Columnists, Articles

July 1st, 2014

The retirement readiness test

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

The question I hear more and more often these days concerns when I’m planning to retire. Never mind that I’m the one doing most of the asking, but I hear it from friends and colleagues as well. It’s a stage of life thing, something my fellow baby boomers and I toss around in meandering conversations about life, work and our hopes and plans for our so-called golden years. My first response to this question was a glib, “When I meet my first happy retired person or after I’ve paid all my big bills, whichever comes first.” It didn’t take much [More]

June 1st, 2014

How to build a model ship

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

Since the first Egyptian was entombed with a miniature boat to meet his travel needs in the afterlife, people of all cultures have been building model ships. Sailors whiled away the time at sea carving replicas of their vessels and often left these models in churches throughout Europe in thanksgiving for their safe return. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, naval architects in England built exquisitely detailed ship models to submit to the Admiralty Board for approval. Admiralty models remain the finest examples of the model shipwright’s craft and the standard to which serious builders aspire. Needing neither a boat [More]

May 1st, 2014

Becoming a group

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

When it comes to psychotherapy, the coin of the realm in our hospital is group treatment. If there’s a human malady or body of knowledge associated in any way with mental illness, we have a group where it can be discussed, taught, explored, contemplated in respectful silence or ignored. In bigger groups all of these things can happen at the same time. Someone opens the discussion about how to handle the stigma of mental illness and a few people share their personal experiences and ideas on the topic. Others sit quietly, some following the speakers with their eyes, a few [More]

April 1st, 2014

The Psy who came in from the cold

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

It’s cold – deep, penetrating, bone-chilling, soul-killing cold. That sentence may be a peculiar thing to read when this issue hits the streets on the first of April but now, as I write at the beginning of March, it’s cold. It has been one of the coldest winters in history with snow as far south as Georgia and the entire eastern part of the country swallowed up in one polar vortex after another. Last year, no one even knew what a polar vortex was and now it’s just another phrase to describe the weather, taking its place alongside familiar Bermuda [More]

March 1st, 2014

Counting what we do and doing what counts

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

These days, we count everything in the hospital. On Tuesdays, an email comes to remind me to submit my weekly encounter form by 10 o’clock the next morning. That’s where we count how many patients we’ve seen and how many minutes we spent seeing them. Risk assessments ask us how many times a patient has been arrested, charged with violent crimes, convicted, hospitalized, restrained and secluded. We need to know how many times they’ve run away from home, tortured animals, set fires, skipped school, bullied classmates, sassed teachers, got suspended, expelled or expunged from the rolls of the good and [More]

March 1st, 2014

Telepsychology guidelines worth examination

By Edward Stern J.D.

The American Psychological Association has begun planning for the future. In July of 2013, the APA approved Guidelines for the Practice of Telepsychology. Rather than repeat the text and history for these guidelines here, those interested may proceed to the Web site The site reports that the Telepsychology Task Force that put together the guidelines were focused on two issues: the psychologist’s own knowledge of and competence in the provision of telepsychology; and the need to ensure that the client/patient has a full understanding of the potential increased risks to loss of security and confidentiality when using technologies. In [More]

February 1st, 2014

Recovery thoughts for the day

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

There are new faces everywhere in the hospital and I am not just talking about new patients or staff. Just the other day, I ran into Jimmy Carter in the chapel and a colleague swears she caught a glimpse of Audrey Hepburn in the beauty salon. Larry Bird and Michael Jordan were into a fierce one on one match up in the gym while coach John Wooden smiled serenely from the sidelines. These are just a few of the celebrities who have been spending time with us over the past several months as part of a new recovery initiative spearheaded [More]

January 1st, 2014

At the turning of the year

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

A gentle rain is falling outside the upstairs window as I write these words at the turning of another year. The holiday season is upon us with Thanksgiving, Hanukah, Christmas and New Year’s Day stacked up on the runway poised to take off, one after another, until the tarmac stands empty except perhaps for the snow. The season prompts gratitude and hope, gratitude for the many good things that have happened to us over the past year, hope that we will find the good we seek in whatever the new year brings. It is easy to overlook our everyday blessings [More]

December 1st, 2013

It’s all happening at the dump

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

It’s not every day I get a chance to attend a world premiere, so when my neighbor Joe sent me the invitation, I promptly accepted. Never mind that it wasn’t exactly Hollywood. A student documentary about our town’s recycling center, affectionately known as “the dump,” complete with pre-screening hors d’oeuvres in the company of friends and neighbors was reason enough to break out the black tie and tails or a least put a fresh shine on my old wing-tips. Of course, since the subject matter was the dump, none of that is necessary. I went on a lark and returned [More]

November 1st, 2013

It’s a big world after all

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

If dreams, as Freud famously wrote, are the royal road to the unconscious, then perception must surely be at least a serviceable two-lane highway to our understanding of reality. After cataract surgery gave one of my eyes a very different focal point than the other, I find myself in a strange no-man’s land where I can literally choose between two views of reality. The world I see through my left, now less nearsighted eye, is noticeably bigger than the smaller world to which I have become accustomed and which I still see through my extremely nearsighted right eye. The effect [More]