Columnists, Articles

September 10th, 2020

A good day out

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

One of our favorite ways to relieve the boredom of pandemic isolation is to take a drive. Most days, almost anywhere will do. A trip to the grocery store or a run to the town dump with our trash, recyclables, and yard waste neatly sorted makes for a satisfying change of scenery, but for a real break, we take to the open road. The Sunday paper gave us a plan for what looked like a fun day trip to Newport, and we earmarked Thursday for our adventure. The week passed in its usual round of daily chores and relaxing diversions [More]

September 9th, 2020

Uncertainty of pandemic leads to further mental health problems

By Eileen Weber

It should be no surprise that after months of shelter-in-place mandates, wearing masks in public, maintaining a six-foot distance from others, and a resurgence in COVID outbreaks in some states, our collective psyche is at the breaking point. Depression, anxiety, and substance abuse have been on the rise in this country, but those issues have become even more apparent during this pandemic. For many people, it has been a mental and emotional roller coaster. Steven Marans, MSW, Ph.D, a professor of psychiatry and director of the Childhood Violent Trauma Center at Yale’s Child Study Center, says the loss of normal [More]

September 9th, 2020

Confiding in others identified as the strongest protection against depression

By New England Psychologist Staff

A new study has found that strong social connections are the strongest protective factor for depression. “Depression is the leading cause of disability world-wide,” said Karmel Choi, Ph.D, an investigator in the department of psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and lead author of the paper. “About one in five people will experience an episode of major depression in their lifetime. If we could prevent depression, we could not only reduce years of suffering, but also improve health and life outcomes.” That led researchers to ask the question: Which modifiable factors in [More]

August 19th, 2020

How can therapists become more culturally competent?

By Catherine Robertson Souter

As our nation struggles toward building a better society for all races, therapists may find themselves doing some self-reflection on how they handle diversity in their own practices. Cultural competence has become a key phrase within the field. But how does one become culturally “competent?” In its “Guidelines for Providers of Psychological Services to Ethnic, Linguistic, and Culturally Diverse Populations,” the American Psychological Association explains that providers should have a “sociocultural framework” that will help them use a systematic approach to working with a “diversity of values, interactional styles, and cultural expectations.” The organization recommends that psychologists become knowledgeable and [More]

August 19th, 2020

Rhode Island behavioral health centers receive $8 million grant

By Eileen Weber

Funds help create community connections, add services Newport Mental Health and Thrive Behavioral Health, Inc. in Warwick were awarded an $8 million federal grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Center for Mental Health Services this past spring. The two organizations will receive $4 million each to enhance programs over the course of two years. The grant is meant to introduce both new services and bolster existing services, much of which involves enhancing the staff. At 24 percent, Rhode Island has one of the highest levels of adult mental illness in the country. In addition, 34 percent [More]

August 18th, 2020

Running on comet time

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

There’s nothing like the appearance of a bright comet to remind us that beautiful surprises are always possible no matter what else is happening in the world. I had seen four of these celestial visitors over the years, Comets West, Halley, Hyakutake, and Hale-Bopp, and this summer of the corona virus brought the fifth, Comet NEOWISE. In the past four months, NEOWISE increased in brightness as it made its closest approach to the sun and then began to dim as it swung around to the other side and started its return journey to the outer edge of the solar system. [More]

August 18th, 2020

National survey measures pandemic’s emotional impact

By Phyllis Hanlon

After several months of quarantine, psychologists are eager to assess the emotional repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic. Three psychologists teamed up to create a scale that evaluated mental health during this crisis and found both expected and some surprising results. Sarah Gray, Psy.D, director of outpatient rehabilitation psychology at Spaulding Rehabilitation in Boston, said, “As a health psychologist, the psychological effects of the pandemic in society and how that affects our patients is of particular interest to me.” Gray is also the founder/director, Integrative Psychology, PC in Arlington, Massachusetts. Gray explained that this national survey was developed “completely in reaction [More]

July 17th, 2020

A world turned upside down is also a time for new opportunities

By John Grohol, Psy.D.

Online counseling services have gotten a big boost in the past few months, as the coronavirus pandemic closed down much of the face-to-face world. In fact, the only way for most to do psychotherapy during this time was either via some sort of teleconferencing or online therapy service, or going old-school and using just the phone. (You shouldn’t be using email to do therapy, because it is insecure). Unbeknownst to many, online counseling is now in its third decade. It got its start in the mid-1990s as a way of offering therapy services to people who would otherwise not get [More]

July 16th, 2020

Bookmarking a life

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

When I was a young psychologist just starting my second job, someone gave me an office and a title that were bigger than I needed, and like hand-me-down clothes, both gave me room to grow. They called me the chief psychologist and director of training, but I was just a kid. In equal parts scared and honored, I was called out of a closing state hospital on the margins of the city and into a new mental health center at its very heart. One day, I was looking out the window of my cramped office at the pheasants that made [More]

July 16th, 2020

Psychologists study what inspires protestors

By Eileen Weber

The most recent Black deaths at the hands of police have fueled protests across the country. But for some psychologists, their interests lie not in what they are protesting, but why they protest in the first place. And when they protest, why does it sometimes turn violent? As we have seen from a few of the recent George Floyd protests, there has been some rioting and looting. A 2018 collaborative study between the University of South Carolina, Stanford University, and the University of Toronto, posed that question: does violent protest backfire? In it, the researchers theorized that when things become [More]