Category Archives: News Stories

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.







Drs. Holcomb and Lambert Offer to Serve on Psych Bd

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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







Supervision Issue Resurfaces For Provisional Licenses

At the November 12 meeting of the Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists
(LSBEP), the Board’s attorney provided an opinion that LSBEP could deny approval for a plan of supervision where supervision is to be conducted by medical psychologists who  do not hold a license as a “psychologist” under the state psychology board.

This is according to a report by Dr. Kim VanGeffen, Chair of Professional Affairs of the Louisiana Psychological Association.

Dr. Michelle Moore, chair of Supervision and Credentials at the LSBEP, had first  presented the problem in August. According to the August minutes, Moore “… had  reviewed supervised practice plans for applicants requesting a provisional license under  the jurisdiction of the LSBEP but whose supervisors were not licensed with the LSBEP, which she did not believe to be appropriate.”

“Dr. Moore further discussed that although the current regulations acknowledge that a Licensed Medical Psychologist could provide appropriate supervision, which is not disputed, for those Medical Psychologists that are not licensed with the LSBEP, as stated  in Opinion #12, it is clear that LSBEP does not have regulatory control over supervisors  not licensed with the LSBEP and therefore those supervisors have no accountability in  providing supervision according to LSBEP’s regulations; because the supervisor is legally  responsible for the practices of their supervisee, it does not appear to fall under the  purview of the LSBEP to have oversight over the relationship or issue a Provisional  License to an individual for which it could not effectively regulate; […]”

Dr. Gormanous moved that the members of the board seek the advice of their general legal counsel.

According to VanGeffen, “… the Board has been reviewing the issue of medical psychologists providing supervision of individuals who seek licensure under the Louisiana Board of Examiners of Psychologists. Currently, individuals seeking licensure  are required to submit to the Board a plan of supervised practice which would go toward  their supervision requirements,” she noted.

“Currently, candidates for licensure are allowed to be supervised by a medical psychologist whether or not they are licensed under LSBEP. The Board asked its attorney to review this issue,” VanGeffen said.

“The Board’s attorney provided an opinion that LSBEP could deny approval for a plan of supervision where supervision is to be conducted by a medical psychologist who is not  licensed under LSBEP as LSBEP would not have regulatory authority over the supervision  or supervisor unless the supervising psychologist is also licensed under LSBEP. The Board plans to continue to review this issue,” said VanGeffen.

The topic has a history. In 2009, Act 251 moved medical psychologists and their practice  of psychology from the psychology board to the medical board. Medical psychologists  would no longer be required to maintain their license under the psychology board.

In 2010, consistent with the how the law defines a “Psychologist,” members of the state  psychology board ruled, in Opinion #12, that only those licensed under the LSBEP could  supervise those seeking a license in psychology.

At that time, the then LSBEP Chair, Dr. Joseph Comaty, also a medical psychologist, said that the section in the psychology law clearly defines who may deliver supervision to  candidates seeking licensure.

Dr. Comaty said, “In RS 37, 2352, the licensing law for psychologists, it clearly defines  what a psychologist is. They [those who supervise] have to hold a license from the LSBEP  in order to supervise someone for licensure. MPs don’t meet this requirement.”

The ruling required medical psychologists, who wanted to provide supervision to interns,  to maintain a valid psychology license under LSBEP. “The remedy is to reapply to  reinstate their license,” said Dr. Comaty. “If you are currently lapsed, we’ll consider your  re- instatement retroactively.”

However, in May 2011, the board reversed its decision after being lobbied by Dr. Robert  Marier, Executive Director of the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners (LSBME),  and also by Dr. John Bolter, member of the Medical Psychology Advisory Committee at  the state medical board.

In their letters, Drs. Marier and Bolter asked the LSBEP to reconsider its 2010 ruling. They said that the intent of Act 251 was to transfer all aspects of psychology practice to  medicine. They said that this conclusion could be inferred from numerous references  throughout various laws.

Dr. Bolter noted references that listed the term medical psychologist along with the term  psychologist; three sections of mental health law and one in Workers Compensation law.  He said the term psychologist could also mean medical psychologist.

Dr. Rita Culross was the only nay vote against reversal. None of the three medical psychologists serving at that time recused themselves from the vote.

[Editors note: For original news reports see Times Vol. 2, Numbers 2 and 11; Vol. 3, 
Numbers 1 & 3]









Governor Makes October Appointments

In October, Gov. Edwards announced his appointment of Elizabeth C. Adkins of Prairieville to  the Louisiana Department of Health. Adkins is the deputy assistant secretary for the Office of  Aging and Adult Services for the Louisiana Department of Health. She will serve as the interim assistant secretary representing the Office of Aging and Adult Services for the Louisiana  Department of Health. The mission of the Louisiana Department of Health is to protect and  promote health and to ensure access to medical, preventive and rehabilitative services for all  citizens of the State of Louisiana.

The Gov. also appointed Travis Johnson of Harvey to the Governor’s Advisory Board of Juvenile  Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Johnson is the director of behavioral health for Inclusive  Care Medical Clinic. He will serve as a person with expertise and competence in preventing and  addressing mental health and substance abuse needs in delinquent youth and youth at risk of  delinquency.

The Governor’s Advisory Board of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention encourages and  assists the state, units of local government, and private non-profit agencies in the comprehensive improvement of the juvenile justice system in the State of Louisiana by providing advice and counsel to the Louisiana Commission on Law Enforcement, the Louisiana  Legislature, and the Governor on the ways and means to facilitate greater juvenile justice  system effectiveness.

Other appointments during October included:

Dana M. Peterson of New Orleans was appointed to the Board of Supervisors for the University  of Louisiana System. Peterson is the manager of College Hill Strategy Group LLC. He will  represent the 2nd Congressional District.

Roy O. Martin III of Alexandria was appointed to the Louisiana Workforce Investment Council.  Martin is chairman, CEO, and CFO of Martin Sustainable Resources LLC and the director and  cofounder of Indigo Materials LLC. He will represent Louisiana’s general business community.

Dr. Ashley M. Volion of New Orleans was appointed to the Louisiana Rehabilitation Council. Dr.  Volion is a policy analyst for Disability Rights Louisiana. She will serve at-large.

Cynthia M. Butler-McIntyre of New Orleans was appointed to the Board of Supervisors of Community and Technical Colleges. Butler-McIntyre is an independent field supervisor for  iTeach. She will represent the 2nd Congressional District.








LSU’s Dr. Calamia Earns Prestigious Early Career Award

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





Psychologists Open Center for Specialized OCD Treatments

Dr. Melissa Dufrene and Dr. Kristin Fitch, two of the founding members of the Louisiana OCD  Association, have opened a new center, The Rise Center for OCD and Anxiety.

Their goal is to help address the shortage of specialized treatment services available for the  OCD, a serious, chronic condition affecting an estimated 35,000 individuals in Louisiana.

“The absence of intensive treatment programs for OCD and related disorders is a huge problem  in Louisiana,” said Dufrene and Fitch. “We are not aware of any specialty focused  intensive programs for these conditions in the state. This means that when someone’s  symptoms are too severe for traditional outpatient treatment they have to leave the state to  access the care they need. Obviously, this is a huge strain on resources.”

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a common, chronic, and long-lasting disorder in which a person has uncontrollable, reoccurring  thoughts and/or behaviors, creating symptoms that can interfere with all aspects of life, such as work, school, and personal relationships.

“We think many providers recognize that they are not making progress with an OCD patient,”  said Dufrene and Fitch, “but continue working with them because they do not know where to  send the patient or it is not feasible for them to travel out of state for an extended period for  their treatment. We want Rise to become the solution to this problem.” 

One size does not fit all in mental health,” said Dr. Dufrene. A given patient may benefit from a  general behavioral health intensive outpatient program, she explained. However, individuals  struggling with severe OCD are unlikely to make substantial progress in a similar program  because major components of specialized treatments for OCD are missing.

The Rise Center will be the only one of its kind in this area and Dufrene and Fitch hope it will  help resolve a critical shortage of intensive treatment for individuals suffering from OCD  disorders.

“Rise is launching our first intensive program in January 2022,” the two psychologists said. “This group is geared towards college age individuals and will support them in making substantial  gains during the holiday break when they are not distracted and stressed by academic  obligations.”

Diagnostic interview data from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication estimated 1.2% of U.S. adults had OCD in the past year and the lifetime prevalence was 2.3%.

Drs. Dufrene and Fitch pointed out that this is 1 in 100 adults in any given year and 1 in 40  adults in their lifetime. Also, they note, the prevalence includes 1 in 200 kids each year.

The condition causes suffering and can often be serious. National survey data indicates that  14.6% consider their condition mild, 34.8% considerate it moderate, while half, 50.6%, rate their condition serious.

The Rise Center for OCD and Anxiety will help with reducing both of the most serious obstacles  to the availability of effective OCD services, Drs. Dufrene and Fitch explained. They hope to help resolve the lack of specialty trained providers as well as the absence of intensive treatment  programs in this geographical area.

“The fact is,” they note, “that many providers advertise that they treat OCD and related disorders, yet few have advanced training in the most efficacious implementation of exposure  and response prevention, the gold-standard treatment approach.”

Dufrene and Fitch recognize that many providers lack this special training due to limited  resources, time and money, or for other reasons do not engage in specialized training for OCD  conditions. “In response we have partnered with The Chicago School of Professional Psychology at Xavier University to serve as a practicum site for their students. We will also offer a post- doctoral fellowship in 2022.”

The new Rise Center for OCD and Anxiety will specialize in the treatment of obsessive  compulsive disorder, anxiety disorders, obsessive compulsive spectrum disorders, and other  related conditions, including Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, Specific Phobias,  Social Anxiety Disorder, Body Dysmorphic Disorder, Hoarding Disorder, Body-Focused Repetitive Disorders, and Illness Anxiety Disorder.

Drs. Dufrene and Fitch continue their work to inform and educate practitioners about this  specialized training. On behalf of OCD Louisiana, they host a monthly virtual consultation group for professionals on OCD/OC Spectrum Disorders. “In the future, we plan to offer additional  professional networking and consultation opportunities, as well as training programs through  Rise and our partnerships with local and national organizations,” they said.

“This peer consultation group provides an opportunity for mental health practitioners and  trainees in our region to discuss cases and learn about relevant resources to provide evidence-based treatment to individuals with OCD and OC Spectrum Disorders. Professionals in other  healthcare disciplines are welcome. There is no cost associated with the group.

“Evidence-based treatment of these disorders, across the developmental spectrum, will  primarily be discussed with reference to cognitive behavioral and relational frame theories, and relevant psychotherapies including exposure and response prevention, acceptance and commitment therapy, and habit-reversal therapy, among others.”

Dr. Melissa Dufrene is a licensed and Board Certified clinical psychologist. She completed a  bachelor of science in psychology at Louisiana State University, and earned her PsyD in clinical  psychology from The School of Professional Psychology at Forest Institute in 2012. She has  trained in a wide range of facilities, including inpatient and residential hospitals, schools, community health centers, and private practices. Dr.  Dufrene gained extensive training and  experience in OCD-spectrum disorders during  her predoctoral internship at Rogers Memorial Hospital in Wisconsin. While at Rogers, Dr. Dufrene spent significant time working at the presidential OCD treatment program

Dr. Kristin Fitch is a licensed clinical psychologist. For her undergraduate studies, Dr. Fitch  attended Boston University, where she earned her bachelor of arts degree in psychology and was introduced to research in OCD. She completed her doctoral studies in clinical psychology at Florida State University. Her graduate research focused on hoarding disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder, including her master’s thesis on information processing deficits in  nonclinical hoarding and dissertation research evaluating an exposure-based treatment. She  received her PhD in 2015 after completing her predoctoral internship at the Southeast  Louisiana Veterans Health Care System with a specialty in posttraumatic stress disorder. Dr.  Fitch specializes in the treatment of OCD, body dysmorphic disorder, hoarding disorder, and  illness anxiety disorder using behavioral or exposure-based interventions integrated with mindfulness and acceptancebased approaches.

Drs. Dufrene and Fitch first met as part of a team of Louisiana mental health professionals  working together to form an official affiliate of the International OCD Foundation serving the state. The successful creation of OCD Louisiana ( highlighted what the  founding members explained what they already knew––the demand for treatment of OCD and related conditions greatly surpasses the availability of the few professionals in the region  trained to work with this population. Drs. Dufrene and Fitch found Dr. Suzanne Chabaud,  director of the OCD Institute of Greater New Orleans, and collaborated with other OCD  specialists in the region, and founded OCD Louisiana, an official affiliate of the International  OCD Foundation. 








Dr. Laurel Franklin Named 2021 Recipient for Contributions in Psychological Science

Dr. Laurel Franklin, Assistant Chief, Psychology Service, Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health  Care System and Clinical Associate Professor, in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral  Sciences at Tulane University School of Medicine was recently honored with the Louisiana Psychological Association’s 2021 award for Contributions in Psychological Science.

“This award is given to an individual who has significantly increased knowledge of psychological  concepts via research and dissemination of research findings,” said program officials. “This year we are recognizing Dr. Laurel Franklin.

“Dr. Franklin’s program of research focuses on the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of trauma- and stressor-related disorders, namely posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as well as  the extension of evidence-based psychotherapies (EBPs) for PTSD to veterans living in rural and underserved areas throughout Louisiana.

She has published over 40 peer-reviewed manuscripts, books, and book chapters and received  over 1.2 million in grant funding throughout her career.”

Dr. Franklin is also the Site Lead, for South Central VA Healthcare Network Mental Illness  Research, Education, and Clinical Center.

Her first author contributions include “The overlap between OCD or PTSD: Examining self- reported symptom differentiation,” published in Psychiatry Research;

“No trauma, no problem:  Symptoms of posttraumatic stress in the absence of a Criterion A stressor,” published in Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment;

“Using the Clinician Administered PTSD Scale for DSM-5 to examine overlap of PTSD criteria D  and E,” published in Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease;

“Examining various subthreshold definitions of PTSD using the Clinician-Administered PTSD  Scale for DSM-5,” published in Journal of Affective Disorders; and

“27 ways to meet PTSD: Using the PTSDChecklist for DSM-5 to examine PTSD core criteria,”  published in Psychiatry Research.

Dr. Franklin has joined with colleagues to investigate and many other areas of her major topics,  including “Examining the relationships between perfectionism and obsessive-compulsive  symptom dimensions among rural Veterans,” published in Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy;  Anxiety sensitivity and posttraumatic stress symptoms: Associations among female veterans  with a history of military sexual trauma, in Military Psychology, and “Anxiety sensitivity and  substance use: Differential levels across individuals primarily using opioids, cannabis, or  stimulants,” in Addictive Behaviors.

Franklin and Dr. G. Manguno-Mire coauthored the book chapter, “Posttraumatic Stress Disorder,” In R. A. Carlstedt (Ed.) Integrative Clinical Psychology, Psychiatry and Behavioral  Medicine: Perspectives, Practices and Research, by Springer Publications.

Along with K. E. Thompson, Franklin authored the book, The Post-Traumatic Insomnia  Workbook: A Step-by-Step Program for Overcoming Sleep Problems After Trauma, by New  Harbinger Publications.

She and Drs. Raines, Boffa, Goodson, and Schmidt, have this year authored a treatment manual, An All-Encompassing Approach to Treating Affective Disorders Via Identification and  Elimination of Safety Aids: A Therapist Guide, a South Central VA Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Center publication.

Dr. Franklin, along with Drs. Corrigan, Chambliss, Repasky, Uddo, Walton, and Thompson,  authored another treatment manual, with a 2019 second edition, Stress Less: Relaxation  Enhancement Group Veteran and Therapist Manual, a South Central VA Mental Illness  Research, Education and Clinical Center Publication.

She and Drs. Thompson and Hubbard, authored PTSD Sleep Therapy Group: Training Your Mind and Body for Better Sleep, a South Central VA Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical  Center Publication.

She has been awarded numerous research grants including:

Local Site Investigator (PI: Kehle- Forbes, S.) Comparative effectiveness of trauma-focused and non-trauma-focused treatment strategies for PTSD among those with cooccurring SUD  COMPASS). PCORI Award.

$4,997,116. 2019 Co-Investigator (PI: Ennis, C.). Evaluating the utility of a group-based brief  cognitive-behavioral therapy for suicide prevention. Central MIRECC Pilot Study Program Award: $50,620.

2019 Co-Investigator: (PI: Boffa, J.) All about PTSD: A guide to understanding, managing, and  treating symptoms of traumatic stress. South Central MIRECC Clinical Educator Award: $2,600.

2018 Co-Investigator: (PI: Raines, A.M.) An All-Encompassing Approach to Treating Multiple  Affective Disorders via Identification and Elimination of Safety Aids. South Central MIRECC  Clinical Educator Award: $3,750.

2018 Clinical Consultant: (PI: Raines, A.M.) Evaluating the Utility of a Brief Computerized Anxiety  Sensitivity Intervention for Opioid Use Disorders: A Pilot Investigation. South Central MIRECC  Pilot Study Program Award: $38,161.

2017 Co-Investigator: (PI: Raines, A.M.) Improving Access to Evidence Based Care Among Rural  Veterans using a Transdiagnostic Treatment Approach. VA South Central MIRECC Pilot Study  Program Award: $35,911.

Her editorial appointments include the Journal of Trauma & Dissociation, Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, and Journal of Psychological Trauma (formerly Journal of  Trauma Practice).

She is an invited reviewer for many journals including: The American Journal of Psychiatry,  Anxiety and Depression, Anxiety, Stress, & Coping, Cognitive Therapy & Research, Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy, and Crisis: Journal of Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention.

Dr. Franklin has not only contributed to building scientific evidence, she has many specialized  professional experiences including: VA Certified Cognitive Processing Therapist (CPT), VA  Evidence Based Psychotherapy Initiative; VA Certified Prolonged Exposure Therapist (PE), VA Evidence Based Psychotherapy Initiative; Prolonged Exposure Consultant, National Center for PTSD, Evidence Based Psychotherapy Initiative; Submission Reviewer, Division 56 (Trauma  Psychology), American Psychological Association Conference; Forensic Examiner, New Orleans  Criminal Court; Psychological Examiner, Military Entrance Processing Station (M.E.P.S.), as just a  few examples.

New Facts Point to Discrimination in National Exam, Selection Programs at State Boards

The debate over an additional exam for those applying for a state psychology license has shined the light on a nest of scientific problems originating at the Association of State and Provincial  Psychology Boards (ASPPB).

The debate has unearthed new facts and a jaw dropping irony––the psychology profession, a  discipline that preaches anti-discrimination to others, and that sets the bar for selection-testing, has been promoting racism at state licensing boards, and by all accounts doing it for the  money.

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

For this report we look at current facts, core problems and underlying causes of how organized  psychology is failing its students, the public, and its own goal of fighting systemic racism.

“Adverse Impact” found in psychology license examination program

The psychologist license exam is called the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology  or EPPP. After finding racial differences in the New York state pass–fail rate on the EPPP scores, Dr. Brian Sharpless has now found similar problems in Connecticut.

Dr. Sharpless studied 642 applicants to the Connecticut State Board of Examiners of Psychologists. In his article, “Pass Rates on the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) According to Demographic Variables: A Partial Replication,” he reported  significant differences in failure rates based on ethnicity.

Whites had a 5.75% failure rate, Blacks had a 23.33% failure rate, and Hispanics had a 18.6%  failure rate.

In a much larger study in New York, Dr. Sharpless discovered an even greater impact by race.  He reported his findings in “Are Demographic Variables Associated with Performance on the  Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP)?”

Dr. Sharpless gathered data on 4,892 New York applicants and first-time EPPP takers. He  obtained records of all doctoral-level psychology licensure applicants from the past 25 years  and looked at their EPPP scores.

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%.

“Adverse impact” is the term used to describe differences in scores. An exam has adverse  impact if minority candidates fail to pass at at least 80% of the majority race candidates’ rate.  The results in New York classify as adverse impact and the Connecticut results clear the bar only by a hair.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it illegal to discriminate against someone on the  basis of race, color, religion, national origin, or sex. When state psychology boards deny a  license based only the EPPP scores, they must prove that the test is being used in a fair and 
unbiased manner.

Selection–testing and design of selection programs is most often a subspecialty in industrial– organizational and business psychology. State boards primarily deal with healthcare  practitioners, and are composed of clinicians. So, expertise in selection testing is unlikely to be  involved in all or most states.

“If two states have found adverse impact, it is probable that all or most states will also find  adverse impact. It is typical for knowledge tests to have adverse impact anyway, and this must  be handled in the overall selection program,” said one expert.

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

According to one source at the Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists (LSBEP), the board makes no effort to study their procedures for adverse impact.

Critics of the national exam have gained momentum, fueled by the ASPPB’s effort to install yet  another, second examination, called the EPPP2.

Dr. Jennifer Callahan sounded the alarm as lead author in her article, “The enhanced  examination for professional practice in psychology: A viable approach?” published in the  flagship journal for psychologists, American Psychologist.

The EPPP2 has not been evaluated for its intended purpose, Callahan said. “For jurisdictions  implementing the EPPP Part 2, failure to gather and report the evidence required for use of a  test in a forensic context may also open the door for legal challenges.”

Dr. Sharpless had also been pointing to legal risks. “… given the ethnic performance  discrepancies and limited validity evidence, […] it will remain open to charges of being a  potentially arbitrary barrier in an already protracted path to professional independence…”.

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

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

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

Dr. Turner is employed by ASPPB and in charge of the exam services. He was previously  employed by the Georgia school systems. Both Hunsley and Rodolfa have also worked with and  provided consulting services for the ASPPB examinations.

Callahan and coauthors replied, “…Turner et al. remain narrowly focused on defense of content  validity and a reliance on outdated standards that fail to meet contemporary expectations for  assessment of health care professionals. […] ASPPB’s methods demonstrably foster linguistic biases and systemic racism that constricts licensure of diverse individuals as psychologists.”

Callahan urged ASPPB to take “drastic corrective action.”

Experts point to serious issues with how states use cutoff scores on the national test, especially  since there is no criterion related research to help set the cutoff.

“A 50th percentile cutoff score, that automatically fails the bottom half of a sample, all who are  highly qualified already, does not make sense,” said one business psychologist. “This is exactly  the way you drive up adverse impact. You’re basically having a bunch of PhDs compete against  each other and then flunking half of them. Is your hypothesis really that half are incompetent?”

Sharpless had earlier noted problems with the cut off scores, typically set at the 50th percentile  by state boards. “Additional empirical attention should be devoted to the cut score…” he said.  “…the determination of the ‘passing’ score is one of the most important, yet difficult, psychometric tasks in testing …”

ASPPB acknowledges the exam limitations. On their webpage officials state, “There is no  suggestion that people who do better on the EPPP will be better practitioners.”

The connection between test score and job performance would require predictive validity  research, which ASPPB does not conduct.

Dr. Costelloe, explained “… predictive validation studies must be conducted.” For instance, “…  you infer that a candidate with a high Extroversion score will make more sales than a candidate  who has a high Introversion score,” Costelloe said. With a predictive study, “… you realize that  your inference was not only completely wrong but backwards. Why? The sales personnel are  interacting with mechanical engineers who must make the decision to switch over these new  valves. They don’t want to relate. They want specific engineering facts and data and they are  introverts.”

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

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

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

About the meeting, Dr. Kim VanGeffen, Chair of LPA Professional Affairs, said, “Dr. DeMers  acknowledged that, currently, there is not really any research on the validity of the EPPP-2.  There do not seem to be any plans to obtain predictive validity nor does the EPPP2 committee  believe that establishing this type of validity is necessary,” she said.

Dr. Marc Zimmermann, past LSBEP board member, also attended. “He [Dr. DeMers] stated that  there is no predictive validity,” said Zimmermann. “He also threw in that none of the national  tests had predictive validity. He reported that content validity was the accepted standard  because a test with predictive validity could not be constructed,” said Dr. Zimmermann. “…  DeMers had the temerity to try to sell us something that does not meet the standard that  psychological tests being published are expected to have.”

Is more regulation needed? Safety estimates for psychologists are very good

One of the arguments that critics mention is the consistently high safety ratings for  psychologists, based on the low number of disciplinary actions nationwide.

“There is no evidence that the public is facing some sort of previously unheard of crisis in terms  of safety from currently practicing psychologists,” said Dr. Amy Henke, who spearheaded a  Resolution opposing the EPPP2 while serving as a director for the LPA.

“Trainees are already held to high standards through a variety of benchmarks,” Dr. Henke wrote in the Resolution, “… including but not limited to: APA approval of doctoral programs, multiple  practicums where competency is repeatedly assessed, completion of formal internship training  (also approved and regulated by APA and APPIC), and supervised post-doctoral hours obtained  prior to licensure.”

However, Dr. Emil Rodolfa, then a program developer at ASPPB, questioned if these standards  are enough, saying that supervisors have “… difficulty providing accurate evaluations of their  supervisees to others who may have to evaluate the supervisee’s competency.”

The facts are on Dr. Henke’s side. Data from their own ASPPB Disciplinary Data System:  Historical Discipline Report show rates of disciplinary actions for psychologists to be  consistently low. For an estimated 125,000 psychologists in the US and Canada, the disciplinary  rates remain around 1–2 per 1,000.

For 2016–2020, the total reported disciplinary actions across the U.S. and Canada ranged from  139 to 186.

Using a conservative estimate of 10 clients per psychologist per year, this translates to a safety  problem of one or two per 10,000 service events.

Louisiana’s rate is similar to the national average. For the year 2019–2020 there was one  disciplinary action, for 2018–2019 there were two, for 2017–2018 there were also two, for 2016– 2017 there were three, in 2015–2016 there was one, and in 2014–2015 there was also one.

ASPPB’s plans for doubling the size and cost of licensing exam

Several sources suggest that profit motives may be the main reason for the cutoff and the extra test. The current EPPP costs candidates $600 plus administration fees. The test contains 225  items, with a four-hour time limit. To compare, physicians pay $605 for an eight-hour exam and  social worker candidates pay about $250 for a 170-item exam. The EPPP2 would increase cost  from $600 to $1200.

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

In 2012, ASPPB acquired the rights to the exam, taking over from Professional Examination  Service (PES). In 2013 ASPPB wrote the boards that their contracts with PES were being “… 
replaced with a contract between your jurisdiction and the Association of State and Provincial  Psychology Boards.”

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

ASPPB said the change would be “…mutually beneficial because ASPPB can now provide a  simplified agreement that is more specific to the needs of psychology licensure boards. In  addition, the renewal of contracts is expected to be more efficient…” At the same time, ASPPB  increased candidates’ exam fees from $450 to $600.

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

In 2013 ASPPB officials were instrumental in conducting and designing the 5th International  Congress on Licensure, Certification, and Credentialing of Psychologists, held in Stockhom. The  invitation-only conference was primarily funded by ASPPB. Dr. Emil Rodolfa, Chair of the Implementation Task Force for the EPPP 2, facilitated at the Congress.

ASPPB officials have gone through several roll-out efforts for the EPPP2, first to persuade  member jurisdictions to accept the new test, and then to force the new exam on states.

In 2016 the firm announced the EPPP2 and told its members, licensing boards across the United States and Canada, that the use of the new test would be “optional.”

However, after criticisms mounted, ASPPB did an about face in late 2017 and announced in a  surprise move that the new exam would be mandatory after all, and combined with the tests.  And, the price would increase from $600 to $1200.

In July 2018, Dr. Amy Henke, then serving on the Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists (LSBEP), and LSBEP members sent a blistering letter to the ASPPB Board of  Directors, to the ASPPB members, and to the administrators of state psychology boards across the US and Canada.

Following this, in August 2018, ASPPB President Sharon Lightfoot, PhD, announced that the  ASPPB Board of Directors voted to rescind the mandate.

However, shortly after that, ASPPB decided to use a carrot and stick approach. According to an  October 24, 2018 letter from Lightfoot, if Louisiana, or other jurisdictions, chose to decline the use of the new additional test, then student candidates in those jurisdictions would be  prohibited from taking the test. Sources at the Louisiana state board considered this to be punitive, because many students  wished to prepare for licenses in other states, which might require the second test.

Dr. Henke said that at a recent meeting of the member jurisdictions, representatives voted  100% to allow qualified candidates from any jurisdiction to take the EPPP2.

“Unfortunately,” Henke told the Times, “the ASPPB Board and staff have pushed back on both the vote and the formal request. For instance, despite this unanimous vote, ASPPB’s Board has  not acted on the clear wishes of the member jurisdictions. Instead, they have decided to  individually poll each jurisdiction with a survey that I felt was misleading and biased.”

ASPPB’s non-profit & financial status

The ASPPB is a private, non-profit, 501(c) 6, tax-exempt  corporation located in Tyrone, Georgia.

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

The corporate mission is to “Facilitate communication among member jurisdictions about  licensure, certification, and mobility of professional psychologists.” The “members” are the 64 or so regulatory boards from across the United States and Canada.

These boards pay dues to ASPPB. LSBEP records note they paid $2,660 in 2020 for annual ASPPB dues.

ASPPB’s net assets for 2018 (the most recent year available due to delays from Covid) totaled $9,137,930. GuideStar estimates their assets at $11,013,348.

Total revenue for 2018 was $6,505,651. Revenue for 2017 was $6,645,731 and $5,933,473 for  2016.

ASPPB’s main income producing product is the national exam. The exam and related services  generated $6,137,348 in 2018. This accounted for 94% of the Association’s 2018 income. Exam  income was $5,378,524 in 2017, and $4,916,406 in 2016.

While they paid $1,302,603 to Pierson Vue Minneapolis for exam administration in 2018, most  other expenses claimed on their tax reports are for employees and employee related expenses.

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

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

Assn Executive Officer Dr. Matthew Turner received pay and benefits of $$171,174 in 2018. He  has four employees reporting to him for exam services.

Assn Executive Officer Janet Orwig received pay and benefits of $158,142 in 2018. Ms. Orwig has 12 employees reporting to her for member services.

The ASPPB website lists other staff, including a business manager, financial officer, two  directors of professional affairs, and an administrative associate.

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

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

Other examples are $336,175 on “technology,” $188,256 on conventions, $123,053 for “item  writers and exam consultants,” $144,000 on bank fees, $60,610 on advertising, and $55,946 on dues and subscriptions.

It is not clear how oversight is established at ASPPB. The Times asked one CPA to look over the  information and he said, “Of course there is influence and COI (Conflict of Interest).”


ASPPB appears unable to constructively answer the criticisms and mounting evidence that their  exam program, marketed to the captive customers through state boards, is scientifically  deficient and discriminatory.

The state boards have bought into a mess, but do not appear able to deal with the bureaucracy  at ASPPB. Since state boards are typically composed of clinicians, and rarely have the hands-on experience needed for high-stakes selection testing, they may lack the knowledge to fight the  problem.

Ignorance does not fly as an excuse for discriminatory practices in the private sector, so it’s  ironic that it is found in the public and quasi–governmental agencies of psychology.

ASPPB appears too busy feeding off of the exam revenues, and building their bureaucracy on  the backs of psychology license candidates, perhaps especially racial minorities, to wake up. State psychology boards must not ignore the problem any longer. Callahan’s call for “drastic corrective action” is on point. But it is the members of ASPPB who need to take action, with or  without ASPPB bureaucrats.

In September 2020, the American Psychological Association (APA) called for “… true systematic  change in US culture.” Zara Abrams reported in a Monitor article, APA “… is working to dismantle institutional racism over the long term, including within APA and psychology.”

Before preaching anti-discrimination to others, APA needs to start in their own backyard.

Dr. Thomandra Sam Appointed by Governor to State Psychology Bd

On August 6, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced his appointment of Thomandra S. Sam, PhD of  Zachary to the Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists. Dr. Sam is clinical  supervisor for the Sexual Behavior Treatment Program within the Louisiana Office of Juvenile Justice.

Dr. Sam fills the July vacancy on the state board created as Dr. Amy Henke completed her  five-year service.

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. She earned her degree from Auburn University.

In her statement, Dr. Sam wrote, “I 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.”

“My desire to assist the Board comes from my graduate program’s Social-Justice orientation and strong value to serve the profession and the general community. In this vain, one of my goals is  to aide in creating spaces for Psychologists to feel more comfortable consulting with the Board  to inquire about the best processes, best practice and most informed actions when engaging in  all levels of their work; diminishing the fear of asking for guidance and increasing access to  consultation, informal support or mentorship should be highly supported to create a more confident and effective psychological community. With this goal, there will also be times when someone’s actions or decision-making may need to be reviewed in retrospect; with regard to  what would be my role as a regulator in enforcing the Ethics Code, psychological standards and  laws would require I act judiciously, timely and fairly accounting for context while balancing the protection of the public and the profession.

Dr. Sam wrote, “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.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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