Articles, Leading Stories

July 1st, 2015

Remote therapy brings benefits, raises questions

By Phyllis Hanlon

In 2009 when Marty Fino, Ph.D., semi-retired from private practice in Rutland, Vt., telepsychology was a mere blip on practitioners’ radar screen. Although some clinicians had begun to email at that time, communicating electronically with clients had not become as prevalent as it has in recent years. The Veterans Healthcare Administration (VHA) has been a forerunner in telehealth practices since the mid-1990s and covers more than 44 clinical specialties, including TeleMental Health. According to VHA, in fiscal year 2013, more than 278,000 encounters took place to more than 91,000 veterans via telehealth. The scope of these services focused on posttraumatic [More]

July 1st, 2015

EHRs on horizon in the Bay State

By Janine Weisman

Seventy-nine percent of Massachusetts physicians engaged in patient care demonstrated proficiency in the use of electronic health records (EHR) by the Jan. 1, 2015, deadline required by a state law to maintain their license to practice medicine, according to the Massachusetts Medical Society’s Media Relations Manager Richard P. Gulla. That means they achieved “meaningful use” certification for meeting objectives to receive financial incentives from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to defray the costs of setting up health information technology systems. Eligible providers are entitled to a maximum of $44,000 under Medicare and $63,750 under Medicaid. The last payment [More]

July 1st, 2015

ICD-10 takes effect Oct. 1

By Catherine Robertson Souter

After several delays, the United States is ready to catch up with the rest of the world. On October 1, the country is set to begin using the World Health Organization’s updated diagnostic codes. And, by most accounts, psychologists seem ready for the change. The ICD-10, which was originally released in 1994, was adopted by nearly all industrialized countries quickly with the U.S. being the only major holdout because of issues with our more complex system. According to the CDC Web site, “ICD-10 will affect diagnosis and inpatient procedure coding for everyone covered by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability [More]

July 1st, 2015

Bill would set rates for independent evaluations

By Rivkela Brodsky

Currently, children who need testing to determine special education services are left with only one option in Massachusetts – to follow the results and suggestions of evaluations performed by the school district. That works fine if parents and the student agree with the district’s results. But, under state law, parents have the right to get an independent evaluation and have the costs of those tests and services covered by the district. “If the family doesn’t agree with that evaluation, they have the right under the law for this independent evaluation, except that the law is meaningless because the amount of [More]

July 1st, 2015

Joan Mikula named DMH commissioner in Massachusetts

By Pamela Berard

Joan Mikula was named Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health (DMH), after serving as interim commissioner since March. Mikula has served the department for 30 years, most recently as Deputy Commissioner for Child and Adolescent Services. One of Mikula’s first-year priorities will be behavioral health integration, working with primary care practitioners to develop tools they can use to identify behavioral health issues and refer patients to appropriate resources. DMH’s role as the State Mental Health Authority provides expertise and direction for behavioral health integration and mental health parity. “The majority of the people who have mental health distress [More]

July 1st, 2015

Walden clinic relocates

By Howard Newman

Seven years ago, Walden Behavioral Care LLC opened its first satellite facility in Northampton, Mass.. Walden Behavioral Care provides inpatient, residential, partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient treatment for eating disorders. Now there are five satellite facilities, two more planned openings this year and a move by the Northampton clinic to nearby Amherst. The relocation to 100 University Drive., Amherst, provides convenience, better parking, 70 percent more space and a warmer, friendlier atmosphere. This new clinic opened for business in mid-May, has nine staff and is currently serving around 20 clients. “We had really outgrown our previous space,” said Program Director [More]

July 1st, 2015

The Jenner effect

By Janine Weisman

Psychologists reflect on celebrity’s transition Editor’s note: Because two interviews took place before the debut of Caitlyn Jenner regarding ABC’s 20/20 interview, the male pronoun was used in this article. Diane Sawyer asked Bruce Jenner during the two-hour “ABC 20/20” interview that aired April 24 if the “media circus” surrounding her subject was harming the dignity of the hard fought gains of transgender people. “I am not a spokesman for the community,” replied the 65-year-old celebrity who is now the most widely recognized transgender person on the planet. “20/20: Bruce Jenner – The Interview” drew more than 17 million viewers [More]

July 1st, 2015

New Dartmouth facility nears completion

By Pamela Berard

A 120-bed inpatient behavioral health hospital being built in Dartmouth, Mass., is slated to be completed in August and the 77,000-square-foot facility will feature five units on a 23-plus acre campus. The construction of Southcoast Behavioral Health is expected to be completed Aug. 1, after which the hospital will have a “soft” opening, serving a limited number of patients as it goes through the licensing and accreditation process, said William A. Parsons Jr., CEO of the new facility. The project is a partnership between Southcoast Health, a local non-profit healthcare provider and Acadia Healthcare, a national provider of psychiatric and [More]

July 1st, 2015

Psychologist helps schools navigate gender and sexuality diversity

By Catherine Robertson Souter

Children learn a lot in school. Reading, writing, math…and how to fit into a social pecking order that may or may not value their individuality. When gender stereotypes and sexual identity come into play, which is in every classroom, every day, says psychologist and educational consultant Jennifer Bryan, Ph.D., children learn lessons about themselves, their peers and the adults around them that may not be the lessons we would like them to learn. As the founder and principal of Team Finch Consultants in Northampton, Mass., Bryan (along with several experts she brings in) works with schools throughout the U.S. on [More]

June 1st, 2015

Is aviation mental health flying under the radar?

By Phyllis Hanlon

When American Airlines hired pilot Steve Churchill in 1985, the company gave him a self-questionnaire intended to screen out individuals with serious psychological problems. Delta required its pilots to speak with a psychologist as part of the hiring process. Such measures provide minimal information regarding mental health, but some psychologists believe the industry could do more. Clinical psychologist and certified pilot and flight instructor Penny Levin, Ph.D., founder and owner of Aero-Psych in Lafayette Hill and Philadelphia, Penn., pointed out that pilots must manage a complex workload; maintain situational awareness; avoid fixation, complacency and fatigue; remain calm under stressful circumstances; [More]

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