Out in Front
Updates from the MSPP School Psychology Program
Gun Violence – Tragedy and Response
This month, we remembered the shocking and senseless school shooting in Sandy Hook one year ago that claimed the lives of many young children and school personnel, including a school psychologist. The school psychology community has been active in policy discussions and advocacy in the aftermath of this tragedy concerning gun violence and school safety. Leading violence prevention experts issued an excellent position statement that is still well worth reading (at curry.virginia.edu/articles/sandyhookshooting). The statement cautioned against misguided over-reactions to patrol or lock down schools, and highlighted the need for prevention programs and attention to mental health needs. The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) has been active with policy statements and other advocacy efforts, including a recent congressional briefing (see www.nasponline.org/advocacy/advocacynews.aspx). MSPP held community meetings on violence prevention and offered trainings on crisis intervention during the past year.
Dr. Robert Kinscherff, MSPP's Associate Vice President, Community Engagement and one of the nation's leading forensic psychologists, has been at the epicenter of national policy discussions about gun violence. Interviewed for the December 2013 issue of the New England Psychologist, he noted that the preponderance of gun deaths are from suicide, and that gun safety and improved mental health services are the most certain and feasible routes for public policy action. The interview can be found at www.nepsy.com/articles/leading-stories/expert-on-gun-violence-describes-new-apa-policy-draft. (Note: Dr. Kinscherff teaches the Children's Mental Health Policy and Systems course for the School Psychology PsyD Program.)
In light of recent policy statements and recommendations, it is clear that school psychologist have a significant impact on gun violence in the course of the work they routinely undertake around preventive mental health and suicide prevention.
The MSPP Experience
If you were unable to attend an Open House at MSPP this fall, the next best thing is to view the online video, "The MSPP Experience" (below). The video runs about four minutes—long by internet surfing standards, but a significant time savings over a trip to Newton. The video includes remarks by Bruce Ecker, a founding faculty member of the School Psychology Program and recipient of the 2011 MSPP Excellence in Teaching award, and a clip of him teaching the Life Span Development course. Second year student Nicole Capone also makes an appearance, talking about the culture of community and the personal and professional support of faculty members.
While unheralded in the video, you get a brief view at the 2 minute 20 second mark of Clinical Psychology student Tim Ridge, in cap and gown at the June 2013 Commencement ceremony. Tim was recognized at Commencement for not only earning the PsyD degree, but undertaking the completion of classmate Janice Furtado's doctoral project as well. Janice Furtado was a distinguished Air Force combat veteran and a major contributor to the development of the MSPP Training Vets to Treat Vets Program. She died tragically of an autoimmune disease as she neared the conclusion of her Clinical Psychology degree program at MSPP, and was posthumously awarded an honorary doctorate. Tim Ridge presented her doctoral project to the MSPP community on November 16, 2013.
Our Illustrious Extended Faculty
Don't be deceived by the size of the School Psychology Department core faculty, with just four members (Bruce Ecker, Bob Lichtenstein, Craig Murphy, and Arlene Silva). Adjunct faculty members, who are recognized simply as "Faculty," make significant contributions to the program. They particpate in faculty meetings and curriculum development discussions, help plan program events, interview applicants, supervise students' directed studies, attend graduate ceremonies, and much more. The quality of instruction benefits enormously by having these experienced practitioners teach the very subjects they know best.
Gayle Macklem, one of these singularly qualified faculty members, joined the MSPP faculty after a long and illustrious career as a school psychologist. Gayle teaches the invaluable and unique-to-MSPP Preventive Mental Health in Schools course, which happens (not coincidentally) to be the title of the fourth book she has written in the past 10 years. Gayle was honored by the Massachusetts School Psychologists Association with the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013.
Barbara Miller and Dan Jacobs have recently accepted appontments as "teaching faculty," which means that they assume some, but not all, of the duties of core faculty. Barbara Miller trained as a clinical psychologist, then opted for a 34-year career as a practicing school psychologist. Barbara was the other recipient of the 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award. She teaches both a MA/CAGS and a PsyD level practicum seminar, and is a faculty advisor at the MA/CAGS level. Barbara is a longtime active member of MSPA—a former president and current chair of the Legislative Committee. Dan Jacobs, a clinical psychologist and frequent presenter at workshops and conferences, teaches courses at both the MA/CAGS level (Psychopathology of Childhood and Adolescence ) and PsyD level (Clinical Interviewing, Working with Multi-Stressed Families, and Advanced Behavioral Techniques with Children and Families). He advises advanced standing School PsyD students .
View MA/CAGS Program faculty bios here, and School PsyD Program faculty bios here.