Tackling the Admissions Process: What to Know about Applying to Graduate School in Psychology

If you’re considering a graduate degree in psychology, you may be wondering about how to tackle the potentially daunting application process. However, some key information can help to demystify the process Continue reading

APA Resolution Supporting Marriage Equality

Yesterday the American Psychological Association passed a resolution supporting full marriage equality for same-sex couples by a unanimous vote of 157-0. Although the full text of the resolution is not yet available, the APA has supported same-sex marriage for several years, always citing peer-reviewed research to support their views. This quote from The Examiner is an excerpt from the proceedings of the 2010 annual convention (held last year during the California Prop 8 battle):

Research has shown that marriage provides substantial psychological and physical health benefits due to the moral, economic and social support extended to married couples. Conversely, recent empirical evidence has illustrated the harmful psychological effect of policies restricting marriage rights for same-sex couples. Additionally, children raised by same-sex couples have been shown to be on par with the children of opposite-sex couples in their psychological adjustment, cognitive abilities and social functioning.

APA has been a strong advocate for full equal rights for LGBT people for nearly 35 years, based on the social science research on sexual orientation. APA has supported legal benefits for same-sex couples since 1997 and civil marriage for same-sex couples since 2004. APA has adopted policy statements, lobbied Congress in opposition to the Defense of Marriage Act and the Federal Marriage Amendment, and filed amicus briefs supporting same-sex marriage in legal cases in Oregon, Washington, New Jersey, New York (three times), Maryland, Connecticut, Iowa, and California. In California, the APA brief was cited by the state Supreme Court when it ruled that same-sex marriage was legal in May 2008.

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What can we learn from the placebo effect?

An article in The Economist this week – “Think yourself better” – examined the effectiveness of alternative medical treatments such as acupuncture, crystal healing, Reiki channelling, and herbal remedies.  Alternative medicine a booming business.  Survey results released by the US National Institutes of Health found that in 2002 62.1% of adults in the country had used some form of alternative treatment in the past 12 months and 75% across lifespan.  Alternative treatments are typically not proven effective using scientific methods, and according to Dr. Edzard Ernst, one of the few to run clinical trials on these treatments, around 95% of these treatments are statistically indistinguishable from placebo treatments.

If these treatments are no more effective than a placebo and the high usage rates are increasing, are we looking at a serious public health problem?  Maybe.  There are certainly cases of alternative treatments that harm the patient, either directly, or more commonly- by replacing more conventional treatments that have been proven effective.  However, we should pay attention to what’s going on with this placebo effect.  There are many examples of this strange phenomena- one example is that telling someone that you are giving him morphine provides more pain relief than saying you are giving him aspirin, even when both are just sugar pills.  What’s going on here?  If we can figure it out, it has great potential to positively impact the medical field.  We may be starting to… Continue reading

Children with ADHD have greater likelihood of trying substances and developing substance use disorders.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most commonly diagnosed disorders in childhood. In fact, estimates of the rates of ADHD had found that between 5-10 percent of all children meet diagnostic criteria for the disorder. Children with and without ADHD, at a group level, show several differences, including poorer school performance, more peer rejection, and increased rates of anxiety, depression, and acting out behavior. Following children over time is a common way to study the long term effects associated with psychological problems. Many scientists have used follow-up (longitudinal) studies to examine whether children with ADHD are a greater risk for substance use and abuse/dependence than children without ADHD. Any single study may be imperfect, as studies differ in the way ADHD is measures, substance use or abuse/dependence is measures, the group of children that were followed, or how much time passed between the follow-up assessment. One way to help find clarity in multiple studies of the same question is to conduct a meta-analysis. Meta-analyses run one major analysis using all of the data collected using different groups – more heavily weighting the results from larger studies. Earlier this year, a meta-analysis on the association between a childhood diagnosis of ADHD and trying alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, as well as a substance use disorder (substance abuse or dependence/addiction) was conducted. Continue reading

Career Options for How to Become a Therapist: Multiple Pathways Exist

Many individuals find the idea of helping people for a living to be appealing. There is no one path to this type of career. Clinicians, therapists, coaches, social workers, or psychologist, provide psychotherapy and guidance to people. Below are several popular avenues to becoming a professional therapist.

Psychiatrist
A psychiatrist is a medical doctor that completes a residency in psychiatry after finishing medical school. Psychiatrists generally prescribe medication and conduct psychotherapy with their patients. Their training emphasizes the biological basis of psychological based distress.

PhD in Clinical Psychology and PsyD in Clinical Psychology
These degrees are similar, both requiring 4-5 years of graduate school and one year of internship. Through research and clinical practice, clinical psychologists seek to understand, prevent, and relieve distress and promote well-being. Common theoretical orientations that generally guide such treatment include psychodynamic, humanistic, cognitive-behavioral and family
systems.

PhD in Counseling Psychology
This degree path is similar in requirements to a clinical psychology PhD. Counseling psychologists typically work with individuals who are dealing with moderate psychological issues, such as anxiety or sadness resulting from major life events.
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