Category Archives: News Stories

“Psychiatric Collaborative Care Model” Passes House 98 to 0

HB 278 by Rep. Echols passed the House on April 27 with a vote of the 98 to 0. It was received in the Senate and placed on the calendar.

The measure provides requirements for the Psychiatric Collaborative Care Model and requires mental health or substance abuse benefits for services delivered through the model. The bill is pending in the Insurance Committee.

The proposed law requires a health coverage plan delivered or issued for delivery in this state  that provides mental health and substance abuse benefits to reimburse for such benefits that  are delivered through the psychiatric Collaborative Care Model. The model includes the current  procedural terminology (CPT) billing codes 99492, 99493, and 99494.

The new proposed law requires the commissioner of insurance to update the CPT codes if there are any alterations or additions to the billing codes for the Collaborative Care Model.

Proposed law authorizes a health coverage plan to deny reimbursement of any CPT code  provided in proposed law on the grounds of medical necessity, provided that such medical  necessity determinations are in compliance with certain federal and state law.

Defined are: (2) “Mental health or substance abuse benefits” means benefits for the treatment  of any condition or disorder that involves a mental health condition or substance use disorder  that falls under any of the diagnostic categories listed in the mental disorders section of the  current edition of the International Classification of Diseases or that is listed in the mental  disorders section of the most recent version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental  Disorders. (3) “Psychiatric Collaborative Care Model” means the evidence-based, integrated  behavioral health service delivery method described in 81 FR 80230. 

 

 

 

 

Gov. Edwards Signals Veto of Mizell’s SB 44

Senator Beth Mizell’s “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act,” was reported out of committee with amendments and voted on by the full Senate on April 19. The measure passed by a vote of 29  to 6. The proposed law, SB 44, will have the effect of prohibiting transgender females, those  assigned as male at birth, from competing in traditional women’s sports.

Gov. Edwards vetoed the same measure last year and foiled the Legislature’s attempt at an  override in a special session. Regarding this new effort, the Governor said, “I don’t think you all  have ever heard me announce from this podium before a bill gets to my desk that I’m going to  veto it because I always think that there’s an opportunity and a path forward to working things  out,” he said. “So that may not be necessary, but I will tell you that my views haven’t changed.”

According to the SB 44 digest, the “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act” requires an athletic team or sporting event sponsored by an elementary, secondary, or postsecondary educational institution to be designated, based upon the biological sex of team members, as only one of the following: (1) A males’, boys’, or men’s team or event only for students who are biological males.
(2) A females’, girls’, or women’s team or event only for students who are biological females. (3)  A coeducational or mixed team or event for students who are biological males or biological females.

Among other provisions, the proposed law provides that certain persons are entitled  to legal causes of action and legal remedies under proposed law. A biological female student  who is deprived of an athletic opportunity or suffers or is likely to suffer from any direct or  indirect harm as a result of a violation of proposed law.

The proposed law provides that requiring a biological female to compete against a biological male on a team that is designated as a “female”, “girls'”, or “women’s” team is inherently discriminatory to biological females and is a cognizable harm under proposed law.

In the 2021 Session, Senator Mizell’s SB 156, easily passed both the Senate (29–6–4) and the House (78–19–8).

But on June 22, 2021, Gov. Edwards announced he had vetoed the bill, stating “… discrimination  is not a Louisiana value, and this bill was a solution in search of a problem that simply does not  exist in Louisiana.” And, “Further, it would make life more difficult for transgender children, who are some of the most vulnerable Louisianans when it comes to issues of mental health.”

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

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

The text of the currently proposed law states: “A recent study of female and male Olympic performances found that, although athletes from both sexes improved over the time span, the athletic gender performance gap between female and male performances remained stable.  These studies suggest that women’s performances at a high level will never match those of  men.”

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

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

The Louisiana Psychological Association opposed the 2021 SB 156 and the Louisiana School 
Psychological Association labeled the bill as discriminatory.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dr. Slaton Named 2022 Distinguished Psychologist by LPA

Dr. Karen Slaton, who has been at the forefront of psychology’s transition to integrated health care for most if not all of her career, and engaged in practice, research, and teaching, has been named the 2022 Distinguished Psychologist by the Louisiana Psychological Association.

Dr. Slaton is the Program Manager of Behavioral Medicine/Health Psychology/Primary Care  Mental Health Integration at the Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System. She developed and manages the Primary Care Mental Health Integration Program at the Care  System. She implements the Veterans Administration mandated effort to fully integrate  behavioral health as part of the extended Patient Aligned Care Team. This team consists of  psychiatry, social work, nursing and psychology, and is essential in assuring veteran access to same-day care.

Dr. Slaton also coordinates behavioral medicine services, such as services for pain, palliative  care, cardiology, physical medicine & rehabilitation, and integrated health services (including  yoga and hypnosis).

Dr. Slaton also serves in additional roles including Health Behavior Coordinator, Pain Psychologist, Complimentary Integrated Health VISN lead and Lead Tobacco Cessation Clinician.  She provides health promotion and disease prevention services to veterans such as tobacco cessation and weight loss coaching.

She trains other clinicians in the Interdisciplinary Pain Program, Bariatric Treatment Team, and  Controlled Substances Oversite Board. She collaborates in other teams and committees  including Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Committee, Women’s Health Committee,  Employee Wellness Committee, and the Opioid Safety Initiative.

Dr. Slaton is Clinical Assistant Professor of Behavioral Sciences at Tulane University School of  Medicine and Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine at Louisiana State University Health  Sciences Center School of Medicine. She provides invited lectures to trainees in the Tulane  School of Medicine Clinical Psychology Internship Training Program and the LSU School of  Medicine Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Residency Program.

Dr. Slaton is an APA accredited clinical psychology internship and postdoctoral fellowship  Training Committee Member, providing didactic training and supervision to interns and post- doctoral fellows in the areas of primary care mental health and behavioral medicine.

Dr. Slaton is a nationally Approved Consultant in Clinical Hypnosis and a Registered Yoga  teacher.

Dr. Slaton has also owned and operated her own private practice through Northshore  Psychological Services, LLC, Covington, and the Center for Wellness and Peak Performance, LLC,  Covington. She provides a wide range of psychological services including psychotherapy, assessment and evaluation, consultation, and professional training. Her areas include posttraumatic stress disorder, marriage, couples and relationship counseling, food, weight and  body image issues including eating disorders and bariatric psychology, depression, anxiety,  sport and performance psychology, clinical and sports hypnosis, personal growth and  development and counseling patients with medical illness.

Dr. Amanda Raines announced the award in April, at the annual meeting of the Louisiana  Psychological Association. “This award is given to an individual who has made significant  contributions to psychology research, practice, or both, during the course of their career,” said Raines. “This year we are recognizing Dr. Karen Slaton. Dr. Slaton currently serves as the  Program Manager for Primary-Care Mental Health Integration and the Health Behavior  coordinator at the New Orleans VA. She is actively involved in more local and regional committees within the VA than I can count,” Raines said.

“She maintains academic appointments at Tulane and LSU and actively stays involved in both  training and research related endeavors. Dr. Slaton is certified by the American College of  Sports Medicine as an Exercise Physiologist and by the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis. She is also a certified & registered yoga teacher and somehow manages to incorporate all of  these skills into her integrative practice at the New Orleans VA.”

Dr. Slaton’s research includes:

Slaton, K. (2000). An investigation of the relationship between  parental bonding and body image disturbance among male and female college students. Dissertation.

Slaton, K. & Lyddon, W. (2000). Cognitive-experiential reprocessing and rape: A case study.  Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy, 14, 189-200.

Slaton, K. & Westphal, J. (1999). The Slaton-Westphal functional assessment inventory for adults  with serious mental illness: Development of an instrument to measure functional status and psychiatric rehabilitation outcome. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, 23, 119-126

Raines, A. M.,  Primeaux, S. J., Ennis, C. R., Walton, J. L., Slaton, K. D., Vigil, J. O., Allan, N. P., Zvolensky, M. J.,  Schmidt, N. B., & Franklin, C. L. (2021). Posttraumatic stress disorder and pain
in veterans: Indirect association through anxiety sensitivity. Manuscript submitted for publication.

Vigil, J.O., Slaton, K.D., Raines, A.M., & Franklin, C.L. (2018, September). Examining the Effects of a Comprehensive Pain Rehabilitation Program among Veterans. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the Southern Pain Society, Atlanta, GA.

Lyddon, W., & Slaton, K. (2001). Promoting healthy body image and the prevention of eating disorders among adolescent women. In C. Juntunen & D. Atkinson (Eds.), Counseling strategies  for developmental concerns. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Her training lectures are  numerous, and include: Use of Hypnotic Language in Non-hypnosis Clinical Encounters.  Presented at 6th Dabney Ewin, MD FACS Hypnosis Lecture. 2022 Tulane Brain and Behavior Conference.

Primary Care Psychology. Presented to Psychology Interns at Tulane University School of Medicine and Southeast Louisiana Veteran Health Care System.

Motivational Interviewing: Effective Communication with Veterans. Presented at the Southeast  Louisiana Veterans Health Care System 2020 Fall Women’s Health Summit.

Motivational Interviewing Skills for Dealing with Challenging Patient Encounters. Presented at LSUMC PM&R Pain Conference.

Behavioral Intervention for Chronic Pain. Presented at LSUMC Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Resident Didactic Lecture.

Motivational Interviewing. Presented to the LEND program staff at Louisiana State University  School of Medicine.

Motivational Interviewing Skills for Dealing with Challenging Patient Encounters. Presented at LSUMC PM&R Pain Conference.

“My career as occurred in phases,” Dr. Slaton said, “I started in academic medicine at Tulane School of Medicine and like many of my Tulane colleagues, left after hurricane Katrina for  private practice. I enjoyed a thriving practice in Covington for almost a decade before joining  the New Orleans VA 10 years ago. I always say I have the best job ever! I work as a clinical health psychologist in various medicine services and have the privilege of serving Veterans in honor of my grandfather who was awarded the Medal of Honor for his service in WWII,” she said.

“I’m lucky to be able to provide clinical hypnosis to Veterans and to teach hypnosis at the National level for the VA, teach a weekly yoga class to Veterans, lead the Primary Care Mental  Health Integration team, and serve the facility as a consultant for patient education. However,  my favorite part of all is training the next generations of psychologists in our APA accredited  internship and fellowship programs,” Dr. Slaton said

 

 

Discrimination Complaint Rejected by LSBEP

A Request for Investigation, stating that members of the Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists are operating outside of their area of competence in regard to selection-testing  and racial discrimination, was rejected by the Board. In a letter dated March 7, Ms. Jaime Monic, the Executive Director, said that the members do not have jurisdiction over themselves. Also,  she said, they are not engaged in the practice of psychology as board members. However, they  are open to reviewing this issue, Ms. Monic wrote.

The psychologists who submitted the request, Drs. William Costelloe, Julie Nelson, and Marc Zimmermann, are all business psychologists who have extensive experience with high stakes  selection testing in the private sector. In their request for an investigation submitted in January,  the three said, “There is evidence that confirms that the EPPP has adverse impact against  African-Americans and Hispanics. […]

“Once adverse impact has been shown for a test it is improper to ignore the selection problems.
Furthermore, the way in which the test is used by the Board members drives up adverse  impact. As just one example, the use of a hard cut off, and one that sets a higher bar  considering the restricted sample, on a test with proven adverse impact, is an error in  professional selection testing design.”

The March 7 letter noted:

“Dear Dr. Nelson, Dr. Costello and Dr. Zimmermann, On January 11, 2022, the office of the  Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists (LSBEP) received your Request for  Investigation form and a statement of complaint against current LSBEP Board Members. Please  be advised that individual members of the LSBEP in their capacity as board members do not  have jurisdiction to initiate a formal investigation or action against themselves under the  authority of La. R. S. 37:2351 et al. All current Board Members meet the requisite requirements  established by the Louisiana Legislature under Chapter 28 of Title 37 of the La. Revised Statutes  to serve the LSBEP and are uniquely qualified to carry out this authority by way of their service,  teaching, training, or research in psychology, degree and licensure as outlined under the  provisions of La. R. S. 37:2353 et al. However, Board Members are not engaged in that which is defined as the ‘practice of psychology’ in their work as a Board Member.

“In consideration of the above, your Request for Investigation of the Board Members is rejected. However, the LSBEP will consider your concerns, “…that the EPPP has adverse impact against African-American and Hispanic populations“, including your concerns regarding LSBEP‘s continued use of the EPPP (Part I – Knowledge) as a tool to assess professional knowledge as  required under R. S. 37:2356. (A)(7). This review is consistent with LSBEP’s statutory authority  and its ongoing endeavors to increase multicultural awareness through assessment of  candidates for licensure and continuing education offerings provided to all licensees who are  involved in direct client services to ensure public protection.

“You will be notified in writing of the final disposition of this matter on completion of the review. If you have any documentation, including peer reviewed articles, valid documentation or studies to support your claims, and/or alternate valid assessments that measure entry level  professional knowledge that should otherwise be considered, please forward that information  directly to the office of the Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists at 4334 S. Sherwood Forest Blvd., Suite C – 150, Baton Rouge, LA 70816. Due to security and resources,  emails or email attachments will not be accepted or downloaded for consideration in this  matter.

“Thank you for calling our attention to any practices that raise concern regarding the practice of the profession. Sincerely, Jaime T. Monic, Executive Director”

According to Dr. Zimmerman,  copies of Dr. Sharpless’ two articles on the adverse impact of the EPPP have been sent by US  mail to the Board and more information will be sent to them for their study of the issue.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rep. Firment Seeks to Prohibit Gender Change Procedures on Those Under 18 Years of Age

HB 570 by Rep. Firment prohibits certain procedures to alter the sex of a minor child and to  designate this act as the Save Adolescents from Experimentation (SAFE) Act. The bill is pending  in Committee on Health and Welfare.

Proposed law states that the risks associated with the allowance of irreversible, permanently  sterilizing genital gender reassignment surgery outweigh the scientific benefits.

The author notes “It is a grave concern to the Legislature of Louisiana that the medical  community is allowing individuals who experience distress at identifying with their biological  sex to be subjects of irreversible, and drastic non-genital gender reassignment surgery and  irreversible, permanently sterilizing genital gender reassignment surgery, despite the lack of studies showing that the benefits of such extreme interventions outweigh the risks.

“Studies consistently demonstrate that the vast majority of children who are gender non-conforming or experience distress at identifying with their biological sex come to identify with  their biological sex in adolescence or adulthood, thereby rendering most medical healthcare  interventions unnecessary.

“Scientific studies show that individuals struggling with distress at identifying with their  biological sex often have already experienced psychopathology, which indicates these individuals should be encouraged to seek mental healthcare services before undertaking any  hormonal or surgical intervention.”

Rep. Firment’s proposed law prohibits any physician or other medical healthcare professional  from performing any gender transition procedures on any person under 18 years of age or referring any person under 18 years of age to any medical doctor for gender transition  procedures.

The proposed law prohibits school personnel from encouraging or coercing a minor to withhold from the minor’s parent or legal guardian the fact that the minor’s perception of his gender is  inconsistent with his sex.

“Only a tiny percent of the American population experiences distress at identifying with their  biological sex. According to the American Psychiatric Association, prevalence ranges from five  thousandths of a percent to fourteen thousandths of a percent for natal adult males and from  two thousandths of a percent to four thousandths of a percent for natal females.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cybersecurity Expert Offers Essential Ideas for Defending Yourself and Your Clients

by Leslie Todd, LCSW, ACSW
AFCC Correspondent

Those of us who work with victims of intimate partner violence or vengeful ex-partners have  seen how badly technology can be misused to harm our clients. And we also know that just as  private citizens, we have to be on guard against cyber shenanigans. Then there’s our offices, our
electronics files, our phones….it’s pretty daunting, right?

Fortunately, there are folks who specialize in educating us so we can keep our clients and ourselves safe. 

Steven Bradley began his career with the FBI, starting a task force which investigated  technology and cyber-related crimes. Later, he worked with state coalitions and local domestic  violence/sexual assault center as a liaison between law enforcement and community partners  to better support survivors and victims. Today, he works with Our Family Wizard to promote  healthy communication between co- parents via technology. He has been an international  trainer for over 25 years, and recently presented at the AFCC-LA State Conference on March  18th on this subject. He agreed to share further information with The Psychology Times regarding handling the very difficult cyber abuse issues our clients may bring in—and tips for  protecting ourselves as well.

First, let’s start with Bradley’s pet peeve: people who don’t use passwords, or use them poorly.  Your first defense against hacking is to have a complex password, and to keep it private. Too  many of us still use lazy and highly guessable ones like “12345” or “password”– and many  people don’t even put a password on their smartphones. If you worry about not being able to  keep up with all your passwords (and no, you should not use one password for everything),  then allow your device to generate a complex password which will then be stored for you. And  do NOT tape it to your laptop or otherwise leave it handy for others to discover.

So—sloppy security starts with sloppy passcode management. If you have a client who is  endangered or may be at risk of being stalked, have them list ALL their social media and other  sensitive sites and discuss changing their passwords and security questions to things the stalker could not possibly know. That means no birthdays, pet or child names, or any other easily-guessed information. Remember to have them check medical portals as well.

Thanks to “the internet of things,” it is possible that your client is being monitored via a car’s nav system or some other device. Make sure you discuss with your clients what technologies are being used such as Bluetooth, GPS, On-Star, etc.

Bradley stresses that we should all keep our Bluetooth OFF unless we are actively using it,  because it is easily hacked. Also public access internet, such as in hotels or cafes, is highly  vulnerable to hacking. Malicious software can be installed, including tracking devices. And  remember to check the location services in a phone’s settings to be sure you or your client is  not giving away your location. Bradley noted that when he was to meet an abused client at  court, he would first meet with them near the courthouse in a fast-food place, where they  would both then turn off their location and Bluetooth settings. After court, they would return to  the same fast-food place or gas station and turn them back on. That way, anyone monitoring  would only track them to the innocuous site and not know about Court or other more sensitive destination.

Also, check with your vulnerable client to see if they have devices that were provided by the  suspected person. If a cellphone has been provided by the abusive party, ask your client to  consider using a donated or new cell phone. Same for a computer. If the client is looking for a  new place to live or making travel plans, ask them to use a computer at a public library.

The client should also update all privacy settings on any dating sites and social media sites  (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, TikTok, etc.) and be very wary of what they post. Remember that pictures and images can be searched as well as names and words.

Another way to safeguard a phone is to choose an optional service, like Google Voice, to keep a  personal number safe. Some of these services will let you forward calls and messages to up to five different phones while you simple have one phone number. That way, if the client’s number is compromised, they can log in and change one phone number instead of having to contact the phone company to change many.

Other than tracking people, cyber-hacking can allow the bad guys to “spoof” your phone. This  means that you may answer a call which looks like it’s coming from your mom, but it is really  the hacker. Spoofing allows threatening texts to show up from anonymous numbers (or  highjacked ones, like Mom’s.) In one of my high-conflict divorce cases, each of the spouses was  spoofing their OWN phones with threats ostensibly from their ex.

As a mental health professional, you may have tried to secure your office space and your files— but your cellphone and your car may betray you. Bradley points out that a judge may feel safe  in her courtroom, but once she gets in her car, she is as vulnerable as the next person unless  she takes cyber precautions to safeguard her devices (including her car). In a world where our  clients can Google images of our home and family, we need to keep this in mind.

If you do work with court systems or government agencies, you should know that they often  publish records online. Ask them how they protect or publish your records and request that access to your files is sealed or restrict to protect you and your client’s safety.

Bradley lives in this cyberworld everyday, but understands that we are far less aware than he is. He notes that he most common mistake he sees professionals make is to brush off a client’s suspicion that someone may be monitoring them. Since abusers love to make their clients feel  or look crazy, we should be wary not to add to the gaslighting. Abusers can use highly subtle  methods that will make your client sound paranoid. For instance, I had a client who would frequently find she had a flat tire in the morning. She assumed she was hitting nails around a  construction site—until her mechanic pointed out the frequency and types of punctures and boldly asked her if she was going through a divorce. Bingo. She ended up seeking counseling,  and we discovered many more dangerous indications of stalking.

Bradley’s talk was such a hit at our AFCC-LA State Conference that we are going to have him  return to do a half-day training later in the year, specifically for mental health and legal  professionals. We’ll be sure to publicize that event. Meanwhile, if you’d like a handout from  Bradley on this basic information, email me at Leslie.todd@leslietodd.com and I’ll pass it along to you.

[Editor’s Note: Leslie Todd served as the founding President of the Louisiana Chapter of the  Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC). Her contributions were acknowledged by AFCC  when they named her an “AFCC Ambassador,” a designation exemplifying the collegial and  collaborative spirit of AFCC membership.]

 

 

 

 

Gov. Edwards Budgets More for Higher Education

The Louisiana Legislature convened March 14 for the 2022 Regular Session, and hundred bills have been filed and are under review by Legislators. See our report starting on page 8.

The Governor’s proposed budget includes: $31.7 million for faculty pay raises in higher education; $10.5 million for the MJ Foster Promise Program Fund; $97.2 million for higher education, which includes $5 million for Title IX offices across the state, $15 million increase
in GO Grants, and $25 million into the Higher Education Initiatives fund.

In his opening remarks Gov. Edwards said the state is in a much better place then when he took office six years ago. “At my first state of the state, I had just inherited a billion dollar budget deficit to close out that fiscal year, and a two-billion-dollar deficit for the year that started July 1,  2016. Today, as I stand here before you, we have hundreds of millions in surplus, even more in current year excess, and billions in federal funding through the American Rescue Plan and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.”

The proposed budget also includes $43.4 million for early childhood education, with more than  $17 million for the LA-4 Early Childhood program; $148.4 million for teacher and support staff  pay raises, which is at least a $1,500 raise for teachers and $750 for support staff; a $12 per  diem increase for intermediate care facilities for people living with intellectual disabilities; and more than $1.1 billion in funding for critical infrastructure, such as $500 million for a new Mississippi River Bridge in Baton Rouge, an additional $100 million for the bridge in Lake Charles, and $500 million for water and sewer improvements statewide.

“This is a balanced budget that is responsible, transformational, and continues my administration’s practice of only using one-time dollars for one-time expenses. It’s a promise I  made six years ago and one that I have not deviated from. We are not going back to the days of  deficits, fiscal cliffs and one-time dollars for recurring expenditures. And we will continue to be  focused on empowering families and communities for the future,” Gov. Edwards said.

“My legislative package includes a number of bills focused on hurricane deductibles, claim  transparency, enforcing insurance fraud laws against bad actors, revamping the adjuster  registry so that policyholders can verify their adjusters, and stopping mortgage companies from withholding insurance money from homeowners without good reason.

He noted his Climate Initiatives Task Force had set a goal of reaching net zero by 2050. “This  taskforce, which includes scientists, academics, industry leaders and environmentalists, has  adopted a Statewide Climate Action Plan,” the Gov. said. “What makes Louisiana’s plan special,  and the most attainable in my opinion, is that instead of working against oil and gas companies,
we are working with them.”

He made an appeal to raise the minimum wage and reduce the gender pay gap. Gov. Edwards  began his address by saying, “All too often, our world is filled with unrest, and right now our  prayers are especially with the people of Ukraine as they defend their homes, their families, and their freedom. We are joined today by Eddy Hayes who is the Honorary Consul of Ukraine. He  represents the economic and cultural interests of the country here in Louisiana. I asked him to  be here today in hopes that he will relay our unified support to his colleagues in Ukraine.” 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Experts Point to Alarming Trend of Increased Opioid Related Overdose Fatalities

A new report warns of soaring overdose deaths from the opioid crisis. Authors from the  Lancet’s, “Responding to the Opioid Crisis in North America and Beyond: Recommendations of  the Stanford-Lancet Commission,” published in February, said that in the USA and Canada, 2020 was the worst year on record for fatal opioid overdoses. The US overdoses rose 37%.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that provisional data analysis  estimates for the 12 months ending in May 2021, there were 75,387 deaths from opioid toxicity.

Opioids—mainly synthetic opioids (other than methadone)—are currently the main driver of  drug overdose deaths, said the CDC, with 72.9% of opioid-involved overdose deaths involving  synthetic opioids. And, overdose deaths involving psychostimulants such as methamphetamine  are increasing with and without synthetic opioid involvement.

Also in February, Medscape reported a surge in the rate of Black Americans dying from a  combination of opioids and cocaine, an increase of 575%. The rate for White Americans  increased by 184%.

A recent analysis in the American Journal of Epidemiology, found that in the South, deaths from  cocaine and opioids increased 26% per year among Black people, 27% per year among Latinx  people, and 12% per year among non-Hispanic Whites.

Dr. Marc Zimmermann is a neuropsychologist and medical psychologist in Baton Rouge, with over 30 years experience. He  is noted for his work in forensic psychology having testified in multiple states and jurisdictions, and he has been a consultant to many chemical dependency programs such as the Serenity Center and Lane Recovery Solutions. He is also a staff member at PTI in Baton Rouge.

Dr.  Zimmermann said that according to the Louisiana Department of Health, the bulk of all  recorded opioid overdose deaths occurred in the parishes of Southeast Louisiana. St. Tammany Parish experienced an average of over 47 opioid overdoses a year and Jefferson Parish  averaged over 71 opioid overdoses a year.

While their age-adjusted rates are not as high as St. Tammany and Jefferson Parishes, Orleans  and East Baton Rouge Parish experienced high average numbers of deaths from opioid  overdoses during the same time period.

Dr. Tiffany Jennings is a Louisiana native who is the Rural Health Coordinator for the Louisiana  Psychological Association and in full time private practice. Dr. Jennings has worked in a variety  of settings, including outpatient, inpatient, state and Federal agencies. She was previously an  Assistant Professor, Department of Neurology, at Ochsner LSU Health Shreveport and a Neuropsychologist at Overton Brooks VAMC in Shreveport, and for the US Army’s Traumatic  Brain Injury Clinic at Fort Polk in Leesville.

How serious does she feel the opioid crisis is in rural settings for Louisiana? “The opioid crisis  continues to be a serious crisis that has not shown any signs of abating,” Dr. Jennings said.

“The COIVD-19 may have exacerbated the crisis. The Louisiana Dept of Health’s website notes  an increase in fatal and nonfatal opioid overdoses as people are ‘cut off from services and  disconnected from support systems, have made it difficult for individuals to seek help.’

“The Louisiana Opioid Surveillance Program has noted an increase in deaths from overdose,”  she said. “This was noted to be in part due to availability of synthetic opioid drugs, which are  much more powerful than morphine. This results in a higher chance of death from use –– such  as fentanyl.”

Has she seen any changes over the last couple of years? “There’s been several high-profile  lawsuits against drug manufacturers for their alleged role in the opioid crisis,” Dr. Jennings said. “I believe there currently four US companies in the process of settling, to the tune of  approximately $26 billion. This has certainly brought attention to the extent of the current  opioid epidemic.

“Many insurance agencies, including Medicaid, expanded telehealth access due to the ongoing  COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, I have not seen much change with regard to access to service for rural health settings in Louisiana. There continues to be a wait list to see Medicaid providers. Reimbursement remains an issue. Also, those in rural areas may not have the  technology to fully utilize telehealth services,” Dr. Jennings said.

The Lancet Commission Report pointed to the lack of accessible, high-quality, non-stigmatising, integrated health and social care services for people with opioid use disorder in the USA. The  authors recommended reforming public and private health insurance systems to address this issue, including cutting off funding for care that is likely to be harmful.

Dr. Geralyn Datz is a licensed Clinical Health and Medical Psychologist and a national educator  of healthcare providers, attorneys and the public. Dr. Datz is licensed in Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi, and specializes in pain psychology, forensic assessments, and public speaking. She is President and Clinical Director of Southern Behavioral Medicine Associates PLLC, in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, a group specialty practice devoted to treating patients with chronic  pain, She is a past president of the Southern Pain Society, and previously with New Orleans Veteran Affairs Medical Center and Pennington Biomedical Research Center

We asked Dr. Datz if there is adequate treatment available? “No there is not,” she said. “The  treatment of opioid use disorder is a very large, systems based issue that right now is in dire  straits and vastly underfunded. The short answer is that we need more insurance reimbursed  programs, and the treatment needs to extend well beyond ‘rehab’ as it is traditionally defined. Private treatment centers are one component of treatment, but cannot meet the needs of this  diverse population, which often has serious mental health issues and/or comorbid pain  conditions. There are effective treatment models like Pain Rehabiliation Programs, that help
people with medical conditions come off of opioids, but sadly these are no longer reimbursed  by insurance.

In addition, the treatment of opioid misuse is ideally multidisciplinary and  requires medical and mental health follow up, which frequently does not occur. The Commissions comment on using the Chronic Disease Model for treatment, and in healthcare, is exactly on point.”

Is treatment covered by funding such as insurance for those who need help? “.Again…no. There  are wide ranges in what insurance will and will not cover in treating opioid overuse and addiction. Often, comorbidities, such as pain or severe or even mild mental illness, are left  untreated. In addition, there are variations between what private addiction centers will accept which insurances if any at all. As a result, care ends up being parsed out for opioid-dependent  individuals and not as effective. Furthermore, many individuals do not have insurance coverage at all, further complicating the problem,” Dr. Datz said.

“The 2008 Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act was designed to make treatment of  mental health and substance abuse conditions as easily and fairly reimbursed as medical conditions. This Act was a step in the right direction but is still not fully realized. A recent report  showed that many insurances are non compliant, and showed wide disparities between  behavioral health care and medical/ surgical healthcare. Mental health parity needs increased  attention, and enforcement, in order to address the public health needs that we are now facing.”

Dr. Jennings agrees. “Given the number of deaths from opioid overdose, I would say there is not nearly enough treatment, recovery and support systems in place for this population. This is especially true of those in rural settings,” she said.

“The state has enacted laws in an attempt to better regulate prescriptions and to reduce the chance of ‘doctor shopping’ for those addicted or who have developed a tolerance to their pain medication. Government agencies on federal and state levels are holding providers accountable for illegal prescriptions for opioids,” said Dr. Jennings.

“Louisiana is expecting to receive approximately $325 million from a national settlement of  opioid lawsuits. The intention is to divide monies into addiction treatment, response and recovery services. The goal is to send the monies–divided up over a 20-year period–to local  agencies that directly work with those suffering from opioid addiction,” she said.

“For some patients, education into the nature of chronic pain and their ability to manage pain  can be helpful. There are evidence based psychotherapy treatments (such as Cognitive  Behavioral Therapy for Chronic Pain) that can be used to help a patient manage pain. For  patients in need of an increase in structure or level of care, there is certainly a need for  agencies that provide this care. Again, insurance and location can often be a barrier to treatment.”

Pain costs society up to $635 billion annually, according to the CDC, and is the number one  reason for disability. Pain is becoming better understood as a multifaceted phenomenon with  psychological factors.

In 2016, CDC authors published Guidelines and said that there was no evidence for a long-term  benefit of opioid pain medications. The authors found strong evidence for serious risks, including overdose, opioid use disorder, and motor vehicle injuries. The CDC said that other  treatments, including psychological approaches, had long-term benefits, without the high risks of opioids.

“It is now widely accepted that pain is a biopsychosocial phenomenon,” Dr. Datz, told the Times  in a previous interview. “The Guidelines are really exciting because they explicitly state that  physicians should be using nonpharmacological strategies including cognitive behavioral  therapy as well as exercise for patients with pain,” Datz said.

“This is a departure from the traditional belief that pain was primarily physical, and to be only  treated by medical means, which was the biomedical model,” Datz said.

“The benefits of pain psychology are that the person experiencing chronic pain ultimately has more control over their pain process, their reaction to it, and their life,” Datz said. “This is  accomplished by teaching patients about how their expectations, their attention, and their  stress levels interact with chronic pain and can greatly exacerbated.”

“A large body of research,” said Datz, “has shown that use of structured cognitive behavioral  therapy, and in particular cognitive behavioral therapy combined with physical therapy, as happens in functional restoration programs, are extremely effective ways of dramatically  improving physical function, mental health, and overall well-being in patients with chronic pain,” she said.

“Unfortunately, these methods have been sorely underused, partly due to insurance coverage  issues. With the advent of the ACA however, this is getting a lot better. Also, I think providers and patients are more open to these ideas now that the opioid epidemic has become such a  hot topic nationally,” she said. Among the key messages of the Lancet Commission report, the authors noted that “The profit motives of actors inside and outside the health-care system will  continue to generate harmful over-provision of addictive pharmaceuticals unless regulatory systems are fundamentally reformed.”

Dr. Datz will be presenting “Forced Opioid Tapers and the Culture of the Opioid Crisis: Time to revisit pain psychology” at the American Academy of Pain Medicine in Scottsdale Arizona on  March 19. She will speak about how the approach of using pain psychology during opioid  therapy is not new, but is enjoying a renewed urgency in the context of rising rates of opioid  tapers and the safety issues surrounding preventable side effect from forced opioid tapers.

Lancet Commission authors warned that pharmaceutical companies based in the USA are  actively expanding opioid prescribing worldwide, and are using fraudulent and corrupting tactics that have now been banned domestically.

Discrimination Complaint about LSBEP Discussed in Private

A Request for Investigation, stating that board members at Louisiana State Board of Examiners  of Psychologists are operating outside of their area of competence in regard to selection testing and racial discrimination, was reviewed in an executive session of the Board last month

The psychologists, Drs. William Costelloe, Julie Nelson, and Marc Zimmermann, are all business psychologists who have extensive experience with high stakes selection testing in the private  sector.

On February 15, Dr. Zimmerman emailed Executive Director Ms. Jamie Monic asking her, “It has  been in excess of 30 days since this was sent. We have not received any response. I am writing  to be sure the Request was received and if there has been any action on this matter.”

Ms. Monic replied, “Your Request for Investigation was received on January 11, 2022. I will send you a formal acknowledgment of receipt and response following the Board Meeting on  February 18, 2022.

“The agenda for the February meeting of the board included the Executive  Session item “Legal Issues and Strategy [LSA-R.S.42.17.A(4), 44:4.1] – AttorneyClient Privilege”  and numbered “P21-22-09P Received 1/11/2022.”

No additional information has been received as of publication.

In their Request for Investigation, Costelloe, Nelson, and Zimmermann wrote: “We submit this  request for investigation because we believe that the psychologists serving on the board (Drs.  Gibson, Gormanus, Moore, Harness, and Sam) are currently in violation of ethical principle  §1305, A.1., 2., 5., & 6. This is because the board members do not have the specific competences to develop an  anti-discriminatory selection program, then members are in violation of the ethics code.

“There is evidence that confirms that the EPPP has adverse impact against African-Americans  and Hispanics. Dr. Brian Sharpless proved adverse impact for the EPPP in New York. He studied  4,892 New York applicants and first-time EPPP takers over 25 years. He found that Blacks had a  failure rate of 38.50% and Hispanics had a failure rate of 35.60%. Whereas, Whites had a failure rate of 14.07%. Dr. Sharpless also studied 642 applicants to the Connecticut State Board of Examiners of Psychologists with similar results. Whites had a 5.75% failure rate, Blacks had a 23.33% failure rate, and Hispanics had a 18.6% failure rate.

“Once adverse impact has been shown for a test it is improper to ignore the selection problems.
Furthermore, the way in which the test is used by the Board members drives up adverse  impact. As just one example, the use of a hard cut off, and one that sets a higher bar  considering the restricted sample, on a test with proven adverse impact, is an error in  professional selection testing design.

[…] “Finally, we are sympathetic to the situation that very few psychologists have developed  expertise in this subspecialty of selection testing, and in particular, ways to reduce or totally  avoid discriminatory practices. To that point, we are open to a resolution in concert with the  aspirational goal of working closely with colleagues when we perceive an ethics code violation  regarding area of competence.

“Summary We submit our complaint that the psychologists who are serving on the Board are unwittingly authorizing an inadequately designed selection program and therefore participated in unfairly denying African-American and Hispanic individuals licenses. This process may also be
harming the public by restricting the number of minority psychologists who serve the diverse  citizens of our state.

“We request an investigation and make ourselves available for additional questions and a collaborative review of the matter.”

 

 

 

 

 

Dr. Matthew Holcomb Receives Majority in LSBEP Election

Dr. Matthew Holcomb captured the majority of votes in a state psychology board election  conducted online by the Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists, reported at the  board’s long-range meeting last month. Holcomb received 152 votes of the 256 votes cast.  Eligible voters, those licensed under the state board as psychologists, total 820 individuals. Dr.  Jesse Lambert received 78 votes. Both names will be submitted to the governor by the  Louisiana Psychological Association, with their customary recommendation that the Governor appoint the individual with the most votes.

The Gov. may appoint any individual submitted on the list, however.

The individual who is appointed will fill the position to be vacated by Dr. Gina Gibson, currently  the chair and who will finish her service in June this year. Dr. Gibson filled the unexpired  position of Dr. Crouch when she had to unexpectedly relocate.

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

On his candidate statement he said, “The main function of our licensing board is to protect the  people of Louisiana from the “unqualified and improper application” of psychology. That’s a  broad mission statement, which often puts our board in a position to affect change within the  field of psychology. There can be no doubt that the next few years will see additional and potentially major changes in our field. Affecting change and having a voice when those changes  are discussed are a motivation for serving on the LSBEP.

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

“I have served on LPA’s legislative affairs committee for several years and am currently the  Treasurer of the Louisiana Psychological Association (LPA) and a member of the Executive Committee. […] I believe I am prepared to sit in the LSBEP.” 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dr. Cherry Distinguished Speaker at Southwestern Psychological Assn to be Held in Baton Rouge

The Southwestern Psychological Association will hold its annual convention in Baton Rouge,  April 8 through 10, at the Crown Plaza Hotel. Dr. Katie Cherry, the Emogene Pliner Distinguished Professor of Aging Studies at Louisiana State University, and the Director of Research and Community Outreach, LSU Life Course and Aging Center, is this year’s Psi Chi Distinguished  Speaker at the event.

Dr. Cherry will present, “Severe Weather Events and Psychosocial Well-Being: Variables that Matter after a Disaster.”

Dr. Cherry will discuss the impact of hurricanes and flooding on various health indicators across the adult lifespan. She will present findings from her research program on disaster stressors in connection with the 2016 flooding in south Louisiana, and outline suggestions for managing  post-disaster stress and strategies for long-term recovery after severe weather events.

Dr. Cherry, expert in the stress impact of natural disasters, has been at the center of research  about how people come through disasters. In her most recent book, The Other Side of Suffering: Finding a Path to Peace after Tragedy, published by Oxford University Press, she  builds on and extends her previous work with those who have been caught in natural disasters.

Dr. Cherry crafted The Other Side of Suffering to be helpful for the general public by sharing her academic and experiential knowledge gained from her multiple projects with Katrina and Rita survivors, and how they built back their lives, spirit, and resilience.

“Many perished after Katrina. Those who survived have a breadth of life experience that is  wider and possibly deeper than those who have yet to live through a disaster,” she writes. In  The Other Side of Suffering, Dr. Cherry explains the process of grieving, how recovering  routines may be of central importance to healing after disasters, and how traditions solidify a sense of “rightness with the world.” The Other Side is an insider’s view of life and suffering, and  the elements of the human journey back.

Dr. Cherry and her colleagues were in the third year of a multiyear project, funded by the  National Institute on Aging, to study the determinants of longevity and healthy aging, when the  2005 Atlantic hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit Louisiana and shattered lives.

“In the years after the Katrina disaster, ” she writes, “I wondered what had happened to the  displaced coastal residents … “. She knew that more than a million US Gulf Coast residents were displaced. “Knowing how disaster survivors were faring in the years after the 2005 Hurricanes  Katrina and Rita was important to me.” The Other Side of Suffering helps answer that question.

Dr. Cherry has also presented her work in, Traumatic Stress and Long-Term Recovery: Coping  with Disasters and Other Negative Life Events, and in her 2009 book, Lifespan Perspectives on  Natural Disasters: Coping with Katrina, Rita and other Storms.

She has studied coastal residents with severe property damage from the 2005 Hurricanes  Katrina and Rita, and those with exposure to the 2010 British Petroleum Deepwater Horizon oil  spill. Dr. Cherry and scholars from around the world have looked at the stresses from natural  and technological disasters, acts of terrorism, wars, and interpersonal violence, and how stress  and prolonged suffering threatens health and well-being. Dr. Cherry focuses on the long-term  effects of disaster exposure, the consequences for peoples’ daily lives, and the means for  recovery and healing.

According to organizers at the Southwestern Psychological Association, “Severe weather events  are happening with increasing frequency today. Hurricanes, floods, and other tragedies that  impact peoples’ lives are disruptive and stressful events that may threaten health and  well-being. Consequently, there is a great need for knowledge to understand the immediate and  long-term consequences of natural disasters and tragic events for people of all ages.”

At LSU, Dr. Cherry teaches undergraduate courses on adult development and aging, lifespan  human development, and a graduate seminar in developmental psychology. She is also an  adjunct professor at Tulane University School of Medicine where she teaches advanced research methods and design to PhD students affiliated with the Tulane Center for Aging.

Dr. Cherry is actively involved in research with middle-aged and older adults to understand  challenges to healthy aging after disaster. She has over 185 publications including peer  reviewed journal articles, book chapters, three edited volumes, and one solo authored book.  Her work has  been funded by the National Institute on Aging, the Louisiana Board of Regents, the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative, and most recently by the National Science Foundation.

Other keynote speakers at the Southwestern Psychological Association convention include Dr.  Susan Clayton, who will present,” Psychology and climate change: Understanding and  responding.” Dr. Clayton has authored or edited five books, including the Oxford Handbook of Environmental and Conservation Psychology.

Dr. Tanecia Blue will deliver the Inaugural Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Keynote Address –  “Psychology’s role in the race construct.” Dr. Blue is the current Diversity and Inclusion Officer  for Society for Health Psychology and her primary initiative is educating health psychologists  about the role of psychology in improving health equity.

Dr. Susan Raiford will deliver the Woodcock Institute Keynote Address, “Pandemic Impact on  Performance-Based Psychological Assessment of Children: What We’ve Learned and How We  Can Respond.” Dr. Raiford is a senior research director at The Psychological  Corporation/Pearson. She has been a primary developer of the Wechsler Intelligence scales.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dr. Thomas Takes Top Position at Louisiana Tech

Dr. Donna Thomas has been appointed Chief Academic Director for Partnerships at Louisiana  Tech University, reporting to the Provost, Dr. Terry McConathy.

Dr. Thomas has served as chair of the Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Department at LaTech for almost 10 years and is the George and Jean Baldwin Endowed Professor.

In the announcement, Dr. McConathy said, “Dr. Thomas will be responsible for the oversight  and direction of development and implementation of academic programs that support Louisiana Tech University’s mission, vision, and strategic objectives. “As Chief Academic Director for Partnerships, Dr. Thomas will manage academic partnerships with external stakeholders  and funding efforts for academic partnerships and curricula design; enhance and implement non-traditional student engagement opportunities; organize and support faculty expertise for  curricular delivery in emerging program areas; and organize programmatic approvals and accreditation of transdisciplinary programs,” Dr. McConathy said.

“The Chief Academic Director for Partnerships will collaborate with division leaders, deans,  associate deans, unit heads, and faculty to identify extension, dual enrollment, online and  remote programs, and academic pathways that explore, develop, implement, and integrate  programs supporting the University’s mission,” he said.

Dr. Thomas has served as the Department Chair of the Psychology and Behavioral Sciences  from 2012. In this position, she managed and coordinated all the activities of the department  including instruction, research, services, and administrative activities. She was also the Director  of Training for the counseling psychology doctoral program from 2006 to 2012. She has chaired  and participated as a committee member for numerous dissertations, and has taught psychology at the undergraduate and graduate level.

Since 2014 she has also served as the NCAA Faculty Athletics Representative. In this position  she represented Louisiana Tech University and its faculty in the relationship between the  National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), Conference USA (CUSA), and the campus. She  represents LaTech as the voting delegate to NCAA and C-USA meetings and serves on NCAA councils, cabinets, and committees as appointed. She has assisted with interpretation of NCAA  and C-USA legislation and policies.

In this role, Dr. Thomas reports to the faculty and administration on the academic well-being of  student- athletes. And she ensures, either directly or indirectly, that student-athletes meet all  NCAA, conference, and LaTech requirements for eligibility to practice, financial aid, and  intercollegiate competition.

Dr. Thomas also monitors the student-athlete experience and is involved in the personal and  academic welfare of the student-athletes. She works with the athletic director and senior staff  to educate student-athletes about NCAA rules, and devise and implement compliance  programs within the athletics department. She meets regularly with the Director of Athletics  and serves as the Senior Faculty Advisor on athletics to the university president. She is a liaison  between the faculty and administration and the intercollegiate athletics program. She also provides periodic reports to the President’s Athletics Council relating to matters of academic  integrity, performance of student-athletes, rules compliance or violations, and other matters  related to the athletics program.

Dr. Thomas meets with the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and serves as Dr.  Donna Thomas Takes Top Position, Chief Academic Director for Partnerships, at Louisiana Tech  continued chair of the President’s Athletics Council. She was a member of the council beginning  in 2007. The Council reviews intercollegiate athletic programs and activities and makes recommendations to the President for his consideration. Athletics Council members are  appointed by the President. She has also served on the Student Athlete Welfare Committee.

In her duties for the psychology department, Dr. Thomas has participated in funding and grants including Increasing Diversity in the Doctoral Student Populations at Louisiana Tech University, BoR/SREB Doctoral Fellowships to Promote Diversity, and Third Judicial District Drug Court Treatment.

Her collaborative publications include, “Psychological effects of intensive and comprehensive  training centers on blind and visually impaired adults. Journal of Blindness Innovation and  Research, “Facebook and Romantic Relationships: Intimacy and Couple Satisfaction Associated  with Online Social Network Use,” Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking,  Measuring students’ perceptions of faculty competence in professional psychology: Development of the  Perceived Faculty Competence Inventory. Training and Education in Professional Psychology.”

Dr. Thomas’s professional service includes serving as Member of Editorial Board for the Journal  of Rural Mental Health, published by the American Psychological Association; Regional Advisory  Committee member for MacArthur Models for Change (Louisiana) grant; Ad hoc reviewer for Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking; Reviewer, proposals for annual convention,  American Psychological Association, Division 17; Executive Board Member, Council of Counseling Psychology Training Programs; LaTech College of Education Administrative Council,  Special Initiatives Committee, Committee on Recruitment, Diversity, and Global Issues.

She has been affiliated with the American Psychological Association, Council of Graduate Departments of Psychology, Council of Counseling Psychology Training Programs, Louisiana Psychological Association, Louisiana Counseling Association APA Division 17–Counseling  Psychology.

She has received the Outstanding Service Award, College of Education, and the Outstanding  Service Award, Department of Psychology and Behavioral Sciences numerous times, including  the Special Award of Merit for Outstanding Service.

In the past, Dr. Thomas also served as clinical associate for the Counseling and Psychology  Clinic in Monroe, and as administrator and owner for Rehabilitation Services of Louisiana LLC. 

Dr. Thomas earned her master’s degree in experimental psychology from the University of  Louisiana Monroe, and her doctorate in counseling psychology from Louisiana Tech.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Governor’s Budget Includes Help for Higher Education

On Jan. 24, Gov. Edwards announced his budget priorities for the next fiscal year, which include  new, recurring investments in education at every level, from funding better opportunities for  Louisiana’s youngest learners to increasing salaries for K-12 teachers, support staff and higher education faculty.

In higher education, the Governor’s proposal dedicates $31.7 million for higher education  faculty pay raises, in addition to an increase of $97.2 million in other funding increases. The  Governor’s budget proposal includes an increase of $5 million for Title IX offices across the  state, $15 million increase in GO Grants, $25 million into the Higher Education Initiatives fund. The proposal also includes depositing $10.5 million into the MJ Foster Promise Program Fund,  which provides financial support for non-traditional students to earn credentials from  community and technical colleges that align to high-demand jobs in growing industry sectors  across Louisiana.

The budget proposal includes $148.4 million for K-12 teacher and staff pay raises. The proposed teacher pay raise of $1500 is significantly higher than the raise teachers received in the current  year, and the fifth proposed by the Edwards administration. In addition, the Governor supports  using additional revenues recognized by the Revenue Estimating Conference later this spring to  increase these proposed raises for teachers and staff.

“Louisiana’s educators have always  deserved more pay … but the coronavirus pandemic has further highlighted the need for high  quality, well-teachers at every level of education in Louisiana,” Gov. Edwards said.

For early childhood education, the Governor is proposing a $43.4 million increase, which includes more than a $17 million increase for the LA-4 Early Childhood program. In addition, the Governor will be recommending a significant investment into the Early Childhood Education  Fund.

The Governor’s budget proposal also includes more than $1.1 billion in funding for critical  infrastructure, including $500 million for a new Mississippi River Bridge in Baton Rouge, $100  million for I-10 Calcasieu River Bridge in Lake Charles, $100 million for the I-49 Lafayette  Connector, and $500 million for water and sewer improvements statewide.

The Governor’s  budget proposal also dedicates $550 million in federal American Rescue Plan funding to  replenish Louisiana’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund, which had a historically high fund balance prior to the global coronavirus pandemic. If the fund is not restored to a balance of  $750 million by September of this year, taxes will automatically be raised on businesses to  replenish the fund.

“This is a budget I am proud of, this is a budget the Louisiana people can be proud of, and this  is a budget I believe the Legislature can proudly support,” Gov. Edwards said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Creating Safe and Supportive Schools

Expectations for Behavior through a Developmental Lens

Social-Emotional Learning in Preschool

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

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

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

School-Related Anxiety

Understanding Normal (and Abnormal) Behavior in the Preschool Setting

 

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

Discipline without Tears

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some of publications are:

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

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

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

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

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

She also has earned funding from numerous sources, including:

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

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

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

What plans does she have for future efforts and activities?

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Findings in Dr. Walczyk’s Deception Theory

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How does he like it at Louisiana Tech?

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