Working with Twice Exceptional College Students

Today's blog post is a submission from one of IPA's student members. Student membership is an important part of IPA. If you'd like to mentor a student member, please contact Alissa Doobay. You can also visit the website for donation to sponsor a student here


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Yoga For First Responders and Yoga Shield Resiliency: A Comprehensive Companion to Occupational Psychological Health

Yoga For First Responders (YFFR) and Yoga Shield (YS) is programming developed via consultations with fire departments and police departments over the last 6 years by yoga instructor Olivia Mead and her staff at YFFR. It consists of tactical breathing drills and applications, physical drills, integrated cognitive declarations, as well as neuro-reset (mindfulness) exercises, all designed to process stress, build resiliency, and enhance performance related to the culture and job demands of first responders, law enforcement, and military types of work. YFFR has developed curriculum to train “in house” instructors over 6-day initial YFFR and YS approaches and then have internal training of curriculum at a specific police or fire departments, academy and now also military units with a “train the trainers” approach. I am grateful to have signed up for a recent training class and completed the Level 1 and Level 2 training program though Iowa Army Guard and Air Guard initiative in early summer 2021.  

I’m grateful for the opportunity to share my impressions and experiences from this training. I’m including references from some recommended reading by YFFR in addition to a few books I professionally find valuable. Please feel free to contact me with impressions, thoughts, or interest. 

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What does IPA do for you?

The Iowa Psychological Association (IPA) has been working diligently on your behalf to promote and advocate for the science and practice of psychology in Iowa. In the past year we’ve made significant progress toward many of our key initiatives and we continue to work tirelessly for all licensed psychologists in our state. In this letter we will provide some updates regarding IPA’s recent advocacy work and victories, recognize IPA psychologist leaders, provide updates regarding strategic plan initiatives, and highlight upcoming continuing education opportunities.  

IPA’s advocacy efforts have been in overdrive the past 18 months. IPA’s Advocacy Team includes the State Advocacy Coordinator (Paul Ascheman, PhD), Federal Advocacy Coordinator (JoAnna Romero Cartaya, PhD), IPA Training Director (Matt Cooper, PsyD), and IPA Lobbyist (Amy Campbell). The newest member of the IPA Advocacy Team is Dr. Bethe Lonning, IPA’s Director of Professional Affairs (DPA). Dr. Lonning has done an excellent job in her unique role which includes advocating for the needs of psychologists regarding the professional practice of psychology and serving as a liaison between IPA and professional associations, governmental agencies, Managed Care Organizations (MCOs), private insurance agencies, and other institutions. Dr. Lonning has been a trailblazer during her inaugural year as DPA. She has served as an invaluable resource for many Iowa psychologists regarding issues related to insurance reimbursement, CPT codes, payer credentialing, and Medicare and telehealth guidelines. IPA is also grateful for the support of the Iowa Psychological Foundation who provided a generous grant to help fund the DPA position and Dr. Lonning’s work.  

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Learn More about the Iowa Psychological Foundation

For more than 25 years, the Iowa Psychological Foundation (IPF) has existed as a non-profit organization to raise funds to benefit psychology in Iowa. IPF is a 501c3, so your donations are tax deductible (unlike IPA, which is not eligible for non-profit status because some of its funds pay a lobbyist). 

In a nutshell, IPF’s 8-member board raises money then gives it away. We hope you will consider donating through the webpage or by supporting the upcoming auction at the Spring Conference. 

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Presidential Update September 2021

What a glorious beginning to another fall season in Iowa! As a transplant to Iowa from California, I never tire of leaves changing, the weather turning colder, a new school year underway, and the football games, homecoming parades, and community events that are come to life in the college community where I live.

Fall is the time of national and state elections that determine much of what will come in the years ahead. The same is true for IPA! I am excited at the beginning of this fall season to have our IPA elections completed and look forward to some new faces on the IPA Executive Council. 

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A Day in the Life of a Health/Rehabilitation Psychologist

As a Health/Rehabilitation Psychologist in a hospital setting, my role is very different from psychologists practicing in private practice or other settings. On any given day, I may provide psychological services to patients, conduct staff trainings, consult with the healthcare team and provide treatment recommendations, participate in team meetings, train students, engage in scholarly research, and a myriad of other professional activities. No two days are alike in my role, and new and exciting challenges keep me stimulated and engaged. In this blog post, I will provide a “snapshot” of what a typical day may look like in my role as a health/rehabilitation psychologist.

I work at UnityPoint Health-St. Luke’s Hospital on a CARF accredited rehabilitation unit. CARF accreditation stands for Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities and ensures that quality of care is being provided and internationally recognized rehabilitation standards are being met. The population on our rehabilitation unit consists of patients with neurologic disorders (e.g., traumatic brain injury, stroke), patients with amputations, traumatic burns, orthopedic injuries, physical deconditioning secondary to various medical conditions (e.g., cancer), spinal cord injury, amputation, and any other medical concern that would require acute rehabilitation. For someone to qualify for acute rehabilitation, they need to meet requirements as outlined by the Centers for Medicaid Services (CMS), and have a medical condition that requires inpatient medical rehabilitation. Patients on our unit participate in at least three hours of therapy per day, including physical therapy, occupational therapy, or speech language pathology. The “core” members of our multidisciplinary rehabilitation treatment team consist of physiatrists (i.e., rehabilitation physician), physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech language pathologists, recreational therapists, social workers, care coordinators, intake coordinators, pharmacists, registered dietitians, nurses, health/rehabilitation psychologists, and neuro-psychologists. Other specialties may be consulted including specialty physicians (e.g., neurology, nephrology, cardiology, palliative care), diabetes educators, psychiatrists, Certified Alcohol Drug Counselor (CADC), and chaplains. Each member of the multidisciplinary team addresses patients’ presenting concerns from their own unique lens. All team members are working toward the same overarching goals: increase functionality, quality of life, and assist patients with returning to the community to live independently. 

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Spotlight on Graduate Students

Since the restarting of the School Psychology graduate program at University of Iowa in Fall 2020, a portion of the first cohort got involved with IPA. Our first spotlight on graduate student members includes Vanessa Chahin, Eric Field, and Gennifer Humphreys, who are all entering their second year in the new program.

What made you want to join IPA?

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From the Membership Committee

I could not be more pleased as I review the membership trends that Dr. Alissa Doobay, Co-Chair of the Membership Committee, diligently updated this year to allow continued tracking of the committee’s outcomes. Two trends immediately captured my attention. First, we experienced the greatest one-year increase in the total number of members, primarily driven by the largest one-year increase in full members with advocacy since we began tracking in 2000. Second, we experienced an increase in student members that returned us to our 2019 number, after a significant drop in student membership from 2019 to 2020 that appeared to be associated with the unfortunate cancellation of the 2020 spring conference. Additionally, we celebrated robust retention across all membership categories this year.

The Membership Committee has implemented a number of tactics in line with the committee’s overarching Strategic Plan goals of Connection, Recruitment, and Retention that have assisted in promoting the notable increases in membership numbers. Additionally, a number of initiatives from IPA’s Executive Council and our fabulous committees have been instrumental in promoting connection, recruitment, and retention.

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Presidential Update June 2021

Happy Summer!

This can be a busy time of year, full of transitions for many of us; swimming lessons and summer activities for kids, potentially the first travel many of have done for over a year as we head out on vacation, late nights and early mornings as days with longer sunlight allow time for time in the garden, long walks, and barbeques.

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Chasing RxP: From Davenport to Clarinda

We have all been through at least one of those experiences where you get to the end and look back and say, “I am glad I did that but I would never want to do it again.” Completing the requirements to become a prescribing psychologist (RxP) to licensure has certainly not been one of those experiences. If I had the time, I would do all the training over again as there is so much useful information to learn. From the first day of psychopharmacology class in January of 2017 to the first day I was legally able to write a prescription, which was June 21st, 2021, each milestone along the way has been very enjoyable. There was not a single time I thought, “What the heck have I gotten myself into?”

I attended undergraduate at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in the 1990s. While trying to build a resume for application to graduate school I worked at the clinic of Dr. Matthew Nessetti, who was one of the early presidents of Division 55 (Society for Prescribing Psychology). It was from his energy and enthusiasm about psychopharmacology and his vision for the future of psychologists being able to practice medicine, that I too became excited for RxP before I ever set foot into graduate school. That is when the chase began. 

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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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Benefits of the IPA Student Mentorship Program

The IPA Membership Committee launched the Student Mentorship program in the Fall of 2020. The primary goal of this program is to increase student engagement in IPA early in their doctoral training by building relationships between current members and doctoral students in psychology training programs. An additional goal for this program is to promote professional endeavors of students and interns within the state of Iowa through their increased engagement. All student members of IPA are provided with the opportunity to be connected with a mentor. At present, IPA has 30 student members, and 35 IPA members have volunteered to serve as mentors.

Over the past month, mentors and mentees participating in this program were invited to share about their experiences, both to highlight the benefits, as well as to identify aspects of the program that may need some reworking. Thank you to those of you who responded!

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My Road to RxP - FDU

Before beginning graduate school in counseling psychology, I had been actively discerning the psychiatry route versus the psychology path. I have always been fascinated with the biological aspects of mental health, but psychotherapy was (and remains) my first love. When I learned that virtually no psychiatrists still practice psychotherapy (and even fewer practice it as their primary treatment), I knew psychiatry was not the right fit for me. While I grieved being able to integrate prescribing into my practice, I foreclosed on that option and moved on.

While I was early in graduate school, I became aware that New Mexico and Louisiana had granted prescribing authority to psychologists. I am somewhat obsessive when it comes to reading about topics of interest, and I immediately read any article, journal, or book I could find on prescribing psychology (commonly abbreviated RxP). The more I learned, the more interested I became. I even wrote a paper in my Ethics course on the topic, considering the implications for professional identity and ethical practice.

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Navigating Use of Mobile Apps in Practice

In 2016, after practicing psychology for a little over 5 years I decided to return to graduate school to study Human Factors Engineering. Apart from being a lover of learning and a glutton for punishment, I had begun to realize both the importance of technology in mental health and the deficits in the design of those technologies. Fast forward 5 years and another degree later, I have learned even more about this.

The use of mobile applications to address health and mental health is growing exponentially. According to IQVIA (2017) there are over 300,000 health related mobile applications available and nearly 100 more being added daily. Of the overall number of health apps, more than 10,000 relate to mental health (Torous et al., 2018). Despite the apparent proliferation of mental health applications, 90% of all current mental health app use can be narrowed down to just two apps, Calm and Headspace (Wasil et al., 2020). Some of that may be due to the lack of usability, credibility, and trustworthiness of some of the apps on the market.

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IPA Awards Ceremony

On April 10, 2021, IPA virtually held its annual awards ceremony following the Saturday morning session of the Spring Conference, which can be viewed in full here. After the introduction and announcements from President Valeria Keffala, Past-President Benge Tallman began the ceremony by thanking various members who had ended their terms of service in 2019 and 2020:

Ending 2019:

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Clinician's Corner - Exposure & Response Prevention

I was fortunate to acquire an academic job directly out of my pre-doctoral internship. However, the downside of this was that opportunities to apply my clinical skills were largely nonexistent, and acquiring the required 1500 hours of postdoctoral licensure hours was a daunting task while embarking on the tenure track. While I had always found academia fulfilling, after two years focusing solely on teaching and research, a level of monotony began to appear, and the lack of opportunities to work with clients began to frustrate me. Not to mention, I dreaded the prospect of having to repeat the same stories from my past clinical work to my students for the next 50 years if something did not change. Accordingly, despite the challenge and risk of adding a new responsibility to an already full workload, I decided to take on a part-time clinical position to complete my licensure hours. Looking back, this was one of the best decisions I have ever made, and the following case exemplifies why I will always have one foot in the clinic.

One of the aspects of clinical practice that I always admired is the variety of challenges, twists, and turns it brings. Even the most seemingly “simple” cases always seem to offer a wealth of complexity, opportunities for creativity and problem solving, as well as the ability to put science to practice. Needless to say, “monotonous” is never a descriptor I would use for clinical practice. This brings me to the case of “Jerry.”

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Meet your IPA Representatives!

Today’s blog post features introductions from IPA’s two representatives. Per IPA’s policies and procedures, we have three representatives elected to serve as voting members of the Executive Council (EC). The responsibilities of these members are to represent the general membership of IPA and act as liaison to members by inviting their input, conveying their requests to council, responding to their requests, and encouraging their continued support of IPA. They also help to identify and recruit prospective members. Representatives are elected to 3-year terms where they will serve as First Year Rep, Second Year Rep, and Third Year Rep; each year has different responsibilities.

If you are interested in serving as an IPA Representative, contact a current representative or any other member of the EC.

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Tribute to Dave McEchron

Today's blog features a tribute to Dr. Dave McEchron, a longtime member of IPA. Part of his public obituary and some of the tributes from psychologists he worked with over the years of his long career also contributed. 

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From the President

Though my presidency began in January, it has been recent tradition to have the President first address members in the spring. This year, with the advent of the Blog, rather than the publication of The Iowa Psychologist (TIP), we are beginning a new tradition. In this inaugural Presidential blog, I first want to acknowledge all of the amazing individuals who have served as President who have come before me, and who continue to serve IPA with diligence and passion. I am honored to serve as IPA President this year, and am committed to following the well-established tradition of doing my best to serve you well.

This year has already been extremely active and full of other “firsts” for IPA:

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My Road to RxP - NMSU

This is the first in a multi-part series where psychologists describe their journeys to pursuing prescriptive authority in Iowa.  

My road to becoming a prescribing psychologist really started many, many miles ago when I was in graduate school. Even way back then, in the early 1990s, I found a class on psychopharmacology taught by a local psychiatrist fascinating and the information was very useful in my early practice. Fast forward to the 2000s, when IPA first had members interested in pursuing advocacy for prescriptive authority. Through the years, I worked with Dr. Bethe Lonning and Dr. Greg Febbraro to advocate for the law granting us the right to prescribe medication with a limited formulary and additional training after our doctoral degrees. I completed the Farleigh Dickinson University Master of Science in Clinical Psychopharmacology (MSCP) program, graduating in 2011. I passed the Psychopharmacology Examination for Psychologists (PEP) in 2012. It would seem like that’s where my road would end, at a happy RxP place- but no! After helping to pass the legislation granting prescriptive authority for psychologists in Iowa in 2016, it took three years for us to negotiate rules to support the law with the Board of Medicine. The rules were not finalized until 2019, meaning that my 5-year window from the time of graduation to the time to apply for a conditional license was already passed.

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