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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

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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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What Does IPA Membership Mean to You?

As I reflect on the lessons learned in 2020, what stands out most is a renewed sense of what is truly important to me. The initial images of 2020 may be filled with loss, grief, incredulity, horror, and discontent. However, my memories of 2020 are brightened by quality time spent with immediate family, Zoom meetings with friends and colleagues, home cooked meals, family game nights, handwritten cards, and care packages. While some previously taken-for-granted conveniences and social opportunities were certainly missed, I developed a greater appreciation for the connections I have with the special people in my life. For me, connection was the key to surviving 2020.

The opportunities IPA provided for connection with colleagues this past year have been invaluable. Through connection, support, and collaboration with IPA colleagues, I have commiserated, laughed, and learned. I was so grateful for the Zoom support meetings while I was trying to figure out how to convert our clinic to telehealth services. I grew as a person and clinician through the conversations, trainings, and book clubs led by the Diversity and Social Justice Committee. I earned CEs from incredible psychologists and legal advisors within the state and across the nation. IPA’s advocacy efforts were instrumental in reducing financial strain for my clinic. Over the past year, IPA has offered rich opportunities for community and connection among its members, and IPA will continue to offer those opportunities in the coming year.

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Welcome to the IPA Blog!

As the field of psychology continues to evolve, the Iowa Psychological Association seeks to evolve as well to meet the ongoing needs of its members. One of the biggest changes IPA is making this year is shifting from a quarterly published newsletter, The Iowa Psychologist (TIP), to a blog housed in the members-only section of the IPA website. This shift in medium coincides with a shift in editorial responsibilities as well. Dr. Stewart Ehly has served as the editor of TIP since 2011 and published his final edition last month with the Winter 2020 issue. It seems most fitting to start off the Iowa Psychologist Blog with a tribute to Stewart. Thank you to everyone who contributed, and additional comments and stories are welcome in the comments here! 

Phil Laughlin
Dear Stuart,  
I am wishing you Godspeed as you join us fellow retirees.  You and I go back to the mid-80’s and you’ve been a precious colleague all that time.  You were a tremendous help to me several times throughout that period when I felt overburdened with this or that responsibility.  You stuck with IPA in the mid-90’s when the membership voted to change the dues structure resulting in a loss of approximately 100 academic members.  Your continuing presence was an immeasurable gift to Iowa psychology in general and IPA in particular.

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