Category Archives: News Stories

Dr. Buckner Named for Research Excellence

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Louisiana State University Professor Dr. Julie Buckner has been named the G. Alan Marlatt Mid-Career Research Award winner for 2020, announced at this year’s annual meeting of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT) Addictive Behaviors & Anxiety Disorders Special Interest Group.

Julia Buckner is a Professor and Director of Clinical Training in the Department of Psychology at Louisiana State University and the Director of LSU’s Anxiety and Addictive Behaviors Laboratory & Clinic. She is also a Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at LSUHealth Sciences Center and a Visiting Professor at the London South Bank University School of Applied Sciences. She is also a licensed clinical psychologist.

The awards committee said, “Among the multiple renown and highly-productive researchers who were nominated this year, you were the unanimous choice of the award selection committee. The praised her “pioneering work on the role of anxiety in substance use and related problems as well as her commitment to the development of innovative treatments for addictive behaviors, her research with historically underrepresented groups, her work to disseminate evidence-based practice to Baton Rouge (a high need area), and her outstanding mentorship and commitment to teaching…”

Dr. Buckner said, “I am honored to have received this award. Alan Marlatt was committed to both research aimed at understanding substance misuse as well as the translation of evidence-based findings to help improve treatment outcomes. Receiving this award highlights my research on the impact of psychosocial vulnerability factors such as anxiety on the etiology and maintenance of substance use disorders and research on ways to best treat dually diagnosed patients.” She explained that these patients, such as those with comorbid anxiety and substance use disorders tend to have poorer treatment outcomes.

Dr. Buckner’s program of research primarily focuses on: (1) delineation of causal and maintaining factors implicated in substance use disorders, especially the role of affect-related vulnerability factors; and (2) development and evaluation of empirically-informed treatment and prevention protocols for substance use disorders, including treatment for cooccurring anxiety-substance use disorders.

Dr. Buckner has had over 150 publications and has been involved in several NIH grants. She is currently Primary Investigator on a graduate education training grant from the US Department of Health & Human Services’ HRSA to integrate clinical graduate students into Our Lady of the Lake Hospital in Baton Rouge to bring evidence-based psychotherapy for substance use disorders, with a particular focus on treatment for opioid misuse. She has also received awards from organizations such as the American Psychological Association, College on Problems of Drug Dependence, Anxiety Disorders Association of America.

The award is in honor of Dr. G. Alan Marlatt for his distinguished career as a pioneer and innovator in cognitivebehavioral therapy and research on addictive behaviors.

Dr. Buckner said, “This award is unique in that it also highlights our work that more directly impacts the lives of individuals in Baton Rouge who are suffering from these conditions, including our efforts to bring MET-CBT for substance use disorders (including those with dual diagnoses) to several locations throughout Baton Rouge, including the 19th JDC Adult Drug Treatment Court Program, Our Lady of the Lake’s outpatient clinic Center for Psychiatric Services, and thanks to a recent HRSA grant we received from the US Dept of Health & Human Services, to several units in OLOL Hospital.”

Also at this year’s conference Kayce Hopper was awarded the Outstanding Student Poster award for her poster, “Dual electronic and combustible smokers use of cannabis in relation to pain and hazardous drinking.”

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DOJ Asks Judge for More Time to Answer Dr. Hesson’s 2255 Petition

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On February 12, prosecutors at the Department of Justice asked for a second extension to respond to a 2255 Petition by Dr. Rodney Hesson, who was at the center of the 2015 high profile Medicare fraud case that resulted in convictions of two other well-respected psychologists in the community, Dr. Beverly Stubblefield and Dr. John Teal.

Dr. Hesson filed 829-pages of documents and exhibits with the United States District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana on November 1, 2019, alleging violation of his Constitutional rights to a fair trial due to inadequate representation.

A 2255 petition is a motion under 28 United States Constitution §2255 to vacate, set-aside, or correct sentences for a person in federal custody.

Among other assertions, Hesson alleges that his rights were violated when his defense attorney failed to “move the court” to issue a jury instruction which would have identified the governing Medicare rules and regulations that Hesson relied upon in his clinical and billing practices. In contrast, prosecutors focused on CPT codes. The failure to explain Medicare regulations caused numerous “prejudicial consequences which were overwhelming…” Hesson writes.

Representing himself in the Petition, Hesson argues that the jury was not given instructions as to how to understand critical Medicare regulations and rules, and if they had, their understanding would have been the basis of a “complete defense.”

“In the end, not even one governing Medicare regulation was presented in the court’s instructions to jurors,” he writes, “leaving jurors unable to determine that the billing procedures were based on Medicare regulations, CPT codes being only a part of the more complex Medicare guidelines, and that Hesson relied on these regulations in good faith.”

If jurors had been made to fully understand, he explains, that Hesson’s company, Nursing Home Psychology Services (NHPS) passed a 2011 Medicare audit and review of its procedures for billing, and also that in 2012 he voluntarily asked Civil-DOJ to review NHPS billing procedures, then jurors would have concluded that he did not have any intent to do fraud or make false statements, he writes.

In the fact-filled 2255 Petition, Hesson argues that the jury was not instructed nor allowed to understand the official regulations, which would have successfully countered the prosecutors’ theory of fraud, and more importantly, their “theory of conspiracy.”

In response to the November 8 Petition, Judge Carl Barbier ordered that the US attorneys file a response to Hesson’s arguments by January 7. In December the prosecutors filed a motion for additional time and then again in February prosecutors asked for more time. Judge Barbier granted both extensions. The US response is now due on April 6, 2020.

Hesson’s company, Nursing Home Psychological Services (NHPS) consulted with and served up to 72 nursing facilities and employed between 23 and 26 psychologists and between 18 and 20 clinical coordinators. Hesson designed a service that paired each psychologist with a clinical assistant, and the total units/hours billed was a sum of both the psychologist’s and the supervised assistant’s procedures. Consulting with the staff at the nursing home and working from physician referrals were part of the program for diagnostic testing of patients.

Three main NHPS practices formed the basis of the charges against Hesson: use of clinical assistants, medical necessity, and “locum tenens” billing, of one psychologist under the agency Medicare number of another.

In the Petition, Hesson argues that each of these business practices would have been shown to be legal and valid, or a good faith reliance upon them at the least, if the jury would have been caused to fully understand the Medicare regulations and rules. And, his company’s willingness to undergo voluntary reviews by Civil-DOJ would have countered any conclusion of “conspiracy.”

The 2015-2016 charges against all defendants were elevated to “conspiracy,” which carries some of the harshest legal treatment that Government prosecutors can bring to bear on defendants, through laws that allow pre-trial and pre-conviction seizing of assets and property.

“Conspiracy” laws originate from prosecution of individuals in organized crime and terrorists. “Federal prosecutors can, and should, use civil forfeiture to enhance criminal cases and further the Department of Justice’s (Department) goal of effective law enforcement,” writes Craig Gaumer in the U.S. Attorney’s Bulletin, “A Prosecutor’s Secret Weapon: Federal Civil Forfeiture Law.

Even the Judge, notes Hesson, commented on the unusual circumstances of the case. Before the trial began, Judge Barbier said, “You know, in many criminal cases, the defense is: I didn’t do it. I didn’t commit the act you said I committed. I didn’t have a gun, I did not do whatever it is. But in this case, as I understand it, the defendants are saying: we did what we did, but we didn’t believe it was illegal to do what we did.”

And, the transcript confirms that confusion. The Judge acknowledged that he had not reviewed the regulations and stated, “I have seen references to them in all the pleadings, all the memoranda that have been filed. They said these are very complex regulations, does it pretty much say in black and white under 101 and 102 what you can do and not do?“

Prosecutor’s Kanellis response was misleading at best, writes Hesson: “The CPT codes are very short. What [the defense] want[s] to do is they want to muddle the picture by saying here’s a way you interpret these codes, why don’t we consider this ….”

Hesson writes that when prosecutor Kanellis reinforced his point that any interpretations about the governing law is “the Judge’s function,“ the following conversation occurred:

The Court: You’re going to propose or suggests legal instructions on that, right?

Prosecutor Kanellis: Yeah. If there’s a reason —

The Court: is there case law on this that’s relevant, on how to instruct the jury on these types of regulations?

Prosecutor Kanellis: There are cases that discuss the issue in general. I have not seen a case where they discuss the specific instructions in that regard. That’s certainly something, your honor – – I mean, the easiest thing to do is for the court to say, this is what CPT code 96101 says,” and it’s a sentence, or a few sentences. Here is what CPT code 96102 says.”

Jurors never received these instructions, Hesson writes, and so could not determine whether he and his employees reasonably complied in good faith with civil law.

Hesson and his mother, Gertrude Parker, owned and operated regional companies, Nursing Home Psychological Service and Psychological Care Services. They marketed to nursing homes in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. At the trial, Hesson said that his company was “…inundated with referrals.” He said that at times the company had to cap how many people could be seen.

Physicians ordered the assessments and nursing homes appeared to need them, based in part in changing attitudes around the country and the increasing awareness about overmedication of senior citizens in nursing home care. Many sources note the under utilization of psychological services in senior care facilities. Hessen and his company, classified as a small-business based on yearly revenues, became a top biller of Medicare services.

Dr. Hesson was found guilty and sentenced to 120 months, and restitution of $13,800,553 with at least $200 per month after release, paid to Medicare.

Gertrude Parker was sentenced to 84 months, restitution of $7,313,379, and $200 per month.

Dr. John Teal was sentenced to serve 24 months, restitution of $3,505,137, and $200 per month. He has completed his sentence.

Dr. Beverly Stubblefield was sentenced to serve 30 months, restitution of $2,181,378, and $200 per month. She is home in Ecru, Mississippi. Stubblefield worked contract for the Hesson companies, part-time for about five years. She was paid roughly $89,000 per year.

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President Trump Issues Executive Order to Combat Human Trafficking and Child Exploitation

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President Trump signed an executive Order on January 31 to establish goals and priorities to end human trafficking in the U.S.

“Human trafficking is a form of modern slavery,” he said. “Throughout the United States and around the world, human trafficking tears apart communities, fuels criminal activity, and threatens the national security of the United States. It is estimated that millions of individuals are trafficked around the world each year — including into and within the United States. As the United States continues to lead the global fight against human trafficking, we must remain relentless in resolving to eradicate it in our cities, suburbs, rural communities, tribal lands, and on our transportation networks. Human trafficking in the United States takes many forms and can involve exploitation of both adults and children for labor and sex.

“Twenty-first century technology and the proliferation of the internet and mobile devices have helped facilitate the crime of child sex trafficking and other forms of child exploitation. Consequently, the number of reports to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children of online photos and videos of children being sexually abused is at record levels.

The President wrote, “Effectively combating these crimes requires a comprehensive and coordinated response to prosecute human traffickers and individuals who sexually exploit children online, to protect and support victims of human trafficking and child exploitation, and to provide prevention education to raise awareness and help lower the incidence of human trafficking and child exploitation into, from, and within the United States,” he said.

“To this end, it shall be the policy of the executive branch to prioritize its resources to vigorously prosecute offenders, to assist victims, and to provide prevention education to combat human trafficking and online sexual exploitation of children.”

The Order aims to strengthen federal responsiveness to human trafficking, and make available, online, a list of the Federal Government’s resources to combat human trafficking, ways to identify and report instances of human trafficking, to protect and support the victims of trafficking, and to provide public outreach and training.

Improving interagency coordination for targeting traffickers, assessing threats, and sharing law enforcement intelligence is an objective, and also to enhance capabilities to locate children who are missing. The Secretary of Health and Human Services is to establish an internal working group to develop and incorporate practical strategies for state, local, and tribal governments, child welfare agencies, and faith-based and other community organizations to expand housing options for victims of human trafficking. The Attorney General and the Secretary of Homeland Security, in coordination with the Secretary of Education, shall partner with state, local, and tribal law enforcement entities to fund prevention programs.

In 2017 Gov. Edwards and the Governor’s Office Human Trafficking Prevention Commission announced a series of regional summits on human trafficking. In collaboration with various agencies the summits aimed to highlight pertinent information from key stakeholders regarding the existing services, protocols and community response to trafficking victims.

Psychologist Dr. Rafael Salcedo attended the Louisiana Human Trafficking Prevention Advisory Board meeting, held 2018. First Lady Donna Edwards and Senator Beth Mizell, gave opening remarks.

Dr. Salcedo represents psychology on the advisory group and he is also the cocreator with his wife Beth, of a the Free Indeed Home, the only licensed, therapeutic group home in the state for helping teen girls escape the physical and psychological bonds of sex-trafficking. The First Lady Ms. Edwards has toured the Home, Dr. Salcedo explained to the Times.

Dr. Rafael Salcedo is known for his advocacy and comprehensive treatment program for the young victims of human sex trafficking, and for this and other efforts, was named the 2017 Distinguished Psychologist by the Louisiana Psychological Association.

Salcedo is a licensed Clinical Psychologist with subspecialties in the area of forensic and neuropsychology, providing services for issues such as competency to stand trial, sanity at the time of crime, and other legal issues.

He consults to the court system in Orleans, Jefferson, Lafourche and Terrebonne Parishes, to the Office of Community Services, and has worked with the Department of Children and Family Services for the last 25 years, conducting evaluations of children who are in need of supervision or care.

Dr. Salcedo also chairs the Louisiana Psychological Association Committee for Community Psychology & Psychology in the Public Interest.

In 2012, after becoming aware of the depth and tragedy surrounding child sex trafficking, Rafael and Beth, a licensed speech- language pathologist, founded the nonprofit, advocacy group, the Louisiana Coalition Against Human Trafficking.

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Gov.’s Task Force Releases Report After Appeals Court Rules on ACA Individual Mandate

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On January 29, Gov. Edwards released the Protecting Health Coverage in Louisiana Task Force’s final report, showing Louisiana stands to lose $3.6 billion in federal funding if Texas v. United States is successful in overturning the Affordable Care Act, with almost half a million Louisianans losing healthcare.

In December the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals released a decision on a challenge to the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”), affirming a lower-court ruling that said that the ACA’s individual mandate, which was reduced to $0 as a result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, is no longer considered a tax and so Congress no longer has constitutional authority to enforce the mandate and also held that the whole law is unconstitutional. Twenty states signed onto the lawsuit, including Louisiana by way of Attorney General.

Gov. Edwards created the task force in 2019 following these efforts to repeal the ACA protections offered to Louisianans with preexisting medical conditions and overturn Medicaid expansion.

“The Affordable Care Act is not perfect, but as the report indicates, completely eliminating the program would jeopardize Medicaid expansion, eliminate protections for those with pre-existing conditions and cost the state $3.6 billion in federal funding,” Gov. Edwards said. “The Attorney General’s lawsuit is about political gain, but for hundreds of thousands of Louisianans, it’s about losing access to healthcare and critical health protections. This new report makes it clear: the people of Louisiana and the State of Louisiana simply can’t afford Jeff Landry’s lawsuit.”

According to the Task Force report:
Louisiana stands to lose $3.6 billion from the federal government if the Affordable Care Act is invalidated, with an estimated 494,000 Louisianans losing health coverage.

The outcome of Texas v. United States could invalidate some or all of the provisions of the ACA, making it difficult to quantify the exact funding necessary today to ensure no change in health coverage status for Louisianans.

It would cost more than $536 million for Louisiana to “backfill” the loss of federal subsidies for those enrolled in the federal marketplace and keep key pre-existing condition protections, as imagined in Act 412 of the 2019 Regular Legislative Session. Without this funding, key individual market pre-existing condition protections do not exist.

Without additional funding from the federal government or additional action from Congress, if Texas v. United States is successful, the state would be left to fill budget holes, Medicaid coverage for working adults would be diminished or cut altogether and Louisiana’s uninsured rate would be at risk of going from a historic low of 8 percent in 2018 back to pre-ACA levels, which were more than 17 percent.

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We Remember Dr. Billy Seay

FacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailDr. Billy M. Seay, long-time member of the Louisiana psychology community, passed away December 4, 2019. He served as a faculty member in the Department of Psychology at Louisiana State University for many years, and then went on to become the founding Dean of the LSU Honors College.

Dr. Seay was one of the “monkey men,” the affectionate term for those who observed the behavior of primates and then explained the development, adaptation, and social structures of these close great-ape relatives.

When Dr. Seay came to LSU as a young psychologist in 1964, he brought with him the distinction of having published in the then ground-breaking studies about mother-infant separation. Seay studied with the American primatologist, Harry F. Harlow, at the University of Wisconsin, where Seay earned his doctorate.

In his work at Wisconsin and with Harlow, Seay published “Mother-Infant Separation in Monkeys,” in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, “Affectional Systems in Rhesus Monkeys,” and “Maternal Behavior of Socially Deprived Rhesus Monkeys,” and ‘Maternal Separation in Rhesus Monkeys,” in the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease.

“Harlow provided his students with the resources of his laboratory, staff support, and considerable independence,” Seay told the Times in 2015. “When research was published he used a ‘post-Nobel’ style of authorship. Students were consistently the first author of  research reports. Exception occurred only if he had an agreement with an editor to be first author. He would not co-author dissertation publication. You were on your own.”

Seay also worked with colleague and fellow LSU professor and development psychologist, Dr. Nathan Gottried, to author The Development of Behavior: A Synthesis of Developmental and Comparative Psychology in 1978.

The Development of Behavior was ahead of its time. While debates still occur today about which influence––genetic, environmental, epigenetic, individual, etc.–– is dominant in development, Development of Behavior set out the importance of five “sets” for determining behavior from all five directions. In Development, they approached behavior from the dynamic interplay of the Phylogenetic Set, the Ontogenetic Set, the Experiential Set, the Cultural Set, and the Individual Set.

“One hopes that what is not lost is that all behavior is multiply determined,” Seay had told the Times. “There is not a single cause for any behavioral outcome,” he said.

“I think that both biological and cognitive psychology fail to recognize the importance of culture in shaping and determining behavior,” Seay said about the awareness of cultural impacts. “The cultural setting is a determining factor with respect to the environment an individual encounters. Failure to recognize cultural influences on behavior limits understanding behavior.”

Dr. Billy Seay was a devoted husband for sixty years to his college sweetheart. Billy is survived by his loving wife, Nedra Dees Seay, of Baton Rouge, his daughter Delecia Seay Carey and husband Tom, of Maurice, Louisiana, his son Franklin Whitfield Seay and wife Cheryl of Denham Springs, and many beloved grandchildrenFacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Governor Appoints Mr. McNeely to LSBEP as Consumer Member

FacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailIn December, Governor Edwards appointed D. Chance McNeely of Baton Rouge to the Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists.

McNeely is currently the Executive Director of the Louisiana Motor Transport Association, and he will serve as a consumer member on the LSBEP.

He has served at Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, Office of the Secretary, as Assistant to the Secretary for Policy; at the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, Office of Environmental Compliance, Office of the Governor, State of Louisiana, as Policy Advisor; and in U.S. House of Representatives as a Legislative Assistant.

Mr. McNeely has a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Business from Louisiana State University (LSU) and Master of Public Administration also from LSU.

Act 515 of the 2018 Legislative Session created a position on the board for a Consumer Member. Under LA R.S.37:2353.A.(3)(b)(i) The consumer member shall be selected from the state at large and shall possess all of the following qualifications: (a) Is a citizen of the United States and has been a resident of Louisiana for at least one year immediately prior to appointment. (b) Has attained the age of majority. (c) Has never been licensed by any of the licensing boards identified in R.S. 36:259(A), nor shall he have a spouse who has ever been licensed by a board identified in R.S. 36:259(A). (d) Has never been convicted of a felony. (e) Does not have and has never had a material financial interest in the healthcare profession.

The consumer member shall be a full voting member of the board with all rights and privileges conferred on board members, except that the consumer member shall not participate in the grading of individual examinations.

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Dr. Shannae Harness Sole Candidate for LSBEP 2020 Spot

FacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailThe Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists is conducting an election to fill the opening coming in 2020. Dr. Shannae Harness of Baton Rouge is the sole candidate for this opening, for serving the five-year term from July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2025.

Dr. Harness earned her degree from Jackson State University in 2012, in the major of clinical psychology. She is listed with the National Registry of Health Service Psychologists and is a member of the American Psychological Association.

In her statement, Dr. Harness noted, “… In order to assist the Board, one of my goals is to be a catalyst for change by opening the lines of communication within this field during the process of licensure and the maintenance of competent psychologists. My role as a regulator in enforcing the laws, standards, and ethics code is to be transparent and timely in carrying out the matters of the Board …

“Another goal for my tenure on the Board is to promote diversity and encourage open
dialogue about mental health issues that affect the underserved populations in Louisiana. This is a population that often does not present for help due to the stigma associated with treatment,” Dr. Harness wrote. “Furthermore, many are often incarcerated due to lack of receiving mental health interventions. I would like to focus on bringing the mental health divide amongst people of diverse backgrounds and bring awareness to these issues when participating in rule making activities.

“Lastly, the face of psychology has evolved over the past few decades when it comes to diversity among licensure applicants.  These individuals have different emphases in training and present different competencies. As such, the Board needs to stay abreast of the current laws, standards, and ethics within the field of psychology. Thank you for the opportunity to share my vision and it is my sincere wish to work closely with the Board to continue to promote and grow the field of psychology.”

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Contemporary Southern Psychology Hits Odd Snag

FacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailThe Online Journal Contemporary Southern Psychology, announced in June 2018, has published only one volume of one issue, and that volume is not available at this time, explained Dr. Bill McCown, the editor pro temp. McCown is Professor of Psychology and Associate Dean for Research at University of Louisiana at Monroe (ULM).

“We expected to be almost into our third issue by now,” he said. “We thought there would be ongoing operational difficulties, but what we encountered was a bit unusual.”

The journal is the brain-child of co-editor Dr. McCown, and team members Dr. Burt Ashworth, Assistant Professor in Psychology and endowed chair in Gerontology, and Dr. Mkay Bonner, Associate Professor, Criminal Justice & Psychology, College of Business & Social Sciences, both at ULM Contemporary Southern Psychology is a peer-reviewed, open access journal with a focus primarily toward psychological research, aiming to match the style and contributions of the wellrespected, 1980s, Southern Psychologist.

While the editors encountered some expected production delays, what they didn’t expect was to find themselves engaged in national politics, said McCown who noted that as the national atmosphere became increasingly heated, “… things got very strange.”

“Not long after we started talking to outside reviewers and editors we began receiving calls and  manuscripts on unusual topics,” McCown said. “We found out that there’s an entire pseudo-scholarly world out there that we didn’t want to be affiliated with.”

“These are people who want to publish on racist and anti-semitic topics and somehow believe that the word ‘Southern’ indicates a like-minded audience. It’s clear most of them did not come from our area, perhaps not even our country. I guess we just got on someone’s radar.”

After a while this flood of extreme right interest subsided somewhat, McCown said, but it was as if it generated an opponent-process on the left.

“Suddenly the name ‘Southern’ seemed to be in the crossfire of some left-leaning people. We started getting emails and calls saying things like, ‘What are your real intentions? Are you as racist as everyone else in the South?’ And, ‘Are you white nationalists at your University?’

“The rhetoric even got much worse even after we explained our mission,” McCown explained. “At that point we just slowed down our pace and waited for the national climate to become more reasonable.”

“It seems that the word ‘South’, which the editors mean more in a geographic sense, is almost a trigger for nonobjectivity,” McCown said.

Have they considered a new name? “We want to be true to our concept, which is a regional journal which recognizes the brief but influential legacy of Ralph Dreger and LPA in one of its periods of excellence, “ McCown said.

“We also want to highlight the necessity of employing psychology and the behavioral sciences for making sure our region is all it can be. The Deep South was a late adopter to the science of psychology. Sometimes this is overlooked. We want to try to remind people not to make this mistake again. So we are sticking with the name.”

“We aren’t going anywhere. Our funding is secure. Our mission is legitimate.  We have enthusiasm and energy.  We will be a peer-reviewed, open-source, journal with no fee charges.  There is a need and we aim to fill it.”

“By late January we hope we will be announcing a special issue and have a general call for papers for future issues,” McCown said.

“The mission of the new journal is to emphasize what psychology can do for our region,” Dr. McCown previously told the Times. “The South, perhaps for reasons that no one still understands, has been slow to embrace this potential contribution. The results of this failure are all around us. The mental and overall physical health of southern citizens is poor. The southern education system is often disconnected from advances in cognitive and social psychology. Southern criminal justice systems desperately need changes that are informed by behavioral science. In the private sector many corporations inadequately understand what organizational psychology now can offer. Consequently, they are not maximally competitive beyond our region.”

“This is a deeper opportunity for psychology to assert its identity to a region that has not recognized what we do and can do well. This is very much in the spirit of the original publication and we hope is a way of celebrating 70 years of LPA’s successes in our state,” he said.
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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

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

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

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

From FBI data release:

Overall violent crime decreased by 3.4 percentage points in Louisiana.

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

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

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

Psychology Board Holds Long Range Meeting & Rules Hearing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Psychologists at OCD Louisiana Hold Walk For Awareness Oct 20

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For those wanting more information about OCD Louisiana, Dr. Fitch invites interested psychologists to visit the website at ocdlouisiana.org and follow on facebook (facebook.com/ocdlouisiana), Instagram (instagram.com/ocdlouisiana), and twitter (twitter.com/LouisianaOcd).Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Psychology Board to Hold Rules Critique and Long-Range Meeting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chicago School at Xavier Earns APA Accreditation for Its PsyD Program

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

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

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

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

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

The Chicago School at Xavier program was also innovative because it focused on applied clinical psychology specifically for the diverse and multicultural context in south Louisiana, and on “growing PsyD Psychologists here,” explained Dr. Christoph Leonhard, founding chair of the program.

“We developed the program to meet the needs of local social service providers of psychological services and of the community,” he said, “and frankly, to provide culturally competent services by people who understand this community, which is a very unique place in many ways.”

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

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

The program organizers focused their recruitment to students inside Louisiana. hoping to grow PsyD psychologists here, and who will remain here, in order to serve the sometimes unique needs of the Louisiana culture. “Studies indicate that newly graduated psychologists who have to leave the state to get an advanced degree do not return,” said Leonhard. “So the emphasis of this program is to educate and train our own.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Panic Button” App Initiative Aims to Improve School Safety

FacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailGov. Edwards joined Louisiana State Police Superintendent Col. Kevin Reeves at Neville High School in Monroe on August 29, to announce that the state is providing funding for all K-12 schools in Louisiana to begin using the RAVE Mobile Safety App that will better alert authorities to emergencies on K-12 campuses.

“Today we are taking a step forward in making our schools safer with technology that will dramatically improve reporting and response times for teachers and other educators who face emergency situations while in their classrooms,” Gov. Edwards said. “While we hope and pray that the safety of our children and their teachers is never compromised, it’s our hope that this technology will assist in protecting our schools.”

Rave Mobile Safety will provide the Rave Panic Button app to all schools that will allow teachers to quickly request immediate assistance from law enforcement or other first responders in the event of a health or safety emergency in their classroom.

This is funded with $4 million included in the state’s FY 20 budget. The app will begin to be deployed to schools across the state this fall.

“The progress that Louisiana is making to improve the safety and security of our students, faculty and staff are the direct results of the vision and leadership of Governor Edwards in creating the Blue Ribbon Commission,” stated Colonel Kevin Reeves, State Police Superintendent. “I am
extremely proud of the work of my fellow Commission members including our parish and local law enforcement partners and the efforts of the men and women of the Louisiana State Police that helped bring this technology to Louisiana.”

“As tragedies at schools have escalated, leaders in education, law enforcement, and emergency response have collaborated to strengthen preparedness and crisis management,” said Louisiana Superintendent of Education John White. “Among those efforts, we have explored the use of new technologies, like the mobile app announced today, that may prove beneficial in quickly and effectively responding to an on-site emergency. Every child and every educator deserves to feel safe in their classrooms, and it’s our duty to put into place every measure to ensure that’s possible.”

The Rave Panic Button is a smart phone app designed to speed emergency response by alerting authorities when there is a medical emergency, a fire, an active shooter or another crisis. When a teacher, administrator or staff member activates the button, it simultaneously places a 911 call to dispatch help while delivering immediate notification of the type and location of the emergency to other school employees and first responders.

This type of coordination further enables schools to respond to emergencies more quickly. The state will cover the cost of the technology for all schools in Louisiana, including charter schools, either as their first line of communications or to work in hand with solutions individual school systems already have in place.

“As a school district, the first and foremost requirement we have is to work to ensure safety for all our students, faculty, and staff,” said Dr. Brent Vidrine, the Superintendent of Monroe City Schools. “This App is one more tool to help our school district be pro-active in working to ensure safer schools for all of our students and adults on campus.”Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail