You Are Here > Home > About > Media Center > MSPP Newsletter > Vol 9 No. 1 | Spring 2012
ith these words, Richard Amodio, PhD, concisely states MSPP’s rationale for a new program to train veterans. Amodio, who teaches at MSPP and has been working at the Bedford VA Hospital Mental Health Center for 17 years, is part of the faculty and student team that’s shaping a new program, Train Vets to Treat Vets (TVTV), made possible by a grant, from the Massachusetts Department of Veterans Services (DVS). Current MSPP student-veterans are actively recruiting veterans on college campuses to become mental health clinicians. A new model curriculum is being developed and on May 18th, MSPP will host a statewide conference in Shrewsbury, MA, “Beyond ‘Thank You for Your Service.’ Meeting the Needs of Returning Veterans and Their Families.” (see www.mspp.edu/vetsconference for details)
Peter Pruyn, a first year MSPP MA Counseling graduate student assigned to the New England Center for Homeless Veterans (NECHV), is fulfilling his own field placement requirement while expanding the level of direct service MSPP is providing to at-risk and homeless veterans. At the Center, vets’ ages and experiences in America’s many wars over the last 60 years vary greatly. “These people reflect a huge spectrum of issues,” he says. “You could have lunch with many of them and never know they were homeless. It’s a great clinical experience.” Pruyn’s MSPP supervisor and faculty member, Robert Dingman, acknowledges that the vets at the Center are often wary of traditional psychotherapy and must be approached with respect and sensitivity.
“We sit with them, listen to them share their stories, help them deal with their loneliness. Just be there,” says Dingman. “I love the time we spend there. These veterans have lost so much, and are often strikingly alone trying to cope with profound loss and trauma. The resilience of the human spirit I’ve seen at the Center is extraordinary.”
Kristine DiNardo, Vice President for Clinical Services at the Center, shares Dingman’s hopes the Center continues as a regular MSPP training site. She says veterans and staff have benefitted greatly from MSPP’s presence.
Not long after Navy Ensign Greg Matos, an MSPP 4th year PsyD student returned from active duty as a Marine Corps Sergeant, he felt compelled to write Shattered Glass: The Story of a Marine Embassy Guard. The book is his reflection on the complexities of life in the military. He says, “Intimacy, compassion, empathy—these are devalued in the military. That’s why it’s essential for veterans training to be psychologists to be aware of their own issues and to learn to successfully bridge the military and civilian culture, to make that tough transition to being able to be compassionate, caring and emotional.” Coordinator of the new TVTV Program, Matos speaks honestly and openly about how easy it is to “put your feelings away” and how hard it can be to “learn to be a thinking, feeling civilian again.” Now 29, Matos started basic training shortly after 9/11. Three years later, on December 6, 2004, he was guarding a consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia when it was brutally attacked by al-Qaeda. “I only realized later,” he recalls,” that the experience had affected me much more than I’d realized. It changed my life. Five men were dead on my watch,” he says. “I wasn’t in a combat zone; the war came to me.”
Matos holds strong convictions about America’s debt to its vets. “We must,” he insists, “make a substantial investment in their care.”
Chris King agrees. An Annapolis graduate who served in Iraq and will take the reins of the TVTV Program after Matos graduates this summer says, “I think we have a moral responsibility to help our veterans.”An organizational development teacher at MSPP, King says, “There aren’t enough resources locally or nationally. MSPP is very serious about its commitment to veterans.”
Sandy Dixon, an MSPP faculty member who trained under Richard Amodio at the Bedford VA, teaches a class called Meeting the Needs of Returned Veterans in which students grapple with Hollywood’s glorification of war compared to its stark reality. They learn about what soldiers might actually return with, such as trauma, traumatic brain injuries, sexual trauma, substance abuse, depression and a host of re-integration problems.
Rob Chester, 25, is a second year MSPP PsyD student in the National Guard who looks forward to working exclusively with veterans, probably at a VA Center in the Cleveland area, closer to home. “It shocks me to realize how long it’s taken for the military to look at service people’s emotional side. Resilience and feelings were only recently acknowledged,” he says. Chester says that at a VA facility, there might be a lot of trauma, but it’s not always from battle. He also notes the reluctance of many veterans to seek psychotherapy. Chester is part of the MSPP team researching what treatments are helpful, identifying the approaches that seem most efficacious. He understands the toll military life can take on an individual and on an entire family. According to Dixon,
“The impact on families is enormous.” She says the military is not particularly good at helping families. “They finish with you and discharge you. There’s no recognition that people have to return to engaging their feelings,” she says, adding, “Regardless of how anyone feels about the war, that must be separated from caring about vets.”
Third year MSPP PsyD student Janice Furtado enjoyed her work at a Veteran’s Center in Brockton. She too was on the TVTV team. After 9 years and 8 months in the Air Force, Furtado said “mental health is not a highly respected discipline in military life. If I went to talk with a counselor, they would have revoked my weapon.” Getting past such negative, discriminatory reactions to military personnel seeking help continues to be among the challenges many vets have to overcome. Furtado worked with veterans coming home, and with their families. She loved what she was doing. “I wanted to provide the best services possible to this population. I know how hard they’ve worked and they deserve the best we can give them.”
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MSPP confronts challenge of Global Mental Health
A new initiative at MSPP, Global Mental Health, will provide training to health and mental health practitioners and other humanitarian and human rights workers. This new Master’s will provide culture and science-based theory, knowledge and practice for the care of traumatized persons and communities worldwide.
o shape the two-year Masters of Arts in Counseling Psychology and Global Mental Health scheduled to begin this Fall, 2012, MSPP turned to Richard F. Mollica, MD, a leading psychiatrist in this field who directs The Harvard Program in Refugee Trauma and has spent the last 30 years pioneering psychiatric care for people who have lived through extreme violence. Thirty years ago, Mollica had to convince skeptical colleagues, and policy makers, that traumatized individuals have psychological problems that need to be addressed. He says that in the early 1980’s, when he and James Lavelle, LICSW, began the MGH Indochinese Psychiatry Clinic (IPC) in Brighton, the mental health field was convinced such individuals couldn’t be treated and would never recover. “We have come a long way since then,” he says today, “which is why this Global Mental Health program is so important. What is so obvious now is only a recent realization.”
Jean Bellows, PsyD, is an MSPP faculty member who has also worked with trauma suffers for 35 years all over the world. She has seen extreme violence and brutality in North Africa, Vietnam, Haiti, and the Middle East and now teaches trauma at MSPP, her alma mater. She talks about the importance of understanding the cultural context in which the trauma took place and the effects it has had on the entire family. She is among the group of MSPP faculty and students that has returned repeatedly to the Gulf Coast since Katrina to help train mental health professionals about trauma.
Jodie Kliman, PhD, is part of the Global Mental Health team. She recently returned from the West Bank and parts of Israel where she is exploring partnerships between MSPP and Israeli and Palestinian Universities. Kliman works closely with her colleague Yousef AlAjarma, PhD, a Palestinian who grew up in a refugee camp and came to the United States 8 years ago with his family. In the West Bank, he says. “Our students would be able to see both the trauma and the resilience people have. Palestinians are living with trauma every day,” he says. “It is not post. A lot of feelings are repressed. We have to work with people and help them, with their permission, to get access to their trauma.” AlAjarma hopes to expose MSPP students to other cultures and see them work with mental health workers abroad. “They must have exposure to different people and see how other professionals work in this field. There is so much need. It could be a rich experience.”
“Yes, psychology must be translated to the culture around it,” concurs Jill Bloom, PhD, who has taught at MSPP for 25 years. “Suffering means different things in different cultures.” She says it is important not to assume every person with trauma should be treated as a victim who has to get over it. “Some kinds of trauma you actually never get over.” Bloom is also part of the planning committee for the new Global Mental Health program. She sees psychology as a contextual field, meaning that the culture and traditions that are so critical to the individual’s coping and healing cannot be ignored. In the new program, she will teach students to understand a client’s history, story, context and experience. She says, “We need to be conversant in understanding mental health around the world.”
MSPP’s Dean of Programs of Advanced Graduate Studies, Stanley Berman, PhD, understands the world as a global village—interconnected. He approaches the focus of the new program as teaching students how to work with new refugees, do disaster relief work around the world, and not make quick presumptions about what people need. Berman has worked for years on how psychology can inform the promotion of peace and values psychology’s move into settings where it can have an impact on world problems. “We need multiple disciplines to confront the many forms of trauma—domestic violence, starving children, war, etc.” says Berman, who praises Mollica’s multidisciplinary perspective.
MSPP’s program will include public health, medicine, psychology, ethics, human rights, economic development and community service. “We must not privilege any one discipline,” says Mollica. “Graduates of this program will learn how to build and manage a team, how to integrate local people into their teams and how to build strong partnerships. It is not about Congo or Haiti,” he says, “People can work in clinics in greater Boston. Out graduates will be employable. We will teach them how to think about mental health in new ways. It is the first Masters in Global Mental Health preparing graduates for a counseling license. We are cutting edge. This will be a license to do idealistic work and get paid for it. I call it employable idealism.”
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Alums Perpetuate MSPP’s Legacy and Lesson of Community Service
David Stein with Benjamin Allard.
NANCY FRUMER STYRON's youthful looks belie her many years as Harvard Medical School psychology instructor and clinical director in the department of psychosocial oncology and palliative care at Dana-Farber/Children’s Hospital Cancer Center. A 1992 MSPP Clinical PsyD graduate, she specializes in treating children with cancer and some hematologic disorders, many of whom are bone marrow transplant patients, and their families. “I feel privileged to be part of and bear witness to people’s most intimate, vulnerable, and sometimes excruciating moments,” she says. Not all Styron’s mental health work is talking therapy. She says she does whatever it takes to help a child get through a painful medical procedure. She also supervises many students and has had an opportunity to give back to the MSPP community through training and sitting on dissertation committees. Dr. Styron trained at Dana-Farber Cancer Center for two years and then stayed.
Her advice to students? “You’ll always be learning. Don’t be afraid of that. Stay open to new ideas. Go to every Grand Rounds and lecture and Continuing Education course you can. Don’t wait for the time when you think ‘now I know everything,’ because it’s not going to happen. MSPP opens doors to a wide variety of opportunities to contribute to society and to the profession.”
DAVID STEIN, 2008 MSPP PsyD graduate, concurs. “Be patient,” he advises doctoral students. “Don’t be in a hurry to finish. Do your dissertation on something you care about and that relates to what you’re interested in. And consider an APA internship because it can open a lot of doors.”
At Children’s Hospital’s Developmental Medicine Center, Stein works with young children who have Autism, Down Syndrome, learning disabilities, ADHD and intellectual disabilities. He does neuropsychological testing, behavioral treatment and parent training. In addition, he has administrative, research and supervisory responsibilities. Last August, 31 year-old Stein was lead author, with two physicians, on an article published in Pediatrics, Developmental and Behavioral Disorders Through the Life Span. “It’s wonderful to see a parent’s reaction to watching their child do something they never thought they’d see,” he says. “I love what I do. I love my job.”
MARY LYONS HUNTER, 1999 MSPP PsyD graduate, also loves her job. Like Styron and Stein, she works where she trained before being hired to stay. The Massachusetts General Hospital Community Health Center in Chelsea, she says, “is based in a community of need. This is a low socio-economic slice of society—immigrants, refugees, and many people who’ve experienced severe trauma.” Hunter knows she’s in the right place for her disposition and skills. “MSPP gives students a great chance to try out different options. I like the complicated problems our multi-cultural patients have and really enjoy working hard on how to empower them. Despite the long, difficult journey many of them have experienced getting here, their level of resilience is impressive.” At the end of the day, Hunter says she feels “the satisfaction of making a difference.” Her advice to students is to embrace MSPP’s model of hands-on experience integrated with classroom learning. Lyons knows that she and the demanding mental health work at the MGH Chelsea Center are a great fit. “It’s not for everybody,” she says, “but I love it. I love going to work every day.”
PHILLIP LAIDLAW, 1998 MSPP PsyD graduate, spends half of his professional time at the Brookline Mental Health Center (BMHC), treating kids, families and couples. He also has a private practice in the Framingham area. At the Brookline Center, Laidlaw is the coordinator of the Couple’s and Family team. He is also the coordinator of the Diversity Initiative at the Center, helping staff and interns gain multi-cultural sensitivity and awareness in their clinical work.
Over the past five years, Laidlaw developed a program called “Brotherhood Toward Success” with young men of color entering Brookline High School. “We’re working to inoculate against racism for African American and Hispanic young people by highlighting resources within themselves and their families that contribute to a positive racial identity. Such positive identification has been shown to aide in attaining successful futures.”
Jamaican-American and the only black student in his grade growing up, Laidlaw knows well the isolation and loneliness that can result when there is no real mentor, and no peers who look like you. A self-described workaholic, he enjoys training and supervising students and interns at BMHC, some of whom are from MSPP. “At MSPP,” he says, “I learned how complex psychological issues play out in therapy. The placements, coupled with classroom learning, made it real for me.” His great affection and appreciation for the school is reflected in his ongoing connections, including talks at MSPP on diversity, race and parenting. “I’m thankful,” he says, “for the honor and privilege of sitting with people, and helping them deal with difficulties in their lives. MSPP gave me great training as a clinician.”
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Lucero Latino Mental Health Program Blossoms
istorically, the Dr. Cynthia Lucero Mental Health Program (LMHP) sent 6 to 12 students to first-year summer immersion training, primarily in a language school in Costa Rica. This year, 21 students from MSPP will be trained in a new program managed by the psychology department of Unibe University in Costa Rica, thanks to the leadership of Dr. Stacey Lambert, MSPP Director of Diversity Education and Inclusion. While students will continue with language training and live with host families, their expanded training includes shadowing Costa Rican mental health providers while observing patient testing and therapy sessions in Spanish, visiting a state hospital and also observing a “wrap-around program,” a cohesive healthcare system that combines outpatient and school efforts in treating a child, plus addressing family issues and working with the child’s school.
“Thanks to the larger number of MSPP students the second year summer immersion in Ecuador may require more than one training option,” says Lambert, “and for our third year immersion, we will replace training in Latin America with a free credit tuition for a directed study in a local immersion experience of students’ choice.”
MSPP Launches Annual Latino Conference for Healthcare Providers
A Conference on motivational interviewing to engage Latino clients in community mental health settings held at MSPP on Friday, April 20 hosted by Drs. Nicholas Covino and Stacey Lambert, with presenters, Drs. Luis Anez and Michelle Silva, from the Psychiatry Department of Yale University.
Motivational interviewing techniques are the focus of the conference that emphasizes clients’ cultural backgrounds. Lambert explains, “Latinos are warm people, so building a personal connection before addressing their mental health issues is important. Many professionals get no motivational interviewing training in graduate school; this conference makes it explicit and also builds on MSPP’s national reputation as the place that specializes in Latino mental health.”
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MSPP Students Donate Vacation Time to Katrina’s Trauma Victims
e’ve worked in soup kitchens, animal shelters and with a number of New Orleans volunteer organizations,” but Amanda Jones was greatly impressed with the St. Bernard project in St. Bernard Parish which does renovation work on people’s houses destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. “However, now that the crucial, basic needs of housing and food are being addressed, is the realization of the trauma experienced by citizens due to Katrina. Free of charge, the St. Bernard project established a counseling center for Katrina survivors,” says Jones, administrative assistant for several MSPP programs and leader of the upcoming CARE/New Orleans trip that includes eleven MSPP students. CARE/New Orleans (Community Assisting Relief Efforts) was initiated in 2008 by MSPP counseling program alumnus, Taylor Scull, and has continued annually as an MSPP student volunteer activity. Students contribute their one-week winter/spring vacation to assist New Orleans residents. Each year, MSPP students contact volunteer organizations in the area in order to be most useful. Before to the trip, students raise money, mostly from the MSPP community. Any additional costs are borne directly by the student volunteers. “We’ve stayed in churches, and shared showers with 20 other volunteers,” says Amanda. But the time working with CARE seems well worth any inconveniences.
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“Family Matters” An MSPP–MFA Collaboration of Psychology and Cinema
MSPP’s Jill Bloom, PhD, has spent many years studying families, cultures and context. Her scholarship moved into the silver screen when she became involved in the MSPP-MFA collaboration around issues she knows well. “We’re looking at different family issues and how they are worked through not only within families, but cross-culturally,” explains Bloom, committee member for the second annual psychology and film series collaboration between MSPP and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA).
Four films regarding family dynamics and behaviors were selected for viewing at the MFA: “The Squid and the Whale,” “Viva Cuba” (Cuban), “We Need To Talk About Kevin” and “Circumstances” (Iranian).
Following each film, panelists lead the audience in discussions in order to expand the understanding of family dynamics and issues represented in the films. Maryam Keshavarz, film director of “Circumstances,” received the Hugo Munsterberg Award for excellence in using film as a pathway to understanding human nature. Now living in France and unable to return to her native Iran in fear for her life, Keshavarz’s work is about a teen-age lesbian from a wealthy Iranian family that struggles to contain their daughter’s sexuality in the face of Islamic fundamentalism. Says Bloom, “It’s important for audiences to view the different ways that family issues are experienced and handled within families and across cultures.”
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International Certification, New Design Enhance Coaching Program
Last fall, MSPP’s Executive Coaching Program, GCEC, received approval from the International Coach Federation (ICF), and a curriculum overhaul designed for the working professional.
“Now our students will have ICF approved coach training hours as well as a Graduate Certificate, making them marketable as executive coaches anywhere in the country,” says Program Director Michele Vitti. The ICF is a coalition of 18,000 life and executive coaches that sets professional standards, provides independent certification, and builds a network of credentialed coaches worldwide.
The new design will allow students to complete the program in seven months, with one weekend a month onsite and the rest online, making it even more attractive to busy professionals than the original, which required onsite coursework.
“In MSPP’s coaching program, students are guided by and embrace principles of psychology, organizational dynamics and adult learning as they develop as coaches,” says Vitti, who adds that the role of executive coaches is “to support leaders, and at the same time, challenge them to make positive, and sometimes dramatic changes in their leadership behavior and style.”
Part of MSPP’s Leadership and Organizational Psychology department, the coaching program can be a first step in a Master’s degree in organizational psychology.
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Dr. Fran Mervyn—Award Winning Inspiration to MSPP Students
Dr. Diana Collins, an MSPP alumna who was taught and mentored in the 1970’s by Dr. Frances Mervyn, now MSPP’s Dean of Students, thought immediately of her much-admired teacher when she saw the call for nominations for the 2011 Elizabeth Hurlock Beckman Award, a private award that each year goes to teachers who have inspired students to create organizations that have lasting benefit for the community. Mervyn won.
Under Mervyn’s guidance, Collins co-authored a grant with the NH Crime Commission to create a pilot program known as the Victim/Witness Service of Hillsborough County in New Hampshire, a bridge between psychology and law. In the program, Collins interviewed children and other victims and crime witnesses, paying particular attention to cases where “the potential for trauma was the greatest. By helping victims deal with the trauma, we were able to lessen their fears of court appearance and to win many cases because of it.” She adds, “Fran was there supporting and mentoring me every step of the way.”
Says Mervyn, a community mental health expert, “I am so honored and grateful to Diana. Receiving this award enhances my sense of pride regarding how we, as teachers at MSPP, can have a lasting impact on students who listen carefully, take in what we teach and apply it in the community. This is my, and our, greatest reward.”
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Geriatric Psychology: Rosowsky Wins ASA Award Amidst Unprecedented Tsunami of Older Americans
BY 2020, THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE OVER 85 will be double what it is now. More of us will be over 65 than under 5. As the greatest demographic wave in history approaches, more and more older Americans will seek mental health care from well-trained practitioners. Unfortunately, these savvy consumers, once called baby boomers, will find a staggering shortage of geriatric mental health therapists. According to Erlene Rosowsky, PsyD, “Access to qualified therapists is already a severe problem.”
Dr. Rosowsky, a Fellow of the Gerontological Society of America (FGSA) understands this issue far better than most. Winner of the American Society on Aging’s 2012 Award presented annually to an individual who has made outstanding contributions to the field of aging, she has trained, taught, treated and done research in geriatric psychology since she graduated from MSPP in 1988. Her many professional positions, awards, publications, presentations, major committee assignments and appointments comprise a list too long to detail here and her energy and drive to continue working long, demanding hours belie the fact that she is also a mother of three adult children and grandmother of six.
In addition to three books and her many articles in professional publications, for more than a decade, Rosowsky wrote a regular column, “Speaking of Aging,” in the Journal of Retirement Planning. She serves on several editorial boards and teaches a clinical seminar in Gero-Psychology at MSPP.
Rosowsky loves her work. Whether it’s a Holocaust survivor battling horrific childhood memories or a recently retired senior executive having difficulties living with less status, stature and responsibility, she finds the challenges rewarding. Rosowsky helps individuals and couples cope with loss, changing relationships, chronic illness and, always, the need to be valued. “People need to feel that they matter,” she says. “For some, the therapist is the last good listener.” Having won a Fulbright Specialist Award, she recently returned to the Netherlands to continue her consultation and teaching work on resilience and personality disorders in old age. She is looking at how difficult personalities accommodate to transitions in their care, from hospitals to rehabilitation facilities, assisted living residences and up and back between these. If high energy, flexibility, an eagerness to keep learning and a warm, engaging personality can help an individual age well, Erlene Rosowsky will do it gracefully and with dignity.
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Former Surgeon General to Speak at MSPP Commencement
DAVID SATCHER, MD, ardent advocate of reducing disparities in mental health care, will be MSPP’s commencement speaker on June 3rd at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel, and recipient of the school’s highest award, the MSPP Doctor of Humane Letters honorary degree. Appointed by President Bill Clinton to be the 16th Surgeon General of the United States in 1998, Dr. Satcher is also known for his role in calling attention to the critical need for more child psychotherapists and school psychologists. His commitment to social justice, his expertise in areas of mental health care, and his ongoing sense of community service make him an extraordinary choice to be MSPP’s graduation speaker.
Growing up in rural Alabama before the civil rights era, Satcher was dangerously ill with whooping cough at age two. His father persuaded the only local black doctor to walk several miles to their home to treat his young son, thereby saving his life. By age six, Satcher was determined to follow in the doctor’s footsteps and in 1970 became the first African American to earn both an MD and PhD at Case Western University in Ohio.
During his lengthy and distinguished career, Dr. Satcher has held many leadership positions in education and health. In 2006 his interest in improving public health and diversity inspired him to develop the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at the Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia.
His lifelong work focused on eliminating disparities in healthcare for all citizens is summarized by his statement during a PBS television interview, “By responding to the health needs of the most vulnerable in the country, we do the most in promoting the health of the nation.”
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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 email@example.com.
Vol 9. No. 1