Leading Stories, Articles

July 10th, 2021

Guiding patients in self-care is key

By Catherine Robertson Souter

There has been a lot of talk about self-care this past year. Do a search and you will find multiple articles on how therapists need to care for themselves in order to care for others. But where does teaching self-care fit in?

For David Meyer, Ph.D, clinical director and owner of Health Psych Maine, who also works with first responders on PTSD, self-care has become a major piece of his practice.

“It is a huge part of therapy,” he said, “and a primary component of what we do with first responders around PTSD.…

July 9th, 2021

Massachusetts legislators address law enforcement mental health issues

By Phyllis Hanlon

Almost every occupation carries some degree of risk to physical and mental health. But for those in law enforcement, the chances of suffering from both are significantly higher.

A 2020 survey of 1,355 active-duty law enforcement officers revealed that between seven and 35 percent suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which is nine to 10 times greater than seen in the general population.

Additionally, 29 percent of the sample reported moderate to severe anxiety, which is two times greater than in the general population; and 37 percent of the sample had moderate to severe depression, five times more than in the general population.…

May 11th, 2021

Law enforcement & trauma: Psychological intervention addresses the impact

By Phyllis Hanlon

According to the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH), eight of every 100 individuals will experience post-traumatic stress at some time in their life; unlike civilians, police officers, on average, experience three traumatic events every six months. The frequency and intensity of these events may have a serious psychological impact on the officer at the moment and/or weeks, months or years in the future.

First responders always face the chance for direct or indirect trauma, chronic exposure to trauma, and concerns about expectations and the future, said Tanya Farber, Psy.D., outpatient psychotherapist in the LEADER (Law Enforcement, Active Duty, Emergency Responder) program at McLean Hospital.…

August 27th, 2019

Shifting cultural patterns challenge therapists who specialize in addiction

By Phyllis Hanlon

The Addiction Center reports that nearly 21 million Americans have at least one addiction; and drug overdose deaths have tripled since 1990. Furthermore, alcohol and drug addiction cost the economy more than $600 billion annually.

As addiction continues to take a physical, social and financial toll, mental health professionals strive to help those who struggle.

To determine a diagnosis and appropriate course of action, Sean J. McGlew, Psy.D, LP, traumatic stress and addiction psychologist at the Cambridge HealthAlliance outpatient center, created the Comprehensive Use Assessment, a tool that looks at a patient’s current and past relationship with substances, frequency of use and perception of a problem.

March 11th, 2019

Legislation provides mental health support for first responders

By New England Psychologist Staff

first responder mental healthFirst responders to emergencies have a heavy burden to bear and often do not ask for emotional support. Massachusetts recently passed a law specifically to help this population.

Senator Michael Moore (D-Second Worcester District) was instrumental in passing legislation for mental health services for first responders. It highlights the mental trauma related to specific events on the job. The bill went into effect on January 16 and applies to firefighters, paramedics, and law enforcement officers.

“When you respond to a fire or a baby dies and you’re trying to save them,” he explained.…

January 2nd, 2019

Yale report shows corrections agencies are reducing use of solitary confinement

By Janine Weisman

solitary confinementThe 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 people were in isolation in prisons in the fall of 2017.…

November 8th, 2018

Avoidance of triggers may have negative consequences

By Catherine Robertson Souter

With the public testimony and accusations around sexual assault in the national spotlight in recent months, there has been increased attention paid to how these reports may be triggering psychological responses in the general public.

Reportedly, reading about or hearing testimony from Christine Ford Blasey, Ph.D, a professor of clinical psychology at Palo Alto University and a research psychologist at the Stanford University School of Medicine, has led women and men around the country to experience their own emotional and physiological responses.

Ford testified about her accusations of sexual assault perpetrated during their teen years by Judge Brett Kavanaugh.…

August 30th, 2018

Border separation takes emotional toll on children

By Eileen Weber

American Immigration lawsReports of family separation at the Mexican border set off a firestorm.

Video and audio demonstrated the conditions in which the more than 3,000 children lived. An estimated 1,600 parents are still in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

With reunification underway, the Trump administration recently admitted that more than 450 immigrant parents separated from their children may have been deported.

“I find Trump’s policy of separating children from parents shocking, appalling, and extremely cruel,” said Richard McNally, Ph.D, professor and director of clinical training in the department of psychology at Harvard University.…

August 30th, 2018

Developmental trauma disorder is focus of research

By Catherine Robertson Souter

It would surprise no one that children who have been mistreated or have been subjected to another form of trauma would experience repercussions. It makes sense that trauma can result in symptoms that look like behavioral disorders, oppositional defiant disorders, anxiety, depression, or ADHD.

Yet, for many children the symptoms are treated as not being related to their traumatic experiences.

As part of an on-going research project, Julian D. Ford, Ph.D, A.B.P.P., professor of psychiatry and law at the University of Connecticut and director of the Center for Trauma Recovery and Juvenile Justice, and colleagues Joseph Spinazzola, Ph.D.…

March 6th, 2018

In-service training to focus on police officers’ mental health

By Catherine Robertson Souter

In-service training to focus on police officers' mental healthThere were 19 deaths of police officers by suicide in Massachusetts in 2016 and 2017, the fourth highest number of suicides in the country. That is not fourth highest rate per 1,000 but fourth highest total number overall. The state is the 15th largest by population.

According to Blue H.E.L.P., a non-profit law enforcement mental health awareness group based in Auburn, Mass., there were 286 deaths nationwide.

A bill currently before the state’s legislature looks to address the issue by mandating in-service training on mental health as well as annual mental wellness and suicide prevention courses for all current officers.…