Category Archives: News Stories

Volunteering Expert, Dr. Richard Flicker, Takes Lead for Baton Rouge Area Society Psychologists

Dr. Richard Flicker, an industrial–organizational psychologist who is heavily involved in his community and volunteering, will serve as president of the Baton Rouge Area Society of Psychologists, known as BRASP. This will be the second term for Dr. Flicker, who also served as president in 1998. He was elected while being absent from the meeting for the first time in two years, he explained to the Times. Even so. Dr. Flicker is a strong advocate of community involvement. “I believe that there are many ways each and every psychologist can fulfill the challenge issued by George Miller’s 1969 address to the American Psychological Association –– to give psychology away,” Dr. Flicker said. “Volunteerism in the form of active membership in civic, religious and charitable organizations is one way to give psychology away. It doesn’t always require being the leader, but the visibility and influence afforded by leadership roles allows us to have a greater positive impact,” he said.

“The 80/20 Rule – not the one applying to determining adverse impact in employment discrimination cases – but the one which states that 20% of the members of any group contribute 80% of the work ––or money or time. We need to be sure that we’re in that 20%
and not the other 80% who mainly complain.”

Dr. Flicker’s goals for his BRASP presidency include efforts to have interesting and informative speakers at the monthly meetings.

At their February meeting, BRASP hosted Erica McLellan, Assistant Attorney General and Section Chief of the Sexual Predator Unit at Louisiana Department of Justice. She discussed the role of psychologists in this area of the criminal justice system, the psychological impact of sex crimes on the victims and their families, and what is involved in the investigation/prosecution.

For the March meeting, Morgan Lamandre, Esq., President & CEO, Sexual Trauma Awareness and Response, will speak about advocacy, counseling and legal services available to youth and adult survivors of sexual violence. For April, the speakers will be Dr. John Kirwan, Executive Director of LSU’s Pennington Biomedical ResearchCenter and George Bray, Jr. Endowed Super Chair in Nutrition.

Dr. Flicker also wants to make meetings fun and welcoming by adding a couple of features to our monthly agenda, including a “Question of the Month” and a “Joke of the Month.”

“I’ve tried to find jokes that are relevant to the speaker and/or topic of the speaker’s presentation,” said Dr. Flicker, “and have sometimes modified jokes to make them relevant. Some get big chuckles, and of course, many get groans because they’re just corny.”

He will also create a working budget, review the by-laws, and wants to improve monthly attendance and increase membership.

What other leadership activities has he been involved with over the last years?

“Too many. I am the first president of the Brotherhood of the new Unified Jewish Congregation of Baton Rouge. A year ago the two Jewish congregations in Baton Rouge merged into one congregation.

“As an I/O psychologist, I saw this as a challenge in organizational development – same challenge the congregation faced – overcoming any ‘us vs. them’ mindset when two former entities became one.

“The biggest project was chairing the annual Christmas Shopping Spree at Macy’s for about three dozen children in the Big Buddy program,” he said. “The I/O psychologist in me kicked in as I came up with several ways to improve the implementation of the event itself. The feedback afterwards was tremendous as far as how organized the event came off. And we exceeded ou fundraising goal, giving each of the Big Buddy kids more money (Macy’s gift cards) than ever before to put gifts under the Christmas tree for their entire families…”.

Dr. Flicker is also president-elect of the Exchange Club of Baton Rouge and chair of the annual Adopt-A-Teacher project which in 26 years has provided grants to 622 new elementary school teachers in the East Baton Rouge Parish School System, grants totaling in excess of a quarter of a million dollars.

“As a small civic club, this project has only been possible because of the generosity of several businesses, other non-profit groups and individuals,” Dr. Flicker said. “I’m proud to say that BRASP has made a significant financial contribution to this project for the past 25 years, as have several individual psychologists. In return, BRASP (and those psychologists) are listed in our major newspaper, The Advocate, as well as being listed on the printed program and having their name read aloud at the School Board meeting which is broadcast live and rebroadcast repeatedly on the local cable access channel.

Dr. Flicker is also a past president and the current Treasurer is the Inter-Civic Council of Greater Baton Rouge which is comprised of representatives of over 30 civic and charitable non-profit organizations.

“In my role as treasurer, I play an active role in planning and implementing the annual Golden Deeds Award banquet, now in its 82nd consecutive year with attendance ranging from 300 to 400 plus people every year.”

He also volunteers for the American Red Cross and serves as a member of the Professional Advisory Group for Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center’s soon to be launched Clinical Pastoral Education graduate degree program.

What is he doing professionally these days?

“Well, after the spring semester in 2020, I resigned my full-time faculty position in the Psychology Department at Southern University,” he said. “I initially was hired in 2001 to teach full time for one year after a tenured faculty member decided to retire one week before the fall began. At that time, I was teaching half-time in the Management Department at LSU. Somehow that one year gig at Southern lasted nineteen years; the first two of which I continued half-time at LSU in the evenings. People keep asking me if I’m retired. My response has been, I’m not retired; I’m just tired.’ ”

“Since leaving Southern, my part-time consulting practice has been a nice supplement to my social security check since volunteer work doesn’t pay very much – at least not in dollars.

Richard Flicker, PhD changed his path from math & physics to psychology after reading Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment. “I couldn’t put it down,” he said “It changed my life.” He attended City College of City University of New York, and majored in consumer and industrial psychology. He took this interest with him to Purdue. There he studied with respected IO professors,

Tiffin and McCormick. From the first day, he was thrown into teaching three sections of Introductory. “It was the last thing I thought I’d do. This will come as a shock to anyone who knows me; I had a real phobia of public speaking.” Toward his senior year, he was supervising 16 grad students who taught 4000 students. “That’s how the academic setting became a career path.” 

In 1975, he moved to Shreveport from New York and took a position at the new, small campus of LSU-S, where the priorities were first teaching, then community service, and then research. APA President George Miller’s ’69 message of “giving away psychology,” had had a profound affect on him. But it wasn’t until LSU-S, and the friendly, philosophical brown bag luncheons where faculty talked about community involvement, that he found his way of giving.

Dr. Flicker began public speaking, his first talk at the Exchange Club. They asked him back and before long, he was President. It was his first real leadership position and a connection that remains with him today, among his many activities. He currently serves as President of the Texas Louisiana Gulf Coast District Exchange Clubs, a multi-group organization, just one in a
long list of leadership roles for him.

Involved in his community through the Exchange Club, plus teaching, consulting, speaking, and the training he provided in “Leadership Shreveport” program, he became willingly immersed in his new culture. All this, he said, “acquainted me with my community. We had the Mayor, we had the Police Chief, we had the Fire Chief, we were doing projects with the Congressman. That’s what exposed me to the community and made me realize, ‘It’s my community.’”

What does he think are the most important issues facing psychology right now?

“Plato wrote that ‘our need will be the real creator.’ That phrase eventually morphed into the proverb ‘necessity is the mother of invention.’ The COVID-19 pandemic forced individuals and organizations in almost all sectors of our society to adapt, or go extinct. Many changes made necessary by the pandemic had unanticipated silver linings – being extremely positive,” Dr.  Flicker said.

“However, like all things in life, with the positives there are negatives/side effects. The role of psychologists as change agents, whether on an individual or large scale organizational basis, provides incredible opportunities to contribute to the overall mental health of our nation. Technology already created a generation or two of people who don’t know how to function in face-to-face social situations. While technology became an asset as the pandemic required minimizing face-to-face contact, it further exacerbated the poor interpersonal skills required in society,” he said.

“Another challenge facing psychology is overcoming the anti-science, anti-intellectual attitude created by our recent toxic political environment. Psychologists are not alone in having to overcome the mistrust that appears to define almost half of our population. In a society where ‘alternative facts’ and ‘conspiracy theories’ are the new normal for so many people, re-establishing credibility as scientists, educators and practitioners of our profession may be the greatest issue facing psychology,” he said.

Dr. Flicker would like to extend an invitation to anyone who would like to attend BRASP and/or receive meeting notifications. He can be reached at







Association of American Physicians and Surgeons Issues Statement on Gender-Affirming Care in Minors

In a February 25 press release, the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS), a national organization of physicians in all specialties founded in 1943, issued the following statement:

” ‘Gender-affirming care’ in minors is medically and ethically contraindicated because of a lack of informed consent. There are inherently unknown and unknowable long-term risks, and the consequences of removing normal, healthy organs are irreversible.”

In the announcement the APPS officials also noted:

“Physicians and medical professionals should refuse to be mandated or coerced to participate in procedures to which they have ethical or scientific objections or which they believe would
harm a patient.”

“The construct of gender fluidity in the current cultural discourse is controversial.”

“There has been an explosive increase in persons who identify with the construct of gender
different from sex, at an age where identity is easily malleable and brain development is not fully concluded.”

“Conflicting motivations have led to a growing industry dedicated to providing “gender- affirming” procedures that are generally irreversible and have a high probability of causing sterilization. These procedures include puberty “blockers,” sex hormones, and surgery, such as castration, penectomy, and mastectomy. They commit a patient to a lifelong need for medical, surgical, and psychological care.”








Louisiana Company Recognized by LG NOVA for Innovative Digital Health Concept

In a February press release, company officials announced that QuickTake Health was one of the start-ups chosen by LG Electronics’ North American Innovation Center (NOVA), for its “Mission for the Future,” a global search for companies with innovative concepts and transformative solutions that provide a positive impact on people and planet, to come explore collaboration opportunities with LG NOVA.

QuickTake Health was founded in Lake Charles, Louisiana, in 2021 by Dr. John Noble,  orthopaedic surgeon and Chief Medical Officer, and Rand Ragusa, Company President. During the pandemic, Ragusa had worked for a company that provided digital thermal temperature reading kiosks at medical office entrances across the state after the COVID19 shutdown in 2020. This seamless process led him to consider about how other vital sign data, such as height,
weight, and blood pressure, could possibly be collected in the same automated, efficient way using technology.

“Our goal was to build a quicker, smarter way to document vital signs and improve the patient experience,” said Dr. Noble. “We have put a lot of processes in place at Center for Orthopaedics to increase our personal interaction with patients, but we were often delayed waiting on vital signs to be entered into the patient record. The idea of creating a digital, one-stop station that could capture the health data we – and all medical offices – need seemed long overdue.”

Research shows that 56% of a health workers’ time in a normal work week is spent on administrative tasks rather than caring for patients. Pen and paper still play a big role in
data entry, even though the COVID-19 pandemic has forced healthcare organizations to adapt to new technology. In addition, ongoing shortages of skilled frontline workers heighten many types of risks, including medical errors.

“We knew there had to be a better solution; a way to automate the workflow for vital sign collection,” said Ragusa.

The QuickTake system is powered by advanced camera technology, biometric sensors, and EHR (electronic health record) integration. A patient simply steps onto the QuickTake platform and their vital signs are instantly collected and transferred directly to their medical record.






Legislators Filing Bills for April 10 Start of 2023 Regular Session

The 2023 Regular Legislative Session will convene at noon on Monday, April 10, 2023. Final  Adjournment is no later than 6:00 pm on Thursday, June 8, 2023. The deadline for pre-filing bills is March 31. Legislators have begun to file their bills. Among those are the following:

Representative Selders is proposing in House Bill 55 to improve treatment of incarcerated  individuals with mental health needs, referred to as “The Mental Healing Justice for Incarcerated People Act.”

The proposed law states that legislative intent is access to high-quality mental health services,  regardless of the setting, and that the state wholly supports efforts to assist incarcerated  individuals suffering from severe and persistent mental illnesses, including post-incarceration syndromes, in their efforts to navigate incarceration and reentry into society.

Present law (R.S. 15:830) provides that the department may establish resources and programs for the treatment of inmates with a mental illness or an intellectual disability, either in a separate facility or as part of other institutions or facilities of the department.

House Bill (HB) 55 amends present law to make the establishment of resources and programs mandatory.

The proposed law provides that the qualified mental health persons within the  multi-disciplinary service team shall establish a training program to be conducted annually. The responsibilities of the multi-disciplinary service team include the following:
(1) Prompt screenings of the entire inmate population for post-incarceration syndrome through the use of computer-administered interviewing technology.[…]
(2) Use of computeradministered interviewing to conduct screenings […]
(3) In-prison and outpatient services for all of the following:
(a) Methods for accessing mental health staff during a mental health crisis; (b) Implementation  of prevention interventions for suicide and self-injurious behavior; (c) Procedures for placement of a patient in a level of care in accordance with his mental health needs; (d) Detection, diagnosis, and treatment of post-incarceration syndrome, among other mental illnesses, with medication management or counseling. […]

HB 31, authored by Representative Romero provides for additional offenses that require  registration as a sex offender. The proposed law changes the definition of “criminal offense  against a victim who is a minor” to include the present law offenses of cruelty to juveniles (R.S.  14:93) and second degree cruelty to juveniles (RS. 14:93.2.3).

Representative Boyd is putting forth HB 40 which prohibits intentional employment discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.

Present law provides that it shall be unlawful for an employer to discriminate against any  individual based on Legislators Filing Bills for April 10 Start of 2023 Regular Session, continued race, color, religion, sex, national origin, or natural, protective, or cultural hairstyle.

The proposed law adds that it is unlawful for an employer to also discriminate against any individual based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Present law provides that it shall not be unlawful for an employer to discriminate against any individual based on religion, sex, or national origin in certain instances where religion, sex, or national origin is a bona fide occupational qualification that is reasonably necessary for that  particular business or enterprise.

Proposed law provides that no provision shall be interpreted to infringe upon the freedom of  expression, association, or the free exercise of religion.

HB 41 authored by Representative Frieman requires health benefits and payment parity equal  to in-person services for occupational therapy delivered through telehealth. The proposed law requires a health coverage plan (plan) to pay for covered occupational therapy services provided via telehealth to an individual insured person.

HB 41 prohibits a plan from certain restrictions, including the following: (1) Requiring a previously established in-person relationship or the provider to be physically present with a  patient or client, unless the provider determines that it is necessary to perform that service in  person. (2) Requiring prior authorization, medical review, or administrative clearance for  telehealth that would not be required if that service were provided in person. (3) Requiring  demonstration that it is necessary to provide services to a patient or client as telehealth. (4) Requiring a provider to be employed by another provider or agency […] (5) Restricting or  denying coverage based solely on the communication technology or application used to provide the telehealth service. However, proposed law authorizes a plan to restrict occupational therapy services via telehealth when the services are provided solely by telephone. […]

Senator Cloud is putting forth Senate Bill 7 which provides each library established in accordance with present  law or pursuant to a home rule charter shall adopt and implement a policy to limit the access of minors to sexually explicit material.

The proposed law requires the policy to include: (1) A requirement that community standards  for the population served by the library be considered when acquiring library material through donation or purchase; (2) A library card system that allows a parent or guardian to select a card that indicates whether or not a minor is permitted to check out sexually explicit material physically available in the library.

SB 12, by Senator Fields, requires each postsecondary education institution, elementary,  middle, and high school to have an automated external defibrillator (AED) on its premises in an  easily accessible location. The proposed law requires that an AED and a trained AED user be at  each athletic event sponsored by a postsecondary institution and elementary, middle, or high school.








Medical Psych Advisory Committee Discusses Supervision Dilemmas

The Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners, convened a Regular Call meeting of the Medical Psychology Advisory Committee on January 27, 2023. The Medical Psychology
Advisory Committee met via live-streaming video and teleconference for the public session. New Business included: “1. LSBEP – Supervision of psychology licensure candidates.”

According to the medical board, members of the Medical Psychology Advisory Committee include Glenn Ally PhD MP – Secretary Treasurer, James Blackburn MD, Darla M. R. Burnett, Ph.D., M.P., Vincent Culotta, Jr. MD, ex officio, Warren C Lowe PhD MP, and K. Chris Rachal PhD MP.

The press release included the agenda as follows:

INTRODUCTIONS – Identification of participants and audibility per La. R.S. 42:17.1(C)(3). Finding that Agenda meets criteria under La. R.S. 42:17.1(A)(2)(d).

PUBLIC COMMENTS, pursuant to La. R.S. 42:17(C)(1).

OLD BUSINESS – Approval of Minutes from meeting on August 16, 2022

NEW BUSINESS                                                                                                                                1. LSBEP – Supervision of psychology licensure candidates
2. Replacement of MPAC physician member

Dr. Ally called the meeting to order and reviewed the agenda. He brought to the 
floor new business involving the Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists [LSBEP] and supervision of psychology licensure candidates.

Dr. Ally said, “As some of you may know LSBEP has attempted to suggest that medical psychologists cannot supervise potential licensees. And, suggests that the only way that medical psychologists should be able to supervise potential licensees is by being licensed also by LSBEP.

“We’ve kind of disputed that. It’s been a long-standing practice that that medical
psychologists have been able to supervise provisional licenses and potential licensees. I’m not talking about individuals already licensed but those that are provisional and those that are potential licenses.

“We’ve had meetings with LSBEP, LSBME, LAMP, a number of folks, attorneys were involved with this. The bottom line is the LSBEP backed off of that policy they were attempting to put forward. 

“However, Warren indicated to me that a supervisee had his provisional status sort of, wasn’t turned down, but they said they could not approve his provisional  proposal because he was being supervised are because he intended to be supervised by a medical psychologist. They are not saying that they will not approve him but they are not approving the pre-proposal. So they are not getting into the game of saying they are not going to approve you, if you have been supervised by medical psychologist, but we can’t approve the proposal. So that is where we’re getting stuck with this.

“The LSBEP attempted to pass a lengthy set of rules along with many other professional associations. In doing that they had attempted to suggest that only a psychologist licensed under their statute could supervise. We were able to insert into that, that medical psychologists could supervise.

Dr. Ally read from Revised Statute 37:2356.2, section D:

D. A provisional licensed psychologist shall maintain a relationship with a licensed psychologist or a medical psychologist licensed in accordance with R.S. 37:1360.51 et seq. for the purposes of clinical supervision. The supervising psychologist or medical psychologist shall have legal functioning authority over the professional activities of the provisional licensed psychologist.

“So I think that’s pretty clear that we are able to supervise but again LSBEP is raising this issue one more time. I don’t know how LAMP wants to address this but I think we’ll need to address it one more time.”

Committee members discussed the confusion between the rules and the statute.

Dr. Ally said, “I do know that LSBEP has been for quite a long time now wanting to get medical psychologist licensed under their board once again. It doesn’t behoove us to do that at this point in time, risking two licensures, risking two exposures of liability. It just doesn’t make sense for us. However, having said that, some medical psychologist do maintain two licenses under both boards.”

Dr. Lowe read a portion of a letter that the supervisee received from the LSBEP.

“LSBEP has reviewed your supervised practice plan with a medical psychologist, which unfortunately was not approved. Dr. so-and-so, the MP, is not a licensed psychologist under the jurisdiction of LSBEP thus you are not eligible for a provisional license. The board does not pre-approve supervision and relationships between an applicant supervisee and the supervisor if the supervisor is not licensed under the jurisdiction of this board.

“However the board will review and consider the acceptability of any supervised experience that is conducted under the licensing jurisdiction such as the LSBME on completion of the supervision provided the supervision meets the requirements of the Louisiana  Administrative Code. The supervisor will need to submit the post-doctoral supervision documentation upon completion of the supervision.”

Dr. Lowe said, “They are not denying that MPs can be supervisors of LSBEP potential licensees but what they’re saying is we’re not going to approve it ahead of time, we’re not going to give you a provisional license and we may not approve it after the fact, which is the only place we’re going to review it.

“I’m only putting this on the agenda because I want everyone to be aware of this, the way they have gotten around or made it difficult for MPs to supervise.

“You have to be, I think, risk inclined to have an MP supervise you not knowing ahead of time that it’s going to be approved and it might not be approved plus you interrupt your opportunity to be a provisional licensee.

The members discussed whether this is against the current statutes and provisional license. Dr. Lowe said, “This will eventually fall to LAMP and LAMP will have to decide what and if they want to try to remedy this someway.”

Dr. Ally said, “From my perspective I hesitate at this point in time to open up our statute for any revisions but at some point in time we may have to do that and try and make some clarification. We can’t undo their statute or we can wait for an opportunity if they try to revise their statute to amend their statute or rules which we have done in the past. I’m speaking for LAMP now.

“That something that LAMP will have to consider and look and address. As MPAC our responsibility is to enforce the statutes, the laws, and interpret them as they are on the books now.

The meeting can be viewed via YouTube. Go to the website at, and from the home page, click on “Advisory Committees” and then “Medical Psychology” where a YouTube link to the meeting will be posted at the appointed time of the meeting.

During the meetings of this type, according to the notice, Individuals who wish to make a public comment before or during the meeting may do so by emailing: 





Dr. Murray Weighs In on the Behavioral Immune System

Tulane’s Dr. Damian Murray co-authored the Association for Psychological Science
lead article, Psychological Science in the Wake of COVID-19 Social, Methodological, and  Metascientific Considerations.

The premier article was published in Perspectives on Psychological Science in March 2022.

Dr. Murray explained the importance of the behavioral immune system and along with national and international contributors, noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has extensively changed the landscape of psychological science, and it is continuing to raise important questions about the conduct of research.

How did Dr. Murray become involved as a resource for the article?

“I was simply approached by the lead author, as he was familiar with my work and my being among a (formerly much smaller) group of researchers studying the implications of disease threat for cognition, behavior, and culture,” explained Dr. Murray.

The article considers how the psychology of pathogen threat may elucidate many social
phenomena in the wake of COVID-19. One question of concern brought up about this was, “Why should psychological scientists care about COVID-19 and the day-to-day research?”

Dr. Murray explains that, complementary to our immune systems, people focus on avoiding disease-causing objects, including other people whenever possible, which is referred to as a type of “behavioral immune system.” This concept is explained by Murray & Schaller in their 2016 chapter for Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, titled, “The Behavioral Immune System: Implications for Social Cognition, Social Interaction, and Social Influence.”

“Broadly, the behavioral immune system,” said Dr. Murray, “is a set of cognitive, motivational, and behavioral mechanisms that help to minimize the possibility of getting sick in the face of recurrent infectious disease threats.” As an historical note he added, “This may have been more aptly termed the Psychological Immune System, but that had already been claimed.”

Dr. Murray and co-authors explain that a fundamental goal of any organism is to protect itself from threat, and humans must navigate both realistic such as biological threats to health and symbolic threats such as those to group identity, moral values, and worldviews. Because they pose both realistic and symbolic threats, pandemics have high potential to influence many cognitions and behaviors, explained Dr. Murray.

Until recently psychologists have mostly dismissed the implications of pathogen threat for social cognition and behavior. In general, disease avoidance does not involve a great deal of deliberative thought, given that it is motivated by disgust or embedded cultural norms, reported Dr. Murray and co-authors in a 2017 research article.

However, viewed from the functional perspective, most social phenomena have disease-related causes and/or consequences which include relationships, motivations, moral cognition, and even cultural systems and political institutions, explain Murray & Schaller.

What are some of the most interesting research findings in this area?

“I used to answer this question by saying that disease influences the fundamental ways in which we socialize,” said Dr. Murray, “but now that we’ve all been through a world-altering pandemic that seems like common knowledge. I guess now I would say that I consider the most interesting findings to be those outcomes in the areas that people don’t intuitively link to disease, like conformity or moral judgment,” he said. “Are you more likely to condemn someone who morally transgresses when you’re worried about disease? Are you more likely to conform to even the tritest of social norms when you’re more concerned about disease? The research says ‘yes’ to both of these questions,” said Dr. Murray.

When it detects threat, the behavioral immune system activates anti-infection behavior, such as by eliciting disgust and promoting social avoidance, according to Murray & Schaller. The authors state that when this happens, COVID-19 alerts psychologists to uncertain conditions of infection risk that, to date, have been underappreciated and understudied.

What are some of the most practical applications, or main takeaways, regarding the behavioral system that readers might need to know?

“It’s hard to overstate just how important a factor disease has been in how and why we are the humans we are today,” said Dr. Murray. “With access to remarkable modern medicine, it’s easy to forget that throughout human history, infectious disease has been the biggest
threat to our well-being and thriving…it’s been the source of more deaths than all famines, wars, and natural disasters combined,” he said.

“So, in the lab our work is showing that yes—when people are temporarily made aware of a disease threat, they are more likely to vote with the majority, are more likely to condemn those that violate moral norms, and more likely to say that they would prefer fewer sexual partners in the next 5 years (and/or in their lifetimes),” said Dr. Murray.

“I think the bigger takeaways are that we see these effects play out at the societal level as well,” he said. “People living in countries or regions that have had historically higher levels of disease are (on average, of course) more likely to conform to the majority, more likely to
condemn moral-violators, and prefer fewer sexual partners. And even most importantly we see these psychological effects manifest in how countries and societies operate: more disease is associated with less trust of your neighbors, more authoritarian governance, and more restrictions on personal freedoms,” said Dr. Murray.

“We’ve found this when looking at both samples of contemporary nation states and samples of more traditional societies. Another huge downstream effect of disease threat (via its effects on less creative thinking) is less cultural innovation. You see this manifest in pretty much any innovation metric available…Nobel prizes, patents, global innovation scores, whatever.”

What are some of the other interesting findings in Dr. Murray’s publications?

“We’ve been doing a bunch of work over the past few years looking at how becoming a parent influences our political attitudes,” said Dr. Murray. “Most of this work has been led by Nick Kerry, a fantastic former grad student of the lab. As we know, motivations shift when one becomes a parent…as a parent you’re all of a sudden responsible for a very vulnerable other human, and you will be for many years.

“When we started this work,” said Dr. Murray, “we reckoned that maybe you’d see that motivational shift reflected in political attitudes, specifically in attitudes in the domain of social conservatism. Given that socially conservative attitudes emphasize group cohesion, familial stability, and more punitive punishments for people who might pose threats, we
predicted that parenthood is associated with higher political conservatism. This is exactly the pattern we find study after study—not just in America but all around the world. And this pattern is exclusive to social (and not economic) conservatism,” Dr. Murray said. “I think that this is fascinating work because so much work on parenting focuses on the other causal
arrow of how parents influence their children’s attitudes and behaviors. Our work shows how effects work in the opposite direction too; children influence their parents’ psychology simply by virtue of being children.”

How did he become involved in evolutionary psychology?

“I find ‘evolutionary psychology’ to be a term so fraught with baggage and misunderstanding that I don’t use it to categorize research programs or areas,” Dr. Murray said.

“Coming from early training in the biological sciences it never made sense to me why so many branches of psychology were uninterested in human origins, history, development, and culture. An evolutionarily-informed approach to the study of human cognition and behavior is complimentary to—not mutually exclusive of—the more proximal or situational
perspectives we see in the psychological sciences. It simply addresses our most fascinating ‘why’ questions at a different level of analysis,” said Dr. Murray.

“For example, if you were to try to answer the question, ‘Why do people fall in love?’ A common approach could be to look for all of the environmental and social triggers that cause people to fall in love. A complimentary evolutionary perspective could form answers to this question in a different way, by listing the ways in which the tendency to fall in love helped humans survive and thrive throughout history,” he said.

“It takes answers at both levels to best understand why people do what they do. Just as there’s no such thing as ‘non-evolutionary biology,’ neglecting the evolutionary level of analysis in psychology gives us an incomplete understanding of human cognition and behavior,” Dr. Murray said.

“So more basically my involvement/continued interest in evolutionary perspectives on psychology is that it more persistently asks the deeper ‘why’ question. We don’t get satisfactory answers to that ‘why’ question otherwise.”

Some of his current publications include:

Kerry, N., & Murray, D. R. (in press). Politics and parenting. In V. A. Weekes-Shackelford
&T. K. Shackelford (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Evolutionary Psychology and Parenting. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Kerry, N., & Murray, D. R. (2020). Politics and parental care: Experimental and mediational tests of the causal link between parenting motivation and social conservatism. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 11, 284-292.

Murray, D. R., *Prokosch, M., & *Airington, Z. (2019). PsychoBehavioroImmunology:
Connecting the behavioral immune system to its physiological foundations. Frontiers in Psychology, 7, 10:200. 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00200

Murray, D. R., Haselton, M. G., Fales, M. R., & Cole, S. W. (2019). Falling in love is associated with immune system gene regulation. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 00, 120- 126.

Damian R. Murray, PhD, is an Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, at Tulane University. He has a PhD in Social Psychology and a PhD in Minor Quantitative Methods, from University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC.

According to his bio at Tulane, Dr. Murray’s research programs follow two themes:

1) The consequences of a disease-avoidance motive for interpersonal relationships, social attitudes, personality, and cultural differences, and

2) The dynamics of new interpersonal relationships—the individual differences that predict formation, stability, and satisfaction in new romantic relationships, and the implications of these relationships for physiology and health.







LSU’s Dr. Todd, Creativity Expert, Named to National Sea Grant Program for La

Dr. Michelle Todd, Assistant Professor in the School of Leadership and Human Resource Development at Louisiana State University (LSU), was named Fellow in the Louisiana Discovery, Integration, and Application program, part of the National Sea Grant Program.

The Louisiana Sea Grant is a non-profit organization that funds coastal and sustainability research and projects in Louisiana. According to officials, the Louisiana Discovery, Integration, and Application program (LaDIA) strives to highlight leadership for the Louisiana coast area and to promote stewardship of the state’s coastal resources through a combination of research, education and outreach.

LaDIA Fellows receive training from national experts in science communication and outreach, as well as broaden their knowledge of coastal concerns, say officials. The Louisiana Sea Grant, based at Louisiana State University, is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Sea Grant Program, a network made up of 34 Sea Grant programs located in each of the coastal and Great Lakes states and Puerto Rico. LSU was designated the nation’s thirteenth Sea Grant College in 1978.

The Times asked Dr. Todd to tell us about the LaDIA Fellows and Louisiana Sea Grant Program.

“From what I have learned,” she said, “traditionally LaDIA Fellows Louisiana Sea Grant’s efforts have mostly come from a hard science (e.g., biology, marine science, engineering) space, but they have begun to value and integrate social sciences like psychology and anthropology,” Dr. Todd said. “A lot of knowledge and expertise about building hurricane-sustainable structures and remaining resilient in Louisiana’s tumultuous weather can be
gained from the coastal Louisiana indigenous communities. Currently, there are projects that include interviewing and learning from indigenous tribes,” she said.

“Additionally, more investment is being placed in Louisiana communities to teach Louisianans how to be weather-aware, prepared, and resilient,” said Dr. Todd. “I am
currently working on a grant proposal that will investigate the most effective methods
for bringing together and leading community groups to solve coastal/environmental
community problems,” she said.

“For example, if a community is interested in bettering its recycling program or its hurricane-preparedness, we will work with them to facilitate those group meetings,
including providing methods for structuring those meetings, communication strategies,
planning tools, leadership development, etc.,” Dr. Todd said. “We plan to do this with multiple communities and to collect data to assess which methods are most effective in solving community coastal problems.”

Training received as part of the program helps support innovative solutions to the 
coastal challenges facing the Mississippi River Delta and coastal systems worldwide, according to officials. The LaDIA Fellows program offers a one-year fellowship to highly talented tenure track faculty from institutions of higher education in Louisiana. A candidate’s selection is based on their innovative research and how it is relevant to Louisiana’s coast.

What other activities is Dr. Todd engaged in currently?

“I met a colleague,” she explained, “Dr. Anurag Mandalika, who I have been working with on Agricultural issues in Louisiana. Most recently, he and Dr. Deborah Goldgaber applied for a grant from LSU’s Center for Collaborative Knowledge to sponsor a Faculty Research Seminar on Ethics of AI, Automation, and Agriculture. The grant was just funded, and the scholars mentioned above, along with me and a few other interdisciplinary researchers across LSU, will begin meeting monthly to discuss the ethical issues that impact the agriculture industry as it becomes more automated, as well as potential solutions to these problems,” Dr. Todd said.

“A major issue is that as the agriculture industry becomes more automated, many Louisianans and migrant workers have lost or will lose their jobs,” she said. “Successful automation requires knowledge capture and transfer from skilled workers, while potentially harming these same workers in the future. Some of the questions we are looking into are,
‘What sorts of policies and procedures ought to be in place for conducting research in these areas? How can experts at LSU inform and affect policy in these areas?  What sort of ethical and professional frameworks ought to guide us in these areas?’”

What are her ideas on how to improve retention of the agricultural industry workers?

“Dr. Anurag Mandalika and I have specifically been discussing potential methods for improving the retention of agricultural workers agricultural industry workers,” Dr. Todd
said. “We are currently outlining a grant proposal on ways to better train leaders of agricultural companies on how to prepare their workers for increased automation, including providing their workers with cross-training of multiple skills so that workers may be better prepared to take on other jobs in the company if their current job becomes obsolete due to automation.”

Along with the LaDIA Fellows Louisiana Sea Grant Program and the ethics seminars, she is also working on her research in creativity. “I have been working with my colleague, Dr. Keith Strasbaugh on a large project investigating the impact that COVID-19 and increased telecommunicating (or complete telework) has had on creativity,” Dr. Todd said. “I am leading a symposium called ‘Novel Approaches to Managing Creativity in Organizations’ at this year’s Society for Industrial-Organizational Psychology conference where we discuss some of the findings of this work,” she said.

“The first noteworthy finding is that the extent of telecommuting seems to have no relationship with creative job performance,” Dr. Todd said. “This is good news considering the shift to telecommuting or complete telework environments that are more prevalent in the modern workplace. This result suggests that organizations should not be weary of the CJP [creative job performance] of teleworkers,” she said.

“The next series of findings also seem to support this conclusion. Notably, problem solving, job complexity, and interdependence did not influence the relationship between telecommuting and CJP. This suggests that even with varying levels of problem solving, job
complexity, and dependence on coworkers, varying levels of telecommuting may be just as viable as in-person workplace environments,” said Dr. Todd.

“Social support was the only significant factor impacting telecommuting and CJP, delineating that high social support in increased telecommuting environments is key to increased CJP,” she said.

“When social support is low for people who telecommute more, their CJP appears to suffer. Therefore, organizations and supervisors should provide opportunities for more social support for creative workers who telecommute. Examples may include specified time for
peer-to-peer and subordinate-to-supervisor discussion and developmental feedback.,” she said.

Dr. Todd is currently in the process of publishing this paper, in addition to other work investigating the interaction of emotions, job engagement, and telework on creativity at work, she explained.

“Our first notable finding was that, in general, more positive emotions were reported by participants than negative emotions over the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, and these positive emotions predicted greater CJP. Similar to the findings outlined above, this suggests that creativity at work was and is possible despite the stressors induced by the pandemic,” Dr. Todd said.

“However, we also found that negative emotions significantly diminished the relationship between job engagement and creative job performance during the pandemic. These finding stress that positive emotions during the pandemic are key to effective creative work, and
organizations concerned with creativity and innovation may benefit from initiatives to keep spirits high at work,” she said.

“When we examined telework in tandem with emotions and CJP, we found that telework did not significantly affect these relationships. That is, despite different work environments and differing hours of telecommuting, reported emotions were similar. This finding provides further evidence that creativity, along with emotion regulation, may thrive just as well in a telework environment as in a physical office.”

Dr. Todd has published her research in notable peer-reviewed outlets, including The Leadership Quarterly, Accountability in Research, and the Creativity Research Journal, in addition to editing a book, Creativity and Innovation in Organizations, published by Taylor and Francis.

She has conducted research funded by the Army Research Institute, the National Institutes of Health, and the state of Oklahoma. She has also collaborated on research and consulting projects with the U.S. Army, Department of Homeland Security, and U.S. Secret Service.

Dr. Todd’s publications include:

Todd, E. M., Higgs, C., & Mumford, M. D. (2022). Effective strategies for creative idea evaluation and feedback: The customer’s always right. Creativity Research Journal, 1-19.

MacLaren, N. G., Yammarino, F. J., Dionne, S. D., Sayama, H., Mumford, M. D., Connelly, S., Martin, R. W., Mulhearn, T. J., Todd, E. M., Kulkarni, A., Cao, Y., & Ruark, G. (2020). Testing the babble hypothesis: Speaking time predicts leader emergence in small groups. The Leadership Quarterly, 31, 101409.

Todd, E. M., Higgs, C. A., & Mumford, M. D. (2019). Bias and bias remediation in creative problem-solving: Managing biases through forecasting. Creativity Research Journal, 31,
1-14. DOI: 10.1080/10400419.2018.1532268

Mumford, M. D., Todd, E. M., & Higgs, C. A. (2018). Eminence and genius in the real-word:Seven critical skills that make possible eminent achievement. Journal of Genius and Eminence, 3, 13-25.

Dr. Todd received her PhD in Industrial-Organizational Psychology with a minor in Quantitative Psychology from the University of Oklahoma. Her research focuses on creativity, innovation, and leadership in organizations, as well as the development and training of
individuals for creative and leadership roles. She has also published work on ethical decision-making and ethics training.

She is Assistant Professor in the School of Leadership and Human Resource Development, in the College of Human Sciences & Education at Louisiana State University.






Dr. Woods–Smith in Election for LSBEP

Shawanda Woods-Smith, PsyD, from Ball, Louisiana is the sole candidate qualifying and offering to serve on the Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists and named in the current election to fill the board member vacancy occurring on June 30, 2023.

Dr. Woods-Smith is the Director of Psychology at Pincerest Supports and Services Center in Pineville, Louisiana, part of the Office for Citizens with Developmental Disabilities. She was licensed in clinical psychology in 2014 and earned her degree from Argosy University in Dallas in 2008, according to her application.

The election, conducted by the state psychology board, opened January 7 and will end midnight on Tuesday, February 7, 2023. Licensed psychologists are eligible to vote by electronic ballots through the licensing board.

Dr. Woods- Smith provided a statement of issues facing the LSBEP, and was asked to describe her role as a regulator in enforcing the laws, standards and ethics code, and goals for her tenure on the Board. She gave her statement as follows:

“I view that an overall role of an LSBEP member encompasses the promotion and advancement of the Psychology profession in adherence with state laws and ethical standards. Additionally, inherit within this role is the responsibility to educate and protect the welfare of members of the profession and ensure the initial and continuing professional
competence of providers within mental health to provide consumers with access to safely delivered psychological services.

“As a member of the LSBEP, it would be a goal to increase the visibility and facilitate mental health services awareness within the state of Louisiana. Additionally, with increased exposure the objective would also include the recruitment and retainment of future and current Psychologists within the state by collaborating with other disciplines (Social Work, Counseling, Substance Abuse, Marriage & Family Therapists, etc.) and entities such as the State Board of Education and State Colleges & Universities.”

If appointed by the governor, Dr. Woods- Smith’s term will be from July 2023 until June 2028.

Pinecrest Supports and Services Center supports people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to reach treatment goals and to return to more integrated community living settings. Pinecrest Supports and Services Center specializes in the treatment of people with comorbid intellectual and developmental disabilities and complex medical, behavioral, and psychiatric support needs, according to officials. The Office for Citizens with Developmental Disabilities (OCDD) serves as the Single Point of Entry (SPOE) into the developmental disabilities services system and oversees services for people with developmental disabilities.







No Substantive Changes After Public Feedback on Proposed Rules from Psychology Board

After publishing over 19,000 words of new proposed regulations, the Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists conducted a public hearing on December 16. The board dismissed calls from the public for substantive changes.

Proposed rule changes include those for fees, registration and oversight of assistants, continuing education rules, training, credentials and scope of practice for neuropsychology, specialty designations, ethics for school specialists, and the rules for using an Emeritus title.

More than 20 individuals submitted criticism of the proposed rules, the majority of comments had to do with the oversight of assistants to psychologists.

As required by law, the State Board published a “Notice of Intent” of the changes in November 20 issue of the Louisiana Register. According to several sources attending the public meeting, the board members wanted to avoid “substantive” changes brought about by feedback, which would then require a second Notice of Intent.

Dr. Kim VanGeffen from the Public Affairs Committee of the Louisiana Psychological Association, noted, “The Board stated that they will be unlikely to make major changes to the Rules as, to do so, would require reposting the Rules and having another period of commentary. They may make what they would term minor changes.”

The Times asked Dr. Greg Gormanous, current chair of the State Board, to comment and he  agreed to provide individual feedback. ” I am offering my comment as an individual. Also I am stipulating that you include the entire quote,” Dr. Gormanous wrote.

“The public hearing on rule making initiated by LSBEP served its purpose. Written comments  were read into the record. The written comments were from many people who were attending virtually. LSBEP also requested oral comments from a member of the public who attended in person. When the hearing ended, the Board, being sensitive to public attendees, next devoted a substantial amount of time and discussed most of the comments. Those deliberations resulted in several important non-substantive tweaks,” he said.

The board appeared to ignore the requests to show evidence of a need for the new detailed oversight and management regulations for assistants, a problem voiced by many of those commenting.

Public comments also included details of managing assistants. According to VanGeffen, “The  Board explained that the process of registering assistants will require an ‘administrative review’  and not full approval of the Board,” said VanGeffen. “Some people commented that the current wording of the Rules suggests that one would have to employ the person first before submitting the application for registration.” Also, “Currently the Rules require that the supervisor be “on  site” while the assistant is performing services,” she noted. “There were a number of comments  about how this is not consistent with the new Medicare guidelines […]. “There were questions about whether ATAPs who are currently employed would be “grandparented.'”

The new regulations effort stems from the 2021 House Bill 477, legislation put forth by the  Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists, now Act 238.

HB 477, authored by Representative Joe Stagni, was a compromise measure following the downsizing of a 23-page bill introduced by the psychology board in 2020 and then again in 2021. 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. This  message resonated with the majority of those attending a special meeting of the Louisiana Psychological Association called for by petition of those opposing the measure.

According to the Notice of Intent, the proposed rule changes will increase revenue collections for the LSBEP by $21,000 for FY 23 and $18,050 in FY 24 and FY 25. The estimate is 420 assistants.

Also according to the Notice, the Board claims that benefits include a positive impact for licensed psychologists and also for competition.

“The proposed rule changes will benefit Licensed Psychologists by reducing their risks associated with hiring unqualified individuals to work with vulnerable populations…” And, “The proposed rule changes are anticipated to have a positive effect on competition and employment. Licensed Psychologists who utilize ATAP’s are able to serve a larger client base than if working independently.

Next, the Board is required to respond to all comments and submit a report to legislative oversight committees, House Committee on Health and Welfare and the Senate Committee on Health and Welfare, according to the Administrative Procedures Act.

“The agency shall issue a response to comments and submissions describing the principal reasons for and against adoption of any amendments or changes suggested in the written or oral comments and submissions. In addition to the response to comments and submissions, the agency may prepare a preamble explaining the basis and rationale for the rule, identifying the data and evidence upon which the rule is based, and responding to comments and submissions. Such preamble and response to comments and submissions shall be furnished to the respective legislative oversight subcommittees […]

Also, “Prior to the adoption, amendment, or repeal of any rule or the adoption, increasing, or decreasing of any fee, the agency shall submit a report relative to such proposed rule change or fee adoption, increase, or decrease to the appropriate standing committees of the legislature and the presiding officers of the respective houses as provided in this Section. […]

This review is to include numerous items including: “(3) The specific citation of the enabling legislation purporting to authorize the adoption, amending, or repeal of the rule or purporting to authorize the adoption, increasing, or decreasing of the fee. […] ” (ii) A summary of all comments received by the agency, a copy of the agency’s response to the summarized comments, and a statement of any tentative or proposed action of the agency resulting from oral or written comments received.”

The oversight subcommittees determine among other things, whether the rule change or action on fees is in conformity with the intent and scope of the enabling legislation, and whether the rule change or action on fees is acceptable or unacceptable to the oversight subcommittee.

The public meeting was held December 16 and according to the Administrative Procedures Act was required to be at least 35 days after the notice was published. The Notice was published November 20, 2022. According to the Act, “Any hearing pursuant to the provisions of this Paragraph shall be held no earlier than thirty-five days and no later than forty days after the after the publication of the Louisiana Register in which the notice of the intended action appears.”








Louisiana Attorney Gen Jeff Landry Files Lawsuit On Government Involvement in Social Media/Speech

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry and Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt have brought a lawsuit to show the federal government is colluding with social media companies to censor speech. This according to Landry’s office.

Attorney General Landry said in a press release on December 6, 2022, “Our case has exposed many ways the federal government colluded with social media companies to censor freedom of speech on their platforms. Chan’s deposition showed that the FBI was part of this incredible conspiracy. All Americans should be alarmed and outraged!”

Attorney General Schmitt said, “Missouri and Louisiana are leading the law in exposing exactly how the federal government colluded with social media companies to suppress speech online. Our deposition makes it clear that the FBI played an outsized role in working to censor speech ahead of the 2020 election.”

As part of the lawsuit, Landry and Schmitt deposed FBI supervisory special agent Elvis Chan. Chan testified that he and the FBI had quarterly meetings then monthly meetings with major social media companies in the leadup to the 2020 election. During these meetings, Chan
warned of the potential for a Russian “hack and dump” operation. The deposition testimony was able to show how the federal government and the FBI colluded with social media companies to sensor freedom of speech on their various social media platforms.







Governor Edwards Names Terri Ricks Head of DCFS

On December 21, Gov. John Bel Edwards named Terri Ricks the new secretary of the Department of Children and Family Services, according to the press release. Ricks has been serving as interim Secretary since former Sec. Marketa Walters stepped down last month. Gov. Edwards also named Amanda Brunson as Deputy Secretary. Brunson has been with DCFS since 2021, when she was hired as Special Projects Officer in the Child Welfare Division.

“I want to thank Terri and Amanda for their dedication and willingness to fill these important roles,” said Gov. Edwards. “No doubt there are many challenges facing child welfare agencies, including here in Louisiana, but I am impressed by the way Terri has taken her years of knowledge and put it into leading the department and finding solutions. Amanda likewise will be a vital asset as we work to give Louisiana’s children the services they deserve.”

According to the press release, Ms. Ricks has played an essential role in the leadership and management of DCFS and has been responsible for enterprise-wide efforts since 2016. Those efforts include leading the restructuring of DCFS in 2016 and fundamentally reframing the Family Support Division to include a greater emphasis on workforce initiatives, a shift to more family-centered child support, increased client access through more robust customer service, and increased poverty competency of staff. Ms. Ricks represents DCFS on the Governor’s Workforce and Education Subcabinet, a cross-agency collaborative effort primarily focused on harnessing Louisiana’s untapped talent. She also led the efforts to create the department’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) unit. Responsive to Louisiana’s needs, she has increased partnerships with community organizations, national foundations, and others to decrease poverty and increase equity and family stability.




Gov. Edwards Touts Positive Outcomes of Criminal Justice Reforms

In two press releases, Gov. John Bel Edwards touted the state’s improved criminal justice program after a November report by PEW and a bipartisan report by the Pelican Commission Institute highlighted significant improvements in Louisiana’s criminal justice reform outcomes.

In December, the Governor said the Pelican Institute, a conservative think tank, released an analysis of crime data in Louisiana that drew four conclusions:

1) Property crimes are decreasing in Louisiana 2) Increases in violent crime were a nationwide event in 2020, impacting almost every state 3) Violent crime increases in Louisiana were lower than in other southern states 4) Increases in violent crime are not correlated with criminal justice reforms or decreased incarceration rates.

According to the announcement, one of the key goals of bipartisan criminal justice reform was to reserve prison beds and law enforcement resources for more dangerous offenders.  Incarceration numbers for Louisianans convicted of non-violent crimes have dropped significantly thanks to bipartisan criminal justice reform, but Louisiana now has more people incarcerated for violent offenses than before criminal justice reform. According to the Pelican Institute analysis, violent offenders are also serving longer sentences now than they were before bipartisan criminal justice.

“This report proves that bipartisan criminal justice reform has actually helped Louisiana
fight the nationwide increase in violent crime by focusing our law enforcement resources on violent offenders,” said Governor John Bel Edwards. “Don’t let lazy narratives fool you. We have gotten smarter on crime, and tougher on violent crime. Conservative, liberal, and non-partisan experts all agree that our reforms have been successful, because the data proves it. We still have a lot of work to do to bring down crime rates, but we’re better off thanks to bipartisan criminal justice reform.”

In November, the Governor’s office pointed out that the Pew Charitable Trusts published
Gov. Edwards Touts Positive Outcomes of Criminal Justice Reforms, continued a story highlighting the transformative impact bipartisan criminal justice reforms have had on Louisiana in the five years since taking effect.

Reporting for PEW, Michelle Russell wrote:

“This fall marks five years since Louisiana enacted its landmark criminal justice reforms. Signed by Governor John Bel Edwards in 2017, the 10 bills passed with strong bipartisan majorities and followed the recommendations of the Louisiana Justice Reinvestment Task Force, an interbranch body of justice system leaders and stakeholders.

“The new laws included changes to sentencing, corrections, and community supervision. In the legislation, policymakers focused on ensuring adequate prison space for those who pose a public safety threat, strengthening probation and parole practices, eliminating barriers to reentering society, and reinvesting savings to reduce recidivism and support victims. Using the most recent publicly available data, here are five findings about how Louisiana’s system has changed since the reforms took effect.

“The state’s prison population has fallen 24%, driven entirely by a decline in people convicted of nonviolent offenses.

“Louisiana’s reforms sought to steer people convicted of less serious crimes away from prison and shorten the time incarcerated for those who could be safely supervised in the community.  In the summer of 2017, before the new laws took effect, there were about 35,500 people under the Louisiana Department of Corrections’ jurisdiction held in prisons or local jails throughout the state. By the summer of 2022, that number had fallen nearly a quarter to about 27,000. A report recently presented to lawmakers showed that the declining prison population was entirely driven by a reduction in people convicted of nonviolent offenses. That number shrank by about 11,000 between 2016 and 2021. Over the same period, the number of individuals who were incarcerated for violent offenses increased by almost 1,400.”

Dr. Susan Tucker, psychologist, was involved in these reforms. She was previously the Assistant Warden, licensed psychologist, and program developer at the Bossier Parish Correctional Center, designed the Steve Hoyle Intensive Substance Abuse Treatment Program. The program first began at the Forcht Wade Correction Center Keithville, Louisiana, and was relocated to the Medium Security Facility for the Bossier Sherriff located between Benton and Plain Dealing, LA.

Tucker’s programs earned state and national recognition, including a legislative commendation, the Residential Substance Abuse Treatment grant, and the governor’s grant for prevention. In 2010 the Vera Institute of Justice, an organization dedicated to improving justice systems through research and innovation, noted that the program, “…should be a model for the nation.”

In 2015, the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation of the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University has named Dr. Susan Tucker and her treatment programs as one of this year’s recipients of the prestigious Bright Ideas awards for innovation. 





Gov. Appoints Dr. Fanning, Others to Boards

In June, the Governor announced that he reappointed Dr. John T. Fanning of Jefferson to the  Traumatic Head and Spinal Cord Injury Trust Fund Advisory Board. Dr. Fanning is a clinical  psychologist. He will serve as a representative of an organization recognized for its work in  advocacy programs for persons with traumatic head injuries.

In September the governor announced additional appointments, including:

Rebecca L. Mandal-Blasio of Mandeville has been appointed to the Louisiana Behavior Analyst  Board. Ms. Mandal-Blasio is senior clinical director of Learn Behavioral LLC, Autism Spectrum  Therapies. She will serve as a behavior analyst nominated by the Louisiana Behavior Analysis Association.

Courtney B. Wright of New Orleans has been appointed to the Louisiana Behavior Analyst  Board. Ms. Wright works with Children’s Autism Center, LLC. She will serve as a behavior analyst nominated by the Louisiana Behavior Analysis Association.

Laura J. Fazio-Griffith, Ph.D. of Baton Rouge was reappointed to the Louisiana Licensed Professional Counselors Board of Examiners. Fazio-Griffith is a licensed professional counselor  and associate professor of counseling at Southeastern Louisiana University. She was nominated by the Louisiana Counseling Association and will serve as a counselor educator.

Amanda E. Johns, Ph.D. of New Orleans was appointed to the Louisiana Licensed Professional  Counselors Board of Examiners. Johns is an assistant professor with Nicholls State University. She will serve as an educator who is a licensed professional counselor and whose function is  the training of mental health counselors in accredited programs.

Roy A. Salgado Jr., Ph.D., of New Orleans, was reappointed to the Louisiana Licensed  Professional Counselors Board of Examiners. Salgado is a licensed professional counselor  supervisor and licensed marriage and family therapist supervisor. He is a professor of  counselor education and supervision at the University of Holy Cross. He was nominated by the Louisiana Counseling Association and will serve as a counselor educator.

Chastity A. Butler of Monroe has been appointed to the Licensed Professional Counselors Board of Examiners. Ms. Butler is clinical director of Seaside Healthcare. She will serve as a licensed professional counselor.








State Board to Take Control Over Psychologists’ Assistants

The state psychology board is proposing new rules and regulations to govern the use of  assistants to Psychologists. The notice for new rules was published in the November issue of  the Louisiana Register. The proposed rules include the conditions for the use of assistants , the responsibilities of supervising psychologists, and the disciplinary activities that the board may engage in for those registered as assistants.

The new oversight conditions stem from the 2021 House Bill 477, legislation put forth by the Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists, now Act 238.

HB 477, authored by Representative Joe Stagni, was a compromise measure following the downsizing of a 23-page bill introduced by the psychology board in 2020 and then again in 2021. 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. This message resonated with the majority of those attending a special meeting of the Louisiana  Psychological Association called for by petition of those opposing the measure.

The language reads:

§2354. Fees

(4) The board shall charge an application fee for the initial registration of each assistant to a psychologist that shall not exceed fifty dollars. The board shall adopt rules in  accordance with the Administrative Procedure Act to implement the provisions of this Paragraph.

Sources from both the state board and the Louisiana Psychological Association that supported  the measure acknowledged that the new regulation was an attempt to raise revenue for the board, which has been struggling financially for a number of years.

The public may submit comments and criticism to the boards office by noon on December 12.  According to the notice, “LSBEP will conduct a Public Hearing at Noon on December 16, 2022, at  the board office located at 4334 S. Sherwood Forest Blvd., Suite C-150, Baton Rouge, LA 70816.  All interested persons are invited to attend and present data, views, comments, or arguments,  orally or in writing.”

The Louisiana Register’s Notice of Intent for new rules and regulations includes the following: 

§1101. Conditions for Utilization of Assistants
A. Upon employment of an ATAP, [Assistant to a Psychologist] but prior to assisting in psychological duties, the Supervising Psychologist shall submit a complete application for initial  registration, required registration fee, and documentation on such form and in such manner as  may be prescribed by the board to demonstrate that the registrant meets all of the following criteria:
1. is 18 years of age or older;
2. possesses a minimum of a high school diploma or its equivalent;
3. is of good moral character as determined by a criminal background check conducted under  the authority of R.S. 37:2356.1 and the provisions of this Part;
4. is not in violation of any of the provisions of the La. Revised Statutes Title 37, Chapter 28.  Psychologists; or the Louisiana Administrative Code, Title 46, Part LXIII; or any provision governing the practice of psychology under the jurisdiction of the board;
5. is qualified, or will receive supervised training commensurate with the services to be performed and is under the direct and continuous supervision of the Supervising Psychologist  as defined in this Chapter.
B. Prior to the approval of any registration, the registrant shall initiate a criminal background check from the Louisiana State Police, Bureau of Criminal Identification and Information in accordance with this Part, and the criminal history records information report must be received  and cleared by the board.
C. Upon review of the application, the board shall notify the licensed psychologist of record that the application and evidence submitted for registration is satisfactory and the registration has  been approved; or that the application or evidence is unsatisfactory and rejected; or other pending status. If the application is rejected, a notice from the board shall include the reasons for the rejection.

§1103. Responsibilities of Supervisors
A. The Supervising Psychologist:
1. is responsible for the registration and renewal of an assistant to a psychologist in conformity  with this Chapter on such form and in such manner as prescribed by the board;
2. directs the provision of psychological services to clients;
3. is administratively, clinically, ethically, functionally, and legally responsible for all activities of the Assistant to a Psychologist;
4. is accountable for the planning, course and outcome of the work. The conduct of supervision  shall ensure the welfare of the client, and the ethical and legal protection of the assistant;
5. is responsible for general communication regarding the needs of the clients and services rendered;
6. is responsible for continuing professional supervision of the ATAP;
7. provides general professional supervision of the ATAP that shall include one cumulative hour  per week as a minimum for direct supervisory contact:
B. Neglect in maintaining the above standards of practice may result in disciplinary action  against the supervisor’s license to practice, including suspension or revocation.

§1109. Exceptions to the Registration of an Assistant to a Psychologist
A. The provisions of this Section shall not apply to the following:
1. a medical psychologist utilizing assistants under the provisions of RS 37:1360.61 under the  jurisdiction of the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners.
2. an individual licensed under this part as a licensed specialist in school psychology who is  providing services defined under RS 37:2356.3.

§1107. Denial, Revocation, or Lapse of a Registration for an Assistant to a Psychologist
A. and take such actions permitted under RS  37:2351-2378, et al in matters involving the ATAP and/or their supervisor. The board has the authority to conduct investigations
B. The board may deny or revoke the registration of an assistant to a psychologist (ATAP) that is  in the best interest of public health, safety, and welfare for any unethical, unlawful, or other  unprofessional conduct under the jurisdiction of the board.
C. Immediate action may be taken to administratively suspend an ATAP’s registration in the  event information is received that the action(s) of an ATAP is causing harm to clients, is  otherwise likely to cause harm to future clients or patients, or the action(s) is unethical or  unlawful. Such action may be taken in instances including but not limited to falsifying  information in an application; and/or receipt of information involving an arrest, warrant for an  arrest, or conviction of the ATAP. 








Who Profits? The 50th Percentile EPPP Cut-Off

In January a group of psychologists from the Louisiana Association for Psychological Science  submitted a complaint to the Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists saying that  the Board is inappropriately using the national licensing exam in a way that discriminates  against Blacks and other minorities, denying their property rights.

The crux of the matter is in the use of the 50th percentile as a pass-fail hurdle for the national examination. This cut-off automatically eliminates half of the candidates seeking a license, all of  which hold doctoral degrees and are otherwise qualified. The cut-off is recommended by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards  ASPPB) and uniformly accepted by the states.

The authors of the complaint said that the cut-off  of the 50th percentile increased the likelihood of “adverse impact” and therefore,  discrimination.

Authors cited the research of Dr. Brian Sharpless, PhD, associate professor at the American  School of Professional Psychology, who in 2018 used a Freedom of Information Act to obtain  exam results from the New York state board of psychology.

Sharpless gathered data on 4892 applicants and their exam scores over a 25-year period and  found that Blacks had a failure rate of 38.50% and Hispanics had a failure rate of 35.60%.  Whereas, Whites had a failure rate of 14.07% and Asians had a failure rate of 24%. Sharpless  has found similar problems in Connecticut. Whites had a 5.75% failure rate, Blacks had a  23.33% failure rate, and Hispanics had a 18.6% failure rate.

Differences in pass rates constitute adverse impact and according to the EEOC, can be taken as  discrimination, unless proven otherwise with careful research.

The request for an investigation was denied by the Louisiana board.

In this report, we review the context, conflicts of interest, and the involvement of the  Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards in the decisions of Louisiana gatekeepers.

Racial discrimination

By law, an applicant for a state psychology license must pass a national exam, but the law does  not indicate the cut-off for passing. That detail is set by the rules of the state board. In 1983 the  rule was that the applicant had to pass at the 25th percentile. Between that time and now the  cut-off has been changed to the 50th percentile. This score fails 50% of test takers, including  those who fall in the bottom half of the average range.

Several sources confirm that the higher the cut-off is set the more likely adverse impact will be  found and a discriminatory result.

According to an ASPPB report, the exam is developed by creating test items coming from a  sample of survey respondents who are psychologists. However, 85.4% of those responding are white, while only 2.6% responding are Black. Only 3.6% are Hispanic.

Furthermore, Louisiana contributed only 1/2 of one percentage point to the total respondents. In comparison, California contributed 21.6%, Michigan contributed 5.8%, and Ontario  contributed 6.4%.

Blacks and individuals from Louisiana are significantly underrepresented in the test  development process.

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

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

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

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

An additional weakness in the use of the national exam is that there is no research connection  to outcomes, those that score better are not proven to be better psychologists. ASPPB acknowledges the exam limitations. On their webpage officials state, “There is no suggestion  that people who do better on the EPPP [the exam] will be better practitioners.”

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

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

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

About the meeting, Dr. Kim VanGeffen, Chair of LPA Professional Affairs, said, “Dr. DeMers  acknowledged that, currently, there is not really any research on the validity of the EPPP-2.  There do not seem to be any plans to obtain predictive validity…”.

Dr. Marc Zimmermann, past LSBEP board member, also attended. “He [Dr. DeMers] stated that  there is no predictive validity,” said 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.”

Additionally, there is little evidence of a public safety problem requiring a high cut-off.

“There is no evidence that the public is facing some sort of previously unheard of crisis in terms  of safety from currently practicing psychologists,” said Dr. Amy Henke, who spearheaded a  Resolution opposing the addition of a second exam. “Trainees are already held to high  standards through a variety of benchmarks.”

Statistics support her claim. Data from their own ASPPB Disciplinary Data System: Historical  Discipline Report show rates of disciplinary actions for psychologists to be consistently low. For  an estimated 125,000 psychologists in the US and Canada, the disciplinary rates remain around  1–2 per 1,000.

Who Profits? ASPPB Sells the National Exam

ASPPB’s main income producing product is the national exam, generating 94 percent of their  total revenues.

The ASPPB sells the EPPP, the national exam, to candidates who are required to take the exam by the state boards, and the state boards are members of ASPPB. 

According to the most recent information posted by the IRS, the exam and related services  generated $6,137,348 in 2018. This accounted for 94% of the Association’s 2018 income.

Exam income was $5,378,524 in 2017, and $4,916,406 in 2016. Total revenue for 2018 was  $6,505,651. Revenue for 2017 was $6,645,731 and $5,933,473 for 2016. GuideStar estimates  their assets at $11,013,348.

ASPPB is a 501(c) tax-exempt corporation whose official mission is to, “Facilitate communication among member jurisdictions about licensure, certification, and mobility of professional  psychologists.”

The “members” are the approximately 64 regulatory boards from across the United States and  Canada. These boards pay dues to ASPPB. The Louisiana Board’s records note they pay approximately $2,500 for annual ASPPB dues.

But the associations goals appear to go beyond facilitating communication. In their 2016 “Game Plan,” they listed their primary goal as, “1. offering exemplary examination and credentialing programs.”

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

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

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

Examples of this appear to include items like travel, which includes travel for spouses or  companions. The organization spent $949,483 on travel in 2018 and $1,169,743 on travel in  2017.

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

In a Letter of Agreement from ASPPB to the boards in late 2012, ASPPB wrote that the exam is  “made available as a service to psychology licensure boards that are ASPPB members in good standing as signified by payment of membership dues.” ASPPB owns the intellectual property  rights to the EPPP and the data generated by the testing program, the authors also explained.

Prior to 2013 ASPPB contracted with Professional Examination Service (PES) for delivering the  EPPP. Each state or jurisdiction had a contract with PES. But in 2013 ASPPB informed the boards
that their contracts with PES were being “replaced with a contract between your jurisdiction and the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards.”

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

ASPPB said that the change would be “mutually beneficial because ASPPB can now provide a  simplified agreement that is more specific to the needs of psychology licensure boards. In  addition, the renewal of contracts is expected to be more efficient…” And, “Finally, as voting  members of ASPPB, each jurisdiction exercises more oversight of this important examination  service by contracting directly with ASPPB for examination services.”

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

ASPPB protects its turf. “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 members only.

They communicate a strict policy of confidentiality, “The authority to correspond with other  individuals, committees or organizations and express the opinions or position of the  Association is reserved for the current President of the Association and/or the Chief Executive Officer or his designee and/or the Board of Directors.

“To ensure acknowledgment of this Spokesperson Policy, and to verify necessary confidentiality  compliance, the Association requires a signed confidentiality agreement by all Committee/Task  Force and chair members, …”


Who profits from the 50th percentile cut-off? Not the public. There is no evidence of a safety  problem that would be corrected by a high cut-off score. On the contrary, this situation has  contributed to the severe shortage of psychologists in Louisiana, with only one for every 6,000  citizens.

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

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