Articles, Leading Stories

March 1st, 2013

Media coverage impacts Asperger’s patients, families

By Susan Gonsalves

Media coverage of the Newtown, Conn. murders did little to dispel the stigma and misunderstanding of people with Asperger’s Disorder. Instead, early reports that the shooter, Adam Lanza, had the condition, created an artificial link between Asperger’s and violence and heightened public fears, according to experts. While advocacy group representatives from Autism Speaks and the National Autism Center said that their agencies did not suffer any direct backlash, mental health professionals said patients and families definitely felt a detrimental impact. Rowland P. Barrett, Ph.D., director of the Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities at Rhode Island’s Bradley Hospital says a [More]

March 1st, 2013

Combating school shootings will take deeper approach

By Catherine Robertson Souter

The public and media react quickly and vehemently in the wake of traumatic events like the school shootings in Newtown and Columbine. Who were these kids? What made them commit these acts and, most importantly, how can we keep it from happening again? From stricter gun control laws to heightened security at schools to greater access to mental health services, the public, politicians, special interest groups and the media have proposed a number of ways to approach the problem. But the real solution, according to experts, will take a deeper effort. “Schools have lockdown procedures and they focus on what [More]

March 1st, 2013

Ban on reparative therapy put on hold

By Pamela Berard

A California state law that bans licensed mental health professionals from engaging in sexual orientation change efforts (often called reparative or conversion therapy) on clients under age 18 has been put on hold pending an April federal appeals court hearing over the law’s constitutionality. The law was the first of its kind in the nation. Similar legislation was introduced in New Jersey in October, and was referred to committee, but no further action had been taken as of press time. In California, the Liberty Counsel filed suit arguing that the law violates free speech rights. After a District Court judge [More]

March 1st, 2013

Task force working on mental health legislation

By Pamela Berard

State and national lawmakers are mulling legislation on gun control, mental health care and benefits for first responders in the wake of Connecticut’s Sandy Hook shootings. Connecticut legislators created a Bipartisan Task Force on Gun Violence Prevention and Children’s Safety. The task force designated three working groups to focus on gun violence prevention, school security and mental health. The groups will review current law and make recommendations to the overall committee, which will provide recommendations to Senate and House leadership. The goal is to produce a bipartisan emergency certified bill that had not been filed at press time. During a [More]

March 1st, 2013

The professional chef: Behind the menus

By Catherine Robertson Souter

Running a restaurant, with its long hours, demanding schedules and high rates of failure, would be the epitome of the nightmare job for some people. For others, it’s the dream of a lifetime spent preparing for just that role. What does it take to become a restaurant chef/owner? Who succeeds and why? Scott Haas, Ph.D., chief psychologist at Human Resource Institute in Brookline and a food writer who has contributed to a number of national publications and was the recipient of the James Beard Award for radio work in 2005, spent 18 months trying to answer those questions. After working [More]

February 1st, 2013

The Affordable Care Act: What it means for psychologists

By Phyllis Hanlon

The Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has given the green light for partial application now with full implementation of the law slated for 2015. While the Affordable Care Act (ACA) provides more Americans with insurance coverage, including equal access to medical and mental health services, the role psychologists will play in the delivery of services remains unclear. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the ACA eliminates coverage exclusion due to pre-existing conditions; removes annual or lifetime caps on coverage; forbids rescinding coverage; and creates a basic benefit package [More]

February 1st, 2013

ACOs hope to save money

By Phyllis Hanlon

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act represents one of the most ambitious health care reform initiatives this country has experienced. One of the law’s provisions calls for the creation of Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), systems that aim to provide improved care coordination and save money through better health management and preventative strategies. The ACO concept originated in March 2011 when the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) proposed a set of rules that would provide complete and coordinated care for Medicare recipients. Under a collaborative system, providers, practices and hospitals work together to treat a patient across several [More]

February 1st, 2013

Active shooter trainer: a good idea?

By Janine Weisman

What should you do if a gunman suddenly bursts into your school or workplace? The conventional answer has long been lockdown: hide quietly, lock or barricade doors, turn off lights and equipment and wait for police. But that passive response frustrates many as mass shootings – and anxiety about public and personal safety – continue to increase. Newer emergency response training programs teach participants to consider ways of fighting back against a shooter. School officials in Canton, Mass., recently implemented an active shooter training program for students and staff known as A.L.i.C.E. (Alert Lockdown Inform Counter Evacuate) that covers how [More]

February 1st, 2013

CPT code changes implemented in January

By Phyllis Hanlon

As of January 1, psychologists nation-wide have a new practice issue with which to contend. After conducting its routine five-year review, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have made some changes to current procedural terminology (CPT) psychotherapy codes. Appropriate use of these new codes will mean the difference between reimbursement for services billed and denials. According to the American Psychological Association Practice Organization (APAPO), many diagnostic and therapeutic services bear new code numbers and the existing numbers for these services will no longer be used, although the basic services will remain the same. Specifically, three new psychotherapy codes [More]

February 1st, 2013

MNS and MPA collaboration: a model for other organizations

By Phyllis Hanlon

The October 2012 issue of New England Psychologist reported on the passage of “An Act Improving the Quality of Health Care and Reducing Costs Through Increased Transparency, Efficiency and Innovation,” legislation largely due to the joint advocacy of the Massachusetts Neuropsychological Society (MNS) and the Massachusetts Psychological Association (MPA). The groups’ unified front not only served as a driving force in passing this bill, but has also become a prime example of professional cooperation. According to Michelle L. Imber, Ph.D., ABPP, a private practitioner in Boston and consultant for disability determination services, MNS and MPA have cooperated on issues for [More]

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