The National Association of Social Workers has named Ruth Balser, PhD, its 2009 Public Elected Official of the Year. Balser, a Massachusetts state representative, is recognized for her dedication to social justice, health care, education and mental health issues, particularly her work to help pass the 2008 Mental Health Parity Bill.
The Texas Veterans Commission has honored Ashley Campbell, PhD, for her work in trauma recovery at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center, where she provides individual therapy, personality assessments and PTSD interventions to veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The center has enrolled more than 14,500 of these veterans for primary mental health care, more than any other VA hospital in the country.
The Kennedy Krieger Institute has named Michael F. Cataldo, PhD, the Lawless Family Endowed Chair of the behavioral psychology department. The $2 million chair recognizes Cataldo’s 35 years at the institute where he researches treatments for severe aggression and self-injury disorders in children.
The Society of Teachers of Family Medicine has elected Jeri Hepworth, PhD, as its president. Hepworth, the vice chair of the family medicine department at the University of Connecticut and an APA member, is only the fourth behavioral health provider to serve in the position.
The American Pain Society has recognized Robert Kerns, PhD, for his contributions to the field of pain management. The society honored Kerns, a national program director for pain management for the Veterans Health Administration, for his contributions as a scientist, teacher and clinician in the field of pain management. He directs the Pain Research, Informatics, Medical Comorbidities and Education Center designed to build capacity for pain research at the VA Connecticut Healthcare System and at Yale University, where he works as a professor of psychiatry, neurology and psychology.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has appointed Lisa M. Najavits, PhD, to its Advisory Committee on Women’s Services for a three-year term. Najavits, a professor at Boston University School of Medicine and a lecturer at Harvard Medical School, will bring her expertise in women’s substance abuse issues and treatment options to the committee, which advises SAMHSA on the best approaches to providing women with substance abuse and mental health services.
The National Academy of Sciences has elected Stanford University professor of psychology Lee D. Ross, PhD, as a new member. Ross’s research examines how biases in human inference, judgment and decision-making lead people to misinterpret behavior, and create barriers in dispute resolution peace agreements.
The U.S. Public Health Service has named Lt. Cmd. Michael Tilus, PhD, as the 2010 winner of its Joseph Garcia Jr. Award, which recognizes an outstanding early career health services professional. Tilus spearheaded a prescription privileges advocacy effort in Fort Totten, N.D., in an attempt to address the limited mental health services available to the Spirit Lake Sioux people in the region. The program, which provides counseling and prescriptive services, worked so well that the Indian Health Service has adopted it for all 564 federally recognized American Indian and Alaska Native Tribes.
Bowling Green State University has named Dorothy M. Tucker, PhD, as one of the university’s 100 Most Prominent Alumni. Tucker earned the honor for her leadership and advocacy in providing mental health services to underserved populations as president of the California Psychological Association and the United Negro College Fund.
Edna Foa, PhD, is one of Time magazine’s most influential people of 2010 for her work on treating post-traumatic stress disorder developing evidenced-based, effective and efficient treatments for PTSD and disseminating these treatments, including throughout the Department of Veterans Affairs and the U.S. Army. She is also a lead investigator of treatment for PTSD at the Department of Defense. Foa developed Prolonged Exposure therapy, in which a therapist gradually and gently exposes a patient to the thoughts and situations that trigger their traumatic experiences.
The program takes place over eight to 15 sessions and begins with the patient recounting the trauma repeatedly as well as confronting trauma reminders in the environment. These procedures allow patients to process and organize their traumatic memories, which help symptoms such as nightmares, flashbacks and intrusive thoughts about the trauma to abate. By approaching feared but safe trauma reminders in the environment, patients realize that these situations are not dangerous and that they are strong and able to handle the distress they elicit. Prolonged Exposure produces significant improvement in 80 percent of patients with chronic PTSD. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has designated Prolonged Exposure as a “model program” for national dissemination.