Leading Stories, Articles

May 12th, 2019

Telepsychology: Is it the future of treatment?

By Catherine Robertson Souter

Technology has become an integral part of our daily world. We ask Alexa about the weather, tell Siri to place a phone call and use voice recognition software to write emails. How far a step is it, then, to reach out to a therapist via technology? Telepsychology, or telehealth, the practice of providing psychological services over telecommunication equipment, is not exactly a new facet of the profession. Since video conferencing equipment was first developed in the 1990s, there has been a slow, but steady, expansion of therapists who offer the option. Insurance coverage has been a bit slow to follow, [More]

May 12th, 2019

Study finds lack of data a barrier to systems-level research on patient safety

By Janine Weisman

Morgan Shields admits she was naive in the summer of 2017 when she first submitted an online public records request for all substantiated complaints against inpatient psychiatric facilities in Massachusetts. The paralegal from the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health (DMH) who called her told her it would cost more than $100,000 to provide the records. “I thought what he was saying was it would cost the state that much money to redact all of the information, just go through all the files,” recalled Shields, a Ph.D. candidate and National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism fellow at the Institute for [More]

May 11th, 2019

United Behavioral Health case shines light on parity violations

By Catherine Robertson Souter

While an attempt by the Senate Finance Committee to unmask secretive drug industry pricing has been in the news lately, another case that could have far-reaching results for insurance company procedure was recently decided in a federal court in California. In March, a federal judge issued a ruling in a class-action case brought by several patients against United Behavioral Health (UBH), a subsidiary of UnitedHealth Group. Judge Spero of the U.S. District Court of Northern California sided with the plaintiffs in their allegations that they were denied mental health care benefits improperly. The plaintiffs said that the insurance company did [More]

May 11th, 2019

Why we walk

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

When he was finally given permission to walk outside of the locked areas of the hospital with staff supervision, the man wasted no time in arranging opportunities to walk with his psychiatrist, to work in the hospital greenhouse, and to spend some of his weekly therapy hour with me in the open air. There is nothing new about walking during psychotherapy sessions. It was a common practice for Sigmund Freud to walk with his patients around the University in Vienna. The walks helped his patients clear their minds and speak more freely than they could have done in the office. [More]

May 11th, 2019

Study attempts to identify at-risk babies for autism treatment

By Susan Gonsalves

Babies who are at risk of developing autism have better outcomes if they are identified early and given intensive treatment. That’s the premise of the Infant Sibling Project, spearheaded by Rebecca MacDonald, Ph.D., BCBA-D, director of that initiative at The New England Center for Children in Southborough, Mass. MacDonald explained that her work attempts to replicate and expand research by Graupner and Sallows of the Wisconsin Early Autism Project in 2017. That project identified 60 siblings of children who already had an autism diagnosis. Researchers studied the babies, who were up to six months old, and conducted bi-weekly developmental screenings, [More]

May 11th, 2019

Baystate Health, US HealthVest to build hospital

By Phyllis Hanlon

In February, Baystate Health, a not-for-profit integrated healthcare system that serves more than 800,000 people across western Massachusetts, announced plans to construct and operate a new behavioral health hospital in this region of the Commonwealth. The project is a joint venture between Baystate Health and US HealthVest, a nationally known for-profit behavioral health care company that partners with existing health systems to improve access and expand inpatient psychiatric care and substance abuse services to underserved populations. Shelly Hazlett, manager of public affairs for Baystate Health, provided a press release that offered details on the project. According to the release, the [More]

March 25th, 2019

Gen Z’s worries highlighted in annual stress survey

By Susan Gonsalves

Generation Z, individuals ages 15 to 21, feel stressed out about ripped-from-the- headlines topics like school and mass shootings, sexual assault, and immigration according to the annual Stress in America™ survey by the American Psychological Association. The Harris Poll was conducted last summer online among 3,458 adults and 300 15 to 17-year-olds in all 50 states. Although 75 percent of Gen Z members found mass shootings `significantly’ stressful and 72 percent felt that way about school shootings, those kids of voting age were least likely to vote at 54 percent. The overall average had seven in 10 adults expecting to [More]

March 25th, 2019

Setting boundaries: an essential practice for psychologists

By Catherine Robertson Souter

We live in a time where boundaries, between people, between cultures, between sexes, are crashing down all around us. Boundaries are the walls that keep us from fulfilling our destiny or getting close to another human or limit freedom of speech and exchange of ideas and information. In the world of therapy, however, setting boundaries plays a different role. From protecting clients from being preyed upon to protecting the therapist from allegations of misconduct, strong boundaries can be crucial both ethically and legally. While it may be obvious that setting boundaries with and for patients benefits both client and therapist, [More]

March 25th, 2019

Draft of 10-year mental health plan release

By Catherine Robertson Souter

New Hampshire may soon see a major overhaul geared toward bringing the state’s mental health care system back to its former glory. For a system that has gone from being second in the country in 1990 as rated by the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI), to earning a D in a revised rating system in 2006, the announcement of a 10-year mental health plan was received with bated breath by stakeholders across the state. With input from residents, professionals, and focus groups, workgroups, and public sessions, the draft plan introduced in November begins by outlining the challenges faced [More]

March 25th, 2019

Playing the waiting game

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

In the depths of winter and longing for spring, I am finding reminders everywhere of how much our lives are consumed by waiting. In the hospital, patients wait to be examined, to be found competent to stand trial, not criminally responsible for the actions that led to their confinement, for the voices to stop, to be allowed to go home. Mothers wait for their babies to be born and people everywhere wait for the results of lab tests, CT scans, and biopsies that will unlock the mysteries of health and illness and give them a glimpse of the future. Every [More]