Category Archives: Front Page Story

Tulane’s Dr. Courtney Baker Leads Project DIRECT in New Orleans

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

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

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

Dr. Baker notes that her career is committed to bridging the gap between research and practice, with a particular focus on understanding and facilitating the translation of evidence-based programs into school and community settings that serve children, youth, and families at risk for poor outcomes.

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

In order to achieve these essential and complex goals, Dr. Baker focuses on three interrelated objectives:

1) understanding developmental contexts that are central to disparities in the health and academic outcomes of vulnerable populations;

2) elucidating the barriers and facilitators of high-fidelity implementation; and

3) developing and testing system-level interventions that boost implementation quality, thus improving programs’ effectiveness.

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

She and her team use a community-based participatory research (CBPR) approach, where community partners are “equitably involved in identifying and evaluating relevant research questions.”

The programs activities are monitored by a Community Advisory Board, composed of individuals who are local educators, administrators, mental health professionals, and parents.

What are some of the most significant accomplishments so far in her community based projects?

“Community-based research strives to center the voices and needs of the community within projects,” Dr. Baker said, “that also use best practices in terms of research methods and study design. The rationale is that we can work as a team to create programs or tools that are effective, relevant, and useful. The process in and of itself is incredibly gratifying,” she said.

“However, a few accomplishments, in particular, come to mind when you ask this question,” she said. “First, we worked closely with pre-kindergarten teachers, administrators, and parents of preschoolers to create a flexible, easy-to-use classroom curriculum called PreK TIPS. The goal of PreK TIPS is to help children learn the social and emotional skills they need to be successful in school,” she said.

“Our randomized controlled trial of PreK TIPS happened to be ongoing when the tornado struck New Orleans East in 2017, including directly affecting one of our partner schools. One of the teachers we were working with at the time let us know afterward that the children were using our PreK TIPS coping and calming strategies to get through that extremely stressful and scary moment. I could not be more grateful that our teacher partner and his students had these tools and were able to use them to get through that crisis,” Dr. Baker said.

Project DIRECT involves a strong goal of information and skill transfer. The team “Trains the next generation.” The program provides advanced training and professional development in child development, mental health, and early education. Activities include hands-on training opportunities for Tulane students and development to community members.

“The consultation model we use in our clinical and research efforts builds teacher skills, contributes to the sustainability of evidence-based practices in preschools and schools, and increases site capacity.”

The Project DIRECT team provides training on a variety of topics, including:

Creating Safe and Supportive Schools

Expectations for Behavior through a Developmental Lens

Social-Emotional Learning in Preschool

Understanding Preschooler Development: Self-Awareness, Self-Control, and Delay of Gratification Creating Trauma-Informed Schools: Rationale and School Wide Approach

Working with Children who have Challenging Behavior Behavioral Assessment and Intervention in Schools

De-escalating Upset Children (and Angry Parents, too)

School-Related Anxiety

Understanding Normal (and Abnormal) Behavior in the Preschool Setting

 

The team also provides workshops for parents as a service to our community partners. Recent topics have included:

Discipline without Tears

Getting your Preschooler to Do What You Ask: Giving Effective Commands.”

Additionally, the team actively recruits partners for its ongoing research projects. These include: Project Pre-K TIPS, funded by the Louisiana Board of Regents; Safe Schools NOLA, funded by the National Institute of Justice; and Trauma-Informed Schools Demonstration Project, funded by the Department of Justice and United Way through the City of New Orleans Health Department.

Efforts to measure, evaluate, and study the implementation of trauma informed care, is conducted in partnership with Steve Brown and Pat Wilcox at the Traumatic Stress Institute. This includes developing the “Attitudes Related to Trauma Informed Care Scale.”

The team also provides clinical services in their efforts help each child get the healthiest start possible. To support this effort, additional services can be provided in Tulane’s Psychology Clinic for Children and Adolescents. This clinic is evidence[1]based practice, uses a sliding fee scale, and is co-directed by Drs. Baker and Sarah Gray.

Training Tulane students in community[1]based research includes engaging undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral students in developing competencies related to research and practice with children and their families. Undergraduates provide on-site classroom support to teachers, graduate students serve as clinicians-in-training, and both assist with ongoing research projects. Dr. Baker also trains one or two school psychology predoctoral interns in the context of their LAS*PIC Summer Rotation.

“My greatest privilege as the team leader has been to train my students,” Dr. Baker said. “I have an incredible group of ten to fifteen students each year, ranging from undergraduates to postdoctoral fellows. Their contributions to our team, our community-based research, and my own continued growth and development as a psychologist are considerable. Although I’m always sad to see them go, they move on to do truly amazing things, from attending top graduate and professional programs to working in world-renowned research labs to developing their own independent research and practice careers,” she said.

Dr. Baker’s research program is guided by the fields of dissemination and implementation science and prevention science. She strives to bridge the gap between research and practice.

Implementation science addresses the use of strategies to integrate evidence-based interventions and change practice patterns within specific settings. The approach involves taking a multilevel approach and understanding the context into which the intervention is to be implemented. Adapting interventions when needed to address contextual factors, while preserving the essential core elements of the interventions, is one goal.

Dissemination involves the distribution of an intervention or innovation to a specific audience. One of Dr. Baker’s main research goals is to disseminate findings nationally via conference presentations, invited presentations, and publications in academic journals and books. Project DIRECT’s undergraduate and graduate students are actively involved in this effort.

Some of publications are:

Baker, C. N., Peele, H., Daniels, M., Saybe, M., Whalen, K., Overstreet, S., & the New Orleans Trauma-Informed Schools Learning Collaborative. (in press). The experience of COVID-19 and its impact on teachers’ mental health, coping, and teaching. School Psychology Review;

Baker, C. N., Brown, S. M., Overstreet, S., Wilcox, P. D., and the New Orleans Trauma-Informed Schools Learning Collaborative. (in press). Validation of the Attitudes Related to Trauma-Informed Care (ARTIC) Scale. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy;

Robey, N., Margolies, S., Sutherland, L., Rupp, C., Black, C., Hill, T., & Baker, C. N. (in press). Understanding staff- and system[1]level contextual factors relevant to trauma[1]informed care implementation. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy;

Wagner, A. C., Bartsch, A. A., Manganaro, M., Monson, C. M., Baker, C. N., & Brown, S. M. (in press). Trauma-informed care training with HIV and related community service workers: Short and long term effects on attitudes. Psychological Services;

and Wittich, C., Rupp, C., Overstreet, S., Baker, C. N., & the New Orleans Trauma-Informed Schools Learning Collaborative. (2020). Barriers and facilitators of the implementation of trauma-informed schools. Research and Practice in the Schools, 7, 33- 48.

She also has earned funding from numerous sources, including:

  • Center for Supportive and Compassionate Schools (Category II Center) – SAHMSA, National Child Traumatic Stress Initiative, Co-PI, $3,000,000;
  • An Efficacy Trial of Pre-K TIPS in Preschools Serving Low-Income Children (Initial Efficacy) – U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, PI, $3,796,673; and
  • Development and Pilot Testing of PD Camp: An Experiential Classroom Behavior Management Training (Development and Innovation) – U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, PI, $1,950,797.

What are some of the challenges she and her team have faced?

“My two greatest challenges as a community-based researcher are funding and time,” said Dr. Baker. “Though we’ve been lucky in terms of funding, it is increasingly difficult to win federal grants. In addition, although the need for community[1]based research is clear, funding mechanisms generally continue to favor biologically-focused projects. Efforts at increasing translational science, including not only ‘bench to bedside,’ but also ‘bedside to best-practices,’ are laudable but have yet to swing the pendulum in any meaningful way toward community-based research. This is true even as it becomes increasingly clear how critically important it is to consider the social determinants of health, which is another word for the contextual and social factors that shape each individual’s exposure to risk and resilience.”

What plans does she have for future efforts and activities?

“We always have a number of things in the pipeline, of course! We’d love to get our large randomized controlled trial of the PreK TIPS program I mentioned above funded. That would solidify the evidence that the program works and open the doors for it to become available nationally (and for free!).

“We are also invested in developing and testing best practices for systems like schools and hospitals that aim to reduce the impact of trauma, stress, and adversity on children and families,” she said. “This intervention is called trauma-informed care, and it is really understudied. We are doing our best to move the needle on this lack-of[1]evidence problem by developing validated instruments, exploring the “black box” of how trauma-informed care works, and determining the effectiveness of the intervention.

“I would love for our future work to bring together trauma-informed care, which sprung from the experiences of individuals who came up through systems they found harmful rather than healing, with best practices in measurement, research, and evaluation.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Findings in Dr. Walczyk’s Deception Theory

Louisiana Tech’s Dr. Jeffery Walczyk and his co-author Natalie Cockrell have published  new findings on Walczyk’s popular theory of deception, the ActivationDecision- Construction Action Theory.

This most recent article, “To err is human but not deceptive,” was published in Memory  and Cognition, one of the top journals in the field of cognitive psychology. This addition  to Walczyk’s theory explores what there is to deception beyond simply answering a question incorrectly.

Jeffrey Walczyk, PhD is the Mary Robin Dorsett Endowed Professor in the Department of  Psychology at Louisiana Tech University. He is currently working on a chapter for the edited scholarly text Morality and Creativity and has served as Guest editor for special  edition of Frontiers in Psychology on “Deception, honesty, and cognitive load: Is lying  always more effortful than truth telling?”

The Activation-Decision-Construction-Action theory, the ADCAT, is regarded as one of the  leading cognitive theories of deception in psychology. Based on citation data, it is having  an impact in terms of inspiring research and application.

Natalie Cockrell, now attending graduate school in clinical mental health, served as  research assistant to Walczyk while an undergraduate psychology major at LaTech.

Walczyk ‘s work in lie detection has been ongoing but gained significant exposure in 2014 when he proposed refinements in his comprehensive cognitive theory of deception. He  included four stages of mental processes that individuals engage in when telling “high  stakes” lies, those situations with significant consequences.

His model explains that when an important answer is solicited by a questioner, such as  during a job interview when the employer asks––“Have you ever stolen anything from the workplace?”––several factors come into play.

Walczyk and his co-authors explain that the question will cause the interviewee or  respondent to search for truth and activate long-term memory, and then transfer to the  working memory. Based on the information that has been activated, and the social  context, the respondent may decide whether or not to lie and how to lie.

Lying becomes more likely in those situations when telling the truth would interfere with  the individual reaching his or her goal, such as getting a job.

Next, the lie is embellished if needed in order to go undetected and achieve the  respondent’s goal. This is the construction component. Individuals who lie will modify  truths as much as possible to make their lies plausible.

Finally, the lie is delivered to the receiver during the action component.

“An obvious and important application of the theory pertains to lie detection,” said Dr.  Walczyk. “The polygraph, the most commonly used method of lie detection, was not  based on a theory. It was based on the questionable assumption that people exhibit  more anxiety when lying than when truth telling. This assumption has been discredited,”  he explained.

“ADCAT is an attempt to understand deception as a cognitive rather than an emotional event,” Dr. Walczyk said. “The more we understand deception from different  perspectives, the more likely new cues to deception will emerge. For instance, my research suggests that lying takes about 250 milliseconds longer than truth telling. More  cognitive cues may emerge as our understanding of deception deepens.”

In “To err is human but not deceptive,” Walczyk and Cockrell wanted to increase  researchers’ understanding of the cognition of deception regarding what lying entails beyond simply erring.

“Guided by ADCAT, we hypothesized that, unlike intentionally erring, an intention to lie  activates ToM [theory of mind] inferences and other social-cognitive processes needed to deceive plausibly when communicating with another. This intention also entails higher  levels of proactive interference of honest responding with lying,” the authors noted.

Their findings regarding response-time data suggest important processing differences  between truth telling, intentionally erring, and deceiving. There are implications for those who study deception in the laboratory. “Specifically, in order to capture authentic deceit,  mental processes hypothesized by ADCAT (e.g., ToM inferences) must be activated in  research participants by instructing them to communicate deceptively with another or  imagine doing so,” authors noted. They concluded that research in which participants are instructed to intentionally err capture important parts of deception, but may ignore other aspects that are crucial.

What does Dr. Walczyk think are the most important findings from this recent publication and research?

“The most important finding is that when people decide to lie, they are not just  intentionally erring,” Dr. Walczyk said. “Rather, they are considering what other people  would find believable in generating a deceptive response. They are also thinking about  how to solve social goals. Also, implausible deceptions are strongly inhibited.”

Dr. Walczyk explained his theory in his 2014 paper, “A social-cognitive framework for  understanding serious lies: Activation-decision-construction-action theory.”

The publication laid out highlights of his work and included: The theory was the first  cognitive account of high-stakes lying; It underscored the pervasive roles of cognitive load
and theory of mind; It detailed mathematically how decisions to lie are made; the roles of motivation, emotion, and social cognition were central to the theory; and The theory  contained implications for lie detection The ADCAT theory elaborated on the
roles of executive processes, theory of mind, emotions, motivation, and specified  cognitive processing, and considered the rehearsal of lies. 

Dr. Walczyk’s and co-authors, in the 2014 article, gave the four processing components:  (a) activation of the truth, the (b) decision whether and how to alter deceptively the  information shared, (c) construction of a deception, and (d) action––acting sincere while delivering a lie.

Walczyk and colleagues addressed core constructs of “theory of mind” and cognitive  resources. “Specifically,” they write, “throughout serious deception, individuals are  inferring the current or potential mental states of targets and taking steps to minimize  the allocation of cognitive resources during delivery to appear honest and lie well.”

Dr. Walczyk’s efforts are aimed at addressing the need for a cognitive theory of serious  deception, he writes. Deception “… comes in many forms, including falsification (lies), equivocation (evasion, ambiguity), omission (withholding important information),  exaggeration, and understatement […]

“The cognition of deception is poorly understood. We present a cognitive theoretical  framework for understanding serious deceptions, including those that are fundamentally perceived as threats, transgressions and betrayals that result specifically in relationship problems; that endanger people’s reputations and that are forbidden by organized  religion and indictable by law. […]

“Scientists studying lying have often postulated that it is more cognitively demanding  than truth telling, an intuitively appealing notion that is not always so,” authors explain.  “A theory can illuminate when lying draws more on attention and working memory.”

Walczyk and others have noted that one of the major criticisms of the Control Question  Technique (CQT) of the polygraph as a lie detector is its lack of a valid theoretical foundation. A well-specified cognitive theory of deception can advance cognitive based lie detection efforts that overcome this limitation, the authors note.

The four components are believed to be initiated during most instances of serious  deception. The sequence is usually in the order described, but not always occurring  closely in time.

Although components are presented sequentially, write the authors, “… they often  execute automatically, unconsciously, seamlessly, and in parallel. Moreover, they draw  on modules of the mind providing output to WM whose processing occurs beneath conscious awareness.”

One caveat Walczyk and co-authors note is that, unknown to respondents, “truths” may  be unavailable or inaccurate due to “memory distortions, especially with long intervals  between encoding and retrieval. Essential to deception is respondents’ intent to deceive,  not the accuracy of what they believe is true.”

In his earlier work, Walczyk assumed that lies were constructed and truths retrieved. However, the ADCAT notes that rehearsed deception entails retrieved lies, and truths sometimes are constructed. “The theory advances understanding of when lying is more  cognitively demanding than truth telling, vice versa, and informs when indices of cognitive load signal deception.”

Some examples of Dr. Walczyk’s other research includes:

Walczyk,J.J., & Newman, D. (2020). Understanding reactions to deceit. New Ideas in
Psychology, 59.

Walczyk, J.J., & Fargerson, C. (2019). A cognitive framework for understanding development of the ability to deceive. New Ideas in Psychology, 54, 82-92.

Walczyk, J.J., Sewell, N., & DiBenedetto, M.B. (2018). A review of approaches to detecting  malingering in forensic contexts and promising cognitive load-reducing lie detection  techniques. Frontiers in Psychiatry.

Walczyk, J. J., Tcholakian, T., Newman, D. N., & Duck, T. (2016). Impromptu decisions to  deceive. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 30, 934-945.

Walczyk, J. J., Harris, L. L., Duck, T. K., & Mulay, D. (2014). A social- cognitive framework for  understanding serious lies: Activation- Decision-Construction -Action Theory. New Ideas  in Psychology. 34, 22–36.

Walczyk, J. J., Griffith, D. A., Yates, R., Visconte, S., & Simoneaux, B. (2013). Eye movements and other cognitive cues to rehearsed and unrehearsed deception when interrogated  about a mock crime. Applied Psychology in Criminal Justice, 9, 1–23.

Walczyk, J. J., Igou, F. P., Dixon, A. P., & Tcholakian, T. (2013). Advancing lie detection by  inducing cognitive load on liars: a review of relevant theories and techniques guided by  lessons from polygraph-based approaches. Frontiers in Psychology, 4, 1–13.

Walczyk, J. J., Griffith, D. A., Yates, R., Visconte, S. R., Simoneaux, B., & Harris, L. L. (2012).  Lie detection by inducing cognitive load: eye movements and other cues to the false  answers of “witnesses” to crimes. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 39, 887–909.

How did Dr. Walczyk first get into this area of research?

“I have always instinctively been a cognitive psychologist. I got interested in the cognition  behind deception when watching a politician on television lie. I thought that this might be a interesting, new area of inquiry and it has been,” he said.

Dr. Walczyk earned his PhD in Educational Psychology, with Concentrations in  Measurement, Statistics, & Cognitive Psychology, from Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY,  in 1988.

He studied in New York for both his masters and undergraduate. He came to LaTech in  1996.

How does he like it at Louisiana Tech?

“Louisiana Tech is a great school. It is large enough to offer a variety of majors but small  enough so that you can be part of the Tech family. I have enjoyed working here and  interacting with our students,” Dr. Walczyk said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drs. Holcomb and Lambert Offer to Serve on Psych Bd

Dr. Matthew Holcomb and Dr. Jesse Lambert will be running for a July 2022 opening on  the Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists. The election will be held  December 15 to January 15, conducted online by the Board of Examiners. Votes are to be  cast by Louisiana licensed psychologists.

Dr. Holcomb is from New Orleans and was originally licensed in 2015. His specialty is clinical neuropsychology and he works with the Jefferson Neurobehavioral group. he is also a Consulting Clinical Psychologist Pine Grove Behavioral Health Assessment Clinic. He earned his degree in 2012 from Ball State University in school psychology.

On his candidate statement Dr. Holcomb said, “The main function of our licensing board  is to protect the people of Louisiana from the “unqualified and improper application” of psychology.

“That’s a broad mission statement, which often puts our board in a position to affect  change within the field of psychology. There can be no doubt that the next few years will  see additional and potentially major changes in our field. Affecting change and having a  voice when those changes are discussed are a motivation for serving on the LSBEP.

“Nationally, organizations like ABPP often push agendas that may not benefit  psychologists or the public in Louisiana. Issues such as the EPPP-2 and PsyPACT could  harm the practice of psychology in Louisiana. LSBEP has a history of standing against  efforts which would not benefit our state, and I wish to continue that legacy. Locally, our board faces financial issues and concerns of over-reach. I want to serve on  the LSBEP to be a positive force for change.

“I have served on LPA’s legislative affairs committee for several years and am currently the Treasurer of the Louisiana Psychological Association (LPA) and a member of the  Executive Committee. I was heavily involved as a member of the ad-hoc committee which  met with the LSBEP and other stakeholders to craft House Bill 477. I believe I am  prepared to sit in the LSBEP.

“In my approximately 7 years in the state, I have taught and supervised future Louisiana  psychologists, maintained an active research lab, and built a busy clinical and forensic neuropsychological practice. In addition to my state involvement, I have also served in  national organizations such as the National Academy of Neuropsychology (NAN). I believe I am well prepared to take on a role with LSBEP, and that I should serve at this time.”

Dr. Jesse Lambert is from Gonzales and originally licensed in 2009. His specialty is clinical. He is a medical psychologist as well. His current position is Clinical Lead, Rural Mental  and Behavioral Health Outreach at Our Lady of the Lake, and private practice. He earned  his degree from Argosy University in Dallas in clinical psychology.

Dr. Lambert previously served on the psychology board from August 2015 to September  2019.

In his statement he said, “Psychology is such a fabulous discipline and the contributions  we offer as clinicians, scientists, and to industry are on the same scale as chemistry,  physics, and medicine,”Dr. Lambert said.

“Yet, this gift is predicated on the tenant that such services be delivered in an ethical and  fair manner. In the absence of such, people will be damaged and the profession suffers a catastrophic lack of credibility. The consumers of our services are vulnerable and to truly  have an impact, the public must be protected from the improper and unethical practice of psychology.

Yet, this obligation is a two-pronged. “Psychologists are also consumers and discipline must be well investigated and fair, as the consequences of such can be far-reaching. If elected/appointed to the Board, I offer my solemn word that I will adhere to these scared duties,” Dr. Lambert said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

APA Apologizes for Its Part in Promoting Systemic Racism

On October 29, the American Psychological Association (APA) Council of Representatives  adopted three resolutions apologizing for its part in systemic racism and pledging to participate in remedies and change

The first resolution was “Apology to People of Color for APA’s Role in Promoting, Perpetuating,  and Failing to Challenge Racism, Racial Discrimination, and Human Hierarchy in U.S.” The  second, over 12,000 words, was “Role of Psychology and APA in Dismantling Systemic Racism  Against People of Color in U.S.” And the third resolution was “Advancing Health Equity in  Psychology.”

The first resolution noted that APA “failed in its role leading the discipline of psychology, was  complicit in contributing to systemic inequities, and hurt many through racism, racial discrimination, and denigration of communities of color, thereby falling short on its mission to  benefit society and improve lives.”

According to the resolution, APA had commissioned a series of listening sessions and surveys,  by Jernigan & Associates Consulting. “The narrative that emerged from the listening sessions, surveys, and historical findings put into stark amplification the impact of well-known and  lesser-known actions. It leaves us, as APA leaders, with profound regret and deep remorse for  the long-term impact of our failures as an association, a discipline, and as individual psychologists.”

Officials said the work was spearheaded by the APA Task Force on Strategies to Eradicate  Racism, Discrimination, and Hate and its five-member Apology Advisory Subcommittee,  composed of psychologists who were chosen for their knowledge and expertise.

The second resolution outlines APA’s and psychology’s role in dismantling systemic racism in the United States. Areas of focus include education, science, healthcare, work and economic  opportunities, criminal and juvenile justice, early childhood development, and government and  public policy.

Examples of action items include the following:

“APA will encourage higher education admissions policies that require a comprehensive,  holistic review of each applicant, including an assessment of applicants’ attributes that support  the mission of the institution, and balance quantitative data with these qualitative  characteristics.

“APA will encourage programs to consider interview processes that are not cost-prohibitive to applicants of color and do not disadvantage applicants who cannot travel;

“APA will invest in the training of scientists to ensure all can identify, understand, and address  the historical and contemporary rootedness of much psychological science in White  sociocultural norms;

“APA affirms that scholars strive for samples that take a more careful approach to representative sampling in quantitative research, so that research results are applicable beyond merely White, middle class, college-educated populations, and that genuinely and thoroughly  integrates intersectionality;

“APA will partner in inter-professional and interdisciplinary program development, consultation, and advocacy efforts in support of culturally derived, informed, and adapted evidence-based  and practice-based evidence, assessments, and interventions that reflect the knowledge, experience, and inclusion of intersectional communities of color;

“APA will encourage employers to use reliable, valid, and fair employment testing and personnel selection practices that minimize bias, reduce adverse impact, and comply with  professional standards, legal requirements, and ethical guidelines;

“APA will advocate for the development of empirically rooted, culturally informed policies,  programs, and practices that seek to eliminate the disproportionate criminalization and  punishment of people of color by reducing opportunities for discriminatory outcomes.”

The final resolution pledges that APA will work to advance health equity in psychology. Included are action items for education and training, science and research, professional practice, and  advocacy.

Examples are: “APA will leverage its influence to promote the use of resources for the inclusion  of health equity in psychology curricula;” and “APA will support practice innovations that deliver competent and financially viable clinical assessment, intervention, and prevention services to  diverse populations and communities.”

The full text of the three resolutions can be found online at the APA website.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LSU’s Dr. Calamia Earns Prestigious Early Career Award

The National Academy of Neuropsychology has named Dr. Matthew Calamia as the 2021 recipient of their prestigious Early Career Award. Dr. Calamia is Associate Professor of Psychology and Director of the Psychological Services Center at Louisiana State University (LSU), Baton Rouge campus. He is also an adjunct faculty member at the Institute for Dementia  Research and Prevention at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center and has been affiliated with the Jefferson Neurobehavioral Group in New Orleans.

Dr. Calamia has authored over 70 peer-reviewed publications and has completed projects such  as the Keller-Lamar Health Foundation Validation of a Novel Web-Based Assessment of Cognitive and Emotional Functioning, as well as the Pennington Biomedical Center Nutrition  and Obesity Research Center Apathy, Unintentional Weight Loss, and Cognitive Decline in Late Life, with coinvestigators, Drs. Owen Carmichael and Corby Martin. Dr. Calamia is a licensed psychologist  with a specialty designation in clinical neuropsychology. He provides direct patient care as well  as training and supervising graduate students with the neuropsychology emphasis.

The National Academy of Neuropsychology is the professional association for experts in the  assessment and treatment of brain injuries and disorders, and its members are at the forefront of cutting-edge research and rehabilitation in the field of brain behavior relationships.

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

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

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

Dr. Calamia and his team are piloting virtual reality as a quality of life intervention for older  adults in assisted living facilities.

“This month we have been going each week to Francois Bend Senior Living in Gonzales to have  residents there participate in enjoyable activities using VR headsets,” he said.

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

“We are using standard commercial VR headsets [e.g., Oculus Quest 2, HTC Vive] to give residents in these communities a chance to immerse themselves in a virtual reality experience  based on their interest. Right now we are just piloting to look at changes in mood and what they like/don’t like about the experiences but we hope to build on this to look at other outcomes. We are also planning to expand this work into other senior living communities,” he said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Findings were published in a prestigious journal read by neuropsychological researchers and  clinicians, The Clinical Neuropsychologist, and designated for CE credit. The practice effect  publication has been cited 334 times since being published.

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

Psychologists familiar with hurricane recovery / Gov. Tours Stormed-Ravaged Coastal Parishes in Hurricane Ida Aftermath

Gov. Edwards is visiting the storm ravaged parishes this week after Hurricane Ida made landfall at Port Fourchon, clocking in at a strong category four with wind gusts up to 172 mph sustained  at 150 plus.

Port Fourchon is Louisiana’s southernmost port, located on the southern tip of Lafourche Parish. Hit particularly hard were Lafourche, Terrebonne, St. John the Baptist parishes and parts of Jefferson Parish. Views of the coast show the brunt of the destruction with downed trees and  poles, roofs torn off, and many buildings completely obliterated. Ida took out power for over 1  million people, most who have been suffering in sweltering heat.

The storm was the third strongest in Louisiana history, coming in after the Last Island Hurricane  of 1856, and Hurricane Laura, in second, a storm that made landfall last year in Cameron parish and all but leveled most of Lake Charles.

Many noted the irony of Hurricane Ida coming on shore the same day as Katrina. Sixteen years ago the highest storm surge ever recorded swept away the lives of 1,833 people, 1,577 of them in Louisiana. Upon the human losses was piled $150 billion in property damage, the burden  falling primarily on individuals and communities.

Those in psychology have given their efforts and voices to recoveries, and continue to do so,  helping Louisianians cope with and adjust to the new environmental conditions that affect our planet and our state.

In 2016, Dr. Mark Crosby rolled up his sleeves to help those in his Watson community, one of  the areas with the most damage from the bizarre weather now being called the Flood of 2016.  At the peak of the disaster, the Red Cross reported that there were 10,000 people in 50  shelters.

“Watson was at ground zero,” he said at that time. “Ninety percent of everything went under  water – houses, schools,  businesses. People are still in shock. We are just trying to find places  where the children can attend school, school’s started, and there’s no space that wasn’t affected.”

Dr. Crosby has a doctorate in Family Psychology and has a background in Pastoral Counseling,  and is Senior Pastor at Live Oak United Methodist Church in Watson (LOUMC).

He worked at the center of the crisis. “The volunteers––many who were evacuees––quickly went  into crisis mode, he explained, “helping those who were wet and scared––some in  shock––to get settled with a warm blanket and cup of coffee.”

After Katrina, Dr. Darlyne Nemeth and colleagues developed a set of interventions called  Wellness Workshops, aimed at supporting the emotional recovery of those dealing with loss  and trauma. Nemeth also co-authored a book, Living in an Environmentally Traumatized World: Healing Ourselves and Our Planet.

Dr. Nemeth said, after the 2016 Flood, “What is especially unfortunate is that many people, who moved here post Katrina, are now being re-traumatized. They are having anniversary reactions.”

In Nemeth’s work she and co-authors point to six stages in recovery, which begin with Shock. The next is Survival Mode, followed by Assessment of Basic Needs, when people need food,  clean water, shelter, and safety.

In Awareness of Loss people survey their losses and begin to gain perspective. Then,  Susceptibility to Spin and Fraud, is the stage where others can take advantage of them.

The last stage is Resolution. “Resolution can take a long time,” she said, “from many months to many years. The beginning of the resolution phase is marked by an anniversary reaction.”

For those who lost loved ones, or major possessions, traumatic grief can result. Dr. Marilyn  Mendosa is an expert in grief, and Hurricane Ida Aftermath Psychologists familiar with hurricane recovery continued writes a blog for Psychology Today on the topic.

“This type of loss can generate intense feelings of shock, anger, guilt, anxiety, depression,  despair and hopelessness,” Mendosa said. “People are overwhelmed. They are stunned and  disoriented and have difficulty processing information. They have lost their sense of safety and order to their lives. In addition to the emotional turmoil, many will also develop physical  illnesses.”

Dr. Mendosa is the author of We Do Not Die Alone and Clinical Instructor at Tulane Medical  School Dept. of Psychiatry, an expert in trauma, bereavement, spiritual and women’s issues.

Dr. Katie Cherry has studied how different people are impacted by disasters and who may be the  hardest hit, is a Louisiana State University psychology professor, and executive director of the  LSU Life Course and Aging Center.

She has authored Traumatic Stress and Long-Term Recovery: Coping with Disasters and Other  Negative Life Events, and also Lifespan perspectives on natural disasters: Coping with Katrina,  Rita and other storms, both published by Springer. Her most recent book is The Other Side of  Suffering: Finding a Path to Peace after Tragedy, published by Oxford University Press.

In one of her studies, “Survivors from the Coastal Parishes,” Cherry and co-authors discovered  patterns in how different groups cope with disaster. Her team looked at coastal residents with  severe property damage from the 2005 Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and those with exposure to  the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

She found that those who experienced recent and severe trauma related to natural and  technological disasters were found to be at risk for adverse psychological outcomes in the years  after these events. Individuals with low income, low social support, and high levels of  non-organizational religiosity are also at greater risk. She and her team found a 51% rate of  reported symptoms of depression in fishers along the coast.

Executive Coach and organizational consultant, Dr. Laura Wolfe responded to one crisis by  offering free coaching sessions to those affected.

“For business,” she explained, “the main issues right now are welfare of employees and  business continuity. Uncertainty about the future is stressful both at the organizational level  and the individual level,” she said. “Self-care is especially important as recent research finds  that taking care, recharging, and recovering are related to sustaining and building resilience.”

 

 

 

 

 

Veto Override Fails by Two Votes – Women’s Sports at Center of Political Clash in SB 156

In a clash of ideologies and efforts to discern whether the “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act”  would promote discrimination or protect against reverse discrimination, the Louisiana House of Representatives failed to override the Governor’s veto, sending SB 156 to the dust bin.

The measure, authored by Senator Beth Mizell, would have had the effect of prohibiting  transgender females, those assigned as male at birth, from competing in traditional women’s  sports.

In the 2021 regular legislative session, SB 156 easily passed both the Senate (29–6–4) and the House (78–19–8).

But on June 22, Gov. Edwards announced he had vetoed the bill, stating “… discrimination is not a Louisiana value, and this bill was a solution in search of a problem that simply does not exist in Louisiana.” And, “Further, it would make life more difficult for transgender children, who are some of the most vulnerable Louisianans when it comes to issues of mental health.”

On July 20 the Legislature convened a veto override session for the first time since the 1974  constitution. Sources report a primarily reason for the session was to override the veto on Mizell’s SB 156.

The Senate narrowly overcame the veto with a 26–12–1vote. However, the House vote, 68–30-6,  fell two votes short of the super majority needed to override the Governor’s veto.

Mizell’s bill highlights the crossroads of transgender individuals’ rights and the rights of  biological female athletes. The issue has galvanized both the political left and right across the  country.

The conflict is likely in response to the national level legislation, H.R. 5, “Equality Act,” submitted  in the US Congress and passed at the federal level by the House. The Equality Act would allow  those assigned at birth as males to compete as females following gender reassignment. H.R. 5  is waiting a vote in the US Senate.

Idaho was the first state to react, passing a “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act,” in 2020, which  requires transgender student-athletes to compete based on their gender assigned at birth. The  American Civil Liberties Union has sued to block the law’s enforcement, but a number of states  have followed Idaho’s example. These include Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi, Montana, Tennessee, and West Virginia. According to the data from the Progressive Action Fund, 25  similar bills have been introduced at last count.

The American Psychological Association opposes these measures, stating, “Transgender children vary in athletic ability, just as other youth do. There is no evidence to support claims  that allowing transgender student athletes to play on the team that fits their gender identity  would affect the nature of the sport or competition.”

The Louisiana Psychological Association opposed SB 156 and the Louisiana School  Psychological  Association labeled the bill as discriminatory saying, “SB 156 runs counter to our obligation to support all students’ dignity and privacy, particularly those with transgender and gender diverse backgrounds.”

The two sides presented their ideas in the committee. In the original Senate Committee  hearing, during the spring legislative session, Senator Mizell opened her arguments by highlighting the advancements made by female athletes since Title IX and the 70s.

“The strides that have been made for women athletes to reach the pinnacle of where they are  now is something that we should not take for granted and allow that to be lost.”

Mizell gave the example of Chelsea Mitchell from Connecticut, where transgender athletes  have  captured 15 titles that previously belonged to nine different girls. Chelsea Mitchell  reported it to be a “devastating experience” that impacted her college scholarship opportunities.

Sheila Thompson Johnson, high school and college player, coach and Athletic Director at  Louisiana College said she was a product of Title IX and would never have gone to college  without her scholarship. She said there are very few spots for girls at the top and she wants to
“…preserve the fair and equal opportunities guaranteed to them by federal law…”

Glason Bernard, LSU graduate and track and field athlete also spoke. Both he and Johnson said  they feel strongly that there are biological differences between men and women that cannot be dismissed.

Also speaking in support of Mizell’s bill was a representative from Louisiana Association of Superintendents, and a football coach and member of Louisiana High School Athletic  Association (LHSAA).

The Executive Director for the LHSAA spoke and stated that the Association has a policy and  position paper regarding this situation and the association is in support of the bill.

Senator Katrina Jackson asked if the policy includes those males who go through gender  therapy and become trans females. “Can they then qualify to compete in the females group?”

He answered yes, “That’s in the position paper.” Jackson pointed out that LHSAA has a  conflicting statement between the bylaws and the policy and Sen. Mizell’s bill would clear that up. He agreed.

Sen. Jackson referenced a study noting that the transgender individual still has a  9% advantage over their biological female counterparts. “I’ve looked for studies, talked to physicians, and when I looked at this bill. I looked at affirming hormone therapy and would that  change the athletic ability, […] to basically level out the playing field. And what the journals are telling me is–no. That’s where I get a concern.”

Testifying in opposition to the bill was Dr. Clifton Mixon, member of the Louisiana Psychological  Association’s legislative committee, Sarah Jane Guidry, executive director of Forum for Equality,  Dr. Melissa Flournoy, chair of Louisiana Progress Action, Dylan Wagues back from True Colors  United, Alexis Canfield from STAR, and Chris Kaiser from the ACLU of Louisiana.

Dr. Mixon said, “I want to clarify some of the misstatements. First of all, this bill is about  discrimination. It is about something that is not a problem currently. And I want to highlight a  couple of statements I heard that evidences what underlies this bill. ‘You don’t get to play God.’ I think is a direct attack against transgender persons,” he said.

“Also, calling people biological males instead of identifying them as females inherently identifies your opposition and the authenticity of them being who they are.” Dr. Mixon talked about the  impact that this bill will have on the psychological development of all girls, not just transgender girls. He indicated that he worked closely with endocrinologists and encouraged Senator Mizel  and others to “… continue to listen and learn.”

Sarah Jane Guidry, Executive Director for Forum for Equality, Louisiana’s LGBTQ human rights  organization, also spoke in opposition. She cited statistics on how difficult and how much harassment transgender individuals experience in school. 

Dr. Melissa Flournoy, chair of the Louisiana Progress Action, said that she does not feel that the legislation is necessary, that there has been no issues in Louisiana.

Dylan Waguespack, Director at Cindy Lauper‘s nonprofit True Colors United, said the bill goes too far on these issues and needs further work.

Alexis Canfield, from STAR, discussed the psychological impact on transgender individuals and  Chris Kaiser, with the ACLU of Louisiana, spoke on the potential for discrimination against  transgender individuals.

During the testimony, Sen. Katrina Jackson suggested that Dr. Mixon had inferred that anyone who votes for this bill was “transphobic.” Jackson said she did not want anyone thinking she was transphobic, that this was about protecting women’s athletics, and that people of certain faiths  may see the issue differently.

Ultimately Jackson voted against overriding the Governor’s veto. In a July 21 press release, she  explained that she and others voted to sustain the governors veto “… based on a technicality  that undermined the existing policy from the Louisiana High School Athletic Association. In the  announcement, Senators Barrow and Jackson, and Representatives Johnson, Brown, Cormier,  and Moore, jointly stated that, “The current LHSAA policy is more restrictive and allowing this  bill to move forward would have undermined the current rules.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dr. Charles Figley Named Distinguished Psychologist for 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Legislature Closes Shop June 10, Gov. Signs HB 477 into Act 238

House Bill 477, put forth by the state psychology board, was signed by the Governor on June 11  and became Act 238. The new law goes into effect August 1, 2021.

Act 238 allows the state psychology board to charge a registration fee for each assistant to a  psychologist, not exceed $50.

Also, the board will be able to charge an application and renewal fee, up to $250, to an  individual who sponsors a continuing professional development (CPD) course or activity and seeks pre-approval. A licensee who seeks pre-approval of a CPD course can be charged $25.

Act 238 also allows the board to charge “reasonable” fees for a CPD activity which may be  offered, sponsored, or co-sponsored by the board.

The board will be able to charge up to $200 for special services such as applications for  authority to conduct telesupervision, for emeritus status, for written or computer-generated  license verifications, or mailing lists.

The measure, authored by Rep. Joe Stagni, was a compromise measure following the  downsizing of a 23-page bill introduced by the psychology board in 2020 and then again this  year. Under pressure from opponents, the board agreed to substitute a “fee bill,” telling sources that without the increased fees the board would not be able to operate in the future.

On the Senate floor, an amendment was attached to the bill by Alexandria Sen. Jay Luneau to  rename the 2009 Act 251. Luneau’s amendment renames Act No. 251 of the 2009 Regular  Session “The Dr. James W. Quillin, MP, Medical Psychology Practice Act.”

The Legislative Fiscal Office note indicates that Act 238 changes should total to $78,750 per  year. The office estimates that $50,000 of this amount will come from continuing professional  development preapproval applications. The Office also estimates initial registration of  unlicensed assistants will grow to 420 and produce revenue of $21,000.

According to the explanation from the Fiscal Office, estimates and reasoning included:

“(1) Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Preapproval Applications: 200*$250=
$50,000-$50,000 is presumed based on 1/3 of total revenue for CPD Sponsor preapprovals  observed by the Physical Therapy Board, which has three times as many licensees and requires  the same number of CPD hours.

“(5) Annual Renewal of Registration of Unlicensed Assistant: 420*$50 = $21,000 -LBEP [sic] cites  a 2019 survey where 1/6 of LA licensees report the use of 70 assistants, thus 70*6=420…”

 

 

 

 

 

COVID-19 Hospitalizations Drop to their Lowest Point Gov. Edwards Signs Updated Public Health Emergency Order Ending Most Restrictions

 

Following months of improvement in COVID-19 hospitalizations and with nearly three million  vaccine doses administered, Gov. Edwards signed an updated public health emergency order
last week that removes all remaining business capacity restrictions and the vast majority of masking requirements. The announcement said Louisiana hit its lowest level of COVID-19 hospitalizations since the very early days of the pandemic.”

For nearly 15 months, Louisiana has operated under necessary public health restrictions designed to save lives by slowing the spread of COVID-19,” Gov. Edwards said. “Thanks to the wide availability of vaccines and the 1.4 million Louisianans who already have gone sleeves up and after hitting a new low in hospitalizations, the order I have signed today contains the fewest  state-mandated restrictions ever, though local governments and businesses may still  and should feel empowered to take precautions that they see as necessary and prudent,  including mandating masks. To be clear: COVID-19 is not over for our state or for our country.  Anyone who has gotten the vaccine is now fully protected and can enter summer with  confidence.”

According to the newest order, masks will be required in educational settings until the end of  the current academic semester at which time state and local oversight boards will set their own  masking policies. The Louisiana Department of Health will continue to revise guidance and  masking recommendations for summer camps, following CDC guidance. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently announced that it was safe for vaccinated people to not wear masks in most settings.

Under order of the State Health Officer, masks continue to be required in healthcare settings, which is a federal mandate. In addition, masks are required on public transportation and in jails
and prisons, as per federal guidance.

Local governments and businesses may choose to have stronger restrictions than the state does and the Governor encourages Louisianans to respect all local or business mandates,  especially when it comes to masking.

The Governor, the Louisiana Department of Health, the CDC and numerous public health officials recommend that unvaccinated individuals continue to wear a face mask in public and  when they are with people outside of their households to reduce their likelihood of contracting  COVID19.

Right now, there are three safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines widely available in nearly 1,500  locations across Louisiana. All Louisianans 18 and older are eligible for any of the approved  vaccines. Louisianans between the ages of 12 and 17 are eligible for the Pfizer vaccine only.

According to the CDC, more than 1.4 million Louisianans are fully vaccinated, around 30.5 percent of the population. The most vaccinated population, by age, is people 65 and older. Nearly 72 percent of people 65 and older in Louisiana are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

On May 14, Gov. Edwards announced that those who are fully vaccinated no longer have to  wear masks indoors except in certain situations including: educational facilities, public transit,  correctional settings, and health care facilities as regulated by LDH. The Gov noted that a  growing number of studies on the COVID vaccines have shown the following: More than 90% effective in real-world settings at preventing mild and severe disease, hospitalization, and death; Effective against the variants currently circulating in the country and state; Those who  are vaccinated are less likely to spread the virus.

There are currently about 1,500 locations in Louisiana that offer the COVID-19 vaccine. For  questions, find a provider or event call the COVID Vaccine Hotline at 855-453-0774.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dr. Newton Named NIH Committee Chair on Lifestyle

Dr. Robert L. Newton Jr., Associate Professor and Director of the Physical Activity and Ethnic  Minority Health Laboratory at Pennington Biomedical, has been named Chairperson of the Lifestyle Change and Behavioral Health Study Section at the National Institutes of Health’s  Center for Scientific Review, announced last month in Pennington News.

Dr. Newton is a psychological scientist whose research focuses on addressing health disparities in African American children, adults, and older adults. Much of his research is conducted in  collaboration with community entities that serve the African American community, including churches, community centers, neighborhoods, and the YMCA.

For almost two decades, Dr. Newton has conducted health promotion research targeting various chronic diseases including heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and dementia. Currently he  is the co-principal investigator of two NIH grants examining whether regular exercise can  reduce risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease in older African Americans.

The Lifestyle Change and Behavioral Health Study Section reviews grant applications focused on promoting health behaviors or lifestyle changes that reduce health risks or help people recover  from diseases, conditions or treatments, said the report.

How does he feel about the new position? “I have different feelings about the position,” he said.  “I am very honored that they would select me. It suggests that NIH has faith in my ability  to serve in a leadership role. On the other hand, I feel a bit nervous. This is a position with great  responsibility and I want to make sure that I do the absolute best I can. My job as chairperson is  to make sure that each study gets the appropriate amount of discussion. Researchers from  around the country are counting on me to help make sure their grant receives a fair review.” 

A large part of his job is  ensuring that studies are run successfully, he explained. “Currently,” he said, “the COVID pandemic has adversely impacted our ability to recruit participants into our  studies. Most of my studies recruit African American adults, and it is important to be able to  meet this population in-person in order to establish a level of rapport and trust. However, the  fact that many churches, community centers, and other community entities are not engaging in  in-person activities and there is low attendance at remote events, makes it difficult to reach my  target population,”he said.

“There are other aspects of my job that have been less affected, such as writing grants and  manuscripts, although this did take a bit of a dip during the COVID pandemic. The ray of light has been the increased funding opportunities specifically around the COVID pandemic. I am a part of four newly awarded projects that are seeking to conduct research on various aspects of  COVID 19,” he said.

What are some of the most important contributions from his research for the average person? I think that one of the things that the average person can take away from my research findings  is that community resources help increase exercise. We have shown this in YMCAs, churches,  and neighborhoods,” he explained.

“We have also shown that these community based programs lead to health benefits. Our  weight loss program leads to modest weight loss, and our physical activity programs have lead  to decreased abdominal body fat and increased fitness. These are important changes, because if maintained, they should lead to decreased risk of developing chronic disease.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LSBEP Pushes Their Legislation Despite Opposition from La Psychological Assn

The Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists (LSBEP) continues their
planning to introduce comprehensive legislation in the upcoming April session,
according to sources. This despite a recent vote by the Executive Council of the
Louisiana Psychological Association to oppose the bill.

According to sources, LPA President Dr. Erin Reuther made an announcement to
members last month that the LPA Executive Council had decided not to support the
LSBEP introducing the measure.

In January the LSBEP voted unanimously to begin the search for a legislator to sponsor their changes to the Psychology Practice Act for the 2021 legislative session.

LSBEP’s legislation will make sweeping changes to the psychology law. These changes
include the registering assistants, expanding the board’s charter, expanding legal
authority of employees, adding fees, changing the scope of practice, modifying board
composition, and exempting hearings from Open Meetings Laws. The new law also gives the board the authority to conduct and sell continuing education.

According to a draft copy of the new proposed law psychologists would be required to seek the board’s approval for any assistant who is helping the psychologist provide services to patients or clients. This would include any clinical, family, or organizational setting, including government. The yearly fee is up to $75 per assistant.

Included is the requirement that the assistant initiate a criminal background report from the Louisiana Bureau of Criminal Identification and Information.

The board would approve the assistant’s training, qualifications, and services to be provided. The board can deny or revoke the registration of the assistant at any time that it receives reliable information that the assistant is causing harm to clients or patients, or likely to, or is unethical or unprofessional.

The new law also gives the board authority to collect an array of new fees. These include up to $250 for preapproval of continuing education courses. Also they can charge up to $200 for authorization to conduct tele-supervision, to authorize an inactive status or renewal, or to authorize emeritus status and renewal. The board appears to be intending to provide continuing professional development with a charge of up to $200 per continuing unit.

According to the draft of proposed legislation, the board will be creating new committees that may operate with full authority of the board for complaints procedures and disciplinary actions, to perform tasks such as creating subpoenas and summary suspension authority.

The board will add the ability to restrict a license along with the current law for suspension are revoking. Also added in new language, the board is to communicate violations to the District Attorney.

Under scope of practice the board is adding language for:
• psychological test development;
• provision of direct services to individuals or groups for the purpose of enhancing individual and organizational effectiveness;
• using psychological principles, methods and procedures to assess and evaluate
individuals for the purpose of rendering an expert opinion or diagnosis in a legal
setting; and
• supervision and consultation related to any of the services described in the current
law.

The new language affirms that psychological services may be rendered to persons throughout their life time including families, groups, institutions, organizations, and the public. The board is also creating new language that removes transparency having to do with investigations. “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 [….]

LSBEP Determined to Push Their New Laws

The Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists (LSBEP) appears determined to go forward with it’s ambitious and comprehensive legislation, voting unanimously on Thursday, January 28, to begin the search for a legislator to sponsor their changes to the psychology practice law for the 2021 legislative session.

If passed, the LSBEP’S legislation will make sweeping changes, including registering
assistants, expanding the board’s charter, expanding legal authority of employees, adding more fees, changing the scope of practice, modifying board composition, and exempting investigations from Open Meetings Laws. The new law also gives the board the authority to conduct and sell continuing education.

In the new law, psychologists would be required to seek the board’s approval for any assistant who is helping the psychologist provide services to patients or clients. This
would include any clinical, family, or organizational setting, including government. The yearly fee is up to $75 per assistant.

Included is the requirement that the assistant initiate a criminal background report from the Louisiana Bureau of Criminal Identification and Information

The board would approve the assistant’s training, qualifications, and services to be provided. The board can deny or revoke the registration of the assistant at any time that it receives reliable information that the assistant is causing harm to clients or patients, or likely to, or is unethical or unprofessional.

The new law also gives the board authority to collect an array of new fees. These
include up to $250 for preapproval of continuing education courses. Also they can charge up to $200 for authorization to conduct tele-supervision, to authorize an inactive status or renewal, or to authorize emeritus status and renewal. The board appears
to be intending to provide continuing professional development with a charge of up to $200 per continuing unit.

According to the draft of proposed legislation, the board will be creating new committees that may operate with full authority of the board for complaints
procedures and disciplinary actions, to perform tasks such as creating subpoenas
and summary suspension authority.

The board will add the ability to restrict a license along with the current law for suspension are revoking. Also added in new language, the board is to communicate violations to the District Attorney.

Under scope of practice the board is adding language for: • psychological test development; • provision of direct services to individuals or groups for the purpose of
enhancing individual and organizational effectiveness; • using psychological principles,
methods and procedures to assess and evaluate individuals for the purpose of rendering an expert opinion or diagnosis in a legal setting; and • supervision and consultation related to any of the services described in the current law. How much authority they have over individuals doing psychological research appears to be in question at this point based on discussions on Thursday.

The new language affirms that psychological services may be rendered to persons
throughout their life time including families, groups, institutions, organizations, and the public.

The board creates language that removes transparency having to do with
investigations. “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 [….] All records in connection with any investigation by the board are confidential.”

The Times asked Dr. Kim VanGeffen, chair of Professional Affairs for the Louisiana Psychological Association, if the legislation put forth by the psychology board, and explained as “housekeeping” legislation, was actually housekeeping?

“This legislation opens up the Psychology Practice Act in order to make changes.
The proposed changes include some items which could be considered ‘housekeeping,” Dr. VanGeffen said. Housekeeping items consist of changes in language to fit with current practices or statutes. Correcting errors, clarifying or updating information, changing numbers or letters of items in the Act would also be considered housekeeping
items.”

“[the legislation] includes other changes which go beyond housekeeping changes and are more fundamental modifications to the practice of psychology in Louisiana,” she said.

“Drs. Matthew Holcomb and Erin Reuther and I represented LPA on this Committee. During these meetings, LPA’s representatives have been encouraged to and have
offered a great deal of input about the legislation. Some of the concerns raised by the
LPA members resulted in changes to the legislation. There are some areas in which the LPA representatives continue to have concerns or disagreements with what is in the legislation.”

“LSBEP put for this legislation last year. LPA was not involved in the development of that bill. Because of the corona virus, the Louisiana legislature only addressed a very limited number of bills during last year’s legislative session. LSBEP’s bill was not addressed last year.

Members of the psychological community may have had access to that bill although I
would doubt that most psychologists were aware of this legislation,” Dr. VanGeffen said. “When the Ad Hoc Collaborative Committee was formed, it was agreed that the Committee members would not distribute the bill we were discussing until it was in its
final form.”

Dr. Greg Gormanous, Chair of Legislative Affairs for LSBEP, said to attendees at the Thursday online meeting, that he was comfortable that “…we have honored the agreement,” to reach consensus with representatives of the community.

2021 Trends for Psychologists

Experts agree that the social, economic, and psychological impact of the pandemic will be with us for years to come, and this seems especially true in the area of health and behavior. Psychology and psychologists are in the middle of cultural and individual changes that could last for decades. For this feature we reviewed the most talked about trends that are at the heart of our science and practice, and report in detail on one of the top trends, remote work.

#1 A focus on behavioral prevention and natural immunity

The coronavirus pandemic has caused a dramatic shift from the medical model to prevention and natural immunity, both strongly related to behavior. Sunlight, vitamin D, sleep, stress, zinc, are just some of the lifestyle variables related to immunity. Experts say that 88% of Americans are metabolically unhealthy, directly related to Covid survival. Being a healthier country and having individuals take responsibility for their health behaviors has become one of the top trends and priorities.

#2 Telehealth and remote work

Telehealth has become a booming business with virtual health care visits estimated to have reached one billion by the end of 2020. Individuals will continue to restrict their activities to avoid unnecessary exposures and remote health opportunities are
predicted to continue to grow exponentially. The emergence of additional strands of the virus is a sign that some form of social distancing is going to be with us for a long time.

#3 Mental health needs

Experts predict a tsunami of problems hitting the population due to the stress and changes that are here now and that will continue regarding individuals’ work, relationships, childcare, education, and health. Prioritizing emotional well-being is critical for all citizens and this includes embedding mental health practices into their regular life and routines. Psychologists are essential in helping develop these new and innovative ways of delivering mental health services.

#4 Blending work and family life

Integrating work life and family life has been forced into the forefront of our priorities with the lockdowns. As workers went home, new ways of adapting were required for handling interactions with spouse, children, and managing the complexity of work-home life. Psychologists have a key role in helping individuals balance the complex variety of demands upon them––helping with behavioral change, stress management, time management, mental health techniques and other elements for coping with change.

#5 Virtual learning

Covid has impacted educational services for those psychologists who teach, those who learn, and those who deal with students of any sort. Experts say that most institutions will pursue at least a portion of their curriculum online even after the pandemic passes.
Understanding and optimizing this new style of learning falls in the wheelhouse for psychologists, as both teachers and researchers.

#6 Focus on child development

For 2021 and beyond, understanding what is happening to young children will be critical. For the very young, the changes have impacted one third or one half of their life span. What will be the consequences and remedies for these youngsters to develop and
flourish? That will be a central question for psychologists to address and to establish clinical and behavioral interventions to ameliorate any consequences to the young.

#7 Looking for new meaning in the quiet zone

Life has slowed and quieted down for many, and there is evidence that as the busyness and noise of the fast-paced world subsided, the inner, psychological life is where many are focusing. In one study, by the creative software company Canva, researchers found that 64% of those responding say that Covid has positively changed their perception of what is most important in their lives. Half, 51%, have engaged in a creative past-time, so there’s a place for psychologists to help facilitate the inner, psychological journey and the shift in values that it often reflects

Return to Phase 2 for December Says Governor After Cases Rise

Last week Gov. Edwards announced that the aggressive third surge of COVID-19 across
all regions of Louisiana has made it necessary to impose tighter mitigation measures and step back to Phase 2 in order to protect public health. The Governor intends to keep these restrictions in place at least through the end of the year.

A November 12 ruling by Judge William Morvant in the 19th Judicial District Court, found that a petition filed by some Republican members of the Louisiana House of Representatives to overturn the Governor’s COVID mitigation strategies, was moot and that the law used to submit it was unconstitutional.

The Governor’s updated Phase 2 proclamation calls for reducing occupancy at some businesses, decreasing gathering sizes, limiting indoor consumption at many bars and urges everyone in Louisiana to avoid gatherings with people outside of their everyday
households.

Louisiana’s statewide mask mandate, which has been in place since mid-July, will continue. In addition, Gov. Edwards encourages any business that can allow its employees to work remotely to do so. He has directed all state agencies to do the same.

“There is not a single region of our state that is not seeing increases in new cases, hospitalizations and growing positivity of COVID tests, and I am incredibly concerned by
Louisiana’s trajectory and our ability to continue to deliver health care to our people if our hospitals are overrun with sick patients,” Gov. Edwards said.

“The data clearly tells us that we have lost all of the gains we had made and that our current mitigation efforts must be increased in order to adequately slow the spread.

On November 20, the Gov. sent a letter to newspapers statewide and released a video
urging all Louisianans to take COVID-19 seriously this holiday season as Louisiana
enters its third surge with increasing cases of coronavirus and hospitalizations.

“Healthcare workers in hospitals across Louisiana are extremely worried about their
staffing and capacity levels not being able to keep up with the growing number of citizens being diagnosed with COVID-19 and being hospitalized. They need us all to do our part to slow the spread,” said Gov. Edwards. “This third surge we are experiencing is worse than the others, and it is so concerning that the Centers for Disease Control has asked that all holiday travel plans be canceled. This year’s holiday celebrations should not look like those from last year. The risk is too great. I know that we want to be together for the holidays, but we need to protect each other and make the sacrifices now so that we can come together when it is much safer.”

Major changes to Louisiana’s COVID-19 restrictions include:

All Louisianans are encouraged to avoid gatherings of individuals not part of their households.
All businesses, private and public sectors, are encouraged to use remote work where
they can.
All restaurants are limited to 50% of their indoor capacity. Restaurants should move as
much dining outdoors as they can. Social distancing is required.
Places of worship will remain at a maximum of 75% of their capacity or the number of
people who can physically distance with at least six feet between each immediate
household.
Barber and beauty shops, and nail salons may open at 50% of their capacity.
Movie theaters may open at 50% of their capacity.
Indoor gatherings at event/receptions centers are limited to 25% capacity or up to 75
individuals.
Outdoor gatherings at event/reception centers are limited to 25% capacity or up to 150
individuals when strict physical distancing is not possible.
All sporting events will be capped at 25% capacity.

For complete guidance on the new Phase 2, visit the Open Safely portal
at opensafely.la.gov.