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ISU Counseling Psychology Reunion on the 50th Anniversary of APA Accreditation

On October 28th, several IPA members attended a reunion at Iowa State University to honor the Counseling Psychology Program on its 50th anniversary of APA Accreditation. This event was the first reunion hosted by the department in over 20 years and was spearheaded by ISU Professor of Psychology and Associate Chair, Dr. Nathaniel Wade. The day’s events began with an open house in Lagomarcino Hall. Attendees toured the building, connected with former students and faculty members, and socialized at Della Viti Wine Bar in Ames.

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Collaborative/Therapeutic Assessment: IPA Fall Conference 2023

With traditional clinical assessment, clinicians are often guided by the question, “What do I want to know?” As psychologists, we can tend to prioritize own interests and goals when determining an assessment’s purpose as well as the questions we attempt to answer. In doing so, we can overlook the client’s interests and priorities. It’s much less common for a clinician to revise the question of “What do I want to know?” to “What do you want to know?,” and focus the assessment around what is personally meaningful to the client. Additionally, traditional clinical assessment tends to prioritize the identification of what’s “wrong” with the client. However, our client’s interests are often not limited to insights into what is wrong; they also have an interest in identifying their strengths and adaptive traits.

Moreover, it can be easy for clinicians to overlook what it is like to be “in our client’s shoes,” and recognize just how unnerving and intimidating an assessment can be. Think about it—some mysterious person is asking several mysterious questions, administering a series of mysterious measures and tasks with mysterious activities and items–all the while, providing limited feedback along the way. This uncertainty can make assessment a frightening and overall negative experience for our clients, which can potentially have an adverse impact the on the quality and accuracy of the collected data as well as the quality of the relationship with the client.

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Reparative Therapy: What the Facts Really Are

As far back as 1990, Dr. Bryant Welch, Executive Director of the American Psychological Association 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, and reorientations therapies due to lack of evidence to support positive impact 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 Counselor Association, American School health Association, National Association of Social Workers, the Pan American Health Organization, and others.

These organizations, who represent the majority of U.S. medical and psychological health professionals have taken this stance not because of political positioning, but because, as the American Psychological Association (2007) noted:

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2023 Ann Ernst Public Service Award

At the IPA Fall Conference on October 6, Dr. Bethe Lonning was presented with the Ann Ernst Public Service Award. This award honors a psychologist who has made, on a pro bono basis, significant contributions of a psychological nature that have benefited society as a whole. The contribution(s) may have been a single major contribution or reflect a consistent history of volunteer service to the community at large.

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Top 5 Reasons Students Should Join IPA

Hello, fellow psychology students! My name is Ashley Banta, and I’m the IPA Student Division Representative-Elect. I am eager to advocate for psychology doctoral students in Iowa. Today, I have the top FIVE reasons you should join IPA! 

The first reason is networking. Student members have rich opportunities to make professional relationships. Everyone gets paired with a practicing psychologist mentor. These mentors can give you important information about practicum opportunities and future internship sites. Even if you don’t intend to stay in Iowa, you can learn from these mentors and take the culture of “Iowa Nice” out into the wider world!  I have personally benefitted from the connections that I have made with other IPA members. 

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On TikTok University, Therapeutic Assessment, and the IPA Fall Conference

When was the last time you got a new referral who had seen five therapists in recent years but didn’t feel like any of the clinicians really “got” them or helped them feel better? Or how about  worked with someone who checked their symptoms with Dr. Google or was taking some “classes” at TikTok University? We see folks with these types of experiences every day, and it might seem tempting to roll our eyes or sigh deeply at yet another person who has lived with their pain for so long or hearing about another self-diagnosis/TikTok-diagnosis of autism, DID, or another diagnosis de jour. Through the lens of Collaborative/Therapeutic Assessment (C/TA), these presenting concerns provide a chance to invite data from all sources into the room…believe it or not, even TikTok. When clients/patients come in seeking care, we can create a rich opportunity to deepen a person’s curiosity, increase their ability to understand their strengths and problems in living, develop new narratives about themselves and their life, and support meaningful change in just a few sessions.

If you haven’t completely written this off based on my generous acceptance of so-called “TikTok data,” thank you. And I’ll take this opportunity to remind you of the chance to learn more about C/TA at IPA’s upcoming fall conference, Following the Breadcrumbs: The Basics of Collaborative/Therapeutic Assessment and How it Can Enhance Clinical Practice. You may be thinking, “I do therapeutic assessment!” or wondering what C/TA is and how it’s different from traditional assessment. You may also be curious about how this semi-structured assessment method could enhance your practice, especially if your practice is more (or entirely) therapy focused. Or, if you’re a carb-lover like me, you may even have noticed your stomach rumbling at the mention of bread. While I can’t help you with a snack in this moment, I’m delighted to share a bit about my presentation at the upcoming conference, C/TA, and why (besides the snacks) it might be worth your while to spend the day together, learning and connecting as we engage our curiosity together. 

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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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Membership Update July 2023

The IPA Membership Committee comprises a group of committed and creative members whose efforts center around three driving goals of recruitment, retention, and connection. This blog post serves to provide a summary of recent membership trends and much-appreciated efforts by the Membership Committee to maintain a trend of growth. Current committee members include:

Ashley Banta                      IPA Student Representative-Elect
Angelica Castro Bueno      Student Liaison from Diversity and Social Justice Committee
Alissa Doobay, PhD           Co-Chair
Eric Field                            IPA Student Representative
Suzanne Hull                     IPA Executive Director
Nicole Keedy, PhD            Co-Chair
Jenna Paternostro, PhD    Liaison to Early Career Psychologists Committee
David VanHorn, PhD         Newly Welcomed Committee Member

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Update on RxP in Iowa

Iowa holds its place in psychology history as the fourth state to pass legislation that allows psychologists to prescribe medication after additional education and experiential training. The initial legislation was signed into law in 2016 and administrative rules were finalized in February 2019, which opened the door to begin licensing prescribing psychologists in Iowa.

On April 28, 2023 Governor Kim Reyolds of Iowa signed HF. 183 into law. This legislation had passed the Iowa House 95-0 and the Iowa Senate 50-0, receiving excellent support from both sides of the aisle. This law removes several barriers in our original RxP law. Introducing RxP laws in any state often includes some compromises that need to be addressed in the future, which was the case with our law in Iowa. I am happy to report the following barriers were removed:

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Did You Know? Q&A with IPA’s DPA

Hello! As your IPA Representatives, Katie Kopp and Ashley Freeman will be blogging or emailing to highlight an IPA member benefit or informing you of something we hope you might find interesting about IPA. This month we are highlighting the Director of Professional Affairs (DPA) position, one of IPA’s immensely valuable members-only resources.

We interviewed Dr. Valerie Keffala to gather some history on the creation of this role within IPA. Dr. Keffala first became aware of the DPA role in 2020 while attending APA’s annual Practice Leadership Conference. She learned how other state psychological associations were utilizing a Director of Professional Affairs to serve as an advocate and informational resource regarding professional practice issues and wanted to provide a similar service to IPA. She spoke of the increased need for this leadership position during the pandemic when psychologists were facing telehealth parity issues along with other practice-related challenges. While not every state psychological association employs a DPA, and their responsibilities vary, they share the same broad goal: to improve the professional lives of practicing psychologists.

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From Cows to Values Integrity: Takeaways from the IPA Spring Conference Day 2

This is the second of two blog posts detailing the Iowa Psychological Association's two-day Spring Conference, which occurred April 28-29, 2023.

The Iowa Psychological Association Spring 2023 conference was unlike any other professional meeting I had ever attended! I knew it would be a unique day as I drove to the event from my home in Des Moines. Navigating across parts of Iowa I had never visited with vast farmland and small-towns drifting by, I was deep in thought about the future of our state. Not far from the venue, I turned too early and encountered a herd of cows in a field, with beautiful rolling hills and tiny gravel roads in the distance. I definitely wasn’t in Colorado anymore!

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Spring Conference Day 1

This is the first of two blog posts detailing the Iowa Psychological Association's two-day Spring Conference, which occurred April 28-29, 2023. 

The morning of IPA’s Spring conference likely had two “kick offs.” One was occurring being the scenes, where the conference planning committee was creatively pivoting to respond to unforeseen challenges related to the resort’s amenities. My hat goes off to all those incredible individuals as they managed that kickoff with grace and innovation in order to deliver what was promised to attendees.

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National Gun Violence Awareness Day - History and Local Events

As you may be aware, June is National Gun Violence Awareness Month. More specifically, the ninth annual National Gun Violence Awareness Day will take place on June 2nd, 2023. 

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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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Practice Leadership Conference - Part 1

The American Psychological Association's Practice Leadership Conference occurs and annually per the APA website "is the premier event for APA and SPTA leaders to co-create transformational impact for the psychology profession and critical societal issues." The 2023 conference occurred at the beginning of March and several IPA members were in attendance. 

Our student representative-elect, Ashley Banta attended the conference. She said, "I attended APA's Practice & SPTA Leadership Conference last week in D.C. I was very inspired by this conference, so I filmed a short video discussing my three takeaways. Please take a few minutes to watch the video below. Fun fact: I filmed it in front of the Lincoln Memorial."  Ashley also encouraged members to reflect on their whywhy are you studying to become a psychologist or why are you a psychologist? You can view Ashley's video here

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The Psychology of Mass Shooters

Violence in communities from mass attacks is a growing problem in the United States. Since the beginning of 2023 the number of incidents of gun violence in the United States against groups of individuals has risen significantly, with an average of more than one gun violence act per day. As of this writing, there have been 130 incidents of mass shootings in 29 states (for specific information about incidents this year see:

In January, 2023, the IPA Disaster Response Committee urged IPA members to attend a 3-hour training to learn from psychologist Dr. Peter Langman about The Minds, Lives and Motivations of Mass Attackers. Along with 2000 others, I participated in the training hosted by the Pennsylvania Psychological Association and the Council of Executives and Provincial Psychological Associations (CESPPA) organization. Dr. Langman shared his research on the dynamics of mass violence. While he believes that “no one profile for a perpetrator” exists, he shared some of the knowledge he has gleaned from his research into perpetrators of mass violence. On behalf of the Disaster Response Committee, I am sharing with you some of what he taught us.

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President’s Update Spring 2023

Isn’t it strange how time can be perceived as crawling at a snail’s pace or flying by at lightspeed? Somehow, it is the end of March already and spring is right around the corner—I mean, I hope it is…but it’s the Midwest, so you never can tell…

Another strange thing: I’m writing my first President’s Update in my fourth year as a licensed psychologist. When I joined IPA in 2019, I had just moved to Iowa after completing my postdoc at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center in Houston. I was new to Iowa, new to independent licensure, and new to group practice. Just a few months later, the pandemic started and, well, that was more newness. When I joined IPA, I imagined I would run for President Elect maybe eight or 10 years down the line—you know, after I was comfy and firmly established in my career, had acquired a decent amount of IPA institutional knowledge, and was more familiar with Iowa. But in the summer of 2021, I was asked about my interest in running for IPA President Elect. The call to run came early. Really early.

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Celebrating ECP Scholarship Winners

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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