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New Member Spotlight: Lucas Paul Kawika Morgan
Amy B. Patel
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For this issue, I interviewed new member Lucas Paul Kawika Morgan, a rising fourth-year graduate student in the Clinical Psychology PhD program at the University of Massachusetts— Boston working under the mentorship of Lizabeth Roemer.

What do you hope to do after graduating from your program?
I am the seventh generation in my family to be raised in Hawai’i. One of my top goals in life is to return there and apply the skills and experiences that I am learning now. On the mainland, people often think of Hawai’i as a tropical paradise so it is easy to miss the real social problems that exist there. I came into psychology because I thought it would be one avenue for passing my education forward. Our program at University of Massachusetts—Boston is focused on social justice and applications of clinical psychology to underserved groups and communities. After completing my degree, I plan to work with underserved individuals with mental health and addictions in Hawai’i, including Native Hawaiians and veterans. I hope to help make psychological processes and therapies more relevant and accessible to nondominant groups and hope that the work I do in the future can be applied to help inform policies that empower underserved groups and increase access to much needed resources.

What are your research and clinical interests?
From a research perspective, I am most interested in studying the application of mindfulness and acceptance-based behavioral therapies to substance abuse treatment and comorbid anxiety disorders. I am particularly interested in evaluating the effectiveness of these treatments in underserved and non-dominant populations, as not enough work has been done on applying evidence-based treatments across different populations and settings. My research interests have been shaped by my work with clients over the past couple of years. I have enjoyed being part of an integrated, interdisciplinary treatment team this past year, and I definitely want to continue doing individual and group treatment on some scale in the future. One of my favorite things to do is teach mindfulness to people, and I know I will continue to do that in some shape or form no matter what I do.

How did you first become interested in addictive behaviors?
I’ve always been interested in the association between mental health and substance use disorders, particularly examining the potential for common underlying mechanisms for both. Having worked as a practicum student at the VA Boston Substance Abuse Treatment Program for the past year, my firsthand experience has turned my professional interests more directly toward evaluating dual diagnosis issues. Working with individuals from complicated issues, such as childhood abuse, combat trauma, chronic homelessness, mental health, and substance use has challenged me to think about how to integrate our “parsimonious” theoretical models with the complexity of lived realities. It is a frustrating and fascinating learning process.

What motivated you to join the Society of Addiction Psychology (SoAP)?
I am starting to realize how important being part of professional organizations can be for making connections in service of bringing knowledge and experience together. I hope that, in joining the SoAP, I will be able to connect with others with similar interests and learn from members with different perspectives. Coming from a lab focused on acceptance-based behavioral treatments for generalized anxiety disorder, I have a lot to learn about the vast field of addictions. Joining the SoAP is one step towards fostering that learning.