12 Jan 2018

Technology is Revolutionizing Practice

Technology is Revolutionizing Practice

Apps and virtual help agents are forever changing the way psychological services are delivered

Once mainly the domain of rural practitioners, telepsychology is expanding significantly, thanks to technological innovations, research that shows its effectiveness and policy changes that are enabling psychologists to practice across state lines.

"Telehealth just makes life so much easier," says psychologist Mary Alvord, PhD, who uses HIPAA-secure video conferencing technology to see clients, conduct staff meetings and trainings, and supervise trainees as part of her practice in the Washington, D.C. suburbs. "It helps us overcome so much in terms of treatment barriers," which include stigma, access to specialists and commute times in urban areas, where "it can take 45 minutes to go just a few miles for an appointment," she says.

Now, new forms of telehealth are taking therapy beyond video conferencing. Among the latest creations is Woebot, the world's first chatbot designed to help improve mental health. Created by a team of former Stanford University psychologists and artificial intelligence experts, Woebot uses Facebook Messenger to deliver a form of cognitive behavioral therapy, asking users how they're feeling and what is going on in their lives through brief daily conversations. The bot also sends videos and mental health advice, depending on a user's mood and needs at the time.

Research shows it works. A peer-reviewed randomized controlled trial with a group of college students found that Woebot decreased symptoms of depression and anxiety after just two weeks (JMIR Mental Health, Vol. 4, No. 2, 2017).

While Woebot is certainly not intended to replace traditional psychological care, the hope is that this technology may provide a more accessible option, particularly for those with less severe mental health issues, says psychologist Alison Darcy, PhD, CEO and founder of Woebot Labs Inc. "Barriers, like cost of treatment and social stigmas, have prevented people from getting the help that they need," Darcy says. "Woebot represents a new era in digital health."

In a similar vein, psychologists are exploring the use of "Just-in-Time Adaptive Interventions," or JITAIs, delivered via smartphone. JITAIs seek to give people the support they need at the time they need it, such as smokers who are more likely to crave a cigarette when they are stressed or see someone else smoking.

"When it comes to unhealthy behaviors, you're more at risk of engaging in them at certain times," says psychologist Bonnie Spring, PhD, who directs the Center for Behavior and Health in the Institute for Public Health and Medicine at Northwestern University. "But in the classic model, where you see your therapist once a week, the therapist isn't there in the moment when you need help to overcome the temptation."

Spring and her team are equipping smokers with sensors that pick up users' heart rates and respiration patterns, and determine when they are stressed and when they are smoking. The team studies participants for several days while they are still smoking, then coaches them to quit by helping them cope with the stress of nicotine withdrawal. When a participant's sensor detects that they are stressed, for example, a relaxation app automatically opens on their smartphones. The idea is to prompt them to calm down by doing a relaxation exercise rather than reaching for a cigarette.

The goal of these technologies is to intervene in rapidly changing conditions that occur outside standard treatment settings while minimizing disruptions to a person's daily life and routines. "It's important to keep in mind that we can't just provide reminders every time a person experiences stress because people can get habituated to repeated reminders, or get irritated or feel overwhelmed if reminders are provided too frequently or at inconvenient times," says Inbal (Billie) Nahum-Shani, PhD, a University of Michigan behavioral sciences professor who is also studying JITAIs. That's why JITAIs are designed to offer an intervention only when the person is receptive. "To effectively provide just-in-time interventions, we need to be able to assess not only when the person requires support, but also when the person can actually benefit from it."

Meanwhile, research continues to document the promise of technology in psychology practice. A review of more than 100 controlled trials published last year concluded that therapist-guided internet treatments are effective for a wide range of psychological conditions (Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, Vol. 12, 2016). Evidence is particularly strong around the effectiveness of treating anxiety, stress and depression online (Journal of Technology in Human Services, Vol. 26, Issue 2–4, 2008). And new services such as BetterHelp, Therapy. Live, LARKR, 7 Cups and others tout on-demand talk, text or video therapy to provide consumers with greater flexibility (see "A Growing Wave of Online Therapy," February 2017 Monitor).

And in more good news for telepsychology practice, 31 states plus Washington, D.C., now have parity laws requiring insurers to cover telehealth services if they cover in-person care (although Medicare still reimburses for telehealth only outside metropolitan areas or in "health professional shortage areas").

Progress is also continuing on enacting the Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact (PSYPACT), which allows licensed psychologists to offer telepsychology services in participating states without having to get licensed in those additional states, says Alex Siegel, JD, PhD, director of professional affairs at the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards, the organization that developed PSYPACT.

Three states have enacted PSYPACT legislation and several more have introduced legislation to adopt it, but PSYPACT will only become operational once it is enacted in seven states.

Siegel says he expects that will happen in 2018. "It's no longer a question as to if PSYPACT will happen—just when."

Psychologists who engage in telepsychology must consider legal requirements, ethical standards, telecommunication technologies, intra- and interagency policies, as well as several other external constraints. To help psychologists interested in this realm of practice, in 2016 APA released its Guidelines for the Practice of Telepsychology. Read them at www.apa.org/practice/guidelines/telepsychology.aspx.

By Amy Novotney


This article was originally published in the November 2017 Monitor on Psychology

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08 Jan 2018

Practicing Telehealth: The Ethical and Legal Ways to Treat your Patients From Afar

How can psychologists navigate the telehealth arena in a world where consumer options for electronic type health services are increasing? What factors must psychologists consider when providing telepsychological services to patients and supervisees?

Legal and psychology experts discuss the ins and outs of telepsychology. Presenters review:

· Legal and ethical aspects of providing telehealth services
· Obstacles and solutions of interjurisdictional telepsychology practice
· APA Guidelines for the Practice of Telepsychology
· ASPPB's Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact (PSYPACT) Initiative

Panelists:

Alex Siegel, JD, PhD
Director of Professional Affairs
Association of State & Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB)

Deborah C. Baker, JD
Director, Legal & Regulatory Policy American Psychological Association Practice Organization (APAPO)

This webinar was produced by the Practice Organization, advocating for psychologists on reimbursement issues. The Practice Organization is a legally separate companion organization to APA.

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14 Dec 2017

Clinical Practice Guideline for PTSD

Are you familiar with APA’s Clinical Practice Guideline for the Treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Adults? Released earlier this year, the PTSD guideline recommends evidence-based treatments for PTSD and is supported by a comprehensive website of resources. Learn more about the guideline and consider how to apply it to their clinical work.

APA staff psychologist Lynn Bufka, PhD reviews various website features including:

• Information for clinicians on recommended interventions,
• PTSD assessment instruments used in the studies that informed the clinical practice guideline,
• Case examples of treatment interventions, and
• Resources for patients and families to help them understand PTSD, its causes, and its effects and treatment options.

*This webinar does NOT offer CE credit.

Speaker bio:
Lynn Bufka, PhD, is Associate Executive Director, Practice Research and Policy, at the American Psychological Association. Dr. Bufka oversees programs and projects related to expanding opportunities for professional psychology including integration of psychology in the health care delivery system, diagnostic and functional classification, clinical practice guideline development and outcomes measurement. She frequently serves as a media spokesperson for APA on these topics and other policy matters relevant to professional practice. Additionally, Dr. Bufka is a Maryland licensed psychologist and continues to provide treatment and clinical consultation on a limited basis.

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20 Nov 2017

Executive Function Across the Life Span

This presentation discusses the theory, assessment, and research relevance of tools that can be used for a comprehensive assessment of executive function (EF). It also examines assessing EF using measures of observable behaviors, cognitive processing, and academic performance. Research evidence is presented from a number of assessment tools and resources including:

• The Comprehensive Executive Function Inventory (Naglieri & Goldstein, 2013)
• The Comprehensive Executive Function Inventory—Adult (Naglieri & Goldstein, 2017)
• The PASS neurocognitive theory (Cognitive Assessment System, 2nd ed.; Naglieri, Das, & Goldstein, 2014)
• Social-emotional skills (Devereux Student Strength Assessment; LeBuffe, Shapiro, & Naglieri, 2010)
• Academic skills (Feifer Assessment of Reading and Math; Feifer, 2015, 2017)

Intervention methods are discussed throughout the presentation. Viewers will gain a broad view of EF that can be used to guide assessment and instruction to improve academic and life skills.

jack naglieriSpeaker: Jack A. Naglieri, Ph.D., is Research Professor at the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia, Senior Research Scientist at the Devereux Center for Resilient Children, and Emeritus Professor of Psychology at George Mason University. He is a Fellow of APA Divisions 15 and 16 and recipient of several awards for his contribution to the field of psychology. Dr. Naglieri is the author or co-author of more than 300 scholarly papers, books, and tests. His scholarly research includes investigations related to topics such as intellectual disabilities, specific learning disabilities, giftedness, and Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.

This webinar is sponsored by MHS Inc., a leading publisher of psychological assessments for over 30 years.

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13 Nov 2017

MonitorLIVE: Exploring New Practice & Income Opportunities for Psychologists

Today, nearly 50% of licensed psychologists are in private practice. But as the roles of psychologists evolve, many practitioners are now asking, “How can I enhance my career, make it more rewarding, and earn a good living?”

APA and APAPO challenged practicing psychologists to think more broadly and explore innovative ways to use their skill set and training. On December 5, at APA’s headquarters in Washington, DC, members gathered for the latest monitorLIVE event to discover unique ways to grow their practice and supplement their income.

During the moderated discussion, eight panelists went over:

  • a diverse range of paths both in and outside of practice, including integrated health care, forensic consulting, parent coordination, niche population work, public office & lobbying, content, partnerships & media, adjunct teaching, and industry consulting
  • shared their favorite resources and tools to enhance a career
  • offered tips on how to get involved in a local community and professional associations
  • explored additional income opportunities
    and more!

monitorLIVE events connect psychology professionals and thought leaders to learn about and discuss issues that impact and elevate the discipline.

*Note: Audio has some distortion.

Topics & Speakers

Parenting Coordination

Giselle A. Hass, Psy.D., ABAP
Clinical & Forensic Psychologist

Giselle Hass is a Licensed Clinical and Forensic Psychologist, and Board Diplomate in Assessment Psychology, who, for the past 25 years, has worked as a forensic expert in family law for local and national courts, specifically in custody and divorce, child abuse and neglect, domestic violence, cross and multi-cultural mental health, attachment, and psychological assessment. She was an Associate Professor in the Clinical Psychology Programs of Argosy University, Washington DC Campus from 1995 to 2010. Dr. Hass is a co-founder of the American Psychological Association Parenting Coordination Program in the DC Superior Court. This program was created to serve the needs of low-income, high conflict families involved in child custody disputes in the District of Columbia. Dr. Hass was the Clinical Director of this program from 2004 to 2009, and is currently a member of the Board of Advisors. She was a member of the APA Task Force to develop the APA Guidelines on Parenting Coordination.

Dr. Hass’ Top Parenting Coordination Resources

Adjunct Teaching

Eddy Ameen, Ph.D.
Director, APA Office on Early Career Psychologists

Dr. Eddy Ameen serves as the inaugural director of the Office on Early Career Psychologists at APA. He has been with APA since 2011, previously the Assistant Director of APAGS. He graduated from Northwestern University with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, Boston College with a Master’s in Mental Health Counseling, and University of Miami with a PhD in Counseling Psychology. Outside of his work at APA, he is the board chair of StandUp For Kids, a national homeless youth organization which provides street outreach and other youth services in 17 cities across the US. He also leads a local LGBTQ youth advocacy coalition which has successfully advocated to ban conversion therapy, improve K-12 health education standards, require suicide prevention training of school personnel, and require LGBT cultural competency training of all healthcare providers, all within the District. Additionally, he is an third-year adjunct professor teaching family systems to clinical doctoral students, and he conducts asylum evaluations with Physicians for Human Rights.

Dr. Ameen’s Top Adjunct Teaching Resources

Integrated Health Care

Jessica Winkles, Ph.D.
Pediatric Psychologist

Dr. Winkles is the Pediatric Psychologist at Kenneth M. Klebanow, M.D. & Associates, P.A., a private pediatric primary care practice serving approximately 15,000 patients in Maryland. Dr. Winkles is dedicated to improving behavioral health care accessibility and promoting evidence-based interventions.  She established the practice’s fully integrated Behavioral Health Consultation Service, which delivers screening and brief psychosocial interventions to patients and their families. Her past work includes directing a SAMHSA-funded clinical research program focused on intergenerational stress and trauma at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. She also supervised clinical psychology doctoral students in child assessment at Loyola University Maryland. Dr. Winkles earned her doctorate in Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology from the University of Denver and completed her predoctoral internship in clinical child and pediatric psychology from Children’s National Health System. She earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia.

Dr. Winkles’ Top Integrated Health Care Resources

Content, Partnerships & Media

Mary K. Alvord, Ph.D.
Clinical Psychologist

Mary Karapetian Alvord, Ph.D. is a psychologist and Director of Alvord, Baker & Associates, LLC, a private practice in Maryland. With more than 35 years of clinical experience, she specializes in the treatment of children, adolescents and adults with anxiety and mood disorders, ADHD and problems of self-regulation through individual and group therapy. Adjunct Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at The George Washington University School of Medicine, she trains Psychiatry Fellows in Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT). Dr. Alvord's focus has been on promoting resilience and stress management using strength-based approaches. Co-author of Resilience Builder Program for Children and Adolescents, and two audio CD's: Relaxation and Self-Regulation Techniques for Children and Teens, and Relaxation and Wellness Techniques (adults), she has contributed to the American Psychological Association's (APA) public education guides. Past President of APA Division 46, Society for Media Psychology and Technology, she currently serves as APA's Public Education Coordinator for the Maryland Psychological Association. She frequently appears in the national media. In 2009, Dr. Alvord was honored with the APA's Presidential Innovative Practice Citation. Most recently, she co-authored Conquer Negative Thinking for Teens: A Workbook to Break the Nine Thought Habits That Are Holding You Back and authored an essay in NPR Health Shots.

Dr. Alvord’s Top Content & Media Resources

Organizational Consulting

David W. Ballard, Psy.D., MBA
Assistant Executive Director for Organizational Excellence at APA

Dr. David Ballard serves as Assistant Executive Director for Organizational Excellence at the American Psychological Association (APA). In that capacity, he is responsible for leadership, direction, evaluation, and management of all activities related to APA’s Center for Organizational Excellence, which includes the association’s Psychologically Healthy Workplace Program. Dr. Ballard has provided research, consultation, and training to government agencies, corporations, employer and industry groups, medical schools, and universities in the areas of workplace health and productivity, public health, prevention, and health care finance. He is currently on the Board of Directors of The Health Project / C. Everett Koop National Health Awards and co-chairs the Work, Stress and Health Conference, an international conference co-sponsored by APA, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the Society for Occupational Health Psychology. He previously served on the Board of Directors for the Health Enhancement Research Organization and the External Advisory Board for the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media, as well as on workplace advisory bodies for the National Business Group on Health and Partnership for Prevention. Dr. Ballard received his doctorate in Clinical Psychology and his MBA in Health and Medical Services Administration from Widener University, where he completed concentrations in organizational and forensic psychology.

Dr. Ballard’s Top Organizational Consulting Resources

Government Relations & Advocacy

Craig D. Fisher, PsyD
Senior Legislative and Federal Affairs Officer in the Science Government Relations Office at APA

Dr. Craig Fisher is a Senior Legislative and Federal Affairs Officer in the APA Science Government Relations Office. He advocates for psychological science on Capitol Hill and at the federal science agencies, including the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences.  He is also the Director of APA's Executive Branch Science Fellowship. Before joining APA, Dr. Fisher was a AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellow at the National Science Foundation, Office of Legislative and Public Affairs where he engaged key stakeholders about NSF-funded basic research, particularly in social and behavioral science. Previously, he worked as a licensed clinical psychologist in independent private practice in Northern Virginia and at George Mason University's Counseling and Psychological Services where he specialized in cognitive behavioral therapy for patients with anxiety disorders.

Dr. Fishers’s Top Government Relations & Advocacy Resources

Niche Population Practitioner

Michael L. Hendricks, Ph.D., ABPP
Clinical & Forensic Psychologist 

Dr. Michael L. Hendricks is a clinical and forensic psychologist in private practice at the Washington Psychological Center, P.C., in Washington, D.C., and is a Clinical Professor at the George Washington University. Dr. Hendricks is a fellow of the American Psychological Association (APA) and Divisions 12 (Clinical), 42 (Independent Practice) and 44 (LGBT Issues), and a member of Divisions 9 (SPSSI) and 41 (American Psychology-Law Society). He is a past president of Section VII (Clinical Emergencies and Crises) of Division 12 and of Division 44. He was a member of the APA Task Force that developed the Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Transgender and Gender Nonconforming People and currently represents Division 44 on the APA Council of Representatives. He has conducted research with gender diverse people and is the lead author on the seminal paper on the minority stress model for transgender individuals. In 2015, he was awarded an APA Presidential Citation for his work on minority stress and suicide risk among gender diverse individuals. A primary focus of his clinical practice involves work with LGB and gender diverse adolescents and adults.

Dr. Hendricks’ Top Niche Population Resources

Forensic Consulting

Pius Ojevwe, Psy.D., ABPP
Forensic Pscyhologist

Dr. Ojevwe is a Board Certified Forensic Psychologist and a Fellow with American Academy of Forensic Psychology. For the past 12 years, he has worked as a forensic psychologist at local forensic hospitals including Clifton T. Perkins Hospital and Saint Elizabeth Hospital where he conducts a variety of forensic assessments such as competency to stand trial, criminal responsibility, and violent risk assessments. Dr. Ojevwe is an owner of a forensic private practice, COMPASS Mental Health Consultants, LLC, where he provides forensic assessments for juvenile and adults involved in the criminal justice system. He also teaches graduate courses as an associate professor at various local universities including Chicago School of Professional Psychology.

Dr. Ojevwe’s Top Forensic Consulting Resources

08 Nov 2017

Managing Student Loan Debt

This informative webinar covers strategies for loan repayment, financial fitness, and tools to manage your debt. The following topics are discussed:

• Loan repayment and forgiveness programs for all types of psychologists
• Time and money-saving tips for program eligibility
• Strategies for financial fitness and additional support
• Special demonstration of student loan management tool, IonTuition

This webinar is brought to by APA, the Georgia Psychological Association and IonTuition, a web-based service that helps you manage student loan repayment. IonTuition is a available at no charge to all APA members as part of your membership.

Eddy AmeenHost: Dr. Eddy Ameen serves as the inaugural director of the Office on Early Career Psychologists at APA. He has been with APA since 2011, previously the assistant director of APAGS. He graduated from Northwestern University with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, Boston College with a Master’s in Mental Health Counseling, and University of Miami with a PhD in Counseling Psychology. Outside of his work at APA, he is the board chair of StandUp For Kids, a national homeless youth organization which provides street outreach and other youth services in 17 cities across the US. He also leads a local LGBTQ youth advocacy coalition which has successfully advocated to ban conversion therapy, improve K-12 health education standards, require suicide prevention training of school personnel, and require LGBT cultural competency training of all healthcare providers, all within the District. Additionally, he teaches a family systems course to doctoral students, and he conducts asylum evaluations with Physicians for Human Rights.

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07 Nov 2017

Special Report: 10 Trends to Watch in Psychology

Monitor on Psychology, November 2017
Monitor on Psychology, November 2017

More than ever before, there is a growing appreciation for psychologists’ expertise, including the research they do to illuminate human behavior and the treatment and insights they provide to improve health and well-being.

But of course the field’s capabilities go far beyond research and practice—psychology’s ever-multiplying subfields touch on every facet of life. Today’s psychologists are the innovators improving American products and services, from self-driving cars to the health-monitoring apps on our cellphones. They are the trailblazers steering efforts that improve health outcomes and enrich the performance of teams in workplaces nationwide. They are the thought leaders advocating for critical causes, from women’s rights to science-based public policy.

In this special APA Monitor report, “10 Trends to Watch in Psychology,” we explore how several far-reaching developments in psychology are transforming the field and society at large.

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16 Oct 2017

Access to Care for All Veterans

Access to Care for All Veterans

The Department of Veterans Affairs and APA are working to improve treatment for veterans in new ways

Hiring 1,000 more mental health professionals and increasing the number of private-sector mental health providers who are culturally competent in military issues are among the new priorities at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), according to VA Secretary David J. Shulkin, MD, who testified in March to the House Veterans Affairs Committee.

Shulkin also emphasized the need to strengthen suicide-prevention programs and announced his intention to open up access to treatment to veterans with other-than-honorable discharges.

APA is helping to ensure that the secretary's goals become a reality by pushing Congress to expand resources for VA mental health care and research. "We are thrilled that Dr. Shulkin was named VA secretary," says Heather O'Beirne Kelly, PhD, who in March was named APA's first-ever director of veterans and military health policy. "And we applaud all his newly announced priorities."

Saving lives

The number of veterans committing suicide has dropped to roughly 20 a day, the secretary told Congress. But when it comes to suicide prevention, he said, "What we are doing now—and we are doing a lot—is not enough." The VA is seeking new approaches, he said. "We are reaching out to the very best and brightest from the academic world and the community to come in and tell us what else we can do."

As part of Shulkin's suicide-prevention effort, he plans to make emergency mental health care accessible to the 500,000-plus veterans who have other-than-honorable discharges, which render them ineligible for VA care. "Our goal is simple: to save lives," said Shulkin, explaining that the suicide rate among veterans who don't use VA facilities is increasing at a greater rate than that of veterans receiving care within the VA.

Shulkin's proposal would give veterans with other-than-honorable discharges access to VA emergency departments, vet centers and the Veterans Crisis Line at (800) 273-8255. The secretary plans to meet with members of Congress, Department of Defense officials and representatives of veterans service organizations before finalizing his proposal this summer.

Veteran Thomas Burke, who received an other-than-honorable discharge after being booted from the Marines for smoking hashish to manage post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in Afghanistan, supports the proposal. "When people think of ‘less-than-honorable' discharge, they think of dishonorable; to get a dishonorable discharge, you have to rape or murder someone," says Burke, now treasurer of High Ground Veterans Advocacy and a master's degree candidate at Yale Divinity School. But, he says, other-than-honorable discharges are often the result of behavior related to PTSD, traumatic brain injury, military sexual assault and other mental health problems. Of course, says Burke, the secretary's proposal is just a proposal. That's why he and other veterans in High Ground support the Honor Our Commitment Act, which seeks to transform the proposal into legislation requiring the VA to provide mental and behavioral health services to veterans with other-than-honorable discharges.

APA outreach

APA supports the secretary's proposals, says Kelly. APA generally supports the proposed legislation, too, although Kelly wants to keep a close eye on implementation details. There have been calls to retroactively assess veterans' discharge statuses, for example, and it would be critical to understand how and by whom those assessments would be performed and interpreted and how they would be used by the VA for health-care decision-making, Kelly says.

Of course, the secretary will also need resources to fulfill his vision for the VA. APA called for that increased funding along with other requests in testimony to the House Appropriations Committee's Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies in March:

  • Suicide prevention. APA supports Shulkin's commitment to enhanced suicide prevention efforts. In terms of other clinical priorities, Kelly urged Congress to support the hiring of more psychologists, increase support for integrated care and hold community providers to the VA's high standards.
  • Prescriptive authority. Kelly also urged Congress to grant prescriptive authority to appropriately trained psychologists in the VA.
  • Research funding. As part of the Friends of VA Medical Care and Health Research, APA asked for $713 million in fiscal year 2018 for VA research. "A strong VA psychological research program provides the scientific foundation for high-quality care within the VA system," Kelly told Congress.

One concern is the VA's push toward privatization, with more care being provided outside of VA facilities, adds Kelly. While many veterans groups were happy to hear the secretary talk of eliminating the rule requiring veterans who live close to VA facilities to get their care there, she says, APA is concerned that community providers may lack the preparation and capacity to handle the increased demand. Plus, says Kelly, having psychologists embedded into primary-care settings is vital to ensuring high-quality care for veterans.

"We will continue to work with Secretary Shulkin and the VA about what they mean by community care to ensure that the VA is strengthened as an integrated-care provider for veterans and not just as a funder of outside care," Kelly says.

To read Dr. Heather Kelly's full testimony to the House Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies, go to www.apa.org/about/gr/issues/military/testimony_va_research.pdf.

By Rebecca A. Clay


This article was originally published in the June 2017 Monitor on Psychology

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11 Oct 2017

How Much Do Today’s Psychologists Earn?

How Much Do Today’s Psychologists Earn?

The latest salary report from APA finds that psychologists in the middle of the country outearn their peers

In May, APA's Center for Workforce Studies (CWS) released its most comprehensive salary report to date. The report finds that the median annual salary for U.S. psychologists in 2015 was $85,000, but that salaries varied widely by subfield and geographic region.

Most psychologists (57.4 percent) earned between $60,000 and $120,000, 20 percent earned less than $60,000, and 22.7 percent earned more than $120,000. Those in industrial/organizational psychology were at the top of that range—the median annual salary for I/O psychologists was $125,000. Those with a degree in educational psychology, at the other end of the spectrum, earned a median salary of $75,000.

Want to earn more? Move to the Middle Atlantic region, where psychologists earned, on average, $108,000 per year. Psychologists in the East South Central region, in contrast, earned $59,000 per year.Psychologist salaries

Meanwhile, women continued to earn less than men ($80,000 compared with $91,000), white psychologists earned more ($88,000) than racial/ethnic minority psychologists ($71,000), and those with a PhD earned more ($85,000) than those with a PsyD ($75,000). (To read more about the gender pay gap, see the article "Women Outnumber Men in Psychology, But Not in the Field's Top Echelons" in the July/August Monitor.)

The new salary report is APA's most representative look yet at psychologists' earning power, according to Luona Lin, a CWS research associate. In previous reports, the association's salary data came from member surveys, but APA members skew older and less racially and ethnically diverse than the profession as a whole.

The new report instead analyzes data from the 2015 National Survey of College Graduates, a nationally representative survey conducted every two years by the U.S. Census Bureau on behalf of the National Science Foundation's National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics. The CWS report pulls the survey's data on full-time working psychologists—those with a doctorate or professional degree in psychology who work at least 35 hours per week.

The NSF survey was revised with a new sample design in 2010, adding a fresh level of detail for CWS to examine.

"Because this is a new data set to look at salaries in psychology, we have a lot of variables that weren't available before," Lin says. For example, for professional service positions, she and her colleagues were able to analyze salaries by employment sector (public, private, nonprofit) and employer size. For psychologists in management, they could break out salaries by a person's number of direct reports. And for researchers, they could examine salaries by type of institution and research activity.

There were a few surprises in the data. For example, salaries were highest in the Middle ­Atlantic region, which includes cities with a high cost of living, such as New York and Philadelphia. But salaries were also relatively high in the Midwest—$92,000 in the West North Central area (which stretches from Kansas to Minnesota), and $91,000 in the West South Central area (which includes Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Louisiana).

"That was kind of surprising at first glance," Lin says.

But, she adds, the explanation might lie in a 2014 CWS report on job ads, which found a high concentration of open positions in the center of the country.

"We haven't done a causal analysis for this, but we think it might be highly relevant—the salaries [in the Midwest] could be driven higher by demand."

Lin says that interest in the report has been high, and that CWS staff plan to produce new salary reports biannually when NSF releases new survey data.

To read the full report and access the underlying data, go to www.apa.org/workforce/publications/2015-salaries/index.aspx.

By Lea Winerman


This article was originally published in the September 2017 Monitor on Psychology

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04 Oct 2017

Boosting Productivity

Boosting Productivity

Research identifies small changes that lead to big improvements in performance

When Larry Rosen, PhD, talks to people who want to improve their productivity, he zeroes in on the importance of minimizing interruptions. Rosen, professor emeritus of psychology at California State University, Dominguez Hills, goes as far as to suggest that people put up a "do not disturb" sign when they need to focus on a task.

While this may not be plausible for everyone, Rosen's studies have shown how being distracted can become a bad habit that ultimately decreases our effectiveness at work or in school.

Fortunately, he and other psychology researchers have identified new ways to help people overcome the hurdles that stand in the way of their productivity, whether they are personal habits or environmental challenges. Here are some of those findings.

Grow your attention span

Even though technology can empower us to accomplish things faster, Rosen has found that those benefits can disappear when digital distractions are so readily available.

In one study, Rosen asked 260 middle school, high school and university students to study for 15 minutes in their homes. He found that participants averaged less than 6 minutes of studying before switching tasks, most often due to technology distractions—phones vibrating, new email alerts or instant message notifications, as well as students' "self-interruptions" to check electronic devices (Computers in Human Behavior, Vol. 29, No. 3, 2013).

While it can be tempting to think that dealing with these messages is productive, Rosen says this is a false sense of effectiveness. "We may think we are multitasking, but we are really task-switching," he says. "These interruptions take us away from the task at hand." The original task becomes less salient in our brains, and when we return, we waste time trying to remember what we were thinking when we left, Rosen explains.

To increase attention span and productivity, one of Rosen's solutions is the "technology break." He encourages students and workers to give themselves a couple of minutes to check alerts, texts and other messages after 15 minutes of undistracted work. The best way to stay focused is silencing the phone, turning it face down to avoid seeing visual notifications, turning off email alerts and closing distracting websites, Rosen says.

"Once you learn how to work for 15 minutes, start increasing the time before taking a technology break," Rosen says.

Taking short breaks not only satisfies the technology fix, but it also allows us to maintain focus, according to a study conducted by Alejandro Lleras, PhD, a psychology professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign. He found that participants who took a short break while focusing on a visual task maintained the same level of performance for 40 minutes, but performance declined for those who didn't take any breaks (Cognition, Vol. 118, No. 3, 2010).

"We know that after about 30 minutes, concentration starts to decrease, so it's important to take small breaks to stay focused on your main task."

The results also showed that the breaks can be surprisingly short—only a couple of seconds for some tasks—to achieve this effect.

Write out your goals

Many people who work are familiar with the idea of setting goals for themselves, but achieving those goals can be elusive. Research is showing that establishing a habit of writing about goals can boost performance.

Cheryl Travers, PhD, a professor at the School of Business and Economics at Loughborough University in Leicestershire, England, asked students to identify areas where they needed to improve, such as raising a grade in a class or increasing concentration while studying. The students were asked to visualize desired outcomes and outline how they could put their goals into practice.

Then the students kept diaries for three months to reflect on their goal progress. For example, students could write down what happened as they attempted to make a change in a particular situation, what worked well or not well, what could have been done better and actions they could take going forward. Travers found that the reflective goal-related writing had a significant impact on their ability to perform better academically (British Journal of Educational Psychology, Vol. 85, No. 2, 2015).

"The act of writing something down seems to make us accountable to a goal," Travers says. "It also helps people to write their way through a problem when they encounter barriers."

By writing about successes and failures and thinking about strategies to overcome difficulties, students gained confidence in themselves and developed academic self-efficacy, Travers says. What was particularly interesting was the evidence showing that academic performance improved even for students who set nonacademic, "softer" goals, such as "increase my assertiveness" or "decrease stress."

Travers is now collecting diaries for managers in organizations, and she will be studying whether this reflective goal setting improves their effectiveness as leaders. "This process allows people to essentially become self-coaches because they are continually evaluating goal outcomes and becoming more self-aware about leader behaviors."

Get together

The idea of fitting in another meeting may seem counter-productive for people working in group settings, but research suggests that taking time to debrief as a team can improve productivity in the long run.

Michaela Schippers, PhD, a professor of behavior and performance management at the Rotterdam School of Management at Erasmus University, studied teams working in a health-care environment. She found that the groups that met regularly to evaluate work processes were much more likely to come up with innovative solutions to problems than groups that did not meet regularly. Her work has shown how this team reflexivity (reflecting on team functioning) can significantly improve work performance levels (Journal of Management, Vol.41, No. 3, 2015; Journal of Organizational Behavior, Vol. 34, No. 1, 2013).

"Workers should have regular debriefings, like in the military, but the purpose is not to point out what people are doing wrong," Schippers says. "Instead, the group can brainstorm how to improve as a team, ideally with a facilitator who is leading the meeting."

In the study, the reflexive teams talked about issues such as decreasing waiting times for patients, improving patient record systems and developing a more effective appointment system.

"Our work showed that it was very important for teams that are particularly busy to meet regularly to debrief, because these teams benefited most from the innovative improvements," Schippers says. "The meetings gave them space to think collectively about what could be changed."

Get out of the chair

Researchers are finding that employees with stand-­capable workstations may be more productive than their seated counterparts. Mark Benden, PhD, a professor in the department of environmental and occupational health at Texas A&M School of Public Health, studied two groups of call center employees over six months. One group sat at traditional desks and the other group at stations that enabled workers to elevate their tables whenever they wanted to stand. Benden found that those with stand-capable workstations stood about 1.5 hours longer per day and were 42 percent more productive than those who worked at seated desks. Productivity was measured by how many successful calls the workers completed per hour (IIE Transaction on Occupational Ergonomics and Human Factors, Vol. 4, No. 2-3, 2016).

"By being up more of the time, we improve blood flow to the brain and circulation to the body, and these things combine to make the brain more active and engaged," Benden says.

Research also suggests that it is important for people to avoid "static standing" in one place, he says. The best stand-­capable workstations have foot rails that allow workers to take weight off of one side of the body. If it's not possible to get this type of workstation, workers should take breaks to walk around and get out of the chair, Benden says.

Further reading

The Distracted Mind: Ancient Brains in a High-Tech World 
Gazzaley, A., & Rosen, L., 2016

Managing Motivation: A Manager's Guide to Diagnosing and Improving Motivation 
Pritchard R.D., & Ashwood, E.L., 2008

Evidence-Based Productivity Improvement: A Practical Guide to the Productivity Measurement and Enhancement System 
Pritchard, R.D., Weaver, S.J., & Ashwood, E.L., 2012

Future Time Perspective and Promotion Focus as Determinants of Intraindividual Change in Work Motivation 
Kooij, D.T., Bal, P.M., & Kanfer, R., Psychology and Aging, 2014

By Heather Stringer


This article was originally published in the September 2017 Monitor on Psychology

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