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MSPP Rapport

A Newsletter from the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology


Sister Judith BrunCommencement 2009

Advocate for flood victims inspires, and three new MSPP programs confer first degrees

Sister Judith Brun gave MSPP a special gift at the end of her commencement speech on June 7—a drawing by a traumatized young victim of hurricane Katrina. The subject of the drawing, produced as part of an art therapy intervention, was “the desert where there is no more flooding,” she said. “What he did that many others had not done (in their art) was to draw a road that made a pathway into and out of the desert.  He created the possibility for change!”

Sister Brun, a fierce advocate for victims of Katrina and Rita in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, presented this gift both in gratitude to MSPP students who worked alongside her and to inspire all the graduates to create new models of caring in their careers. 

The gift and her remarks reached not only 39 new doctors of clinical psychology, but also the first graduates of three new programs --12 in organizational psychology, 9 in counseling psychology and 10 in school psychology.

"As we graduate students from three new degree programs, we move another step forward to becoming a ‘college of psychology,’” said President Nicholas Covino, who urged the graduates to follow in the footsteps of Sister Brun, whom he described as an inspirational community organizer, healer and teacher. “If our 2009 grads begin their professional lives with a small percentage of her compassion, organizational skills and dedication to those in need, the world will be an extraordinarily better place,” he said.

Sister Judith BrunIn her speech Sister Brun, the Founding Director of Community Initiatives Foundation in Baton Rouge,   took the graduates and their families on a journey into the trailer towns built in the aftermath of Katrina and the creative, pragmatic and flexible efforts needed to help people who had lost everything but their lives to this disaster.

In addition to speaking that day, Sister Brun also received, along with two other distinguished public servants, the school's honorary doctor of humane letters degree. Dr. Stephen D. Hayes, founding director of the Lynn Community Mental Health Service at the Lynn Community Health Center, and Dr. Mary Louise Sudders, the President of the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children and former commissioner of Mental Health in Massachusetts, will also be accepting the degree.

Nicholas CovinoDr. Covino said that MSPP is committed to training the kind of thoughtful, flexible and creative professionals exemplified by Sister Brun and the other honorees.  "The art and science of psychology allows MSPP to train a diverse group of professionals to work in multiple contexts and serve multiple roles as mental health caregivers.  In addition to the traditional work performed in consulting rooms, our graduates now will bring mental health expertise to classrooms, courtrooms, and boardrooms to serve children, adults and families with a variety of needs," he said.

 Three New Programs pave the way…

As with all programs of instruction at MSPP, the three new degree programs integrate rigorous academic training with closely supervised field experience from the start of the student's learning program.  This allows close attention to be paid to the student's personal and professional growth. Further, the school's commitment to Social Responsibility brings culturally sensitive and invested professionals to serve the community.

The Master's in Counseling Psychology Program prepares its graduates to function as professional mental health counselors and help meet the need for clinicians to work with traditionally underserved and disenfranchised populations. "Our students are already making a difference in their fieldwork and in their service to the community, which for some has included volunteer work with children and families in West Roxbury and neighboring communities and in New Orleans with survivors of the Katrina disaster,” says Dr. Modesto Hevia, the program director.

The Master's Degree in Organizational Psychology is designed for professionals interested in using psychological skills and principles to improve the environment, increase productivity and enhance the lives of individuals in a modern, rapidly changing workplace.  "This program instills a critical skill--the ability to understand human behavior in the context of how things get done in an organization," says Program Director Dr. Mariquita Mullan, who believes the MSPP MA in Organizational Psychology is the only area program that truly marries theory and practice in its curriculum.

The MSPP School Psychology Program trains students to apply expertise in education, human development, and personal-social relationships to promote the healthy development of children in educational settings where they spend most of their time, while also fostering the healthy functioning of families, schools, and communities. "We want our graduates to be able to provide a comprehensive range of services that ultimately promote positive educational outcomes for kids, including academic skills, success in the workplace, healthy emotional development, and personal well-being," says Dr. Bob Lichtenstein, director of the program.

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Celbrating 35 yearsMSPP celebrates 35 years of educational pioneering

MSPP celebrated its 35th anniversary by acknowledging and honoring its own pioneering spirit in its people and programs at a festive gala at the Newton Marriott Hotel on April 24. The gala, which raised more than $60,000 for student scholarships and community service projects, was also a time to honor those who have used that spirit of innovation to meet the need and make a difference in their communities.

MSPP first broke the mold for psychological training in 1972 when a group of area psychologists and national experts challenged the existing university programs that emphasized science and research above direct clinical experience. They formed MSPP, which changed that precept, making direct clinical field experience an integral part of the educational program, starting in the first year.

Over the years, the school’s visionary efforts have included such programs as the Lucero Latino Mental Health Training program, one of the first in the country to address the need for culturally sensitive mental health professionals trained to care for the growing Latino population. 

And that same spirit inspired the Freedman Center for Child and Family Development, in response to the current crisis in children’s mental health. The Center connects children and families with appropriate information, resources and one another.  It also focuses on collaborating with partners such as schools, community organizations and physicians.

The 35th anniversary gala celebration was a well-orchestrated litany of honors and entertainment for the MSPP alumni, families and friends, introduced by Dr. Nicholas Covino, President of MSPP, and hosted by Boston sportscaster Robert “Bob” Lobel, whose wife, Suzanne McCarthy, is an alumna of MSPP.

Suzanne McCarthy & Bob Lobel

A silent auction, a new video of MSPP, and the debut of a theater piece by MSPP students were among the festivities. But the highlight of the evening was the honoring of a new roster of MSPP pioneers:

Stanley RosenzweigDr. Stanley P. Rosenzweig, received the MSPP Community Service and Training Award.  One of the founders of MSPP and its first interim president, Dr. Rosenzweig has been applauded as an agent of change throughout the entire field of psychology.  Entering the field in 1956, at a time when psychology was barely gaining acceptance, he helped steer its course to the essential role it plays today in the mental health of communities.

Fran MervynDr. Frances V. Mervyn, Dean of Students at MSPP, received the MSPP Mental Health Humanitarian Award for her long-standing leadership in community health, including an early directorship of the first community health center in the United States.

The Florence H. Lerman Mintz Alumni Award, given in memory of Dr. Mintz, an MSPP alumna, went to three recipients this year:

Chris NewellCaroline McCabeDennis O'Brien

(Left to right: Dr. Chris Newell, Dr. Caroline McCabe, Dr. Dennis O'Brien)

Dr. Chris Newell has been hailed as a pioneer in the knowledge and learning field. As founder of the Institute of Global Work at Boston University, Dr. Newell’s mission has emphasized leadership that shapes and guides more effective practice in global business processes.

Dr. Caroline F. McCabe, brought her psychology expertise into the corporate world, especially in driving business performance by tapping the capabilities of a company’s workforce.

Dr. Dennis O’Brien, was acknowledged for his diverse work, including 25 years of treating children and families, and nine years as chief psychologist for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  O’Brien later transferred his expertise and experience into the business world, and now provides leadership development and executive integration services.

Changing A Light Bulb

Changing a Light Bulb,” the theatre piece created and performed by MSPP students, was presented by the Offices of Multicultural Student Affairs and Institutional Advancement.  The students gathered around three microphones, some seated on stools and others standing.  Through the theatrical genre known as Reader's Theater, the students used their own words to describe their transformative experiences in Louisiana and abroad, delivering mental health care to diverse constituencies.  Their performance gave the nearly 300 Gala attendees an inside perspective on the impact of these cultural immersion experiences, both for the MSPP student and the communities served.

Performers were:  Aimee Asgarian, Michelle Contreras, Kina Dean, Britnie Demello, Sofia Georgoulias, Lisa Giordano, Yanina Gonzalez, Darleen Gracia, Larry Kelly, Leah Pesculis, Heather Rhodes, Taylor Scull, Aziz Nashef, Matt Percy and Karen Stufflebeam.

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State House ceremony honors Dr. Stephen D. Hayes and launches community mental health stimulus project in his name

Senator Richard T. Moore, Chair of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing, joined other state officials, mental health leaders, and MSPP to honor community mental health pioneer Dr. Stephen D. Hayes on May 5. A special ceremony at the State House recognized this founding director of the mental health service at Lynn Community Health Center, who, for 40 years, has devoted himself and his career to the poor and underserved.

State House Ceremony

The event also inaugurated the Dr. Stephen D. Hayes Community Mental Health Project at MSPP. The project is designed to encourage graduates of MSPP to apply to the federal student loan forgiveness program in exchange for service in community mental health settings.

Stephen HayesDr. Hayes founded the mental health service in Lynn in 1971 at the beginning of the community mental health movement in the United States. He opened what was a storefront service at a time when most mental health emergency patients were seen at hospitals like Massachusetts General Hospital or confined in state mental health hospitals. As the decade began, community mental health promised to make services accessible and affordable to those with the most need but fewest financial resources.

Today, what began as a tiny fledgling experiment is a thriving comprehensive program that has 170,000 patient visits a year and has 30,000 distinct patients, who, in addition to English, speak 25 languages. And, over the years, Dr. Hayes and his colleagues have trained generations of psychologists, physicians and other health care workers to serve the needs of underserved people. More than 20 MSPP students have trained and been supervised by Dr. Hayes at the Lynn Community Health Center over the years.

“By honoring this dedicated healer, we hope to raise awareness of the current and rapidly growing need for psychologists and other mental health providers to choose, as Steve did, to use their talents to care for the mental health of the neediest among us,” said Dr. Nicholas Covino, president of MSPP. Dr. Hayes received his doctorate in clinical psychology from MSPP in 1981.

According to Senator Moore, a long-time friend and admirer of Dr. Hayes, who was a keynote speaker at the event, “Steve Hayes exemplifies just the kind of person that the community needs to address the mental health challenges of these times. He has the compassion, understanding, humor and total commitment required to deal with the trauma, substance abuse and other issues facing families, adults, teens and children in our communities today.  Steve is someone who knows how to work on the real problems of everyday people who can't afford private counseling,” he added.

The shortage of qualified community mental health providers is reaching critical proportions in Massachusetts.  Currently only 3,132 mental health providers exist for a population of 80 million in federally designated areas known as HPSAs (health professional shortage areas). To even begin to address the need, 5,352 practitioners are needed, which would make a provider ratio of one to 10,000 people.  

To help address the shortage, the Department of Public Health has worked closely with MSPP to guide graduates to work in public sector settings and apply for loan forgiveness through the Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) Designations and Medically Underserved Area (MUA)/Population (MUP) Designations. 

These federal programs, designed to supply underserved areas nationwide with needed health professionals, represent a unique way of distributing funds to communities that would otherwise struggle to afford vital health care services (primary, dental, mental). Both health professionals and organizations in HPSA or MUA/P areas benefit from many federal entitlements such as loan repayment, as well as from more diverse, challenging, and highly rewarding work environments.

The relationship for health professionals and organizations in HPSA or MUA/P areas is mutually beneficial. Professionals receive loan repayment while working in a diverse, challenging and rewarding work environment, and organizations benefit from the dedication and passion of these committed individuals.  In addition, research has shown that professionals practicing in these designated areas out of ‘obligation’ (scholarship, loan repayment) remain longer, even after the end of the obligation, many times outlasting their ‘non-obligated’ colleagues.

The Dr. Stephen Hayes Community Mental Health Project will focus on helping MSPP students to apply for loan forgiveness and find placements working in community settings approved by the state.

In addition to recognizing Dr. Hayes, the event acknowledged other MSPP alumni who have dedicated at least five years of their careers to community mental health services.

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Finding solutions for returning war veterans is focus of Lindemann Forum

 “The mental health system in the U.S. needs to anticipate the mental health issues of l.5 million soldiers and marines and their families, who have experienced the trauma of war.  Estimates are as high as 33 percent that these troops are likely to have significant post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety, and 20 percent will return with traumatic brain injuries.  Our collective responsibility extends also to their partners and children who have been indirect ‘veterans’ of these wars,” said Dr. Nicholas Covino, MSPP president, in his opening remarks at a forum on the mental health needs of veterans on June 5.

“Returning War Veterans:  Challenges in Continuing Mental Health Care After Military and Civilian Trauma” was the title of the Erich Lindemann Forum.  Five experts spoke and answered questions before an audience of over 100 attendees that included mental health providers, military personnel and many MSPP students.

Tom Kelly, secretary of Veterans Services in Massachusetts, discussed how his department is attempting to meet the needs of returning veterans. Kelly is responsible for providing quality support services to more than 400,000 veterans and their families. This includes ensuring quality of services and accountability in the performance of veteran homeless shelters, as well as outreach programs focused on education, training and employment across the state.

In his talk, Kelly expressed concern over the alarming increase in suicide rates among soldiers.  In a recent New York Times editorial, Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, predicted the suicide toll this year will top the 2008 record of 133 suicides, which was already twice the number from 2004, before the repeated deployments of military to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Barbara Leadholm, commissioner of Mental Health in Massachusetts, addressed factors that put veterans at great risk, for homelessness and unemployment, and involvement in the criminal justice system.  Citing the national success of newly emerging models in veteran-focused jail diversion, specialized veterans’ mental health courts and drug courts, Leadholm spoke about similar programs and others underway in Massachusetts to ensure that veterans are afforded services, treatment and opportunities for recovery.

Dr. Jaine Darwin, MSPP Alumna, spoke on “Extending the safety net:  How community mental health practitioners can support veterans and families.” As the Co-chairman of the Strategic Outreach to Families of All Reservists (SOFAR), Dr. Darwin focuses on raising families’ awareness of issues facing soldiers.  “When a soldier deploys, the whole family is involved; when a soldier returns, he/she is not only returning to a family, but is leaving behind the ‘family of soldiers’ with whom he/she fought.  This is one of many conflicts,” said Darwin.

Representing the Veterans Administration Boston Healthcare System, Drs. Gary Kaplan and Erin Scott Daly discussed the wide range of mental health resources available to returning veterans, including inpatient, residential and outpatient care.  “The current cohort of returning veterans from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan present a challenge to the existing VA mental health system due to the recent nature of their traumatic exposure and their demographic characteristics. These soldiers are younger, and a larger proportion of them are female. But we are working very hard to prevent chronicity and disability like we have seen with Vietnam efforts,” according to Kaplan and Daly. 

Dr. David Satin moderated the forum.  He is an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at the Harvard Medical School, and chairman of the Erich Lindemann Memorial Lecture Committee at MSPP.  The forum was presented by the Erich Lindemann Community Mental Health Education Center Initiative of MSPP, and is the 32nd annual program dedicated to the legacy of the late Dr. Erich Lindemann in honoring his commitment to community mental health, public health and social policy issues.

Soldiers helping soldiers!

Greg MatosGreg Matos has already seen four years of active duty as a Sergeant in the Marine Corps “and will always be a Marine.”   While his inactive duty is complete this fall, Matos is also a second-year, full-time PsyD student at MSPP, and has recently begun developing an outreach program directed to other veterans, including the seven veterans currently at MSPP.

“I want to bridge my identity as a Marine and clinical psychologist and open up a dialogue with other veterans.  The goal is to form a type of collective action in order to build awareness about mental health issues of veterans and how these issues affect a veteran’s family.  Outreach is extremely important,” he said.

Matos speaks of the difficulty for veterans in speaking out about their mental health issues for fear of putting fellow Marines in danger and doing a disservice to their unit---and so nothing is said.  In addition, even though there is confidentiality in the military between patient and mental health provider, there remains a concern about mental health issues being on a veteran’s health record.

Matos is proud of his role in the Marines and speaks of his experiences, having been trained as a Marine Embassy Guard, explaining there are over 130 diplomatic facilities around the world and the duties of a Marine Embassy Guard are to protect American lives, U.S. property and classified material.

Assigned at different times to Ankara, Turkey, and New Delhi, India, it was while on duty in Saudi Arabia that Matos defended the consulate during a terrorist assault on December 6, 2004, saving the lives of over 150 U.S. employees.  For this action, he was awarded the Bronze Star with Combat Valor and the Department of State Award for Heroism.

Now on a career path as a clinical psychologist, Matos was recently appointed State Advocacy Coordinator for the American Psychological Association of Graduate Students (APAGS) in Massachusetts.  He is also the Chair of the MSPP Advocacy Committee and sits on the Massachusetts Psychological Association’s Committee on Ethnic Minority Affairs (MPA/CEMA).

A native of Bristol, Rhode Island, Matos is a first-generation Portuguese American.  He will be traveling to Costa Rica this summer for the MSPP summer immersion experience to fine-tune his Spanish in the Lucero Latino Mental Health Training program.  Because the Portuguese language is close to Spanish, Matos acknowledges that in working with mental health patients, it is extremely important to communicate directly in the patient’s language, rather than going through a translator.    

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Look for our next issue of the MSPPrapport in the Fall. If there are topics you would like to read about, please contact Katie O'Hare at katie_ohare@mspp.edu.

Updated 6/16/09

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