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Dr. Bonner Recognized for Psychology in Public Interest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Dr. Frick Honored for Scientific Achievements

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

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

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

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

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

The study will also be featured in Am. J. of Psychiatry ‘s audio podcasts found at
https://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/audio.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Could More Police Psychology Help?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Their mission statement includes the following:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Special: Coping with the Coronavirus Pandemic

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Is This a Good Time to Help Your Client Change Jobs? Two Experts Talk Shop…

“The job market just went from great to awful, but there may be some opportunities for those that want to make a wholesale switch,” write Olson and Swift, from Korn Ferry career counselors. Forbes‘ Jack Kelley notes that the unemployment rates caused by coronavirus economic havoc could reach 30%. “And yet,” he says, “for anyone thinking about switching careers,” he says, “now might not be as bad of a time as it may seem.”  

We talked with two local career and business experts, Dr. William Costelloe and Mr. Jim Stood, and ask them about adapting to the job market churn going on in the country.  

William Costelloe, PhD, is a licensed I-O psychologist and owner of Costelloe & Associates, Inc. For over 40 years, he has consulted with both public corporations and family-owned businesses across the country, specializing in interpersonal communication, team building, pre-employment assessments, organizational surveys, and career counseling.  

Jim Stood, M.S., owner of JT Stodd & Associates, has provided consulting services to a diverse mix of clients including those in the healthcare, manufacturing, technology, construction, professional services, finance, government, and education. He also teaches classes in Organizational Leadership and Human Resource Management at Louisiana State University, and serves as the principal instructor for the Human Capital Management Certificate Program at the University of New Orleans.  

We asked Mr. Stodd what are some of the changes he sees for the future and careers? While he warned us that he was speculating, he thinks much of this will be influenced by the upcoming national election.  

“If the republicans win, we will continue to see more ‘domestication’ of our economy with the USA establishing more independence and self-sufficiency. The big winners will be oil and gas, manufacturing, distribution/logistics, and all the jobs associated with those.  

“If the democrats win, he said, “we will likely see a return to ‘globalization’ with more concern for being good citizens within the global economy. It will include a return to offshoring many manufacturing jobs, tech jobs, and a lot of associated logistics/distribution.  

“Irrespective of which party wins, we are likely to see continued growth in demand for STEM workers across all sectors–not necessarily degrees, but ‘credentials’– as well as healthcare, technology and logistics/transportation, particularly as retail establishments, including food services, shrink/disappear and home/office delivery continues to grow. The COVID-19 pandemic will simply add to what has already been a significant trend.”  

What does he think are the most likely new job areas, or those that could boom?  

“Right now both political parties seem to be in agreement that the national infrastructure needs revitalization,” Stodd said. “This will likely be a huge effort. So we should expect that jobs in heavy construction– roads, bridges, airports, big buildings, etc.– including jobs in architecture, engineering, materials manufacturing, construction supplies and equipment, and other related industries will grow– dramatically!” he said. “Also growing will be the business services necessary to support these efforts.”  

With these changes, we asked Dr. William Costelloe what are the signs that it might be time for a person to shift jobs or industries?  

“The current research on employee engagement in the workplace indicates that only 25 percent of the employees are fully engaged in their jobs, 59 percent of employees are ambivalent/disengaged, and 16 percent are actively disengaged. If someone senses that they are becoming less and less engaged in their work, then it is a time for concern,” said Costelloe.  

“The term I like to use is ‘passion.’ If an individual begins to sense that they are feeling more disengaged from their work, then they are losing their passion.  

“We are all going through a shock right now and employees are in a situation where they are seeing furloughs and complete layoffs of their coworkers and unfortunately in many cases even themselves. This situation is causing employees to question their level of job security regarding their current career path. Their level of engagement is by definition decreasing and they are wondering if they should begin to look for a different line of work given the situation we are all facing now,” Costelloe said.  

“At the same time, employees must guard against a kneejerk reaction and not jump into a new career or job just because they are scared. They should not overreact but rather think their situation through seriously with a high level of self-review and introspection.”  

“This is a very difficult question to answer,” Stodd agrees. “The decision to change careers is a very personal decision that must be made based upon factors unique to each individual, their circumstances and what they would like to accomplish in life. As such, it is very difficult to speak generally about the signs that might be important to any given individual. However, what we can talk about rather conclusively is why most people change jobs, and some of these factors are likely to ring-abell with any selected individual.”  

Stodd explained some of the research findings and the main reasons people change their jobs. ” 

Pay is by far the #1 reason folks leave a job, or an industry, for another,” he said. “It is also listed as the #1 reason people decide to stay put in their current job.”  

But employees are also want respectful treatment, he explained. “Employees list ‘respectful treatment’ as the factor most important to their overall job satisfaction,” he said. He pointed out that only 38% are satisfied with the amount of respect they receive.  

Stodd also said factors such as trust and the opportunity to grow are important, as is job security, is a factor in these current conditions. “Okay…Maslow was right! Research shows that people do want to feel reasonably safe and secure in their occupation, and they are likely to move to another opportunity when they feel insecure. Hospitality, entertainment, dining, and gaming have been hit really hard during the pandemic. Because of this it is likely that many employers in these industries will struggle for some time just to hire back the folks they furloughed or laid-off. After all, why go back if there is a better, safer opportunity?”  

Dr. Costello points out that before addressing issues such as job skills and job match, other questions may be more important.  

“The first step is to ask the question ‘What if?’,” said Costelloe.  

“What would happen if I took the time to seriously do some introspective thinking about what I could really do with the rest of my life? If I could determine what it is that I am really passionate about?  

“There is a story about Michelangelo and the process he went through before he built a huge stained glass window in a church in Italy. He spent weeks and weeks gazing at the space in the church where he was going to build the window. The Medeci family, who had commissioned him to build the window, became more and more frustrated as he delayed his start. Finally, they confronted him and inquired about why it was taking him so long to begin. Michelangelo responded that he was imagining in his mind where each and every tiny piece of stained glass would go into the window. In his time stained glass was very rare and he wanted to be very, very sure that he would have all the pieces he needed in the right colors in order to complete the window once he started.  

“Stated somewhat differently, Michelangelo was planning his plan. It has been my experience with my clients that many have not invested the time nor the right amount of mental energy required to plan their plan,” Cotelloe said. Special: Coping with the Coronavirus Pandemic Is This a Good Time to Help Your Client Change Jobs?  

“In order to answer the question ‘What if,’ a great deal of mental energy and introspection is required in order to arrive at a clear answer or vision of what it would be like to change your life and do something that you are truly passionate about. Dreaming alone will not answer the question, ‘What if?’  

“Once an individual has answered that question, the next step is to focus mental energy in order to answer the question, ‘What would I need to do in order to re-invent myself for the future?’ The final question that needs to be answered is, ‘How can I proceed forward so that I will enjoy and engage myself in the process of moving my career forward?’  

“Once the steps listed above have been started, a simultaneous process can begin in order to determine an individual’s knowledge, skills and abilities, which industrial organizational-psychologists refer to as KSAs. These can be determined by referring to national job databases,” he said.  

“In our career consulting practice, we think that it is important for an individual to be aware of the competencies that they could bring to a given job. Therefore, we administer proprietary assessments that determine these unique competencies.”  

“Recent studies have determined that once a student enters college, they will probably change their college major between two and five times before they graduate. Nowadays, because of the frequent switches of one’s college major, it often requires an extra year or more for a student to fulfill the full course requirements necessary to graduate, because they have switched their major so many times.  

“I’ve been contacted by two different nursing schools in the last few years who have found themselves caught in a very serious situation. Today, there is a shortage of nurses coming out of nursing schools. Both of these nursing schools admit around 30 students to their program each year. The problem is that each year a significant number of the students drop out of the program because they come to learn that nursing, as a career, is not what they thought it would be. In other words, the students who have entered and were accepted into their programs did not have a realistic understanding of what being a nurse would involve in the real world.  

“Industrial-organizational psychologists call this a ‘realistic job preview.’ The problem the nursing schools are facing is that by the end of the four-year nursing program only around 50 percent of the entering students graduate. Because of this high dropout rate the nursing schools can only provide half of the nurses needed in the job market.  

“I recall having a conversation with Dr. Ed Timmons who was one of my professors at LSU years ago when he predicted that this situation would occur. He said to me, ‘These kids have no idea what they really want to do once they get out of college. There is just too much ‘fish flopping behavior.’ I had to ask him, ‘What is fish flopping behavior?’ He said, ‘You know, it’s like when you catch a fish and you put it on the dock, it flips and flops and flips and flops until it finally flips off the dock back into the water.’ Today, there Is very little structured planning done before students choose their college major.  

“We also need to remember that things in the world of work are different today than they used to be. Generally speaking, in the old days, people would enter a job and stay with that job until they received a watch from the company upon retirement. Nowadays, studies indicate that after graduating from college the average person will switch the company they work with between three and five times during their career,” Dr. Costelloe said.  

The entire situation has become more complex with the coronavirus crisis. One of the changes is a potential move to remote work and in particular working from home. Researchers have long noted that working from home can provide benefits for workers and employees. Telecommuting can save employers and employees time, stress, money, and in many cases increase productivity by reducing stress associated with commuting and now a lower exposure to the virus. But many opportunities maybe available. Libby Wells of Bank Rate reports that the top jobs for working from home include web developer, computer support specialist, virtual assistant, and social media specialist for examples. for example, web developers have only a medium preparation requirement and yet average wages approach $70,000 a year.  

We asked Jim Stodd to describe some of the challenges coming to the career scene with remote work and he explained that the number of employees working remotely has grown from 3% at the beginning of 2020 to 64% in April.  

“Because of the pandemic, we are starting to learn a lot about remote work–good and bad–in a very compressed time-frame,” he said.  

“Furthermore, without a vaccine, employers are going to be slow in bringing remote workers back to the office simply because of the risk. As such, I believe that remote work is here to stay and will be the ‘new norm’ for those who largely do their work on computers and other digital equipment, which includes almost all professional services.  

“Yes, there will be some retraction efforts on the part of employers as things re-open, but employees are learning that there are huge benefits –at least for some people–in working remotely. A recent report issued by the Society for Human Resource Management shows that after the COVID-19 experience, 43% of the workforce wants to work remotely more of the time, compared to only 12% that want to work in the office more of the time.  

Mr. Stodd explained reasons from the research why people wanted to work remotely. These included not having to commute (55%), more flexible schedule (48%), being more productive (37%), and more time with family and friends (34%).  

“As a result,” he said, “employers are going to be pressured to provide more remote work situations and be much better prepared to lead and supervise a virtual staff. But, there are some documented challenges that employers will face in doing so.  

There will be problems ensuring consistency of treatment, such as for performance appraisals and raises, he said, and remote workers we’ll have greater difficulty separating work and home responsibilities.  

“It is much more challenging to maintain organizational continuity and consistency when the normal in-person interaction of the office is replaced by Zoom and ‘chat’ sessions,” Stodd said.  

“Progressive ‘cultural’ decay––the longer people work remotely the more difficult to maintain the desired culture. Axios has reported that 55 percent of remote workers feel less connected to the company.”  

There is concern that goodwill and harmony can breakdown without actual social interaction between colleagues, he explained. There is a lot to consider Mr. Stodd noted. And all of these are great opportunities for organizational psychologists.  

For more information and questions, Dr. Costelloe can be reached at WHCostelloe@msn.com

Mr. Stodd’s website is http://www.jtstodd.com. 

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Dr. Raines Named 2020 Early Career Psychologist

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Dr. Amanda Raines, Clinical Investigator at Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System and Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Louisiana State University, has been named the 2020 Early Career Psychologist by the Louisiana Psychological Association.  

Highlighting her extensive peer-reviewed publications, development of novel interventions, ability to secure funding for the benefit of veterans in underserved areas, Awards Chair Dr. Mike Chafetz announced Dr. Raines as this year’s recipient on May 29. The Early Career Psychologist Award is given to an individual who is within 10 years of completing their doctorate in psychology and who has distinguished themselves by contributing to psychology research, practice, or both during the initial years of their career.  

“Dr. Raines has published 89 peer-reviewed manuscripts, including 29 as first author, and presented her work at local, national, and international conferences. And keep in mind,” Chafetz said, “this is the Early Career Award!  

“Dr. Raines’ research focuses on identifying and empirically examining diagnostic risk and maintenance factors, as well as the development of novel interventions that can be used to prevent and treat anxiety and related forms of pathology including suicide. Equally impressive,” he said, is “Dr. Raines’ ability to secure funding for treatment of veterans in rural and underserved areas.”  

Consistent with LPA’s mission to advance psychology as a science, explained the Awards Committee, she conducts this research using a translational framework wherein basic laboratory science is carried out with the goal of informing clinical practice. In turn, knowledge gleaned from the clinical arena reciprocally informs basic science methodologies.  

The Committee explained that Dr. Raines is not only a highly productive scholar but also an influential one. Her h-index of 24, indicates that to date, 24 of her manuscripts have been cited 24 times or more. Many of her publications have been featured in high impact journals such as the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, Journal of Psychiatric Research, and Journal of Affective Disorders. Her research has been featured on national forums including the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Suicide Prevention Fact Sheet for helping to further understanding of the relationship between Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and suicide.  

As a resident, Dr. Raines obtained pilot funding to test the acceptability, feasibility, and utility of a group-based transdiagnostic treatment delivered to veterans living in rural and underserved areas throughout Louisiana. During this time, she also obtained pilot funding to examine the effects of a brief, one-session computerized cognitive behavioral intervention delivered to veterans seeking treatment for an opioid use disorder.  

Dr. Raines has also received a New Investigator Research Award from the American Public Health Association. In addition to a monetary stipend, this award allows her to access the National Violent Death Reporting System database, which links data from vital records, coroner/medical examiners, and law enforcement agencies, to obtain comprehensive data on suicides, homicides, deaths from legal intervention, deaths of undermined intent, and unintentional firearm deaths. With this data, Dr. Raines plans to utilize network analysis as a foundation for identifying characteristics of veterans who die by self-inflicted gunshot wound versus alternative methods in hopes of identifying novel prevention and intervention targets.  

Dr. Raines has received a prestigious and highly competitive Career Development Award, which was established by the VA to attract, develop, and retain talented researchers. Dr. Raines is the first psychologist and researcher at SLVHCS to receive one of these awards since 2004 (prior to Hurricane Katrina). Her project, titled, “Examination of a Safety Aid Reduction Protocol for Treatment Resistant PTSD among Veterans,” will bring around $800,000 to the facility and is designed to adapt and extend an existing groupbased anxiety protocol for use among veterans with PTSD.  

Another of Dr. Raines’ many notable qualities is her commitment to giving back to the field of psychology. Currently, she serves as a research supervisor to trainees in the American Psychological Association accredited internship and residency program. She serves as a mentor for the VA’s Training Residents in Psychiatry Scholarship program, which aims to increase the number of psychiatry residents entering research training fellowships. Additionally, Dr. Raines serves as a member of SLVHCS Bioethics Committee, as a peer-reviewer for over 20 scientific journals, as a Director on the LPA Executive Council, and as the Co-Chair of the Convention Committee 

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Lee Matthews Named 1st Recipient of the Janet R. Matthews Mentor Award

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To cheers, applause, and tears, the sentimental favorite, Dr. Lee Matthews, accepted the Janet R. Matthews, Ph.D. Outstanding Psychology Mentor Award for 2020, announced at the annual meeting of the Louisiana Psychological Association, held online, May 29. This is the inaugural year for the honor and Dr. Lee Matthews is the first recipient. Janet passed away in 2019.  

The award recognizes and honors Dr. Janet Matthews for her lifetime of mentoring work and the impact she had on psychologists in Louisiana, and is given to an individual who has made significant contributions in their mentoring of others in psychology. This is a legacy award developed by Dr. Laurel Franklin, who was mentored by Dr. Janet Matthews, explained Chair, Dr. Michael Chafetz. Janet passed away in 2019. 

“Dr. Lee Matthews is this year’s winner, and it is most fitting,” said Chafetz at the ceremony. “His 30-year career was marked by mentoring undergraduate students, graduate students, psychology interns, psychology post-doctoral students and individuals with degrees in psychology completing post-doctoral supervision or other post-degree supervision in a variety of capacities,” he said.  

“He mentored students and professionals at Loyola University, DePaul Hospital, and the New Orleans VA Medical Center,” said Chafetz. “He had the non-paying position as Chief Psychologist, Masters & Johnson Relational and Sexual Therapy Clinic and Sexual Trauma and Sexual Compulsivity Program for two years, to provide daily supervision, so that one of his former VA interns could have a position with that facility, until he was licensed and became the Director of Psychology.  

“He has also mentored numerous other professionals and soon-tobe professionals at considerable cost to his time and often without compensation. I was recused from the committee throughout this nomination process, as I can attest to Dr. Lee Matthews effective leadership and guidance throughout the early part of my career.”  

Dr. Matthews is in private practice at his firm in Kenner, Psychological Resources, and is a consulting psychologist to Southeast Louisiana Medical Associates at Leonard J. Chabert Medical Center, the Akula Foundation in New Orleans, St. Charles Parish Hospital, Canon Hospice, Children’s Hospital, and others.  

He holds the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP) Diplomate in Clinical Psychology and the American Board of Assessment Psychology (ABAP) Diplomate in Clinical Psychology.  

He serves as Assistant Clinical Faculty, Department of Psychiatry, LSU Medical Center School of Medicine at New Orleans, and Associate Clinical Faculty, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Tulane University Health Sciences Center Tulane University Medical Center.  

Dr. Matthews has numerous scientific and professional accomplishments. He was named the 2014 Distinguished Psychologist by the Louisiana Psychological Association, served on the Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists, served as Secretary, Society of Assessment Psychology (APA), as Secretary/Treasurer APA Div. 1, and as President, New Orleans Neuropsychological Society, among others.  

His many publications include the following examples authored with wife Janet: Diversity in Family Bereavement. In Allen, R. S., Carpenter, B. D., & Eichorst, M. K. (Eds.). Perspectives on Palliative and End of Life Care: Disease, Social and Cultural Context. Also, Influences of the Greeks and Romans. In T. G. Plante (Ed). Abnormal psychology across the ages. And, Applying for Clinical and Other Applied Positions. In P. J. Giordano, S. F. Davis, & C. A. Licht (Eds). Your graduate training in psychology: Effective strategies for success.  

He has blended practice, scholarly works, and the mentoring of students over his 30-year career, said the awards committee. For 16 years he was the supervisor and mentor for undergraduate students from Loyola University, for eight years he was the site supervisor at DePaul Hospital, an elective off-site placement for VA interns, and for seven years he was the co-coordinator of a weekly psychology assessment seminar for the interns and post-doctoral students at the VA Medical Center. For six years he was on the APA Internship Training Faculty for the Clinical Neuropsychology Internship at Tulane University Medical Center.  

“After 30 plus years of mentoring students and young psychologists, I am humbled and honored that many of them have had highly successful careers in psychology,” Dr. Matthews said. “This is not due to me, but to each of them having the ability to take what I hope I have given them as a foundation for being a professional and ethical psychologist, and then using their own talents to apply that knowledge to their chosen careers, from university professors, clinical psychologists and neuropsychologists, and administrators for professional organizations.” 

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Dr. Simoneaux Honored as Distinguished Psychologist

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The Louisiana Psychological Association has named Dr. John Simoneaux as it’s 2020 Distinguished Psych-ologist, announced at the 72nd Annual Meeting held May 29th online. The Distinguished Psychologist Award is given to an individual who has made significant contributions to psychology research, practice, or both during the course of their career.

“He is a forensic psychologist who has consulted with lawyers, judges, and mental health professionals,” said Dr. Mike Chafetz, Chair of the Awards Committee. “Many of us have relied on his counsel numerous times. He has handled the most intense kinds of forensic cases, such as custody cases, with wisdom, grace, and due diligence for the facts. Many people in the legal profession–lawyers, judges–have a correct view of the power of psychology in the courtroom due to Dr. Simoneaux’s work.”

“He is the principal and wonderful teacher at Professional Training Resources, and likely everyone here has learned from him, as he has taught hundreds of courses.”

Dr. John Simoneaux said he was very “surprised and honored” to receive the award but, not sure that he was deserving.

Dr. Simoneaux is in private practice at his firm, Consulting Psychologists of Central Louisiana, in Pineville, Louisiana. He is fulltime private practice in Forensic Psychology and his work activities include consultation with various psychiatric hospitals, group homes, and state agencies. He conducts psychological assessments for custody, sanity, sex offenders, children’s and protective services. He also provides expert testimony for custody, sanity, sexual and physical abuse, and disability determinations.

Dr. Simoneaux is founder and President of Professional Training Resources, Inc., where he and his staff provide continuing education training for those in a variety of professions, primarily mental health and legal professionals.

He has served as a Consulting Psychologist to Central Louisiana State Hospital, Leesville Developmental Center, Huey P. Long Memorial Hospital and the Cane River Community Group Home in Natchitoches. He also has consulted with the Rapides Parish Office of Community Services, Vernon Parish, Catahoula Parish, Lasalle Parish, and Concordia Parish. He has been the Program Director at RiverNorth Treatment Center.

Principal among of his contributions, noted the Committee, has been his continued and ongoing efforts to bring scientific psychology to the awareness of judges, attorneys, peace officers, and others in the legal system.

Dr. Simoneaux regularly presents to an audience of Louisiana judges, attorneys, district court clerks, peace officers, legal assistants and court reporters. One example is the annual Nuts & Bolts Judicial Seminar, a three-day conference, hosted by Appellate Judge, Hon. Harmon Drew, Jr., and his research attorney wife, Jean Drew. Judge Drew is with the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeal. The Louisiana Nuts & Bolts Judicial Seminar has been in operation since 1992 and the Drews have focused on presenting important and practical training for the regularly attending 250 court Louisiana officials who travel to Destin, Florida, to attend the highly rated event.

Dr. Simoneaux presents such topics as “Medical Mimics – Medical Conditions that are often Misdiagnosed as Mental Illness,” and “Detecting Psychological Disorders in the Elderly: Is Aunt Mary a little off? Or is it Just Me?” Another example is he has presented “Registration Requirements for Louisiana Sex Offenders,” with Judge Drew facilitating.

Simoneaux noted that he has been part of the conference for over 15 years, and said, “We love coming here. I really feel like they’ve accepted me into this group.” Attendees include individuals from Louisiana’s District Courts, City Courts, Appeal Courts, Police Departments, Sheriff’s and Marshal’s Offices, the state Supreme Court, law firms and others. Dr. Simoneaux is the only psychologist who regularly helps train the court professionals, and he is a favorite of the group, said the Drews.

Another of Dr. Simoneaux’ contributions comes from his interdisciplinary training in the mental health service industry at Professional Training Resources. One examplel is his popular “Summer Symposium.”

“Several years ago we started ‘Summer Symposium,’” he explained previously. “We do three days in July and it’s designed so someone can come and have all the CEs they’d need for the year.” The program is approved for APA, but also for a number of professions, with multiple presenters, and different tracts. PRT is APA accredited for psychologists, but likewise is approved to offer CEs for Social Workers, LPCs, Rehabilitation Counselors, Substance Abuse Counselors, School Psychologists, and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists.

Professional Training Resources is a business where teaching, learning, and having fun is near and dear to Dr. Simoneaux who has “always had a love of teaching.” In graduate school he minored in higher education. His services have reached all areas and disciplines that can benefit the larger community.

The Louisiana Psychological Association Awards Committee includes Kim VanGeffen, PhD; Beth Arredondo, PhD; Brian Mizuki, PhD; C. Laurel Franklin, PhD; and Michael Chafetz, PhD (Chair)

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How Have Things Changed

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“How Have Things Changed?” Psychologists Share Their Experiences in Dealing with the Coronavirus Pandemic

We asked a group of psychologists, “How have things changed for you in the shut-down and how are you doing at this point?” About half replied back in time for this issue. In this feature we report on how colleagues are managing the changes, mostly verbatim with some edited for length.

Dr. Gail Gillespie has been in private practice in New Orleans since 1996, specializing in evaluating and treating school-aged children and their families. “Existence in the time of a pandemic Gillespie said. “Because about 80% of my practice is face-to-face assessment, 80% of my business came to an abrupt halt. Thankfully I qualified for the Paycheck Protection Program and I am very grateful for the two months of income that will be replaced and forgiven. In the interim, I am catching up on my to-do list that I never thought I would have time to get to. This tech dinosaur has also learned how to do teletherapy and Zoom meetings, and I have finally created a weekly Zoom meeting demonstrating Emotional Freedom Technique which I am offering for free to front-line healthcare workers, gig workers, service industry folks, anyone who has lost their income, and anyone who has experienced the death or severe illness of a loved one due to Covid-19,” she said.

“In this time in which the entire earth has taken a pause – a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of forced stillness – I am afforded the opportunity to re-assess my priorities. Living in the French Quarter, I am finally able to truly appreciate the amazing architectural beauty and history in which I am surrounded. For the first time I look forward to walking down Bourbon Street – because it is clean and completely empty! I am now more cognizant of what is truly important: quality human connection, stillness and self-reflection, exuberant experiences and adventure to be created, an appreciation for nature, and prioritizing activities that boost my immune system and reduce stress! I have gained clarity in what activities in my practice feed my soul and what activities that I am ready to release. I have honestly enjoyed this pause but am looking forward to manifesting a more quality, exciting and adventurous life!”

Clinical Neuropsychologist, Dr. Matthew Holcomb, is also in private practice in the New Orleans area. “The shut-down has been hard on a professional and personal level,” Dr. Holcomb said. “Professionally I was just starting to ‘hit my stride’ and my identity as a professional was starting to finally solidify. The momentum that I had built feels like it has stalled out. It’s also been a time for reflection, in that I have been solidly career focused for the last few years and COVID-19 has forced me to stop and take stock of where I am in life and the choices I’ve been making,” he said.

“Personally, its been an adjustment having so much free time on my hands. The first few weeks was wrapping up patient evaluations. Then some time getting caught up on some manuscript writing, but after that its been rough figuring out how to ‘fill my day.’ I routinely talk to some of my elderly patients about ‘having a plan’ for their retirement. Not being sedentary and making plans. I’ve realized how important that is at all ages and stages in life. Making a plan each night of things to do around the house (no matter how small) or goals to accomplish for the next day, or in the near term have been so helpful in getting me through the shutdown,” he said.

“Finally, I have spent a lot of time reconnecting with family. Happy Hour and game nights over zoom have created some treasured memories.”

Dr. Thompson Davis III, Professor of Psychology at LSU Baton Rouge and Director of the Laboratory for Anxiety, Phobia, & Internalizing Disorder Studies has revamped his desks.

“My new ‘mobile workstation’ at the kitchen table composed of my iPad linked to my laptop via Duet for use as a seamless second monitor so I can use my laptop while I zoom/team/etc. while I also have one of my children’s room monitors on hand to be sure things aren’t getting too wild! Confidential video meetings are of course done in a separate room,” Dr. Davis said.

“I think one of the biggest changes is that my work day and work week have extended and bled together (i.e., the day is longer and I’m working even more on weekends than before) as I and my wife trade off roles as telecommuters, preschool/kindergarten teachers, parents, spouses, etc.”

Dr. Alan Coulter, a licensed psychologist in practice now for his 51st year, maintained a small number of clients as a school psychologist providing organizational development consultation, before the COVID19 sequestration.

“My work was largely face-to-face involving travel,” he said. “In this new, temporary period, I have maintained those clients at about 75% of the previous activity level. Some of past work is ‘on hold’ until schools return to typical locations. Predictably, some new work with these clients has emerged focused on adapting to closed school buildings and physical distancing. Maintaining social emotional connections with clients has become a more deliberate task as everyone learns to ‘zoom’ as a way of routine communication. I expect this new form of doing my work to continue for six to twelve months. I agree with others, ‘We’ll get through this.’ And we’ll all learn new skills that will make us more effective and helpful to our communities.”

Dr. Bill McCown is Coordinator of the Psychology Program at University of Louisiana at Monroe and Associate Dean for Research, College of Business and Social Sciences, as well as a Licensed Clinical Psychologist.

“We are working our butts off! It is just nonstop. We are not in the front line but darn, it is incredible. Most college professors are keeping unbelievable hours. From what I’ve seen in every department, all are working nonstop in ways they could not have imagined a few months ago,” Dr. McCown said.

“We do everything we did previously: we prepare lectures, grade assignments, advise students, write letters of recommendation, conduct research. But we also have to find innovative ways to teach and reach students, many of whom are stressed and vulnerable.

“Today’s highlights: ‘My grandmother died. My father tested positive last week. Can I be late on assignment five?’ and (from an Intro Psych student) ‘Do you really think this virus stuff is real or is it made up? My parents are having an argument and I have to ask someone I can trust.’

“Each student and class is different and has unique needs. Fortunately, our deans, administration, and Supervising Boards realize the need for local solutions,” he said. The key has been that we have been given the freedom to respond locally. Academics are generally pretty creative people and their heart is in their work. Like psychologists, they can usually find really good solutions if given the chance.

“There is no manual for this sudden transition, no guru, no roadmap. Faculty creativity has been exceptional. So has student commitment and effort. I’m struck by the number of students who now have unexpected obligations. Some are taking care of siblings, others of sick family members. Many have stepped up to volunteer to help their communities in any way they can. Some are also working jobsany jobs they can find- to help support their families. It’s hard for these students to maintain the academic focus they had in March. But they are really trying,” he said.

“Many students turn to Psychology faculty for objective information. They trust us and ask all kinds of questions! They know our profession is evidence-based. We answer lots of questions. We help them read data and understand the risks and models. What we don’t know we look up or refer to someone who does.

“Other students, frankly want counseling or therapy from us now, probably for similar reasons. They know us and that we are believable. We are evidence-based. What we say makes more sense to them than what they hear on social media. Psychology faculty have to be especially careful to avoid any dual relationships. But what I’ve seen they’re doing a great job in being helpful to these students while also being mindful of ethical issues. We listen and make lots of careful referrals.

“Perhaps just as importantly, we convey a sense of optimism and reasonableness. This helps combat the gut feeling that everything is out of control. Life will get better.”

Dr. Katherine Robison practices in Metairie and works evaluating youngsters. “How have things changed in the shut down? I’m a school psychologist in private practice in the New Orleans area. With regard to my practice, I’m basically shut down since I can’t test kids ‘virtually.’ I am utilizing online or ‘remote administration’ rating scales, but this is a small part of the evaluation. I have used Zoom for a few tele therapy sessions, but it’s ‘not the same’ as an in-person session since I see children. I am happy to have finally caught up on reports!,” she said.

“On a personal level, I really miss being around people! But the shut-down has been good for me in some ways. I’m spending time outdoors and enjoying bike rides through City Park.”

Dr. Charles Burchell is a licensed Clinical Psychologist who has had a largely independent practice for over 35 years, and lived and practiced in Baton Rouge, New Orleans, and Texas. “I suppose my life mirrors that of many others that you know. Back in March, on the advice of my primary care physician, I changed to working from home at one parttime position; and my consulting practice is now one-hundred percent online. Professionally, I conduct business through a combination of mostly emails and HIPPAcompliant TeleHealth services. I’ve been attending more webinars and am planning to virtually attend a Forensic Psychology conference,” he said. Dr. Kim VanGeffen is in solo private practice in New Orleans. “COVID-19 has required adapting to many changes and a lot of flexibility, neither of which are my strong suit. I have switched to doing tele psychology and phone sessions although my billed hours have drastically dropped. Before the stay-at-home orders, I did a large amount of psychological testing which is not possible now. I look forward to seeing people in my office again as I find that I prefer face-to-face work over tele psychology. I am trying to maintain my natural optimism and to find as many of the silver linings in these clouds as I can. I am using the extra free time to catch up on office paper work which had been neglected for the past several months. I am also on the Board of Directors of LPA and our Board is spending a lot of time trying to provide services to our members during these trying times. Keeping busy and productive keeps me sane. I am also keeping in touch with family, friends and colleagues by email, on line gatherings and telephone chats which is very important when we are so isolated.”

Dr. Charles Burchell is a licensed Clinical Psychologist who has had a largely independent practice for over 35 years, and lived and practiced in Baton Rouge, New Orleans, and Texas.

“I suppose my life mirrors that of many others that you know. Back in

March, on the advice of my primary care physician, I changed to working from home at one parttime position; and my consulting practice is now one-hundred percent online. Professionally, I conduct business through a combination of mostly emails and HIPPAcompliant TeleHealth services. I’ve been attending more webinars and am planning to virtually attend a Forensic Psychology conference,” he said.

“On a personal note, I stopped attending religious services even before modifications in ritual and eventual cessation of public gatherings had been announced. I stopped going into WWOZ, the community supported FM radio station in New Orleans (online at wwoz.org) for my weekly Friday show, ‘Jazz From The French Market.’ Instead, like some others, I record the shows at home instead of a live presentation. I didn’t have a problem with feeling safe at ‘OZ; I just was, and am, obeying the ‘stay at home’ government recommendations. Going to the radio station would have been a weekly 180- mile trip.

“Of course socializing in person is nonexistent, so I call, text, FaceTime, IG, Facebook, tweet, and use Messenger to maintain that very human contact. This is especially useful for staying in touch with close friends (one whom I have known since age three) and my two adult children (one who currently lives in Rome, Italy).

“Days are filled with professional tasks, and watching all kinds of TV (including participating with a small group of friends for Netflix parties who used to meet up to see movies in theaters), more reading, and cleaning (no positive correlation here between motivation for housework and increased time availability). I’m more motivated to learn Italian on my Duolingo app; before the pandemic I might have time to use it two or three times a week or lessnow I’m up to 73 days straight!”

Dr. Traci Olivier is a pediatric neuropsychologist at Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Health Development & Therapy Center. She has a part-time practice at the Neuropsychology Center of Louisiana and serves as a local expert advisor for Cogstate cognitive science research company.

“As a pediatric neuropsychologist, my practice is primarily focused on neuropsychological evaluations.,” she said. “There has been much discussion in professional circles about the feasibility, validity, and ethical considerations of using telemedicine for psychological and neuropsychological testing. After much research and contemplation about using tele-testing, I decided not to pursue this avenue of service delivery. Therefore, my time has been dedicated to completing current evaluations (e.g., providing feedback, finalizing reports) and seeing new patients for initial visits – all via telemedicine, or video visits. The use of telemedicine platforms and the quietness around the office are perhaps two of the most significant changes that I have noticed. My practicum students are on hiatus for now, which is also a change. Interestingly, this time has been a welcome period of rest and refreshing – a time to catch up, contemplate priorities, and plan for the future. I realize that there are those who have become incredibly busy over the past several weeks, and for many, this is a time of significant stress. My heart goes out to those people. I am so blessed, however, to be able to use this time to plan and invest.

Dr. Jamie Landry, is married with two, energetic, fun-loving boys. She is in the Covington, Mandeville area and notes that she loves camping and the outdoors.

“With a part time practice focused on assessment, most of my work has been put on hold during the stay at home order. Like many others, I’ve been spending more of my time with my family, keeping my kids engaged in some educational activities and having some good old fashioned family fun. I’m doing well but look forward to achieving a sense of normalcy again.

Dr. Randee Booksh is a licensed clinical and neuropsychologist. “My small private practice is split between neuropsychological/psychological evaluations and therapy patients. I work with two other neuropsychologists who do the same and we share many resources, including a testing assistant, office space, and testing materials, etc.” Dr. Booksh said.

“So what has changed? I only go to the office to pick up supplies or mail. I see patients via telemedicine, which I had never done before, except an occasional emergency phone session. Now I see my established therapy patients and a handful of new patients and conduct some brief psychological evaluations when I feel I can answer the referral question via tools I can use during a video session. I cannot conduct neuropsychological evaluations this way. I’m working much fewer paid hours, but the work is harder. Everything I do at home takes longer than if I was at the office,” she said.

“The telemedicine curve has been steep for me. I find it requires more preparation, a different kind of attention, and use of different tools. At the same time, I’m immensely grateful that it’s available and I know that I will continue to do some telemedicine indefinitely. Patients are significantly more distressed, with so many in crisis. Established patients with anxiety and trauma related disorders are really struggling and finding it difficult to maintain gains made in therapy, previously. I’m experiencing increased stress, anxiety, and fatigue too. I’m finding I need greater self-care to be prepared and able to meet the changing needs of the patients I see.

“Focus on the shared practice has shifted to when and how we will (eventually) reopen and what that will look like. We’ve developed a strategy to start low and go slow. We’ve written a safety plan, posted important safety guidelines on the wall, and removed chairs from the waiting room. We are staggering times and using alternate entrances, so patients don’t come in contact with each other. We’ve purchased lots of hand sanitizer, face shields, acrylic desk partitions, masks, Lysol wipes, etc. I cannot imagine trying to figure this out or implement it by myself. My colleagues and coworkers made it possible.

“As far as my home life, the biggest change is I spend a lot, and I mean a whole lot, of time with my husband. He’s an audiovisual technician, labor coordinator for conventions, and musician, so all of his work has cancelled for the remainder of the year. Luckily, we get along really well. Again, hooray for technology, but I’m sure getting tired of virtual family visits. I get dizzy when the grandkids run with the phone during Facetime and I can’t wait to put my hands on the bellies of my two pregnant daughters. Overall, I think I’m adapting very well. I’m extremely fortunate with many resources and it can still get overwhelming. I can’t imagine trying to do this alone.

Dr. Melissa Dufrene has worked full-time in private practice at her office in the Algiers neighborhood of New Orleans for the last 6 years. She primarily provides individual therapy, but also completes 1-2 testing cases per work. She is married with two young boys (ages 2 and almost 5).

“Since quarantine,” Dr. Dufrene said, “I have been seeing my clients via a telehealth platform (doxy.me). Fortunately, I had been using this platform as needed for several years. In that way, the transition was easy. However, I am now only working 20 hours/week because my two kids obviously are staying at home. This has required managing a strict schedule and coordination with my husband’s work, who works in an essential field,” she said. “For me, one of the greatest struggles has been the immediate shift between caring for the boys and diving right into my therapy appointments, then right back into parenting. This last week I took two days off because I felt I needed a respite from clients. I have also had to decline new clients and requests for other types of work. At the same time, I’m thankful for the strict scheduling that has been needed because it is keeping me very busy. I am also extremely thankful for the lovely weather that Louisiana has bestowed upon us in recent months. Clinically, this has been an interesting experience. My client’s responses to the current situation range from, “Nothing is going on. I’m bored and have nothing to talk about.” to significant emotional turmoil. My main points of emphasis with everyone has been empathetic support and normalization. I believe these approaches have provided immediate relief from the self-judgment that many people are battling. Quite frankly, I think one of the most important, and mutually beneficial aspects of therapy has been socialization.”

Dr. James (Pat) Thompson, is a clinical psychologist in Houston, but attended Tulane University his freshman year and maintains such a close connection to New Orleans that he is also licensed in Louisiana and is an active member of the Louisiana Psychological Association.

“These are indeed sad, weird, and frightening times for everybody and that includes psychologists. The COVID-19 crisis has changed everybody’s life,” Dr. Thompson said. “If someone had told me six months ago that I would be doing psychotherapy sessions entirely by telehealth, I would have thought they were schizophrenic.

If someone had told me six months ago that I would be frightened and wearing a mask every time I go to the grocery store, I would have thought they stopped taking their medication. If someone had told me six months ago that I would be instructing patients to avoid in vivo meetings with friends and family, I would have thought they were taking some bad drugs. If someone had told me six months ago that I would be telling patients to not attend Easter services in person, I would have thought they were off their rocker. If someone had told me six months ago that I would not be able to eat inside my favorite restaurants in Houston and/or New Orleans, I would have wondered if there was something in the water they were drinking,” he said.

“I visited my favorite place in the world, New Orleans, the weekend after Mardi Gras this year. When I arrived in New Orleans, there were no COVID-19 cases in Louisiana. On the day of my departure, while I was waiting for my plane at the Louis Armstrong Airport, the Times Picayune reported one case in Jefferson Parish which was subsequently transferred to the Southeastern Louisiana VA Medical Center. We all know what happened from there. If someone had told me six months ago that I would not be able to visit New Orleans, I would have laughed in their face.

“While I was in New Orleans in early March, I attended two public performances. I had a great time at both events. The first one was at the Fillmore and I saw the bands Sweet Crude and Rebirth Brass Band. I just learned today (4/30/2020) from an article in the Times Picayune that two of the band members of Sweet Crude were positive for COVID19. Today I also learned that rashes and blisters on the fingertips are some of the symptoms of COVID-19. About two weeks after I visited New Orleans, I developed these symptoms along with diarrhea and muscle pain. I went to my PCP and it was early in the crisis and they did not do a test for the virus. I am wondering if I was exposed and if I have antibodies. I called my PCP and she told me that tests for antibodies are not readily available.

“I have two patients who are positive for COVID-19. They are learning from me and I am learning from them.

“I am already missing New Orleans. I will miss attending the LPA convention and most likely the workshop in the fall. I missed attending the French Quarter Festival and am missing attending plays at Le Petite Theater. I will most likely miss the Tulane homecoming game and the Tulane Psychiatry conferences that I have been attending for the last few years. I cannot imagine what a season without the Astros, LSU Tigers, Tulane Green Wave, University of Houston Cougars and the Saints will be like,” he said.

“I remember the morning that Katrina was approaching New Orleans. I was gripped with fear and anticipation as I thought about what the storm might do to my favorite city. This crisis has the same feeling, but it is on a global scale.

“It is strange and awkward working with patients by telehealth. Sometimes it is difficult to hear what they are saying. Sometimes it is difficult for them to hear what I am saying. I am finding that some patients who suffer from severe problems communicating with other humans are very happy to be forced to stay at home and have no human contact. Other patients who have intact social skills are suffering deeply and report feeling like they are in prison in their own home.

“The impact on the African-American community and their rich culture, music and history in Houston and New Orleans makes me cry.

“This is a time for everyone to muddle through this crisis the best we can and to remain adaptable and cooperative. It is important to extend our help to others and reach out for help when we need it ourselves. I have opposed telehealth as a means of conducting psychotherapy for years. I am seeing its merits now and realize it has possibilities for the future after the virus has subsided. My motto now is to bend with the prevailing winds like a birch tree. We can get through this catastrophe together. United we will stand. Divided we will fall.”

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Legislature Could Dump 66% of Bills

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Legislators are slowly finding their way back to the 2020 legislative session after they suspended activities the second week in March due to the coronavirus cases in the region.

Required to adjourn on June 1, lawmakers will have less than 30 days to create a budget for the state, approve 300 or so appointees, and restructure state agencies that are scheduled for sunset. Only about a third of the bills previously filed will be addressed, reports Mark Ballard of the Advocate.

Only about a third of the bills previously filed will be addressed, reports Mark Ballard of the Advocate.

Ballard noted, “Senate President Page Cortez, R-Lafayette, and House Speaker Clay Schexnayder, R-Gonzalez, asked members to prioritize the legislation each had filed for what was supposed to be an 85-day session beginning March 9. About a third of the legislation will be heard with emphasis on measures dealing with COVID-19 responses, the economy and the budget. About a third of the proposed legislation will get a hearing, Cortez and Schexnayder said.”

The lawmakers have met very little during the interim and mostly to start the process of new bills that would be focused on combating the coronavirus and other problems related to the states economy and sinking oil prices.

Senate Bill 458, the ambitious set of changes to the psychology practice law initiated by the Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists (LSBEP) is not currently on the schedule. The measure is on hold after officers from the Louisiana Psychological Association (LPA) raised objections. A task force was established to develop a consensus regarding the measure and is still deliberating.

If passed SB 458 would make sweeping changes to the psychology law including a new set of regulations and fees for assistants, expanding the charter of the board, removing certain qualifications for serving, authorizing the board to conduct continuing education, exempting the board from Open Meetings Law for investigatory meetings, and formally establishing the position and duties of the Executive Director.

Some of the bills that have made it to the calendar include:

HB 243, by Rep. Lyons, exempts persons with disabilities from fees associated with obtaining medical records.

HB 473, by Rep. Duplessis, eliminates the 12-month mandatory minimum supervision period for defendants who elect to undergo treatment while participating in a drug division probation program.

HB 498, by Rep. Emerson, requires licensing boards to waive fees to applicants who meet certain criteria and to offer payment plans. Those applicants will qualify if they are receiving public assistance and earning less than 200 percent of the federal poverty guidelines.

HB 449, by Rep. Echols, provides relative to behavioral health services delivered via telehealth and regulation of such services by the La. Department of Health. Present law, the Louisiana Telehealth Access Act (R.S. 40:1223.1 et seq.), defines “telehealth”, in pertinent part, as a mode of delivering healthcare services that utilizes information and communication technologies to enable the diagnosis, consultation, treatment, education, care management, and self-management of patients at a distance from healthcare providers. Proposed law amends this definition to provide that healthcare services delivered via telehealth include behavioral health services. Present law, the Behavioral Health Services Provider Licensing Law (R.S. 40:2151 et seq.), requires the La. Department of Health to promulgate rules and regulations for behavioral health services providers. Proposed law provides that such rules and regulations address the delivery of behavioral health services through telehealth.

Other measures that may or may not be heard include:

HB 45, HB 48, both by Rep. Miller, provides a deadline for Title 37 licensing boards reports to be submitted and shifts the receipt of reports and complaints to the legislative auditor instead of the House and Senate governmental affairs committees. HB 48 removes provisions requiring Title 37 licensing boards and commissions to give notice that complaints about actions or procedures of the boards may be submitted to the board or commission or to the House and Senate governmental affairs committees.

HB 138, by Rep. Wright, requires the use of video cameras in classrooms where special education services are provided to certain students with exceptionalities.

HB 195, by Rep. D. Miller, removes the requirement to submit proof of active hospital privileges for a new healthcare provider in a group practice who bills an insurer using the group practice’s identification number prior to credentialing.

HB 158 by Rep. Marino, authorizes the recommendation of medical marijuana to patients by physicians for treating several neurodegenerative diseases and conditions.

HB 338, by Rep. Duplessis, requires the reporting of certain physical and mental health information of an offender appearing before the committee on parole for a parole hearing. Proposed law retains present law and adds information regarding the physical, mental, or psychiatric condition of the offender, when available, to the list of information included in the report secured by the department.

HB 485, by Rep. D. Miller, provides admitting privileges to psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners for preparing and executing orders for the admission of patients to licensed psychiatric treatment facilities. Proposed law retains present law and adds psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners may admit persons with mental illness or suffering from a substance-related or addictive disorder pursuant to present law.

HB 505, by Rep. Bishop. Proposed law establishes the licensed profession of art therapist in La. Provides for licensure of art therapists by the La. State Board of Medical Examiners.

HB 663, by Rep. Hughes revises school discipline laws. Present law provides relative to student discipline. Proposed law provides a comprehensive revision of present law, applicable to all public schools, including charter schools.

SB 128, by Sen. Barrow, requires certain assessments of a student prior to suspension from school. Proposed law requires the principal, prior to suspending a student, to ensure that the student is assessed using an instrument, such as the Adverse Childhood Experiences Assessment developed by the Centers for Disease Control, that is designed to determine if the student has experienced trauma, and whether the student’s behavior may be better addressed in a manner other than through suspension.

SB 170, by Sen. F. Mills, provides relative to health care emergency visit alternative treatment reimbursement. Proposed law establishes an enhanced Medicaid reimbursement rate for hospitals that triage nonemergency Medicaid recipients presenting at the hospital emergency department to a hospital primary care clinic when such transition is appropriate.

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For Now, Behavior is the Key

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“There’s no magic bullet. There’s no magic vaccine or therapy. It’s just behaviors”, said Dr. Deborah Brix of the White House Coronavirus Task Force. “Each of our behaviors, translating into something that changes the course of this viral pandemic, over the next 30 days.”

The current crisis brings into sharp focus the limitations our health systems in fighting any new, stealth, and lethal virus. Behavioral intervention is not one of traditional medicine’s strengths––reflected in Medscape authors’ use of the term “non-pharmaceutical intervention” to describe social distancing.

While pharmaceutical treatments are being developed, the “behavioral immune system” and lifestyle interventions that support natural immunity are the key

The new virus is highly contagious, transmitted through the air, from those who are asymptomatic––estimated to be up to 50%. Since the virus may avoid our usual pathogen detection, efforts have been to raise our conscious awareness. Heightening this behavioral immune system–so we learn to automatically wash our hands, resist touching our eyes, or take three steps back from another–is becoming the new normal.

A second avenue of behavioral intervention is to support the innate immune system for individuals. Evidence is also mounting that the new virus might somehow bypass the innate immune defenses in some, or suppress immunity, an especially dangerous issue for older people and those younger people with deficiencies.

Self-care behaviors for natural immunity involve many lifestyle factors. One example is food choice. The immune system needs adequate vitamins A, B, C, K, Zinc and sunshine for D. Too much sugar, alcohol or caffeine is detrimental to the immune system, as is any amount smoking at all. Exercise boosts growth hormone and that enhances immunity. Lowering emotional stress supports immune functions. One of best and cheapest behavioral interventions for everyone is a simple and pleasant behavior–sleep. Yet, many in the U.S. don’t get their needed dose.

We have a myriad of ideas and methods for supporting the behavioral immune system and behaviors that increase the innate immune defenses. Even a 10% change in some aspect or another might be the difference between a person going to the hospital or staying out. For this special issue we cover topics for sleep, stress, and music, ideas for dealing with the pandemic and how psychology can help.

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Lullaby Blessings: Help for Families Stuck at Home

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Susie Marie, PhD

Musical Messages® – April 1, 2020

As infants, when we felt irritable and fussy, or were unable to relax and fall asleep, our mothers would wrap their arms around us, hold us close, and sing lullabies to us. These softly sung rhyming words, with their slow, steady, repetitive patterns of simple melodies, delivered with high pitched, deep emotional expression, in swaying triple meter, were the medicine we needed to drift into peaceful slumber.

The mother’s voice, la voix maternelle, has unmatched power to influence the growth and development of her young. Even before birth babies can recognize their mother’s voices, and as infants they prefer the voices of their mothers above all others. Mothers across the centuries and around the globe have used the power of their voices to influence their children through lullabies.

Lullabies are the vehicles through which mothers first teach their children important family stories and traditions, and share timeless cultural knowledge and values. Mothers also express their own troubles and worries, reassuring themselves and their little ones, through lullabies.

Gregor Roy MacGregor of Clan Gregor fought for years to reclaim family land that Robert the Bruce, King of Scotland, had granted to the chief of the Clan Campbell. When he was captured and killed in 1570, his widow composed and sang the lullaby Ba Mo Leanabh to her son. You can listen to her mournful tale here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P7dW 1FtfS9Q

She sang of her plight while comforting her child, “On hush-a-bye, my little baby. Hush, my little baby, hush. Oh hush-abye, my little baby. My own little baby will go to sleep. Though I am without a flock of sheep, And the others all have sheep, Though I am without a flock of sheep, You, little baby, can go to sleep.”

She also sang of the strength of her devotion as she relayed the tragic truth of her child’s father’s fate, “Darling, of the people of the great world, They spilt your blood yesterday, They put your head on an oaken post. A little way from your corpse I breathlessly climbed the great mountain, I climbed and I descended. I would put the hair of my head under your feet, and the skin of my two hands.”

No matter what the circumstances of her life, a mother can establish a secure bond with her child through lullabies, which provide stabilizing comfort by modulating arousal and regulating behavior. Research on premature infants provides some of the most compelling evidence of the benefits of lullabies. Their breathing and heart rates improve, feeding and sleeping increase, they get better faster, and they are discharged sooner than babies deprived of “live” lullabies.

The electronic delivery of lullabies lacks impact for babies in hospitals and in homes. Babies want real, live females to sing their lullabies. One of the beautiful features of lullabies is that the lyrics are customized, adding special endearments and unique details, sometimes with silly words and intonations, that express love and affection, and the worth of each individual child. Babies need the intimate, personal interaction of traditional lullabies that mothers through-out the world have provided for centuries.

Screened presentations of lullabies, such as those available through Apps and YouTube, are generically produced, lack understanding of children’s social and developmental needs, and are promoted by unscientific testimonials. These productions have corrupted the classic definition of lullabies. They use male voices and instruments, and instead of lulling a baby to sleep, they function primarily as ways to settle a baby by signaling a specific family routine.

Children whose mothers sing lullabies to them through-out the first year of life have significant advantages over children deprived of such a rich musical heritage. Lullabied babies show greater growth across multiple developmental realms. Music activates many parts of the brain simultaneously, and establishes strong foundations for speech and language, mathematical and spatial skills, sensory and creative development. Dr. Nina Kraus of the Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory of Northwestern University aptly describes music as the “quitessential multimodal activity.”

The Polish composer Frederic Chopin gave the world a new musical form in 1844 when he completed his, a cradle song. (Le berceau is French for cradle.) He is thought to have been inspired by Louisetta, the child of his musician friend Pauline Viardot, and by a song from his childhood, “The moon now has risen, the dogs are asleep.”

German composer Johannes Brahms gave us his berceuse, Wiegenlied, a lied (art song) for piano and voice in 1868, which is best known as “Brahms Cradle Song,” one of his most popular works. He too was inspired by a friend who was a mother, Bertha Faber, when she gave birth to her second son. In 1877 Brahms incorporated this melody as the second theme of the first movement of his second symphony. The second theme begins at bar 82 and continues through-out the movement. You can hear that first movement here. https://www.youtube.com/watch ?v=uJ3AOeNfWy4

Brahms original lyrics were, “Good evening, good night, With roses covered, with cloves adorned, Tomorrow morning, if God wills, you will wake again. Good evening, good night, By angels watched, who show you in your dream, the Christ-child’s tree. Sleep now blissfully and sweetly, see the paradise in your dreams.” These words express Brahms’ appreciation of the ultimate security a mother provides, by protecting her child even beyond death through faith.

Today we know this piece, so popular in music boxes, as “Brahms Lullaby,” that begins “Lullaby, and good night” and continues “Lay thee down now and rest. May thy slumber be blest.” Twentieth century American lyricist William Engvick created new, simpler words for the melody, giving us “Close Your Eyes.” You can enjoy Rosemary Clooney’s version here. https://www.youtube.com/watch ?v=MOLOFTFatgc&feature=yo utu.be

In contrast to the peace and joy of the lullaby is the lament. A lament, as a passionate expression of grief that is prominent in Biblical texts, is an appeal to God for help. The initial wailing complaint is transformed through the process in which the petitioner addresses God, describes the suffering, pleads for divine assistance, expresses trust, and offers thanksgiving and gratitude, in anticipating of receiving relief.

Music therapists have developed “lullaments,” which combine both lullabies and laments, to help hospitalized children and their parents, and adult cancer patients in palliative care. Lullabies, which focus on attachment, nurturance, and growth, used together with laments, which emphasize detachment, sorrow, and loss, can help patients cope with uncertainty and fear of death. As our nation contends with the crises and tragedies of the coronavirus pandemic, lullaments can be an important resource to help ease suffering.

Lullabies, however, capture the blessings and fundamental freedom of a strong maternal bond. Perhaps we all need to envision ourselves embraced in a loving mother’s arms, lulled into peaceful sleep by the sounds of her sweet lullabies. Though the link below takes you to a lessthan-ideal digital format where I share a childhood memory and sing a lullaby inspired by roses, I hope that my Musical Messages® will help bring us emotionally close as we remain physically distant for the health of country.

Musical Messages®

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Sleep’s Gift to Immunity – Monocytes, Macrophages, and Natural Killer Cells

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“Sleep has been shown to be an important modulator of the immune response,” said Dr. Denise Sharon, MD, PhD, and Diplomate in Sleep Medicine. “Lack of sleep increases susceptibility to infection by decreasing immunity.” Dr. Sharon is a psychologist and physician and she now serves as Independent Consultant at Pomona Valley Medical Center’s Adult and Children Sleep Disorders Clinic.

Dr. Sharon previously served as Associate Professor of Medicine, Sleep Medicine Fellowship Faculty, and Assistant Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans, and also as director of the Comprehensive Sleep Medicine Center of the Gulf Coast.

“Sleep is a behavior,” Dr. Sharon explained, “and it is an important one for health.” Pointing to research by Besedovsky and others, “Sleep and immune function” in Pflugers Arch European Journal of Physiology, Dr. Sharon says, “Sleep supports the immune system through the initiation of an adaptive immune response.”

“There are two major types of immune response: innate and adaptive. Innate immunity is the first line of defense, the immediate generalized response to pathogens,” explained Dr. Sharon. “Adaptive or acquired immunity is an antigen-specific response and develops over time. The innate immune system cell types include monocytes, macrophages and dendritic cells. During sleep these undifferentiated immune cells peak in the peripheral blood and lymph nodes.”

“Growth hormone and prolactin are released during the same period of sleep and both enhance the proliferation and differentiation of the T cells, which are active in innate immunity. Natural killer cells–NK cells–are also affected by sleep,” she said, citing the research by Reis and others. “NK cells are part of the immune complement system whose activation is increased by sleep.”

“Sleep and immunity have a bidirectional relationship. The stimulation of the immune system triggers an inflammatory response that can induce an increase in sleep duration and intensity, but also sleep disruption. The enhanced sleep potentiates the immune system resulting in improved infection outcomes,” she said.

“Contrarily, sleep deprivation can lead to susceptibility to infections and if chronic to systemic low-grade inflammation,” she explained pointing to a 2019 study by Besedovsky and Lange, “The Sleep-Immune Crosstalk in Health and Disease” in Physiol Rev.

“There are huge numbers of people who are sleep deprived,” she said. “And it is a state in which negative emotion tends to prevail, like other strong need deprivation states.”

Clinical psychologist Dr. William Waters, long-time expert in the area of sleep would agree. “The whole country is sleep deprived,” he said in a previous interview. “You can’t do sleep deprivation research without feeling a little scared about traveling on the highway at night or early in the morning.”

Dr. Waters developed his interest in sleep during his years as Clinical Director at Louisiana State University throughout the 80s. An ABPP in clinical psychology with a strong psychophysiological background, Dr. Waters trained psychologists in sleep research and sleep medicine while Director and Full Professor at LSU. His first publication in the area of sleep was also in the 80s. He continues his interest at the Sleep Disorders Center at Ochsner Clinic in Baton Rouge.

“It’s not just sleep deprivation,” he said, “but the quality of sleep is very poor for many of those who actually do get enough sleep. For example, sleep apnea produces fragmented and light sleep that is not restorative, and causes the same functional decrements that are caused by sleep deprivation, including negative affect.”

Dr. Waters has worked in several areas of neuroscience research at the University of Missouri School of Medicine, LSU and the Pennington Biomedical Research Center. He holds fellowship positions in the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and he sits on the Board of Directors of the Louisiana Academy of Sleep Medicine. He is a Diplomate of the American Board of Sleep Medicine and the American Board of Professional Psychology.

Researchers have found that poor sleep patterns appear connected with a number of chronic illnesses, high stress hormones, hypertension, or a greater risk of diabetes and body mass.

“…And increased morbidity and increased mortality,” noted Dr. Sharon. “If we add intermittent hypoxemia, even mild, to the mix, the result is an inflammatory response that challenges the autoimmune system and contributes to plaque build-up.”

“Look for a middle-aged, overweight male or female,” said Dr. Waters, “and you are likely to find a problem with quality of sleep because they are likely to have sleep apnea. For psychologists, it is worth noting that sleep apnea will look a lot like depression,” he said.

As important as a full night of quality sleep is, the National Sleep Foundation’s data has revealed that 33.7 percent of responders said they did not get the amount of sleep they needed. And only 40 percent said they get a good night’s sleep every night or almost every night.

“The one thing that will reliably destroy sleep is stress,” Dr. Waters said. “No matter what the psychiatrists say, it is all continuous. If you want to take a point on the continuum and call it a disease you can. But stress–the psychophysiological responses–are aimed at getting you to deal with threat,” he said. “And then how likely are you to go to sleep?”

“Keep in mind that negative emotion is a stress response,” he said, “and therefore predictably disrupts sleep, delaying its onset, and making it light and interruptible. In other words, non-restorative.”

Helping a person get the rest and quality night sleep he or she needs was one of the first things that Dr. Sharon enjoyed in this specialty area. “Coming from psychiatry,” she said, “the first thing I liked about sleep medicine was instant gratification. The majority of our patients [obstructive sleep apnea, narcolepsy, restless leg syndrome] improve immediately after diagnosis and correct treatment with minimal if any side effects.”

“Sleep is the kind of area that clinical psychologists should be doing, it is just made for us,” Dr. Waters said. “We have a whole scientific discipline at our fingertips that is applicable.” He explained that the basic principles of behavior, applied to the treatment of sleep, is a perfect fit.

“Sleep hygiene and stimulus-control therapies are nothing more than applying what we know about sleep related behavior to make the person more likely to sleep,” he said. “Relaxation therapy is what we do to tone down activation. And remember that it is activation, particularly emotional activation, that causes insomnia and reduces the quality of sleep.”

Walter C. Buboltz, Jr. PhD, Professor, Director of Training Counseling Psychology, and his team of researchers at Louisiana Tech have worked to help unravel some of the complex issues in the area of sleep, for college students.

“Basically what we’re finding is people that have poor sleep quality tend to consume more food and weigh more over time,” said Dr. Buboltz, “Our hope eventually is to give them interventions or strategies to sleep better which would keep them healthier and decrease their weight.”

Dr. Janelle McDaniel, currently at University of Louisiana Monroe, and previously Assistant Professor and part of the team at Louisiana Tech, said, “It’s important to consider the interaction between different factors such as sleep and eating habits when thinking about wellness globally because treating one particular factor may not address underlying conditions.”

Dr. Buboltz and his team developed an intervention program for college students called the Step Program. “It’s basically training students to learn appropriate sleep habits, sleep hygiene and sleep education.”

Sleep hygiene, explained Dr. Buboltz, is “Doing things that promote sleep, like not drinking coffee past five, not working out at midnight or eating a lot of food before bed, but relaxing before going to sleep.”

Dr. Buboltz noted that their goal for these types of studies was learning about what’s appropriate. “Most people don’t know you’re supposed to sleep eight to nine hours a night. Most people don’t know about the amount of caffeine in food. Chocolate is actually worse for caffeine content than Coke! Colleges are bad about having intramural sports events at nine and ten o’clock at night and that prevents them from going to sleep.”

“We’re mainly focused on its effect on health,” Dr. Buboltz said.

With the overlap between major areas of psychology, psychophysiology, attention, emotion, Dr. William Waters finds this area to be perfect for those in psychology and the health promotion of patients. “The best clinician you can have is one with an integrated perspective,” he said.

Current research suggests that seven to nine hours of uninterrupted per night is necessary for the immune system to function optimally.

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Psych Board’s Ambitious SB 458 Filed in March

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A 23–page document, Senate Bill 458, outlining an ambitious set of changes to the psychology practice law was introduced on March 31. The legislative effort was initiated by the Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists (LSBEP) and is authored by Senator Jay Luneau from Alexandria.

If passed SB 458 will make sweeping changes to the psychology law including a new set of regulations for assistants, additions to the charter of the board, changing qualifications for serving, authorizing the board to conduct continuing education, exempting the board from Open Meetings Law for investigatory meetings, and formally establishing the position and duties of the Executive Director.

The measure is on hold after officers from the Louisiana Psychological Association (LPA) For Now, Behavior is the Key attended the public meeting of the board, held on Zoom, Friday, April 3, and raised objections. Attendees included current President Alan Coulter, President-Elect Erin Reuther, and Chair for Professional Affairs, Kim VanGeffen.

Following discussion on several matters regarding both how the bill was initiated and the content of the specific changes, Dr. Greg Gormanous, Chair of Legislative Affairs for LSBEP, put forth a motion to establish an Ad Hoc Legislative Collaborative Committee composed of members from LPA, the Louisiana School Psychological Association, and the Louisiana Academy of Medical Psychologists.

After discussion with LPA Pres. Alan Coulter, Dr. Gormanous also put forth a second motion to agree that SB 458 would not proceed forward unless and until participants in the Collaborative Committee arrived at a consensus, through good faith efforts.

The Times asked Dr. Gormanous, if the board had contacted any citizen in or citizen groups, for initiating legislation. He replied no. The Times also asked if the board had conducted a formal vote about filing legislation to which Dr. Gormanous also answered no.

SB 458 covers a variety of changes to the practice act. One of the significant areas a new category of “Registered Assistant to Psychologist.” This is to be, “§2356.4. Assistants to psychologists; registration, supervision, renewal, lapse, termination, reinstatement, and scope of practice.”

New language includes the following: “B. Upon employment of an assistant to psychologists, but prior to performance of psychological duties by the assistant to psychologists, the psychologist of record who is licensed under the provisions of this Chapter shall submit a complete application for registration, the registration fee, and other information as may be required by the board. The application fee for registration of an assistant to psychologist shall not exceed one hundred dollars.”

The board’s criteria for issuing a certificate of registration as an assistant to psychologist includes

“(5) Possess minimum qualifications commensurate with the services to be provided by the registrant as defined in the rules and regulations of the board.

“(6) Has supervised training commensurate with the services to be performed by the registrant as defined in the rules and regulations of the board.

“E. (1) The services and duties of a person registered under this Section as an assistant to psychologists is limited to psychological services authorized by the board, that are commensurate with their education and training, and under the direct and continuous supervision of the psychologist of record who is licensed under this Chapter.

“J. (1) The board may deny or revoke a registration that is in the best interest of public, health, safety, and welfare for any unethical, unlawful or other unprofessional conduct brought to the attention of the board under the jurisdiction of this Chapter. […]

“L. (1) The psychologist of record shall, during the month of July of each year, beginning in the year immediately subsequent to the initial registration of the assistant to psychologist, submit to the board a renewal application as prescribed by the board and renewal fee. The renewal fee shall be determined annually by the board and shall not exceed seventy-five dollars.

“N. The provisions of this Section shall not apply to medical psychologists utilizing assistants under the provisions of R.S. 37:1360.61 under jurisdiction of the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners.”

The new legislation would also make additions and changes to “Practice of psychology,” including:

“(a) Psychological research…

“(b) Psychological research and test development.

“(h) Provision of direct services to individuals or groups for the purpose of enhancing individual and organizational effectiveness.

“(i) Using psychological principles, methods and procedures to assess and evaluate individuals for the purpose of rendering an expert opinion and diagnosis in a legal setting.

“(j) Using psychological principles, methods, and procedures to assess and evaluate an individuals’ personal characteristics for individual development or behavior change or for making decisions about the individual.

“(k) Supervision and consultation related to any of the services described in this Chapter. […]

“Psychological services may be offered in a variety of settings including, but not limited to private and public clinics, hospitals, schools, universities, legal settings, that include civil, criminal and family court, and prison systems, government organizations and departments.”

The LSBEP also proposes to change the qualifications for board members, and remove the wording for board members to have practiced “for at least five years.” Then they seek to add the following: (b) No more than two early career psychologists shall hold a seat on the board at any given time.

Also under §2353, regarding organization, the proposal would make formal the position of executive director.

“(3) The board shall appoint an executive director who shall be an unclassified employee of the state. The executive director shall receive a salary determined by the board along with reimbursement for the actual and reasonable expenses approved by the board, in connection with the performance of official duties […].”

A listing of the duties includes: the daily operations of the board and implementation of board policy, the supervision and direction of all employees of the board, and the performance of complaint investigations.

Also under the section on organization, the board seeks to expand its charter. Some of the new duties are:

. “(8) Administer oaths, in the taking of testimony at any hearing before the board or appoint a designee by resolution or contract to administer oaths upon any matters relative to the duties of the board or violation of this Chapter.

“(9) Issue subpoena or appoint a designee by resolution, to require attendance, testimony, and the production of documents to enforce the laws and rules relative to the practice of psychology and to secure evidence of violations thereof.

“(10) Take emergency action in accordance with the provisions of R.S. 49:961: (a) If the board finds that the public health, safety, and welfare require emergency action and incorporates a finding to that effect in its order, a summary suspension, revocation or other action. […] (b) The board may delegate by resolution to the executive committee, the authority to issue an order of summary suspension when it is determined that the public health, safety and welfare requires emergency action. […]

“(13) Establish an executive committee with authority to establish through formal action to execute certain tasks and duties of the board, including but not limited to issuing subpoena and summary suspension authority, and utilized to facilitate the proper functioning of the board.

“(15) Provide education to licensees and to the public relating to the purpose of the board, applicable laws and rules, and public health, safety, and welfare as it pertains to the practice of psychology.”

SB 458 also lists numerous changes in authority to collect fees and to exempt meetings of the investigatory process from Open Meetings Law. The new language would be, “All proceedings in connection with any investigation by the board shall be conducted in closed session, and are exempt from the provisions of the Public Meetings Law pursuant to R.S. 42:17(A)(4).”

SB 458 can be found at https://legis.la.gov/legis/ViewDocument.aspx? d=1168057

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LSBEP Planning Changes in Law

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In the last week of February members of the La. Psychological Association reviewed a memo from the Board of Examiners of Psychologists on “Possible Housekeeping Legislation.” The three-page memo, obtained from an undisclosed source, included substantial changes to areas of the psychology law, said the source.

One of the significant areas listed in the memo is the goal to define “Registered Assistant to Psychologist.” The board notes that the psychologist and anyone under the supervision of that psychologist must conduct their activities in ethical and professional ways that meet standards required by the board. The authors of the memo write, “Clear authority to require registration of assistance will allow the board to enforce regulations that it promulgates, ensure the individuals who are being employed or qualified do not have a history of violent behavior, or other impairment that would prohibit them from interacting with vulnerable populations, with whom they are often alone.”

The board also notes that the changes they seek would allow them the authority to collect fees for registering assistants.

The memo also included a number of expansions to the authority of the board including the right to delegate to an employee or Executive Director subpoena authority.

The authors note that even though the board has authority to issue a summary suspension (of a license) there is no clear language in the law that gives the board the right to delegate that authority to a specific individual or executive committee.

This authority is outlined in Louisiana Administrative Procedures Act 49:956, they write, however there is no clear authority given to the board to delegate the authority to a specific individual or committee.

“Present law is also silent on the authority of the board to delegate duties to an Executive Director of the agency in order to effectuate the provisions of the Chapter.”

The board would also like to change the law to give itself clear authority to provide educational activities and to recuperate the cost of providing such education.

According to the memo the board would like to modify the definition of the practice of psychology. “This definition has been challenged in an attempt to exclude from licensure those individuals who practice in a forensic setting,” the board writes. The definition, authors say, should also be modified to include individuals engaged in education and training in a clinical setting such as university hospitals and clinics.

The LSBEP wants to change the definition of board member such that the qualification no longer includes a minimum of five years practice under Louisiana law. “This is unnecessarily restrictive and narrows the pool of qualified board members,” they write. “A new licensee may have been in practice for more than five years in another jurisdiction.”

The board is also seeking changes in the licensing requirements because they are outdated, they explain. They suggest changes are needed to match the current national standards for training and credentialing for licensure.

Adding the words “or otherwise restrict“ into the definition of the boards power to “suspend, deny or revoke” someone’s license, and so this would allow them to modify licenses in a less restrictive way where appropriate and allow some individuals to continue to practice in a limited capacity in contrast to completely revoking their license, the authors explain.

The board members also recommend changes to establish clear authority for them to collect applicable administration and maintenance fees, as related to application, registration and renewals.

The board is also seeking to change the definition of “Executive Committee” because the present law is not clear regarding the authority of the board to delegate certain functions.

Authors write they want to make additions or changes in matters of telepsychology including the authority to collect fees necessary to review or deny request to provide training via electronically means.

Also the LSBEP is seeking to further define and determine the differences between an “applicant” for licensure and a “candidate” for licensure because the board has been challenged with determining the level of due process rights of an individual once they are granted candidacy status.

The memo was obtained from an undisclosed source in Louisiana Psychological Association who said that the association was not in favor of major changes without more assessment of the suggestions by the members at the state association and the community at large.

The memo does not appear to be posted on the board’s website. However, according to the December minutes (posted January 10) legislative efforts were discussed briefly. “Dr. Gormanous expressed his opinion that the LSBEP should prepare to educate people, including new legislators if the Board is going to seriously consider statutory changes.” And, “The committee agreed that they would wait for ASPPB to publish recommendations for the ‘Elevator Speech’ and revisit that topic at that time.”

The minutes contained no reference to comments from the members about separation of powers.

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Community Health Centers Saved Louisiana’s Medicaid Program $645 Million, Boosted Economy by $772 Million, Report Says

FacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailAccording to a new report released November 26 by Capital Link and sponsored by the Louisiana Primary Care Association, 35 Federally Qualified Health Centers (commonly referred to as Community Health Centers), are responsible for an annual $772 million economic impact on Louisiana’s economy.

The authors concluded that by servicing Medicaid patients at a 24% lower cost than private providers, managing chronic conditions, keeping patients out of the emergency room, and emphasizing the importance of preventive care, Community Health Centers saved the healthcare system $868 million.

Among the report’s additional findings:

•In 2018, Louisiana’s Community Health Centers saved Louisiana’s Medicaid program $645 million.

•Health centers reinvested in their communities by engaging in $416 million in direct health center spending, resulting in an additional $356 million in indirect and induced community spending.

•Louisiana’s Community Health Centers employed 3,149 individuals and spurred the creation of 2,635 additional jobs in their surrounding communities.

•Last year, Louisiana’s Community Health Centers provided primary care, oral health, and behavioral health services to over 444,000 patients across the state.

Health centers continue to serve as the providers of choice for those who have recently gained access to health insurance coverage through Medicaid expansion.

The report said that Community Health Centers are known for providing high quality preventive and primary health care to patients, and they also work to stimulate economic growth and generate cost savings for both urban and rural communities across Louisiana.

“Year after year, health centers continue to demonstrate that they are critical components of Louisiana’s healthcare safety-net,” said Gerrelda Davis, Executive Director of the Louisiana Primary Care Association.

 “This report confirms that health centers are proven leaders in meeting the needs of patients at an affordable cost to taxpayers.  The federal government has no program with a better return on  investment than it does with the Health Center Program.”

Thirty-five Community Health Centers were included in this analysis.  Economic numbers were derived using health center audited financial statements and statistics as reported on the 2018 Uniform Data System.  An integrated economic modeling software called IMPLAN was used which applies the “multiplier effect” to capture the direct, indirect, and induced economic effects of health center business operations.  I is widely used by economists, state and city planners, universities, and others to estimate the impact of projects and expenditures on the local economy.

The Louisiana Primary Care Association (LPCA) represents 38 federally funded, private, non-profit and public Community Health Centers (including two Look-Alikes) across Louisiana that serve over 444,000 patients annually.  LPCA promotes community-based health services through advocacy, education, and collaboration with community partners. Their goal is to ensure that every Louisianan has access to affordable, quality, primary care services.  For more information, visit www.LPCA.net. Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail