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From MPA's President Steve Vincent, Ph.D., L.P.: Continuing a Theme: Connection, Protection and Growth for MPA Members

As you may have recognized from previous pieces I have written for the Minnesota Psychologist Online, I have been thinking a lot about “Connection, Protection and Growth.”  This was the theme for MPA’s annual convention this year, taken from our strategic plan as the statement of what MPA offers members.  Most readers will readily see that this statement leads to a next set of important questions about how we bring these terms—connection, protection and growth—to life.  How do we operationalize them?

One Success Story

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The Zeitgeist from the Eyes of Your President-Elect

When I was an undergraduate psychology major at St. Olaf College, I clearly remember learning a strange sounding word, zeitgeist, defined by Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary as “the general beliefs, ideas, and spirit of a time and place.”  A Ph.D. and 28 years as a psychologist later, this word resonates with me once again.

Zeitgeist:  Reflecting on the spirit of the times, I have heard many psychologists describe this time as a scary yet exciting place for psychologists engaged in the science of psychology and its application.  For psychologists in a therapy or assessment practice, the times are a bit scary because psychologists have seen steady erosion in reimbursement rates over more than a decade.  The times are concerning because the decline in Medicare and Medicaid payment rates is leading psychologists to leave these programs and become highly selective in who they provide care.  Challenging because psychologists in Minnesota are faced with mandates to implement expensive electronic health records (EHR) or to submit outcome measures to a web portal so the results can be shared with the general public.  Yikes, should we all treat anxiety disorders with a more predictable treatment response?

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From MPA's President Steve Vincent, Ph.D., L.P.: A Celebratory Round Trip

A Psychology Celebration in Washington, D.C.

Having recently returned from APA’s State Leadership Conference (SLC) in Washington, D.C., I am again proud of both psychology and Minnesota.  Each year at SLC there are two awards ceremonies which honor, respectively, 1) winners of Psychology Healthy Workplace Awards [PHWA], and 2) individuals and state associations that have made significant contributions to advancing psychology through advocacy.  Minnesota produced winners for each of these ceremonies.

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From MPA's President Steve Vincent, Ph.D., L.P.: Making Connections

Starting the New Year

As I start the year as president of MPA for 2014, I am struck by the many opportunities for linkages and connections around us.  At MPA’s annual strategic planning meeting in the fall of 2012, participants at the meeting discussed what MPA offers to its members. The conclusion: MPA offers members the chance for connection, protection and growth through our membership and association with each other.

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Annual Report Electronic Health Records Task Force

The Electronic Health Records (EHR) Task Force has accomplished a number of activities. The Task Force researched EHR, made a presentation for the MPA Annual Convention, met with some EHR vendors, met with representatives from the Department of Health and Stratis Health, met with a multidisciplinary group of mental health providers interested in EHR, and discussed the development of a toolkit for behavioral health to assist providers in choosing the best EHR for their practices.

Plans for the coming year include coordinating trainings in how to use the toolkit, reviewing the possibility of developing a Health Information Exchange mechanism specifically for mental health that could provide additional safeguards for our patients, developing a vendor fair for members, and presentations at the MPA Annual Convention and Minnesota’s 10th Annual e-Health Summit.

Announcement: Nominations Open for Three MPA Teaching Awards

Nominations for each of three MPA Teaching Awards (Graduate Faculty in Psychology, Mink Outstanding Undergraduate Teacher Award, Outstanding Teaching of Psychology in Community/Two-Year Colleges) should be submitted to the MPA Office no later than Friday, February 28, 2014.  The criteria and nomination process for each award are outlined below.  Questions can be directed to Jack Rossmann at Macalester College ([email protected]).

MPA Award for Outstanding Graduate Faculty in Psychology

The Minnesota Psychological Association is seeking nominations for the MPA Award for Outstanding Graduate Faculty in Psychology. This award recognizes a faculty member who brings a special quality or commitment to working with graduate students in psychology. The award will be presented at the MPA Annual Convention. The procedures and criteria for the award are outlined below.

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From MPA's President Tabitha Grier-Reed, Ph.D., L.P.: Year-End Reflections

This is my last President’s Letter, and like the President before me, I am feeling grateful and thankful. I came into this year with a goal to establish stability through increased accountability and transparency in MPA. Major projects to this end included:

  • Updating the Policies and Procedures (especially those related to leadership and finances) and making these widely available.
  • Clarifying decision-making processes and the roles of the Governing Council and Executive Committee.
  • Creating two additional committee structures endowed with the ability to improve both accountability and transparency for MPA leaders and staff.  These include the Financial Consultation Committee chaired by Bruce Bobbitt responsible for internal annual reviews of financial transactions and the Leadership Development and Nominating Committee chaired by the Immediate Past President responsible for recruiting volunteers in MPA and orienting leaders to what is required of them.

This has been a productive year, and I want to say thank you to all of the people who helped to make my presidency a fruitful and harmonious one. Special thanks to those with whom I worked particularly closely: Secretary Mera Kachgal, 2013 Annual Convention Committee Chair Kate Jalma, Annual Convention Committee Member Tom Skovholt, and Public Education Coordinator Jenna Bemis. I would also like to say thank you to Dan Christensen who was a wonderful Past-President: supportive, reliable, good-humored, and grounded. And, I would like to recognize and thank Rhea Sullivan our Administrative Director who joined us in March and made all the difference for MPA — helping us attain fiscal solvency and a high level of customer service.

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From MPA's President-Elect Steve Vincent: Connecting, Protecting and Growing

As I have mentioned in previous columns, MPA’s strategic planning sessions in September of 2012 identified “Connection, Protection and Growth” as the overarching concepts under which MPA brings value to its members.   This year’s strategic planning meeting in October reviewed the progress that has been made during the past year, under the outstanding leadership of our president, Tabitha Grier-Reed, Ph.D., L.P., on specific steps that have been taken to make sure that MPA has the structure and operations to provide connection, protection and growth.  The October planning meeting also reaffirmed these overarching concepts—one might even call them ideals.

New Evidence Just In

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From MPA's President Tabitha Grier-Reed, Ph.D., L.P.

Strategic Updates

I am now entering the last quarter of my Presidency, and am happy to share with you the strategic accomplishments MPA has achieved this year. The objectives for 2013 included identifying gaps and strategies to strengthen four major areas: organization structure and operations; fiscal solvency; leadership and governance; and, member engagement. First, let me tell you that at this point MPA is financially solvent.  In addition, the 2013 Governing Council has worked to review and approve policies to secure the foundation for financial stability and organizational health into the future in all four major areas of MPA. For example, with respect to leadership and governance, the organization has instituted board training for each Governing Council as well as clear documentation of Governing Council Members’ Duties and Responsibilities. Similar documents have been developed and approved for MPA Division Chairs and Committee/Task Force Chairs. Moreover, to increase oversight, MPA has passed a Whistle Blower Policy as well as an Annual Audit Policy. We have also updated our Travel, Reimbursement and Expenditure Requests policies and forms. Finally, we have increased our membership to close to 700 members, and we are focused on continuing to work toward the protection, connection, and growth of psychologists.

Connection, Protection, and Growth

MPA exists for the protection, connection, and growth of psychologists, and we need you to effectively serve this function. Many of you may be aware of changes occurring within Blue Cross/Blue Shield (BCBS) who recently implemented a drastic fee reduction affecting psychologists and switched to the Mihalik Group’s Medical Necessity Review Criteria for Behavioral Health. As a result psychologists have complained about difficulty getting access to the manual.

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From MPA's President Tabitha Grier-Reed, Ph.D., L.P.

Strategic Updates

I am now entering the last quarter of my Presidency, and am happy to share with you the strategic accomplishments MPA has achieved this year. The objectives for 2013 included identifying gaps and strategies to strengthen four major areas: organization structure and operations; fiscal solvency; leadership and governance; and, member engagement. First, let me tell you that at this point MPA is financially solvent.  In addition, the 2013 Governing Council has worked to review and approve policies to secure the foundation for financial stability and organizational health into the future in all four major areas of MPA. For example, with respect to leadership and governance, the organization has instituted board training for each Governing Council as well as clear documentation of Governing Council Members’ Duties and Responsibilities. Similar documents have been developed and approved for MPA Division Chairs and Committee/Task Force Chairs. Moreover, to increase oversight, MPA has passed a Whistle Blower Policy as well as an Annual Audit Policy. We have also updated our Travel, Reimbursement and Expenditure Requests policies and forms. Finally, we have increased our membership to close to 700 members, and we are focused on continuing to work toward the protection, connection, and growth of psychologists.

Connection, Protection, and Growth

MPA exists for the protection, connection, and growth of psychologists, and we need you to effectively serve this function. Many of you may be aware of changes occurring within Blue Cross/Blue Shield (BCBS) who recently implemented a drastic fee reduction affecting psychologists and switched to the Mihalik Group’s Medical Necessity Review Criteria for Behavioral Health. As a result psychologists have complained about difficulty getting access to the manual.

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From MPA's President-Elect Steve Vincent: Calling All Psychologists

The Easily Observed Contributions

A quick scan of MPA’s home page shows a wide variety of events, information and opportunities for all psychologists.   These include the upcoming Fifth Annual Rural Behavioral Health Practice Conference showcasing Advances in Rural Practice (October 11), the Annual President’s Conference on the Jigsaw Puzzle of Cognition and Affect (November 11), the  accompanying pre-conference workshop on  November 9 on the topic of cultural influences and individual differences, and multiple excellent First Friday Forums.  MPA continues to present excellent learning opportunities and the ability to earn useful CEs for licensed psychologists.  MPA serves psychology and all of the citizens of Minnesota, just as our Mission Statement says.

More Happening Behind the Scenes

Also, MPA continues to advocate effectively with state agencies and with payers.  Currently the State of Minnesota is developing its criteria for Behavioral Health Homes, a form of medical home aimed at meeting all health care needs of people with chronic mental illness.  The state has developed an advisory council to work on these criteria, and MPA has a member on that council.  MPA has been present and actively involved with legislative and regulatory affairs.   We want to ensure that psychologists are able to lead behavioral health homes. Without MPA’s previous and on-going involvement, psychology would not be represented.  Simultaneously, MPA is working with payers and regulators to ensure that the public has access to medical necessity criteria.

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From MPA's President-Elect Steven M. Vincent, Ph.D., L.P. - MPA's Progress Serves and Needs All of Us

In October of this year, Minnesota is scheduled to open its on-line insurance exchange, part of the health care reform measures in the Affordable Care Act that passed Congress in 2009.  They have been working their way through the courts and the regulatory process ever since.  In January, Minnesota will begin its Medicaid (known in Minnesota as Medical Assistance) expansion to cover more people, many of whom have no insurance now—another provision of the Affordable Care Act, also frequently referred to as Obama Care.  MPA’s work at the capitol in St. Paul, in collaboration with many others, helped to provide an increase of 5% in Medical Assistance rates that goes into effect on September 1, 2014.

Also, as I reported last month, MPA’s bill passed in this year’s legislative session, and now psychologists are included with psychiatrists and advanced practice psychiatric nurses as mental health professionals who can be paid by Medical Assistance for providing consultation to primary care providers.  At the same time, Minnesota is working its way towards establishing a structure for Behavioral Health Homes, a version of Healthcare Homes that focuses on serving people with serious and persistent mental illnesses.  Integration of primary care and psychological services are a central tenet of such homes.

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From MPA's President Tabitha Grier-Reed, Ph.D., L.P.

Strategic Updates

I love summer in Minnesota—the biking, the walking, the parks, the trails. For MPA it’s a slower time of year. For this reason at the May Governing Council (GC) meeting, we all agreed to recruit one new member to MPA which currently has over 700 members.

In terms of strategic directions, this June the Executive Committee (EC) followed up on the GC recommendation to develop a financial audit policy for MPA. Consequently, the EC proposed the development of an Audit Committee comprising general members as well as governing MPA members. If this interests you, stay tuned; look out for a call for Audit Committee Members. The July  GC focus is on communications, including outlining a process for proposing new projects.

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MPA's Progress Prepares for Health Care Reform

By Steven M. Vincent, Ph.D., President Elect

For at least two decades we have heard nearly constant discussion about health care reform, to the point that many people have come to doubt that anything substantive is going to happen.   However, among policy makers, pundits and progressive thinkers, health care reform is now seen as inevitable.  In March I wrote about the APA State Leadership Conference which took place in Washington, D.C. from March 9-12 with the theme of “Countdown to Health Care Reform.”  Seventy-five State, Provincial and Territorial Associations, and APA divisions, focused their attention on preparing psychology for reform, with an emphasis on ensuring that our profession will have an important and powerful role in this process.  MPA’s own annual convention on April 5 and 6 took a similar theme, “Surviving and Thriving:  Psychology in the Era of Health Care Reform.”  With the conclusion of the Minnesota State Legislature’s 2013 session on Monday, May 20, MPA can claim real progress preparing the way for psychology’s place in health care reform.

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From MPA's President Tabitha Grier-Reed, Ph.D., L.P.: Strategic Directions and Annual Convention Highlights

As promised, I am writing to keep you up-to-date on the strategic directions of MPA. In March, the Governing Council (GC) focused on leadership and governance. This May, the focus was on finances. Shoring up MPA’s financial situation has been a long time coming.

Financial Background

In 2011 MPA was on the brink of insolvency.  The organization went from a sound financial base at the close of 2005 to a dire financial situation by October 2011. An informal audit of MPA records was requisitioned in July of 2011 and highlighted that a continuation of existing Association practices would result in a projected year-end 2012 deficit approaching $165,000.  The 2011 Executive Committee took swift, decisive action and started us on the road to recovery. This included the development of a three-year plan.

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From MPA's President Tabitha Grier-Reed, Ph.D., L.P.: Introductions

It is with humility and enthusiasm that I introduce myself to you as President of MPA. Ever since I took my very first psychology class in high school, I have been passionate about and intrigued with the field of psychology. Over the years, my passion and interest have not waned. To serve as the 2013 President of the Minnesota state psychological association is an honor and privilege.

I come to this position with a good deal of optimism which is warranted by the talent MPA is able to attract. Case in point: I introduce you to the new editor of the Minnesota Psychologist, Beth Lewis. Dr. Lewis is an associate professor at the University of Minnesota. Trained as a clinical psychologist, Dr. Lewis completed her doctoral internship and postdoctoral fellowship at Brown University, where she specialized in health psychology and behavioral medicine. Her vitae list over 40 refereed publications, and she has served as a reviewer for a score of academic journals including the Journal of Health Psychology, the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, and the American Journal of Preventive Medicine—to name a few. What’s more, she has taken on the role of editor of the Minnesota Psychologist with energy and enthusiasm! MPA’s ability to attract such an accomplished psychologist bodes well for our future.

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From the Editor

Hello! My name is Beth Lewis and as the new editor of the Minnesota Psychologist, I would like to take a moment to introduce myself.  I am honored to have the opportunity to serve as editor.  As Tabitha mentions, I am currently an Associate Professor at the University of Minnesota.  I received my Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of North Dakota in 2001.  I completed a postdoctoral fellowship in behavioral medicine at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island and have been a licensed psychologist since 2003.  My research examines the effect of exercise on mental health.  My most recent research grant is a randomized trial examining the efficacy of home-based exercise vs. telephone-based counseling for preventing postpartum depression.   My hope is that this research will help inform clinicians about the importance of exercise during pregnancy and postpartum.

I had the opportunity to attend the Society of Behavioral Medicine conference in San Francisco this past week.  The focus of this year’s conference was the use of technology to promote healthy living.  I attended a presentation by Dr. David Mohr who discussed the efficacy of using the telephone to counsel individuals with depression.  He found that telephone-based cognitive behavioral treatment (CBT) was just as effective as in-person CBT for treating depression.   Furthermore, participants in the telephone-based CBT were more likely to adhere to the treatment than participants in the in-person CBT.  I found this information timely given the recent movement to allow for reimbursement for telephone-based services (see Dr. Sandra Sanger’s column in this issue).  Telephone-based interventions could never replace in-person therapy.  However, it could be an important adjunct to therapy or may be especially helpful for populations who have barriers to in-person visits such as individuals with young children or individuals living in rural areas where access to in-person care is low.

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Diversity Statement

The Minnesota Psychological Association actively encourages the participation of all psychologists regardless of age, creed, race, ethnic background, gender, socio-economic status, region of residence, physical or mental status, political beliefs, religious or spiritual affiliation, and sexual or affectional orientation.Although we are an organization of individuals from diverse cultures and backgrounds, the Minnesota Psychological Association also recognizes our core unifying identities as Psychologists who practice in America. We also recognize that we may hold unintentional attitudes and beliefs that influence our perceptions of and interactions with others. Within this context of unity and self-exploration, we are committed to increasing our sensitivity to all aspects of diversity as well as our knowledge and appreciation of the unique qualities of different cultures and backgrounds.We aspire to becoming alert to aspects of diversity, previously unseen or unacknowledged in our culture. In this spirit, we are committed to collaborating with multicultural groups to combat racism and other forms of prejudice as we seek to promote diversity in our society. To this end, we are dedicated to increasing our multicultural competencies and effectiveness as educators, researchers, administrators, policy makers, and practitioners.