Columnists

July 1st, 2011

The inventory of terrible things

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

When American architect Louis Sullivan coined the phrase, “Form follows function” in 1896, he certainly wasn’t thinking about how psychologists would be doing risk assessments more than a century later. Now here we are busily re-defining our functions throughout the spectrum of mental health services and looking for forms to help us categorize the things we consider important in understanding and changing human behavior. Especially in the realm of inpatient care, psychologists throughout New England, if not the entire nation, are shifting their focus away from doing therapy and toward providing specialized assessments and developing treatment plans to be implemented [More]

June 15th, 2011

The games therapists play

By Mitch Abblett Ph.D.

Tug-of-war is a silly game – all of that straining in order to move a rope a few yards. If you’ve ever played, the whole thing seems pointless, yet it is so easily and regularly played in our daily social lives. Husbands with wives, parents with children, co-workers and confidantes – no one, not even the experienced therapist, is above such game playing. One person feels an unmet need and pulls at an important other to meet it. The other misreads or rejects the person’s pulling and gives a yank themselves. Whether you call it a “power struggle” or a [More]

June 1st, 2011

How to love the job you have

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

When I ended last month’s column with the challenge to reconcile the work of psychology with the demands of available jobs, I realize now that I was being much too abstract. Without suggesting who is responsible for this reconciliation, I risk giving the impression that it should be left to professional organizations or administrators. The task is too important and the world moves too fast to wait for that to happen. It is up to us. Every day, psychologists at every stage of their careers make decisions about what jobs to apply for, which offers to accept and how long [More]

May 15th, 2011

Who do we think we are?

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

You would think by now I would know what to expect when a room full of psychologists meets to discuss issues bearing on our professional identity. Then why do I still come away from these gatherings surprised and impressed by our diversity? Earlier this spring, the Massachusetts Psychological Association hosted a conference that brought together psychologists and graduate students from all over New England to discuss contemporary challenges in psychology training. Featured speakers included representatives at the national level from APA, APPIC and ASPPB, the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards. Regional interests were represented by directors of clinical [More]

April 15th, 2011

Finding a new way to listen

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

It’s the kind of conversation that might occur anywhere two reasonably sociable strangers find themselves sharing time together waiting for something to happen – a long line at the registry of motor vehicles, a tedious train or bus ride or an unforeseen delay in the airport’s departure lounge. It’s the kind of conversation we usually try to avoid, burying our noses in the daily paper or a good book. Sometimes, however, we get hooked as I did one day not long ago. My partner in this dialogue began with a comment about our shared predicament in heavily accented English and, [More]

March 15th, 2011

Arizona shootings raise legal reporting issues

By Edward Stern J.D.

On Saturday, Jan. 8, there was a horrific event in Tucson, Arizona where it is alleged that Jared Loughner shot into a crowd of people who met in a supermarket shopping area to meet and listen to the local U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. She was shot in the head. It is expected that she will survive the attack. However, six others, including a U.S. District Court judge and a nine-year-old girl, were killed. Similarities exist between this incident and previous ones at Columbine and Virginia Tech. The violent and intentional nature of the acts makes us all feel vulnerable. Each [More]

March 1st, 2011

Cultural competence and Groundhog Day

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

If you ever need a demonstration of the importance of cultural competence, just imagine yourself in psychotherapy in a country that doesn’t celebrate Groundhog Day. You are spending your first winter in a tropical country in Asia and, in the waning days of January, your thoughts turn to friends and family back home. You think of your snowbound grandmother and how important it is for her to get to Savannah for the country’s biggest Saint Patrick’s Day parade on March 17. With an early spring, she will have just enough time to crank up her Model A Ford and make [More]

February 15th, 2011

Saving our lives one step at a time

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

Just one month into the new year, some of our resolutions for self-improvement may have already started to split along the fault lines of old comfortable habits and resistance to change. It happens every year and, according to one source I consulted, it began with the Babylonians who were the very first to make new years’ resolutions. They probably weren’t much better at it than we are. But that’s okay because, for most of us, the price of failure isn’t terribly high. There are some, however, for whom the ability to change is a matter of life and death every [More]

January 12th, 2011

More than a few good interns

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

By the time this column appears in January, the interview phase of the annual internship sweepstakes will be in full swing. But as I write in December, I have just finished reviewing my share of the mountain of applications that come every year to our hospital’s training program. Reading applications for internships always makes me think that I have been transported to Lake Wobegon, Garrison Keillor’s fictional Midwestern city where “all the women are strong, all the men are good looking and all the children are above average.” I don’t know about strength or looks and those qualities aren’t relevant [More]

December 16th, 2010

Ebenezer Scrooge and the Season of Second Chances

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

What I love most about the dark cold days of December is the opportunity they give us to notice and enjoy glimpses of contrasting light and warmth. Outdoors the cold makes everything sharp and clear and paradoxically we are more aware of the sun glinting off crystalline expanses of blinding white snow. Indoors we light fires, celebrate holidays and remind ourselves that anything is possible. True or not, this is something we need to believe because we see too much distress and suffering and know too well the importance of second chances. This is the season of second chances and [More]

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