24 Feb 2017

Adventures in Integrated Care Collection Booklet

Adventures in Integrated Care Collection Booklet

Improving the health of people requires that they have access to effective and efficient psychological services for the prevention and treatment of a wide range of emotional and behavioral conditions. Psychologists are actively involved in clinical treatment, health system design, and the implementation of innovative approaches to health care.

To illustrate this important connection and promote the valuable role psychology plays in health care, the Monitor on Psychology published Adventures in Integrated Care, a yearlong series of articles that showcase psychology practitioners who work on a variety of medical teams, reporting on what these practitioners do and how they got the education and training to do it.

We have placed all these articles into a collection booklet for you to read in one convenient place. Please enjoy.

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23 Feb 2017

Shium Andrew Chen and 50 Years of the Asian American Experience

Shium Andrew Chen and 50 Years of the Asian American Experience
APA Fellow Shium Andrew Chen has written extensively on the issue of cultural inclusion of Asians through psychological identity and acculturation. (Photo: Drew Costley)

Shium Andrew Chen, PhD, drove all night from Slippery Rock, Pa., to Raleigh, N.C., one night in July 1989. He was spurred to action by the murder of Jim Ming Loo, a Chinese American, who was killed by two white brothers, Lloyd and Robert Piche. The Piche brothers admitted to not liking “Orientals,” as they called them, and harbored resentments originating in the Vietnam War. After hearing about the murder, Chen went to support the family and community in its pursuit of justice in the situation.

“We spent two hours listening and comforting Loo’s crying parents about their loving son who was ready to enter [college] as a freshman that fall. It was heartbreaking to learn that Jim's 11-year-old brother knelt in front of his brother's portrait without saying a word for a whole month,” Chen said. “At 8 a.m. in the morning we met with the community task force, helping to solidify their effort. I attended the court hearing of the case. The murderers were found guilty and sentenced.”

For Chen, the Loo case was similar to the murder of Vincent Chin in 1982 by two white American autoworkers, who, according to Chen, were influenced by media coverage of the booming Japanese auto industry. Like Loo, Chin wasn’t of the country of origin that the assailants sought to discriminate against, but he was Chinese American.

“He was killed by Caucasian Vietnam War veterans and they saw an Asian, but he wasn’t even Vietnamese. . . . I link their attitudes to violence in the media and the media portrayals of Asians, so that’s resulting in that type of violence.” Chen was among the first wave of psychologists researching and/or writing about the impact of violence in mass media on violent behavior. In 2003, Developmental Psychology published a study conducted from 1977 to 1992 titled “Early Exposure to TV Violence Predicts Aggression in Adulthood.” He was also among the first generation of academics in the past few decades writing about the media’s portrayals of Asians and its impact on American perceptions of Asians.

The perpetrators of the murders in the both cases were convicted for their crimes, but they received different sentences. Robert Piche was convicted of second-degree murder and assault with a deadly weapon, and Lloyd Piche was convicted of misdemeanor assault in the case of Loo. Ronald Ebens and Michael Nitz were charged with second-degree murder, but were convicted of manslaughter in the case of Chin.

For Chen, these cases represent a nearly 50-year exploration of implicit learning, ethnic identity, the causes of violence both against Asian Americans and in general, and ways to prevent it.

“I dream about world peace. Any problem, whether it be diplomatic or otherwise. I think it can always be addressed with psychology,” Chen said. “That’s why I [talk] about cultural adaptation and psychological identity, basically because we feel that we are different, but if we share with each other and share or accept or adapt to each other, we can solve a lot of our problems. . . . [It’s like] with China. They are building their military because the U.S. threatened their country in the South [Asian] seas. . . . If you are planning peace, you have to practice peace yourself.”

“I hope that the racial problems, the ethnic problems can be solved by navigating our individual psychological identities and psychological interchange of our attitudes,” said Chen.

Chen, a longtime Fellow of the American Psychological Association, was an early psychologist to explore implicit learning, the learning of complex information in an incidental manner, without awareness of what has been learned. This type of learning has become known as one of the causes of racial and ethnic discrimination. Chen said that media portrayals of Asians, combined with depiction of violence in the media, play a large role in the discriminatory attitudes that lead to violent crimes like the murder of Loo.

For Chen, it was the atrocities that he saw growing up in Japanese-occupied China, along with the humanistic Eastern philosophies of Confucius and Mencius, that inspired him to become a psychologist.

Chen was born in 1931 in the Jiangsu province in eastern-central coastal China, the same year that Japan invaded Manchuria, a region that is now referred to as Northeast China, in what many considered to be the beginning of the Second Sino-Japanese War. The war, during which between 17,000,000 and 20,000,000 Chinese civilians died according to Michael Clodfelter’s (1992) book Warfare and Armed Conflicts: A Statistical Reference, served as a backdrop for his childhood.

He was witness to and a victim of these atrocities. “Witnessing atrocity during childhood years affects one's personal development and attitude,” Chen said. “When I was in my teens, each time I entered the city gate, I had to bow down to Japanese soldiers holding their guns with bayonets on them. And one night, we had to hide in a small boat under tall weeds in a creek while Japanese gunboats were sweeping with machine gun overhead.”

This time in his life made Chen feel “desperate for safety, peace, security, love, and all of the other human ingredients.”

He found comfort in the philosophies of Confucius and Mencius, who emphasized personal and governmental morality, correctness of social relationships, justice, and sincerity.

“They provided me very much with the base, the roots of interest in people and interest in psychology,” said Chen. In 1949, Chen emigrated from Taiwan to the United States to continue his studies in psychology at the University of Oregon and then at Teachers College, Columbia University.

He was quickly confronted with being an ethnic minority in a country mired in racial segregation and untrusting of those from outside of traditional Western European culture.

It took him a long time to acculturate to American society. Chen said he learned that ethnic minorities have to negotiate with their indigenous ethnic culture, the minority realm that is imposed on them by way of being a minority in a society, and the mainstream culture that exists in a society.

“[I acculturated] because of my kids. They are Americans. . . . One of my boys was in the Boy Scouts, I remember vividly one scene. His Boy Scout leader kept saying, ‘You are Chinese,’ and my son said ‘I’m not!’ He said ‘You are. You are Chinese,’ and he was almost in tears,” Chen said.

At the time he was living in Butler, Pa., a formerly all-white town where his family was one of the first two minority families to arrive. Because Chen was so focused on his studies, he said, he hadn’t realized how discriminatory Americans could be toward Chinese Americans. The experiences of his children, his research on the aforementioned hate crimes and his becoming president of the Organization of Chinese Americans opened his eyes to what was really going on around him.

“I didn’t realize how badly the Chinese were mistreated until I was in the Organization of Chinese Americans,” Chen said. “I had no idea how badly the Chinese were treated, especially laborers in the early days of this country.”

In addition to bringing to light the discrimination that Asian Americans face, Chen has identified issues related to seeking and receiving mental health services.

Regarding his 1985 paper “The Need for Relevant Psychology for Asians,” Chen said, “I emphasize the value of psychology, but psychology is still foreign to people in general,” adding, “especially to Asian Americans because they are unaware of it. Maybe not because of them, but because of the exclusiveness of American culture itself. Personally, I feel my work, Asian American psychologists’ work, is a success, even though the awareness level is low.”

For example, when he joined the Association of Asian American Psychologists (AAPA) in 1975, it was somewhat monolithic in its scope, focusing on building unity among Asian Americans and attempting to tackle the issues of the Asian American community as a whole. But now, Chen said, the organization has several subgroups – an LGBTQIA+ group, an East Asian group and a South Asian group, for example – that focus on individual identities that Asian Americans form.

Now retired, Chen hopes his body of work can contribute to the struggle for a better life for all ethnic minorities. He’s written a memoir titled My Journey to Becoming Chinese American – A Memoir of an Asian American Psychologist and His Search for Ethnic Identity that’s currently being edited.

“They say that I retired from psychology,” he said. “But I never retired from civil rights and my work, the memoir I’m working on, is a continuation of that.”

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15 Feb 2017

Survey: Many Americans Stressed About Future of Our Nation

Survey: Many Americans Stressed About Future of Our Nation

New APA Stress in America™ survey shows more Americans reporting symptoms of stress after the election.

With the 2016 elections behind us and having entered a new year, how are Americans feeling?

According to the American Psychological Association’s (APA) report Stress in America™: Coping with Change, two-thirds of Americans say they are stressed about the future of our nation.

An APA poll conducted in January found that the current political climate is a very or somewhat significant source of stress for more than half of Americans (57 percent).  Nearly half (49 percent) say the same about the outcome of the election.

While Democrats were more likely than Republicans (72 percent vs. 26 percent) to report the outcome of the 2016 presidential election as a significant source of stress, a majority of Republicans (59 percent) said the future of the nation was a significant source of stress for them, compared with 76 percent of Democrats.

“The stress we’re seeing around political issues is deeply concerning, because it’s hard for Americans to get away from it,” said Katherine C. Nordal, PhD, APA’s executive director for professional practice. “We’re surrounded by conversations, news and social media that constantly remind us of the issues that are stressing us the most.”

Nordal also noted that while APA is seeing continued stress around politics, the survey also showed an increased number of people reporting that acts of terrorism, police violence toward minorities and personal safety are adding to their stress levels.

These results come on the heels of an APA survey, conducted by Harris Poll last August among 3,511 adults.  The August survey found that 52 percent of Americans reported that the presidential election was a significant source of stress. The latest survey was conducted online by Harris Poll in early January 2017, among 1,019 adults ages 18+ who reside in the U.S.

Between August 2016 and January 2017, the overall average reported stress level of Americans rose from 4.8 to 5.1, on a scale where 1 means little or no stress and 10 means a great deal of stress, according to the APA survey. At the same time, more Americans said that they experienced physical and emotional symptoms of stress in the prior month, health symptoms that the APA warns could have long-term consequences. 

The percentage of people reporting at least one health symptom because of stress rose from 71 percent to 80 percent over five months. A third of Americans have reported specific symptoms such as headaches (34 percent), feeling overwhelmed (33 percent), feeling nervous or anxious (33 percent) or feeling depressed or sad (32 percent).

“While these common health symptoms might seem minor, they can lead to negative effects on daily life and overall physical health when they continue over a long period,” said Nordal.

APA encourages people to stay informed but know their own limits when it comes to taking in information as one way to diminish the constant exposure to potentially distressing news and the resulting physical symptoms.

“For many, the transition of power and the speed of change can cause uncertainty and feelings of stress, and that stress can have health consequences. If the 24-hour news cycle is causing you stress, limit your media consumption,” said Nordal. “Read enough to stay informed but then plan activities that give you a regular break from the issues and the stress they might cause. And remember to take care of yourself and pay attention to other areas of your life.”

This marks the 10-year anniversary of the Stress in America report, part one of a two-part release. APA released part two on Feb. 23, highlighting how technology use affects stress among Americans. To read the full report go here. (PDF)

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14 Feb 2017

Thomas Plante Investigates the Ethical Life

Thomas Plante Investigates the Ethical Life
Over his career, APA Fellow Thomas Plante has studied various social issues through the prism of ethics.

Thomas G. Plante, PhD, a San Francisco Bay–area psychologist and Fellow of the American Psychological Association, writes often about the practicalities of living an ethical life.

“Treat everybody with respect and compassion, even if you don’t like them or agree with them,” says Plante. “That’s certainly how I organize my life.”       

Plante is the Augustin Cardinal Bea, S.J. University Professor in psychology at Santa Clara University (SCU) in Santa Clara, Calif., a researcher, clinician and author of 21 books and more than 200 scholarly professional articles and chapters.

Plante says our society has moved away from endorsing positive practices such as “goodness,” which he defines as behavior that is not only respectful and compassionate, but also “civil and gracious, working for the benefit of the whole, acknowledging that we all have a part to play.” He thinks we need to bring goodness back into style.

Plante’s latest book, Graduating with Honor: Best Practices to Promote Ethics Development in College Students, written with his wife, Lori G. Plante, PhD, also a psychologist, centers on interviews the two did with students at SCU, a Jesuit school where ethics is a required course for every student, and Dartmouth College, a secular Ivy League school in Hanover, N.H., where their son is an undergraduate.

What the Plantes found was that “students at both places can see that ethics could be helpful to them,” but the Dartmouth students, who are not required to take ethics courses, were “like a dry sponge” on the topic, “excited” to hear about how they might operate decently and meaningfully in the world, Plante says. He found that heartening, and would love to see all students at all educational levels receive ethics training. He doesn’t envision ethics training as telling them what to do, but rather as giving them the tools to make “thoughtful” decisions.

“Ethics are just the tools, a way to be intentional about who you become. In our heart of hearts, we all want to strive toward goodness,” he says.

Ethics is only one of Plante’s specializations. His dissertation was on the psychological effects of aerobic exercise, and he is still professionally interested in health. Religion has become a major focus, though. Psychology and religion have had “a tumultuous relationship,” but religion has a role to play in an ethical life, Plante says. “How does that impulse get nurtured? Where do you go when you struggle? How are you inspired? It’s harder to do when you’re all by yourself,” he says.

Plante is a leading expert on one of the most demoralizing scandals of our time—the sexual abuse of minors by members of the clergy. In 1989, when Plante was a fledgling ethics instructor at Stanford University, he fell into the assignment that would impact his career for decades to come.

“A Catholic priest friend who knew I was a psychologist called and said, ‘We have some guys who are being accused of being sexually inappropriate. Can you see if there’s anything to this?’” he recalls.

Plante quickly got to work and found that sexual abuse by priests was real, and that it was not rare. He also realized there wasn’t a body of research on the topic. He rounded up several other psychologists around the country who were also looking into the issue, and by the late 1990s, they had enough collective knowledge to put together a book, Bless Me Father For I Have Sinned, which Plante contributed to and edited. By that time, Plante and his colleagues could estimate with some confidence that between 2 and 6 percent of Catholic clergy members had had a sexual experience with a minor. “The actual figure wound up at 4 percent,” he says.

The research team thought their book would create a sensation when it came out in 1999, but only two low-level reporters even attended the press conference they hosted. Only when “the stars aligned” in a “confluence of factors” that included the fact that Boston, Mass., was a “Catholic-dense area” did clerical abuse finally get the attention it deserved, after the Boston Globe’s 2002 Pulitzer Prize–winning Spotlight investigation. “It should have hit the press in a big way before then,” Plante says.

Once clergy sexual abuse came to the attention of the public, though, for a while “I did nothing but talk to the media [about the topic], teach classes and see my patients,” he says.

Plante has written two more books on the sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church, one in 2004 and one in 2011. Even now, it’s a “hot, hot topic,” he says. Plante points out that many people still feel tremendous anger toward the church, not only for the fact of the abuse, but also for the avoidant way bishops and other church officials handled it. “Hard data” shows that sexual abuse among the Catholic clergy, while “horrific,” is roughly what occurs among the clergy of other faiths, and is significantly lower than for the adult male population at large, Plante notes; he treats many clerics for issues like alcohol and pornography addiction, depression and anxiety. “We forget that those [clerics] are very human people, with the problems and issues anybody has.”

Plante himself is an “engaged” Catholic, “more of a Vatican II, peace, social justice, Dorothy Day Catholic.” His family belongs to both a Catholic parish and a Jewish congregation (his wife is Jewish). He grew up in Providence, R.I., in a latticework of light and dark, as he remembers it, created in large part by the “interesting juxtaposition” of the Catholic Church and organized crime in the city’s life.

“Everybody went to church,” but quite a few of them were criminals, too, he says. Like most people he knew, Plante’s family was Catholic, of Irish and French Canadian stock. His father was a builder, “but he only built in certain towns outside the circle of Providence, the ones that weren’t influenced by the mob,” he recalls.

The influence of this “quirky place” may be one reason Plante is not surprised when he finds the bad and the good jumbled together in the same institution, or the same person. People want to be good but sometimes “lose their way,” he says.

“It keeps coming back to this question: How do you want to be in the world?” he says. In a time when “everything has turned tabloid, ethics could be a terrific tool to get ourselves back on course.”

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09 Feb 2017

Create a Crowdfunding Platform For Your Research

Create a Crowdfunding Platform For Your Research

Crowdfunding is an increasingly popular way to garner support for all types of fundraising efforts, including academic research. Not only does crowdfunding expand your funding options beyond scarce school resources and competitive grants, it also typically increases the visibility of your research, which can lead to additional support. Creating a crowdsourcing platform for your research study can facilitate connections with established researchers in your field and attract interested volunteers to assist you with your research.

Through crowdfunding, researchers can also increase community participation in their research, not only through donations and gift giving, but also by providing the public with a learning experience. Researchers at the University of Western Australia (UWA) have connected with the public through their crowdsourcing efforts via an innovative partnership with chuffed.org, a website that hosts funding campaigns for organizations and individuals dedicated to social causes. UWA students use chuffed.org as a social networking space devoted to their research projects. UWA’s alliance with chuffed.org enables the public to donate to research fundraising campaigns very easily, as the established website provides tax receipts and offers a secure payment option for donors.

Although having a partnership such as UWA and chuffed.org is beneficial, students can raise funds on their own. It is not necessary for your school to partner with an established crowdfunding site for you to use crowdfunding to cover the cost of your research. In fact, according to Dr. Campbell Thompson, Director of the Office of Research Enterprise at UWA, the success of research project funding is ultimately determined by the researcher’s own connections, rather than the collaboration between UWA and chuffed.org. “Students at UWA are expected (and encouraged) to take advantage of their own contacts through additional social networking methods [Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.] to increase their fundraising potential,” says Dr. Thompson.

One researcher did exactly that. After receiving donations from family, friends, and strangers, she was able to finance an important part of her research. “A total of 73 people backed our campaign, and I’m immensely grateful to each and every person who donated, shared, and supported us. A little over a week ago, I was finally able to conduct the fieldwork,” she writes on her chuffed.org page.

To begin crowdfunding for your research, you should first set a fundraising goal. For example, a Principal Investigator decided on a fundraising goal by calculating the cost of financial compensation for an assistant, paid at a fair daily rate, to maintain the ecosystem they monitored for their research. At UWA, researchers using chuffed.org usually set a goal of $10,000–$15,000, and the average donation is $50. Their most successful project raised $40,000. You should also offer “perks” for donors as incentives. For example, at a certain amount, a donor would receive an acknowledgment in a research paper, a T-shirt, or a tour of a research site.

Whether you use your school’s resources, a crowdfunding site like chuffed.org, or your personal social networking presence as tools for fundraising, follow the lead of UWA researchers and start creating a crowdfunding platform for your research.

Ready to get started? Take a look at these crowdfunding platforms.

In the comments section below, share how you’ve covered the cost of your research projects with us!

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06 Feb 2017

APA’s Response to Presidential Executive Orders and Statements

APA’s Response to Presidential Executive Orders and Statements

APA is a nonpartisan, scientific and educational organization with a mission to advance psychology as a science and profession and as a means of promoting health, education, and human welfare. When appropriate, APA takes positions on policy issues that are relevant to this mission.

Before adopting any positions or publishing any statements, APA staff, in consultation with association officers, carefully screen the issue to ensure that APA’s engagement is consistent with our mission and association policies, that psychology has something meaningful to contribute to the discussion, and that there is benefit to the organization in getting involved, among other factors considered.

APA has issued public responses to four of the President’s executive orders and public statements. Here are the official executive orders from the White House and a news story regarding a statement by the president, along with APA's responses:

Foreign Entry

Hiring Freeze

'Enhanced' Interrogation

Dakota Access Pipeline

Wish to leave a comment? Please reply below, or email us at membership@apa.org

03 Feb 2017

Keeping Your Debt Under Control After College

Keeping Your Debt Under Control After College

For many in the mental health industry, student loans can be a massive hurdle to deal with after college. Psychology professionals face a unique challenge in the health-care industry—the cost of their degree can be extremely expensive in relation to their early career salaries.

According to a recent study by the APA, the median graduate debt load was $110,000. Unfortunately, that number excludes undergraduate debt completely. Loan amounts of that size can have drastic effects on your career path, so learning how to effectively manage loan debt after college is essential.

On top of the professional implications, massive student loan debt can lead to confusion and stress in your personal life that is difficult to manage. It's hard enough trying to find your way in today's job atmosphere, much less avoiding potential missteps that could hurt your financial health over the long term.

Here are some tips for effectively managing student loan debt after graduation:

Make payments as soon as possible

Many of the various lenders (both federal and private) allow a grace period after a student graduates. This is designed to give the borrower time to secure a job before making payments—but don't be fooled by the word "grace."

The fine print will tell you that interest will still accrue on the loans during the grace period. That means you're taking on more debt, often times without even realizing it. I've had plenty of readers tell me how surprised they were to see their new loan balance when they finally made their first payment. The more money you borrowed, the faster the numbers start to pile up.

Be proactive and make payments as soon as possible, even if it means interest-only payments to keep the loan amount closer to what you actually graduated with!

Fully understand your loan responsibilities and terms

The vast majority of student loan borrowers have no idea how their loans actually work. Student loans can range widely in both the interest amount and the repayment terms. If you want to effectively manage your loans after college, you'll need to do more than just make the minimum payment every month.

Take a look at your loan terms and find out:

  • How extra payments are applied to the loan principle amount
  • The interest rate of the loans
  • Repayment term length
  • Possible penalties that result from missed or late payments
  • How the interest is calculated on the loan amount

Understanding the basic structure of your loans will help you make important decisions later that could save you money. It's impossible to know if you will save money through a refinance if you're unsure of your current interest rate or how long the loan terms are!

Research your federal loan benefits

Admittedly, the Department of Education doesn't always do a great job of getting the word out about its various federal loan benefit programs. Depending on the career path you choose, you may actually be eligible for student loan forgiveness and not be aware of it.

These programs generally require enrollees to stay current on their minimum loan payments for a set period before any loans will be forgiven. The overall concept for these programs is to entice new graduates to pursue government/public service positions.

The biggest thing to consider when researching these programs is that there is usually red tape involved. Be sure to find out how missed or late payments will affect your eligibility in the program, and also fully understand the time requirements. If the loan forgiveness program requires 10 years of service in a specific area, make sure you actually want to stay for the long haul.

Other important benefit programs provided by the federal government are income-based repayment, consolidation, and deferment if you fall on hard times.

Consider refinancing your debt

With a median starting salary of $60,000, it's possible that many psychology professionals won't actually qualify for the above-mentioned benefit programs. If this is the case, you may want to seriously consider refinancing your student loans.

With the current low interest rate environment, borrowers who refinance may be able to save substantial amounts of money over the life of their loans. Many of these lenders are creating online platforms that seamlessly guide users through the refinancing experience.

Another cool thing about some of the private companies that are refinancing student loan debt right now are the alternative benefits. These refi companies know that they have to compete with federal loan benefits, so they're getting creative. Some companies offer helpful benefits like job placement assistance, access to financial advisors, career support, and even unemployment protection if you find yourself between positions.

Track your money with budgeting tools

There are plenty of great financial tools available for tracking your finances in today's personal finance environment. Many of them are free and feature bank-level encryption to keep your personal information safe! In programs like Personal Capital and Mint, users can input all of their account info and see all of their account balances updated in real time.

These tools usually feature budgeting and net-worth tracking, which gives users an instant picture of where they stand financially and helps them track their student loan payments. I'd highly suggest taking some time to research all of the great tools available online and taking advantage of technology that wasn't available to previous generations.

Above all, be active

It's easy to go through the motions with student loans, and the honest reality is that loan servicers would prefer that you handle your debt that way (they make more money in interest and possible penalties when you slip up).

Be active with your student loan debt the entire time you have it. Managing it correctly will allow you to have more choices in life and create the career path that you envisioned in college.

If you'd like to consider a more aggressive approach to paying down debt, check out my earlier blog here. Or if you're looking for something more moderate, I have a post on that as well.

-- Bobby Hoyt is a former high school teacher who paid off $40,000 of student loan debt in a year and a half. He now runs the personal finance site MillennialMoneyMan.com full-time, and has been seen on CNBC, Forbes, Business Insider, Reuters, Marketwatch, and many other major publications.

The opinions and advice expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those held by the American Psychology Association (APA).

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