Articles, Leading Stories

October 1st, 2014

Law requires Medicaid coverage of autism services

By Rivkela Brodsky

A new law in Massachusetts will expand assistance and services for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders when it goes into effect in November. Signed by Gov. Deval Patrick on Aug. 5, House Bill 4047 requires Medicaid coverage of evidence-based services for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders; allows individuals on the spectrum with a higher IQ to qualify for disability services; creates a teacher endorsement in Autism Spectrum Disorders; creates a savings and expense account so that families can save money for the future of a child on the spectrum; and makes a Massachusetts commission on autism permanent, among other items. [More]

October 1st, 2014

Heywood Healthcare to purchase property for mental health services

By Phyllis Hanlon

As early as the end of the year, Heywood Healthcare, an independent system that operates the non-profit, 134-bed acute-care Heywood Hospital in Gardner and Athol Hospital, a 25-bed, non-profit critical access facility, could close a deal to purchase a 20-acre property in Petersham. According to Win Brown, president and CEO of Heywood Healthcare, his system is seeking to improve access to mental health and substance abuse services in North Central Massachusetts. “There is a lack of inpatient, residential and outpatient services as well as rehabilitation for addiction,” he says. “Our board of trustees created a strategic plan that focused on [More]

October 1st, 2014

‘Quack’ psychology practices come under fire

By Phyllis Hanlon

In October 2012, a team of researchers from Simmons College, the University of Scranton and DePaul University conducted a Delphi poll, i.e., a structured, two-round systematic forecasting method, to identify “pseudoscientific, unvalidated, potentially harmful or ‘quack’ psychotherapies” used in the treatment of children and adolescents. This past April, the authors published their findings. Lead researcher Gerald P. Koocher, Ph.D., dean, College of Science and Health at DePaul University in Chicago, previously professor of psychology, health sciences dean and associate provost at Simmons College in Boston, together with Simmons’ graduate students Madeline R. McMann and Annika O. Stout, polled 139 doctoral-level [More]

October 1st, 2014

Study: xenon gas could reduce or omit painful memories

By Rivkela Brodsky

There may be a new treatment for those dealing with posttraumatic stress disorder, according to a study by researchers at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass. The study, published Aug. 27 in PLOS ONE, suggests that xenon gas – used as an anesthetic and for diagnostic imaging – could reduce or erase the memories of traumatic events. Researchers studied the use of xenon gas in rats who had been conditioned to fear certain environmental stimuli by foot shocks. “We were able to block this learning and memory phenomenon called reconsolidation,” says Edward G. Meloni, Ph.D., assistant psychologist at McLean Hospital and [More]

October 1st, 2014

Legalization of marijuana could harm young users

By Pamela Berard

Psychologists discussed the possible public health implications of marijuana legalization – including the negative effects on the brains of teenagers and young adults who engage in frequent marijuana use – during a symposium at the American Psychological Association’s 122nd Annual Convention. Krista Lisdahl, Ph.D, director of the brain imaging and neuropsychology lab at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, says that regular cannabis use – considered once-a-week – is not safe and may result in addiction and neurocognitive damage, especially in youth. Lisdahl says marijuana use is increasing among young people, and that brain imaging studies of regular marijuana users have shown significant [More]

October 1st, 2014

Psychologist studies how culture affects visual pathways

By Catherine Robertson Souter

The scientific research that makes a big splash on the front page of local media or gets top billing in a scientific journal tends to be information that has a direct application in the real world. How exercise helps children with ADHD or research on how to attain happiness are samples of topics that will draw attention on the newsstand or get page clicks up. But what these outlets don’t usually show are the many years of research that led to those “groundbreaking” studies. For some researchers, those who do not expect their work ever to make the front pages, [More]

October 1st, 2014

“The Opposite of Worry: The Playful Parenting Approach to Childhood Anxieties and Fears”

By James K Luiselli EdD ABPP BCBA-D

“The Opposite of Worry: The Playful Parenting Approach to Childhood Anxieties and Fears” By Lawrence J. Cohen Random House Publishing Group New York, N.Y. 2013   Book helpful for parents of anxious children   Reviewed by James K. Luiselli, Ed.D., ABPP, BCBA-D Many children experience chronic anxiety, persistent worry and specific fears. Indeed, childhood anxiety is one of the most common clinical problems seen by mental health professionals. Unless properly treated, anxiety disorders can create serious psychosocial challenges among children and youth at school, within the family and later adulthood. This book, by psychologist Lawrence J. Cohen, was written for [More]

October 1st, 2014

“Fast Minds: How to Thrive if You Have ADHD (or Think You Might)”

By Paul Efthim PhD

“Fast Minds: How to Thrive if You Have ADHD (or Think You Might)” By Craig Surman and Tim Bilkey with Karen Weintraub Berkley Publishing Group New York, N.Y., 2013 Guidebook draws on latest clinical research   Reviewed by Paul Efthim, Ph.D. It’s an exercise in optimism (if not hubris) to write a self-help book on adult ADHD. For one thing, the market is flooded with titles already. For another, the target audience struggles staying on-task long enough to glance at the user’s manual for the new flat-panel TV, never mind slogging through a 300-page book. But for readers who are [More]

October 1st, 2014

Parade of stars

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

The arrival of our new psychology interns at the hospital in September is surely as much a sign of fall as the first hints of color in the New England foliage. Their appearance is the culmination of a year-long process of updating our program brochures and online descriptions, reading scores of applications, interviewing our top candidates and biting our nails through the mutual selection process that somehow delivers these fledging psychologists to our doorstep. The suddenness of their appearance suggests there is magic at work but the work is really done by our directors of training, psychologists from our hospital [More]

August 22nd, 2014

Predictive neglect: programs may modify outcomes

By Phyllis Hanlon

In spite of awareness and education campaigns, mental illness still carries a stigma that can affect individuals in the community, workplace and home. For families, a mental health diagnosis can have devastating consequences when it leads to termination of parental rights under the “predictive neglect” doctrine. A legal term, predictive neglect refers to the removal of a child from the home when there is reasonable certainty the child is in danger, says Barbara Claire, agency legal director for Connecticut’s Department of Children and Families (DCF). “But this is more about abuse. For instance, if three kids previously had been abused, [More]

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