[Fenichel's Current Topics in Psychology]

A.P.A. CONVENTION (Highlights)

American Psychological Association
113th Annual Convention - Washington, DC
August 18-21, 2005


These edited reports were originally posted to the Current Topics, Therapy Online, and Cyberpsychology list-servs, August 2005.  

2005 Convention Highlights:
Opening | Pioneers of Behavior Therapy | Distinguished Elders of Psychotherapy | Legends Discuss Psychology | Online Clinical Work | Town Hall Meeting

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"Asynchronously Live" from Washington, D.C.



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*DISCLAIMER*
I was very careful to take accurate notes during these presentations, using handouts and/or photos of graphics to verify my notes. While I believe these are accurate, literal real-time notes, I apologize for any errors or typos, or for reporting anyone else's unintentional mis-statement. I will be happy to immediately correct any errors and I welcome presenters' submission of additional online references which might be included in these reports. Thanks, and... Enjoy!

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APA CONVENTION REPORT #1
Wednesday, August 17, 2005



      
[Washington, DC] Asynchronously Live from Washington.....

Hi all, and greetings from Washington DC, where the 113th annual psychology convention gets underway tomorrow. It kicks off with Arlo Guthrie delivering a 40th Anniversary rendition of his classic "Alice's Restaurant". (Ever wonder why people may mention what can be found under 1/2 ton of garbage? I asked several youngish psychologists today if they knew who Arlo Guthrie was, or his father, Woody. Well, some of us know and will enjoy seeing him!)

The opening ceremony (which includes greetings, awards, and announcements) is part of a condensed 4 day program hosting an incredible diversity of topics and presenters. D.C. is now populated by psychologists rather than politicians! Nice weather today... After registering, and going through the lists of additions, subtractions and changes, I hope to partake in a sampling of some stimulating and important topics. As always, being human (and a professional with particular interests and skills to maintain), I tend to focus on major presentations in the areas I've been most active in, such as psychotherapy, personality theory, social and family contexts, IQ/cognition, gender differences, interpersonal relationships and behavior -- including online and offline communication in a new era of multi-tasking and technology.

For those who can't attend, it's been my pleasure over the years to try to provide a sense of "being here" as these things happen, asynchronously live. (Almost live... I'm sharing these events with you immediately afterwards, as they're still being discussed
here.)

For anyone interested in psychology -- and there are several presentations by leaders in the field this year asking "what is psychology?" -- this is but a small sampling of the broad and fascinating terrain which is all part of psychology, the study of human experience and behavior.

Before my own highlights, here are some of the events being advertised by APA, by brochures sent out in the mail to members, and by handouts at registration.

Thursday is a day of exhibits, division offerings at night (after Arlo Guthrie), and some social hours. Also there's an excellent "
online mental health" oriented panel as one of those offerings, as well as a presentation (at the same time, unfortunately) on virtual reality treatments. But the brochures focus on Friday and Saturday, which are really dense-packed.

Highlights Friday include special plenary/Presidential sessions (focused symposia and lectures), an awards ceremony and a "Night at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian". Saturday's "main events" are many, and diverse. Some of the plenary sessions of Friday, random-sampling some of the interesting-looking ones, include "Men, Women, Power and Intimacy: Psychological and Economic Perspectives", "Behavioral Enrichment: Can Brain-Cell Loss be Stopped?", and "The Central Park Jogger: Healing to Wholeness". Saturday's topics include "the effects of depression and hostility on the heart", several presentations on career paths, a self-revealing talk about bipolar disorder by a psychologist with it, a look at 21st century civil rights, and "the relationship between social psychology and brain science". Several of us waiting in line to register were chatting about another topic: the pervasiveness of drug ads on TV, juxtaposed with the studies looking at violent behavior as it correlates with exposure to models in tv and film. (My belief: Psychology and sociology *must* work more closely if we want to find *more* "causes" of violence, learned and contextual.)

What else? A presidential address on "Making Psychology a Household World", "Men and Depression", "Pediatric Chronic Illness", "Politics and Science of Psychology", "Psychology and the Religious Imagination: A history of core concepts"; "Theorizing Cultural Psychology", "Person Environment Psychology" (a term after my own heart!), "Development of Autism in Infancy and Toddlerhood", "Personality East and West", "Empathy across National Cultural and Social Barriers". Ah, here is one I've heard some buzz about: "Sex and Love: Healthy and Unhealthy Media Portrayals" (tomorrow 1-3), "Women Supporting Women", many events for students, and...

There will also be a conversation hour with Aaron Beck, one of many legends here to share and discuss past and present thinking. I got a separtate mailing on "Sex Differences in Sensation and Perception" which also sounds interesting, citing in the summary recent research demonstrating "unexpectedly large sex differences in sensation and perception, particularly in the special senses of vision, hearing and smell". The key factors appear to be biological hardwiring, with one example being how "newborn baby girls appear more attuned to interesting (but stationary) shapes and textures, such as a human face, while newborn baby boys attend more to objects in motion such as a dangling mobile".

Some biological and sociological aspects of drug dependency will be discussed too... And topics of interest to specific populations.

So there's a taste of all that's happening, and as always much of it is happening at the same time, often calling for some tough choices (or logistics). Yet it's like being a child in the candy store for psychologists, as 1000's of us gather to hear the latest in theory, research, and practice, across the whole spectrum of interests and specialties which is psychology.

Here's a sneak peak at some of the events I am going to try to report on, asynchronously live, on site, during the convention. I'll also be attending some other organizational meetings and the annual ISMHO dinner, so I'll get to as much as I can and report it as quickly (and concisely) as I can.

Some of the events I am hoping to attend include a symposium on
behavior therapies by several of the people who participated in a similar event in 2002. Tomorrow afternoon there is a Morahan-Martin/Young presentation on current patterns of Internet problems, Arlo Guthrie's session, and a panel on self-injury and suicide. In the evening is a symposium on "Clinical Topics on the Internet - Working in the Online Medium", John Grohol chair, with several pioneers in training and online consultation on the panel. Opposite that (same time) is a panel on VR applications in psychology and rehabilitation. Friday is a panel on ethical considerations in working cross-state and cross-national, a favorite topic, too, but again up against some other interesting presentations. [I sure do wish the days when one could get a tape of sessions!]

There are a also several good conversation hours, for example with Sternberg and with Beck. It is so tough to choose and schedule, but I will definitely get to some of the pithy sessions. Saturday there's more Internet-related topics and a Town Hall Meeting on the future of psychology, plus a plenary session by Marsha Linehan on DBT and mindfulness, and a conversation with legends -- one I will try to get to for sure -- discussion with Charles Brewer, Robert Sternberg, Aaron T. Beck and others.

But first, some sleep...

Take care. Say hi if you're here! ;-)

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Asynchronously Live from APA - 18 August 2005 (Part 1)

Hi all, greetings from Washington, where today the nation's psychologists were greeted by the mayor of D.C. who expressed a strong commitment to better mental health care, as well as seeking representation for the people of DC within national government. The city council has voted to extend a good tax deal to APA for keeping its HQ in Washington, and - here's some hot-off-the-press news, to me anyway - in return APA has commited to having its convention in Washington every 3 years. OK...

We were welcomed, thanked, and implored to get involved in school boards, by Senator Tom Harkin, who in receiving his award gave the single longest speech by anyone on the stage (Senators do that?). He paid homage, when discussing mental healthcare, to his friend and colleague Paul Wellstone, who was co-sponsor of the mental health parity provisions within our healthcare "system". Sen. Harkin made the point that in reality we have developed "a sick care system, not a health care system".)

And that's it from the late-afternoon opening ceremony.

Earlier today I attended a presentation which I can now share, on ...

 
PIONEERING BEHAVIOR THERAPIES

[Pioneers in Behavioral Psychotherapy]
Photo by Fenichel: Pioneering the Behavior Therapies---Lessons for the Future



PIONEERING THE BEHAVIOR THERAPIES -- LESSONS FOR THE FUTURE

Cyril Franks, with whom I spoke briefly before the presentation, said he suspected this symposium would not draw as many people as others on "practice and technique", whereas this panel was more about history and theory. True enough, as most of the panel had presented their overview of behavior therapy(s) in 2002, most of the historical detail presented today (fortunately) was consistent. (I'd recommend looking at that
2002 report for an informative overview on the history and diversity of the behavior therapies.) Today this group of pioneers did share some additional anecdotes and frame some of the historical rivalries and contexts in some ways I'd not heard or read before. A few highlights follow.

As Dr. Franks said today, it is really these 4 panelists who are the living legacy of "behavior therapy", coming from traditions spawned by Skinner and Wolpe especially, with Hull and Tolman adding to the behavioral learning aspects, and the dominant context of the day for many years being Freud (psycho/psyche analysis) and Carl Rogers/Sullivan (conditions of worth, self-esteem, positive regard, etc.) Until the 60's, when along came "the second wave" of applied behavior analysis and theory.

Dr. Nate Azrin was introduced as one of Skinner's students, who in 1956 had begun using "applied behavioral analysis" to human behavior, later to develop the "token economy". It was however, "only an experimental methodology" as there was a "disdain" for looking at human behaviors as if lower animals rather than complex (neurotic?) human beings. The historical context was reflected in psych training at the time, where the emphasis was on history, Ebbinghaus' nonsense syllables, etc., "theories everywhere, while Freud was analyzing the unconscious and getting into projection".

The feuds were "entertaining... Tolstoy couldn't compare!" and it became dangerous to "analyze" a girlfriend/ boyfriend's dreams as well. Azrin shifted his attention to children, and found he had very little to offer parents. He could invoke Watson and say "leave them alone" or adopt a humanistic approach and "drown them in love and affection". As "psychology was not what I thought it was" he began a journal dealing with applications, and this, not surprisingly, was "met with antipathy", although it led to his finding a brilliant graduate student to edit the journal and who began working towards developing his own idea of "teaching machines".

It seemed there was "a total disconnect between behavioral psychology and real-world internships", making advances to a next stage impossible.

Three themes emerged as focus areas:
  1. Advances in methodology
  2. Types of problems we can deal with
  3. Procedures
"Most important", he said, is "outcome studies. Functional." Is the person being treated now functioning and contributing to society? If he is delusional, is he able to hold a job? There was a real need in designing protocols, to look at baselines and post-tests, and not just compare treatment vs. non-treatment groups. After all, "everything is effective" as compared to doing nothing, given placebo effects.

The second focus was on identifying "what we can deal with". Maybe one cannot change being mentally retarded, but can improve functional skills.

Later Azrin realized one doesn't need a DSM diagnosis to be subject to positive change via behavioral methods. For example, "nail biting... 50% of the population. It's not in the DSM." But meanwhile education embraced some of the notions, referring now to MR students as "trainable" vs. "educable". Often these labels changed, in fact.

General principles to guide learning-based therapies were emerging, things like shaping, successive approximation, generalization etc. -- but in labs, with animals, not at a human level. Does everything need a reinforcer, externally? What if one is able to get a job? Is that not a reinforcer in itself?

He concluded by stating that "behavioral analysis has done an enormous job in changing the entire field of applied psychology", and that there are several areas (e.g spousal abuse, workplace abuse, sex abuse) which are "just waiting" to see new treatments evolve using these methods.

Jumping ahead -- and I'm going to have to finish this report after some sleep -- Arnold Lazarus, who Dr. Franks described as "30 years ahead of his time" had some comments about the way in which cognition informs behavior, and Drs. Lazarus and Franks engaged in some friendly roasting of each others' pet ideas. Some lively comments ensued when one of Lazarus' students, a great contributor to clinical behavior in his own rite, Gerald Davison, asked a question from the audience, about "willfulness" (in the context of CBT and cognitive therapies) and again a playful debate took place about terms and processes.

Cyril Franks, after a dig at Lazarus' seminal book, "Behavior Therapy and Beyond" (saying it was "singularly devoid of data") emphasized the importance of data and outcome research.

======

From there I went to visit the Exhibition Hall and met many nice people as I spent some time at the first-ever booth hosted by ISMHO (
www.ismho.org)

The organization -- International Society for Mental Health Online -- had set up a small exhibit hall booth, and several members, including founders, past and present presidents, and members of the Case Study Group, pitched in to spend some time there talking with a variety of wonderful folks passing by on their way to the nearby CyberCafe. Time flew, and then I flew off to what I thought was Kimberly Young ("Internet Addiction") presenting updated findings on Pathological Internet use. She was not there due to death in her family, I learned. ;-(

I stayed to hear one of the presenters talk about models of online "addiction" - most often the compulsive gambling or "behavioral" addiction models (including the slot machine and drug-using models too). Most of the research was from 1999-2000, however, so I don't really have anything new to report. One comment was interesting, that employers/corporations are not generally funding this type of research. Their attitude? If an employee wastes company time, they are fired, end of story. [I will check some notes on slides, as there is one newer study] I suspect Dr. Young has more recent study results, as she works with companies on issues of "pathological internet use" by employees, and so she might have a different perspective, or more data.


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OPENING SESSION

This was a session of several awards to APA members, for distinguished service, and also awards to and from government officials. The Senator commandeered much of the time alloted to the main (musical) event, but was worth hearing as he is a friend of healthcare, and clearly wants a good relationship with the mental health professions. As he outlined, he has indeed been a crusader, along with the tragically lost Senator Wellstone, for mental health parity with other healthcare services, and for improving access to quality healthcare generally. He was given a solid round of applause and now it was time for a delightfully different perspective on what mental health is all about.

Arlo Guthrie at APA Convention 8-2005
Arlo Guthrie - 18 August 2005


A real treat followed the awards and welcomes: Arlo Guthrie. As a sidenote, one of the speakers referred to him as "Woody Guthrie", and several APA members I asked (under 30) did not know who Arlo Guthrie is, much less Woody. But the baby boomsters in the audience sure knew every word as Arlo played a 19-minute rendition of his Thanksgiving Day Alice's Restaurant Massacre, at the end telling the audience, "you may be smart but you'll have to be able to sing better than that" to make the world a better place." Then he sang his father's anthem, "This Land is Your Land". (some other songs before and after too). Of interest, he spoke about his father's Huntington's Disease, and how he learned of it one day with a call from a psychologist. He said Woody was placed in a psych ward, where he was calm and lucid, "the only sane person", but the staff said he was delusional, claiming to have written famous songs and entertained millions. (Rosen Study, anyone?) Arlo also reminisced about how folk singers often like to borrow ("well, steal") existing song melodies and change the words, in order to make it easier for people to sing along, as they'd already know the tune. Tonight he changed the words slightly only once in his own Alice's Restaurant classic, noting that there may not be a draft now down at Whitehall Street, but we're not that far away. He also shared how he forgets words sometimes and so at one point he'd begun taping lyrics to his guitar, only to find that he couldn't get far enough away to read them. (He now wears glasses and has long lion-white hair and beard.) The buzz is that the performance is going to come out as a CD. That would be great.

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To be continued...

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Asynchronously Live from APA - 18 August 2005 (Part 2)

Hi all,

Here now are some additional highlights, quotes, and data from today's notes and slides....

This report will be of particular interest to those wishing to learn about the history of psychology and/or behavior therapy, through some personal recollections of some of the pioneers, discussing historical and professional contexts which influenced their particular work and the evolution of psychology.

First, the behaviorists' panel, with proper name spelling and the titles of the presentations:

SYMPOSIUM TITLE: Pioneering the Behavior Therapies---Lessons for the Future

Arthur W. Staats, PhD
Chair/Participant/1st Author
Psychological Behaviorism: Founding, Forwarding, and Futuring

Nathan H. Azrin, PhD
Participant/1st Author
Origin and Development of Applied Behavior Analysis

Cyril M. Franks, PhD
Participant/1st Author
Psychodynamic to Behavioral Therapies: Paradigm Shift, Conceptual Broadening, Future Directions

Arnold A. Lazarus, PhD
Participant/1st Author
How Behavior Therapy Became What It Is

I'd mentioned that Cyril Franks emphasizes the importance of understanding history, as he experienced it and participated in it, and again he demonstrated a love for using his privileged position in the service of (fondly) poking fun, or even ridiculing, or heaping praise occasionally too, on the other living legends. Behavior therapy of course has historically encompassed evolution and revolution among several behavior therapIES (plural), and this first-hand accounting of how society and psychology reacted to new ground-breaking thinking and treating is fascinating to hear directly from those who were there, well ahead of their time...

Returning now to Cyril Franks describing the others' efforts at broadening concepts of "behavior" or even promoting an overarching "unification of psychology" around more useful conceptions of human behavior, affect, and cognition. Lazarus is universally credited by the others as being "30 years ahead of his time" as he actively headed towards "multi-modal" approaches, while others changed the name of their therapies to include aspects of cognition or affect or behavior. Franks, in his wry manner, opined that Staats, in trying for a higher order unification of psychology (or "psychological behaviorism"), was in fact "500 years ahead of his time", though he suggested Staats has recently abandoned his mission. (Staats immediately said he had not!) In any case, Franks noted that "Skinner was never a clinician; he worked with animals", and it was really a shocking notion at that time to seriously apply "animal" notions to human beings. He went on:

"In the UK, we had only one model, Pavlovian." They soon realized it was "unwieldy and quite impossible" to embrace as a complete model of "behavior therapy". And then along came the "cognitive revolution", a notion embracing the ancient philosophers' understanding of the centrality of cognition: "I think, therefore I am". He suggested that even his dear friend Lazarus has a tendency to confuse "behaviorism" with "behavioral", since in his estimation, it was only Watson who used that specific term, with "no cognition, no intervening variable. Stimulus response." What is the choice but to use efficient names, he wondered, as it is cumbersome to speak of something like "conditioning, cognition, and emotional therapy".

But at that time, returning to the actual circumstances and social context, "psychologists could not do therapy in the US or UK, only research and teaching". And here we are today with multiple therapies, and multiple ways of looking at outcome, through evidenced-based prisms, which some are better able to employ than others. Where is the future direction? As he'd said before, "there's not just one 'behavior therapy'. That doesn't cover it. 'Cognitive therapy' doesn't cover it. There's no uniformity." In closing he praised the work of Beck et al, being promoted through the Association for Cognitive Therapy (ACT), and believes that "we must continue our desperately needed efforts to help peole in this world". Now there is a common thread with great merit!

Arnold Lazarus' Reflections

Lazarus began, as he has done on other occasions, by returning the pokes at him by Dr. Franks, explaining how since the beginning of his seminal writings (e.g, "Behavioral Therapy and Beyond", 1971) Franks always gave his work back-handed compliments in praising it and then adding, "Unfortunately, Lazarus failed to mention...". This became so bothersome they had a talk and Franks agreed to stop with the "unfortunately...". The next review began, *Regrettably*, Lazarus ...."

Shifting to his own experience, what has fascinated him about the flow of history in this field is the origins, watching from Johannisburg, a "breaking away from psychoanalytic tradition. Freudian, Rogerian, Sullivanian." That was mainstream. Someone he had dated in those days, told Lazarus of a friend who was about to undergo a different kind of experimental procedure, prefrontal lobotomy. Wolpe, a physician and his mentor, and other (Rainer?) became interested in trying a different experimental approach.

Wolpe was a physician with no direct study of psychology, "but a voracious reader". He agreed to take on this case, experimentally, and utilized some new approaches behind a one-way mirror, where others (including psychiatrists) could watch. Wolpe was given feedback like, "You're supposed to be analyzing the transference! Why are you not getting into the unconscious?" But utilizing his relaxation/imagery techniques (later to emerge as systematic desensitization), after 6 or 7 months the patient was clearly "doing very well". Was this success recognized as dramatic? No, "people said it was transference cure". In another early case, a man who was traumatized when a companion was killed falling off a building developed agoraphobia. The treatment began and was succeeding, but people asked, "what about early childhood?".

Wolpe chaired Lazarus' dissertation, which was an experiment in using desensitization in groups. Comparing a desensization group with a psychodynamic group, "the first was superior". In retrospect he can see weak design and controls, as he was both therapist and researcher, and subtle bias, etc, might have had some role. But in any case the results and discussion were so compelling that he "caught the eye of Bandura", who invited Lazarus to teach at Stanford as a visiting professor. He accepted. While at Stanford, a student of his was Gerald Davison (sitting next to me, and smiling as this story is told). Davison and others would of course come to integrate various dimensions of cognitive and behavioral functioning, as did Lazarus, though for a while, recalled Lazarus, "I had named Wolpe the king, and we would begin each class bowing to the East". Funny, he reminisced, how they all ended up in the States.

In those early days Lazarus had been working with "basic desensitization", arriving at a starting point of "some anxiety" and teaching the patient to relax, "deeper, deeper... and when you feel anxious just raise a finger. [As an example of an anxiety-provoking image.] There are 5 people you are going to speak to. Visualize it. If you're anxious, lift your finger. Breathe deeply..." And then one day he had "an epiphany. I realized people could think and talk, and elaborate about the context for the anxiety." As he was reflecting on this, "for some strange reason" he (Lazarus) suddenly remembered his grandmother's funeral. No matter how he tried to understand this in terms of stimulus-response channel, it was not sufficient. So, he thought, "why not talk about the experience rather than just lifting a finger?" Why should this not be an additional part of treatment? And he went to Wolpe with his new revelation. Wolpe in turn dismissed this as "analytic B.S." Moreover, the act of talking about the anxiety would interfere with the pairing of relaxation with the image. "Joe Wolpe didn't get frustrated; he just argued why it wouldn't be productive". He offered this while noting that at the time "rumors flied" of a growing feud between them. Meanwhile, there was no single explanation acceptable to everyone: "Beck's theory was challenged, and reciprocal inhibition is not the case". And then, "one comes full circle. Behavior really is the sine non quon [sp?] ".

Wow.

And now Arthur Staats presented his vision of a unified "psychological behaviorism" (PB). As Dr. Franks had described, "In 1950 behavior therapy did not exist. It was animal research. I became a behaviorist in 1953 from reading papers by Hall and Spence" and then becoming interested in human behavior." He saw two processes happening: 1) classical conditioning of emotion; and 2) reinforcement of motor responses. Like Lazarus, he recalled a specific key event which was transformational for him. He was working with an OT, trying to help a boy cope after having lost his hand and forearm. The boy refused to accept a prosthesis, and the task for him was to develop a reinforcement which led to the prosthetic itself becoming a reinforcer. It hit home, in working closely with this devastated boy, that "basic conditioning principles applied to complex human behavior... Behaviors are learned differently, with individual emotion playing a role."

In 1956 a journal study described a patient who said the opposite of what he meant. In Staats' estimation (analyzing behavior) the "psychoanalytic doctors" were all reinforcing this continued behavior rather than eliminating it. They'd ask, want a cigarette? He'd say no, so that meant yes, they'd give him a cigarette, and of course had just reinforced his "opposite talk". By 1963, psychotherapy was being legitimized as a book referred to "verbal learning psychotherapy" and "language behavior therapy".

"PB provided one foundation for behavior therapy, behavior analysis. PB is a 3rd generation behavior theory. Many people still use 2nd generation."

Another dynamic was that post-Watson, "constructs such as intelligence and personality have been tossed out as 'mentalistic'. That is unfortunate, and the fields were demeaned. For example, intelligence. Traditional IQ tests are predictive of behavior, but don't address the causes of intelligence, or types of behavior. Different learning conditions determine how well repertoires are learned... The learned basic behavioral repertoires include language repertoire. How to make a child intelligent. Wouldn't it be valuable to tell traditional psychology what intelligence is? To teach parents using psychological behavioralism? These things are possible. PB Opens new avenues for the behavior therapies." Dr. Staats noted, incidentally, that it was not Skinner who applied principles on his own children, but he. [Reading/language enrichment]

The audience was invited at the end to ask questions. Gerald Davison asked what Lazarus (his former professor) thought about "acceptance and mindfulness", central notions in the work of Linehan and the DBT proponents. Lazarus reflected a moment and said, "I'm trying to find out what this mindfulness is. I attended a symposium and spent 1/2 hour studying a raisin and felt like I was in a back ward. What am I missing?... I see nothing new." A little back and forth about ACT (Acceptance/commitment therapy, used with OCD especially), and they seemed to agree that success rates -- for example lower hospitalization rates -- might be a function of the hospitals' policies and not lessened symptomology. Dr. Davison reflected how "it's a complex package. It can include behavior activation. Moving from application to principles is a different way of approaching the whole clinical enterprise". The two agreed to argue over lunch about what is or isn't "radical behaviorism".

++++

Enough behaviorism? OK, onto online applications....

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CLINICAL TOPICS ON THE INTERNET -- Working in the Online Medium



[APA Convention - Panel on Online Mental Health]
CLINICAL TOPICS ON THE INTERNET -- Working in the Online Medium
(Photo by Fenichel)


This was the major event at APA this year for online mental health watchers, "online mental health" encompassing many aspects seen across the Internet, from counseling to consultation, supervision, support groups, information web sites, etc. etc. It was another all-ISMHO panel, and this year I was not presenting so could enjoy being in the audience as a very able panel spoke.

The panel was chaired by John Grohol (first webmaster of mentalhealth.net; owner of PsychCentral.com); presenters included Kate Anthony, who trains online counselors and is active in U.K. counseling organizations, and a published author on the topic; Dr. Ron Kraus, founder of onlineclinic.com and developer of ethics guidelines; DeeAnna Merz, ISMHO president and a leader in presenting online supervision via the Internet; and Michelle Davis, who hosts an online support/advice page, and on this occasion discussed 3 different potential suicide notes she received, and how she responded to each of them. Ms. Anthony began with an overview of text-based communication in general: use of emoticons, the look of different chat environments, and the nature of explicit and implicit online communication, with a look at how disinhibition (as described by John Suler) and other factors actually facilitate, along with anonymity, clients speaking from the heart and soul rather than hidden by defenses. (Self consciousness about physical presence was also discussed).

I'd just add for now that in reflecting on Anthony's look at therapeutic versus casual email, it occurs to me that there are many dimensions which might be explored here, as continuums -- from accuracy/distortion, to comfort/discomfort with typing, formality/disinhibition, and other dimensions which contribute to unique client-therapist communication dynamics, online. Food for thought for future research; this is surely a ripe area for doctoral studies!

....

[Part 2]

Here are some more of the details, using the powerpoint slides and my own notes to check for accuracy.

*As always, if I've incorrectly quoted a person or statistic, please let me know and I'll immediately correct it; to the best of my knowledge it is accurate*

Kate Anthony, a trainer and supervisor of online counselors, and President-elect of ISMHO, began the presentation with a discussion of "The Therapeutic Relationship between Counsellor and Client Online". She presented an overview of the "therapeutic relationship", and how this is a central component not only face to face but online as well. She cited some compelling reasons why sometimes technology-mediated relationships may be possible or desirable, while f2f might not be.

What is therapeutic email? As distinct from business email, it is both "a personal communication because of the nature of the content and purpose" and "a professional transaction between workplace counsellor and client", thus: a therapeutic intervention.

Ms. Anthony outlined the various types of technology-assisted communication, from telephone to text-based communication. In some cases, the focus on the written word might help facilitate pure, meaningful communication. Citing John Suler here, "Sights and sounds are but extraneous noise that clogs the pure expression of mind and soul". Dr. Suler has also described the
disinhibition effect, which Anthony subscribes to as a force to be harnessed for the good: "My argument is that without physical presence you get to that place much more quickly", getting around defenses to the real feelings and self-observations. She noted how she had become aware of how using one's fantasy of the other can eventually converge upon having accurate perceptions of the other, as she learned through her early (late 90's) work with Gary Stofle. [Stofle was one of the original members of ISMHO's Clinical Case Study Group, and one of the first to engage in text-based online counseling.] Some of the "facilitating factors" seen online include the opportunity for anonymity, and also an informed consumer who "can explore you and get involved, or just click away", which helps "equalize the power" from the beginning.

In Anthony's model, components of online counseling experience include rapport/presence, quality of written communication, and fantasy/visual representation, along with the catalysts of anonymity and opportunity. Many people value the ability to communicate directly, but not f2f.

Reviewing some of the ways in which effective text communication can help be more natural and spontaneous and clear, Anthony spoke about emoticons -- American and Asian -- and some common acronyms, such as LOL (laugh out loud), brb ("be right back"), and a new favorite, yyr(w) -- well known to those who spend time working or living with teens -- "yeah yeah right (whatever)"

Continuing an overview of online communication, basics of netiquette were reviewed as well, ranging from use of CAPITALIZATION and blind copies to multiple exclamation marks.

She emphasized that online work is not "the poor cousin" of f2f work. She spoke about use of color and font [an early focus of the Case Study Group, one of my own interests], and after describing some useful tools also reminded us that online work is "not suitable for all". [See article by Suler et al on "
Assessing a Person's Suitability for Online Treatment".] Meanwhile, in any event, client demand is growing.

In closing, Ms. Anthony noted 3 points for consideration:



--

Ron Kraus presented next, on Teaching Clinicians about Online Counseling.

Dr. Kraus, began by focusing on the potential turning point for mainstream online counseling, with the recent acceptance of CPT code 0074T, which essentially authorizes reimbursal for online [follow-up] sessions. In his estimation this has legitimized and legalized such services, while the political tide seems poised to embrace it as a means of simultaneously improving service and reducing costs.

Not long ago, 1999 to 2000 at the peak, online entities were poised for a boom, but then the Internet Bubble went bust, and we witnessed the "dot com crash". Many mental health sites disappeared, "some without declaring they were disappearing". Now there is finally a resurgence of sorts. Most clinicians are already familiar with software like Therapist Helper and other management/database tools. Meanwhile there are movements to require computer-entered prescription-writing, as discussion and debate grow concerning the digital storage of medical records. From continuing ed to self-help, billing, and many other activities, technology can help reduce office visits, and cost. How does the future look? Healthcare will likely become "a whole different game". Yet still there is slow movement, and paradoxically, while "over 95% of clinicians have email", many are still unfamiliar with the potential of the Internet beyond that. Some are skeptical too, about text-based counseling especially, as they've not been trained in it and may not have a comfort level either. Education is clearly one key need: "Nothing like this exists in our schools". And until recently there was a dearth of resources such as training manuals and textbooks. Now both he and Ms. Anthony have edited such texts, and Dr. Kraus feels "it's time" to start referencing such manuals.

DeeAnna Merz

Ms. Merz, 2005 President of ISMHO, has built a consulting company with a staff of 70 professionals and paraprofessionals, utilizing a "HIPAA-compliant environment" to allow for distance counseling and supervision. She is well aware of all the regulatory and ethical issues, serving as ethics chair for her state licensing board. She also noted the APA ethical mandate to supervise trainees adequately across modalities. (Interestingly, her first client wrote to her via "snail mail" and gradually moved to email.)

Some of the benefits of distance technology:



Concerns about providing effective instruction/supervision:



Michelle Davis, the final speaker has been an active participant in the area of online support groups and has been (under nom de plume) writing an online advice column as well. Ms. Davis described some of the experiences and serious decisions she was faced with in response to emails received while hosting an online support/advice page. In particular there have been times when an email spoke of imminent or future suicide, Tonight she discussed her reaction and to 3 different emails she received, each requiring a decision on her part as to suicide risk. She also described the challenge of working with ISP's and police in cases where high risk is determined.

As the panel presentations concluded, discussant John Grohol made some good points,which are worth sharing. First, it's been "almost 10 years now" and online environments can offer "a robust and flexible modality". Secondly, *it is very important that therapists get specific training*. Finally, it is important to consider "worst case" possibilities, as having a presence online can act as a "lightening rod" to attract some unwanted situations.

A brief Q&A period followed. A question was asked about use of real-time whiteboards. Ms. Anthony cited a UK gambling treatment site which uses this synchronous modality.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

And from here, a small gathering for food and drink and talk, and a new day Friday...

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Once again, asynchronously live from Washington...

Asynchronously Live from APA Convention # 113 - Friday Aug.19, 2005

Well, today began with a groggy-eyed Michael Fenichel heading into the rain intent on attending an early morning symposium entitled Ethical Considerations of Cross-State and Cross-National Consultation Using the Internet. I ran into friend/colleague Azy Barak there, who like me was expecting to hear a condemnation of online work across borders, somehow based on ethics -- though it seemed this is more an issue of regulation than ethics.

It turned out that the title was a bit misleading, or perhaps meant to entice ethics-concerned clinical psychologists into a provocative session demonstrating another way of thinking about consultation as a small business. In fact this was a celebration of online consultation, or more accurately, picking and choosing one's technology in providing psychological consultation, now including Internet-facilitated processes as part of the work.

The chair immediately noted himself that the issues about to be raised were regulatory along with ethical, and the ethical concerns which did arise were not about counseling but such areas asonline assessment, where there are issues which arise, for example around the being able to see (or not) the person taking the test, plus privacy, confidentiality, etc.

The chair of this symposium was Dr. Stewart Cooper, who began with an overview of 3 key issues to consider in doing online consultation (however that is defined, when done by psychologists at least) --

  1. Legality
  2. Risk Management
  3. Ethicality
Collectively, this is a triangle to be considered.

The context was laid out in terms of advantages and disadvantages of working online. A major advantage was said to be "the positive cache that being a psychologist might hold for the consultee or client system", while a disadvantage of such work is being part of "a highly regulated profession in a highly unregulated field".

We're still in an era (in the US) of 50 patchwork regulatory schemes, though at least the 2002 APA ethics code revisions introduce the existence and issues around Internet and technology use. An effort 5 years ago "never got going" and we were stuck, and unsure not only about ethics about the risk of commiting crimes,as well as being caught up in civil suit actions (though this has not happened as of yet; but as several have written in the past, nobody wants to be that first test case). While the newer psychology codes are helpful, much is still unclear and there are apparent exceptions to general rules, such as when one is licensed in several places, working internationally, or working for an exempt agency. Main areas stressed in the 2002 code incude informed consent, and confidentiality.

As context for the ethics environment generally, there have only been a very few suits within the medical arena which are related to online work. Of interest, the 2nd most frequent ethics violation claim, which does indeed extend to the area of counseling directly, is *abandonment*.

Dr. John Fennig, founder/owner of DRI Consulting (dric.com) was introduced. He has been engaged in online-based consulting for 15 years now and is very comfortable with technology, describing his trip to APA in terms of his listening to his MP3's while checking in on his twins at home via web cam, and so on.He is a big fan of "the proper use of technology" and made the point that this means not using a computer if an alternative is preferable,but using it when it makes sense, as it often does, especially in consultation where assessment and processing text is an essential part.

There was an engaging powerpoint presentation including a video of a company building an airplane while it is in flight, passengers and all (wind blowing through the planet - eds.com ) -- to make the point of how solutions are often arrived at while the work is already underway, and can't be disrupted.

Dr. Fennig gave a quick biography, and overview of how he and his brother set up the initial site and he now has his whole family helping the home-based company. (Even the young twins pitch in and help shred papers). His company offers many things, primarily assessment but also services, including some couples-therapy sessions even. The biggest challenges on ethics have come from the assessment, for example "raising questions about proctoring".

Some of his jobs have been for the US Army Corps of Engineers, and for faith-based organizations. They ofter web-based content and list-servs, but bulletin boards are not yet operational. The company is doing very well, though occasionally getting some flack by seemingly jealous competitors.

The things DRI does very well include offering these benefits:


  1. Further reach, cheaper, less onerous to all
  2. Psychometry - organizations, teams, even au pair testing (how he gets his) - from Estonia, Brazil, France, Ukraine, and elsewhere.
  3. Internal operations -- they pull, not push content, so work comes to them.
Primary goals are:



The site now has 500 pages including 10 major client projects, one for example being a leadership program for the Army Corps of engineers. Another project recently was testing 7 finalists for police chief of Minneapolis, which he was able to do, offering both email and 24/7 telephone support, as they needed quick but intensive turnaround.

He sees his success as tapping "the genius of the salad bar: self service. We love it!"

Dr. Fennig gave a quick tour of the different threads (assessment sought for employment, for other reasons, and leading to appropriate series of informed consent pages." He uses PGP and Acrobat for encryption/privacy, and has not had any problem. Also, he added, "if you password protect the critical documents you're doing the best you can." He likes to "use E as much as possible" but also not over-use it just because it's there.

Top questions/challenges DRI confronts:




Fennig believes that being licensed and practicing in Minnesota, where his servers are, covers him under Minnesota law. [However, California may disagree, as they assert the right to protect their citizens and have stated that services *received* in California are considered rendered there, at least in the case of counseling.]

Dr. Rodney Lowman wrapped up, as discussant, succinctly summarizing the issues and the legal/ethical status quo. As I immediately concluded as well, "the topic is ethics, but it's really legal issues too". It is still controversial to deliver "medical services" by psychologists, though he believes "practice will drive some of the issues".

Dr. Lowman shared a keen observation that often state and national regs "lag practice" and statutes often "reflect efforts at regulation, control, and a political process, so they reflect a moment in time" and may remain unchanged for years, as is now certainly the case. Often "the assumption of practice is of its being 1:1, in a room with four walls... but technology is changing too rapidly" to ignore it. So again, "the law and the ethics lag the practice".

Some efforts to avoid ethical/legal traps have included offering "coaching" rather than counseling or therapy. (There are some strong and mixed views about whether that would fly in a court if one is licensed as a counselor or therapist.] But with coaching at least, "there's been an assumption of innocence until proven guilty; with online counseling/therapy, there is an assumption of guilt". Dr. Lowman said he "would argue in the future most services will be inter-state, inter-country..." [Any concern about culture/language differences?] So, Lowman concluded, "we know the past and see the future. What about now?" He underscored the need to be more proactive with licensing portability mechanisms and pushing for more cooperation between states. Meanwhile, this is an example of a big success based on the value of using technology wisely and efficiently.

---

Next up:

Our Past, Present, and Future: A Conversation Among Psychology Legends (3296)
Saturday, August 20 from 3:00-4:50

Charles L. Brewer, PhD, moderator and interview, will lead a conversation among five legendary individuals in psychology. Representing education, practice, and science, participants include Aaron T. Beck, MD, Jessica Henderson Daniel, PhD, Bernice Lott, PhD, Wilbert J. McKeachie, PhD, Robert J. Sternberg, PhD. Drawing on a total of 270 years of practice, research, and teaching, participants will discuss development of psychology during their distinguished careers and reflect on the future of the discipline. The session will be informal, edifying, and entertaining.


I'm ready!
Good night/goodmorning.

Regards from DC,
Michael




Asynchronously Live from APA Convention # 113 - Saturday Aug.20, 2005

Hi again.

I'll try to keep it short, although today was probably the most exciting and informative, in terms of hearing some really profound thoughts from some really accomplished pioneers in psychology. (Apologies to the therapyonline/cyberpsychology lists; today was a "pure psychology" day although at the Town Hall Meeting, at least 2 speakers griped (and I would have been the third) about the need to really get proactive about use of technology, not just in telehealth, but at the convention itself (e.g., the message center offered a "print" button but no printers). Some called for improved web content, including the ability to interface with external resources. The issue of license portability also was raised, specifically in the context of forensic evaluation as an expert, but of course the notion of having cooperation between states would have greater implications for the profession as more consultation of all varieties becomes easier to do through the use of technology.

Well, moving ahead...

DISCLAIMER #2 - As always, I did my best to take verbatim notes and at times clarified with speakers afterwards if I'd gotten it right. (I had a wonderful time doing this with Beck, and a lovely photo of us together. We both wondered about the health of Ellis, also, but I digress.) I was about to restate my constant disclaimer, that I believe this to be an accurate rendition of the live presentations today, using verbatim notes and pictures or screenshots of visual aids, where they were used. If anyone sees a mistake or has a correction, it is welcomed and errors will be promptly corrected.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

ASYNCHRONOUSLY LIVE FROM APA 20 August 2005


LEGENDS OF PSYCHOLOGY

Today was a day with several back to back symposia or discussions presented by true luminaries in the psychology/mental health fields.

In between two of them was APA's Town Hall meeting on the future of psychology.


[Distinguished Elders of Psychotherapy]
Photo by Fenichel: Distinguished Elders Appraise the Field of Psychotherapy

Symposium:
Distinguished Elders Appraise the Field of Psychotherapy --
Perils and Possibilities


Here is some of what was discussed here at this symposium of Distinguished Elders speaking their true thoughts about the history and state of psychology and psychotherapy. The chair told the panel that they should feel free to "say what you *really* want to say -- you are encouraged to be provocative, challenging, and even (I hope) outrageous".. The format was 16 minutes each followed by a one-minute spontaneously "huh" response from another panelist.

Arnold Lazarus, "father of behavior therapy", went first.

[Remember: the panelists were *asked* to be a bit provocative, irreverant, even outrageous, as they'd earned the right and this was largely an informal discussion rather than presentation of research. This is intended to provide the psychology student or practitioner with a real sense of "being there" with some of the legends "telling it like it is" for them.]

Lazarus reflected that in 1959 the field of psychology and mental health was very much oriented towards the psychosocial, and went through many changes, so much so that we've gotten to a point now where it might be construed that "the profession is going down the tubes. We are the only organization in history to be censured by Congress. Political correct-niks have taken over the APA! But our therapists have done no wrong. In fact, most therapists are practicing so defensively that consumers are short-changed, as therapists do not know the difference between anecdote and evidence. I was speaking with [Gerald] Davison about this: Case studies can prove nothing, even if you use an ABA design. I must concede, you can learn something, like innovative methods, which you can then test. [But in general] we are all victims of 'placebo' and suggestion, and thus prone to superstitious behavior."

Lazarus recalled one "cult leader" showing off the power of his procedure. He took a woman terrified of being looked at, and put her on a stage in front of an audience. "How anxious are you on a scale of 1 to 10?" Ten. He had her relax and her anxiety level over time went down, to 8, 6, 3, and 2. The presenter then concluded, "You see, in 1/2 hour we went from 10 to 2". Case closed. Lazarus, a former student of Wolpe -- who *invented* systematic desensitization -- raised his hand to ask a question at that point: "Where was your control? If you had her up for half an hour reciting nursery rhymes, might not the results have been similar?"

Another example was offered, of how practice is often half-baked, with variable results, giving the entire field a bad name. Take a person with OCD. "You can do all the right procedures. If the methods are done without the context of rapport, they'll be useless. I shouldn't be up here saying this; it's Psych 101!"

Lazarus seems rather unimpressed with the method of Carl Rogers (at least, empirically speaking). "Rogers used to give the same treatment to everybody. Some people don't want warmth and empathy". (That's what he means by the need to have context.)

"What is really important aside from knowing the treatment of choice for a particular client and circumstances?... Adherence and compliance. Case in point... " A mother, father, daughter and son-in-law are all being seen in family therapy. It's like World War III. There is also a rift between the son-in-law and his (absent) brother-in-law. The daughter interrupts a heated exchange between her father and her husband to point out that at base they are all 'decent good people at heart'. They all strongly agree with this personification. Borrowing a strategy from hypnosis where a client after a trance induction may say that he felt a 'delightful sense of being light and cool'in which case in subsequent sessions a good therapist will use that expression to facilitate matters, the term 'decent good people at heart' was made a focal point. Turning to this very conflict-ridden group, the therapist tells them that he considers each one 'decent and good at heart'. He then says to the son-in-law, 'My impression is that you're not a nasty S.O.B. but sometimes you act like one. The client replies, 'you're right'. So emphasis was placed on maximizing the decency and goodness, which galvanized rapport. The session ended with the four people apologizing for their previous untoward behaviors and hugging each other." The point, in case it's lost in translation, is that things like rapport and context are key to successful therapy *along* with techniques which are shown to be effective.

Nevertheless, it must be recognized how often there is a "mixing up anecdotes with evidence. This results in giving causal connections to spurious correlations and making confusion worse confounded."

Case example - a very anxious woman seeks treatment from Lazarus after being psychoanalyzed, then seeing a gestalt therapist, an existential therapist, and several other counselors and clinicians, all to no good effect. Lazarus did his utmost to help her but also failed. He ran into her months later and asked how she was. "Doing great!" How? She had consulted a naturopath who said her anxiety was due to poisons in her colon. He gave her colonic lavages (enemas) which allegedly removed the toxins. The question is, why did this prove effective whereas all other methods had failed? The most parsimonious answer is that it probably addressed her own phenomenological understanding of what could cause emotional upsets and addressed it in a manner that made perfect sense to her."

Well, Lazarus said with a smile, he had sought to arouse some sort of reaction among the panel and audience (as instructed), and hoped he succeeded. The one minute reply, by Luciano L'Abate: "I hope to grow up to be just like Lazarus. You cannot rely on one modality. Thanks to Lazarus for laying that out!" [Lazarus is perhaps best known for his "multimodal therapy".]

L'Abate, playfully chided earlier for his Godfather imitations (he has an Italian accent), now had his turn, roasting psychology and also sharing some of his concerns. "What I like about psychology: Many of us make more money than we thought possible. Some of us forget to go to schools of therapy and are thus 'eclectic', but it's possible to make a good living anyway! What I don't like: Psychotherapy essentially is based on words. Words can be distorted, forgotten, and can be distractions. Words are extremely valuable, and not replicable. Each of us is a school of therapy. There is no structure, so how can we link talk to a theory?" Meanwhile, "public institutions are overcrowded, and millions go unhelped. At least 2 million inmates languish in institutions and cannot be helped by talk. And the handicapped, the military, the missionary families around the world... How can we talk to all the people who need help? There are 3 ways I'm trying to improve the situation."

1. L'Abate is working with a colleague in Italy. [Pausing to poke fun at the mispronunciation of his name when he had been roasted earlier, he now pointed out "It's Lu-CHI-ano", adding that Italy is a place shaped like a boot, incidentally.] He and his colleague are "looking at sentences which have strong psychological impact" and underscored how "each of us can recall particular key statements - by professors, for example -- and these become, call it mantra... "

2. "Use of written homework assignments and workbooks." He cited a 2002 study which was very convincing in describing how use of workbooks improved "efficiency and efficacy of treatment".

3. Thirdly he's exploring "how to link evaluation to treatment", a huge area of importance. For example, he might choose to use a Beck inventory and assign a task where the client had to "define each term, give 2 examples, and how they apply to YOU". [I like how this overlaps with Lazarus' emphasis on context and personal meaning!]

After 25 years of practice utilizing workbooks with individuals (10 years) and families/couples (15 years) L'Abate realized "I was convincingly wrong". More sessions would be needed with families and couples using workbooks, not less. "But another controlled study showed workbooks lessen recidivism [outpatient]. Context is important."

"Bottom line: We can change behavior using written work. Another aspect is: In 20 years what do you think we're going to do with the children now using the Internet? You think they'll want to talk? Twenty years from now we're going to have to use the Internet."

There was a bit more to his presentation (including his suggesting the development of "psychological vaccine") and the next speaker espoused the "Chauncey Gardener" model : "Be there", with a second suggested guideline as well: "Don't panic in the face of severe pathology".

----

One heads up - several of these luminaries suggested reading the book, Blink. And one of the panel presented a tongue in cheek poem (the kind Albert Ellis would enjoy), called "Weary of Theory". And a mantra was shared too: "Believe your experience".

----

Very special thanks to Dr. Arnold Lazarus who has generously reviewed the above and helped immeasurably by amplifying and clarifying his comments, which were at times quite difficult to hear due to the poor acoustic qualities in the room.




 

TOWN HALL MEETING

[APA 2005 Town Hall Meeting]
APA's Leadership listens to members at TOWN HALL MEETING (Drs. Koocher, Levant, Anderson)
(Photo by Fenichel)


This event was described briefly above, presented to members as an open town meeting where all were invited and the audience was asked to honor only one ground rule: Respect.

Past and future Presidents (and CEO) listened intently and replied.

The first passions were about advocacy positions, ranging from political and foreign-policy related, to passionate calls for more in the way of proactive licensure and technology advocacy. Many speakers called for APA to reflect diversity, student needs, positive approaches to psychology (beyond the medical model) and in general a call for a "psychology of 21st Century issues". There was said to be a need to "anticipate trends. Be proactive in research and practice."

Ron Levant replied that "we've been proactive" in many ways, for example immediately forming a task force in response to media inferences that psychology was tacitly helping policies such as torture. Someone said "it's well known" that various events took place, and this was roundly disputed. A lot of discussion was on ethics, followed by calls for models diverging from telehealth as practiced now (directly following medical models). Advocacy and assistance in disaster resonse, concerns about today's students being able to earn a living, and concerns about the image of psychology were all raised. As seen around the exhibition hall, many of the most engaged and outspoken attendees seemed to be students, along with the seasoned practitioners, researchers, and academicans.

This was an open forum, for ventilating, advocating directions of the organization, whatever... A good thing to have. Clearly, the leadership was there to listen.

OK, before either I or my Internet connection crash and burn, one more big event coming up, again with some of psychology's pioneers.

~~~~~~~~~~~  

Psychology Legends

OUR PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE: A CONVERSATION AMONG PSYCHOLOGY LEGENDS



Here was a panel of legends, in this case being asked to share experiences and reflections, not to roast and be provocative as in the earlier panel. Charles Brewer introduced the panel as being "all legends, except me".

Aaron Beck was introduced as "the father of cognitive therapy", and "the only psychiatrist in the history of the world to receive research awards from both the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association." He is a luminary for other reasons too, particularly his 'seminal research in suicide and depression". Alongside him were Drs. Bernice Lott, a social psychologist; Jessica Henderson Daniel, of Childrens Hospital, Bill McKeachie, a former APA president with a strong interest in college teaching; and Robert Sternberg of Yale, who actually "just became the dean of Arts and Sciences at Tufts".

The moderator deftly asked questions about biggest influences, interests, and memories, after noting that "all our legends are teachers. Let's ask. Who inspired you?" Beck modestly protested that "I don't belong on the panel. The other day someone came up to me and thanked me for all the work I'd done on the Rorschach. The other disclaimer. I was never really inspired to do research. No one influenced me except in a negative way. I'd decided to test out psychoanalytic hypotheses and found none of them worked the way they're supposed to...."

A.T. Beck - Washington Aug 2005


Beck continued:

"If you think in terms of thinking, you could get at the kernel of truth, whereas testing the id and ego was not possible.

I applied to NY Psychoanalytic. They heard I was interested in research and told me my analysis must be incomplete".

Sternberg shared some of Beck's amusement at finding himself now being honored after so much skepticism (or worse) in the past. He began by expressing envy of Beck for having been thanked for his work on the Rorschach (which he had never actually done), whereas "I never got the credit for MY work on the Rorschach". Sternberg repeated a favorite story, of his having been told until 4th grade that "I was stupid", as he did poorly on standardized IQ tests. In 4th grade he really liked the teacher (joking that he had a crush on her, in fact). Previously, he'd been "very happy meeting the expectations" (that he just couldn't do the work). "It's easy to be stupid! When teachers set up prophecies fo you, you begin to believe them. She believed I could be an A student, and I wanted to believe her, so I did...."

I don't have the exact quote at the moment but I'd like to mention an important point made by Sternberg, which I've heard him advocate in the past as well: One can be much more productive personally and professionally by putting out something positive of one's own, as opposed to tearing down others, and one's work in the former will more likely be of an enduring nature. Be kind, even while legitimately reviewing/critiquing others' work. He had peer reviewers in mind, but I think it extends to all our collegial interactions, professional work, and human relations.

Some exerpts of Q&A with the legends --

Q: What do you like best about teaching?

A: The questions that come from students; they are joyful.
A: Reaching students who wouldn't otherwise be reached.


"For me, in teaching, the challenge is providing students with many mechanisms for learning."

Beck reflected, "I got burnt, I think, when I got into psychoanalysis. I had to accept what the analyst said on face value. I felt betrayed." He felt reaffirmed also, in his belief that the most salient factors may be 1) commitment to science 2) curiosity 3) risk taking.

He was very impressed with seeing, in Ireland, efforts "to teach Catholics and Protestants to see the other's viewpoint".

Other points made were about the value of mentoring and the need (e.g, with risk taking) to remain true to your beliefs.

Sternberg and Beck told some funny anecdotes blended with powerful illustrations of how they were shaped and motivated by experiences.

Beck also was asked, if he is the father of cognitive therapy, who is the mother? I can't find my notes where he answers that (and eyes are going bleary too, at 4AM), so I'll hold off on the answer, except to say that the mother of cognitive therapy, he suggests, is his own mother. (You're hearing it here first!)

To be continued...

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

And that is going to have to conclude the asynchronously live reports, as I'm flying off in the early morning, or I should say, in a few hours.

The convention winds down today, and the exhibit hall closes early.

As I go back and note-check and polish the transcripts and notes into more polished articles, I'll share what comes out with this list, as well as letting you know when they've become web pages.

Next year: asynchronously live from New Orleans. They say it's even hotter there in August than here (around 90 fahrenheit and humid today). But I've never been there and look forward...

Take care, hope you enjoyed the asynchronously live APA reports or at least enjoyed some of them, and hopefully you could get a sense of "being here" as the psychologists of the world gather as one big tribe, not always agreeing but speaking a common language.

Signing off for now... from Washington DC and the 113th Annual APA Convention.

-Michael

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INDEX OF 2001 APA Convention Articles:
Behavioral Telehealth | E-biz of Mental Health | 2001: A Cyberspace Odyssey
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INDEX OF 2002 APA Convention Articles:
CyberSex & Cyber-Infidelity | Beck & Ellis 2002 | Behavior Therapy | CyberPsychology | E-Ethics

2003 Convention Highlights: Full Text | Aaron Beck 2003 | Quality of Online Health Info | Sternberg's Vision


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