28 Apr 2017

How to Earn That ‘Welcome Aboard’

How to Earn That ‘Welcome Aboard’

Excellent interview skills are critical to landing the job you want. Here's how to prepare and follow up.

Some job-seekers think that they don't need much preparation before a job interview because they are outgoing or comfortable talking about themselves. But interviewing "is a skill and doesn't happen automatically," says Julie McCarthy, PhD, professor of management at the University of Toronto Scarborough in Canada. Confidence and strong interpersonal skills will only take you so far in the eyes of a future boss. As psychologists who are experts in the area will tell you, thorough preparation is key because it helps potential employers get a deeper understanding of your competencies, weaknesses and career goals.

"The point of good preparation is not to get a job, but the right job," says Paul Fairlie, PhD, president and CEO of a human resources and organizational consulting firm based in Toronto. That preparation includes thinking about your work history and the competencies you've gained. "It's a lot of work, but once you do this, you'll have a better sense of who you are and the type of job that will engage you," Fairlie says.

Here's some advice from psychologist experts on what to do before, during and after a job interview to boost your chances of getting the right offer.

Before the interview

Research the organization. Search for news articles about the company and read its annual reports, says Paul Yost, PhD, associate professor of industrial and organizational psychology at Seattle Pacific University in Washington. Invite someone who works at the organization to coffee to learn about the company's values and culture. This type of research prepared his psychology students for interviews at Amazon.com. They learned that the concept of "fail fast" is a key aspect of the company's culture—in other words, be proactive with a bias toward action, but constantly seek feedback so you can adapt and change as you go, Yost says.

"With this in mind, they knew to give examples of when they'd been highly proactive and adapted when problems arose," he says.

For academic jobs, study up on the school's financial situation and accomplishments by searching the web and talking to faculty members, says Robert Ployhart, PhD, professor and department chair of management in the Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina.

"Ask professors and administrators about the priorities of the department," he says.

Learn about the interviewers. Look up each person on LinkedIn, as well as on work or personal websites, then use this information to connect with them during the interview, says Laxmikant Manroop, PhD, assistant professor of human resource management at Eastern Michigan University. "I always tell my students that the similarity attraction paradigm applies in the job-seeking process," Manroop says. "Interviewers tend to view candidates more favorably when they share something in common."

Find out more about the job. Learn about the competencies and duties that will be required for the position. You can do this by looking at the job description and interviewing professionals in the field or at the organization who can explain what the responsibilities in the job description really mean, says Yost. Also, read about the specific tasks, knowledge, skills and abilities needed for positions like yours on O*NET, the free database that offers information about hundreds of job types.

Develop your narratives. Employers want to hear about problems you faced, the actions you took and the results—known as PAR in the HR world, says Yost. Write one-paragraph PAR narratives demonstrating a variety of competencies. Then rehearse these stories until they come naturally. During the interview, you can decide which narratives to share based on the questions being asked. Yost used this strategy when interviewing for a highly competitive job for a senior human resources specialist position at Microsoft. "I put together PAR stories showing, for example, how I had worked effectively with executives, developed selection systems and dealt with a project that had fallen apart," he says. Yost got the job.

Improve your resume. Add those narratives to your resume, too. "Once you've done the hard work of wording these examples in a resume, you will have an easier time remembering these stories in an interview. It will become your personal brand and message," Fairlie says.

Rehearse. Find someone to role-play the interview with and practice answering expected questions, Fairlie says. Invite the mock interviewer to identify distracting habits, or even better, film yourself and watch the footage, McCarthy says. "Nonverbal communication is critical," she says. "By watching yourself, you may notice that you are fidgeting or not maintaining consistent eye contact, and it is easier to fix a bad habit if you are aware of it."

During the interview

Keep answers concise. "It's much more powerful to give a short, targeted one-minute answer than to ramble," says Yost. "Interviewers can ask questions if they are interested in hearing more details. Research has shown that candidates who speak confidently, with fewer pauses and a little fast are rated more positively by interviewers, so it's better to err on the side of the hare rather than the turtle when it comes to speech tempo during an interview (Journal of Applied Psychology, 2009)

Ask questions. Interviewers often ask candidates if they have any questions—and it's critical that you do, Fairlie says. "Having good questions shows you have initiative, motivation and strategic thinking," he says. Ask about the reporting relationships and work flow of the organization, for example. Inquire about the management style of the person you will report to, and why the position is vacant. Not only will your questions help impress the interviewers, the answers will help you decide if the job is a good fit for you.

Focus on the organization. Talk about how you will add to the organization rather than what you will gain from the job, Yost says. Don't ask interviewers how and when you can expect a raise or promotion, Fairlie says. "It can come across as something that is entitled rather than earned," he says.

Nonverbal cues matter. Arrive a little early, dress appropriately, be polite to everybody, smile and make eye contact. Research also shows that a weak or firm handshake can make the difference between getting a second interview or not, Manroop says. A firm handshake shows resilience, strength and confidence, he says (Journal of Applied ­Psychology, 2008).

Be observant. Get a sense of the organization by noticing the environment and interactions between people during the interview, says Lisa Dragoni, PhD, an associate professor in the School of Business at Wake Forest University. When she interviewed for her current job, she was impressed by the large community space at the school's entrance. "I asked how often it was used," she says. "I learned that faculty, staff and students used the area frequently for meetings and informal gatherings. The school had designed the room and office spaces to foster collaboration. Knowing that was part of my decision."

Stay engaged. It's important to show consistent energy throughout the meetings, Dragoni says. "I've sat on a number of selection committees, and I've been surprised how often faculty will say that candidates didn't seem very interested. I wondered if this was because the applicants were tired at the end of the day."

After the interview

Send a thank-you note. Ask for each interviewer's business card, and send each of them a tailored letter, either handwritten or via email, says Yost. "Don't send a generic note," he says. "Mention something specific that you are excited about doing in the role and how you can contribute," he says. "Even if you don't get an offer, this will help employers remember you when the next job opens up."

Be ready to negotiate your salary. Gather information about the salary range for the job—websites like APA's Center for Workforce Studies are good places to start. "The first person to name a figure loses, as the old adage goes," Fairlie says. It's ideal to ask the employer to give a salary range to start the negotiation process, but if candidates are asked first, "the best way to respond is to ask for more information about the job, showing you understand the link between job responsibilities and compensation," he says. Once the employer makes an offer, feel free to ask for time to think about it.

Follow up. If you don't get an offer, call an interviewer after a few weeks to ask for feedback about why you didn't get the job, Dragoni says. "If you ask people for input, they are usually open to having a conversation," she says. "Ask what the basis for the decision was, what you could have done differently or better, and then thank them for their suggestions."

Stay connected. Invite the interviewers to connect with you on LinkedIn because these contacts may become important for networking in the future.

By Heather Stringer


Did you find this article useful?

5 1
28 Apr 2017

Untenured and Untethered: Replacing Tenure-track Faculty with Adjuncts

Untenured and Untethered: Replacing Tenure-track Faculty with Adjuncts
Susie Sympson, PhD, began her career as a grocery store clerk. When an injury forced her to quit and she returned to school, she began dreaming of getting a PhD and becoming a professor. She achieved her goal, earning a University of Kansas doctorate in clinical psychology and becoming an academic.

Her dream didn't turn out as expected, however.

Sympson has been an adjunct psychology professor at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas, for the last 11 years. With an annual salary of just $21,000 for three classes a semester plus one in the summer, she hasn't put a dent in the principal of her $500-a-month student loan debt. And with such low pay, saving anything for retirement has been impossible.

"There's a lack of respect for our training and for us as colleagues," says Sympson. "The administration acts like adjuncts are a dime a dozen."

Sympson's case is far from unusual. Non-tenure-track professors now represent more than 70 percent of the academic workforce, according to the American Association of University Professors (AAUP). As tenure-track jobs give way to what some call higher education's "adjunctification," it isn't just adjuncts who are suffering. The trend also has ramifications for student learning, research and even academic freedom.

Set up to fail

While many assume that economic factors are forcing schools to use adjuncts, the contingent workforce has grown fastest during boom times, says AAUP. Instead of investing in a tenured workforce, AAUP says, schools have invested in technology and facilities. Noting the low pay, long hours, long commutes, instability and lack of benefits, professional support and opportunities for advancement, a 2014 report by the U.S. House of Representatives describes adjuncts as "the working poor."

What happens when students are taught by professors struggling to make a living? A 2014 review of the evidence by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation cites lower graduation and retention rates and decreased transfers from two-year to four-year institutions. Those outcomes aren't the fault of adjuncts but of the last-minute hiring decisions, lack of office space and other supports and other working conditions adjuncts typically face.

That inability to perform to their highest potential can weigh heavily on adjuncts, says Gretchen M. Reevy, PhD, a lecturer in psychology at California State University, East Bay, who credits her union for making adjuncts like her some of the country's luckiest.

In a study of non-tenure-track faculty, Reevy and co-author Grace Deason, PhD, a University of Wisconsin La Crosse assistant psychology professor, found that adjuncts most committed to their school were more likely to suffer stress, anxiety and depression (Frontiers in Psychology, 2014). Other risk factors included low income, inability to find permanent positions and coping mechanisms rooted in denial or giving up.

And being adjuncts renders faculty less able to influence their institutions' administrations, adds Reevy. Adjuncts are typically excluded from governance bodies, so the growing preponderance of adjuncts means faculty have less sway.

"A lot of people aren't involved in curriculum decisions and so forth," she says. "The power is shifting from faculty to the administration."

Research suffers, too, according to an AAUP report. Doing research requires stability and continuity—luxuries many adjuncts lack given their year-to-year or even semester-to-semester appointments, the report emphasizes. In addition, adjuncts often cobble together jobs at multiple institutions or take on extra classes to make ends meet, so they have little time for research. Plus, institutions may not grant adjuncts access to laboratories or even libraries and often exclude them from professional development opportunities.

"Most people with PhDs want to do scholarly work," says Reevy, who has been teaching 10 to 13 classes a year for more than two decades. "It's a waste of their talent."

Realistic expectations

It's hard to know how many psychology professors are adjuncts, says Eddy Ameen, PhD, who heads APA's Office on Early Career Psychologists. For many, especially practitioners, being an adjunct is "a helpful but minor secondary source of income," he says. Ameen himself is an adjunct professor, a side gig that allows him to keep a hand in academia.

The American Psychological Association of Graduate Students (APAGS) is trying to determine how many recent grads are struggling as adjuncts, says Joanna Streck, a University of Vermont clinical psychology graduate student who serves on APAGS's Science Committee. She invites adjuncts to email her about their experiences at apags@apa.org.

Although advocates are working to change the system via living wage campaigns, unionizing efforts and calls to create teaching-oriented tenure-track positions, being realistic about your prospects is key, says Nabil El-Ghoroury, PhD, associate executive director of APAGS. "Students are being trained for positions that just don't exist anymore," he says.

Instead, he urges academically minded students to consider what used to be called "alternative" careers that will allow them to use their research skills in nonacademic settings. "When half of doctorates may not end up in academic settings anymore, they're no longer 'alternative' careers," he says.

Sympson agrees. "There's no way this represents any kind of a future," she says.

By Rebecca A. Clay


Did you find this article useful?

3 0
26 Apr 2017

Gregory Ball and the Adaptiveness of Behavior

Gregory Ball and the Adaptiveness of Behavior
Gregory Ball
APA Fellow Gregory Ball has spent most of his academic career studying animals and birds, and using the findings to develop understanding about the human brain and behavior.

Growing up, Gregory Ball, PhD, learned a lot about birds from his father, who did his undergraduate and graduate studies in zoology. “He wanted to be an ornithologist,” he recalls, speaking to the American Psychological Association from his office at the University of Maryland, where he is a professor and dean of the College of Behavioral and Social Science and APA Fellow.

That experience helped shape Ball’s own future interest and research on the interrelation of hormones, the brain, and reproductive behavior. By studying nonhuman animals, in Ball’s case birds, “you can study relationships between the brain and physiology in a way that you can’t in primates and humans,” he said.

In his lab at the University of Maryland, his team is studying how the perception of song induces gene expression in the brain of birds and how early experience with different kinds of song might affect that gene expression. They also recently published a study looking at how hormones interact with the dopamine system to affect sexual motivation. “Hormones do their work by modulating neurotransmitters and we’re trying to understand the circuit that they interact with to do that,” he said. According to the study, the projection from the preoptic area of the brain to the ventral tegmental area, where the dopamine of one of four major dopamine systems originates, to the accumbens, which plays a significant role in the cognitive processing of aversion, motivation, reward, and reinforcement learning, is very important in that process.

One of the Ball’s favorite recent findings to come out of his lab is related to steroids. “People think that a steroid has a very general effect on behavior – that it just makes you more motivated, or stimulated to do something,” Ball said enthusiastically.

“And we’ve done experiments where we’ve put tiny amounts of hormones or hormone blockers on the brain and we’ve shown that hormones actually act in multiple parts of the brain in specific ways to modulate behavior. For instance, the desire to sing is controlled in one part of the brain, but the control of how well you produce song in a temporal fashion is modulated in another part of the brain.”

Ball first got swept up in the studies of brain function and behavior in animals while studying at Columbia University. He took his introduction to psychology course with Dr. Herbert S. Terrace, who, among other things, led the famous study of animal language acquisition in the chimpanzee Nim Chimpsky. Ball began working with Terrace, who had studied under B.F. Skinner, the year after he began working with Chimpsky. He was intrigued by the studies of brain function and behavior in animals at Columbia (along with the then-contentious, now-settled debate between behavioral and cognitive psychologists) and began his longtime specialization in experimenting on pigeons.

Under Terrace, they employed the Skinnerian approach, which doesn’t take into the account private events – like thinking, perceptions, and unobservable emotions – as causes of an organism’s behavior. Ball said he sensed something was missing in studying the pigeons this way.

“They didn’t know if they were males or females, they didn’t know anything about pigeons. They were just animals that you put in the box and you saw how the stimuli affected them. And this is that Skinnerian notion that the organism didn’t really matter – that the contingencies of reinforcement were so powerful that the same thing that happens in a pigeon could be programmed to happen in [other animals].”

Despite disagreeing with the Skinnerian approach, he learned in his early work in Terrace’s lab that he could parse and further understand many topics related to the brain and behavior by looking at nonhuman animals. He began to understand the potential for studying animals other than humans and use the findings to develop understanding about the human brain and behavior.

Around that time, he met Dr. Rae Silver, who had just come to Columbia University and was studying the parental behavior of doves in their natural habitat. He became her first research assistant at the university, which he said was a key event in his career as a psychologist.

“It was another milestone in my career because I realized ‘Oh, this is it!’ You study the animal on its own terms, you study the natural behavior of the animal, and try to glean what you can about the general principles of physiology and the brain related to behavior,” Ball said. “And that’s when I sort of saw that by studying these relationships in animals, you can understand the evolution, the adaptiveness of behavior and put it in the broader natural context.”

After his formative years at Columbia, he earned a PhD in psychobiology at Rutgers University, and completed his postdoctoral work in comparative neuroendocrinology and ethology at Rockefeller University. Prior to getting hired by the University of Maryland in 2014, he taught at Rutgers, Boston College, and Johns Hopkins University.
Today, as dean of the College of Behavioral and Social Science, much of his time is filled with administrative tasks, but he still finds time to pop over to the lab and check on his staff’s research while sharing encouraging stories to inspire the next generation of academics to follow their dreams.

One story he always enjoys retelling is about growing up right down the street from the University of Maryland and how on one summer break from his studies at Columbia, he took a job cutting the institution’s grass.

 “[I tell them] I used to mow the lawn of the building that I’m now dean of,” he says with a chuckle.

Did you find this article interesting?

0 2
25 Apr 2017

How Did You Get That Job? A Q&A with Mediator Dr. David Gage

The knowledge, skills and experience gained through your psychology education and training can successfully transfer to a variety of jobs that you may never have considered. Mediator Dr. David Gage, PhD, uses his psychology expertise to prevent and resolve conflicts between business partners and family business co-owners. In this webinar, Dr. Gage discusses his experience as a mediator and as a founder of his own company, BMC Associates. Learn how you can apply your psychology background to a similar career path.


David GageSpeaker:

Dr. David Gage is the founder of BMC Associates, a multidisciplinary team of mediators with backgrounds in business consulting, law, finance and psychology that specializes in preventing and resolving conflicts in a niche population: business partners and family business co-owners. Dr. Gage says his interest in business, and his psychological training in couples, groups and family systems, prepared him to be part of a team approach with this undeserved population.

Host:

Dr. Garth A. Fowler is an Associate Executive Director for Education, and the Director of the Office for Graduate and Postgraduate Education and Training at APA. He leads the Directorate’s efforts to develop resources, guidelines, and policies that promote and enhance disciplinary education and training in psychology at the graduate and postdoctoral level.

This webinar series is based on, and borrows its name, How Did You Get That Job?, from the popular column in APA’s monthly member-magazine, The Monitor on Psychology.

Did you find this webinar useful?

5 0
25 Apr 2017

Adventures in Dog Research with Stanley Coren

Adventures in Dog Research with Stanley Coren
APA Fellow Stanley Coren's research on dog behavior has brought him worldwide acclaim. (Photo: SC & Ripley UBC photo)

He wrote the textbook on sensory processes, published hundreds of papers on wide-ranging neuropsychological topics—and wrote a groundbreaking book on problems associated with left-handedness.

But it was his 1994 book, The Intelligence of Dogs, which ultimately brought psychologist and APA Fellow Stanley Coren, PhD, worldwide acclaim.

The Intelligence of Dogs was the first popular book to apply multiple intelligences to dogs—including instinctive, adaptive, and working and obedience intelligence—and it blended colorful personal anecdotes with a scientist’s understanding of the dog’s natural history, evolutionary relationship to humans, and trainability.

Notably, the book included data Coren collected from North American dog obedience judges that ranked 110 breeds by intelligence. (Unsurprisingly, Border Collies topped the list, while beautiful, but pea-brained, Afghan Hounds rounded out the bottom.)

It also employed aspects of the MacArthur-Bates Communicative Development Inventories to begin measuring canine language comprehension, an innovative adaptation of human psychological testing.

Speaking from his home in British Columbia, with his Toller pup Ranger whining for attention, Coren reflects on the meandering pathways his scientific explorations have taken him on, and the new concepts of canine research his work has unleashed.

“It used to be the case that you didn’t do research on dogs . . . because they were not considered a natural species,” says Coren, adding: “After my book came out, people began to see . . . what a wonderful genetics lab dogs could be because the breeds have been kept so pure that you actually can have genetically determined behavior differences.

“And then the later books that suggested that dogs have a mind of roughly a human equivalent of a 2- to-3-year-old began to impel people to think that maybe dogs are an important species to study.”

The dog book wasn’t his first brush with renown. Just a year earlier, Coren had published a bestseller on left-handedness, The Left-Hander Syndrome, which included nearly a decade of work on handedness.

His research indicated that left-handedness might be associated with birth stress and could cause some psychological and health problems—a highly controversial assertion that spurred new research in the field. Eventually, it also led to design changes in machinery to reduce hazards for left-handers, an accomplishment for which Coren enjoys obvious pride.

The book shot to the top of the bestseller list and landed Coren a spot on talk show couches from Oprah to Larry King to Charlie Rose. “I had been teaching monster-sized classes, hundreds of kids. That’s basically show biz, so I had lots of practice,” quips Coren.

What the two books shared was a deft, natural writing style that blended extensive scientific research with colorful personal anecdotes, examples from history, mythology, physiology and, in the case of handedness, advocacy. “All of my [popular] books are written as though I’m sitting across the table telling a story to my Aunt Sylvia,” he says, laughing. “She had a short attention span.”

Coren says he always knew he wanted to study the human-canine bond even as an undergrad in the 1960s, but in those days there was no precedent for “studying the critter at either end of the leash.”

“Anybody who claimed they wanted to study the human-animal bond at that time was looked at as if they had just gotten out of a flying saucer with a beanie [and] propeller on top,” says Coren. “There was no way for funding for that sort of thing.”

And so Coren pursued research in sensory processing, publishing his first paper in Science before earning a doctorate in psychology from Stanford. He established a prolific research career, publishing on wide-ranging topics that included vision and hearing, perception, laterality, birth stress, sleep, handedness, behavior genetics and cognitive processing.

“I always believed that a good scientist had to follow his interests and the questions which intrigued him,” notes Coren, who has amassed roughly 300 publications in publications including The New England Journal of Medicine, Nature, and American Journal of Public Health.

His body of neuropsychological work earned him the title of Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, the highest honor bestowed on a scientist. But even then, Coren was dogged by his “other” life.

“At the induction ceremony the governor general—who is the queen’s representative in Canada—shook my hand,” recalls Coren. “And all she wanted to do was talk about her Golden Retrievers. But, they’re the fourth smartest dogs in all of dogdom and they’re kissy-faced . . . so it’s an irresistible package.”

Coren has heard tales by besotted dog owners from movie stars to presidents. George Bush, Sr., once told Coren that First Dog Millie, his famed Springer Spaniel, routinely took showers with him at the White House.

“For a psychologist like me it was absolute proof of just how strong our bonds can be with our dogs . . .  that we would talk about these intimate moments with people we don’t know all that well when they involve our dog,” Coren chuckles.

Naturally, Coren has been a lifelong dog owner and longtime competitive dog obedience trainer—several of his dogs have won obedience titles. His books are filled with stories of pups he has loved and trained, and he even devoted an entire book to a clever Cairn Terrier, Flint, who could perform counting tasks and operate an answering machine.

Probably not surprising in the often siloed world of science, Coren’s success as a scientist-communicator would eventually undercut his work as a researcher.

“When I published The Intelligence of Dogs I was told by my colleagues it would be the end of my career,” says Coren, who nonetheless balanced his popular writing with neuropsychological research, until funding dried up in 2001. Undaunted, he continued research with his own funds before retiring from academics in 2007.

Coren has made peace with the price of success. He harnessed his own devotion to dogs to publish more than a dozen books on the subject. He writes a regular column on dogs for Psychology Today, and is a frequent contributor to the Canadian TV show “Pet Central.”

Coren says he’s excited about the explosion of dog research taking place internationally since his first book was published and the growing understanding of capabilities of service and therapy dogs. “In 1972, I remember there were 16 assisted-animal programs in all of America. In the year 2000, when I stopped monitoring, there were well over 1,000.”

All of Coren’s dogs are certified therapy dogs, he says, and he also trains them for competition-level obedience trials, whether they compete or not. But even in his household, dogs will be dogs. He confesses: “When my wife is not around they sometimes sneak on the sofa.”

At this Coren lets out a roaring laugh, which Ranger answers with an urgent whimper. “Okay puppy,” he says. “Okay. Time to go out.”

Dog Tips

Did you find this article interesting?

278 2
24 Apr 2017

Substance Use Disorders and Addictions Series

Substance Use Disorders and Addictions Series

Over the past few decades great advances have been made towards understanding the psychology of substance use disorders (SUDs) and addictions. This five-part series is designed to provide psychologists and psychology students with cutting-edge information about SUDs and addictive behaviors.

This series is a collaboration with the American Psychological Association (APA) Office of Continuing Education in Psychology, the APA Science Directorate, the APA Center for Learning and Career Development, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, and the Society of Addiction Psychology (Division 50 of APA). *This series is eligible for CE credit. Earn 2 CE credits for each session.

The five two-hour programs focus on:

Overview of Substance Use Disorders and Addictions

An overview of the basic concepts of substance use and substance use disorders (SUDs) including, a review diagnostic criteria as defined in the DSM-IV, DSM-5 and the ICD-10, and comorbidity between SUDs and other psychological disorders.

Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral for Treatment (SBIRT) for Substance Use Disorders and Addictions

SBIRT is recommended practice for many addictive behaviors demonstrating effectiveness in reducing risk and promoting movement through the stages of change. This workshop describes screening and brief intervention strategies that can be used to identify risky involvement with alcohol, marijuana, heroin, cocaine, tobacco, nonprescription medications and gambling behaviors.

Understanding People With Substance Use Disorders and Addictions

A look at some of the psychological, biological, and environmental factors that have been linked to the development of substance use disorders. The discussion also seeks to understand the challenges of living with addiction and considers the process of recovery and some of the factors that may help facilitate successful resolution of substance misuse.

Evidence-Based Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Management of Substance Use Disorders

An overview of the VA/DoD Clinical Practice Guidelines recommendations and how they were developed, including discussion of some of the gaps in the evidence base and selected clinical challenges.

Treatment of Substance Use Disorders in the Real World

A look at the most common addiction treatment modalities and content, with specific focus on identifying empirically-based principles of treatment and coordinating care with addiction treatment providers.

Did you find this web series useful?

33 1
21 Apr 2017

A Growing Wave of Online Therapy

A Growing Wave of Online Therapy

The flexible nature of these services benefit clients and providers, but the onus is on psychologists to make sure they comply with federal and state laws

It was an ad on Facebook that first prompted Los Alamitos, California, clinical psychologist Nina Barlevy, PsyD, to visit the online therapy website BetterHelp.com. The company promoted affordable online counseling, available anytime and anywhere, and Barlevy thought joining their panel of therapists might be a great way to supplement her income during slow times in her private practice.

"It looked like a good way to expand my practice here and there in my free time, if I was already going to be on my computer in the evenings or on my days off anyway," Barlevy says.

She went through Better Help's rigorous application process, which included verifying that she was licensed, and began communicating with users in her state via the site's secure messaging platform. The site also offers members the option to schedule live video and phone sessions with their therapists, though Barlevy worked mainly with clients via the site's unlimited asynchronous messaging service. They messaged her about many of the same issues her face-to-face therapy clients were dealing with, including stress, anxiety and relationship issues, among other concerns, and she messaged them back with questions, feedback, insights and guidance. They benefited from easier access to therapy, which particularly helps people in rural areas who may not be able to drive an hour each way to see a therapist face-to-face.

"[It is] a whole lot more appealing to be able to sit at your computer and type back and forth with someone," Barlevy says.

Telepsychology, be it by phone, webcam, email or text message, has been around in one form or another for more than 20 years, used most often by members of the military. But the explosion of smartphone users has created new opportunities for app-based companies to offer more accessible and affordable therapy.

Still, such online therapy creates concerns over patient privacy, as well as legal and ethical issues, including interjurisdictional practice issues, for providers who contract to work for these companies, which may not share the same code of conduct and commitment to do no harm, says Deborah Baker, JD, director of legal and regulatory policy in APA's Practice Directorate. Many of these online therapy companies also are not run by psychologists.

"When you're an individual provider, you can't assume that a business is going to be looking out for your best interest, so you really have to dig a little deeper and check in with your professional association and malpractice carrier to make sure you're complying with the law and with the APA Ethics Code."

Benefits for patients and therapists

The growth in online therapy companies—nearly a dozen have launched in the last several years—doesn't surprise Lindsay Henderson, PsyD, assistant director of psychological services at Boston-based telehealth company American Well, which offers therapy through video conferencing. The ease and convenience of scheduling a therapy appointment online and talking with a therapist from the privacy of one's own home—or wherever one may be—is a huge draw for consumers, many of whom are seeking therapy for the first time in their lives, she says.

American Well's online platform helps "normalize mental health care, especially among generations now who are so accustomed to interacting with people using technology," Henderson adds. "It just eliminates so many barriers."

Research studies, many of which are listed in bibliography format by the Telemental Health Institute, also indicate that telemental health is equivalent to face-to-face care in various settings and an acceptable alternative. While much of the research tests only the use of videoconferencing as the telehealth modality, a few studies, including two published in 2013, have also shown that asynchronous messaging therapy can be as effective as in-person therapy (Journal of Affective Disorders and Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Networking).

Even more encouraging is that when digital interventions are positive, effective experiences for patients, they may go on to seek face-to-face therapy, says Megan Jones, PsyD, adjunct clinical assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University School of Medicine. A study she led found that college students who needed a higher level of care for eating disorders were more likely to seek it out after participating in a digital body-image program and working with a coach online via asynchronous messaging through the online therapy company Lantern (Journal of American College Health, 2014).

"It can really be a nice first step in treatment for someone who needs more intensive therapy," says Jones, who also serves as chief science officer at Lantern.

Mental health professionals can also reap benefits from joining online care teams. In addition to supplementing practitioners' incomes with new patients, providing online therapy can help them maintain a better work-life balance, Henderson says.

"From the provider perspective, the flexibility of practicing telemental health fits so well into my life and allows me to better meet my patients' needs," she says. "I'm not at a point in my life where I want to be going to an office at 8:30 in the evening, but I will happily go to my home office, lock the door and see a patient at that time."

Employment at online therapy companies isn't limited to providing therapy to clients, either. Opportunities abound and will continue to grow in supervisory and training roles as well as full-time research positions at these mental health technology companies, Jones says.

But tread carefully

Of course, online care is not for every patient or practitioner. Clients with more serious mental illnesses or addictions likely need more treatment than digital therapy can provide. And some clinicians may find certain telehealth modalities difficult, says Barlevy.

"I'm such a people person, so it was tough for me to feel a real connection when I was just messaging with people," she says. "Plus a lot of people just stopped responding, and I felt like there wasn't enough time to really build a relationship. It actually turned out to be more difficult than I imagined."

In addition, some online therapy companies don't have clear guidelines for handling risky situations, such as a patient who may seem suicidal in his or her messaging responses, says Lynn Bufka, PhD, associate executive director for practice research and policy at APA.

While some apps do report that they use a member's IP address to determine their exact location and send police if a therapist is concerned about a member's safety, it's often more difficult to determine a patient's level of risk via a messaging app than face-to-face with them in a therapy room.

"If you're using an online therapy platform and you ask someone if they're suicidal and they say no, is that it?" Bufka says. "Those kinds of clinical issues come up, which is why I think most psychologists seem to feel much more comfortable integrating technology into an ongoing face-to-face or video/teleconferencing relationship versus using only messaging."

Practitioners also need to do their due diligence when it comes to making sure their decision to contract with an online therapy company doesn't run afoul of complying with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountibility Act (HIPAA), state licensing laws and other legal and ethical practices, Baker says. In addition, platforms that allow patients to connect anonymously with therapists may create legal and ethical issues for psychologists.

"My concern is that some of these models are probably start-ups that are launched by people in technology, who have good intentions but haven't fully investigated all the nuances in what's involved in providing health services," she says. "Do they fully understand HIPAA/HITECH, any related state laws and patient confidentiality policies? Do they fully understand that psychologists cannot simply provide services to patients anywhere in the United States?"

Psychologists interested in joining these companies should investigate those issues, and also find out exactly where patients are located if they are providing them therapy services to ensure that they are authorized to do so. Such issues were part of the reason Columbia, South Carolina, clinical psychologist Shawna Kirby, PhD, decided to part ways with an online therapy company she worked for in 2015. After several months as a contracted therapist, she terminated the agreement, due to a series of ethical concerns she had over how the company dealt with interjurisdictional practice issues, consumer privacy, informed consent and therapy termination. When she brought her concerns to the company's clinical director and owners, none of whom are psychologists, she says they brushed off her concerns, and then eventually blocked her from messaging with her clients. "It all seemed more financially driven, rather than care driven," she says.

That's why it's so important that psychologists play a leadership role at mental health technology companies, Jones says.

"These companies need our knowledge and competency at the heart of their decision-making process because we have a very different framework and we understand the responsibilities that we have to users in a very different way than you do if you come from a technology background," she says. "I want to have a peer at any company like ours."

By Amy Novotney


Did you find this article useful?

1 0
21 Apr 2017

Secrets of a Great Group Practice

Secrets of a Great Group Practice

These top practices offer opportunities for research, pro bono work, built-in CE and more

After Anahi Collado, PhD, completed her postdoc at Emory University in Atlanta, the university recruited her for an assistant professor's job there. But she turned it down when an unusual, but appealing, opportunity opened up: The ability to conduct research in-house at Alvord Baker & Associates, a group practice with two locations in Maryland.

Now, Collado spends 80 percent of her time providing therapy and 20 percent conducting outcomes research in the practice and in local public schools where she studies a resilience program. The practice also has a full-time research assistant and director of research to support the clinicians who are part of the research team, which collaborates with Catholic University.

"I have the scientist practitioner model that everyone aspires to have," she says. "Here, it's a reality."

Offering in-house research is also part of the allure at Portland Psychotherapy Clinic, Research and Training Center in Portland, Oregon. Founding partners Jenna LeJeune, PhD, and her husband, Jason Luoma, PhD, were both trained in the scientist-practitioner model and wanted to design a practice that lived up to that ideal. "Even for the clinicians on staff who don't have research time, they see it as a really valuable part about why they are here," says LeJeune, who, with Luoma, detailed their approach in Professional Psychology: Research and Practice in 2015.

Providing research opportunities is just one of the ways these successful group practices appeal to clinicians—others include offering flexible scheduling, community service and mentoring. The Monitor talked with LeJeune and others to find out how they have created group practices where clinicians feel valued and empowered and clients love to visit.

Encourage personal growth. Another popular feature at Alvord Baker is in-house continuing-education programs offered twice a month on such topics as ethics, telehealth and interjurisdictional practice—many of which are presented by clinicians on staff. "We are always learning and always presenting," says founding partner Mary Alvord, PhD, who has a part-time staff member devoted to organizing CE.

Professional development is also a priority at Portland Psychotherapy, which offers lunchtime learning talks. In addition, every six months each clinician meets with Luoma to discuss ways they can grow professionally. "It's really helpful because I don't think I would think as much about the big picture without that meeting," says staff psychologist Melissa Platt, PhD. "There is a lot of attention to professional development here even when we are not outright seeking it."

Clinicians at Southeast Psych—with locations in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Nashville, Tennessee—are encouraged to be bold: Recently, one of the practice's licensed professional counselors, Myque Harris, MS, who is also a certified yoga instructor, asked her partners about revamping her office space so she could combine her clinical work with yoga instruction—teaching children, teens and adults yoga poses and breathing strategies that could reduce their anxiety and depression.

"Something I saw as a far stretch, they saw as something great I could offer the community," she says.

Now she has an office with enough open space to instruct up to six clients at a time.

Provide a great space. LeJeune and Luoma renovated an 1889 Victorian home in downtown Portland to house their practice and gave each clinician his or her own room. Platt says the cozy surroundings boost her mood and make the experience of seeing a therapist more enjoyable for her clients.

"I have worked in places where the therapy rooms were sad with no windows," she says. "Clients comment all the time that our environment feels therapeutic."

Likewise, IntraSpectrum Counseling in Chicago, a group practice with psychologists and social workers specializing in serving the LGBTQIA community, creates a welcoming environment by having LGBTQIA magazines in the waiting room, gender neutral bathrooms and even brewing a local coffee brand that has LGBTQIA-affirmative policies for staff and clients. They keep the staff pantry stocked with cheese sticks, granola bars and La Croix sparkling water to keep people's energy levels up.

"Staff only have a few minutes between sessions and you often end up thinking about your growling stomach in the session," says Rena McDaniel, MEd, LCPC, IntraSpectrum's chief operating officer and a staff therapist. "It solves a big problem in a simple way."

Clinicians at Southeast Psych, a general group practice with more than 50 providers, say the fun, positive environment is among the reasons they find their work so rewarding. When clients and their parents come for an appointment, a hostess greets them and offers refreshments and a professional cosplayer wearing superhero or princess costumes entertains younger children before sessions, while older children can play X-box games. The practice also has a theatre in its Charlotte office to host speakers and films for clients or staff. Their philosophy? Break the mold on practice design.

"You don't have to have a water fountain," in your practice, says founding partner Frank Gaskill, PhD. "But if you do, make it really cool."

Make it fun. Several of the practices offer just-for-fun team-building experiences. The team at IntraSpectrum chooses a yearly activity such as bowling or a cooking class to attend together—and all wearing wigs for a festive twist. Staff at Southeast Psych carve out two hours on the last Wednesday of the month for play, such as having pizza and watching a movie or playing arcade games.

LeJeune and Luoma host board games and cocktails at their house once per month as a way for the whole practice to connect. "We try to get to know each other as human beings and meet each other's families and know what is going on in our lives," says LeJeune. "It has made it a totally different place to work."

Offer flexibility. For Harris, who came to Southeast after a stint in a Charlotte private school, getting to set her own hours allows her time to attend school events with her young daughter. "A lot of places talk work-life balance but aren't really living it," says Harris, who doesn't work Fridays and only works half days on Wednesdays. "We are definitely living it here."

Alvord also encourages her staff to set their own hours—and invested in high-quality videoconferencing technology so that staff who can't make it into the office on meeting days can connect from home. "Everyone can see each other even if we can't all physically be in the same office," she says.

Create a supportive environment. At IntraSpectrum, clinicians have weekly "consultation pods" where four or five clinicians with similar schedules meet to talk through difficult cases in depth. More informally, people make it a priority to carve out time during the day to talk through challenges. "People often say that it's a way to be independent in your work, but connected," says McDaniel.

At Portland, clinicians triage cases every other week and "check in on where we need support in our clinical work and our personal life," says LeJeune. Clinicians at Southeast Psych are assigned mentors during their first year with the practice; every new hire attends one lunch and one breakfast each month with his or her mentor to talk about his or her work with clients and how to build their practice.

Serve the community. Giving psychology away is an important common goal among the clinicians at Alvord Baker—many give free talks at local social service agencies and schools on such topics as cognitive-behavioral therapy and managing anxiety. They take turns facilitating monthly support group meetings of the local chapter of CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder). In Charlotte, the clinicians at Southeast Psych do the same. Harris has given seven talks this year on such topics as how meditation can help children with ADHD and talking to children about sex. Southeast Psych also created "Psychology for All," a nonprofit arm of the practice that offers discounted services to local residents who can't afford psychological care.

As rewarding as these practices are, though, Gaskill says there is a downside to having a popular group practice: You often have to turn away great ­clinicians who want to work there. Southeast Psych gets at least two new resumes every week from prospective therapists.

At least one of those psychologists was inspired enough to create his own version. "He wrote to me eventually and said, ‘You guys rejected me, but I read your book, took it to heart, quit what I was doing and now I have my own group practice,'" says Gaskill. "Fifteen people now work for him; it is really cool to see that."

By Jamie Chamberlin


Did you find this article useful?

0 0
21 Apr 2017

10 Tips for Speaking Like a Ted Talk Pro

10 Tips for Speaking Like a Ted Talk Pro

Advice from the experts on how to make any presentation sing

Psychologists and graduate students are often called upon to speak to an audience, whether to give a conference presentation, deliver a lecture to a class, lead a meeting or give a talk in the community. But public speaking is a skill that comes more naturally to some than to others, and there are some common pitfalls to avoid, such as seeming disorganized or looking down at notes rather than at your audience.

Regardless of how practiced you may be at public speaking, there are some very effective strategies to use to deliver engaging talks. The next time you have a speaking engagement, try these tips to deliver your message like a TED Talk presenter:

1. Know your audience.
Keep in mind whom you are going to be addressing when you craft your presentation, says Robert Sternberg, PhD, a former APA president who is a professor of human development at Cornell University. Is the audience going to be mainly fellow psychologists, health professionals, other professional groups, students or consumers? What do they want and need to hear? Knowing whom you are speaking to will help you tailor the talk and will help keep the audience engaged.

2. Keep it simple, especially if you're going to give a talk to a general audience.
"People have a tendency to give presentations the audience doesn't understand," says Barry Schwartz, PhD, a psychology professor emeritus at Swarthmore College and a visiting professor at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley. He suggests giving a talk that makes people feel like they're smart and like they want to learn more about the topic. "The curse of knowledge is that once you know something, you forget what it was like when you didn't know it," he says. "I imagine that I'm going to present to my grandmother, who had a fifth-grade education."

3. Emphasize connection over content.
To best engage listeners, build your speech from an emotional place rather than from the content, says Kristi Hedges, leadership coach and author of the 2011 book "The Power of Presence: Unlock Your Potential to Influence and Engage Others." Rattling off facts and figures and talking at the audience isn't effective if they aren't interested in what you are saying. "Be clear about what you want the audience to walk away with when they leave and use that intent as a structure to frame your talk," says Hedges. Your passion for a topic can draw people in; talking without any enthusiasm for the topic can deplete energy in the room and eclipse your message. "Talk to persuade, not just to inform," adds Sternberg.

4. Be authentic.
Some speakers may try to sound like someone they admire instead of being themselves, notes Daniel Gilbert, PhD, professor of psychology at Harvard University. "Some people try to sing like their favorite singer or dance like their favorite dancer," says Gilbert. "Similarly, some speakers may try to sound like Martin Luther King Jr. or John F. Kennedy." Authenticity—sounding like yourself and using everyday language—is key to getting your message across to an audience, says Gilbert.

5. Diversify your delivery.
People don't learn just by listening—different people learn in different ways, says Susan H. McDaniel, PhD, APA's 2016 president. Use visual tools (such as slides or a video), incorporate research and tell stories. Anecdotes can be a particularly effective way to connect with an audience. "It could be a story about yourself, especially if you're using humor and making fun of yourself," says McDaniel. One important tip to keep in mind about multimedia presentations: Don't let the technology obscure what you're trying to say, says Schwartz. "PowerPoint is incredibly powerful, but use it to get halfway there, rather than expecting it to do the whole job for you," he says.

6. Shake it up.
Another reason to use different media in your talk is to make it more dynamic and compelling. "Using mixed media creates energy and vibrancy," says Hedges. Think about ways to use slides, video, audio, handouts, props and even spontaneous smartphone polls to engage your audience. You might, for instance, start with a video and then use powerful images later in your talk, says Hedges. Or you can begin with an engrossing question and use the audience feedback as data with polling software such as Poll Everywhere.

7. Stick to your points.
Before you talk, determine your main points and outline them, says McDaniel. Some people refer to notes on stage while others may use PowerPoint or Keynote slides as prompts. One cautionary tip: Avoid simply putting the text of your speech in slides. "Writing out the words you'll be saying on slides is boring," says McDaniel. "Slides should be used for emphasis."

8. Know the setup.
Have a run-through in the space you'll be speaking at if possible, especially if you'll be talking in front of a large audience. Test the tech system during that practice run to troubleshoot possible problems in advance. For instance, the sound may not run properly with your video or your slides may be set up behind you (which would mean you'll have to constantly turn your head to see where you are in your talk).

9. Don't lecture the whole time.
Keep in mind that people don't have long attention spans. If you need to explore a topic deeply, use humor, an engaging video or other media to present various aspects of the topic. You can also break up a long talk by posing questions to the audience, suggests Hedges.

10. Leave time for questions.
Talking until the last minute is a common mistake many speakers make, says Hedges. If you have an hourlong presentation, plan for 45 minutes of talking and 15 minutes for questions.

A Ted Talk on Ted Talks: To watch a video on how to give a great talk, go to www.ted.com/talks/chris_anderson_teds_secret_to_great_public_speaking.

By Katherine Lee


Did you find this article useful?

6 0
21 Apr 2017

Finding Your Dream Psychology Career

Finding Your Dream Psychology Career

Don’t want to go into practice, research or teaching? Here’s how to find a nontraditional career that uses your expertise and sparks your interest.

Many psychologists find their passions are not stirred by providing direct therapy, conducting research or teaching. They are more interested in applying their expertise on human behavior in new and atypical ways—but aren't always sure what those career paths look like.

Looking to find your own unique career path in psychology? Here's advice from career experts and psychologists who work outside academia on how to do it.

Look inward

Before you start exploring career possibilities, figure out your internal motivations and passions.

"People tend to focus on knowing what's out there and don't pay too much attention to knowing themselves," says Jennifer Polk, PhD, career coach and owner of the website From PhD to Life, which provides job advice, coaching and mentoring to doctorate holders seeking nonacademic jobs. She works with job seekers to delve into their broader interests and explore which career opportunities might be a better fit for them.

Getting comfortable with the thought of a nontraditional career requires job seekers to be honest with themselves about what they really want and why it's important to them, says Paula Chambers, PhD, founder and CEO of The Versatile PhD, a career education website that helps grad students and new doctorate-holders identify and prepare for nonacademic careers.

She recommends asking yourself questions such as:

  • What do you love about psychology?
  • What's missing?
  • What weird passions do you have that have nothing to do with your work, but you never run out of energy for?

These types of assessments can help you realize that the No. 1 person you need to please with your career is yourself, she says.

To conduct such a selfassessment, check out APA's free online resource aimed at helping job seekers develop a plan of action for pursuing their ideal jobs. Authoring your Individual Individual Development Plan starts with a self-assessment, and the tool helps users explore careers, identify gaps in experience, set goals, and create a plan with milestones and outcomes.

Network

Get to know people in business and industry who can give you an inside perspective on different career paths. One way to network is to attend nonacademic conferences in the specific fields you might be interested in, such as social work, advocacy, criminal justice, military, transportation, modeling and simulation, training, engineering, energy and more. "Market yourself to people in industry," says Brandon Perelman, PhD, a postdoctoral researcher at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory in the Human Research and Engineering Directorate. "Communicate why your research and skills are important to them," he says.

Also, search for people who have a job you might like and contact them. "Don't be afraid to reach out to complete strangers, like someone you found on LinkedIn," says Chambers. "Ask if they would be able to talk to you for 20 minutes on the phone about their work." Such informational interviews can provide inside information about various careers and help establish new connections.

Identify your skills

As you start exploring alternative career paths, think carefully about the skills you already have. If you've coordinated a large research effort like your dissertation, you have project management experience. Conveying your ideas during presentations and discussions has honed your communication skills. By working in a lab, you've developed teamwork skills. Once you start examining the components of what you do on a daily basis, you can determine how to apply those skills to nonacademic jobs.

Test the waters

If you lack some qualifications for the type of job you ultimately want, work to develop those skills, says Chambers. Students can get involved in activities on campus and those already in the workforce can look for opportunities to bolster their resumes, such as writing grant proposals, learning about budgets and financial management, or developing and leading a project. Also, consider taking classes relevant to the jobs you want, such as business, grant writing or marketing.

Volunteer work can also help you learn a new skill.

Internships and fellowships also provide the hands-on experiences psychologists need to prepare for their dream jobs. Most federal and local government agencies have internship programs. For instance, you might find internships in health policy and advocacy, criminal justice or education program evaluation, and human rights advancement around the world.

Many private companies also offer internships where you can learn about for-profit research, government contracting, business development and customer relations. Companies don't always have formal internship programs, but many will hire an intern for the summer or during busy times. "I started doing a summer internship at a private government contractor and discovered I liked it a lot," says Perelman. The experiences and connections he made during his internship helped him land his current position.

Apply for the job

So, once you've identified the job you want, how do you get hired? "Talk about your experience and skills in ways that are friendly to the industry and the organizational culture where you intend to work," says Eddy Ameen, PhD, who directs APA's Office on Early Career Psychologists.

Also, be sure to read job ads carefully to address all the requirements. For example, don't submit an academic CV when the ad asks for a resume. Prepare a resume that is shorter and more focused than your CV. Instead of talking about yourself, shift to what an employer needs and speak directly to their requirements.

For more advice on creating a resume from a CV, see the Jan. 2016 gradPSYCH article "Make Your Resume Stand Out."

Land the job

During the job interview, "your answers must be focused on the company first and yourself second," says Chambers. "Research the company extensively so you can speak intelligently about the specifics of the business."

And, employers want to know your answer to a key question: What can you do for me right now that will benefit my organization? Show them that you are the person who will meet their needs by articulating the value a psychology degree brings to any field.

Above all else, be confident. "You need to be able to sell yourself," says Shari Schwartz, PhD, who works as a mitigation expert and trial consultant at the firm she launched called Panther Advocacy and Litigation Sciences. "You've attained a doctoral-level education so there is nothing to be intimidated about. Go in there and make sure they understand you have something to offer and you'll be an asset."

By Laura Zimmerman, PhD


Did you find this article useful?

0 0