8. The first thing that drops out of your schedule when work bears down is exercise. Aerobic exercise can reduce stress but if done in sufficient amounts, aerobic exercise can increase the length of “telomeres.” An important study done at U. of California proved that exercising at least 3 times a week for about ½ hour over a 6-month period can slow down cellular aging, which is measured by telomere length.

9. True. In general, people know many of the negative effects of poverty. What has not been well known is how childhood poverty coupled with stress might affect brain function, particularly the brain’s function of regulating emotions. One longitudinal study found that the amount of chronic stress from childhood through adolescence, including substandard housing, crowding, noise, family violence and separation, determined the relationship between childhood poverty and prefrontal brain function when the participant was trying to suppress negative emotions.

10. False. Chronic stress can cause premature aging and illness because the constant overproduction of cortisol reduces the supply of telomerase and that prevents the cell from reversing the effects of stress. In other words, your telomeres get shorter because of the stress and cannot be lengthened when the stress is too great.

Gov. Vetoes Bill That Would Have Restricted Discussion of Sexual Orientation in Schools

HB 466 by Rep. Dodie Horton, RHaughton, would have prohibited the discussion of gender  identity and sexual orientation in public schools, but was vetoed by Gov. Edwards on Jun 29.

The proposed law, passed by the house with a vote of 74 to 25, and passed by the Senate with a vote of 29 to 9, would have prohibited a public school teacher, employee, or other presenter at a school from doing any of the following in grades kindergarten through 12:
(1) Incorporating into classroom instruction or discussion topics of sexual orientation or gender identity in a manner that deviates from state content standards or curricula developed or approved by the public school governing authority.
(2) Covering the topics of sexual orientation or gender identity during any extracurricular activity.
(3) Discussing his personal sexual orientation or gender identity.

Proposed law provides that no public school employee shall use a pronoun for a student that differs from the pronoun that aligns with the student’s sex unless the student’s parent provides written permission.

In his veto letter, Gov. Edwards said, ” House Bill 466 aims to prohibit teachers, school employees, or other school presenters from engaging in discussions regarding sexual orientation and gender identity. This bill unfairly places vulnerable children at the front lines of a vicious culture war.

Further, the language would lead to absurd consequences. As passed, the mere mention of one’s spouse who happens to be the same gender could cause the school employee or presenter to run afoul of the law without ill intentions and educators would be prohibited from teaching United States Supreme Court jurisprudence (see Obergfell v. Hodges) as well as from the Bible, which was just authorized as a course of instruction (see the Book of Leviticus).

“The bill is also unduly harsh as it allows students, teachers, and others serving students to totally disregard a student’s autonomy by forcing the student to answer to pronouns that they do not wish to use. Every parent would have to provide written permission to the school to allow or direct the employee to use pronouns differing from pronouns used in accordance with the child’s gender assigned at birth. This forced rejection of self-identity is particularly cruel to a child and this cruelty may adversely affect the child in their formative years. […]

“It is the duty of our schools to create an environment that fosters and supports all of the children of our state, to help them succeed academically and professionally. As I stated in response to another unnecessary and harmful bill from a previous session, ‘the real harm of this bill is that it would set as the policy of the State of Louisiana that there is something wrong with these children and that they should be treated differently from whom they really are. All of us are sons and daughters of this great state, and we should do and be better than that.’ “.