Category Archives: Front Page Story

Amends Phase 3 Order Governor Files Lawsuit to Defend His Covid Measures

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On October 26, Gov. John Bel Edwards filed a lawsuit in state court defending his COVID-19 public health emergency proclamation, which has been challenged by a group of members of the House of Representatives.

The Governor’s lawsuit asks the 19th Judicial District Court in Baton Rouge to declare a section of the law used by some members of the Louisiana House of Representatives to attempt to overrule his public health emergency order by petition unconstitutional. The
Gov. also says the petition was improperly filed because the Legislature did not consult the public health authority, the Louisiana Department of Health.

“In addition to the fact that getting rid of the mitigation measures that have proven to slow the spread of COVID and save lives is reckless and dangerous, the law being used
blatantly unconstitutional. Louisiana’s Constitution doesn’t allow only one chamber of the Legislature to overturn a public health emergency, and, even if it did, the petitioners did not properly consult the public health experts from the Louisiana Department of Health,” Gov. Edwards said.

On October 22, Gov. Edwards amended his Phase 3 order for outdoor high school sports by allowing outdoor stadiums in parishes with lower rates of positive COVID tests to move to 50 percent capacity, up from 25 percent.

To be eligible, parishes must have percent positivity of less than five percent for two consecutive weeks based on the most recent report from the Louisiana Dept. of Health, which is updated weekly on Wednesdays.

According to the press release, this is very similar to the approach Gov. Edwards has taken with reopening bars, however schools, districts or local governments will not have to opt-in. As with bars, if a parish’s percent positivity reaches more than 10 percent for two weeks, the parish must return to the 25 percent capacity limit. The new order became effective Friday, October 23, 2020.

“After meeting with the leaders of both the House and Senate and considering their requests, I have agreed to make this change in a way that is safe, reasonable and will help more fans enjoy seeing their favorite teams play,” said Gov. Edwards.

“Using the percent positivity as the guide is important because it helps to determine the rate of community spread, which is the safest, most responsible and consistent way to
move forward.”

“Fortunately, Louisiana is not seeing the spike in cases like other parts of the country, a clear sign that our mitigation measures, which align with the White House Coronavirus Task Force, are working. In order for that to continue, we must continue doing those things that are having a positive impact and that we know work even as we expand our activities.”

There are currently 26 parishes that are eligible to participate: Assumption, Avoyelles, Catahoula, East Baton Rouge, East Feliciana, Evangeline, Grant, Iberia, Iberville, Jefferson, Lafayette, Madison, Orleans, Rapides, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. James, St.
John the Baptist, St. Landry, St. Martin, St. Mary, St. Tammany, Terrebonne, Vermilion, West Feliciana and Winn.

Prior to this change, the capacity for sports stadiums, arenas and athletic events was limited to 25 percent. This change does not apply to any college, professional or indoor sports.

The current Phase 3 order expires on November 6.

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Dr. Dean Radin to Speak on Extrasensory Research and Overlap with Quantum Theory

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The Louisiana Psychological Association will host Dr. Dean Radin, noted psychological scientist who explores extrasensory phenomena. Dr. Radin will speak virtually on
November 7, about “Extrasensory Experiences in a Quantum Reality.” He will review the current state of research findings regarding extrasensory phenomena, called psi research, as well as relevant controversies and new areas of investigation related to quantum theory.

Dr. Radin is Chief Scientist at the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) and Distinguished Professor at the California Institute of Integral Studies. He earned a BS in electrical engineering (magna cum laude, with honors in physics), and then an MS in electrical engineering and a PhD in psychology from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Before joining the IONS research staff in 2001, Radin worked at AT&T Bell Labs, Princeton University, University of Edinburgh, and SRI International, where he worked on a classified program of psychic espionage, now commonly known as StarGate.

Dr. Radin is author or coauthor of over 300 scientific, technical, and popular articles,
four dozen book chapters, two technical books, and four popular books including the Scientific and Medical Network’s 1997 book award, The Conscious Universe (HarperOne, 1997), Entangled Minds (Simon & Schuster, 2006), the 2014 Silver Nautilus Book Award, Supernormal (Random House, 2013), and Real Magic (Penguin Random House, 2018).

His 100+ academic articles appear in peer-reviewed scientific journals ranging from
Foundations of Physics and Physics Essays to Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, Psychological Bulletin, and Psychology of Consciousness. He was featured in New York Times Magazine. His 500+ interviews and talks have included presentations at Harvard, Stanford, Princeton, Columbia, Cambridge (England), Edinburgh (Scotland), The
Sorbonne (Paris), University of Padova (Italy), and University of Allahabad (India).

“While at Bell Labs,” he said, “I began to publish some of my psi experiments. Then
I discovered the Parapsychological Association and later the Society for Scientific Exploration, and I presented my work at their annual meetings. I was delighted to find groups of scientists who were as interested in these phenomena as I was, and the contacts I made eventually led to appointments at Princeton University, University of Edinburgh, University of Nevada, Interval Research Corporation, and SRI International. At the latter facility, I was a scientist on a top secret US government project conducting
research on psychic phenomena.”

“I am now Chief Scientist at IONS, and I’ve spent the majority of my professional career doing what the 4-year-old Dean described as being jet propelled — probing the far reaches of human consciousness using the tools and techniques of science. Very few scientists are publicly engaged in research on this perennially interesting topic. This is not because of a lack of interest, as skeptics sometimes suggest,” he explains. “The vast majority of scientists I’ve spoken to are fascinated with psi, and national surveys we’ve
conducted show that over 90% of scientists and engineers have personally experienced one or more psi phenomena.

But science, like any social enterprise, has strictly enforced rules of what is and is not
acceptable to talk about. Despite the aspirations of academic freedom, the reality is that it’s not safe for one’s scientific career to publicly pursue controversial topics (in any domain, not just psi).”

In his book Entangled Minds: Extrasensory Experiences in a Quantum Reality, Dr. Radin summarizes the evidence for different categories of ESP.

“…after a century of increasingly sophisticated investigations and more than 1000 controlled studies with the combined odds against chance of 10104 to 1, there is now strong evidence that some psi phenomena exist.”

He reviews the research on dream psi, Ganzfeld psi, conscious detection of being stared at, unconscious detection of distant intention, unconscious detection of being stared at, dice psychokinesis, and random number generation (RNG) psychokinesis.

Psi research attracts an unusually passionate group of skeptics and Radin deals with this in his writings by careful scientific designs and corrections for various biases.

The challenge includes the fact that overall the effect sizes for psi phenomena are often
very small, even though consistent. An example is the random number generation research, or RNG. The effect is often so small that it takes modern technology to capture it.

RNG studies rely on the baseline generation of pure randomness. Engineer Robert Jahn at the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research Laboratory published 12 years of
experiments on his team’s investigation of this type of mind matter interaction. The
experiments involved 100 volunteers who attempted to mentally influence the output of RNGs.

The RNG is an electronic device that generates thousands of completely random bits of information, like flipping a coin with heads or tails. In the Princeton Laboratory, participants attempted to influence the generator to shift the average to higher or lower than chance.

“They estimated that the magnitude of the psychokinetic affect was approximately equal to one bit out of 10,000 being shifted away from chance expectation” he notes. “While this may seem like a tiny effect, over the entire database this resulted in odds against chance of 35 trillion to 1.”

Radin reports that an attempt to replicate the work did not reach significance, but then he and another psychologist conducted a meta-analysis of all known RNG studies. After correcting for missing data he found the overall effect was small in magnitude but
associated with an odds against chance of 50,000 to 1.

He describes another type of RNG experiment where the generator is placed near a group of people who are asked to participate in a task for highly focused attention, such as a group of people meditating or an intense ritual. Throughout the early 2000s, studies strongly suggested that focused group mental activity was associated with unusual recordings in RNG data.

Engineer William Rowe, Radin explains, conducted formal tests investigating the subjective and objective results of these types of group efforts. The tests matched
correctly the observers’ impressions in the RNG outputs. When the group could impact the RNG data, these results were associated with warm or close feelings of togetherness, with emotional content that tended to draw people together, and when
personal involvement was more focused toward the group goal which was deeply engrossing, reported Radin. In contrast, negative results were associated with people working alone, involved in objective or analytical task, where there was low personal involvement, or with a boring task.

Another area that Radin reports on is the pre-sentient dream experience. Research on dream psi is conducted with a pair of individuals. One volunteer is the receiver and spends the night in the dream lab. The other volunteer agrees to act as a sender. The receiver goes to sleep in a soundproof, electromagnetically shielded, and otherwise safeguarded room to ensure that the participants aren’t responding to any ordinary
communications or signals.

The receiver’s brain waves and eye movements are monitored throughout the night. When the technician sees that the receiver enters REM sleep, the sender is notified. The sender, who has been assigned a random picture, attempts to transmit the image to
the receiver. The technician wakes the receiver and asks him or her to describe their dream.

In 2003, a team of British psychologists reviewed all the dream psi studies that were
conducted under controlled conditions, a total of 47 experiments. They concluded that the overall hit rate was 59.1% rather than the expected 50% by chance. While the 9.1%
may seem small on practical levels, explains Radin, it is associated with an odds against
chance of 22 billion to 1.

“While the overall effect was small in terms of absolute magnitude,” Radin writes, “it
wasn’t due to dumb luck. The odds that the dice studies were due to chance alone were 1096 to one. By contrast, the results of control experiments were well within chance expectation.”

“After examining these phenomena through the lens of science for over 40 years, I’ve concluded that some psychic abilities are genuine. This means there are important
assumptions within the prevailing scientific worldview that are seriously incomplete.
I’ve also learned that most people who confidently claim to have 100% reliable psychic
abilities are mistaken, sometimes innocently and sometimes fraudulently. Spontaneous psi effects can be startling and in some cases transformative, but hardly any form of human conscious behavior is 100% reliable, especially subtle consciousness-related effects like psi.”

Dr. Radin has even taken on what is considered the central mystery of quantum mechanics.

This mystery begins with the classical experiment called the two slit experiment. If
researchers shine a monochromatic light on a barrier with one slit, they see a simple stripe on the background.

But if researchers use a barrier that includes two slits, so that the light can pass through the two openings, it registers on a background in an “interference pattern,” with many stripes. It is thought that the light passes through both slits, creating two waves whose ripples then interfere with one another.

But if researchers “spy” on the light, this profoundly changes what happens in the experiment. When the researchers place a detection device in the apparatus to see which slit the light has traveled through, the interference pattern vanishes, and two separate stripes emerge. The wave pattern it Is said to collapse. Leave the detector device in the apparatus, but unplug it, and the interference, wavelike pattern returns.

Into this conundrum Dr. Radin jumped, substituting conscious meditators for the detection devices.

He and his team conducted six experiments “using a single-photon double-slit apparatus to test von Neumann’s notion that the quantum wavefunction or interference pattern is ‘collapsed’ by what he called a psychophysical interaction.” His team asked individuals to direct their attention toward or away from the optical system and they found evidence supportive of an interaction that “appears to ‘steer’ the wavefunction to either reduce or to sharpen interference fringes.”

Published in Quantum Biosystems in 2015, “Psychophysical interactions with a single-photon double-slit optical system,” seems to be causing discussion in the scientific community.

One of the downsides for Dr. Radin’s choice of research is he often called to defend the scientific experiments against skeptics who are passionate about the nonexistence of psi phenomena. This criticism includes objections about the often small effects size.

The charge on the electron is also very small,“ Radin points out. “But so what? This confuses the magnitude of an effect with its existence. In any case, many modern psi experiments test randomly selected college sophomores and other unselected
participants. As a result, the weak effects often observed in the laboratory are probably due to the fact that the people being tested aren’t talented in the skills of interest.”

One example of a very talented psi individual, described in Entangled Minds, is Joseph McMoneagle, a remote viewer in the US Army’s formally top-secret project, StarGate.

McMoneagle had been repeatedly tested numerous times in double blind laboratory experiments and had been known to have the ability to describe objects at a distance sometimes in spectacular detail, explains Dr. Radin.

In one experiment, all that McMoneagle knew was that a person he had met would be visiting a technological site., It was somewhere that could be reached within an hours drive around Silicon Valley in Northern California, but the range of possibilities of this type of facility in Silicon Valley is the enormous, explained Radin. As it turned out, the target that the person arrived at was a particle beam excelerator, and that’s exactly what McMoneagle drew.

“Where are also, of course, reprehensible con artists masquerading as psychics and charging huge sums for their services,” Dr. Radin said. “These classes of so-called psychics are easy targets for skeptics, who wrongly assume they are representative of everyone who claims psychic abilities. There is a huge anecdotal literature about psychic phenomena, but the evidence that convinced me was not only the results of my own experimental studies, but analyses of the cumulative empirical evidence collected by qualified scientists under well-controlled conditions, and published in peer-reviewed scientific journals,” he said.

“There is always room for scholarly debate about these topics, and I know a number of informed scientists whom I respect who hold different opinions and interpretations. But I’ve also learned that those who loudly assert that there isn’t any scientifically valid evidence for psychic abilities, or worse, that these phenomena are impossible, don’t know what they’re talking about.

“For example, my bio page on Wikipedia fails to mention any of the scientists who have endorsed my work, including two Nobel Laureates. Nor does it mention that in 2018 I was one of 35 invited speakers at a major international science conference sponsored by Merck KGaA, of Darmstadt, Germany, which included 5 Nobel Laureates and other prominent mainstream scientists. I am also a jury member of two European-based prizes for advancements in biomedicine; in one case the prize is 1 million Euros, and in the second case it is 300,000 Euros.

“My interest in psi phenomena was not motivated by having psi experiences,” Dr. Radin said. “It was instead sparked out of an intuitive sense that the mind is far more mysterious and powerful than we know. Through education and experience I’ve also come to appreciate that these experiences are not just curiosities. They’re also responsible for most of the greatest inventions, artistic and scientific achievements, creative insights, and religious epiphanies throughout history. Understanding this realm of human experience thus offers more than academic interest — it touches upon the very best that the human intellect and spirit have had to offer.”

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Dr. Frick Honored for Scientific Achievements

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Cases Rise, Governor Extends Phase Two

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Cases Rise, Governor Extends Phase Two

On July 23, Gov. Edwards signed orders and extending Phase Two and the Statewide Mask Mandate as Louisiana surpassed 100,000 known COVID-19 cases.

State officials put out a graphic highlighting the fact that Louisiana was first in the
nation based on a July 26 high of 3,840 new cases.

The Gov. Edwards signed a renewal of the current proclamation extending Phase Two
in the state, which includes the statewide mask mandate and additional restrictions,
until August 7.

“Today, we are reporting 2,408 new cases, which means that the state has now
surpassed 100,00 total cases. And of course, these are only the cases we know about. There are undoubtedly more,” Gov. Edwards said. “When you hit a milestone like
this one and when you see death totals that are higher than they’ve been in months, as we did yesterday, it’s a reality check.”

“For anyone out there minimizing the seriousness of this situation, you are doing
yourself and this state a terrible disservice. The same is true for anyone questioning the validity of the data that we’re using and releasing every day,” Gov. Edwards said. “COVID-19 is very prevalent throughout our state, and it is more widespread than ever before. We are certainly not where we want to be in Louisiana. I’ve extended Phase 2 with the mask mandate and other restrictions, but we are perilously close to having to make tough decisions that no one wants. This is why we have to follow the mitigation measures that are in place. We have to wear our masks, keep social distance, wash
our hands frequently and stay home when we are feeling sick.”

The statewide mask mandate applies to all 64 parishes in Louisiana. However, parishes with a COVID-19 incidence of fewer than 100 cases per 100,000 people for the most recent two week period for which data is available can choose to opt out of the mandate. Under the state’s policy, parish presidents in parishes with lower incidence rates do not have to opt out and may choose to keep a mask mandate in place.

The Louisiana Department of Health updates its incidence data every other week and at the time of the announcement, no Louisiana parish meets the standard to opt out of the current mask mandate.

The order requires face coverings for everyone ages 8 and older except for the following

Anyone who has a medical condition that prevents the wearing of a face covering
Anyone who is consuming a drink or food
Anyone who is trying to communicate with a person who is hearing impaired
Anyone who is giving a speech for broadcast or to an audience
Anyone temporarily removing his or her face covering for identification purposes
Anyone who is a resident of a parish without a high COVID incidence that has opted out of the masking mandate
Masks are strongly recommended for children
ages 2 to 7.

All bars, including those with food permits from the Louisiana Department of Health, will be closed to on-premises consumption. They can operate for curbside takeout or delivery service only.

The order also limits the size of social gatherings to 50 people indoors. Outdoor
social gatherings are also limited to 50 people if individuals cannot avoid being within six feet of one another.

Experts warn of a mental health crisis due to the impact of Covid-19.

According to a report by ABC News, authored by Alexis Carrington, the impact of Covid-19 could include 20 additional firearm-related suicides per day.

In the July 7 report, the author wrote that a new study has found that there may be a 20 to 30% increase in firearms suicides due to the mental health impact of Covid.

“The uncertainty brought on by the pandemic has been impacting people’s mental health and increasing feelings of anxiety and depression. The pandemic has also led to
increases in gun purchases with an estimated 1.9 million additional guns sold during March and April 2020 compared to the same time period last year. Having access to a firearm in the home triples the risk of death by suicide.”

“The study comes from the research arm of Everytown for Gun Safety, a non profit
organization which advocates for gun control. Rearchers at Everytown looked back at prior crises that led to massive unemployment, including the Great Depression of the 1930s and the Great Recession that ended in 2010.”

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Legislature Could Dump 66% of Bills

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other measures that may or may not be heard include:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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For Now, Behavior is the Key

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Psych Board’s Ambitious SB 458 Filed in March

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“(a) Psychological research…

“(b) Psychological research and test development.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Rebekah Gee and John White Tender Resignations in Jan

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Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health, Dr. Rebekah Gee, and Education Superintendent John White, both gave notice of their resignations in January.

In a statement, Governor Edwards said, “Dr. Gee has been on the front lines of this transformational improvement to health care in Louisiana. Under her leadership, we brought health care to more than 460,000 hard-working adults who now have access to the medical services they need to live healthier lives, to fight chronic illness and, in some cases, survive,” Governor Edwards said.

“I am thankful for her partnership on this issue and on her lifechanging – and saving – work to eliminate Hepatitis C in Louisiana, to fight opioid addiction and to lower the rate of HIV in our state,” said Edwards, who won reelection in November. “She is a champion for improved health outcomes for all the people of our state, especially mothers and children. I wish her well in the future.”

Louisiana Republican Party Chairman Louis Gurvich continued his criticism. “We at the Republican Party of Louisiana are pleased to learn that after four years of ruinous mismanagement, …” Gurvich said, as reported in the News Star.

On January 31, Gov. Edwards announced Stephen Russo as the interim secretary of the Department of Health. The Governor hopes to name a permanent LDH secretary in the coming weeks.

Russo currently serves as LDH’s executive counsel and is a graduate of Louisiana State University’s Paul M. Hebert Law Center. He has served as executive counsel since 2008.

Gov. Edwards said, “I appreciate Stephen Russo stepping up to lead the department during this time of transition and for his 24 years of service at the agency. Louisiana’s health department is responsible for everything from promoting better health outcomes to ensuring coverage for working Louisianans and some of our most vulnerable populations.

On January 8, John White announced that he will step down from his role as Louisiana’s State Superintendent of Education in March. White is the longest serving state education chief in the nation.

He launched Louisiana Believes, the state’s plan to ensure every child is on track to a college degree or a professional career.

Louisiana Believes includes nationally recognized initiatives such as Early Childhood Networks, Louisiana Teacher Leaders, ELA Curriculum Guidebooks, Believe and Prepare teacher residencies, Jump Start career education, the state’s Innovative Assessment Pilot, and the Louisiana FAFSA initiative.

Superintendent White and his team have also led the post-Katrina renovation and unification of schools in New Orleans and the creation of the Baton Rouge Achievement Zone.

According to the Department’s information:
Today Louisiana is a better educated state than at any point in the state’s history.

Louisiana’s class of 2018 included 5,000 more graduates than did the class of 2012.

Five thousand more students in that class earned the state’s TOPS scholarship, and 5,000 more enrolled in college after graduating high school.

In that time, the number of Louisiana students earning Advanced Placement early college credits has increased by 167 percent, and the state leads the nation in the percentage of high school seniors completing an application for higher education financial aid.

In his statement, the Governor said, “Though we have not always seen eye to eye, I appreciate John White’s service to our state. By working together, teachers received their first pay raise in a decade, MFP funding increased and additional funding was provided for early childhood education, all things the Superintendent supported. Louisiana has also achieved the highest graduation rate in history, increased the numbers of high schoolers earning college credit, and provided more opportunities for families needing early childhood education services. I wish him well, and I thank him for his service to our state.”

In a January letter to members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, White said, “Our work together has been focused on causes critical not just to the future of schooling but also to the future well-being of our state and nation.”

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ASPPB Quietly Advances the EPPP-2 Plan with Jan 1 Launch

FacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailLast month the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB) quietly posted a message that the new Part 2 of the national licensing exam will officially launch on January 1, 2020. ASPPB officials first announced the new test, the EPPP-2, in 2017 as optional for its member jurisdictions. Then as resistance mounted, ASPPB’s Board of Directors decided that they would combine parts and make the entire exam mandatory, this coupled with a 100% fee increase. An outcry followed, then ASPPB backpedaled and made the roll-out optional––for the time being.

The upcoming January launch begins a “voluntary adoption” program, a carrot and stick for the controversial new test product, whose scientific basis is coming under more and more scrutiny.

The new test is optional––but whether it remains that way is highly doubtful, some say. In this article we review the behind-the-scenes decisions and interests impacting the test and those hoping to become licensed psychologists.

The National Exam

The current test, called the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology or EPPP, is the national licensing exam required for candidates seeking a state psychology license.

ASPPB purchased the rights to the exam sometime around 2013, and since then the EPPP is the top money making product for the non-profit corporation. The EPPP-2, first priced at $600 then lowered to $450, would increase testing revenues for ASPPB by 75%, boosting the firm’s yearly income by $3,750,000.

The current EPPP is expensive at $600 plus administration fees. At a recommended 50th percentile cut-off, many candidates have to take the test more than once. The test contains 225 items, with a fourhour time limit. To compare, physicians pay $605 for an eight-hour exam, and Social Worker candidates pay about $250 for a 170-item exam.

On-going criticisms about the scientific validity, the practical usefulness of the new exam, and the possible discriminatory impact of the entire EPPP selection approach, appear to have done little to deter ASPPB from its goal.

In the latest of a list of scientists voicing concerns, researchers lead by University of North Texas professor Jillian Callahan, PhD, are set to publish a critique in the flagship journal of the American Psychological Association, The American Psychologist.

Based on a pre-publication draft of the article, the authors will be addressing the need for stronger scientific methods in the EPPP-2 development, the suitability of the test for its intended use, impact on minorities, and legal vulnerabilities.

ASPPB has gone through several roll-out efforts, first to persuade and encourage member jurisdictions to accept the new test, and then to force the new exam on states.  The current effort, “voluntary adoption,” includes a fee of only $100 for Part 2 of the exam for “Beta Candidates.” After the “beta exam” closes in 2021, this fee will be $300 for early adopters. After January 1, 2022, the fee increases to $450.

It is not clear what happens to those states who refuse to accept the EPPP-2 for its candidates. ASPPB officials note, “… At this time, it is optional for licensing boards (jurisdictions) to sign on to require the EPPP (Part 2 – Skills).”

Since ASPPB owns the tests, they will likely make the combined exam mandatory again, said one insider.

Only nine of 64 possible jurisdictions have joined in to “adopt” the additional exam so far, totaling only 14% of ASPPB “members.” These are Arizona, Guam, Nevada, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Prince Edward Island. Starting in February, Missouri has signed on and starting in March, Manitoba has signed on as early adopters. Finally, Georgia has agreed to be an early adopter starting November 2020.

Show Me the Money

The ASPPB is a private, nonprofit, 501(c) tax-exempt corporation located in Tyrone, Georgia. The company states its mission is to “Facilitate communication among member jurisdictions about licensure, certification, and mobility of professional psychologists.”  The “members” are about 64 regulatory boards from across the United States and Canada. These boards pay dues to be a member of ASPPB.

Tax records indicate that ASPPB grossed $6,686,286 in 2017; $5,973,841 in 2016; and $5,284,952 in 2015.

Total revenue for 2017 was $6,645,731 and for 2016 was $5,933,473.  For 2015, revenues were $5,254,097.

Over the last five years, from 2012 to 2017, total revenues have increased from $4,274,419 to $6,645,731 or 55%.

Assets and balances for 2017 were listed at $8,629,194. In 2016 assets totaled $8,462,637, and in 2015 totaled $7,712,532.

Of total revenues in 2017, ASPPB spent 2,268,203 on salaries and other types of compensation.  Records indicate they have 12 employees and the highest compensated is the CEO, Dr. Steven DeMers, at $270,784. Another four employees’  salaries fall between $134,771 and $111,823. Board members receive between $6,800 and $12,800.

All listed compensation for 2017 together totals $839,747.  An additional $1,098,096 was paid to Pierson Vue Minneapolis for exam administration.

To compare, in 2016 they listed 12 employees, again the most highly compensated was Dr. DeMers at $243,842. Others fell between $131,949 and $125,860.

ASPPB’s main income producing product is the national exam for psychologists, with revenue of $5,378,524 in 2017. This was 80% of total revenues for the year.

In 2016 exams and related fees grossed $5,296,421, or 89% of all ASPPB venues. In 2015 this amount was $4,775,213 and in 2014 it was $4,826,421.

The company has some other products, such as the Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact (PSYPACT), a service to coordinate psychologists working across state lines. This product generated $357,708 in 2017.

The organization spends liberally on the other activities including $1,169,743 on travel, $978,143 on other salaries and wages, $240,951 on other employee benefits, $375,418 on information technology, and $240,143 on conferences.

While many members are government officials, ASPPB does not follow open meetings laws. Deliberations and decisions are private. “If you are not a member or staff of an ASPPB Member Psychology Regulatory Board or an individual member, you are not eligible to access this section of our website,” they write. Their conferences are also closed and for members only.

This arrangement––where a corporation, formed of state board representatives, operates as a test publisher, with influence and special access to government officials, and also a captive market––seems ripe for conflict of interest. The Times asked one CPA to look over the information and he said, “Of course there is influence and COI.”

“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.

Scientific Criticisms Continue to Mount 

In the latest of a series of criticisms, University of North Texas professor Jillian Callahan, PhD, and coauthors will address concerns about the scientific quality of the new exam in an upcoming issue of The American Psychologist.

In the pre-publication draft posted on the internet, the authors write, “… the EPPP Part 2 has yet to be subjected to a broader validation process, in which the suitability of the test for its intended purpose is evaluated. Implementation of the EPPP Part 2 before validation could have negative consequences for those seeking to enter the profession and for the general public …” And, “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.”

Other critics have pointed to similar problems, one being the lack of the need for additional test hurdles.

“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. In 2016, while serving as a director for the Louisiana Psychological Association, Henke took the lead to pass a Resolution opposing the new test. She pointed out that multiple checks on competency already exist for psychologists and appear to be working to protect the public.

“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. There is no evidence to suggest this is not sufficient for appropriate training.”

Henke and others pointed to existing multiple hurdles that candidates already must clear, including two year’s supervision, a written exam, oral exam, background check, and jurisprudence exam. Additionally, the law allows the board to require additional physical and psychological assessments whenever needed.

However, Dr. Emil Rodolfa, from Alliant University and also 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.”

Henke also said, “I am particularly concerned about regulatory boards encroaching ownership of training standards. The goal of a regulatory board, in my personal opinion, is to provide the least restrictive amount of guidelines possible in order to protect the safety of the public.”

Rodolfa disagrees and said, “Licensing boards have a mandate to ensure that the professionals they license are competent. Competence is comprised of the integrated use of knowledge, skills, attitudes and values.”

Henke and others point out that the evidence from disciplinary statistics suggests that problems are very rare. For the most recent year with records, total reported disciplinary actions across the U.S. and Canada range from 159 to 222, with only nine to 17 licenses being revoked nationally. (See table.) Data from the ASPPB Disciplinary Data System: Historical Discipline Report show rates of disciplinary actions for psychologists to be consistently low. For an estimated 106,000 psychologists nationwide, the disciplinary rates remain around 1–2 per 1,000.

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

Critics argue that a second test can have very little impact on such a low disciplinary rate.

Other criticisms center around the poor scientific quality of the test for making high-stakes decisions about candidates’ careers. In 2009 Brian Sharpless and Jacques Barber authored “The Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) in the era of evidence-based practice,” for Professional Psychology: Research and Practice.

“Professional psychology has increasingly moved toward evidence-based practice,” said the two authors. “However, instruments used to assess psychologists seeking licensure, such as the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP), have received relatively little empirical scrutiny.” They write, “… there is a paucity of criterion, predictive, and incremental validity evidence available.”

Dr. DeMers responded in the same journal attempting to clarify issues and giving some information not published. He agreed with some of the recommendations, according to the summary of his article.

Industrial-Organizational Psychologist Dr. William Costelloe, Chair of the I-O and Consulting Psychology Committee of LPA, told the Times, “… predictive validation studies must be conducted.” This type of research proof is not optional, he said. “Well conducted, scientifically based predictive validation studies must be conducted if the EPPP2 is intended to be used as a selection tool,” Costelloe said.

In April 2018, ASPPB CEO, Dr. Stephen DeMers, met with members of the Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists and representatives of Louisiana Psychological Association (LPA). After 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,” VanGeffen said. “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 and Chair of the LPA Medical Psychology Committee, 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.”

Other critics are concerned about the discrimination aspects of the EPPP. In a December 2018 study of New York psychologist candidates, Brian Sharpless, PhD, demonstrated that the EPPP has differing fail and pass rates for different races. 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% and Asians had a failure rate of 24%. The difference is large enough for African-Americans and Hispanics to constitute discrimination.

The study, “Are demographic Variables Associated with Performance on the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP)?” is published in The Journal of Psychology: Interdisciplinary and Applied.

ASPPB’s Rough Roll-Out

Keeping its members cooperative with its product plans has been difficult for ASPPB. In 2016 the firm announced the EPPP–2 and told its members, licensing boards across the United States and Canada, that the use of the new test would be “optional.”

However, amid criticisms ASPPB did an about face in late 2017 and announced that the new exam would be mandatory after all, and be combined with the current test. And, the price would increase 100%, from $600 to $1200.

“The ASPPB Board of Directors, based on a number of factors, including feedback from our member jurisdictions and input from our legal counsel, has determined that the EPPP Part 2 is a necessary enhancement, and therefore an essential component of the EPPP,” wrote DeMers.

Objections mounted, mostly from student and early career psychologist organizations.

In July 2018, Dr. Amy Henke, now serving on the Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists (LSBEP), and LSBEP members of 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.

Objections from Henke and others involved technical and scientific issues, but also the criticism that there is no problem that the new test needs to solve.

“LSBEP does not believe that data exists demonstrating that psychologists are not already held to high standards of competence,” they wrote. “The data that exists in terms of complaints and disciplinary actions toward psychologists also does not support the theory that competency problems abound in the field of psychology.”

The LSBEP also criticized ASPPB’s role and said that the decision is “…an overstep.”

“We are concerned that ASPPB has lost sight of their original mission, which from this board’s understanding was limited to facilitating communication between various member jurisdictions,” the LSBEP members pointed out, and that mandatory decisions on EPPP-2 do not fit this role but rather the role of a vendor providing a product.

Following this, in August 2018, ASPPB President Sharon Lightfoot, PhD, announced that the ASPPB Board of Directors voted to rescind their 2017 decision to mandate the second exam.

“We will continue toward launch of the Enhanced EPPP in 2020,” Lightfoot said, “and make it available to states and provinces interested in serving as early adopters. We are lifting the requirement for use of the Enhanced EPPP and are lifting the deadline for implementation.”

In December 2018, ASPPB decided to use a carrot and stick approach for the new exam. According to an October 24, 2018 letter from Lightfoot, if Louisiana chooses to decline the use of EPPP-2, individuals here will not be allowed to take EPPP-2 even if they wish to do so.

“Only applicants who are registered through a jurisdiction that has adopted the Enhanced Exam, and who have passed the knowledge portion of the exam, will be allowed to take the skills portion of the exam,” said Lightfoot.

Also, those test-takers from compliant states will pay reduced fees as a reward for early adoption of the additional exam, while those from late adopters will pay $450.

Sources at the Louisiana State Board of Examiners believe ASPPB is forcing states to use the EPPP-2 by prohibiting individuals from taking the exam in a state which does not require its use. They say this would make it difficult for psychologists who obtain licensure in a state which does not use the EPPP-2 to obtain licensure in a state which does use the EPPP-2. This policy, if adopted, is punitive, they say.

Is Resistance Futile?

ASPPB appears to be doggedly maintaining it’s commercial course, despite the mounting criticisms that the second exam is not scientifically well-constructed or actually needed for public safety. One source close to the state board said they see very little way to avoid having to accept the new exam eventually–– that efforts to stop ASPPB were futile.

If critics are correct, and the second exam is wasteful spending, the cost and additional regulatory hurdle will be born entirely on the backs of new psychology license hopefuls.Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Veterans’ Suicide Rate Still Increasing

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

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

Key results from the report include the following:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Plan can be found at http://ldh.la.gov/assets/opioid/LaOpioidResponsePlan2019.pdf

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

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

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

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

New Members Join Psychology Board; Short A Public Member

FacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailTwo new members, Dr. Gina Gibson (formerly Gina Beverly) of Lafayette and Dr. Michelle Moore of New Orleans, have taken their places on the Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists. They were appointed July 23, by Governor Edwards.

The consumer member, who was announced twice by the Governor’s Office, Amitai Heller of New Orleans, will not be serving, due to a conflict, noted a source at the board. Because of this, the board is still open for a consumer, public member. The individual must have no connections to psychology.

In a June 20, 2019 press release the Governor’s Office announced that Amitai Heller of New Orleans, was appointed to the Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists. The Governor’s office has previously announced Heller’s appointment in December 2018 but another undisclosed source said that it was premature and not final. Heller is an attorney with the Advocacy Center.

This leaves the consumer position open, ever since the bill was passed in 2018 to require all regulatory boards to include a public member.
The two new psychologist board members were appointed on July 23, by Governor Edwards. Both were nominated by the Louisiana Psychological Association.

Dr. Gibson is a neuropsychologist with the Department of Veterans Affairs, licensed in 2008. She lists her specialty as Counseling/Clinical Neuropsychology. Her training is from Louisiana Tech University and employment is with Dept. of Veterans Affairs and also private practice. She is a member of the National Academy of Neuropsychology and the American Academy of Clinical Neuropsychology.

Dr. Michelle Moore is an associate clinical professor at the LSU Health Science Center. She has served as Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry, LSU Health Sciences Center, New Orleans, LA, Department of Psychiatry, Section of Psychology, and Training Director of Clinical Psychology Internship Program. She is a member of the American Psychological Association; Association of Psychologists in Academic Health Centers; Louisiana Psychological Association; Southeastern Psychological Association; and Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers.Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Louisiana Psychologists, Researchers Present at American Psychological Assn

FacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailLouisiana psychologists will present at the American Psychological Association Annual Convention, to be held August 8-11 in Chicago, with highlighted keynote on “Deep Poverty,” a theme that current APA president, Dr. Rosie Phillips Davis has made a focus.

An array of Louisiana psychological scientists, professors and practitioners from Louisiana will be presenting at the convention.

Bonnie Nastasi, PhD, Tulane University, will co-chair the Symposium: “A Child Rights Empowered School Psychology—Toward a Better Future,” along with Stuart N. Hart, PhD, Independent Practice, The Villages, Florida.

Dr. Nastasi will also present on, “Conceptual Foundations for School Psychology and Child Rights Advocacy.” Presenters will include discussions on, “Promotion of Family Support,” “Child Rights, Enlightened Child Protection,” and “Toward a Preferred Future for School Psychology.”

Nastasi is active in the promotion of child rights and social justice within the profession of school psychology and is an Associate of the International Institute of Child Rights and Development. She has conducted work in Sri Lanka, India (Mumbai), and New Orleans, and was the lead partner on an international study of psychological well-being, with colleagues at 14 sites in 12 countries (New Orleans is one of the sites). She has served as President of the International School Psychology Association, as president of Division 16 of APA, and as co-chair of APA’s Committee on International Relations in Psychology, among many other positions. In 2015, she spoke at the 8th Annual Psychology Day at the United Nations, held at the UN headquarters in New York City, on, “Promoting Psychological Health and Well-Being of Children, Youth, and Families Under Stressful Conditions: Engaging Local Communities in Cultural Construction of Programs.”

Dena Abbott, PhD, Louisiana Tech University, and Victoria Rukus, MEd, also from Louisiana Tech University, will discuss “Isn’t Atheism a White Thing? Centering the Voices of Atheists of Color,” for the APA Symposium: “Atheist Research in Psychology—Current Trends and Future Directions.”

For the APA Symposium, “The Cost of Caring—An Examination of Healthcare Providers’ Recovery in Puerto Rico Post-Hurricane Maria,” Jen Scott, PhD, from Louisiana State University along with others will discuss, “PostTraumatic Stress and Burnout Among Healthcare and Social Service Providers Post-Hurricane Maria.”

Dr. Scott will also discuss, “Long-Term PTSD Symptoms Among Health and Psycho-Social Workers Hurricane Maria Survivors,” and “Coping Styles and Resilience of Health and PsychoSocial Service Providers Who Are Also Disaster Survivors.”

Sarah Black, PhD, University of New Orleans, will participate in a discussion of “Is This Treatment Helping My Patient? Utilizing Modified Brinley Plots to Measure Clinical Change,” for Symposium: Secondary Analyses in Randomized Trials of Psychosocial Treatments for Pediatric Mood Disorders. Dr. Black runs the Biological and Environmental Risk for Affective
Disorders Lab at UNO and is interested in how “parenting, parental psychopathology, and stress may interact with biological processes to leave children and adolescents especially vulnerable to psychopathology across the lifespan.”

Stacy Overstreet, PhD, Lea Petrovic, MS, and Whitney Davis, MA, from Tulane University, will present, “Advancing an Equity Agenda in Trauma-Informed Schools,” for the Symposium, “The Social Justice Implications of Trauma-Sensitive Schools—A Critical Dialogue.” Dr. Overstreet has led a group of psychologists and community partners in a first-of-its-kind study for learning how schools can best meet the needs of traumatized youngsters. She and her team received a $2.1 million grant from The Institute of Justice.

Alexandra E. Bookis, from Tulane University, will present, “Practicing and Teaching Parental Control,” in the Skill-Building Session: Leading Parenting Groups—How To Teach the Art of Balancing Warmth and Control.

Julie Arseneau, PhD, Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System, New Orleans, will join Penelope Asay, PhD, Illinois School of Professional Psychology for the Roundtable Discussion V, “Addressing Sexual Harassment of Clinical Trainees in an Ethical, Empowering, and Compassionate Way.”

In the Paper Reading Session: III—”Social Value and Social Justice,” Pallavi Singh, PhD, and Tracey Rizzuto, PhD, Louisiana State University will present, “Understanding Partnerships in a PolicyMandated Environment Through Social Network Analysis.” Dr. Tracey Rizzuto is Associate Director at the LSU School of Leadership and Human Resource Development and has worked in violence prevention at the Baton Rouge Area Violence Elimination (BRAVE) program and Crime Strategies Unit (CSU). She has helped build a partnership with the Centre for Counter– Intelligence in Denmark where they have a jihadi re-entry program very similar to the BRAVE program and was selected by the Department of Justice to participate in the Office of Justice Programs Diagnostic Center.

For the APA Poster Session: I Kimberly Hutchinson, PhD, Lawrence Dilks, PhD, and Billie Myers, PhD, of the Southwest Louisiana (SWLA) Psychology Consortium, Lake Charles, Louisiana; Burton Ashworth, PhD, University of Louisiana at Monroe; and Mindy StutzmanMoore, PhD, SWLA Psychology Consortium, will present research on, “Mixed Dementia: What Does It Really Look Like?”

For a Poster Session: Early Career Research and Innovation, Michael V. Garza, MA, Louisiana Tech University; and Ashley C. Santos, BA, Northwestern University, and Lore M. Dickey, PhD, North Country HealthCare, Bullhead City, AZ, will present “Functions of Self-Injury in a Transgender Sample: Exploratory Factor Analysis.”

In Poster Session: II, Keoshia Harris, MA, Louisiana Tech University, will present, “A Qualitative Examination of the Strong Black Woman Schema in Black College Women,” with co-researchers.

“Cognitive Variability Is Related to Cognitive and Functional Status: Findings from the Civa Study,” will be presented by Alyssa N. De Vito, MA, Matthew Calamia, PhD, Scott Roye, MA,
Ashley Pomes, Kristen Chedville, Lainey Henican, and Gabriel Daniels, all from Louisiana State University.

Eric Deemer, PhD, Purdue University; Stacey Duhon, PhD, Grambling State University; and DiLean SaintJean, MS, Louisiana Tech University; and Seoyoung Lim, MS, Purdue University, will present, “Validation of the Stereotype Threat in Science Scale-Race (STSS-R),” in the Poster Session: II—”Theory, Methods, and Measurement.”

Theresa A. Wozencraft, PhD, Manyu Li, PhD, Thomas Cain, BS, Marissa Pitt, BS, Alexandra G. Nordman, and Caroline Wegener, from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, will present, “Coping, Distress, and WellBeing in Gulf Coast Natural Disaster Victims.”

Christopher Monceaux, MS, Louisiana Tech University; Melanie Lantz, PhD, Oklahoma State UniversityStillwater; and Dena M. Abbott, PhD, Louisiana Tech University, will present, “The Relationship Between Bisexual Counseling Competence, Moral Reasoning, and Attitudes.”

In Poster Session: III— Contemporary Issues in Counseling Psychology, Dena
M. Abbott, PhD, Louisiana Tech University and co-authors will present, “Sexuality Training in Counseling Psychology.”

Yang Yang, PhD, Hung-Chu Lin, PhD, and Manyu Li, PhD, from University of Louisiana at Lafayette, will present, “Resilience and Gender Moderating the Relation Between Paternal Rejection and Health-Risk Behaviors.”

Jarrad D. Hodge, BS, and Michael Cunningham, PhD, from Tulane University, will present “Academic Achievement, Youth Experiences, and the Role of Academic Self-Esteem as a Potential Buffer,” for Poster Session: I—Assessment and Intervention to Improve Mental Health and Behavior Across Contexts.

Dr. Cunningham is Professor of Psychology at Tulane University, who holds a Joint Appointment as Provost in the African and African Diaspora Studies Program. Dr. Cunningham’s work is uniformly esteemed and he was honored in 2013 with the Distinguished Contributions Award from the prestigious Society for Research in Child Development, among others. He is Editor for Research in Human Development (20182024), Associate Editor for Child Development (2007 – present), and on the Editorial Board Member Journal of Negro Education (2011 – 2017), among many other scholarly activities where his expertise in the psychology of racially diverse individuals is utilized. He is the 2018 recipient of the 2018 Award for Psychology in the Public Interest by the Louisiana Psychological Association.

For Poster Session: IV— Critical Topics in DataBased Decision-Making and Professional Issues Kathryn A. Simon, MS, MEd, Lea Petrovic, MS, Stacy Overstreet, PhD, and Courtney N. Baker, PhD, from Tulane University will present, “The Cost of Caring: Predictors of Compassion Fatigue Among Urban Public Charter School Teachers.”

In Poster Session: III— System-Level Assessment, Intervention, and Consultation, “Assessing the Association Between Teachers’ Emotional Regulation Strategies and Self-Efficacy,” will be presented by Jason S. Frydman, PhD, MA, Courtney N. Baker, PhD, and Stacy Overstreet, PhD, Tulane University.

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April is Cell Phone Distraction Month

FacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailApril is Cell Phone Distraction Awareness Month. Scholars, researchers, psychologists, attorneys, counselors and others are asked make efforts to advise the public about the realities of cell phone distraction, explains Dr. Theodore S. (Scott) Smith from the University of Louisiana Lafayette.

Dr. Smith is Assistant Professor in the Psychology Department and leads research in his lab, The Louisiana Applied and Developmental Psychological Sciences Laboratory, where he is interested in how cell phone distraction affects the learning process, not only in the classroom. He also looks at how applicable distractions may affect driving behaviors and eyewitness memory. Smith has authored Cell Phone Distraction, Human Factors, and Litigation, published by Judges and Lawyers Publishing and which is becoming a popular resource for legal professionals.

The impact of cell phone distraction while driving is emphasized each year in April by the National Safety Council (NSC). The NSC says that the first time since the Great Recession, the U.S. has experienced three straight years of at least 40,000 roadway deaths. This is a 14 percent increase from 2014. Overall, this escalation of roadway injuries is the most dramatic seen in 53 years, said the Council.

Every day at least nine Americans die and 100 are injured in distracted driving crashes, according to the Council. Cell phones, dashboard touchscreens, voice commands and other in-vehicle technologies pose a threat to people’s safety. An NSC survey of the risky things drivers do while on the highway, found that 47 percent of people either text manually or work through voice controls, while driving.

Louisiana State University cognitive psychologist Dr. Melissa Beck also conducts research for “inattention blindness” that affects us when we are driving. Working with simulators at the Civil Engineering Department, Beck and her associates have published results of her studies in this area. She directs the Beck Visual Cognition Lab at Louisiana State University Psychology Department, where she and her researchers uncover the ways that visual attention and memory work or don’t work in various situations.

For Cell Phone Distraction Month, Dr. Smith also explained the serious issues of cell phone distraction in education. “While much emphasis has been placed on cell phone distraction and driving,” Smith said, “it is recognized that cell phone distraction affects both young and older students in the classroom.”

Technology has been advantageous to education since students can respond quickly through online formats, collaborate in real time regarding homework, and obtain references instantly, says Smith. But there are many issues now recognized.

“The assumption that students may disengage from their cell phones when entering a classroom is incorrect. Often students will utilize your cell phones in order to text,
resending receiving emails, and other tasks during classes. Multiple studies have indicated that as many as 90 to 95% of college students use their phones to send text messages during class on a constant basis,” Dr. Smith said.

“An effort to reduce or eliminate cell phone use in the classroom and at high school or college level has been difficult. Often students become physically and emotionally attached to their phones, perhaps reflective of addiction, and find themselves very socially awkward and fervently uncomfortable when they do not have their cell phones in their physical presence.”

“Another argument against technology in the classroom evolves around the discomfort that students have when other students are using their cell phones. Some student report being uncomfortable listening to a lecture when other students are texting or performing other activities not related to learning,” said Smith.

At the same time, Dr. Smith points out that there are numerous arguments in favor of technology in the class. “It’s been recommended that teachers may incorporate social media in daily teaching lessons, use clickers to quiz students during lecture, and encourage students to identify resources online during lecture, as opposed to having stagnant lectures limited to verbal talks.”

“Indeed, the argument for and against technology in the classroom will be ongoing.”

Finally, Dr. Smith reminds everyone to remember the potential harm related to cell phone distraction and driving. “This research has consistently indicated drivers pull their attention away from road conditions while driving, further prompting unsafe practices.”

He hopes that readers will consider the wide range impact of technology on their daily lives, including education and performance of daily tasks such as driving.Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Psychologists Travel to Advocacy & Leadership Conference at APA

FacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailFour psychologists talked with members of Congress about legislation impacting the public and involving healthcare. Representing the Louisiana Psychological Association (LPA) were Drs. Alan Coulter, LPA President-Elect; Lucinda DeGrange, LPA Council Representative; Amanda Raines, Early Career Psychologist Representative; and Lacey Seymour, Louisiana Federal Advocacy Coordinator. The psychologists also attended a black tie dinner honoring Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy sponsored by the Psychology Political Action Committee, held in March in Washington, DC.

While in D.C. the psychologists helped lobby for legislation, said Dr. Seymour. These efforts included these topics:

1) to ensure access to mental health and substance use disorder treatment;

2) to pass the Medicare Mental Health Access Act, H.R. 884. The bill removes a roadblock that hampers and delays mental health treatment for Medicare beneficiaries by ending unnecessary physician sign-off and oversight of psychologists’ services. Private sector health plans, the Veterans Health Administration, and TRICARE all allow licensed clinical psychologists to practice independently in all inpatient and outpatient settings. Medicare should, too; and

3) to pass the Mental Health Telemedicine Expansion Act, H.R. 1301. The Mental Health Telemedicine Expansion Act would make it easier for older adults to obtain mental health care in their own home by removing current-law restrictions on the use of telehealth services.

“Senator Cassidy has been a supporter of mental health legislation on both a federal and state level,” Dr. Seymour told psychologists in a recent letter. “Since his election, Senator Cassidy has championed legislation that addresses access to mental health care for our most vulnerable citizens by removing barriers to care.”

Senator Cassidy has promoted measure to helped access to services through integration of primary and behavioral care. Among his achievements, Senator Cassidy worked to design and pass the “Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Reform Act of 2016” and first advocated mental health reforms while he served in the House of Representatives.

In 2015, he introduced mental health reform legislation that became the template for the Mental Health Reform Act of 2016. He helped strengthen accountability at HHS by creating an Assistant Secretary of Mental Health and improved interdepartmental activities related to those with serious mental illness.Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail