Leading Stories, Articles

January 12th, 2021

Spike in alcohol use is of concern

By Catherine Robertson Souter

As stay-at-home orders surged, restaurants and bars closed, and social events went virtual, Americans turned more and more to a trusty old friend, alcohol, to help ease the transition. Nightly Zoom cocktail parties became all the rage, with the apt title “Quarantini,” applied to just about anything one wants to drink during lockdown.

According to a Nielsen report, alcohol sales increased by 54 percent for the week ending March 21. Online sales of alcohol increased by 262 percent and world health leaders began to warn the public about the health risks of the increased alcohol use they were seeing.…

December 7th, 2020

Massachusetts clinic has virtual take on neuropsychology exams

By Eileen Weber

After several months of a pandemic, mask wearing, hand sanitizer, and maintaining a social distance is like second nature for most people. The need for those measures is not lost on Margaret Lanca, Ph.D, director of adult neuropsychology and psychological testing and training at Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA) outside Boston.

She developed a method of careful observation while keeping both patient and clinician safe.

With computers, monitors, and cameras, clinicians can guide patients through an evaluation from a separate room while maintaining a visual connection with that patient. As neuropsychology is typically a hands-on discipline, this (approach) was a way to keep therapy intact without endangering the health of the patient or the clinician.…

December 7th, 2020

Giving thanks for the joy of a perfect morning

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

Sometimes in the morning when I have the house to myself, I leave it behind and set out for a walk in the woods. It’s a short drive to a wide dusty space just off the road where a trail leads through the pines and curves around the lakeshore to a solitary picnic table.

In autumn, the fallen pine needles cushion your steps and muffle the sound of your passing. Here and there between the trees, a beached kayak awaits its owner, and, if you arrive early enough, you might get here before the anglers come for the perch and bass.…

December 7th, 2020

Psychologists offer advice to parents during this chaotic time

By Catherine Robertson Souter

To say this has been a trying year for humans is to put it mildly. Everything has been thrown up into the air. From fears of a loved one getting sick to the stress of financial or housing instabilities, to the overarching political and social turmoil, 2020 will go down as a year that showed us all what we are made of.

For parents, add keeping kids of all ages on task with school work, arguing with teens about what constitutes safe behavior, and becoming a de facto entertainment director for the cruise ships we call home, and it’s no wonder they come in to the therapist’s virtual office feeling overwhelmed and pandemic-fatigued.…

December 7th, 2020

NHPA adapts education programs with eye to licensing requirements

By Catherine Robertson Souter

When everything shut down in March, most of us were caught off guard, not sure how best to proceed and with far more questions than answers. For psychologists, a need to rapidly move to a fully remote version of what was once an in-person practice was a bit daunting. Add to that the many concerns about billing, support staff, handling finances, and the great unknown about the potential danger of the virus.

While there were many fast-acting licensing boards who made provisions for adjusting to the new normal, from a relaxation of inter-state practice rules to an allowance for alternative platforms for delivering therapy, licensing requirements took a little longer to catch up.…

December 7th, 2020

Survey: Highest stress levels found in Gen Z adults

By Phyllis Hanlon

The American Psychological Association (APA) issued the results of its first Stress in America Survey in 2008 as part of its Mind/Body Health Campaign. The results of that survey, which measure attitudes and perceptions, leading causes, common responses and the impact of stress on our lives, found that women experienced the highest stress levels and the economy emerged as a major stressor.

More than a decade later, while the economy still remains a significant stressor, other factors have had a profound impact on the current survey results, specifically, the COVID-19 virus, racism, and the presidential election.…

November 6th, 2020

The way we live now

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

The dump or recycling center has long been a hub of social and civic engagement in the town where I have lived for the past 42 years. Recycling bins for every kind of material earn the town hundreds of thousands of dollars every year, and candidates for public office are often on hand to woo voters to the ranks of their supporters.

Autumn brings mountains of leaves, the remnants of New England foliage that nature’s alchemy turns into dark, rich topsoil, free for the taking in spring. And every season gives us more books than we can read in a lifetime.…

November 6th, 2020

COVID-19 has tripled depression rate

By New England Psychologist Staff

A new study finds that 27.8 percent of U.S. adults had symptoms of depression as of mid-April 2020, compared to 8.5 percent before the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This represents a three-fold increase over what it was before COVID,” says lead author Catherine Ettman, a doctoral student at the Brown University School of Public Health and director of strategic development in the Office of the Dean at Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH).

Not surprisingly, the study found that money was a defining factor in who was reporting new symptoms of depression.…

November 5th, 2020

Practical Practice: Getting people the help they need

By Catherine Robertson Souter

According to a study published in August by the Centers for Disease Control, U.S. adults have reported three times the prevalence of symptoms of anxiety disorder and four times the prevalence of symptoms of depressive disorder compared with the same time period in 2019.

Even if the figures cannot be compared directly, as the CDC report points out that the methodology was not identical, the numbers are alarming. One quarter of respondents reported symptoms of anxiety and depression, 13 percent reported an increase in substance use and 11 percent reported an increase in suicidal ideation.…

November 5th, 2020

Racial disparity in the criminal justice system

By Phyllis Hanlon

According to the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL), Southern states, post-Civil War, utilized criminal justice as a way to maintain control over African Americans. A loophole in the 13th amendment, which abolished slavery and involuntary servitude, enabled these states to pass “Black Codes,” a system that involved the arrest and imprisonment of African Americans.

The Latino population has faced similar discriminatory practices when it comes to the criminal justice system. The Pew Research Center conducted a bilingual phone survey of 2,015 Hispanic adults in 2008 and found that four percent of this population was in prison/jail or on probation or parole.…