Articles, Leading Stories

May 1st, 2017

State auditor’s office cites issues with MassHealth payments

By Phyllis Hanlon

In April, the Office of the State Auditor (OSA) released a report that evaluated payments MassHealth made for mental health services rendered between July 1, 2010 and June 30, 2015. The report cited improper or questionable payments in the amount of $193 million. Mike Wessler, director of communications, Office of Auditor Suzanne Bump, provided a statement, noting, “MassHealth paid doctors directly for providing mental health services that should have been paid for by the Massachusetts Behavior Health Partnership (MBHP),” which is the managed care organization that coordinates mental health care for MassHealth members. The report cited 282,327 claims that were [More]

May 1st, 2017

App designed to predict aggressive behavior

By Catherine Robertson Souter

In 2014, a group of parents in California sued a neighbor over the problem behaviors of their autistic child. According to one report, the plaintiffs claimed that they were “not upset about him being autistic” but about his violence towards other children, claiming it made the neighborhood unsafe and even affected home sales. A lawsuit may not be a common reaction to autism, but any parent with a child who exhibits violent or aggressive behaviors can understand what the parents of the autistic boy must have felt. While experts say that aggressive behaviors are not a part of autism, but [More]

May 1st, 2017

Bill would allow supervision-free practice under Medicare

By Rivkela Brodsky

Federal legislation introduced in the House and Senate in February would allow psychologists to practice independent of physician supervision under Medicare. The bipartisan legislation (S.2597 or H.R. 4277) would amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act, treating psychologists as physicians providing clinical psychology services under the Medicare program, the Medicare Mental Health Access Act reads. This year is the third in a row this legislation has been introduced, said Doug Walter, JD, associate executive director for government relations for the APA Practice Organization, a legally separate advocacy arm of the American Psychological Association, which also supports this legislation. The [More]

May 1st, 2017

Study: patients prefer psychotherapy over drugs

By Catherine Robertson Souter

Add one more piece of data to the on-going debate about the efficacy of pharmaceutical medication versus therapy to treat mental illness. In a decision about the best form of treatment, patient compliance should play a role, according to Roger Greenberg, Ph.D, distinguished professor and head of the psychology division at SUNY Upstate Medical University. A major roadblock to the effectiveness of any treatment is the participant’s willingness to engage in and to comply with the full course of treatment. And, according to a review of research done by Greenberg and published by the American Psychological Association’s journal Psychotherapy in [More]

May 1st, 2017

Study: Tablet use reduces agitation in dementia patients

By Susan Gonsalves

The idea of using tablet devices as an intervention for older adults, including those with severe dementia, was partially born at a restaurant dinner table, according to Ipsit Vahia, M.D.. He observed that his friends’ boisterous four-year-old, when handed an iPhone, was able to calm down enough so that everyone could enjoy their meals. Vahia, the medical director of Geriatric Psychiatry Outpatient Services at McLean Hospital, led a pilot study that built upon previous research showing how art, music and other therapies are viable non-pharmaceutical options for reducing dementia symptoms. The study involved using a wide range of free apps [More]

May 1st, 2017

UVM study links childhood emotional abuse to adult opioid use

By Phyllis Hanlon

Researchers at the University of Vermont (UVM) have found a correlation between emotional abuse endured during childhood with future opioid use as an adult. Matthew Price, Ph.D., professor in the department of psychological science at UVM and lead author, explained that the study involved 84 Vermont adults who presented with substance use problems. The researchers used the PTSD Checklist (PCL5) as an assessment tool and the UPPS Impulsive Behavior Scale to measure impulsivity. They also administered the Child Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ), which evaluates different types of maltreatment, including emotional, physical and sexual abuse and emotional neglect. The goal was to [More]

May 1st, 2017

Austen Riggs CEO talks about future of hospital, health care

By Catherine Robertson Souter

When he came on board at the Austen Riggs Center, a psychiatric hospital and residential treatment program in Stockbridge, Mass., as medical director and CEO two years ago, Andrew J. Gerber, M.D., Ph.D., had big plans for the nearly 100-year-old facility. Coming from a post at Columbia University Medical Center’s Department of Psychiatry where he was the director of the MRI Research Program, Gerber was ready to move from a research setting to one where he had greater opportunity to put some of his work into practice both within the hospital and beyond its grounds. Gerber has begun to steer [More]

May 1st, 2017

“Practical Psychology in Medical Rehabilitation”

By James K Luiselli EdD ABPP BCBA-D

“Practical Psychology in Medical Rehabilitation” Edited by Maggi A. Budd, Sigmund Hough, Stephen T. Wegener, and William Stiers Springer International Publishing Switzerland, 2017   Breadth of topics makes compilation impressive By James K. Luiselli, Ed.D., ABPP, BCBA-D Rehabilitation psychology has a long tradition in medical settings serving people with complex physical and cognitive impairments. This edited book was conceived as a “go to” information source for rehabilitation professionals representing behavioral medicine, health psychology and related disciplines. The book is a robust compilation of 60 chapters distributed among six organizing sections: (1) basics and social practicalities, (2) populations, problems and procedures, [More]

May 1st, 2017

“Trauma, Meaning and Spirituality: Translating Research into Clinical Practice”

By Kerry Morrison, Psy.D

“Trauma, Meaning and Spirituality: Translating Research into Clinical Practice.” By Crystal L. Park, Joseph M. Currier, J. Irene Harris and Jeanne M. Slattery American Psychological Association Washington, D.C., 2017    Book looks at incorporating spirituality into trauma treatment Reviewed by Kerry Morrison, Psy.D. Trauma itself can be experienced as an assault on one’s spirituality or a religious violation for many victims. Many trauma survivors are often “angry at God.” Yet the pervasive roles that spirituality and religion can play in individual’s response to traumatic events and their attempts to cope with them is often overlooked in mainstream trauma treatment. How [More]

May 1st, 2017

Working from home

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

Since I retired nearly two years ago, I have been finding more opportunities to work from home and not just in the way the term is usually meant. Unless you see patients in your home office, working from home is not the way clinical psychologists typically do business. Professionals in other fields can always work from home during snowstorms, transit strikes or even during the odd hours left over after a long business trip. For me, this was never an option, at least not until I retired. So now here I am at my desk, reflecting on what has been [More]

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