Saturday, April 4, 2015

Trauma Workers Experience Both Vicarious Trauma and Vicarious Resilience, Study Finds

A qualitative study interviewed 1 male and 12 female mental health providers working at torture treatment centers. The mental health providers were all members of the National Consortium of Torture Treatment Programs with a range of 4-30 years of experience working with trauma victims. The researchers -- Pilar Hernandez-Wolfe, Kyle Killian, David Engstrom, and David Gensei (2015) -- performed a modified grounded theory method to identify themes in the interviews.

The analysis of the qualitative data identified themes relevant to both vicarious resilience and vicarious trauma. The trauma workers identified themes of vicarious trauma including sleep disruption, nightmares, fearfulness, irritability, fatigue, flashbacks, intrusive thoughts, dissociation, hyperarousal, negative affect, and numbness. Themes of vicarious resilience were also discovered and included changes in goals or priorities, increased hopefulness and client-based inspiration, change/impact on spiritual beliefs and practices, increases in self-care practices, increased resiliency and perspective-taking on one's own challenges, increased racial, cultural and structural consciousness, and awareness of relative privilege, marginalization, and oppression.

The researchers noted, "trauma therapists can be potentially transformed by their clients' resilience in positive, but not painless, ways. Choosing to work in the trauma field with survivors of torture and politically motivated violence involves immersion in profound ongoing experiences of intertwined pain, joy, and hope, and expanding the boundaries of self -- personally and professionally" (p. 153).

The article was published in Journal of Humanistic Psychology, and the full text article can be found here.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Case Study Explores Posttraumatic Growth among Northern Irish Victims of Political Violence

In a new study published in Journal of Humanistic Psychology, Jane Simms conducted case studies of three victims of political violence in Northern Ireland. The study was guided by the model of growth developed by Tedeschi and Calhoun. The case study participants reported greater appreciation of life and changed relationships resulting from their trauma, and new possibilities that emerged from these changes. All but one participant felt increased personal strength, although all participants continue to struggle with distress in their lives. Religion and spirituality appeared to play a role in the narratives of the participants in ways that distinguished the participants from the others. A full text version of the article is available here.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Psychologists Use the DSM, But Are Dissatisfied With It, New Survey Research Shows

A recently published study coauthored by Division 32 Fellow Jonathan Raskin looks at psychologist attitudes toward the DSM-5 and finds that psychologists are not particularly satisfied with the manual.

Raskin, along with his coauthor and SUNY New Paltz colleague Michael Gayle, surveyed over 100 psychologists. They found that even though over 90% of psychologists report using the DSM, they are dissatisfied with numerous aspects of it and support developing alternatives to it.

The full study has been published in the Journal of Humanistic Psychology. It currently appears as an advance online publication and will appear in an upcoming print issue. For the abstract and access to the article in full, see the JHP website.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Existential Therapy is Evidence Based Practice

Evidence-Based Practice in Psychology is the current dominant paradigm for evaluating psychotherapy practice. At best, its aim is to help assure that therapists develop and utilize the appropriate clinical skills and employ strategies to help clients that are rooted in evidence, broadly understood. This replaces, though is often confused with, the previous paradigm of the empirically supported treatments, which sought to determine which rigidly applied modalities were appropriate for psychotherapy with particular diagnoses or problems based upon a more narrowly defined type of evidence.
While existential therapy is often criticized for lacking evidence based support for its practice, the article "Emotion, Relationship, and Meaning as Core Existential Practice: Evidence-Based Foundations” by Hoffman, Vallejos, Cleare-Hoffman, and Rubin provides strong evidence to help dispel this misconception. Drawing upon the standards of evidence-based practice, the authors utilize recent research and scholarship to demonstrate that when an appropriately trained and skilled therapist utilizes an existential therapy approach, it is consistent with the principles of evidence-based practice in psychology. This article should prove useful for existential therapists advocating for this approach in managed care and other settings that sometimes discourage its use with clients.
The article identifies how existential therapy's relational focus, emphasis on working with emotion and experience, and meaning-centered approach is an empirically valid approach to working therapeutically with a wide variety of clinical issues.
-- Louis Hoffman, Ph.D.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Division 32 President, Krishna Kumar, PhD: My Identity

Race, ethnicity, and religion continue to plague interpersonal relations throughout the world at the individual, societal, and international levels.  People appear to hold strong beliefs about racial, ethnic, and religious differences and about the inferiority and superiority of their own groups.  These beliefs seem to have no national boundaries.  Such beliefs simply would not go away despite many societal efforts in the form of affirmative action policies, laws, interfaith dialogue, and many positive everyday interactions with peoples from different backgrounds.  Central to such beliefs are the questions  “who am I,”  “who are we,” “are we different from each other,” or “are we pure anything?”
Unfortunately, local, rather than global human community perspectives seem to shape people’s identities.  Thus, traditionally my identity would involve having been born and raised in India in a Hindu family of a certain religious and caste orientation observing practices dictated by my family and speaking a particular language that I claim as my mother tongue. 
I moved from India in 1967 to a new country and adopted it as my home adding a completely new perspective to my identity.  Now I have a new identity as an Asian Indian American living among a variety of people with different belief systems.  Back in India, my relatives may have given me a partial new identity as someone similar to but different from them.
I had my DNA analyzed in an effort to understand my current identity from my ancestry.  What follows may sound like science fiction, but our saliva contains an enormous amount of information.  The DNA analysis was quite telling about the migratory patterns of my ancestors from the beginning of humankind from Africa to many parts of the world.  In this process of continuous migration over thousands of years, my ancestors perhaps like anyone else’s, mixed and remixed with different peoples changing and re-changing their linguistic, religious and cultural practices.  Thus, I realized that my current identity as an Asian Indian born in a Hindu family is simply accidental to my birth in India, which has little or no significance in the larger context of a global human community.  We are all products of such mixtures ever since human beings began to walk.  Race, ethnicity, religion, and culture are not DNA deep.  At this point, I invite you to read about the details of my DNA analysis and their implications written in my blog on PsychologyToday. Com:
By V. Krishna Kumar, Ph.D. on April, 26, 2013 in Psychology Masala
Receiving my DNA analysis on my ancestral migration patterns was an eye opener, making my erstwhile readymade answer “I am from India” not right anymore. Read More

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Hearing Voices: Tracing the Borders of Normality

In this article, in The Lancet Psychiatry, linked below, Rhianna Goozee talks about the emergence of the Hearing Voices Movement. She discussed the way research has demonstrated how the line between "healthy" and "normal" minds has been blurred. She examines the hypothesis that early intervention and pathologizing experiences may actually increase rather than decrease the risk of psychosis.

Full text article here:

Saturday, March 7, 2015

"Is clinical psychology fearful of social context?" -- a lecture by Professor Mary Boyle

Professor Mary Doyle speaking at 2014 Division of Clinical Psychology annual conference in Glasgow.