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Ψ We Remember Dr. Tom Hannie

Thomas Joseph Hannie Jr., PhD, passed away unexpectedly on February 13, 2021. He had been dealing with a heart condition over the last year. Dr. Hannie was 83.

Dr. Hannie had a profound influence on the psychology profession in Louisiana and over the last half century was a cornerstone of change for many pivotal milestones in the profession.

He was a forensic psychologist and a true applied scientist who was also a fascinating person. He possessed a depth of experience that, coupled with his exceptional analytical thinking, gave him a keen ability to critique any point of law, psychology, or philosophy.

Tom’s abilities were complemented by his sense of humor and a contagious enjoyment of life and living. He was just as likely to invite you over for an LSU football party as to
correct your flawed logic on some matter, and his colleagues counted themselves lucky either way.

“Very few psychologists have ever had anything close to the impact he had on psychology in our state, and over a very long time period,” said colleague Dr. John Fanning.

Dr. Kim VanGeffen said, “Tom was a powerful figure in the history of psychology in Louisiana. We owe a lot to him.

As an LSU psychology undergraduate in the 1960s, Tom helped in the successful effort to pass the original Louisiana licensing law. In 1978, he served as president of the Louisiana Psychological Association and was proud that his year saw the start of the successful drive to remove, from the licensing law, the clause requiring psychologists to diagnose and treat only “…in consultation and collaboration with a physician.”

Gregarious and energetic, he engaged in many professional organizations and activities
throughout his lengthy career. Tom served on the Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists and was Chair in 1982. Along with serving as president of the Louisiana
Psychological Association, he also served as the president of the Orleans Psychological Society and as president of the New Orleans Society of Clinical Hypnosis.

Over the years, Tom was a clinical fellow in the Behavior Therapy & Research Society, and a member of many organizations, including the Association for the Advancement of Behavior Therapy, the New Orleans Behavior Therapy Society, the Southeastern Association for Behavior Therapy, and the American Institute of Stress.

He was also a member of the American Psychology-Law Society, the International
Association for the Study of Pain, and the Society for a Science of Clinical Psychology.

He was a member of the American Psychological Association, the Southeastern Psychological Association, and the Southwestern Psychological Association. He was also a member of Psi Chi Honorary Society in Psychology.

Before retiring he was licensed/certified in Louisiana and Texas, and held the Diplomat
from the American Board of Vocational Experts. He was a certified School Psychologist from the Louisiana State Department of Education.

Dr. Hannie was known for his analytical accuracy and precision. “Tom’s advice was
always the best,” said Dr. Susan Andrews. “He forgot more psychology than most of us ever knew.”

Dr. Bill McCown first met Tom Hannie at the 1978 state convention, where Hans Eysenck presented, “While most of us were thunderstruck with Eysenck’s legitimate genius, Tom, always interested in professional issues, took the opportunity to grill Eysenck on why the status of British psychologists was ‘not equivalent to their
IQs,’ ” said McCown.

“Tom knew his literature well. Eysenck had been responsible for setting up the clinical psychology profession in Britain in 1950. Tom wanted to know why so many years later most very bright British psychologists were getting paid very little and whether we in Louisiana could learn anything from this.”

Dr. Tom Hannie’s career path was that of an applied psychological scientist and he developed expertise and excellence in many areas. These included evaluation and treatment of victims of psychological and physical trauma, evaluation and treatment of chronic pain patients, including vocational aspects, and evaluation and intervention of children with school, behavior and emotion problems.

He also worked in pre-employment assessments, vocational evaluations and counseling, disability determination evaluations, labor market surveys, and neuropsychological evaluations.\

I wanted to see some of everything before I went into private practice,” Tom told the Times in 2010. Coming out of the comprehensive doctoral training program at the University of Georgia with a degree in clinical psychology, a minor in industrial-organizational, a minor in sociology, and a sub-specialty in behavior therapy, Tom
began his career by gaining experience in a variety of settings and with a variety of clients.

He explained that he originally worked with executives, with school systems, with preschool children, with alcohol and drug cases, with inpatients, and with outpatient clinical cases. He performed a variety of assessments and also worked as an instructor, trainer, and supervisor in a wide range of settings.

His primary professional position was as a consulting psychologist in private practice, in
Metairie from 1973 to 2005 and in Baton Rouge from 1989 to 2007.

But over time Tom found that he was very well suited to, and took real pleasure in, the work of the forensic psychologist––forensic evaluation and testimony. This role became the “most enjoyable” aspect of his long and distinguished career.

“Every case is like going back to graduate school,” Tom said. “You have to be up on the
latest research. You have to prepare as if they can bring in the top expert in the nation. It’s having to be at the top of what you do,” he said. “You’re investigating and working the puzzle. The basis of the work is that you don’t rely on what you’re told–you dig it out for yourself. You have to find the inconsistencies in the data.”

During his long career, Tom consulted in over 2000 criminal cases, and several thousand civil/worker’s compensation cases. “Nothing will make you learn how to express yourself like forensics,” he said. “If you get out of line, you can get hit—hard.” He explained, “You learn how to use few words. They’ll rip you up if you don’t have things in line.”

Dr. Hannie consulted to Feliciana Forensic Facility in Jackson where he evaluated clients
for competency to stand trial and provided court testimony related to competency. He consulted to the Jefferson Parish Juvenile Detention & Probation division regarding evaluations and program development, interventions, and training of the probation staff.

Tom consulted extensively to assist in the care of disabled individuals to improve their quality of life. He consulted to numerous group homes and rehabilitation services where he combined his efforts with evidenced-based treatment, accurate evaluations, staff training, and treatment planning for clients.

Also during his career, Tom worked in business and industry, particularly in areas that required the interface between clinical and vocational. He was also an instructor at Louisiana State Extension Service at Pineville, Northwestern State University Continuing Education program, and LSU’s courses at England Air Force Base, Keesler Air Force Base, and others.

In 2007, Tom retired, and this allowed him more time to enjoy his considerable range of hobbies. He greatly enjoyed professional level gambling, he was a sports car enthusiast, and he loved sports, most especially LSU football. He owned a Mini Cooper, decorated it in purple and gold with the LSU emblems, which he drove and displayed in LSU activities.

Friend and colleague Dr. Gail Gillespie said, “Tom was quite the character. I recall his
discussing with me how he used to win at casino poker games, and he once let me take a spin in his sporty sports car! We shall miss him and his larger-than-life personality.”

In 2010, Tom explained, “Since retiring, I have returned to my childhood. In my previous life I made my living playing poker,” referring to how he supplemented his income as an engineering student, math wiz, and U.S. Army vet, who went to school and worked on the oil rigs.

“If it weren’t for the travel required, I’d play more often,” he said. Tom was a personal friend with many of the people portrayed in the popular movie 21, the story about how MIT mathematicians beat the Las Vegas systems. Tom said, “…the most effective system for blackjack was developed by a clinical psychologist!”

“The people I have met through blackjack are some of the brightest, most creative people I know. Most are educated, PhDs in many scientific areas, JDs, MDs. Imagine guys who can walk in a casino, figure out how to make a profit, and do it.”

Also during retirement, Tom had more time for volunteer civic activities. He was a member of Baton Rouge Freethinkers and strongly involved with Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a group committed to the protection of First Amendment freedoms.

In 2010, Dr. Hannie moderated a forum about the social, legal, and philosophical issues of same sex marriage, titled: “Same Sex Marriage: Is It a Church-State Issue?” The forum was sponsored by the Louisiana Chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

In 2011 he was instrumental in opposing a bill that would have created a Ten Commandments monument on the Capitol grounds. Legislators dropped HB 277 after receiving Hannie’s detailed letter with legal references. Dr. Hannie pointed out that the Commandments are a religious text and the posting would be “constitutionally suspect and an affront to religious liberty and diversity in Louisiana.”

In 2013, his Letter to the Editor was published in the Baton Rouge Advocate, where he pointed to differences between science and religion. “Science is science, religion is religion,” he wrote.

“Again, many have missed the point. We must teach science to our children. Science includes building theories to explain the data. In science class, different theories should be taught based on the evidence for each.” And, “If a school is private and thus may teach religion, teaching creationism and intelligent design is acceptable. Hopefully science and religion are not confused there. We are concerned about our public schools, which are prohibited from teaching religion by our Constitution.”

“Evolution is within science. Creationism and intelligent design are within religion.

“Maybe more important than teaching our children biology is teaching them the difference between science and religion, as it is obvious that too many of our citizens haven’t learned the difference.”

He expressed ongoing support for the freedom of information efforts of the Times. He often helped report on and analyze news, including secretly taping a government meeting. In 2015, he won the The Psychology Times’ Sunshine Meets Psychology Contest with Thomas Jefferson’s quote, “Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe.”

He had no trouble asserting his views and asking for explanations. In 2014, Dr. Hannie asked the board members to reconcile apparent problems due to sections of the law contradicted their public statement. In 2017, he asked “… if the attorneys were committing malpractice by not recusing themselves and if y’all have looked at that?”

Thomas Joseph Hannie Jr., PhD was a brilliant, truth-loving and wise colleague to those in the psychology community. For many he was a constant source of advice, understanding, and insight.

He understood what it meant to be a science-based, applied psychologist and he embraced everything he did in the profession with a sense of excellence.

A natural and skillful leader, Tom had a pivotal role in professional changes and his leadership was essential in the history of Louisiana psychology.

Tom was also a cheerful, fascinating colleague. His enjoyment of life was contagious and he willingly shared his enthusiasm with his friends and colleagues. He had a generous heart and a tolerant spirit.

His passing leaves a great void in the community.

Dr. Tom Hannie is survived by his loving wife, Rosemary Parkel Hannie, his two sons Mark and Trey Hannie, and his granddaughter, Ella Caroline Hannie.

Governor Edwards Expands COVID Vaccine Eligibility

On February 22, Gov. Edwards expanded vaccine eligibility to an additional group of Louisianans … K-12 teachers, school support staff, day care staff, those who are pregnant and Louisianans aged 55 to 64 with certain health conditions … are eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine. This group represents around 475,000 Louisianans and will bring the total population eligible in Louisiana to nearly 1.65 million people. Louisiana is currently vaccinating people in Priority Group 1B-Tier One.

According to the press release, Louisiana’s COVID vaccination strategy relies on making vaccine doses available across the state through community clinics, pharmacies, hospitals and other health care providers. So far 812,962 total vaccine doses have been administered in Louisiana, with 271,216 Louisianans receiving both doses.

As dose allocations of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines from the federal government have increased week over week through direct allocations to the states and to a federal pharmacy program Louisiana opted in to, the Governor decided to expand the population that is eligible for the vaccine.

“Teachers, school support staff and daycare employees have played a critical role throughout this pandemic and their safety is important to our continued recovery. We also know w that those people with certain underlying health issues are more likely to have severe or devastating outcomes from COVID, which is why we are expanding vaccine access to people ages 55 to 64 with certain health conditions as outlined by the CDC,” Gov. Edwards said.

“Thanks to continued increases in the availability of vaccine doses to the state of Louisiana from our federal partners, I am confident that now is the right time to continue to expand eligibility. People will still have to be patient and the vaccine doses are still limited, but this is a positive step forward for our state. It is my hope that soon even more people will be able to get these safe and effective vaccines in Louisiana.”

The Louisiana Dept. of Health has published the list of participating providers on its website: In addition, residents can call 211 to find a vaccine provider near them.

Priority Group 1-A: Ongoing (around 249,000 eligible people)

Health care workers at Tier 1 and Tier 2 hospitals

Staff and residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities

First responders to serve as vaccinators (Emergency Medical Services, fire personnel, law enforcement)

Priority Group 1-B, Tier One: As of Monday, February 22, 2021 (around 1,391,000 eligible people)

Dialysis providers and patients

Ambulatory and outpatient providers and staff

Behavioral health providers and staff

Urgent care clinic providers and staff

Community care providers and staff

Dental providers and staff

Nonemergency Medical Transportation staff

Professional home care providers (including hospice workers) and home care recipients (including older and younger people with disabilities over the age of 16 who receive community or home-based care, as well as clients of home health agencies)

American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters and Support Service Providers (SSPs) working in community and clinic-based settings, and clients who are both deaf and blind

Health-related support personnel (lab staff, mortuary staff who have contact with corpses, pharmacy staff)

Schools of allied health students, residents and staff

Law enforcement and other first responders

Persons 65 years old and older

Louisiana Unified Command Group

State and local essential COVID emergency response personnel

Some elections staff ahead of March and April elections

Teachers and any other support staff working onsite in K-12 or daycare

Individuals aged 55-64 with at least one of the conditions listed by the CDC as placing them at an “increased risk” —

These include:

  • Cancer
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
  • Down Syndrome Heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease or cardiomyopathies Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant
  • Obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 30kg/m 2 or higher but < 40kg/m 2 )
  • Severe obesity (BMIC >40kg/m 2 )
  • Pregnancy
  • Sickle Cell Disease
  • Smoking
  • Type 2 diabetes mellitus
  • All pregnant persons, regardless of age.

LSBEP Determined to Push Their New Laws

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The board creates language that removes transparency having to do with
investigations. “All proceedings in connection with any investigation by the
board shall be conducted in closed session, and are exempt from the provisions
of the Public Meetings Law [….] All records in connection with any investigation by the board are confidential.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Trend of Remote Work Relies on Psychological Science

One of the most frequently noted 2021 trends is the move to at-home work, already common among digital workers but catapulted forward for many others by the pandemic.

Completely in psychology’s wheelhouse, successful home and remote work calls for a complex blending of employee self-direction, methods for coordinating with colleagues, and integration with family and family life.

Employers know that remote work can mean challenges for productivity. The adjustment requires a keen understanding of the complexity of workers’ traits,
knowledge of work environments, and types of supervisory skills.

Two psychological scientists are focusing their expertise to help employers and their employees to bridge the gap between the old and new work situations. Bill Costelloe
and Jim Stodd have founded a new consultancy, called ThriveRemote, LLC. Their new firm is dedicated to applying and sharing expertise about the psychology of remote work scenarios. Costelloe’s and Stodd’s goal is to facilitate remote work solutions for the benefit of client organizations and their employees, as well as mitigate some of the predictable difficulties often associated with the transition to remote work.

The two consultants and their team members at ThriveRemote bring a range range of services to help solve a variety of problems encountered by both employers and employees. These include employee selection, development, engagement, leadership training, retention strategies, performance management, compensation programs, and in particular reward methods for remote workers.

Both Costelloe and Stodd, with advanced degrees in industrial-organizational psychology, bring a rich background of seasoned experience in organizational
leadership and human resource management to the task.

As well as his association with ThriveRemote, Dr. Costelloe serves as President of Costelloe and Associates, Inc., located in Metairie, Louisiana, a firm he has maintained for over 30 years specializing in the industrial application of psychological assessments,
candidate selection, career planning & development, and employee morale surveys.

During the 2020 shutdowns, employers scrambled to find ways to cope and maintain some level of productivity. “As we all know,” said Stodd, “the pandemic has forced us to accept new circumstances, terms, conditions, and situations that most of us would not have wished for.

Included in that has been the necessity for millions of people to work from home,” he said.

“While most business leaders and their employees were extremely reluctant to embrace remote work as a norm, the pandemic just has not given us much of a choice. Yet, as more data comes in regarding this once unwelcome circumstance, it’s not looking all that bad, at least for most,” Stodd said. “In fact, this forced change may end up being one of the few silver linings to come out of all this disruption, tribulation, and
suffering with many believing that remote work is here to stay.

Jim Stodd is the Principal of JT Stodd & Associates, located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and specializes in compensation and rewards, organization planning, change
management, and general human resource management.

Costelloe and Stodd note that others are debating the relative merits of remote work. However, they choose to simply acknowledge that remote work is likely here to stay.

“It is a new norm for much of our industrial society, at least in ways and numbers that were just not foreseeable prior to the pandemic,” Costelloe said.

“We believe that remote work should become a greater focus for applied behavioral scientists––such as ourselves––and that we can continue to better understand, shape, and influence the factors and circumstances that contribute to individuals thriving in remote work situations versus languishing, coping or just getting by,” said Costelloe.

Psychological scientists are trying to keep pace with the urgent needs to understand and help people adjust to the pandemic environment.

“While a lot has yet to be learned regarding these factors and circumstances, amazingly a lot has been learned in a fairly short period of time,” said Stodd.

“Much has been written on this topic over the last several years, but science-based evidence regarding what makes remote work productive and sustainable has been limited. We want to share what is already known about the predictors of remote worker
success,” said Stodd, “so that business leaders can use that knowledge to better predict who is most likely to thrive within a remote work circumstance, understand why they thrive, and use that knowledge to better design, situate, and manage their remote work programs for the mutual benefit of both the worker and the organization.”

Costelloe and Stodd describe findings from one science-based study, a recent investigation undertaken by psychologists associated with the Universities of Georgia and South Florida.

The researchers described “remote work effectiveness” in terms of three areas:
Overall Adjustment (to the remote work situation); Stress Level (during performance of remote work); and Job Performance (relative to pre-pandemic/normal-office performance levels).

The researchers looked at 62 possible predictors of remote work effectiveness and found eight strong predictors.

The first three of these eight predictors had an inverse or negative relationship to
one’s ability to thrive in a remote work situation. And, these three all pertain to
the internal characteristics––for example, personality traits, competency or skills, or
habits of the worker, Stodd notes.

These factors were: 1) Feelings of Social Isolation; 2) Stress Levels Before Engaging in Remote Work; and 3) General Proneness to Anxiety.

Stodd explained one example, saying, “Feelings of social isolation were found to
hurt a person’s overall ability to thrive in a remote situation, including their overall
adjustment to remote work, stress levels during remote work, and job performance,”

Stodd said. “The negative impact of social isolation may even be greater based upon one’s personality. For instance, folks that are extremely extraverted, and normally energized by frequent social contact, or those with strong affiliation needs, may be even
more negatively impacted by the social isolation that frequently comes with remote work.”

The next five factors were found to be positively associated to remote work effectiveness. These five pertain to situational factors exterior to the person
that an employer can influence directly and rather significantly.

These were: 4) Sleep Quality During Periods of Remote Work; 5) Organization’s Support During and After the Transition to Remote Work; 6) Workspace that is Comfortable, Well-Equipped & Conducive to Productivity; 7) Technology that Facilitates Productivity, Communication and Social Interaction; and 8) Job Design and the Variety of Tasks Involved in the Job.

“It was found that characteristics of the work itself mattered, including how demanding the job is, having increased task variety, and job-related information exchange,” Costelloe explained. “Also found to be important are situational factors including, family interruptions of work, spousal/family respect of boundaries, and the proportion of
childcare the worker is doing during remote work relative to a partner.”

Costelloe and Stodd are in agreement about the importance of individual differences, which has lead them to closely examine other characteristics that may influence an
employee’s productivity or success at remote work.

They point out another example, a study related to important characteristics for success in remote work, where researchers measured characteristics with the 16PF, a well-established personality assessment tool supported by decades of academic and applied scientific support.

In this study, researchers concluded that “employers need to consider the individual differences in remote workers’ personalities and identify how to best support and
development them to realize their potential as remote workers.”

The researchers identified three core competency areas which are important for individuals to “thrive” as remote workers.

The three are: Agility – How people respond to change and handle challenges independently; Achievement – How people adapt their work practices to drive action and ensure accountability; and Affiliation – How people deal with the absence of having other people in the same physical space to support them.

“The researchers found that remote workers need to possess a mix of Agility, Achievement and Affiliation to be highly effective in a remote work environment,” said Stodd.

“That is, while these characteristics may be important for many if not most jobs, they become even more important for thriving in remote work scenarios given remote work
frequently presents specific challenges around social interaction, communication, and work style.”

Another element of how successful employers and employees will be in adapting to remote work is the relationship to supervision and management.

“Research and professional practice draw attention to the importance of effective supervision and management in the support of remote worker success,” said Costelloe.

“Studies confirm the criticality of effective leadership and supervision in creating reasonable expectations and goal clarity, providing organizational support, ensuring
resource availability, maintaining work-life balance and the effective management of stress levels, nurturing employee growth & development, facilitating necessary
social interaction and support, and conveying the trust necessary to create a true sense of belonging,” he said.

“Of course that’s a lot of stuff,” Stodd said, “which has led researchers to conclude that remote managers also need to possess special competencies in the areas of Agility,
Achievement, and Affiliation, including the ability to coach and develop others, extend individual concern and compassion, and build & maintain effective teams.”

Overall, helping companies and employees adjust to the new normal is exciting for the two consultants, an area that combines their talents and psychological science to
help others deal with the consequences of the pandemic.

“The ability to thrive in remote work involves a complex set of factors, some of which are innate to the individual, some of which are situational, combined with the need for
leadership that is well-honed to the remote work circumstance,” said Stodd.

“While complex, employers who want to do well need to develop an appreciable understanding of all these factors as well as establish programs, processes and procedures that will maximize the benefits of remote work – of which there are many –for both the organization and its remote workforce,” said Costelloe.

The two intend to continue educating their clients and the public about the possibilities for adjusting to changes and challenges in the new work environment. More information can be found at their website.

2021 Trends for Psychologists

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

#1 A focus on behavioral prevention and natural immunity

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

#2 Telehealth and remote work

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

#3 Mental health needs

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

#4 Blending work and family life

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

#5 Virtual learning

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

#6 Focus on child development

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

#7 Looking for new meaning in the quiet zone

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

UV-LED May Destroy Virus in Less Than One Minute by Samantha Dooley

Researchers in The Journal of Photochemistry & Photobiology suggest they may have found a way to quickly disinfect surfaces contaminated with Covid-19, using UV-LED lights. The researchers said that the UV-LED lights required less than half a minute to destroy more than 99.9% of the coronaviruses.

The study looked at the disinfection efficiency of ultraviolet light-emitting diodes
irradiation at different wavelengths on coronavirus. It is said to be the first of its kind in the world, according to the Jerusalem Post.

According to Yoram Gerchman,and colleagues, SARS-Cov-2, the virus most known as Conavirus, can spread through respiratory droplets, as well as nasal, oral, and eye mucus. Some research is also showing that SARS-Cov-2 is potentially an airborne virus.

These factors bring the need for a cheap, quick ay to sterilize surfaces, without damaging the material. It is already common to use UV lights to irradiate some pathogenic microorganisms, including some viruses. As the authors in The Journal of Photochemistry & Photobiology article write, “Coronaviruses are 120-160 nm diameter, enveloped viruses with a single-strand, non-segmented RNA genome coated by a protein capsid, and a lipid envelope.” Damaging or destroying any one of the components could inactivate the virus, they explain.

UV lights do just that to the Coronavirus. UV lights can inactivate a virus many different
ways, including, but not restricted to, “…damage to the nucleic acids, proteins, or internal production of oxygen radicals.”

The Journal of Photochemistry & Photobiology authors also reported that some wavelengths of UV light are possibly more effective at irritating SARS-Cov-2 than
others. “The mechanism of UV inactivation depends on the UV wavelength(s) used and,
at least for some pathogens, UV sources with multiple emission peaks are (e.g. medium pressure lamps) were found to result in more accurate inactivation, by activating multiple damage mechanisms.”

For more information, go to: “UV-LED Disinfection of Coronavirus, Wavelength effect,” The Journal of Photochemistry & Photobiology,

Louisiana Pharmacies Begin Receiving COVID Vaccine for Elderly, Additional Health Care Workers on January 4

On December 31, Gov. Edwards announced that doses of the COVID-19 vaccine will be available to pharmacies statewide in limited supply beginning January 4 to be administered to people 70 and older and additional health care workers.

The initial supply of vaccine will be extremely limited and people must contact a designated pharmacy to make appointments before going in to be vaccinated. At this time, only people in Priority Group 1-B, Tier One, which is people 70 years and older and ambulatory and outpatient health care personnel, will be able to get the COVID vaccine at a designated pharmacy. Appointments are required.

Beginning on the 4th, the Louisiana Department of Health will list pharmacies where the COVID vaccine is available on its website,

“I am relieved to end this year by expanding access to the COVID vaccine to more Louisianans, though I know we have a long road ahead of us before we put this pandemic in our rear view mirrors,” Gov. Edwards said.

In the first two weeks of vaccination, 45,289 Louisianans have received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, which is safe and effective against the virus. A second dose must be administered for people to gain fuller protection from COVID.

So far, 210,350 doses have been allocated for Louisiana, of which 56,200 have been designated for the federal Long Term Care Facilities partnership and reside with Walgreens and CVS.

The priority groups for Louisiana are as follows: Priority Group 1-A: Ongoing (around 249,000 eligible people)

  • Health care workers at Tier 1 and Tier 2 hospitals
  • Staff and residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities
  • Emergency Medical Services employees and firefighters

Priority Group 1-B, Tier One: Starts Monday, January 4, 2021 (around 640,000 eligible people)

  • Schools of allied health students, residents and staff
  • End stage renal disease facility personnel and patients
  • Home agency patients and personnel
  • Ambulatory and outpatient health care personnel
  • Persons 70 years old and older

Priority Group 1-B, Tier Two: Starts at a later date (around 318,750 eligible people)

  • Health-related support personnel (labs, mortuary, pharmacy)
  • Essential governmental response personnel
  • Judiciary personnel
  • Department of Homeland Security personnel, National Guard (non-COVID deployed), federal intelligence and security personnel, military personnel
  • First responders not covered in Phase 1A
  • Corrections officers and jailers Medical transportation services
  • Homeless shelter and other congregate group home/center staff
  • K-12 school and daycare personnel
  • Food processing and agricultural workers
  • Postal personnel
  • Public transit workers
  • Grocery store workers and other deemed frontline essential workers

Drs. Thomandra Sam, Lauren Rasmussen, and Leslie O’Malley Running in LSBEP Election this Month

An election is currently underway to fill the July 2021 vacancy on the Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists. Offering to serve on the board are Thomandra Shavaun Sam, PhD, Lauren Woodruff Rasmussen, PsyD, and Leslie A. O’Malley, PsyD.

The vacancy will occur in June 2021 when Dr. Amy Henke completes her service. Voting
opened in and ends January 15.

Dr. Sam is from Baton Rouge and was licensed in 2015 in the specialty area of counseling according to her candidate statement. She is a Psychologist V/Office of Behavioral Health/Eastern LA Mental Health System and earned her degree from Auburn University.

In her statement, Dr. Sam wrote, “I am psychologist with a background working with diverse clinical presentations, demographics and within various settings from college counseling, community mental health, a pastoral center, domestic violence and homeless shelter, a marriage and family clinic and hospital settings. I am and have
been licensed In various states and so I am keenly aware of how a variety of psychologists exist in different spaces both here in Louisiana as well as across our
nation. I hope my unique experience adds an additional layer to an already highly qualified Board and staff.”

In her statement, Dr. Sam wrote, “I am psychologist with a background working with diverse clinical presentations, demographics and within various settings from college counseling, community mental health, a pastoral center, domestic violence and homeless shelter, a marriage and family clinic and hospital settings. I am and have been licensed In various states and so I am keenly aware of how a variety of psychologists exist in different spaces both here in Louisiana as well as across our nation. I hope my unique experience adds an additional layer to an already highly qualified Board and staff.”

“Additionally, I am Interested in ensuring that Louisiana is ahead of the curve with offering diverse platforms to diverse consumers from diverse Psychologists; yes, that is a lot of one word in a sentence but its message is necessary. As our society Is changing, it is important Louisiana is able to compete with the rest of the nation and attract bright minds to work and advance our state and practice; in doing so, we ensure we are at the cutting edge of service by creating a healthy Louisiana that recognizes the need for mental healthcare, has access to the care needed and is ultimately positively impacted by our profession toward higher levels of wellness and increased quality of life. Regarded as the father of individual psychology in some circles, Alfred Adler encouraged us to, ‘Follow your heart but take your brain with you.’ I think being an effective Board member requires a constant balance of both.”

Dr. Rasmussen is also from Baton Rouge. She was licensed in 2013 and it is a Partner at Jefferson Neurobehavioral Group, and also a Consulting Neuropsychologist at Sage Rehabilitation and Neuro RehabCare.

She earned her degree from Georgia School of Professional Psychology in Clinical Psychology/Neuropsychology.

Dr. Rasmussen writes, “It is always a daunting task to replace an outgoing board member, who I am sure is leaving with a breadth of knowledge and experience. What
I believe LSBEP is looking for in a candidate for this position is someone who is socially
responsible, dedicated, honest, ethical, and hardworking. I promise to bring those qualities to the board.

“As a recent Pro Tem board member, I had a glimpse into the responsibilities of the board members. I understand and appreciate that this position requires upholding ethical and legal standards of psychologists. It is of utmost importance that a board member serve to protect the sanctity of the field of psychology and those who utilize
our services from harm. As a board member, I think it is also important to be the voice of your profession, which means integrating feedback and viewpoints from members of the psychological community and working with your professional organizations.

“Over the course of my tenure with the board, I would like to continue modifying our rules and standards to ensure that they are commensurate with national standards. I would also like to help resolve complaints of paraprofessionals working outside of their areas of competence by coordinating with other organizations and oversight committees to establish reasonable boundaries.”

Dr. O’Malley is from Lake Charles and was licensed in 2009 with a specialty in Clinical. She is Staff Psychologist at Southeast Louisiana Veterans HealthCare System (SLVHCS). She earned her degree from Nova Southeastern University in Clinical Psychology.

Dr. O’Malley notes that, “In the current political and pandemic-related climate, I believe an evenhanded reliance and appreciation for our ethical and legal standards must be upheld. As someone who has extensive clinical experience with TeleHealth I feel I would add to the board’s expertise during this phase of reliance on more virtual therapy and supervision that the pandemic has prompted.

“I personally get great satisfaction in working with early career Psychologists in training. As a preceptor or supervisor, I have spent countless hours preparing trainees for the EPPP and oral portion of the exam for licensure in Louisiana. It would give me great pleasure to be on the other side of the table during this process.

“I believe you will find I have excellent judgment and am adept at not only enforcing the laws and standards of practice in Psychology but also in providing a sensible approach to all situations. My communication and organizational skills will allow a seamless transition in appointment to ensure that board work remains on schedule. I get along well with others and am comfortable leading and being led. I remain keen on continuing my development into a senior Psychologist. I believe this tenure would allow for the personal and professional career growth I seek.”

Gov. Extends Modified Phase Two Order during Louisiana’s Third Surge of Covid-19

On December 22, the Gov. extended his modified Phase Two order, including Louisiana’s statewide mask mandate, to January 13, 2021, as hospitalizations have exceeded the level reached during the second surge in July. The Governor also declared an emergency for the elections in February, March and April of next year, per a request from the Secretary of State.

“While we have seen minor improvements, no one should feel good about our current COVID situation in Louisiana. We have too many new cases, too many people in the hospital and, sadly, too many Louisianans continue to die of this illness. Just this week, we reported the highest number of deaths since July,” said the Gov.

For complete guidance on the new Phase 2, visit the Open Safely portal at

Primary Care Assn Objects to Ochsner Expansion Plans

In a November 24 press release, officials at the Louisiana Primary Care Association asked that citizens take a stand and decline to “reinvent the wheel” and to support Louisiana’s federally qualified health centers.

“Earlier this month, we learned that Ochsner Health intends to re-invent the wheel and spearhead a new $100 million initiative to build 15 ‘health centers’ in underserved communities over the next five years,” said the officials.

“While Ochsner Health and other corporate, profitdriven entities describe themselves as pioneers in this space, the reality is that Community Health Centers have been on the ground serving the people of Louisiana for decades. While we are heartened to see their new commitment to primary and preventive care for these populations, we wish
Ochsner Health would have focused more on partnership, engaging in collaboration, and strengthening the ongoing work of our members.

“Ochsner Health plans to construct ‘health centers’ in areas in which there are a large number of Community Health Centers already operating and serving patients. In the Greater New Orleans region alone, there are 72 Community Health Centers operated by 15 different organizations.

“If you want to address health inequities and improve the health of our citizens all while providing affordable and accessible care, look no further than our Community Health Center network. Our health center members are battle-tested and proven leaders in meeting the needs of these communities. Since Hurricane Katrina in 2005 (and over the past few years with the advent of Medicaid expansion), Louisiana’s Community Health Center network has grown exponentially. Health centers are now located in 55 of Louisiana’s 64 parishes.

“These facilities save taxpayer money by keeping patients out of the emergency room and focusing on the need for primary and preventive care. In fact, in 2019 Louisiana’s Community Health Centers saved our healthcare system nearly $900 million,” authors

“Health Centers are also woven deeply into the communities they serve,” and “are held to the most rigorous standards of care, patient safety, transparency, and financial
responsibility,” the Association officials said.

Resilient Louisiana Commission Makes Recommendations

In a November 20 press announcement, Co-Chairs Don Pierson and Terrie Sterling and
other Resilient Louisiana commissioners released their report of long-term recommendations for creating a more resilient Louisiana. Following the COVID-19 outbreak, Gov. Edwards created the Resilient Louisiana Commission to determine ways the state can better protect itself against disruptions, such as public health emergencies and natural disasters.

The report, Comprehensive Game Plan for a More Resilient Louisiana , highlights those
recommendations based on input from over 300 citizens serving on the Resilient Louisiana Commission and its 15 task forces. Public input guided the months-long process.

“We are pleased to receive this comprehensive guide for making Louisiana a more resilient, successful state in the face of challenges that come our way,” Gov. John Bel
Edwards said. “As leaders, we need to embrace the spirit and intelligence of this document and take action to make Louisiana stronger. Public health, safety, education,
infrastructure, workforce, the economy and the future of our children are all at stake. I
encourage elected officials, the general public and our private sector to join me in acting upon the important recommendations of the commission.”

Pierson, who serves as Louisiana Economic Development’s cabinet secretary, and Sterling, a healthcare management consultant and CEO, lead the 18-member Resilient Louisiana Commission that provided near-term recommendations in May for safely reopening the economy during the COVID-19 public health emergency. The new report reflects the commission’s second major duty: recommending long-term steps to resiliency, according to the announcement.

“Access to healthcare is broader than bricks and mortar,” Co-Chair Sterling said. “It is
important to create systems and structures to support the health of our citizens, as we
certainly may face pandemics and public health challenges in the future.”

The commission’s long-term recommendations include making strategic investments in public health infrastructure and programs to enhance the well-being of Louisiana residents, with a focus on healthy food programs, rural hospital stabilization and access to broadband internet statewide that can improve education and telemedicine services.

Other recommendations include creating an Office of Social Equity to address gender equity, housing, homelessness, and community vulnerabilities; expanding economic inclusion through the creation of an Office of Rural Development, through a living wage initiative, through incentives that promote equitable economic opportunity, and through increased business opportunity for women, minority and veteran entrepreneurs.

In addition to prioritized investment in early childhood education, transportation infrastructure, more resilient utilities, and better training pathways to jobs, the
commission recommends tools to produce better outcomes in higher education, along
with fiscal reforms to simplify and broaden the state’s tax structure.

Return to Phase 2 for December Says Governor After Cases Rise

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For complete guidance on the new Phase 2, visit the Open Safely portal

Dr. Sonia Blauvelt Helps Lead Suicide Prevention Project for Southeast La

The Mental Health Association for Greater Baton Rouge is implementing a
COVID-19 Emergency Response for Suicide Prevention Project in southeast Louisiana to help contain the expected increase in mental health problems for Louisiana citizens. The project includes several components and Baton Rouge psychologist, Dr. Sonia Blauvelt, is leading the suicide prevention program.

The announcement from the Association noted that: Socially and financially disadvantaged families are more vulnerable to stresses and traumas, and the risk
for mental health problems and domestic violence increases after families face
extreme adversity, such as those related to COVID-19 disruptions and trauma.

Blauvelt explained, “We identified these areas of southeast Louisiana as
having high rates of COVID19 infection and deaths, high rates of intimate partner violence, and poor health outcomes overall,” she said. “These factors leave individuals even more vulnerable to deterioration in mental health in addition to having limited resources.”

The project is funded by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and managed through the Louisiana Department of Health, Office of Behavioral Health.

There is a great need for community based services for people with suicidal thoughts
and behaviors,” said Blauvelt, “and we hope this program will reduce the high level of
hospitalizations and inpatient stays for people who experience higher risk of suicide.”

In her role, Blauvelt helps case managers implement the suicide case management program and she will provide clinical supervision and intervention when necessary. “I also work to partner with general hospitals and mental health hospitals in the regions
we are serving to identify individuals who may need suicide prevention services so that we can get referrals to our program,” she said.

Dr. Blauvelt is a licensed clinical psychologist in private practice in Baton Rouge. Her PhD is from Louisiana State University and she interned at the Charlie Norwood VA/Medical College of Georgia in Augusta, Georgia where she specialized in treating
Veterans with military sexual trauma. She currently treats PTSD, trauma-related disorders, and anxiety disorders, with special attention to cultural factors related to mental health.

Dr. Blauvelt is working closely with LSU assistant professor of psychology, Dr. Raymond Tucker, who founded the LSU Mitigation of Suicidal Behavior research laboratory. He is clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at LSUHSC/OLOL, and trains medical staff/students in suicide-specific assessment and intervention protocols.

Dr. Tucker is also the co-director of the National Suicidology Training Center where he
provides training on suicide-specific interventions, including suicide safety planning,
post-vention programming, and motivational interviewing for suicide prevention.

Dr. Tucker said, “In tandem with Frank Campbell and the National Suicidology Training Center, I have helped develop the suicide case management program and train peer support providers and other staff at the Mental Health Association in this program,” he said.

“The program uses a variety of clinical and follow-up techniques that have been found to reduce risk for suicide in adults after receiving care in emergency facilities. The program particularly uses the Safety Planning Intervention and Caring Contacts to help support at-risk adults as they get setup and started with outpatient clinical services. My
own research, in collaboration with researchers at VA Puget Sound in Seattle, has investigated specific ways of using Caring Contacts after people leave acute care facilities and best practices for how to create these contact cards,” he explained.

The COVID-19 Emergency Response for Suicide Prevention Project includes four main components, according to the Mental Health Association (MHA).

Case Management for individuals who have attempted suicide or are identified as having chronic suicide ideation. This includes all of the following elements – screening,
assessment, safety planning and means restriction, discharge planning, transition care, warm hand offs to treatment or community organizations.

Another component is First Responder and other Health Care Professionals Suicide Prevention Training, partnering with the National Suicidology Training Center to provide more trainings on suicide prevention and Postvention strategies for first responders and providers across the state.

For Suicide Prevention Training for the general public, the Association is partnering with
the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Louisiana Chapter to provide statewide
suicide prevention training for the general public, including both safe Talk and ASIST
prevention training.

The fourth component is Suicide Prevention Outreach to Domestic Violence Victims. The Association is partnering with Southeastern Louisiana University, Discovery/Renew Family Resource Projects to establish an advocative role for domestic violence victims and establish a relationship with shelters and other domestic violence coalitions and resources to address trauma.

One challenge for Dr. Blauvelt and Dr. Tucker is getting the word out and networking.

“A major difficulty is networking with all the different hospitals and clinics in the area to ensure that the program is known, understood, and offered to the correct patients,” said Tucker.

“I echo Ray’s sentiments,” said Blauvelt, “about difficulty networking and ensuring that only eligible people are referred. Although we have hired and trained half of the staff needed to begin services, we continue to recruit case managers/peer support specialists to finalize our team. It is a challenge to hire the right individuals to do this critical work. We are confident we will have a full team soon,” she said.

“We are actively accepting and seeking clients in the program. MHA continues to finalize formal agreements with community partners necessary to fully implement this program. The training element of this grant is also underway. The National Suicidology Training Center has completed two first responder trainings. The National Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Louisiana Chapter has also completed two trainings to the general public,” Blauvelt explained. “MHA is also working with the Family Resource Center in Southeastern University to target victims of domestic violence who are at greater risk for suicide.”

Dr. Tucker said, “We hope a program like this is a part of growing community efforts to
prevent suicide in Louisiana.”

[For additional information contact Dr. Blauvelt at]

Psychologist Blows Whistle on New Orleans VA Procedures

A New Orleans psychologist was at the center of a CBS News investigative report that
aired last month finding that the New Orleans VA may not have been diagnosing enough veterans so that they could be treated adequately for traumatic brain injury (TBI), the signature wound of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.

CBS investigative reporter Jim Axelrod broke the story, “Whistleblower says veteran
affairs dramatically under diagnosed traumatic brain injuries.” Louisiana
psychologist Dr. Frederic Sautter was key to the report.

Go to CBS online for the full report.

Axelrod reported on the heartbreaking story of Army Sergeant Daniel Murphy
who served five decorated combat tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. Murphy
specialized in detonating explosives and was honorably discharged in According to the
report, Murphy suffered both physically and psychologically. “He had the classic symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder –insomnia, anxiety, and a feeling that the
enemy was lurking around every corner,“ said Axelrod.

According to the CBS report, VA sources confirmed that Murphy screened positive for
traumatic brain injury (TBI) in 2017. However, he did not receive a final TBI diagnosis or treatment. Two months later he took his own life at 32 years old.

The report notes that suicide is twice as high in veterans with TBI than in those with PTSD only.

Cases like Sergeant Murphy’s haunted Dr. Sautter, said Axelrod. Dr. Sautter retired recently from the VA, but until that time he headed up the family mental health program at Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System in New Orleans. Dr. Sautter saw hundreds of vets coming home from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts and began to become suspicious that they were not being properly assessed for TBI, said the CBS reporter.

Sautter told Axelrod that many of his patients, who were suffering from PTSD, appeared to also be presenting symptoms of traumatic brain injury. However, they had not been diagnosed or treated for the injury and this was a concern to him. So, Sautter set out to try and understand what was happening and he did his own research into the numbers.

According to Axelrod’s investigation, the VA protocol requires that all Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are screened for TBI and a positive screen then leads to further evaluation. Reporting on internal documents from the VA, Axelrod noted that most vets who receive a positive screen are ultimately diagnosed with TBI.

CBS found that 60% to 80% of patients who are positive on the screening, across all the VA hospitals, are ultimately diagnosed and receive treatment for TBI.

However, Dr. Sautter found that at the New Orleans VA this number was only 18%.

According to the report, Dr. Sautter brought his results and list of the veterans who had slipped through the cracks to colleagues at the Pain Management & Rehabilitation (PM&R) division at the VA. A nurse at the division, Priscilla Peltier, told CBS that “There was absolutely no treatment being provided to them.”

In October 2017, Peltier presented a plan to her boss, the chief of PM&R, Dr. Robert Mipro, for contacting the veterans on the list. Peltier told CBS that Dr. Mipro responded that the list was not their concern and to “lose the list.”

Dr. Sautter insisted that the VA to investigate his concerns first through the Inspector General and then through the Office of Special Counsel.

CBS said the Office of Special Counsel ordered an investigation by the VA Medical Inspector and produced a report in March 2019. CBS said that the report was not made public but confirmed the New Orleans relatively low TBI diagnosis.

However CBS then contacted a VA spokes person who said the Medical Inspector’s report had used “bad data” and that the TBI diagnosis rates in New Orleans were in line with the national average.

Dr. Sautter is not optimistic about changes at the VA. “No one on staff will convince VA to change their practice and take responsibility,” he explained to the Times last week.

“Their focus is on their image and maintaining good numbers. The current PM&R staff is quite good. The issue is prior patients not receiving evaluations need to be contacted and assessed,” he said.

“I am now retired from VA and have a private practice. There have not been negative consequences for me except the anxiety of the experience and disappointment at the total denial by the institution and alienation from the institution,” he said.

Dr. Sautter was the Manager of a Family Mental Health Program at a VA Med Center for many years, and treated hundreds of couples and individuals. He is an expert in traumatic stress and relationship problems and has treated hundreds of combat veterans to help them overcome a variety of stress problems, providing compassionate evidence-informed care to individuals that have had to endure immense emotional pain, according to Psychology Today’s provider information.

Asked how it was to work with CBS News, he said, “CBS was very professional, vetted everything with attorneys, and put a great deal of effort into it. They were impressive.”

Has he experienced retaliation? “I feel like I did the right thing and veterans have communicated appreciation,” he said. “The reaction of the institution was total denial. I would never encourage anyone to do it unless they were in the later stages of career and could accept leaving the institution (VA). The nurse who complained was retaliated against but I never felt like anyone was going to try to intimidate me.”

His thoughts for other psychologists? “If important protocols are not enacted it is
your duty to report it. Do not expect gratitude from anyone at the institution but it is very satisfying knowing that you stood up for what you believe in,” he said.

Are Money Problems Behind the Psychology Board’s Latest Legislation?

by Julie Nelson

In the last week of February, the state psychology board surprised the community when they circulated a memo that the board would be putting forth legislation in the 2020 session. The memo cast the legislation as “housekeeping,” but the sweeping changes they wanted were anything but.

By March, Senate Bill 458 had been filed, 23-pages that detailed an ambitious set of changes to the Psychology Practice Act. The changes included expanding the board’s
own charter, creating new qualifications for serving, authorizing the board to conduct continuing education, exempting the board from Open Meetings Law in certain
situations, and redesigning the position of the Executive Director.

But the most financially significant change was the board’s goal to register psychological assistants, creating new regulations and fees that could double or even triple costs for some psychologists, especially those in small businesses.

Similar to other past legislative goals by the board, the plan was essentially kept from the public. Why the secrecy? Why bypass rulemaking? Why more legislation?

In this article, we examine the possible issues behind the odd behaviors of the Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists (LSBEP).

LSBEP’s Ongoing Financial Problems

Posted under “Performance” for 2019, LSBEP data from the Boards and Commissions website gives strong hints to the underlying reason that the board might be looking for more money from the registration of psychologists’ assistants. They noted:

“The Board is planning to engage in rule-making this FY that will impact revenue in FY2020-21 and include requiring the registration of assistants to psychologists providing
psychological services to clients under the supervision of a licensed psychologist and begin pre-approval of continuing professional development activities. A financial analysis for
the impact of these initiatives is being conducted and an amendment to the projected 2020-21 Budget is anticipated.”

The board’s financial problems are long standing, they have been running deficits since 2014.

Based on the financial tracking data, the LSBEP stayed within budget for most years and carried a “fund balance” of around $100,000. A source at the Legislative Auditor’s office said the fund was a surplus or reserve.

For 2014, the board took in $262,582 and spent $249,517. Legal services were $37,882. The fund balance had a surplus of $144,709.

In 2015, the board received $263,691 in fees and spent $275,147. Legal services increased to $56,002. The fund balance was listed at $120,188.

However, in 2016 budget tracking indicates a fund deficit of $214,818.

In a June 2016 Report, the Louisiana Legislative Auditor found the LSBEP to have inadequate controls over financial matters during the 2014–2015 period. The Auditor found a lack of business and accounting functions, and reported there were inadequate segregation of duties and lack of supporting documentation, inadequate controls over employee payroll and leave, inadequate controls over debit and credit cards, and inadequate controls over travel and meals expenses.

It is not clear from the Auditors report how the board went from a surplus to a deficit between 2015 in 2016. However, also in 2016, the board spent $336,677, while proceeds remained steady at $265,945. Legal services rose to $104,894.

In 2017, legal services shot to $149,774, and the fund balance became a deficit of $352,395. In total, the board took in $272,833 and spent $408,388.

For 2018, the board collected $299,599 and spent $307,003. Legal services dropped to $40,826. The fund balance was a deficit of $359,799.

Last year, in 2019, the board took in $310,023 and spent $212,640, with legal services at $61,182. The fund balance dropped to a deficit of $262,415.

But projections for 2020 point to new problems. Salaries are projected to go from $85,727 in 2019 to $168,787 in 2020. The board is estimated to take in $329,831 and spend $366,236. Legal services are estimated at only $57,509, but the fund balance is still a deficit at $298,820.

And, for professional services there is a category for “Others” that increases from $8,620 in 2019 to $43,499 in 2020. Salaried employees in 2019 is listed at $61,569, but increased to $93,200 for 2020.

In summary, between 2019 and 2020, expenditures are set to increase by 72%. (See figure.)

The Expensive “Complaints Committee”

The LSBEP conducts two main duties as a board––approving new licensees and administering discipline. New licenses are handled by the volunteer board members and the salaried Executive Director.

However, the complaints subcommittee is designed to conduct its affairs without board members’ oversight. This arrangement leaves volunteer board members free of any bias if they are then required to participate in a disciplinary hearing.

The Rules and the internal Policies and Procedures confirm this: “The LSBEP in accordance with the La. Admin. Code, 46:LXIII.1501.C. hereby delegates authority to a Complaints Committee which may consist of the Compliance Officer, a complaints coordinator, an investigator, legal counsel, and one or more Board members […]”.

The LSBEP has both employees and contractors. For 2020, two employees are listed: The Executive Director at $62,400.00, and the Compliance Investigator at $46,200.00. With related benefits for 2020 coming to $62,537, this brings the salaried employees to
a total $168,787 for 2020. Aside from student workers there are no clerical employees or others listed.

Contract employees include contracts for a Complaints Coordinator (approved for up to $36,000); Prosecuting Attorney ($50,056); Investigator ($12,000); and General Counsel

According to the Policies for the complaints subcommittee, “The Executive Director oversees the functioning of this committee and may serve on the Complaints Committee if necessary.” And, “The Executive Director or Compliance Officer is authorized and empowered to assign per case, individuals who are contracted, employed or appointed by the Governor to the LSBEP, …”

A new position, a “Compliance Officer (Investigating Officer)” appears to have been added sometime in the last two years. According to the policy manual, this person may be a full-time or part-time, may conduct investigations and/or inspections outside of the main office, conduct investigations into alleged or suspected misconduct by licensed members, applicants for licensure and/or others who may be suspected of violating state and federal ethical and agency laws, rules, and policies, may conduct surveillance and unannounced on-site monitoring/compliance visits, among other duties.

The complaints subcommittee operates without the direct supervision of any board members and is the most expensive and least transparent element of the LSBEP. But what exactly is the extent of the problem that this expensive subcommittee is solving?

Is the Extra Expense Really Necessary for Public Safety?

Considering the depth and breadth of law enforcement personnel assigned to the complaints subcommittee, an observer might think that there is a serious problem with psychologists’ products/services.

However, based on LSBEP’s statistics the number of annual disciplinary actions averages between two and three per 1000 psychologists. Since a psychologist serves an average of 30 individuals per year, this translates to around 2.5 problems in
30,000 customer experiences.

This rate is consistent across states and consistent with the national averages. Statistics published by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards calculates the national number of disciplinary actions for the last five years to range from 181 to 229, an average of 189.4. (See figure.) For 106,000 psychologists across the nation, this is 1.8 mistakes per 1,000.

These rates are also consistent with the other psychotherapy and counseling professions. The Times compared a random sample of disciplinary outcomes for the psychology, counseling, and social work boards. We found that all of three boards have
similarly low rates of disciplinary actions, between one and three discipline events per 1,000 licensees.

In research over a sample of a five-years, we found that 75 percent of discipline actions were related in some way to forensic child custody evaluations. The remainder was split
between sexual/dual relationships and impaired psychologist issues.

Using data of the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, which estimates the product-related injuries for various industries, psychologists compare very favorably regarding public safety. Furthermore, to compare to hospital care, where 98,000 patients die annually due to medical errors, psychologist services presents a very safe alternative to inpatient care.

Waste and Ineffectiveness in the Complaints Committee?

Do the lack of checks and balances in the complaints committee, and the heavily staffed law enforcement approach, create more problems than it solves? Have licensees, the taxpayers, been saddled with paying for unnecessary attorneys, including their mistakes?

In an interview with an MBA, he said, “Alignments and incentives are all wrong in the subcommittee. High costs and inefficiencies would be expected,” he explained.

According to several sources, beginning around 2012, the LSBEP embraced an aggressive, adversarial style for dealing with complaints. For the first time, a Prosecuting Attorney was hired in 2014. Also, a private investigator was hired. Sources
have wondered if this may have been related to the then new executive director’s background as a Fraud Analyst/Investigator in the Criminal Division of the Maryland Attorney General.

Finances and other problems began to mount. Hired in 2014 at a $15,000 contract, the first Prosecuting Attorney, Mr. Jim Raines, submitted invoices for $52,000, according to discussion between officials in December 2016. The board was still digging out of money troubles in part because Mr. Raines submitted invoices totaling $66,597 earlier that year, according to the minutes for the LSBEP.

At the same time, Mr. Raines may have contributed to an expensive escalation of legal matters when he failed to recuse himself from a complaints case against Dr. Eric Cerwonka. Mr. Raines had been previously retained by Cerwonka in Cerwonka’s own child custody dispute. Additionally, the two engaged in a fee dispute following the close of the case. Cerwonka filed a constitutional violations lawsuit alleging that the Raines had privileged information about Cerwonka that he used in the investigation.

In another example, the LSBEP contract attorneys appeared to have been confused
about time limits for investigating complaints, ignoring language in the Psychology Practice Act that limited investigations to one year.

At a 2015 hearing, demanded by the defendant psychologist to be open to the public in order to have the press attend, the time limit was to be addressed. However, General Counsel, Mr. Lloyd Lunceford, prompted the chair to have a private discussion in and executive session. When the board members emerged from the executive session, they dismissed the case. This made any discussion on time limits irrelevant. The then Complaints Coordinator, Dr. Gary Pettigrew, appeared frustrated having to dismiss the case stating that he did so, “…purely on the advice of the prosecuting attorney.”

In a side comment to the chair, overheard by the Times reporter, Mr. Lunceford appeared to confirm that the attorneys in the committee had misinterpreted the law and made an error. Two years later the board put forth legislation to change the time limit in law.

Another time limits case is still on a judge’s desk in District Court. If reversed the board
could be required to reimburse the legal fees to the defendant.

New Statutory Laws: Circumventing the Public and Solving the Wrong Problems?

Is the LSBEP solving the wrong problem when it sets out to create new law, instead of
redesigning its complaint committee? Do their legislative solutions just cost more in attorney fees? Do they circumvent the public’s involvement when they go straight to the legislature?

It appears that the board’s first foray into creating news statutes was in 2012 when they decided to craft legislation to bring behavior analysts under it’s jurisdiction. A backlash occurred, with strong animosity directed at psychology from other groups in the mental health community.

Their legislation in 2014 was less controversial, but in 2015 the LSBEP sprung Senate Bill 113 on an unsuspecting community. The bill fueled a tug-of-war between state associations over language in the Practice Act.

In both 2017 and 2020, the board first indicated they would proceed with rulemaking, which is the process for creating administrative law. However, both times they surprised the community and chose to contact a legislator.

The Times spoke to an administrative law expert who preferred to remain anonymous. The expert explained that the board is circumventing the public by putting their goals into statutes instead of using administrative law and rulemaking, which includes a process for public involvement.

“They are circumventing the public,” when they go straight to the law and ignore rulemaking, said the expert. “They are eliminating the input from the public. Administrative law is separate from the statutes, and that area of law is to be
separate. They want to put their administrative law into statutes, and that is a serious concern.”

State agencies are prohibited from taking a position or lobbying on any legislation. Emails show that the executive director took an active role in SB 113. And, the LSBEP had hired its own lobbyist, Deborah Harkins. This later prompted Sen. Fred Mills to put forth legislation to prohibit agencies from paying lobbyists.

The Times asked Senator Mills about the origins of his Act 480. “It became readily apparent to me that some of the health professional licensing boards were intentionally trying to circumvent this law by hiring a lobbyist to lobby on their behalf, either for or against legislation that the board did or did not like,” he said. “It was indisputable evidence of, for instance the board of psychology, hiring a lobbyist when the board is listed on the website as one of her clients. This was really my motivation in filing Act 480,” said the Senator.


Years ago the policy at the LSBEP was, “Complaints received shall be rotated between former LSBEP members appointed as investigators.” The subcommittee then appeared to have had one psychologist, Dr. Gary Pettigrew, as the Coordinator, whose contract was for 40 hours per year. Legal consultation came from the General Counsel, only as needed.

Between then and today, major changes occurred, some very expensive. The expense impacts both the licensee, who funds the board, and psychologists who have to defend themselves against a fully staffed, motivated law-enforcement unit. At the same time, the measures of public safety have remained consistently good.

One attorney said that the Baton Rouge area has become a “cottage industry” for
the legal profession due to the boards. It seems unlikely that the LSBEP can legislate it’s way out of its managerial and financial problems. Unfortunately, in trying to do so they are removing the public from it’s legitimate role––being a correcting, and perhaps helpful, influence.