There’s More to Bruce Bracken

invisibleBruce A. Bracken, PhD is a respected psychologist and the author of numerous psychological tests, but did you know he is also a fiction writer? His second novel, Invisible, was published earlier this year.

Dr. Bracken’s novel explores the world of those who go through life largely unnoticed—those who feel invisible. Sometimes their invisibility is intentional, for example, among introverts who avoid attention and shun the limelight. More often, however, it is a not a choice, but rather an unwelcome reality for an underclass that includes panhandlers, the homeless, and the disfigured.

Invisible was recently named Book of the Month by the College of William & Mary, where Dr. Bracken is Professor of School Psychology and Counselor Education. Click here to see him discuss the idea behind his book.

Dr. Bracken is also the author of the Universal Nonverbal Intelligence Test™ (UNIT™), the Clinical Assessment of Behavior™ (CAB™), the Clinical Assessment of Depression™ (CAD™), the Clinical Assessment of Interpersonal Relationships™ (CAIR™), and the Clinical Assessment of Attention Deficit–Adult™ (CAT-A™) and Clinical Assessment of Attention Deficit–Child™ (CAT-C™).

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Introducing… The Academic Achievement Battery™ (AAB™)

We are proud to present the AAB to you. With a Screening Form and a Comprehensive Form, the ability to choose paper or digital stimuli, and a price that will easily fit your budget, the AAB gives you exactly what you need to confidently evaluate achievement.

The AAB Comprehensive Form is a complete assessment of an individual’s academic skills, useful for eligibility decisions or intervention planning.

The AAB Screening Form is designed to assess basic academic skills, ideal for initial assessment or reevaluation.

  • No product-specific certification or intensive preparation is necessary for administration.
  • Scoring can be done by hand or through PARiConnect, our encrypted online testing platform.
  • Developed using academic standards set by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, the National Council of Teachers of English, Common Core, and Reading First.

Order today to take advantage of special introductory pricing—just $475 for the Comprehensive Kit and $180 for the AAB Screening Kit.

Want to learn more about the AAB? Watch this video.

 

 

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PAR Author Richard Rogers Honored with UNT Eminent Faculty Award

The University of North Texas (UNT) has awarded Richard Rogers, PhD, ABPP, with the UNT Foundation Eminent Faculty Award for his work concerning Miranda rights and their use.

The award is given annually to a member of the UNT faculty who has made an outstanding scholarly contribution and whose work has greatly inspired the university and community. It is one of the highest honors given by UNT.

Dr. Rogers’ research into Miranda warnings and defendants’ understanding of their rights has prompted the American Bar Association to call for more simple and straightforward Miranda language for juveniles.

Dr. Rogers is the author of the Structured Interview of Reported Symptoms, 2nd Ed. (SIRS-2), the Evaluation of Competency to Stand Trial™–Revised (ECST™-R), the Rogers Criminal Responsibility Assessment Scales (R-CRAS), and the Standardized Assessment of Miranda Abilities™ (SAMA™).

PAR would like to extend our congratulations on this honor to Dr. Rogers.

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Alzheimer’s in a dish: Scientists discover new way to test drug treatments

Scientists have found a way to replicate human brain cells for use in Alzheimer’s research, according to an article in the New York Times this week. Lead researcher Rudolph E. Tanzi of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and his colleagues were able, for the first time, to grow human brain cells in a petri dish, where the neurons formed networks as they do in an actual brain. Their study was published in the online version of the journal Nature.

The researchers have resolved a long-standing problem with Alzheimer’s research, the New York Times reports. Previously, drugs had to be tested in mice, which have a different form of the disease. With human brain cells grown in a gel, the cells form the same kinds of networks that they do in a real brain. After implanting the cells with Alzheimer’s genes, the researchers began to see plaques and tangles develop—the telltale signs of Alzheimer’s.

“It is a giant step forward for the field,” said Dr. P. Murali Doraiswamy, an Alzheimer’s researcher at Duke University, in a recent interview. “It could dramatically accelerate testing of new drug candidates.”

This discovery will allow researchers to quickly test drugs that could slow or stop the progression of the disease. In fact, Dr. Tanzi and his colleagues have started to test 1,200 drugs currently on the market as well as 5,000 experimental ones. This huge project would have been impossible using mice, but with the new petri dish system, says Dr. Tanzi, “we can test hundreds of thousands of drugs in a matter of months.”

The full text of Dr. Tanzi’s study, along with videos showing Alzheimer’s brain cells in the culture, can be found online in the current issue of Nature.

Editor’s Note: On Saturday, November 1, an enthusiastic team of PAR employees will be participating in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s here in Tampa, Florida—one of a series of walks to benefit the Alzheimer’s Association, which is the largest voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, support, and research. To find a walk near you, click on the link and visit their Web site today!

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Integrative Health Care in Pediatric and Family Health-Care Settings

Editor’s Note: This week’s blog has been written by guest author Richard Abidin, EdD. Dr. Abidin is a Professor Emeritus of Clinical and School Psychology in the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia, where he served as Director of the Clinical Psychology program. He is the author of the Parenting Stress Index™, Fourth Edition, an inventory designed to evaluate stress in the parent-child system.

Integrative health care is a system in which quality health-care services are provided to individuals, families, and communities. One hoped-for side effect is that the cost of health care will be reduced or contained by the efficient use of resources.

I would like to briefly describe, to stimulate the thinking of others, one example of how integrative health care was done some 40 years ago.

The pediatric group practice that was caring for my own children asked me to come to their practice to discuss how to identify children who should be referred for either mental health or special education services. That request was the catalyst for creating a system of integrated psychological and medical services, and it also was the beginning of what would become the first edition of the Parenting Stress Index (PSI).

The practice provided me with a small exam room that served as my office two days per week. I was given access to the medical records of those families whom I saw or was consulted on, and I placed a copy of my notes and homework prescriptions in the patients’ files. I used the practice’s billing and support personnel, and the practice received 30% of my billings as an overhead charge.

How did the system work? I received referrals from the pediatricians or sometimes from the families themselves. The pediatricians’ referrals would come via two sources: the pediatricians’ interactions with the child or parent or the results of the Parenting Stress Index screening that I developed (and later published with PAR). I typically had a 30- to 40-minute session starting on the hour, followed by 5 minutes for notes and 15 minutes for consulting with the pediatricians or receiving a new referral.

With this system, we found that almost 100% of patients referred for mental health or special education services followed through with appointments, versus the typical referral follow-through rate of 50% or less. The high rate of follow through on the referrals was due to the pediatrician walking the parent to my office and introducing me. The parent and I would speak for a few minutes about their concerns and then set up an appointment. Eventually, the results of the PSI screening became the major generator of referrals by the pediatricians.

Over the years, the Parenting Stress Index has been refined to meet the changing needs of children, parents, and the clinicians who support them and today is in its fourth edition.

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More sleep leads to better academic success, says the AAP

In a technical report issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) last month, chronic sleep loss among middle and high school students was cited as a “serious threat to academic success.” There are many contributing factors to a generation of sleepyheads—among them increased caffeine consumption and the use of electronic devices, whose low-intensity light can disrupt circadian rhythms and suppress melatonin production. The AAP study outlines that one key contributor could be best manipulated to help alleviate this problem: later school start times.

Beside extending sleep duration, this delay would have significant positive effects on self-reported sleepiness and academic achievement, says the Academy. But according to a U.S. Department of Education 2011-12 survey, of the 18,000 high schools in America, less than 15% start at 8:30 a.m. or later, and more than 40% start before 8 a.m.

Dr. Bob Weintraub, headmaster of Brookline High School in Massachusetts from 1992 to 2011 and now professor of educational leadership at Boston University, says that during his tenure the high school moved start times for most students to 8:30 a.m. But he also points out that these shifts raise concerns like how to have maximum participation in after-school activities like athletics, drama, and music when later start times means later end times (which means in the dark during winter months in the Northeast).

Despite these challenges, the AAP argues that communities nationwide have been creative in coming up with solutions to this challenge, including providing free periods and study halls at the end of the day, exempting student athletes from PE, and installing lights for athletic fields.

In sum, the Academy “strongly supports the efforts of school districts to optimize sleep in students and urges high schools and middle schools to aim for start times that allow students the opportunity to achieve optimal levels of sleep and to improve physical and mental health, safety, academic performance, and quality of life.”

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PAR supports United Way

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Everyone had an opportunity to take part in some camp-themed crafts.

PAR is proud of our ongoing support of United Way. Last week, employees took part in our annual fundraising campaign. For more than 20 years, 100% of staff members have participated in our annual United Way drive, and this year was no different. We exceeded our fundraising goal, resulting in $123,392.95 being donated to United Way to help continue its mission of helping others in our community.

This year, our United Way week theme was Camp PAR. We took part in a host of activities, from a s’mores building contest to a tent pitching competition. Check out some pictures from our fun-filled week of activities.

Want to learn more about how you can help United Way in your community? Visit www.unitedway.org.

 

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Camp counselors Cynthia Lumpee and Vicki King (along with Smokey the Bear) helped plan a fun-filled week of activities.

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Overcoming Your Inner Critic

Beginning on September 14, PAR author Lisa Firestone, PhD, will be offering a six-week online eCourse entitled, “Overcome Your Inner Critic: How to Free Yourself from Imagined Limitations.”

Dr. Firestone explains, “Each of us has an ‘inner critic’ judging our every action and instructing us on how to live our lives. But how much are we letting this inner critic control us? Are our actions based on what we really feel and believe, or are we living our lives based on our inner critic’s negative programing? Learning to effectively overcome our ‘critical inner voice’ is central to all areas of life: personal development, healthy relationships, self-esteem, and career success.”

In the course, participants will learn about ways to counter self-critical thoughts, develop a healthy outlook, and focus on positive goals.

For an interesting visual introduction to the topic, be sure to check out Dr. Firestone’s whiteboard animation, The Critical Inner Voice. For more information about the eCourse and how to sign up, visit the PsychAlive eCourses Web site.

Dr. Firestone is the Director of Research and Education at The Glendon Association and author of the Firestone Assessment of Self-Destructive Thoughts™ and the Firestone Assessment of Suicide Intent™ (FAST™-FASI™) and the Firestone Assessment of Violent Thoughts™ (FAVT™)

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Crisis Intervention Training: A New Approach to Police Work

Every day, police officers across the U.S. respond to calls involving people with mental illnesses. These individuals are often incarcerated, and nationwide jails hold 10 times as many people with serious mental illnesses as state hospitals, according to a report from Kaiser Health News.

“There are, shamefully, lots of people with public mental illness who are known to public systems, out there on the streets, very much at the risk of being victimized or engaging in conduct that could get them in trouble with the police,” says Robert Bernstein, president and executive director of the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, in an article in the online newsletter The Science of Us. When mentally ill persons are approached as possible perpetrators, the mental health system is failing, Bernstein says.

Michael Woody knows this scenario firsthand: on a call for the Akron, Ohio, police department several years ago, he encountered a 27-year-old mentally ill individual who threatened his life and ultimately committed suicide. This prompted him to question the small amount—just five hours—of mandatory mental health training officers were then required to take, and he pushed for more. Since then, he has become an advocate for training to help police officers de-escalate crisis situations involving the mentally ill. Today he serves as president of CIT International, a nonprofit whose primary purpose is to support mental health training for police forces across the country.

According to a recent FBI report, the expense to implement and maintain crisis intervention training (CIT) outweighs the cost of not establishing a program. Injuries to law enforcement personnel and individuals with mental illness as well as repeat calls for these issues are considerably reduced when CIT programs are in place which encourage officers to direct persons with mental illness to mental health-care facilities for treatment prior to issuing any criminal charges. This process reduces lawsuits, medical bills, and jail costs and improves the quality of life for the community, according to the FBI report.

Through the work of people like Woody and CIT International, police departments are beginning to take note and to require CIT. In San Antonio, Texas, police officers now take 40 hours of crisis intervention training, and the city has a six-person unit specially equipped to respond to 9-1-1 calls involving mental health disturbances.

The officers’ training helps them better determine whether people need to go to jail or a hospital or would be best served by being taken to the city’s Restoration Center. The centralized complex, across from the city’s homeless shelter, was built using cross-departmental resources to divert people with serious mental health illness from jail and into treatment instead. Among other things, it provides a space for police to bring arrestees to sober up, which saves them a costly trip to the emergency room. Together the CIT training and Restoration Center have saved the City of San Antonio and its police force an estimated $50 million over the past five years and at least $600,000 a year in overtime pay, according to the Kaiser Health News report.

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Helping Veterans Make the Transition to Civilian Life

The latest edition of the Career Planning and Adult Development Journal features a chapter by PAR authors Melissa A. Messer, MHS, and Jennifer A. Greene, MSPH.

The article details the development of the newest edition to our Self-Directed Search® product line, the Veterans and Military Occupations Finder™ (VMOF™), and explains how to use this new tool when counseling veterans through their transition from the military to the civilian job force. The VMOF helps clients better understand how to transition their skills to civilian occupations through use of John Holland’s RIASEC theory of career development.

The entire Fall 2014 edition of the Career Planning and Adult Development Journal focuses on helping veterans with career development and transition.

Click here to read the article by Melissa A. Messer, MHS, and Jennifer A. Greene, MSPH.

 

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