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Science Consistently Shows Conversion Therapy to be Harmful and Ineffective

The Iowa Psychological Association Public Education Committee has the sole purpose of bringing to the public’s awareness psychological research and science in about issues relevant to Iowans. The purpose of this committee is to inform and educate based on scientific research.  With that in mind, we share the following regarding the science on sexual orientation and the lack of science supporting sexual reorientation/conversion therapy.

In 1990, Dr. Bryant Welch, American Psychological Association Executive Director stated, “Research findings suggest that efforts to repair homosexuals (sic) are nothing more than social prejudice garbed in psychological accoutrements.” Since then, mainstream medical and psychological health associations have taken unequivocal stances against what is called conversion, reparative, or reorientations therapies due to lack of scientific evidence to support positive impact of these interventions, and the plethora of evidence documenting harm. These organizations include: American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, American Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of Nursing, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Association of Marriage & Family Therapy, American College of Physicians, American Counseling Association, American Medical Association, American Medical Student Association, American Psychiatric Association, American Psychoanalytic Association, American Psychological Association, American School Health Association, American School Counselor Association, American School Health Association, National Association of Social Workers, Pan American Health Organization, School Social Work Association of America, and others.

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Presidential Update Summer 2023

IPA’s mission is to promote the science and practice of psychology for the benefit of all Iowans. Our volunteer leaders and paid contractors have been working hard in 2023 to carry out that mission in alignment with our 2021-2024 Strategic Plan. I’d like to take a moment to highlight some of the important developments from the first part of the year and the people who have been generously donating their time and energy for all our benefit.

Education and Training

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An Abolitionist Approach to Safety Planning in Psychotherapy


We desperately need therapists who are abolitionists. So many of us can’t tell our therapists that we have suicidal thoughts because we fear the police will get sent to our house. It’s terrifying to see your therapist as a cop (#DepressedWhileBlack, 2021) 

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Taking Action to Sustain Care in Challenging Times: Supporting our TGNB Clients and Communities

We are in a time of significant legislative challenge focused on Iowa citizens who are transgender/non-binary (TGNB).  Recent changes to Iowa law include, amongst several actions, prohibiting youth who are TGNB from accessing gender affirming medical care. This creates challenges for psychologists who work with youth who are TGNB and their family and friends.

As a gay, cis-gender psychologist with a long history of working with people who are TGNB and their communities, I have had the privilege to deepen my understanding about the challenges people who are TGNB must manage and emotionally attend to, while also just moving forward with daily life.  State laws that then negatively impact youth who are TGNB make this “lifting” of daily life infinitely more challenging.  People of color who are TGNB may experience even heavier burden and may more strongly feel the impact of these laws.

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2023 Spring Conference Awards Ceremony

Several awards were presented on April 29, 2023 during lunch at the Spring Conference. Read on to learn more about the well-deserved recipients. 

Phil Laughlin Meritorious Achievement Award

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Join IPA Leadership: Enjoy the Rewards of Leadership and Service

Flowstate Health is a behavioral health services company operating in Iowa and Nebraska. We are a collaborative team of mental health professionals providing medication evaluation and management, psychotherapy, crisis evaluation, and other services for adults and seniors. Full- and part-time positions available for onsite and telehealth work for licensed providers.

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Transgender Day of Remembrance 2022

On behalf of the Diversity and Social Justice Committee, I'd like to share that November 20th is Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR), a day to honor the trans and gender diverse (TGD) people who've been lost to violence. The first TDOR was in 1999 by trans advocate, Gwendolyn Ann Smith, as a way to memorialize Rita Hester, a transgender woman who was murdered.

 According to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), at least 32 trans and gender diverse people have been murdered in 2022. This number is an underestimate, as police and news media often misgender TGD victims. Since the HRC started formally tracking violence against TGD people in 2013: 

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Diversity Spotlight - Bisexuality Awareness Week

Bisexuality Awareness Week is occurring this year September 17-24. This is the 24th year of Bi Visibility Day which has been celebrated on the 23rd of September since its inception in 1999. Bisexuality refers to sexual attraction to those who are of the same/similar gender and to those who are of a different gender. The bisexual community faces an ongoing invisibility issue even within the LGBTQAI+ community. This invisibility is referred to as bisexual erasure and reflects the dismissal, minimization, omission, overlooking of bisexual experiences. Bisexual people face greater health disparities in some areas compared to their lesbian and gay counterparts. There are several reasons for this. One is that bisexual folks may not feel they belong in LGBTQ spaces (because they aren't "gay enough") and don't feel they fit in heterosexual spaces (because they are "straight enough"), which negatively impacts mental health. Another reason relates to healthcare providers forgoing important health screenings and tests based on the gender of their bisexual patients' partners. For example, a physician may not think it is important to screen a bisexual woman for sexually transmitted infections if they know the patient is partnered with a woman. 
Helpful tip: When someone shares their sexuality with you, believe them.
More information and videos!

Get involved:

Twitters: @BiVisibilityDay @StillBisexual

Nonbinary Awareness Week

July 11-17 is Nonbinary Awareness Week, celebrating and awareness building surrounding nonbinary and gender nonconforming people. This week focuses on the nonbinary community as well as the vast gender spectrum. 

Nonbinary gender is “a term used to refer to genders that are viewed as somewhere between or beyond the gender “binary” of man and woman, as well as genders that incorporate elements of both man and woman.” (Hegarty et al., 2018)

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Considerations When Working with Gender Minority Clients

When Dr. Kopp asked me to write about working with LGBTQ-identified clients (waaaay back in September…or was it August?), I happily agreed. As many of you know, working with queer folks like me is my jam. But when I sat down to write, I wasn’t quite sure what to say. Should I write a “LGBTQ 101” kind of post? Should I focus on a particular issue within the LGBTQ community such as housing insecurity or bi-erasure? As a recovering perfectionist, I was gripped with decision paralysis. Then November rolled around. Transgender Awareness Week and Transgender Day of Remembrance are in November, so writing about gender minority-related topics seemed like a timely topic for my painfully belated post.

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IPA Service: Get a Great Return on Your Investment

The Membership Committee strives to increase member participation in activities that promote the IPA mission and Strategic Plan. A primary Membership Committee objective is to assist IPA’s standing committees in reaching their desired capacities. Over the past year, our Finance, Psychopharmacology, and Diversity and Social Justice committees have benefitted from the participation of some of the newest IPA members, including student members. This effort has been greatly appreciated. Meanwhile, the majority of IPA committees continue to seek members.

The success of IPA requires each of us to consider how we can best contribute to the association. Prior to serving initially as Co-Chair of the Membership Committee and now, additionally, as President-Elect of IPA, I recall declining repeated requests to increase participation in the association, explaining that my time was too limited. Upon reflection, however, I recognized that IPA only functions as an association due to the volunteerism of a number of dedicated members who ensure that we are able to successfully organize and advocate for the profession of psychology and the well-being of the Iowans we serve.

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Talk Therapy Did Not Work for Me

I was a nontraditional student at my undergraduate and graduate schools. In fact, I sought out psychology to answer specific personal questions as well as questions that I’d encountered in my work as a Franciscan nun. To summarize the content of my wondering mind I’d say at a personal level I wanted to know the following: a) who am I? b) why am I here? c) where do I go after I’m no longer here? From my work with young women in Cameroon I wanted to find out how to heal invisible wounds that manifest as struggles in interpersonal relationships especially in communal living situations. At the time I was thinking that most people can do okay within their families but if you have to interact with others who don’t know you the way family does, you need more.

School was extremely hard because every class that wasn’t directly responding to one or the other of these questions was like torture to me. Additionally, I’m a sensitive action-oriented individual who likes to get things done the easiest way possible and with high efficiency. I like seeing things done and assessing outcomes and making changes. I don’t know how true this happens in real life but I’m fiercely dedicated to this way of living which leaves makes me not so fun to be around if you don’t like change or take your time to digest life before you move on. I’d love to be that way naturally but it’s not my default but I’m making progress as I gain more wisdom with time. Challenges with graduate school and a desire to know myself better led me to seek out my first therapist.

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Diversity Spotlight - Juneteenth

Today, June 19, is celebrated as Juneteenth National Independence Day, or as I've always called it, "Juneteenth." We celebrate Juneteenth in honor of one of the final acts of emancipation of slaves in the United States. On June 19, 1865, the announcement was made that tens of thousands of African-Americans in Texas had been emancipated. Juneteenth traces its origins back to Galveston, Texas where on June 19, 1865, Union soldiers, led by Major Gen. Gordon Granger landed in the city with news that the Civil War had ended and slaves were now free. The announcement came two-and-a-half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation of January 1, 1863 that had ended slavery in the U.S. However, since that proclamation was made during the Civil War, it was ignored by Confederate states, and it wasn’t until the end of the war that the Executive Order was enforced in the South. This day is also known as African American Freedom Day or Emancipation Day.
This week, President Joe Biden, signed a law making Juneteenth Day a Federal holiday. While this is good news, let us not forget the issues that continue to affect the Black community (e.g., voter suppression, health care disparities, over- and under-policing of Black communities). I hope that we can continue to work on solutions to solving these inequities.
Below are some short videos that share additional information about this important date. I am also providing a link by the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine's DEI office where you can go to learn more about Juneteenth Day.
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What Does Black History Month Mean to Me?

Black History Month means acknowledging the efforts and accomplishments of Black People in America. It also means taking time to reflect whether I am living up to my ancestors’ dreams. My grandfather, Ernest Lockhart, (pictured here with my grandmother) was a civil rights activist in Jackson, Mississippi. He was the president of the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and spent considerable time registering Black people to vote. I look up to him as a role model because of his contributions to “fighting the good fight.” Because of him, I pursued an advanced degree. My grandfather had a master’s degree, which was rare for a Black then; not unheard of, but rare. Today, I hold a Doctorate in Counseling Psychology. Because of my grandfather, I also challenge myself to get involved in my community and do as much as I can in the way of social justice, whether it is co-chairing the Diversity and Social Justice committee for IPA or volunteering for the free lunch program at my church. Service is a big part of how I spend my spare time. As Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” I also reflect on my grandmother, Eunice Lockhart, who opened up a daycare center with her sister upon migrating to the north. I’m pretty sure that this is where I get my love of children from, volunteering at her daycare center. My grandmother was the kindest and sweetest person I’ve ever known. Finally, Black History Month means educating others about Black History, which is American history. This month, I did a Diversity Spotlight of Black History Month for the IPA E-List. I also created a Black History Trivia contest for IPA members. I hope that IPA members will take it upon themselves to learn more about Black History outside of February. It is my hope that Black History will be taught more in schools, whether it is the 1619 Project or similar curricula. Perhaps there would be less divisiveness in the country. As the great poet Maya Angelou once said, “We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike.”

Peace and Blessings, Joy