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Dr. Kaplan Delights Audience of Psychologists and Nutritionists at Fall-Winter Workshop in BR

Dr. Bonnie Kaplan, clinical psychologist and winner of the 2019 Excellence in Complementary and Alternative Medicine award, delighted audiences at the Fall-Winter Workshop of the Louisiana Psychological Association, held November 1 in Baton Rouge.

Kaplan presented her work in nutritional mental health and laid out a convincing and interesting picture of how mental illness often involves nutritional deficiencies. LPA President, Dr. Alan Coulter, said, “Bonnie Kaplan, our keynote speaker, inspired us all with startling facts and practical recommendations.”

Nutritionists from the Louisiana Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics attended along with the psychologists from around the state. Monica McDaniels, MS, RDN, LDN, and board member on the Louisiana Board of Examiners in Dietetics and Nutrition, and Liaison to Louisiana Academy of Dietetics and Nutrition, also attended and was welcomed by Dr. Coulter.

Dr. Kaplan joined local experts including McNeese’s Dr. Linda Brannon, author of the popular textbook, Health Psychology, Dr. Susan Andrews, author of Stress Solutions for Pregnant Moms, and Dr. Charles Frey, IV, expert in chronic pain conditions, for the one-day event, “Advances in Health Psychology.”

Kaplan treated the audience to a strong theoretical argument about the prevalence of mental illness. Prior to 1750, she explained, only one percent of the population suffered from mental and emotional disorders. Now that figure has risen to over 20 percent. She said, “Is anyone still believing that this increase is solely due to more referrals and more sensitive diagnoses?”

She laid out the foundational theory and current research for the role of nutrition in the brain and the linkage and evidence for mental disorders in cognitive functioning.

Kaplan said that the role of nutrients in the brain is not a mystery and should be taught in elementary school or at least in medical school, but it is not.

She pointed out that 48% of the caloric intake of all Canadians, and likely even higher for Americans she said, is completely empty of nutrients. She asked the question, “What happens when we eliminate one half of the nutrients in our diets?”

Kaplan made the case that depression, irritability, social withdrawal, self-mutilation, inability to concentrate, and other mental health symptoms originate after six months of nutrient deprivation.

Her work revolves around multiple nutrients supplements and she made the case that magic bullet thinking it’s not helpful. Multi-nutrients are required as a foundation because the nutrients are synergistic and in work in combination. Past research has resulted in the misleading idea that single nutrients are not effective or less effective than desired. The situation is compounded by individual differences, which also can impact results.

Benefits of nutritional treatment for mental conditions especially include resilience to stress PTSD and ADHD, she explained. Kaplan reported on post-disaster research with victims of earthquakes, floods, massacres, and fires and how nutritional treatment was equal or better to other types of support.

Kaplan also spoke about the emerging field of nutritional mental health as it relates to inflammation, the microbiome, oxidative stress and mitochondrial function in patients. She encouraged the audience to think of epigenetic effects of nutrients and the importance of these elements in total health.

Her message included the idea that an individual presenting with a psychiatric disorder should be evaluated for suboptimal nutrition as a first step, and assured psychologists and the nutritionists in the audience that this is within the scope of practice for all those wanting a thorough review of the origin of the symptoms.

Dr. Kaplan lives in Canada and lectures internationally on the importance of improving nutrient intake to prevent and treat psychiatric symptoms. As a researcher, she questioned the longstanding paradigm of single nutrient research to establish the scientific basis for a broad spectrum micronutrient approach, eschewing industry funding in order to safeguard the integrity of her research. She has published widely on the biological basis of developmental disorders and mental health – particularly, the contribution of nutrition to brain development and brain function. She has also established two charitable funds in support of nutrient research, so far distributing $750,000 for clinical trials at universities in Canada, the United States and New Zealand.

Dr. Kaplan is a professor emerita in the Cumming School of Medicine at the University of Calgary. In the late 1990’s, she challenged the conventional model of psychiatric research by studying the role of nutrition in mental illness and brain disorders. She dealt with skepticism and attacks on her work for over fifteen years, resolutely meeting and exceeding calls for evidence. Her research provided the initial groundbreaking data showing that treatment with a broad spectrum of micronutrients, carefully formulated, could be used instead of psychotropic drugs to treat bipolar disorder and ADHD.

In 2013, Dr. Kaplan became one of the founding members of the International Society of Nutritional Psychiatry Research (, an organization that emphasizes the importance of nutrition “above the neck.” In 2016, she retired from full-time academic work, but is still passionate about supporting young researchers who are studying nutrition and mental health. To help them do so, Dr. Kaplan has established two donor-advised charitable funds, one in Canada and one in the United States.

Endowed Chair of Psychology Established at University of Tampa Honoring Dr. Janet Matthews

In November, Dr. David Stern, University of Tampa Provost, announced the creation of the Janet R. Matthews Endowed Chair of Psychology, established by Dr. Lee Matthews, honoring his wife, Janet, who passed away in March.

According to the official announcement, the endowed chair is the first in the University’s history to be named after a UT alumna or alumnus, and the first endowed chair outside the Sykes College of Business. The endowment will be used to support a new faculty chair position in the Department of Psychology, within UT’s College of Social Sciences, Mathematics and Education.

Dr. Stern said that the creation of an endowed chair in psychology is a “wonderful addition to one of our strongest and most popular programs.”

“It will enable us to recruit an accomplished teacher-scholar whose work will enhance our reputation, attract students who want the opportunity to study and collaborate in research with the chair holder and will be a fitting honor for two of our alumni who have had nationally renowned careers in psychology,” Stern said.

The honor commemorates Janet and Lee Matthews meeting as freshmen at The University of Tampa (UT) in 1962, where they married as undergraduates and went on to become established and renowned clinical and academic psychologists. More than 55 years after meeting, Janet and Lee had planned to make a significant gift to UT and, in honor of Janet, established the Endowed Chair, said Stern.

Jack Geller, dean of the College of Social Sciences, Mathematics and Education, said the gift will substantively impact both faculty and our students in psychology.

“The Janet R. Matthews Ph.D. Endowed Chair of Psychology, along with the associated Drs. Janet and Lee Matthews Psychology Student Award, is by far the most comprehensive gift to date in the College of Social Sciences, Mathematics and Education,” Geller said.

In recognition of the gift, UT has also established the Drs. Janet and Lee Matthews Psychology Award, which will be given annually to an outstanding rising senior psychology major.   “Endowed chairs are among the most generous and critical gifts in higher education and support academic excellence,” said Ronald Vaughn, UT president. “And having it named after two esteemed psychologists brings prestige to the University and will certainly help us attract outstanding faculty.

Dr. Lee Matthews spoke at the ceremony. “This gift is to honor all of our former professors at The University of Tampa, who not only encouraged us, but set an example of the meaning of what it was to be an undergraduate teacher and mentor,” Dr. Matthews said. “And, the ‘non-academic lessons’ that Janet and I obtained such as supporting the local community, building
relationships and supporting future generations were all values that we learned at The University of Tampa.”

“Janet’s experience at UT resulted in her becoming a mentor to generations of undergraduate students,” Matthews said. “After 35 years of teaching, more than 37 of her former undergraduates had doctoral degrees in psychology, and at the time she became Emerita Professor, there were another 19 former students in doctoral programs. In addition, around 25 of her former students obtained other graduate degrees, in counseling, psychology, and social work.”

“Janet’s vision for the endowed psychology chair was so that future generations of UT students would have the same opportunities to be encouraged and mentored to pursue further education in psychology and/or related fields as was provided to us by our former professors,” he said. “It was not only academically, but the ‘nonacademic lessons’ we obtained such as volunteer involvement in the local community, a sense of responsibility, a ‘can I help you’ attitude, building relationships, and supporting future generations. I hope you can see that these were all values that we learned at the University of Tampa and still exist to this day in the current students and why we are donors.”

Dr. Janet Matthews, “cherished and esteemed” colleague to many in the psychology community, died March 31, 2019, in Metairie, Louisiana, after a struggle with cancer. The outstanding service and accomplishments of her life left an “indelible mark on her colleagues, her students, her profession, and her community,” said a message from the Louisiana Psychological Association upon her passing.

Dr. Matthews was a clinical and neuropsychologist, and held the diplomat in clinical from the American Board of Professional Psychology. She served as Full Professor at Loyola University, served on the Board of Directors of the American Psychological Association, and was named Distinguished Psychologist by the Louisiana Psychological Association, among many other achievements.

Governor: FBI Crime Data Shows Decline in Louisiana’s Murder Rate

Gov. John Bel Edwards issued the following statement on FBI crime data released that shows violent crime in Louisiana has decreased, with fewer murders in 2018. Louisiana’s murder rate decreased by 7.8 percent, a faster decrease than the national murder rate.

Gov. Edwards said, “Today’s FBI crime data shows decreases in violent crime and murder in Louisiana. We also saw decreases in property crime, including robbery. While there is still too much crime, we are moving toward a safer, less violent future. I commend the local, state and federal law enforcement officers who work tirelessly to keep our communities safe. These statistics reflect the first full year of FBI data after the passage of criminal justice reform. The decrease in violent crime reaffirms what Republicans, Democrats, faith leaders, business leaders and law enforcement officials said at the time of reform’s passage: we can make our state safer with commonsense reforms that focus on non-violent offenders and invest in crime prevention. That’s why our Louisiana reforms were mirrored by what President Trump and congressional leaders of both parties passed at the federal level last year.”

From FBI data release:

Overall violent crime decreased by 3.4 percentage points in Louisiana.

Louisiana’s murder rate was 11.4 per 100,000 people, which is a decline from 12.3 since the 2017 data.

Louisiana’s murder rate decreased by 7.8 percent from 2017 to 2018, outpacing the national decrease of 6.8 percent.

Property crimes went down by 2.7 percent from 2017 to 2018.

Psychology Board Holds Long Range Meeting & Rules Hearing

The state psychology board held a meeting on October 10 and 11 to review and discuss their objectives for the 2019– 2020 fiscal year, and to conduct a public hearing to review Rules.

The public hearing was held 9:30 am to 11:30 am on Thursday, October 10 at the board’s offices on South Sherwood Forest Boulevard in Baton Rouge. The stated goal of the hearing was to conform with Act 454 of the 2018 legislative session so that interested persons have
the opportunity to comment on any of the many Rules of the board, especially when the person believes the rule might be “…contrary to law, outdated, unnecessary, overly complex, heart burdensome,” noted the board’s agenda hand officials.

The chair, Dr. Koren Boggs, said that her goal was to discuss the objectives for the next year and “Tighten up our policies and procedures, to be consistent with rules and law.”

The board meeting was conducted by Dr. Boggs an attended by members Dr. Amy Henke, Vice Chair, Dr. Gina Gibson, Dr. Gregory Gormanous, Dr. Michelle Moore and Executive Director Jaime Monic and board attorney Courtney Newton.

Also attending were representatives of the Louisiana Psychological Association (LPA) Dr. Kim VanGeffen, Co-Chair of LPA Professional Affairs, and LPA President Dr. Alan Coulter. Also attending were Dr. Joe Comaty, Dr. Darlyne Nemeth, and joining at the luncheon were attorneys Lloyd Lunceford and Amy Lowe.

Past-member of the board, Dr. Jesse Lambert, and Dr. Carmen Broussard, who served on the Licensed Specialist in School Psychology Advisory Committee, attended and were honored at the luncheon on Thursday.

During the formal hearing on Thursday morning, verbal and written comments were provided on topics such as examinations, continuing education, supervision and other Rules.

The agenda for the long-range planning meeting included a discussion of comments received during the morning hearing and efforts to apply for comments and develop objectives for moving forward in the coming year.

Honors Drs. Broussard and Lambert for Service Psychology Board Holds Long-Range Meeting & Rules Hearing, cont’d Specifics topics listed were policy revisions to the oral examination process, specialty designation versus health services provider or general applied psychologist labeling, and adopting opinions and guidelines for tele-supervision. Also listed for discussion was registration of unlicensed assistants, issues related to a masters level licensing, and reciprocal licensing.

Additionally, topics to have been discussed included jurisprudence examinations and the EPPP2.

Finally, topics regarding continuing education requirements, complaint adjudication process, and any other requests for changes in the rules received during the earlier hearing, were to be included in the two-day event.

The board recently sent out a survey to licensees requesting their opinions about continuing education hours and the amount of formal versus informal credits required, and also polling licensees about the use of psychological assistants.

The rules hearing was mandated by Act 454 of the regular 2018 Legislative Session.


Joker has been criticized as a splatter film likely to encourage copycat gun violence. The movie does—trigger warning— contain some gory scenes, but it is much more complex than an effort to shock or a celebration of violence. Symbolism, social criticism, psychopathology, the human need for affirmation, surrealism and a virtuoso acting performance make a heady mix.

In the superhero universe, the Joker is Batman’s iconic foe. The accounts of their battles are retold in many accounts, in film and in print. This film does include a retelling of eight-yearold Bruce Wayne’s horrified childhood witness of his parents’ murder. However, this story’s protagonist is Arthur Fleck, played by Jaoquin Phoenix in an Oscar worthy performance, and his evolution from a seedy, underpaid entertainment clown into Batman’s bane.

As the film opens Fleck, in a clown outfit, is trying to attract attention to a retail sale by pirouetting with balletic grace, holding a huge wooden sign. It is snatched from him by a street gang. He chases them into an alley to recover the sign and is badly beaten by them, and the sign destroyed, epitomizing Fleck’s status as victim that is the film’s emotional center, and the driving force of his becoming the Joker.

He is a victim in another way. He suffers from involuntary fits of laughter unrelated to any mood appropriate feeling—probably the psychiatric disorder called pseudobulbar affect. Fleck’s aspiration to become famous as a standup comedian is unrealistic, of course, but the remarkable irony of someone unable to control his laughter wanting to make others laugh—a joker—should not be lost. Another cruel irony in the film is Fleck, who wants desperately to be known, must wear a mask in order to make a living and makes an ultimate decision to own the mask, to become Joker.

But while a comedian is a joker, not all jokers are comedians. Jokers are also wild cards that juggle the odds in card games. Like the Tarot card the Fool, like royal jesters, like the Loki of Norse mythology, the joker is a cultural symbol of the urge to upset the order of things, to generate novelty or chaos. Fleck may not succeed in becoming a famous comedian, but he does bring chaos to the streets. His mad career upsets the efforts of mayor candidate, millionaire Thomas Wayne, Bruce’s father, who pledges to stamp out crime and disorder on the streets of Gotham.

Gotham is crime ridden, partly because many of its residents are impoverished, as well as disadvantaged. When, after being robbed and beaten, Fleck returns to the entertainment clowns’ locker room at the agency that employs them, one of his colleagues gives him a gun. “There are animals out there. You need to protect yourself,” he says. When Fleck’s gun spills out of his outfit while he is entertaining at a children’s hospital, he loses his job. To make matters worse, the clinic at which Fleck gets his treatment runs into budget problems and he loses his therapist and his access to medication that helps control his symptoms.

Fleck’s thirst for fame is a transmutation of his wish to be recognized, to be seen, in self psychology terms, to have a stabilizing self-object.

What gives the movie its surreal element is a frequent deliberate ambiguity about whether we are sharing one of Fleck’s fantasies of being famous or of being loved, or an objective reality.

Early in the movie we watch Fleck as he talks with the psychotherapist at the free clinic. The therapist is straight-faced, given to repetitive stock questions, clearly un-empathic, if systematic. That session bookends with another session with a different but equally un-empathic psychotherapist as the movie ends. Fleck ragefully confronts her with her inability to see, to really see him. The camera cuts away from the scene and opens on one of Fleck gallivanting down a hallway leaving a track of red footprints. He disappears from view, and we see attendants rushing back and forth in a Keystone Kop pursuit.

It’s ambiguous. You can decide for yourself, but I take it to be a surreal description of the Joker’s leaving this movie to enter Batman’s world.

Veterans’ Suicide Rate Still Increasing

Based on data from the 2019 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report, released in September, the suicide rate is still increasing, noted

The total population of veterans declined by 18% during that span of years studied, but more than 6,000 veterans died by suicide annually. The reported noted that more than 6,100 veterans died by suicide in 2017, an increase of 2% over 2016 and a total increase of 6% since 2008, the report found.

Key results from the report include the following:

• The number of Veteran suicides exceeded 6,000 each year from 2008 to 2017.

• Among U.S. adults, the average number of suicides per day rose from 86.6 in 2005 to 124.4 in 2017. These numbers included 15.9 Veteran suicides per day in 2005 and 16.8 in 2017.

• In 2017, the suicide rate for Veterans was 1.5 times the rate for non-Veteran adults, after adjusting for population differences in age and sex.

• Firearms were the method of suicide in 70.7% of male Veteran suicide deaths and 43.2% of female Veteran suicide deaths in 2017.

• In addition to the aforementioned Veteran suicides, there were 919 suicides among never federally activated formerNational Guard and Reserve members in 2017, an average 2.5 suicide deaths per day.

In a cover letter for the report, Dr. Richard Stone, the executive in charge of the Veterans Health Administration, said, “We cannot do this alone; we call on our community partners to join us in this effort.”

Stone said the the report changes the approach that previously grouped together current service members, former Guard and Reserve members (who were never Federally Activated), and Veterans eligible for care and services from VA.

The Department of Defense will publish a separate report of current service member suicide deaths. There are about 20 suicide deaths per day under that broader definition. The current report aims to give a more individualized look at the data of various sub-populations, Stone said. And so better inform targeted interventions to address suicide risk.

“Suicide is a national public health problem that disproportionately affects those who served our Nation. Preventing suicide among Veterans is VA’s top clinical priority. Our commitment in the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) is to help Veterans establish and maintain a healthy balance of unique protective factors to equip and empower them to live their fullest lives. We cannot do this alone; we call on our community partners to join us in this effort,” wrote Dr. Stone.

Psychologists at OCD Louisiana Hold Walk For Awareness Oct 20

OCD Louisiana will hold the 2nd Annual 1 Million Steps 4 OCD Walk on October 20, at City Park  in New Orleans. OCD Louisiana is an official affiliate of the International OCD Foundation with the goal of furthering the Foundation’s mission in the state of Louisiana.

OCD Louisiana program’s aim is to support all those affected by OCD, and to further educate the greater community about what it means to live with OCD and/or a related disorder. Melissa Dufrene, PsyD, Licensed Clinical Psychologist with Algiers Neurobehavioral Resource and Secretary for OCD Louisiana said, “This is our first fully official walk as an IOCDF affiliate. We are thrilled to be establishing our organization in the community and we consider this to be the most basic step of doing so.”

OCD Louisiana’s President is Kristin Fitch, PhD, Vice-President is Leslie Higgins, PsyD, Treasurer is Michele Carroll, PsyD, and Secretary is Melissa Dufrene, Psy.D. Suzanne Chabaud, PhD and Gail Pesses, MSW, LCSW, are Board Members.

The annual 1 Million Steps 4 OCD Walk is Co-hosted by the International OCD Foundation (IOCDF) and its Local Affiliates. According to the news release, the event, 1 Million Steps 4 OCD Walk, is the nation’s largest grassroots  awarenessbuilding and fundraising campaign to highlight obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and related disorders, including body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), hoarding disorder (HD), and body-focused repetitive disorders (BFRBs). Funds raised at the walk support the important programs of the International OCD Foundation and its partnering Local Affiliates, including OCD Louisiana. These programs aim to drive change through advocacy, education, research, and resources that improve the lives of those living with OCD and related disorders.

“OCD Louisiana invites all members of the community to join the 1 Million Steps 4 OCD Walk this October 20 at City Park, New Orleans to raise awareness, funds, and hope. We will be meeting by the Reunion Pavilion and Outdoor Classroom at the Big Lake. Participation is free.”

Dr. Dufrene said, “Our next project is to establish support groups that are accessible to the OCD community. The funding we raise with the walk will help us do that and more!”

President Dr. Kristin Fitch pointed out: “OCD Louisiana is an official affiliate of the International OCD Foundation. OCD Louisiana aims to provide education, resources, and support to the local Psychologists at OCD Louisiana Hold Walk for Awareness Oct 20, continued State News community to increase access to effective treatment and promote awareness about OCD and related disorders [Hoarding Disorder, Body Dysmorphic Disorder, Trichotillomania (Hair-Pulling Disorder), Excoriation (SkinPicking) Disorder, and other related disorders. We hope to develop a community for those affected by OCD and related disorders and the professionals who treat them.

Like our parent organization, OCD Louisiana is a donor-supported nonprofit organization run by volunteers. We welcome individuals who suffer from one of these conditions, their family members and friends, mental health professionals, researchers, educators, religious leaders, and/or other interested community members to become involved or attend any of our events.

“It’s estimated that 1 in 100 adults and 1 in 200 children live with OCD. Despite its prevalence, OCD is often misunderstood and misrepresented in the media as a personality quirk or helpful trait that keeps people organized. In reality, OCD is debilitating and severely impacts those living with the disorder, as well as their friends and family. The World Health Organization (WHO) has ranked OCD in the top ten of the most disabling illnesses of any kind in terms of lost earnings and diminished quality of life.”

Dr. Suzanne Chabaud, New Orleans clinical psychologist, is a Board Member at the OCD Louisiana, and an expert in hoarding. Chabaud earned national recognition for her work with the A&E television show, Hoarders, one of the first of these reality-type shows. In this captivating series, Dr. Chabaud and other experts, consulted with the show’s producers to help hoarders and their families accomplish the complex task of transforming how they think of themselves, their relationship to objects, and to change their lives.

The Times previously interviewed Chadaud about her work. “I am fascinated by hoarders’ real life journey through a world of stuff–what I call hoards,” Chabaud said. She noted that compulsive hoarding cannot be neatly defined or easily placed in the taxonomy of mental disorders. “It is a multidimensional disorder that affects and is affected by difficulties with emotional, cognitive, and sensory processes. Along with compulsive hoarding, clients can have symptoms in a number of overlapping categories, such as OCD, depression, dementia and even anorexia.”

Even though she had treated OCD intensely for many years and 70 percent of her clients have it, “… many clients are just beginning to admit their hoarding behavior,” she said.

Similar to other severe mental illnesses, the whole family can acquire symptoms. “Children become lonely and embarrassed, and can not bring home friends. If they are lucky, theyfind comfort and friendship in other people’s homes. Some stay overly close to the hoarding parent. These children watch the other parent become consumed by the disorder or distance from the home. I have seen the spouse of a hoarder work two jobs to support the hoarders purchases and sleep on the sofa because the hoarder took over every bedroom in the house.”

Her work extended to treat children of hoarders and in 2011, ABC’s prime time news magazine, 20/20, included Chabaud as part of a special report about children of hoarders and the psychological impact that they must manage as adults.

In an interview with WWL–TV in New Orleans, Dr. Chabaud commented, “Children of hoarders’ lives are deprived in so many ways. It’s not just the unhealthy environment; it’s the emotional contact with a significant adult. It’s the loss of skills for just maintaining their lives, down to bathing, making beds, organizing their belongings,” she said. “You just can’t put these children in foster homes. There has to be a program to help them through this.”

For those wanting more information about OCD Louisiana, Dr. Fitch invites interested psychologists to visit the website at and follow on facebook (, Instagram (, and twitter (

Psychology Board to Hold Rules Critique and Long-Range Meeting

On Thursday, October 10, the state psychology board will hold a hearing so that the public can give feedback on the Louisiana Administrative Law affecting licensed psychologists, also known as “Rules.” Thursday afternoon will include the board’s annual discussion about long-range plans.

The board gave notice for the Rule’s critique session stating that the “… purpose of allowing any interested person the opportunity to comment on any rule of the agency which the person believes is contrary to law, outdated, unnecessary, overly complex, or burdensome,” said the notice from the board.

The hearing to critique old Rules is mandated by a law passed in 2018 and authored by Representative Mark Wright. The law notes that an agency shall consider fully all written and oral comments and submissions concerning its rules.

The agency is to advise persons who provide oral comments that in order to be submitted to the legislative oversight committees, comments must be submitted in writing. The law also states that the agency is to issue a response to each submission describing the principal advantages and disadvantages of the rule changes suggested in the submission.

According to the Louisiana Psychological Association’s Chair of Professional Affairs, Dr. Kim VanGeffen, “In 2018, the Louisiana Legislature passed a law––Act 454––which requires Louisiana public agencies, such as our licensing board, to hold periodic public hearings to allow any interested person the opportunity to comment on any of the agencies rules which it believes may be ‘contrary to law, outdated, unnecessary, overly complex, or burdensome,’ ” VanGeffen said last month to members of the state psychology association. “The Board will also receive written comments to be submitted into the record until Wednesday, October 9th, 2019.”

In the afternoon, explained VanGeffen, the Board will hold its long range planning meeting and discuss issues which affect psychology licensure and enforcement matters likely in the coming year or years.

“Topics to be addressed include revisions to the oral examination process, the EPPP2 and several potential rule changes––specialty designations, continuing education requirements, the jurisprudence examination, tele psychology/tele supervision, and the adjudication process,” VanGeffen said.

According to the July minutes, the new Board Chair, Dr. Koren Boggs “… discussed the goals and objectives she would like accomplished for her final year on the Board stating that there are a lot of items that have been ongoing discussions that she would like to see through including oral exam procedures, resolving or refining procedures related to recognizing program specialties versus health service provider versus whether we have any designations at all; conducting a thorough review of our regulations to make sure our Thursday, Oct 10 Psychology Board to Hold Rules Critique and Long-Range Meeting procedures are in line with how the statutes and rules are written; review regulations and procedures for determining degree equivalency; and review procedures and regulations for assessing competencies.”

The board considered changes to the Continuing Professional Development Rules in October last year and some in the community objected, saying that the change would broaden the board’s authority to approve providers of professional training. After a follow-up meeting, the  issues were tabled until further study.

According to the May 2019 minutes, “The board reviewed CPD rules and discussed the current rules, problems with current rules, administrating current rules, previous rules.

The board focused their discussion on minimum requirements necessary to maintain and develop their knowledge, skills and competence in order to keep pace with trending or developing areas of practice for public protection versus requiring maximum standards to force development of personal qualities, attitudes, capabilities, or professional socialization, and how such maximum requirements actually play a role in public protection or the board’s ability to regulate such requirements.

“Following extensive discussion, Dr. Lambert called for motions on setting a direction for revising the CPD Rules. Dr. Boggs moved in favor of researching the option of returning to the basic model of ontinuing education requirements and reducing the number of biannual hours to 20 and requiring formal approved sponsored activities (quality over quantity).”

In July, Ms. Monic provided the Board with draft rules based on LSBEP original Continuing Education rules which were in place prior to initiating new requirements based on ASPPB’s Continuing Professional development model.

To attend the upcoming public meeting, Executive Director announced that, “Individuals may confirm their attendance via USPS at 4334 S. Sherwood Forest Blvd., Suite C-150, Baton Rouge, LA 70816 or via email at This will assist LSBEP with planning for an adequate venue.”

All Rules can be found on the licensing board website under “Laws, Rules and Guidelines,” or on the state’s website for Louisiana Administrative Code. All meetings are open to the public, except during certain executive sessions.

Governor and LDH Release Plan for Response to “Rapid Escalation” in Opioid Prescriptions and Deaths

On September 24, the Louisiana Department of Health released Louisiana’s Opioid Response Plan, the first of its kind for the state, noted officials. The plan aims to successfully reduce Louisiana’s opioid epidemic by implementing strategies to address the underreporting of opioid deaths, enhance monitoring of opioid prescriptions and increase access to treatment services.

Louisiana saw more than 450 opioid-related deaths in 2018, which points to the need for coordinated and comprehensive action. Officials said that Louisiana has seen a rapid escalation in the opioid prescription rate and the drug overdose rate, prompting the Department to collaborate with partners on the Opioid Response Plan. The Department of Health, through its organizational makeup, is in a unique position to address the opioid epidemic from multiple angles, all under the purview of a single state agency, but with acute awareness of the need to collaborate across agency lines and systems and branches of government.

The Plan can be found at

The Plan describes the initiatives, campaigns and strategic activities currently underway to reduce opioid abuse in Louisiana, as well as those planned, along with the laws, regulations, policies and guidelines, and also incorporates feedback from experts and public comment .

“This ambitious plan takes aim at a devastating public health epidemic that touches every corner of our communities, destroys lives and tears families apart,” said Dr. Rebekah Gee, secretary of the Department of Health. “Through this plan, the Department of Health is committing anew its resources, data, wisdom and partnerships toward reducing the burgeoning
opioid crisis in Louisiana.”

The plan’s response is built upon five pillars — surveillance, prevention, intervention, treatment and recovery — allowing the Department to address not only health, but also the social and economic consequences of opioid misuse and addiction. “By approaching the opioid crisis campaigns, recovery support services, quality treatment services and a robust network of partnerships working together, we have the tools to eradicate opioid misuse in Louisiana.”

“While we continue taking a number of positive steps forward in the battle against opioid addiction in Louisiana, we still have much work to do,” said Gov. Edwards. “As a result of more comprehensive data collection, we are better able to understand the challenges of those suffering from this addiction and develop a new, innovative and coordinated state response efforts. Our people are Louisiana’s most valuable resource and the opioid response plan outlines the steps we will take to ensure that we increase access to the best standards of care and treatment.”

Chicago School at Xavier Earns APA Accreditation for Its PsyD Program

Dr. Kelli Johnson, current department chair at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology at Xavier University of Louisiana, announced last month that the program has been granted initial Accreditation on Contingency status through 2024 by the American Psychological Association (APA).

At its July 18-21, 2019 meeting, the APA Commission on Accreditation voted to initially “accredit, on contingency” the doctoral Clinical Psy.D. program at The Chicago School in New Orleans. “Accredited, on contingency” is granted when the program meets all standards except for the inclusion of all required outcome data on students in the program and after program completion. To move to fully accredited, the program is to provide the required outcome data within three years.

“We are overjoyed that our first class will be graduating from an accredited program next August,” said Dr. Johnson. She extended her thanks and that of faculty members Drs. Chris Leonhard, Richard Niolon, and Margaret Smith to colleagues of the Louisiana Psychological Association. “We would like to extend our gratitude for your support for the program from its inception. A number of you have been a part of the program as adjunct instructors, offered your agencies as practicum training sites, and have served as clinical supervisors over the years,” Johnson noted. “Thank you to each of you for offering guidance, consultation, or encouraging words along the way…your ongoing support has been and continues to be invaluable and we look forward to many more years as a part of Louisiana’s psychology community.”

The school began implementation of its “Health Service Psychologist” Model and Multicultural Focus in September 2015 when the first class of doctoral students started at the new PsyD program in clinical psychology.

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

The Chicago School at Xavier program was 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, founding chair of the program.

“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 Chicago School of Professional Psychology (TCSPP) program is hosted by Xavier, the highly ranked New Orleans institution which is the nation’s only Roman Catholic Historically Black College and University.

The PsyD (Doctor of Psychology) degree is the only program of its kind in the state, and the only other clinical psychology training after that at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.

The program organizers focused their recruitment to students inside Louisiana. hoping 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. “So the emphasis of this program is to educate and train our own.”

Prior to her death this year, Dr. Janet Matthews served on an Advisory Committee of local professionals, along with health psychologist, Dr. Michele Larzelere, for the Chicago School program.

The program is designed specifically to meet community needs, with the focus on primary care/integrated care, and cultural diversity issues, Janet Matthews had explained, and she felt it was ideal for the Greater New Orleans area, helping provide psychological services in an underserved community.

The doctoral students in the TCSPP program at Xavier complete studies in four models of intervention: Cognitive Behavioral, Psychodynamic, Humanistic Existential, and Systems. The program includes a Research Clerkship model where the students are paired with mentors from the faculty. Three years of practicum and one-year internship are included in the 106 total credit hours that will take five years to complete, prepares students to sit for the psychologist licensing exam.

The PsyD program took advantage of the changes in approach brought about by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) that requires prevention and a focus on primary care and community health.

APA shifted its training model in response to ACA, and the Chicago Professional School at Xavier aligned with these changes. “To be in compliance with what the ACA calls for, we’re now going to be training health service psychologists– –psychologists that provide health service, mental health being a health service, said Leonhard. The Patient and Affordable Care Act is that it mandates interprofessional care teams throughout health care but importantly, in primary care, he said.

Dr. Michele Larzelere served on the Advisory Committee and saw this benefit. “Since primary care is an excellent way to reach underserved and minority populations, the PsyD program will also be expanding Xavier’s efforts toward its core mission,” Larzelere previously said, “and providing a tremendous service to the population of Louisiana.”

The program offers two formal focus area — Clinical Psychology in a Diverse and Multicultural Context and Behavioral Medicine/Health Psychology.

It Takes a Village…: Review of Spotlight

by Alvin G. Burstein

The winner of the 2016 Oscar for best film was Spotlight, an account of the Boston Globe’s 2002 exposé of child abuse by that city’s Catholic clergy and the attendant cover-up. The film is powerful. The power is rooted in its realistic feel and in the psychological phenomena it captures.

The movie meticulously recreates the offices of the Boston Globe, the environment of the Spotlight team, the country’s oldest continuously operating investigative journalism unit. The film begins with the arrival of Marty Baron, a new editor-in-chief for the Globe. In his meeting with his new staff, he directs Spotlight to abandon its current project and begin an investigation of a reported case of child abuse by a parish priest and what appears to be cover-up attempts by the hierarchy. He makes it clear that he is more interested in the systemic issues than the singular case.

The poet, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, spoke of the importance in literature of the reader’s “willing suspension of disbelief.” Spotlight’s recreation of detail is such that there is no sense of a need to suspend disbelief. We feel like eye-witnesses to the actual events. The danger inherent in a faux documentary is an issue to which I shall return. But the artistic power of this film to sweep the viewer into a sense of being there is remarkable.

We watch the investigators as they pull at the strings of the tangled events, slowly revealing, not just a single case of abuse, but a staggering epidemic of child sexual abuse and clergy whose misdeeds are swept under the carpet, hidden by undisclosed financial settlements and non-disclosure agreements. The sordid manipulations, which include moving errant clergy from place to place and enriching the lawyers involved in “mediating” claims, are traced all the way to the diocese’s archbishop.

As we become privy to the reporters’ encounters with individual victims painfully sharing their scarifying betrayals, we feel the investigators’ mounting frustration at having to continue the painstaking assembly of information. That frustration becomes almost unbearable, when on the verge of being able to break the story, the 9/11 tragedy demands a refocusing of journalistic efforts.

Ultimately the story breaks, revealing, not a Bostonian bad apple or two, but hundreds of errant Catholic priests and over a thousand known abuse victims. The enormity of the crime is emphasized by the listing as the film ends of the cities of the world where, it is now clear, a parallel situation exists.

The emotions portrayed in the film and those stirred up in the viewer testify to the destructive potential of betrayal. A central point in self-psychology is understanding the role of parents as trusted, indeed, idolized figures upon whom the child initially depends. Healthy development involves the gradual de-idealizing of parents while retaining the ability to look up to and admire others whom we strive to emulate. Traumatic betrayals by one’s trustees are excruciating, and especially early in life, can warp and deform subsequent relationships. Thus the special burden of prudence in professions that require trust-clergy, therapists, teachers, physicians, lawyers-and that therefore have the potential to reawaken childhood dependencies and to reopen old scars.

As a faux documentary Spotlight claims, like investigative journalism, to get at the truth. Do documentaries, does investigative journalism have a responsibility to get at the whole truth? Given the compression of events stretching over years into a two-hour film, totality is out of the question. The film reveals but doesn’t explore the ability of basically decent people, a village as a whole, to close their eyes to disquieting truths. It appears that the leader of the Spotlight team had, years earlier while editor of the Metro section, printed but not followed up on a story about several cases of sexual abuse by local priests. It had been sent to the paper by one of the bad guys, a mediation lawyer.

Spotlight is a riveting film, stirring feelings, disturbing assumptions, raising questions.

All The Pretty Horses

by Alvin G. Burstein

I have been addicted to oaters ever since Shane and High Noon. Being, in addition, a fan of actor Matt Damon and author Cormac McCarthy, I decided to take a belated look at All The Pretty Horses.

The movie begins with striking scenes of a vanishing West and herds of wild ponies. It takes us quickly to the dilemma of Damon as John Grady Cole, whose grandfather’s money-losing ranch is being sold despite Cole’s life-long wish to continue a cowboy life. He and his pard, Lacey, riding purloined horses, light out for Mexico where they hear there are still huge ranches. En route, they meet up with a young teen-ager who gets them embroiled in legal difficulties when the youngster tries to recover his stolen horse and gun, killing a Mexican officer in the process.

The boy disappears and Lacey and Cole ride off, ultimately finding a large ranchero where Cole and Lacey’s bronco breaking abilities earn them jobs. Cole gets involved with Alejandra, the beautiful daughter of the ranchero’s wealthy patron. The family, outraged by the impropriety and having heard of the earlier difficulties, have the two Americans arrested.

Cole and Lacey find themselves in a Mexican prison reunited with the impulsive teen-ager and in the hands of a sadistic Capitan. Imprisoned, they helplessly look on while the officer has the boy shot. Cole gets badly injured in a knife fight with another prisoner, losing sight of Lacey. After he recovers, Cole learns that he has been bailed out. Alejandra has persuaded her family to do so by promising never to see him again—attesting to her love.

Cole, unable to persuade Alejandra to break her vow and marry him, kidnaps the sadistic officer and uses him as a hostage, enabling Cole to recover the horses that had been taken from him and his two companions. He leaves el Capitan to an uncertain future with a former prisoner, and rides back to Texas to be reunited with Lacey.

Psychologically, the story revolves around three sets of loyalties. The first is the one between the three cowboys. The second is between the two lovers, Cole and Alejandra. The third is between Alejandra and her family, especially her father. Alejandra reinstates the Oedipal link to her father by disowning her sexual tie to Cole. The film contrives closure by Cole’s avenging the death of the teen-ager and rejoining his pard, Lacey. And Cole seems, at the end, satisfied by the bromance.

Maybe all good oaters have that pre-genital quality.

The Revenant

A Review
by Alvin G. Burstein

To say that this film is gripping is an understatement. It confronts us with realities that cry for denial. To what Freud called “the crushingly superior force of nature” the movie adds the human capacity for brutish betrayal and exploitation. And the story unfolds against a backdrop of classic beauty that highlights the gouts of blood and pain it frames.

In a biopic, The Revenant takes us back to the antebellum period, but rather than the plantations of the southeast, we follow a hunting party in the northwest. The protagonist, Hugh Glass, is one of the hunters collecting valuable animal pelts while trying to avoid the danger of engagement with sometimes hostile Indians. Glass, having survived injury in a raid by Indians, is horribly mauled by a grizzly bear. Broken and bleeding, unable to speak, barely breathing, his remains are dragged by his colleagues toward their base. Weather, unforgiving terrain and the dangers of more attacks drive them to abandon his crude litter. To assuage their guilt at abandoning a dying comrade, the group agrees to an eventual supplemental financial reward to a pair who are to stay behind with Glass, at least until his death. The group leaves, but all too soon his guardians follow suit, leaving Glass, still clinging to life in a shallow grave, but bereft of the means of survival.

Abandoned, Glass manages to pull himself out of his grave—a revenant—and maimed and crippled, manages to claw his way back to what might be called civilization. The film describes that harrowing trek, often a crawl, of over a hundred miles through an unforgiving wilderness. Few of the details are left to the imagination.

The psychological question posed is that of the motivation fueling Glass’s incredible achievement. Accounts that precede this biopic, and the film itself, suggest that Glass’s burning rage and thirst for revenge on his betrayers powered him. The film elaborates on that speculation by adding two elements to what is, in fact, known about Glass.

First, the film adds a half-Indian son—one Hugh is not known to have had—to the hunting party. The ignominy of Glass’s betrayers is magnified by their killing of the boy as a prelude to their flight. The elaboration may simply reflect a directorial effort to heighten the potential for rage.

But there is more. The film is studded with hallucinated flash backs to Hugh’s married life to a Pawnee woman, the mother of their slain child, though there are no contemporary accounts of such a marriage. One of the flash backs shows her being killed in a military raid on her village, and Glass, to comfort their son, reassuring him that he will never leave him. When Glass crawls out of his grave and discovers his clearly murdered son, this should serve to bring his thirst for revenge to white heat.

However, marring the narrative thrust of the film, in the biopic as in fact, after the gut-wrenching effort to track down his betrayers, Glass fails to revenge himself. He forgives one of the pair that abandoned him and leaves revenge on the second “to God.”

Perhaps to provide adequate closure, the film ends with another revenant, a hallucinated ghost of Glass’s wife beckons him to follow her.

I think the hokeyness of this ending reflects the movie maker’s feeling troubled by questions about Glass’s motivation.

In reflecting on just those questions, I was reminded of Primo Levi’s, Survival In Auschwitz. In concentration camps, too, survivors were faced with “crushingly superior” forces that only very few were able to survive. Levi described the musselmann, who slumped into helplessly apathetic surrender, and survivors, who held on to agency, who managed to invoke control over some corner of their otherwise hopeless situation. A minor callisthenic, a mental ritual, anything to demonstrate their will, their control of self, their human selfhood, potentiated survival against overwhelming odds.

Psychoanalysis has paid scant attention to this aspect of what might be called positive psychology. Maybe modern amenities cushion us sufficiently to predispose us to that omission. Maybe Hugh Glass reminds us of agency’s importance.