Articles, Leading Stories

June 1st, 2010

Safety standards passed in school use of restraints, seclusion

By Pamela Berard

The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation aimed at preventing and reducing the use of physical restraint and seclusion techniques in schools. “The Keeping All Students Safe Act” was passed in March, outlining federal minimum safety standards in schools, similar to protections currently in place for hospitals and other community-based facilities. Sen. Chris Dodd, (D-Conn.) introduced the Senate version, “Preventing Harmful Restraint and Seclusion in Schools Act,” in December and hopes to move this legislation by the end of this Congressional session, whether as a stand-alone bill or part of a larger piece of legislation. Dodd wrote and helped pass [More]

June 1st, 2010

Rhode Island program helps siblings of special needs kids

By Jennifer E Chase

At the beginning of her career, Debra Lobato, Ph.D., was an intern in a program that provided in-home services for very young children diagnosed with special needs. While Lobato consulted the parents of children newly diagnosed with illnesses that were already wreaking havoc on the family, the same thing happened, a lot: “I’d have the other little kids jumping all over me.” The “other little kids” were the siblings of the diagnosed child, but that wasn’t the scenario in every household. Other times she’d meet with the parents and diagnosed child privately, while the siblings peeked around corners to catch [More]

June 1st, 2010

Fourth recovery high school planned for Massachusetts

By Jennifer E Chase

Hearing the concerns of his community, Brockton, Mass. superintendent Matthew Malone, Ph.D., is supporting a regional initiative to bring a high school for students with addiction to his corner of the Bay State. Recovery high schools, sometimes called “sobriety high schools,” operate under the premise that students leaving a detox or similar program who return to the same environment from which they came have a harder time staying clean. But, surround them in a drug-free environment staffed by teachers and psychology professionals and you strengthen their chance for success. Three such programs are in Massachusetts – Northshore Recovery High School [More]

June 1st, 2010

Q&A: Self destructive behavior analyzed

By Catherine Robertson Souter

Scars, burn marks, and teens who wear long-sleeved shirts in 90 degree weather – what do they have in common? Hint, it’s a behavior that is reported by one support group to affect up to 20 percent of adolescents. The answer? Self injury. Self-injury, which often takes the form of cutting and primarily occurs in adolescents, is nothing new. In fact, according to Matthew Nock, Ph.D, self injury has been around for thousands of years but it has only recently been looked at closely by mental health researchers. A professor of psychology and director of the Laboratory for Clinical and [More]

May 1st, 2010

Sex addiction: bona fide condition or excuse for bad behavior?

By Ami Albernaz

It’s often helpful to have a celebrity spokesperson for a disorder: Doug Flutie for autism; Patty Duke for bipolar disorder. Yet when it comes to sex addiction, the star connection may hurt. Who wouldn’t be a sex addict, some may argue, given money, power and unlimited access to beautiful women? Some psychologists argue the condition is indeed real and that the recent spate of celebrity “sex addicts” are clouding what’s in fact a very painful reality for some. “You see these very rich, very handsome superstars and your perceptions of them are that they’re on top of the world,” says [More]

May 1st, 2010

The changing role of the hospital-based psychologist

By Phyllis Hanlon

While incidence of mental health-related hospitalizations hasn’t diminished, the model of inpatient care is shifting. Shrinking budgets, bed elimination and community-based care is creating a new treatment paradigm and changing the role of some psychologists who work in hospitals. In March, Eastern Maine Medical Center (EMMC) in Bangor laid off approximately 50 full and part-time staff because of financial issues and declining patient census. The cuts did not involve psychologists, according to Jill McDonald, B.S., MA, APR, EMMC’s vice president of communication and market development. “We do have a few psychologists on staff at EMMC in some outpatient capacity, but [More]

May 1st, 2010

Children’s groups part ways in philosophical rift

By Nan Shnitzler

The Harvard-affiliated Judge Baker Children’s Center and the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood have parted ways in a Rashomon-like saga that has left members of both organizations angry and hurt. Judge Baker says the aggressive tactics of CCFC are beyond its core mission and put its other programs at risk. CCFC thinks Judge Baker is reluctant to stand up to corporate interests that risk the health and well being of children. CCFC’s view According to Alvin Poussaint, M.D., head of Judge Baker’s Media Center, under which CCFC had operated since its inception 10 years ago, the trouble began in October [More]

May 1st, 2010

Program gives chance at healthy life

By Jennifer E Chase

Acadia Hospital in Maine is improving the odds for people who may develop psychosis through a program wholly dedicated to early detection. The Aware program’s mission is to research, educate and provide community outreach about the symptoms indicating that a person is at “ultra-high” risk, or prodrome, to develop a psychotic illness. Common diagnoses the program helps identify are schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and schizoaffective disorder. According to the program’s director and lead investigator Jessica Pollard, Ph.D., a specialized assessment called the Structured Interview for Prodromal Syndromes (SIPS) is used to detect the warning signs, which include deficits with executive function, [More]

May 1st, 2010

VSH denied recertification – again

By Phyllis Hanlon

Since 2003, Vermont State Hospital (VSH) has lost, regained and once again lost its certification. In March, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) denied VSH’s bid for recertification yet again because of patient care issues and safety concerns about the aging facility’s physical environment. State Rep. Anne Donahue (R-Washington-2) says, “First, an interesting aspect is that CMS has become more clear in the past year that they are not considering recertification; they are treating [the hospital] as though it is a new entity seeking certification. This is important because it creates a different standard than simply remedying the [More]

May 1st, 2010

New scale created to measure anxiety

By Elinor Nelson

There is no shortage of self-report questionnaires to measure anxiety, but Mark Zimmerman, M.D. and his colleagues at Rhode Island Hospital and Alpert Medical School of Brown University have developed a new one – the Clinically Useful Anxiety Outcome Scale (CUXOS). What distinguishes CUXOS, Zimmerman states, is its “goal to be user-friendly, reliable, and valid.” His study of CUXOS, which was published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, found it to take on average less than two minutes to fill out and just 15 seconds to score. The study also showed CUXOS to be reliable, valid and sensitive to change [More]

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