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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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IPA Receives APA Grant

The Iowa Psychological Association is pleased to announce that it was awarded a Small State Operational Grant from the American Psychological Association Services, Inc. in the amount of $10,000 to help fund IPA’s advocacy efforts. More specifically, the grant will be used to go toward offsetting the lobbyist expense to help support IPA’s 2021 legislative agenda:

  1. Continue to push parity in telehealth and no restrictions on platform used by providers.
  2. Expand the postdoctoral psychologist training program to additional underserved communities even if they are not located in a federal shortage area.
  3. Allow licensed psychologists to receive reimbursement for psychological services performed by pre-doctoral interns under their direct supervision.
  4. Continue to advocate for and protect the value of psychology licensure and reject delicensing bills.  
  5. Support ongoing implementation of prescribing authority for specially-trained psychologists.
  6. Uphold Iowa patient protection and provider qualification requirements for services rendered to Iowans.

APA Services provided up to $250,000 for Small State Organizational Grants in 2021 to state psychological associations to support the needs of psychologists. Grants are administered by the APA Practice Directorate and the Committee for State Leaders (CSL). APA received 25 applications this year and the CSL weighted a number of important factors such as each state’s grant history and financial status to ensure that the funding were distributed fairly.

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Pandemic: One Year Later

This is my first blog post ever! I consider this another gift of the pandemic.

When I reflect on the last year, I have a hefty share of good memories. Of coming home after work, sans planned social activities, and immersing myself in a landscaping project in my backyard. I dug up old bricks - they must have been walkways or something at one point - to use as borders for new plots I’d carved for mulching and planting blooming things. In my “normal” life, this would have felt like a chore, because I would have been trying to squeeze it in on weekends or random week nights between other things I was running around doing. Instead, I sat in the grass and patiently outlined the new beds and placed each brick one by one, just how I wanted them. It was a time of peace and reflection, drenched as I was in the smells and the sounds and the feeling of spring.

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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


ECP Scholarship Winners

EPPP Scholarship Winner Spotlight

Mary Schenkenfelder, PhD graduated from the Counseling Psychology program at Iowa State University in 2020 and she is currently a post-doctoral resident at Central Iowa Psychological Services. She has been an active member of IPA for over four years and currently participates on the IPA website and DSJ committees. As for the future, once licensed, she plans to stay in central Iowa and continue to do therapy and assessment with diverse individuals. More specifically, Dr. Schenkenfelder is interested in working with clients with trauma and transgender individuals and hopes to get trained in EMDR.

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Serving on the Iowa Board of Psychology

Interested in serving the profession? Enjoy thinking broadly about rules and processes and how to make things work effectively? Willing to make difficult, high-stakes decisions in order to ensure that the public is protected from incompetent or unethical behavior from psychologists? Tolerant of paperwork and meetings? Interested in connecting with colleagues you might not otherwise meet? You should consider applying to serve on the Iowa Board of Psychology! (It occurs to me that I’ve made Board service sound really dry – it’s actually not, it feels more like a group of passionate people getting together to talk about how to ensure that Iowans have access to high-quality, effective care from psychologists.)

My favorite part of serving on the Iowa Board of Psychology has been the opportunity to develop a broader understanding of how the profession functions. The Board is charged with regulating the practice of psychology in the state, which includes establishing rules around licensure and granting licenses, establishing rules that govern the practice of psychology and expectations around standard of care, and reviewing complaints filed against psychologists. The central guiding principle of the board is the protection of the public by promoting ethical, competent practice by psychologists.

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A Psychologist at War

In July 2020, a movie debuted on Netflix (originally scheduled for a theatrical release, but COVID required changes to be made to the plan) to generally positive reviews. The Outpost is a somewhat classic war movie: gritty American Soldiers fight against all odds to defeat the enemy. Based on a true story, what made this movie different for me is that it was a story with which I was intimately familiar.

In June of 2009, I was deployed to Afghanistan in support of an Army infantry brigade, the 4th Brigade Combat Team of the 4th Infantry Division. I had been licensed for 5 months, 6 months post-internship, and was responsible for the mental health of 3,600+ Soldiers who were spread out over 15 locations in four provinces of Afghanistan. From the beginning, it was a challenging rotation. Our area of operations was extremely active with troops in contact (engaged by the enemy) daily. I had a home forward operating base (FOB), but spent nearly every day moving between all of the various FOBs and outposts that our brigade occupied either by helicopter or convoy. In the first months of the deployment, we had suffered many losses, including Soldiers killed in action (KIA) or catastrophically wounded. A big part of my job was to meet with groups of Soldiers following traumatic events to initiate a protocol for Traumatic Event Management (the Army’s spin on critical incident stress debriefing).

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