Category Archives: Features

New Facts Point to Discrimination in National Exam, Selection Programs at State Boards

The debate over an additional exam for those applying for a state psychology license has shined the light on a nest of scientific problems originating at the Association of State and Provincial  Psychology Boards (ASPPB).

The debate has unearthed new facts and a jaw dropping irony––the psychology profession, a  discipline that preaches anti-discrimination to others, and that sets the bar for selection-testing, has been promoting racism at state licensing boards, and by all accounts doing it for the  money.

These problems might start with the ASPPB, but legally and morally they land at the doorstep of every state psychology board. The situation hits Louisiana particularly hard. While only 4% of  licensed psychologists nationwide are African-Americans, Louisiana has a 34% Black population, a group chronically underserved by mental health professionals. Louisiana is specifically in need of psychologists who understand the Black experience.

For this report we look at current facts, core problems and underlying causes of how organized  psychology is failing its students, the public, and its own goal of fighting systemic racism.

“Adverse Impact” found in psychology license examination program

The psychologist license exam is called the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology  or EPPP. After finding racial differences in the New York state pass–fail rate on the EPPP scores, Dr. Brian Sharpless has now found similar problems in Connecticut.

Dr. Sharpless studied 642 applicants to the Connecticut State Board of Examiners of Psychologists. In his article, “Pass Rates on the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) According to Demographic Variables: A Partial Replication,” he reported  significant differences in failure rates based on ethnicity.

Whites had a 5.75% failure rate, Blacks had a 23.33% failure rate, and Hispanics had a 18.6%  failure rate.

In a much larger study in New York, Dr. Sharpless discovered an even greater impact by race.  He reported his findings in “Are Demographic Variables Associated with Performance on the  Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP)?”

Dr. Sharpless gathered data on 4,892 New York applicants and first-time EPPP takers. He  obtained records of all doctoral-level psychology licensure applicants from the past 25 years  and looked at their EPPP scores.

He found that Blacks had a failure rate of 38.50% and Hispanics had a failure rate of 35.60%.  Whereas, Whites had a failure rate of 14.07%.

“Adverse impact” is the term used to describe differences in scores. An exam has adverse  impact if minority candidates fail to pass at at least 80% of the majority race candidates’ rate.  The results in New York classify as adverse impact and the Connecticut results clear the bar only by a hair.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it illegal to discriminate against someone on the  basis of race, color, religion, national origin, or sex. When state psychology boards deny a  license based only the EPPP scores, they must prove that the test is being used in a fair and 
unbiased manner.

Selection–testing and design of selection programs is most often a subspecialty in industrial– organizational and business psychology. State boards primarily deal with healthcare  practitioners, and are composed of clinicians. So, expertise in selection testing is unlikely to be  involved in all or most states.

“If two states have found adverse impact, it is probable that all or most states will also find  adverse impact. It is typical for knowledge tests to have adverse impact anyway, and this must  be handled in the overall selection program,” said one expert.

One Black candidate told the Times, “We’ve known for a long time that the test discriminates–we learned it in graduate school. But there’s nothing we, as students, can do about it.”

According to one source at the Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists (LSBEP), the board makes no effort to study their procedures for adverse impact.

Critics of the national exam have gained momentum, fueled by the ASPPB’s effort to install yet  another, second examination, called the EPPP2.

Dr. Jennifer Callahan sounded the alarm as lead author in her article, “The enhanced  examination for professional practice in psychology: A viable approach?” published in the  flagship journal for psychologists, American Psychologist.

The EPPP2 has not been evaluated for its intended purpose, Callahan said. “For jurisdictions  implementing the EPPP Part 2, failure to gather and report the evidence required for use of a  test in a forensic context may also open the door for legal challenges.”

Dr. Sharpless had also been pointing to legal risks. “… given the ethnic performance  discrepancies and limited validity evidence, […] it will remain open to charges of being a  potentially arbitrary barrier in an already protracted path to professional independence…”.

Industrial-organizational psychologist Dr. William Costelloe, who works in the private sector,  agrees. There is no other choice these days, he told the Times, “… predictive validation studies must be conducted.”

Another business psychologist said that in the private sector the ASPPB’s approach would not  be accepted. “Business owners would not take the risk of having adverse impact. We would be  adjusting cutoffs and adding unbiased tests to the overall selection program, so that our clients  could avoid adverse impact.”

Criticisms have been mostly dismissed by officials at the ASPPB. In an answer to Callahan, also  published in the American Psychologist, Drs. Matthew Turner, John Hunsley and Emil Rodolfa  defended their decisions. “The standards emphasize that licensure/credentialing examinations  are built from a content validation framework, and this framework is used for licensure examinations across professions,” they said.

Dr. Turner is employed by ASPPB and in charge of the exam services. He was previously  employed by the Georgia school systems. Both Hunsley and Rodolfa have also worked with and  provided consulting services for the ASPPB examinations.

Callahan and coauthors replied, “…Turner et al. remain narrowly focused on defense of content  validity and a reliance on outdated standards that fail to meet contemporary expectations for  assessment of health care professionals. […] ASPPB’s methods demonstrably foster linguistic biases and systemic racism that constricts licensure of diverse individuals as psychologists.”

Callahan urged ASPPB to take “drastic corrective action.”

Experts point to serious issues with how states use cutoff scores on the national test, especially  since there is no criterion related research to help set the cutoff.

“A 50th percentile cutoff score, that automatically fails the bottom half of a sample, all who are  highly qualified already, does not make sense,” said one business psychologist. “This is exactly  the way you drive up adverse impact. You’re basically having a bunch of PhDs compete against  each other and then flunking half of them. Is your hypothesis really that half are incompetent?”

Sharpless had earlier noted problems with the cut off scores, typically set at the 50th percentile  by state boards. “Additional empirical attention should be devoted to the cut score…” he said.  “…the determination of the ‘passing’ score is one of the most important, yet difficult, psychometric tasks in testing …”

ASPPB acknowledges the exam limitations. On their webpage officials state, “There is no  suggestion that people who do better on the EPPP will be better practitioners.”

The connection between test score and job performance would require predictive validity  research, which ASPPB does not conduct.

Dr. Costelloe, explained “… predictive validation studies must be conducted.” For instance, “…  you infer that a candidate with a high Extroversion score will make more sales than a candidate  who has a high Introversion score,” Costelloe said. With a predictive study, “… you realize that  your inference was not only completely wrong but backwards. Why? The sales personnel are  interacting with mechanical engineers who must make the decision to switch over these new  valves. They don’t want to relate. They want specific engineering facts and data and they are  introverts.”

Michael Cunningham, PhD, Professor of Psychology, Africana Studies and Associate Provost at  Tulane, points to potential problems with item development.

“Like all standardized exams, people with the highest pass rates tend to very similar in racial  and ethnic backgrounds as the test developers,” he said. “For many standardized tests, experts  examine items for bias when there is an adverse impact of a question for males or females. In  these cases, when bias still exists after an item analysis, the question is excluded. I don’t think  similar considerations are done for racial/ethnic or SES backgrounds.”

ASPPB seems unconcerned with the scientific criticisms and standards. In April 2018, then SPPB CEO, Dr. Stephen DeMers, met with members of the Louisiana State Board of Examiners of  Psychologists and representatives of Louisiana Psychological Association (LPA).

About the meeting, Dr. Kim VanGeffen, Chair of LPA Professional Affairs, said, “Dr. DeMers  acknowledged that, currently, there is not really any research on the validity of the EPPP-2.  There do not seem to be any plans to obtain predictive validity nor does the EPPP2 committee  believe that establishing this type of validity is necessary,” she said.

Dr. Marc Zimmermann, past LSBEP board member, also attended. “He [Dr. DeMers] stated that  there is no predictive validity,” said Zimmermann. “He also threw in that none of the national  tests had predictive validity. He reported that content validity was the accepted standard  because a test with predictive validity could not be constructed,” said Dr. Zimmermann. “…  DeMers had the temerity to try to sell us something that does not meet the standard that  psychological tests being published are expected to have.”

Is more regulation needed? Safety estimates for psychologists are very good

One of the arguments that critics mention is the consistently high safety ratings for  psychologists, based on the low number of disciplinary actions nationwide.

“There is no evidence that the public is facing some sort of previously unheard of crisis in terms  of safety from currently practicing psychologists,” said Dr. Amy Henke, who spearheaded a  Resolution opposing the EPPP2 while serving as a director for the LPA.

“Trainees are already held to high standards through a variety of benchmarks,” Dr. Henke wrote in the Resolution, “… including but not limited to: APA approval of doctoral programs, multiple  practicums where competency is repeatedly assessed, completion of formal internship training  (also approved and regulated by APA and APPIC), and supervised post-doctoral hours obtained  prior to licensure.”

However, Dr. Emil Rodolfa, then a program developer at ASPPB, questioned if these standards  are enough, saying that supervisors have “… difficulty providing accurate evaluations of their  supervisees to others who may have to evaluate the supervisee’s competency.”

The facts are on Dr. Henke’s side. Data from their own ASPPB Disciplinary Data System:  Historical Discipline Report show rates of disciplinary actions for psychologists to be  consistently low. For an estimated 125,000 psychologists in the US and Canada, the disciplinary  rates remain around 1–2 per 1,000.

For 2016–2020, the total reported disciplinary actions across the U.S. and Canada ranged from  139 to 186.

Using a conservative estimate of 10 clients per psychologist per year, this translates to a safety  problem of one or two per 10,000 service events.

Louisiana’s rate is similar to the national average. For the year 2019–2020 there was one  disciplinary action, for 2018–2019 there were two, for 2017–2018 there were also two, for 2016– 2017 there were three, in 2015–2016 there was one, and in 2014–2015 there was also one.

ASPPB’s plans for doubling the size and cost of licensing exam

Several sources suggest that profit motives may be the main reason for the cutoff and the extra test. The current EPPP costs candidates $600 plus administration fees. The test contains 225  items, with a four-hour time limit. To compare, physicians pay $605 for an eight-hour exam and  social worker candidates pay about $250 for a 170-item exam. The EPPP2 would increase cost  from $600 to $1200.

Some years ago, ASPPB appears to have embraced a more aggressive corporate strategy. An  insider told the Times, “In 2010 or somewhere around that time they [ASPPB] were in New  Orleans and they implied that they would be making a lot of money on the new test.”

In 2012, ASPPB acquired the rights to the exam, taking over from Professional Examination  Service (PES). In 2013 ASPPB wrote the boards that their contracts with PES were being “… 
replaced with a contract between your jurisdiction and the Association of State and Provincial  Psychology Boards.”

In that letter, ASPPB officials said, “ASPPB and PES have agreed that it would be simpler and  more appropriate for ASPPB to contract directly with the 64 psychology regulatory agencies that are members of ASPPB.”

ASPPB said the change would be “…mutually beneficial because ASPPB can now provide a  simplified agreement that is more specific to the needs of psychology licensure boards. In  addition, the renewal of contracts is expected to be more efficient…” At the same time, ASPPB  increased candidates’ exam fees from $450 to $600.

One insider thinks the corporate objective for ASPPB is to be a central source for regulation of  psychologists. “They want to ultimately do all the licensing and regulating for psychology,” said  the insider. “They want to regulate all the telepsychology.” And, “They want to be the Walmart.”

In 2013 ASPPB officials were instrumental in conducting and designing the 5th International  Congress on Licensure, Certification, and Credentialing of Psychologists, held in Stockhom. The  invitation-only conference was primarily funded by ASPPB. Dr. Emil Rodolfa, Chair of the Implementation Task Force for the EPPP 2, facilitated at the Congress.

ASPPB officials have gone through several roll-out efforts for the EPPP2, first to persuade  member jurisdictions to accept the new test, and then to force the new exam on states.

In 2016 the firm announced the EPPP2 and told its members, licensing boards across the United States and Canada, that the use of the new test would be “optional.”

However, after criticisms mounted, ASPPB did an about face in late 2017 and announced in a  surprise move that the new exam would be mandatory after all, and combined with the tests.  And, the price would increase from $600 to $1200.

In July 2018, Dr. Amy Henke, then serving on the Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists (LSBEP), and LSBEP members sent a blistering letter to the ASPPB Board of  Directors, to the ASPPB members, and to the administrators of state psychology boards across the US and Canada.

Following this, in August 2018, ASPPB President Sharon Lightfoot, PhD, announced that the  ASPPB Board of Directors voted to rescind the mandate.

However, shortly after that, ASPPB decided to use a carrot and stick approach. According to an  October 24, 2018 letter from Lightfoot, if Louisiana, or other jurisdictions, chose to decline the use of the new additional test, then student candidates in those jurisdictions would be  prohibited from taking the test. Sources at the Louisiana state board considered this to be punitive, because many students  wished to prepare for licenses in other states, which might require the second test.

Dr. Henke said that at a recent meeting of the member jurisdictions, representatives voted  100% to allow qualified candidates from any jurisdiction to take the EPPP2.

“Unfortunately,” Henke told the Times, “the ASPPB Board and staff have pushed back on both the vote and the formal request. For instance, despite this unanimous vote, ASPPB’s Board has  not acted on the clear wishes of the member jurisdictions. Instead, they have decided to  individually poll each jurisdiction with a survey that I felt was misleading and biased.”

ASPPB’s non-profit & financial status

The ASPPB is a private, non-profit, 501(c) 6, tax-exempt  corporation located in Tyrone, Georgia.

The IRS notes that the 501(c) 6 “… may not be organized for profit to engage in an activity ordinarily carried on for profit (even if the business is operated on a cooperative basis or  produces only enough income to be self-sustaining).”

The corporate mission is to “Facilitate communication among member jurisdictions about  licensure, certification, and mobility of professional psychologists.” The “members” are the 64 or so regulatory boards from across the United States and Canada.

These boards pay dues to ASPPB. LSBEP records note they paid $2,660 in 2020 for annual ASPPB dues.

ASPPB’s net assets for 2018 (the most recent year available due to delays from Covid) totaled $9,137,930. GuideStar estimates their assets at $11,013,348.

Total revenue for 2018 was $6,505,651. Revenue for 2017 was $6,645,731 and $5,933,473 for  2016.

ASPPB’s main income producing product is the national exam. The exam and related services  generated $6,137,348 in 2018. This accounted for 94% of the Association’s 2018 income. Exam  income was $5,378,524 in 2017, and $4,916,406 in 2016.

While they paid $1,302,603 to Pierson Vue Minneapolis for exam administration in 2018, most  other expenses claimed on their tax reports are for employees and employee related expenses.

They report a total of $2,278,482 for compensation of key employees, other salaries and wages, contributions to pension plans, employee benefits and payroll taxes.

In 2018, the CEO, M. Burnetti-Atwell, received pay and benefits of $255,936. In 2017, Dr. Steven  DeMers, then CEO, received $270,784.

Assn Executive Officer Dr. Matthew Turner received pay and benefits of $$171,174 in 2018. He  has four employees reporting to him for exam services.

Assn Executive Officer Janet Orwig received pay and benefits of $158,142 in 2018. Ms. Orwig has 12 employees reporting to her for member services.

The ASPPB website lists other staff, including a business manager, financial officer, two  directors of professional affairs, and an administrative associate.

“With a lot of cash sitting on the balance sheet, the strategy is to maximize expenses,” said an  MBA in reviewing the information for the Times. “The extra profits are likely to go into perks  rather than price cuts,” he said.

Examples of this appear to include items like travel, which includes travel for spouses or  companions. The organization spent $949,483 on travel in 2018 and $1,169,743 on travel in 

Other examples are $336,175 on “technology,” $188,256 on conventions, $123,053 for “item  writers and exam consultants,” $144,000 on bank fees, $60,610 on advertising, and $55,946 on dues and subscriptions.

It is not clear how oversight is established at ASPPB. The Times asked one CPA to look over the  information and he said, “Of course there is influence and COI (Conflict of Interest).”


ASPPB appears unable to constructively answer the criticisms and mounting evidence that their  exam program, marketed to the captive customers through state boards, is scientifically  deficient and discriminatory.

The state boards have bought into a mess, but do not appear able to deal with the bureaucracy  at ASPPB. Since state boards are typically composed of clinicians, and rarely have the hands-on experience needed for high-stakes selection testing, they may lack the knowledge to fight the  problem.

Ignorance does not fly as an excuse for discriminatory practices in the private sector, so it’s  ironic that it is found in the public and quasi–governmental agencies of psychology.

ASPPB appears too busy feeding off of the exam revenues, and building their bureaucracy on  the backs of psychology license candidates, perhaps especially racial minorities, to wake up. State psychology boards must not ignore the problem any longer. Callahan’s call for “drastic corrective action” is on point. But it is the members of ASPPB who need to take action, with or  without ASPPB bureaucrats.

In September 2020, the American Psychological Association (APA) called for “… true systematic  change in US culture.” Zara Abrams reported in a Monitor article, APA “… is working to dismantle institutional racism over the long term, including within APA and psychology.”

Before preaching anti-discrimination to others, APA needs to start in their own backyard.

Dr. Charles Figley Named Distinguished Psychologist for 2021

Dr. Charles Figley, the Paul Henry Kurzweg Distinguished Chair in Disaster Mental Health,  Professor and Associate Dean for Research in the Tulane School of Social Work, and Director of  the Tulane’s award-winning Traumatology Institute, has been named the 2021 Distinguished  Psychologist by the Louisiana Psychological Association (LPA).

LPA Awards Chair, Dr. Laurel Franklin noted that Dr. Figley has exhibited “…exemplary contributions to Psychology. We were especially impressed with the breath of your mentorship,  clinical, and research endeavors in the area of trauma and trauma-related disorders.”

Dr. Figley has served as co-founder of two graduate programs at Tulane. He served as Founding Program Director of Tulane’s Master of Science degree in Disaster Resilience Leadership Program and as Founding Program Director of the City, Culture, and Community PhD Program.

“I was shocked and delighted to be named Distinguished Psychologist by the State Association,”  said Dr. Figley. “Thank you so much. This is among the most welcomed and prized awards I  have received. I am too old to cry but never too old to scream with delight!”

Included among his many accomplishments, Dr. Figley has served on the American  Psychological Association (APA) Council of Representatives and on the Executive Council of  APA’s Division on Trauma Psychology.

He has served on numerous editorial boards including for Family, Systems, and Health, Journal  of Family Psychology, and Traumatology. He is founding editor of the Journal of Traumatic Stress, the Journal of Family Psychotherapy, and the international journal, Traumatology. He is also Founding Editor of the Book Series Death and Trauma, Innovations in Psychology, and  continues to as Editor of the Psychosocial Stress Book Series.

He has published more 160 refereed journal articles and 25 books as pioneer trauma scholar  and practitioner.

His Encyclopedia of Trauma was named as an Outstanding Academic Title for the 2013-2014  Academic year by Choice, a publication of the American Library Association. The work is an interdisciplinary guide, bringing together concepts from the humanities, all of the social  sciences, and most of the professional fields, for understanding human responses to traumatic events.

His newest book is Psychiatric Casualties: How and Why the Military Ignores the Full Cost of  War, co-authored with Mark C. Russell and published by Columbia University Press.

The authors write, “The psychological toll of war is vast, and the social costs of war’s psychiatric  casualties extend even further.  

Yet military mental health care suffers from extensive waiting lists, organizational scandals,  spikes in veteran suicide, narcotic over-prescription, shortages of mental health professionals,  and inadequate treatment. The prevalence of conditions such as post–traumatic stress disorder is often underestimated, and there remains entrenched stigma and fear of being diagnosed.  Even more alarming is how the military dismisses or conceals the significance and extent of the  mental health crisis.”

Dr. Figley’s Encyclopedia was one of the sources for Tulane’s “MOOC,” one of Figley’s many  innovations at Tulane. An MOOC, sor  Massive Open Online Course, is a trend in higher education that allows for online enrollment extending to other states and even other nations.  Figley’s training invention was the first free course in the world about trauma, and the first MOOC for Tulane.

“It’s the first of its kind anywhere,” said Dr. Figley in a previous interview. “The original MOOC  model was flawed. MOOCs were simply the traditional classroom structure…” They were often  only videotaped lectures moved online and free. But, “They were boring, rigid, and rather  inflexible,” he explained. “We chose to invent a new platform that would make it easier and  more fun for students to use all platforms––ipad, smartphones, computers––to access all  course material, when they wanted it, where they wanted it, and we made it much more  interactive and engaging,” he said.

Dr. Figley has made training others a key element of his vision. He has regularly presented at  the American Psychological Association and regional associations topics such as, “First Do No  Self-Harm––Self-Care Strategies for Psychologists Working with Trauma Survivors,” “Compassion  Fatigue and Promoting Regeneration in Psychologists” and “Stress Management  skills and Developing a Self-Care Plan.”

“Burnout, compassion fatigue, vicarious trauma, and secondary traumatic stress reactions are  frequently found among psychologists and others who deliver humane human services,” said  Figley. “These problems are an indication of low resilience that can be corrected with proper training for workers and their supervisors. I love helping in this way,” he told the Times.

Dr. Figley enjoys, “A sense of satisfaction of informing psychology and helping psychologists.  Also, I learn lots from practitioners struggling with critical issues never addressed by researchers,” he explained.

Figley’s book First Do No SELF Harm has garnered high praise, “… because it addresses–– finally––the high prices physicians and medical students pay in managing work-related stress,”  he explained.

His work he has had far-reaching influence. In 2018 Dr. Figley and Reggie Ferreir, Director of  the Disaster Resilience Leadership Academy, visited Puerto Rico to assess the status of the area  after one year following landfall of the Category 4 hurricane, Maria. Reported by Tulane magazine, the two were working with the Foundation for Puerto Rico, a nonprofit organization,  to promote economic and social development.

Figley and Ferreira helped assess the area’s needs in disaster recovery and mental health  services, and also trained organizational leaders in disaster resilience and leadership for recovery.

He is a former professor at both Purdue University (1974-1989) and Florida State University  (1989-2008) and former Fulbright Fellow and Visiting Distinguished Professor at the Kuwait  University (2003-2004). In 2014 Dr. Figley received the John Jay College of Criminal Justice  honorary degree of doctor of letters, honoris causa.

Dr. Figley notes on his website that he has many passions, among these is social justice with  special focus on those overlooked: “This passion emerged in high school, continued during his  service in the US Marine Corps, especially his war service in Vietnam where he worked with his  high school in Springboro, Ohio to collect and ship several tons of school and hygiene supplies  to his Marine unit in Da Nang for distribution to the children at the Catholic orphanage and  school.

After graduation he spent considerable time as a volunteer and as a scholar to help war  veterans cope with their mental health, disaster survivors, secondary trauma survivors, and others who experienced traumatic stress injuries. He continues his humanitarian efforts today,  focusing inequities in the treatment of Native Americans, torture trauma survivors, and the  elimination of on trauma stigma.”

Dr. Figley and wife Dr. Kathy Regan Figley own and operate the Figley Institute, a professional  training company.







New Trend of Remote Work Relies on Psychological Science

One of the most frequently noted 2021 trends is the move to at-home work, already common among digital workers but catapulted forward for many others by the pandemic.

Completely in psychology’s wheelhouse, successful home and remote work calls for a complex blending of employee self-direction, methods for coordinating with colleagues, and integration with family and family life.

Employers know that remote work can mean challenges for productivity. The adjustment requires a keen understanding of the complexity of workers’ traits,
knowledge of work environments, and types of supervisory skills.

Two psychological scientists are focusing their expertise to help employers and their employees to bridge the gap between the old and new work situations. Bill Costelloe
and Jim Stodd have founded a new consultancy, called ThriveRemote, LLC. Their new firm is dedicated to applying and sharing expertise about the psychology of remote work scenarios. Costelloe’s and Stodd’s goal is to facilitate remote work solutions for the benefit of client organizations and their employees, as well as mitigate some of the predictable difficulties often associated with the transition to remote work.

The two consultants and their team members at ThriveRemote bring a range range of services to help solve a variety of problems encountered by both employers and employees. These include employee selection, development, engagement, leadership training, retention strategies, performance management, compensation programs, and in particular reward methods for remote workers.

Both Costelloe and Stodd, with advanced degrees in industrial-organizational psychology, bring a rich background of seasoned experience in organizational
leadership and human resource management to the task.

As well as his association with ThriveRemote, Dr. Costelloe serves as President of Costelloe and Associates, Inc., located in Metairie, Louisiana, a firm he has maintained for over 30 years specializing in the industrial application of psychological assessments,
candidate selection, career planning & development, and employee morale surveys.

During the 2020 shutdowns, employers scrambled to find ways to cope and maintain some level of productivity. “As we all know,” said Stodd, “the pandemic has forced us to accept new circumstances, terms, conditions, and situations that most of us would not have wished for.

Included in that has been the necessity for millions of people to work from home,” he said.

“While most business leaders and their employees were extremely reluctant to embrace remote work as a norm, the pandemic just has not given us much of a choice. Yet, as more data comes in regarding this once unwelcome circumstance, it’s not looking all that bad, at least for most,” Stodd said. “In fact, this forced change may end up being one of the few silver linings to come out of all this disruption, tribulation, and
suffering with many believing that remote work is here to stay.

Jim Stodd is the Principal of JT Stodd & Associates, located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and specializes in compensation and rewards, organization planning, change
management, and general human resource management.

Costelloe and Stodd note that others are debating the relative merits of remote work. However, they choose to simply acknowledge that remote work is likely here to stay.

“It is a new norm for much of our industrial society, at least in ways and numbers that were just not foreseeable prior to the pandemic,” Costelloe said.

“We believe that remote work should become a greater focus for applied behavioral scientists––such as ourselves––and that we can continue to better understand, shape, and influence the factors and circumstances that contribute to individuals thriving in remote work situations versus languishing, coping or just getting by,” said Costelloe.

Psychological scientists are trying to keep pace with the urgent needs to understand and help people adjust to the pandemic environment.

“While a lot has yet to be learned regarding these factors and circumstances, amazingly a lot has been learned in a fairly short period of time,” said Stodd.

“Much has been written on this topic over the last several years, but science-based evidence regarding what makes remote work productive and sustainable has been limited. We want to share what is already known about the predictors of remote worker
success,” said Stodd, “so that business leaders can use that knowledge to better predict who is most likely to thrive within a remote work circumstance, understand why they thrive, and use that knowledge to better design, situate, and manage their remote work programs for the mutual benefit of both the worker and the organization.”

Costelloe and Stodd describe findings from one science-based study, a recent investigation undertaken by psychologists associated with the Universities of Georgia and South Florida.

The researchers described “remote work effectiveness” in terms of three areas:
Overall Adjustment (to the remote work situation); Stress Level (during performance of remote work); and Job Performance (relative to pre-pandemic/normal-office performance levels).

The researchers looked at 62 possible predictors of remote work effectiveness and found eight strong predictors.

The first three of these eight predictors had an inverse or negative relationship to
one’s ability to thrive in a remote work situation. And, these three all pertain to
the internal characteristics––for example, personality traits, competency or skills, or
habits of the worker, Stodd notes.

These factors were: 1) Feelings of Social Isolation; 2) Stress Levels Before Engaging in Remote Work; and 3) General Proneness to Anxiety.

Stodd explained one example, saying, “Feelings of social isolation were found to
hurt a person’s overall ability to thrive in a remote situation, including their overall
adjustment to remote work, stress levels during remote work, and job performance,”

Stodd said. “The negative impact of social isolation may even be greater based upon one’s personality. For instance, folks that are extremely extraverted, and normally energized by frequent social contact, or those with strong affiliation needs, may be even
more negatively impacted by the social isolation that frequently comes with remote work.”

The next five factors were found to be positively associated to remote work effectiveness. These five pertain to situational factors exterior to the person
that an employer can influence directly and rather significantly.

These were: 4) Sleep Quality During Periods of Remote Work; 5) Organization’s Support During and After the Transition to Remote Work; 6) Workspace that is Comfortable, Well-Equipped & Conducive to Productivity; 7) Technology that Facilitates Productivity, Communication and Social Interaction; and 8) Job Design and the Variety of Tasks Involved in the Job.

“It was found that characteristics of the work itself mattered, including how demanding the job is, having increased task variety, and job-related information exchange,” Costelloe explained. “Also found to be important are situational factors including, family interruptions of work, spousal/family respect of boundaries, and the proportion of
childcare the worker is doing during remote work relative to a partner.”

Costelloe and Stodd are in agreement about the importance of individual differences, which has lead them to closely examine other characteristics that may influence an
employee’s productivity or success at remote work.

They point out another example, a study related to important characteristics for success in remote work, where researchers measured characteristics with the 16PF, a well-established personality assessment tool supported by decades of academic and applied scientific support.

In this study, researchers concluded that “employers need to consider the individual differences in remote workers’ personalities and identify how to best support and
development them to realize their potential as remote workers.”

The researchers identified three core competency areas which are important for individuals to “thrive” as remote workers.

The three are: Agility – How people respond to change and handle challenges independently; Achievement – How people adapt their work practices to drive action and ensure accountability; and Affiliation – How people deal with the absence of having other people in the same physical space to support them.

“The researchers found that remote workers need to possess a mix of Agility, Achievement and Affiliation to be highly effective in a remote work environment,” said Stodd.

“That is, while these characteristics may be important for many if not most jobs, they become even more important for thriving in remote work scenarios given remote work
frequently presents specific challenges around social interaction, communication, and work style.”

Another element of how successful employers and employees will be in adapting to remote work is the relationship to supervision and management.

“Research and professional practice draw attention to the importance of effective supervision and management in the support of remote worker success,” said Costelloe.

“Studies confirm the criticality of effective leadership and supervision in creating reasonable expectations and goal clarity, providing organizational support, ensuring
resource availability, maintaining work-life balance and the effective management of stress levels, nurturing employee growth & development, facilitating necessary
social interaction and support, and conveying the trust necessary to create a true sense of belonging,” he said.

“Of course that’s a lot of stuff,” Stodd said, “which has led researchers to conclude that remote managers also need to possess special competencies in the areas of Agility,
Achievement, and Affiliation, including the ability to coach and develop others, extend individual concern and compassion, and build & maintain effective teams.”

Overall, helping companies and employees adjust to the new normal is exciting for the two consultants, an area that combines their talents and psychological science to
help others deal with the consequences of the pandemic.

“The ability to thrive in remote work involves a complex set of factors, some of which are innate to the individual, some of which are situational, combined with the need for
leadership that is well-honed to the remote work circumstance,” said Stodd.

“While complex, employers who want to do well need to develop an appreciable understanding of all these factors as well as establish programs, processes and procedures that will maximize the benefits of remote work – of which there are many –for both the organization and its remote workforce,” said Costelloe.

The two intend to continue educating their clients and the public about the possibilities for adjusting to changes and challenges in the new work environment. More information can be found at their website.

Dr. Sonia Blauvelt Helps Lead Suicide Prevention Project for Southeast La

The Mental Health Association for Greater Baton Rouge is implementing a
COVID-19 Emergency Response for Suicide Prevention Project in southeast Louisiana to help contain the expected increase in mental health problems for Louisiana citizens. The project includes several components and Baton Rouge psychologist, Dr. Sonia Blauvelt, is leading the suicide prevention program.

The announcement from the Association noted that: Socially and financially disadvantaged families are more vulnerable to stresses and traumas, and the risk
for mental health problems and domestic violence increases after families face
extreme adversity, such as those related to COVID-19 disruptions and trauma.

Blauvelt explained, “We identified these areas of southeast Louisiana as
having high rates of COVID19 infection and deaths, high rates of intimate partner violence, and poor health outcomes overall,” she said. “These factors leave individuals even more vulnerable to deterioration in mental health in addition to having limited resources.”

The project is funded by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and managed through the Louisiana Department of Health, Office of Behavioral Health.

There is a great need for community based services for people with suicidal thoughts
and behaviors,” said Blauvelt, “and we hope this program will reduce the high level of
hospitalizations and inpatient stays for people who experience higher risk of suicide.”

In her role, Blauvelt helps case managers implement the suicide case management program and she will provide clinical supervision and intervention when necessary. “I also work to partner with general hospitals and mental health hospitals in the regions
we are serving to identify individuals who may need suicide prevention services so that we can get referrals to our program,” she said.

Dr. Blauvelt is a licensed clinical psychologist in private practice in Baton Rouge. Her PhD is from Louisiana State University and she interned at the Charlie Norwood VA/Medical College of Georgia in Augusta, Georgia where she specialized in treating
Veterans with military sexual trauma. She currently treats PTSD, trauma-related disorders, and anxiety disorders, with special attention to cultural factors related to mental health.

Dr. Blauvelt is working closely with LSU assistant professor of psychology, Dr. Raymond Tucker, who founded the LSU Mitigation of Suicidal Behavior research laboratory. He is clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at LSUHSC/OLOL, and trains medical staff/students in suicide-specific assessment and intervention protocols.

Dr. Tucker is also the co-director of the National Suicidology Training Center where he
provides training on suicide-specific interventions, including suicide safety planning,
post-vention programming, and motivational interviewing for suicide prevention.

Dr. Tucker said, “In tandem with Frank Campbell and the National Suicidology Training Center, I have helped develop the suicide case management program and train peer support providers and other staff at the Mental Health Association in this program,” he said.

“The program uses a variety of clinical and follow-up techniques that have been found to reduce risk for suicide in adults after receiving care in emergency facilities. The program particularly uses the Safety Planning Intervention and Caring Contacts to help support at-risk adults as they get setup and started with outpatient clinical services. My
own research, in collaboration with researchers at VA Puget Sound in Seattle, has investigated specific ways of using Caring Contacts after people leave acute care facilities and best practices for how to create these contact cards,” he explained.

The COVID-19 Emergency Response for Suicide Prevention Project includes four main components, according to the Mental Health Association (MHA).

Case Management for individuals who have attempted suicide or are identified as having chronic suicide ideation. This includes all of the following elements – screening,
assessment, safety planning and means restriction, discharge planning, transition care, warm hand offs to treatment or community organizations.

Another component is First Responder and other Health Care Professionals Suicide Prevention Training, partnering with the National Suicidology Training Center to provide more trainings on suicide prevention and Postvention strategies for first responders and providers across the state.

For Suicide Prevention Training for the general public, the Association is partnering with
the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Louisiana Chapter to provide statewide
suicide prevention training for the general public, including both safe Talk and ASIST
prevention training.

The fourth component is Suicide Prevention Outreach to Domestic Violence Victims. The Association is partnering with Southeastern Louisiana University, Discovery/Renew Family Resource Projects to establish an advocative role for domestic violence victims and establish a relationship with shelters and other domestic violence coalitions and resources to address trauma.

One challenge for Dr. Blauvelt and Dr. Tucker is getting the word out and networking.

“A major difficulty is networking with all the different hospitals and clinics in the area to ensure that the program is known, understood, and offered to the correct patients,” said Tucker.

“I echo Ray’s sentiments,” said Blauvelt, “about difficulty networking and ensuring that only eligible people are referred. Although we have hired and trained half of the staff needed to begin services, we continue to recruit case managers/peer support specialists to finalize our team. It is a challenge to hire the right individuals to do this critical work. We are confident we will have a full team soon,” she said.

“We are actively accepting and seeking clients in the program. MHA continues to finalize formal agreements with community partners necessary to fully implement this program. The training element of this grant is also underway. The National Suicidology Training Center has completed two first responder trainings. The National Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Louisiana Chapter has also completed two trainings to the general public,” Blauvelt explained. “MHA is also working with the Family Resource Center in Southeastern University to target victims of domestic violence who are at greater risk for suicide.”

Dr. Tucker said, “We hope a program like this is a part of growing community efforts to
prevent suicide in Louisiana.”

[For additional information contact Dr. Blauvelt at]

Psychologist Blows Whistle on New Orleans VA Procedures

A New Orleans psychologist was at the center of a CBS News investigative report that
aired last month finding that the New Orleans VA may not have been diagnosing enough veterans so that they could be treated adequately for traumatic brain injury (TBI), the signature wound of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.

CBS investigative reporter Jim Axelrod broke the story, “Whistleblower says veteran
affairs dramatically under diagnosed traumatic brain injuries.” Louisiana
psychologist Dr. Frederic Sautter was key to the report.

Go to CBS online for the full report.

Axelrod reported on the heartbreaking story of Army Sergeant Daniel Murphy
who served five decorated combat tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. Murphy
specialized in detonating explosives and was honorably discharged in According to the
report, Murphy suffered both physically and psychologically. “He had the classic symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder –insomnia, anxiety, and a feeling that the
enemy was lurking around every corner,“ said Axelrod.

According to the CBS report, VA sources confirmed that Murphy screened positive for
traumatic brain injury (TBI) in 2017. However, he did not receive a final TBI diagnosis or treatment. Two months later he took his own life at 32 years old.

The report notes that suicide is twice as high in veterans with TBI than in those with PTSD only.

Cases like Sergeant Murphy’s haunted Dr. Sautter, said Axelrod. Dr. Sautter retired recently from the VA, but until that time he headed up the family mental health program at Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System in New Orleans. Dr. Sautter saw hundreds of vets coming home from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts and began to become suspicious that they were not being properly assessed for TBI, said the CBS reporter.

Sautter told Axelrod that many of his patients, who were suffering from PTSD, appeared to also be presenting symptoms of traumatic brain injury. However, they had not been diagnosed or treated for the injury and this was a concern to him. So, Sautter set out to try and understand what was happening and he did his own research into the numbers.

According to Axelrod’s investigation, the VA protocol requires that all Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are screened for TBI and a positive screen then leads to further evaluation. Reporting on internal documents from the VA, Axelrod noted that most vets who receive a positive screen are ultimately diagnosed with TBI.

CBS found that 60% to 80% of patients who are positive on the screening, across all the VA hospitals, are ultimately diagnosed and receive treatment for TBI.

However, Dr. Sautter found that at the New Orleans VA this number was only 18%.

According to the report, Dr. Sautter brought his results and list of the veterans who had slipped through the cracks to colleagues at the Pain Management & Rehabilitation (PM&R) division at the VA. A nurse at the division, Priscilla Peltier, told CBS that “There was absolutely no treatment being provided to them.”

In October 2017, Peltier presented a plan to her boss, the chief of PM&R, Dr. Robert Mipro, for contacting the veterans on the list. Peltier told CBS that Dr. Mipro responded that the list was not their concern and to “lose the list.”

Dr. Sautter insisted that the VA to investigate his concerns first through the Inspector General and then through the Office of Special Counsel.

CBS said the Office of Special Counsel ordered an investigation by the VA Medical Inspector and produced a report in March 2019. CBS said that the report was not made public but confirmed the New Orleans relatively low TBI diagnosis.

However CBS then contacted a VA spokes person who said the Medical Inspector’s report had used “bad data” and that the TBI diagnosis rates in New Orleans were in line with the national average.

Dr. Sautter is not optimistic about changes at the VA. “No one on staff will convince VA to change their practice and take responsibility,” he explained to the Times last week.

“Their focus is on their image and maintaining good numbers. The current PM&R staff is quite good. The issue is prior patients not receiving evaluations need to be contacted and assessed,” he said.

“I am now retired from VA and have a private practice. There have not been negative consequences for me except the anxiety of the experience and disappointment at the total denial by the institution and alienation from the institution,” he said.

Dr. Sautter was the Manager of a Family Mental Health Program at a VA Med Center for many years, and treated hundreds of couples and individuals. He is an expert in traumatic stress and relationship problems and has treated hundreds of combat veterans to help them overcome a variety of stress problems, providing compassionate evidence-informed care to individuals that have had to endure immense emotional pain, according to Psychology Today’s provider information.

Asked how it was to work with CBS News, he said, “CBS was very professional, vetted everything with attorneys, and put a great deal of effort into it. They were impressive.”

Has he experienced retaliation? “I feel like I did the right thing and veterans have communicated appreciation,” he said. “The reaction of the institution was total denial. I would never encourage anyone to do it unless they were in the later stages of career and could accept leaving the institution (VA). The nurse who complained was retaliated against but I never felt like anyone was going to try to intimidate me.”

His thoughts for other psychologists? “If important protocols are not enacted it is
your duty to report it. Do not expect gratitude from anyone at the institution but it is very satisfying knowing that you stood up for what you believe in,” he said.

Are Money Problems Behind the Psychology Board’s Latest Legislation?

by Julie Nelson

In the last week of February, the state psychology board surprised the community when they circulated a memo that the board would be putting forth legislation in the 2020 session. The memo cast the legislation as “housekeeping,” but the sweeping changes they wanted were anything but.

By March, Senate Bill 458 had been filed, 23-pages that detailed an ambitious set of changes to the Psychology Practice Act. The changes included expanding the board’s
own charter, creating new qualifications for serving, authorizing the board to conduct continuing education, exempting the board from Open Meetings Law in certain
situations, and redesigning the position of the Executive Director.

But the most financially significant change was the board’s goal to register psychological assistants, creating new regulations and fees that could double or even triple costs for some psychologists, especially those in small businesses.

Similar to other past legislative goals by the board, the plan was essentially kept from the public. Why the secrecy? Why bypass rulemaking? Why more legislation?

In this article, we examine the possible issues behind the odd behaviors of the Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists (LSBEP).

LSBEP’s Ongoing Financial Problems

Posted under “Performance” for 2019, LSBEP data from the Boards and Commissions website gives strong hints to the underlying reason that the board might be looking for more money from the registration of psychologists’ assistants. They noted:

“The Board is planning to engage in rule-making this FY that will impact revenue in FY2020-21 and include requiring the registration of assistants to psychologists providing
psychological services to clients under the supervision of a licensed psychologist and begin pre-approval of continuing professional development activities. A financial analysis for
the impact of these initiatives is being conducted and an amendment to the projected 2020-21 Budget is anticipated.”

The board’s financial problems are long standing, they have been running deficits since 2014.

Based on the financial tracking data, the LSBEP stayed within budget for most years and carried a “fund balance” of around $100,000. A source at the Legislative Auditor’s office said the fund was a surplus or reserve.

For 2014, the board took in $262,582 and spent $249,517. Legal services were $37,882. The fund balance had a surplus of $144,709.

In 2015, the board received $263,691 in fees and spent $275,147. Legal services increased to $56,002. The fund balance was listed at $120,188.

However, in 2016 budget tracking indicates a fund deficit of $214,818.

In a June 2016 Report, the Louisiana Legislative Auditor found the LSBEP to have inadequate controls over financial matters during the 2014–2015 period. The Auditor found a lack of business and accounting functions, and reported there were inadequate segregation of duties and lack of supporting documentation, inadequate controls over employee payroll and leave, inadequate controls over debit and credit cards, and inadequate controls over travel and meals expenses.

It is not clear from the Auditors report how the board went from a surplus to a deficit between 2015 in 2016. However, also in 2016, the board spent $336,677, while proceeds remained steady at $265,945. Legal services rose to $104,894.

In 2017, legal services shot to $149,774, and the fund balance became a deficit of $352,395. In total, the board took in $272,833 and spent $408,388.

For 2018, the board collected $299,599 and spent $307,003. Legal services dropped to $40,826. The fund balance was a deficit of $359,799.

Last year, in 2019, the board took in $310,023 and spent $212,640, with legal services at $61,182. The fund balance dropped to a deficit of $262,415.

But projections for 2020 point to new problems. Salaries are projected to go from $85,727 in 2019 to $168,787 in 2020. The board is estimated to take in $329,831 and spend $366,236. Legal services are estimated at only $57,509, but the fund balance is still a deficit at $298,820.

And, for professional services there is a category for “Others” that increases from $8,620 in 2019 to $43,499 in 2020. Salaried employees in 2019 is listed at $61,569, but increased to $93,200 for 2020.

In summary, between 2019 and 2020, expenditures are set to increase by 72%. (See figure.)

The Expensive “Complaints Committee”

The LSBEP conducts two main duties as a board––approving new licensees and administering discipline. New licenses are handled by the volunteer board members and the salaried Executive Director.

However, the complaints subcommittee is designed to conduct its affairs without board members’ oversight. This arrangement leaves volunteer board members free of any bias if they are then required to participate in a disciplinary hearing.

The Rules and the internal Policies and Procedures confirm this: “The LSBEP in accordance with the La. Admin. Code, 46:LXIII.1501.C. hereby delegates authority to a Complaints Committee which may consist of the Compliance Officer, a complaints coordinator, an investigator, legal counsel, and one or more Board members […]”.

The LSBEP has both employees and contractors. For 2020, two employees are listed: The Executive Director at $62,400.00, and the Compliance Investigator at $46,200.00. With related benefits for 2020 coming to $62,537, this brings the salaried employees to
a total $168,787 for 2020. Aside from student workers there are no clerical employees or others listed.

Contract employees include contracts for a Complaints Coordinator (approved for up to $36,000); Prosecuting Attorney ($50,056); Investigator ($12,000); and General Counsel

According to the Policies for the complaints subcommittee, “The Executive Director oversees the functioning of this committee and may serve on the Complaints Committee if necessary.” And, “The Executive Director or Compliance Officer is authorized and empowered to assign per case, individuals who are contracted, employed or appointed by the Governor to the LSBEP, …”

A new position, a “Compliance Officer (Investigating Officer)” appears to have been added sometime in the last two years. According to the policy manual, this person may be a full-time or part-time, may conduct investigations and/or inspections outside of the main office, conduct investigations into alleged or suspected misconduct by licensed members, applicants for licensure and/or others who may be suspected of violating state and federal ethical and agency laws, rules, and policies, may conduct surveillance and unannounced on-site monitoring/compliance visits, among other duties.

The complaints subcommittee operates without the direct supervision of any board members and is the most expensive and least transparent element of the LSBEP. But what exactly is the extent of the problem that this expensive subcommittee is solving?

Is the Extra Expense Really Necessary for Public Safety?

Considering the depth and breadth of law enforcement personnel assigned to the complaints subcommittee, an observer might think that there is a serious problem with psychologists’ products/services.

However, based on LSBEP’s statistics the number of annual disciplinary actions averages between two and three per 1000 psychologists. Since a psychologist serves an average of 30 individuals per year, this translates to around 2.5 problems in
30,000 customer experiences.

This rate is consistent across states and consistent with the national averages. Statistics published by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards calculates the national number of disciplinary actions for the last five years to range from 181 to 229, an average of 189.4. (See figure.) For 106,000 psychologists across the nation, this is 1.8 mistakes per 1,000.

These rates are also consistent with the other psychotherapy and counseling professions. The Times compared a random sample of disciplinary outcomes for the psychology, counseling, and social work boards. We found that all of three boards have
similarly low rates of disciplinary actions, between one and three discipline events per 1,000 licensees.

In research over a sample of a five-years, we found that 75 percent of discipline actions were related in some way to forensic child custody evaluations. The remainder was split
between sexual/dual relationships and impaired psychologist issues.

Using data of the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, which estimates the product-related injuries for various industries, psychologists compare very favorably regarding public safety. Furthermore, to compare to hospital care, where 98,000 patients die annually due to medical errors, psychologist services presents a very safe alternative to inpatient care.

Waste and Ineffectiveness in the Complaints Committee?

Do the lack of checks and balances in the complaints committee, and the heavily staffed law enforcement approach, create more problems than it solves? Have licensees, the taxpayers, been saddled with paying for unnecessary attorneys, including their mistakes?

In an interview with an MBA, he said, “Alignments and incentives are all wrong in the subcommittee. High costs and inefficiencies would be expected,” he explained.

According to several sources, beginning around 2012, the LSBEP embraced an aggressive, adversarial style for dealing with complaints. For the first time, a Prosecuting Attorney was hired in 2014. Also, a private investigator was hired. Sources
have wondered if this may have been related to the then new executive director’s background as a Fraud Analyst/Investigator in the Criminal Division of the Maryland Attorney General.

Finances and other problems began to mount. Hired in 2014 at a $15,000 contract, the first Prosecuting Attorney, Mr. Jim Raines, submitted invoices for $52,000, according to discussion between officials in December 2016. The board was still digging out of money troubles in part because Mr. Raines submitted invoices totaling $66,597 earlier that year, according to the minutes for the LSBEP.

At the same time, Mr. Raines may have contributed to an expensive escalation of legal matters when he failed to recuse himself from a complaints case against Dr. Eric Cerwonka. Mr. Raines had been previously retained by Cerwonka in Cerwonka’s own child custody dispute. Additionally, the two engaged in a fee dispute following the close of the case. Cerwonka filed a constitutional violations lawsuit alleging that the Raines had privileged information about Cerwonka that he used in the investigation.

In another example, the LSBEP contract attorneys appeared to have been confused
about time limits for investigating complaints, ignoring language in the Psychology Practice Act that limited investigations to one year.

At a 2015 hearing, demanded by the defendant psychologist to be open to the public in order to have the press attend, the time limit was to be addressed. However, General Counsel, Mr. Lloyd Lunceford, prompted the chair to have a private discussion in and executive session. When the board members emerged from the executive session, they dismissed the case. This made any discussion on time limits irrelevant. The then Complaints Coordinator, Dr. Gary Pettigrew, appeared frustrated having to dismiss the case stating that he did so, “…purely on the advice of the prosecuting attorney.”

In a side comment to the chair, overheard by the Times reporter, Mr. Lunceford appeared to confirm that the attorneys in the committee had misinterpreted the law and made an error. Two years later the board put forth legislation to change the time limit in law.

Another time limits case is still on a judge’s desk in District Court. If reversed the board
could be required to reimburse the legal fees to the defendant.

New Statutory Laws: Circumventing the Public and Solving the Wrong Problems?

Is the LSBEP solving the wrong problem when it sets out to create new law, instead of
redesigning its complaint committee? Do their legislative solutions just cost more in attorney fees? Do they circumvent the public’s involvement when they go straight to the legislature?

It appears that the board’s first foray into creating news statutes was in 2012 when they decided to craft legislation to bring behavior analysts under it’s jurisdiction. A backlash occurred, with strong animosity directed at psychology from other groups in the mental health community.

Their legislation in 2014 was less controversial, but in 2015 the LSBEP sprung Senate Bill 113 on an unsuspecting community. The bill fueled a tug-of-war between state associations over language in the Practice Act.

In both 2017 and 2020, the board first indicated they would proceed with rulemaking, which is the process for creating administrative law. However, both times they surprised the community and chose to contact a legislator.

The Times spoke to an administrative law expert who preferred to remain anonymous. The expert explained that the board is circumventing the public by putting their goals into statutes instead of using administrative law and rulemaking, which includes a process for public involvement.

“They are circumventing the public,” when they go straight to the law and ignore rulemaking, said the expert. “They are eliminating the input from the public. Administrative law is separate from the statutes, and that area of law is to be
separate. They want to put their administrative law into statutes, and that is a serious concern.”

State agencies are prohibited from taking a position or lobbying on any legislation. Emails show that the executive director took an active role in SB 113. And, the LSBEP had hired its own lobbyist, Deborah Harkins. This later prompted Sen. Fred Mills to put forth legislation to prohibit agencies from paying lobbyists.

The Times asked Senator Mills about the origins of his Act 480. “It became readily apparent to me that some of the health professional licensing boards were intentionally trying to circumvent this law by hiring a lobbyist to lobby on their behalf, either for or against legislation that the board did or did not like,” he said. “It was indisputable evidence of, for instance the board of psychology, hiring a lobbyist when the board is listed on the website as one of her clients. This was really my motivation in filing Act 480,” said the Senator.


Years ago the policy at the LSBEP was, “Complaints received shall be rotated between former LSBEP members appointed as investigators.” The subcommittee then appeared to have had one psychologist, Dr. Gary Pettigrew, as the Coordinator, whose contract was for 40 hours per year. Legal consultation came from the General Counsel, only as needed.

Between then and today, major changes occurred, some very expensive. The expense impacts both the licensee, who funds the board, and psychologists who have to defend themselves against a fully staffed, motivated law-enforcement unit. At the same time, the measures of public safety have remained consistently good.

One attorney said that the Baton Rouge area has become a “cottage industry” for
the legal profession due to the boards. It seems unlikely that the LSBEP can legislate it’s way out of its managerial and financial problems. Unfortunately, in trying to do so they are removing the public from it’s legitimate role––being a correcting, and perhaps helpful, influence.

Scott Lilienfeld, Advocate for Excellence in Psychological Science and Practice, Succumbs to Pancreatic Cancer

Nationally recognized psychologist and Emory Professor, Scott Lilienfeld, died on Sept. 30 at his home in Atlanta. The cause was pancreatic cancer. He was 59.

Dr. Lilienfeld was considered by many across the nation to be a firm, resilient, and insightful voice for scientific, professional psychology. He dedicated much time and work to helping maintain awareness in the field for standards of excellence for professional psychologists.

Dr. Lilienfeld was the 2018 keynote speaker for the Louisiana Psychological Association,. He delivered the address, “Being the Essential Partner: Understanding and Overcoming
Skepticism about Scientific Psychology.”

He received the James McKeen Cattell Award for Lifetime Contributions to Applied Psychological Science, Association for Psychological Science (APS).

His work has been cited over 21,295 times. He delivered the Award Address, “Psychology’s Public Image Problem: Why Many Laypersons and Politicians Don’t
View Our Field as Scientific,” at APS.

Dr. Lilienfeld served as the Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor at Emory University, and authored numerous works, including Science and Pseudoscience in Clinical Psychology, and Psychological Science Under Scrutiny: Recent Challenges and Proposed Solutions, was Editor of Clinical Psychological Science, and a regular keynote speaker, including for APA, APS, SEPA and SWPA.

In his 2012 American Psychologist article, he wrote, “…professional organizations must continually underscore the point that trained psychologists are virtually unparalleled
among rival professions in one crucial respect: our ability to apply scientific reasoning and rigorous methodology to assessing, evaluating, and alleviating human problems, whether they be mental health difficulties, such as depression or anxiety disorders, or
broader societal difficulties, such as prejudice or blind obedience.”

Among his findings he cited that only 30% agree that “psychology attempts to understand the way people behave through scientific research” and 41% see psychological research as less rigorous than medical research.

Along with many findings he noted that an APA Presidential Task Force found that, “Despite psychology’s foundation in science and its standing as the science of human behavior, it is not fully accepted as a science by the general public.”

In 2018, Dr. Lilienfeld reviewed the common criticisms of psychology’s scientific status he discussed rebuttals of the criticisms, and gave main reasons for negative public views of psychology.

He noted that the public face of psychology is not represented by psychological scientists. “Psychologists are rarely called on by the media to comment on psychological findings; when they are, they are rarely scientific psychologists,” he said.

He pointed to “The Illusion of Understanding––We’re all ‘psychologists’ in everyday life, so psychology seems easy.” Among the problems he included the “Confusion Between Psychologists and Psychotherapists,” as an important factor.

He also said that that scientific psychology is challenged by the “scientific impotence excuse,” and that “When psychological findings conflict with our deeply held intuitions, we may resolve that cognitive dissonance by dismissing a scientific approach to the
questions at hand…”

Among the remedies, Dr. Lilienfeld said that, “Academic and practicing psychologists have not spent enough of their time disseminating science to the public, combating bad science, and correcting misconceptions of the field.”

“We must play a more active role in educating laypersons about psychology’s scientific side and confronting its nonscientific side,” he said.

Dr. Bonner Recognized for Psychology in Public Interest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dr. Frick Honored for Scientific Achievements

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Could More Police Psychology Help?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Their mission statement includes the following:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Special: Coping with the Coronavirus Pandemic

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

Mr. Stodd’s website is 

Dr. Raines Named 2020 Early Career Psychologist

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 

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

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.” 

Dr. Simoneaux Honored as Distinguished Psychologist

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)

How Have Things Changed

“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 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 ( 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.”