Columnists, Articles

January 4th, 2019

Home for the holidays

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

In exile, the heart longs for home. You can hear the longing in the voice of the man from the other side of the world, who has been stuck in the hospital for a decade through a combination of mental illness and legal problems. He recalls his childhood in a rural village and the spring where he filled a wooden bucket every day with fresh water for his family. That was long ago, and the world has changed. The spring is still there, and it still draws people from throughout the region, but that is about the only thing that [More]

January 4th, 2019

Debate over effectiveness of skin shocks continues

By Janine Weisman

When the Food and Drug Administration will finally issue its final ban on electrical stimulation devices for treating self-injurious and aggressive behaviors is anyone’s guess. But there is no doubt about how firmly a Massachusetts school embraces using a device to deliver either 15.25 or 44 millilamps of electric current to the arms or legs of individuals with intellectual disability and autism, many of whom also have psychiatric disorders. Skin shocks — not to be confused with the voluntary depression treatment known as electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) — are designed to make a patient stop an undesirable behavior by causing them [More]

January 3rd, 2019

Connecticut ranks high on study of psychopathy by location

By Susan Gonsalves

Washington D.C. has the highest number of psychopaths, according to a nation-wide study. But Connecticut ranked second overall and first per capita. The research, conducted by Ryan Murphy, Ph.D., research assistant professor at Southern Methodist University, also showed the states with the most psychopaths were clustered in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. Murphy said that he expanded on research that argued in favor of mapping psychopathy to the Big Five personality traits (extraversion, neuroticism, agreeableness, conscientiousness and openness to experience). His study “Psychopathy by U.S. State” used a sample of 1.6 million people across the country and calculated how frequently [More]

January 3rd, 2019

Networking still relies on personal interaction

By Catherine Robertson Souter

Networking once meant going golfing with the sales team or chatting with local bank executives at a Chamber of Commerce event. But how has it changed in the technological age? In many ways, it hasn’t. While there are countless options for on-line networking through apps like “Linked-In,” a good old-fashioned handshake and shared lunch should never be overlooked. “I think maybe early career psychologists and graduate students especially are missing out on going to conferences and networking events in person,” said Jacquelyn M. Reinert, Psy.D., LMHC, member-at-large for the New Hampshire Psychological Association Board of Directors. “A lot of people [More]

January 2nd, 2019

Yale report shows corrections agencies are reducing use of solitary confinement

By Janine Weisman

The total number of people spending time alone in a U.S. prison or jail cell for an average of 22 hours or more per day for 15 continuous days is decreasing. So is the number of those with serious mental illness (SMI). That’s according to the most comprehensive study of national data on the number of prisoners in restrictive housing — or what is more commonly known as solitary confinement. “Reforming Restrictive Housing,” released in October from the Association of State Correctional Administrators (ASCA) and the Arthur Liman Center for Public Interest Law at Yale Law School, estimated that 61,000 [More]

November 10th, 2018

Another chance to get it right

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

As much as anything, fall offers us another chance to get it right and another chance to think about what that really means. In this time of endings and beginnings, we put the garden to bed for the winter, gather up and dispose of summer’s answer to springtime’s promise, and once again prepare the earth for a new carpet of green that we can only hope will cover the bare spots in the lawn. Done right, these chores should produce a tidy landscape where nature can work her magic over the long, cold New England winter just so the cycle [More]

November 10th, 2018

Maine to assess behavioral health services for children

By Catherine Robertson Souter

Looking to address issues of long wait times and limited access to mental health care, the state of Maine has initiated a system-wide assessment of its behavioral health services for children. With a series of surveys geared towards stakeholders including children and families, providers, law enforcement and corrections personnel, advocacy service providers, educators and behavioral health providers, the state hopes to gather a wide range of feedback about the system, its strengths and areas where corrections are needed. “The review will examine the service array, regulatory structure, and operational processes across Children’s Behavioral Health Services or CBHS,” said Emily Spencer, [More]

November 9th, 2018

Market conduct review leads to new fund to supplement behavioral health care system in RI

By Janine Weisman

Blue Cross Blue Shield Rhode Island stopped requiring prior approval for in-network mental health or substance use disorder services on Aug. 1, a move the state’s largest health insurer said was part of a larger focus on improving access to care. Out-of-network services will still be subject to what’s known as utilization review for behavioral health services. But left out of the BCBSRI news release when this policy change was initially announced last May was the fact that the discontinuation of the process known as utilization review came about during discussions with state regulators. That’s after examiners from the Rhode [More]

November 9th, 2018

UNICEF report: Peer-to-peer violence in schools is pervasive around the world

By Janine Weisman

School is a safe place — but only for half of the world’s students. A new UNICEF analysis finds that half of students aged 13 to 15 globally report experiencing peer-to-peer violence in and around school. That’s about 150 million teens, according to the report “An Everyday Lesson: #ENDviolence in Schools,” which outlines a variety of ways students face violence in and around the classroom. The report measures peer-to-peer violence as the number of children who report having been bullied in the previous month or having been involved in a physical fight. And, the report’s data shows the prevalence of [More]

November 9th, 2018

Public still confused about memories of sexual assault

By John Grohol, Psy.D.

If the U.S. Senate hearings of now-confirmed Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh taught us anything, it’s that the public has a very poor understanding of the science behind trauma and memory. Republican senators convinced themselves that the victim – Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault back in high school – must have mixed up Kavanaugh’s face with her actual attacker. Of course, psychologists know that such a belief flies in the face of all the science, research, and thousands of victims’ stories that have been documented over more than the past five decades. Sadly, psychologist and [More]