Category Archives: Psychology, Counseling & Social Work

Sullivan helps MAP Equity Assistance Center provide schools with professional development, technical assistance

Amanda Sullivan

Amanda Sullivan, associate professor in the Department of Educational Psychology’s school psychology program, is one of several Equity Fellows assisting the new Midwest and Plans (MAP) Equity Assistance Center in providing professional development and technical assistance to regional school systems.

The MAP Center was recently awarded a five year grant by the U.S. Department of Education to assist with desegregation and other civil rights issues in public schools in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

Sullivan will contribute to the development of MAP products and services to facilitate implementation of culturally appropriate multitier systems of support for students’ academic, social-emotional, and behavioral development.

“I’m excited to partner with the MAP Center to support schools’ efforts to create equitable systems and support the learning and wellbeing of all learners,” she says. “This is as important now as it’s ever been and with the MAP center, we have a great opportunity to develop tools tailored to our local communities.”

Ysseldyke recognized for outstanding contributions to school psychology training

James E. Ysseldyke

Jim Ysseldyke, professor emeritus in the Department of Educational Psychology’s school psychology program, received the 2017 award for Outstanding Contributions to School Psychology Training from the Council of Directors of School Psychology Programs. Ysseldyke was recognized for his contributions to graduate preparation and leadership in numerous centers, professional organizations, task forces, and other local, regional, and national organizations that shaped school psychology since he entered the field 45 years ago.

Amanda Sullivan, coordinator of the school psychology program, and Janet Graden, coordinator of the University of Cincinnati school psychology program and Ysseldyke’s former advisee, presented the award at the Council of Directors of School Psychology Programs’ recent meeting in Hollywood, FL. Educational Psychology professor emerita Sandra Christenson received the award in 2009.

Johnson awarded APF 2016 Gold Medal for Life Achievement in the Application of Psychology

David W. Johnson

David W. Johnson, emeritus faculty member in the Department of Educational Psychology’s Psychological Foundations of Education program, was recently awarded the American Psychological Foundation (APF) Gold Medal for Life Achievement in the Application of Psychology. Johnson received the medal in a ceremony held in Denver, Colorado in August of 2016.

Johnson has authored over 500 research articles and book chapters and over 50 books. He’s a former editor of the American Educational Research Journal and has served as an organizational consultant to schools and businesses throughout the world. His research interests include: cooperative, competitive, and individualistic efforts; conflict resolution (structured controversy and peer mediation); and social psychology of groups in general. Johnson is active in the field of organizational development and change, and in innovation in educational practice. His work emphasizes the integration of psychology theory, research, and practice.

Christ’s CBM of oral reading article named one of five most cited in Journal of School Psychology

Dr. Theodore J. Christ

Theodore J. Christ, director of CAREI and professor in the Department of Educational Psychology’s school psychology program, was recently recognized by the editors of the Journal of School Psychology for a paper he and his students published in 2013. The article, “Curriculum-Based Measurement of Oral Reading: Multi-study evaluation of schedule, duration, and dataset quality on progress monitoring outcomes,” was named one of the top five most cited works in the Journal of School Psychology in 2014, 2015, and 2016.

View the award by the Journal of School Psychology

Cook featured in Forbes article on keeping New Year’s resolutions

Clayton Cook head shot
Clayton Cook

Clayton Cook, John W. and Nancy E. Peyton Faculty Fellow in Child and Adolescent Wellbeing and associate professor in the department of Educational Psychology’s school psychology program, was recently interviewed by Forbes for the article “The Science Behind Making New Year’s Resolutions That You’ll Keep.”

In the article, Cook explains which conditions make it more likely we’ll keep our resolutions and how can make them into habits.

Read the full article.

Johnson authors Psychology Today post, ‘Why false news endangers democracy’

Dr. David Johnson
David W. Johnson

David W. Johnson, emeritus professor of in the Department of Educational Psychology, recently wrote a blog post for Psychology Today on “Why false news endangers democracy.” In the post, Johnson outlines eight steps needed for political discourse based on cooperative learning theory.

He argues, “Once falsehoods become commonplace, and false news replaces or becomes equal to factual news, political discourse becomes impossible.  Without political discourse, democracy cannot exist.”

Read the full article.  

Cook featured in News Tribune article for work with Sumner School District to prevent bullying

Clayton Cook head shot
Clayton Cook

Clayton Cook, associate professor in the Department of Educational Psychology’s school psychology program, was recently featured in a News Tribune article for his work helping the Sumner School District in Washington implement its Go! Project (Growing Opportunities for Hope) Whole Child program to prevent bullying. The project is an effort to provide well-rounded social emotional supports to students and establish school culture that create prosocial norms to promote respect for self, others, and the environment. John Norlin, Sumner School District program administrator, explained one of the tactics Cook shared to help the district prevent bullying. “Clayton Cook said if you have teachers greeting at the door, and they’re connecting and students have a task when they arrive, in an hour-long class period you will get 20 percent more active engagement. They’re less likely to act out in negative ways.”

Read the full article, “Sumner School District focuses on the whole child to prevent bullying.”

Dr. Christ to keynote MDE Back to School Conference

Theodore J. Christ headshot
Dr. Theodore J. Christ

Theodore J. Christ, director of the Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement (CAREI) and professor in the Department of Educational Psychology’s school psychology program, will give a keynote speech at this year’s Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) Back to School Conference.

Dr. Christ’s talk will focus on the importance of using research, assessment, and evaluation to guide decision-making and educational practice. During the speech, Dr. Christ will discuss ideas on how evaluation data may be used for system improvement to accelerate student outcomes. Finally, he will share the results of a recent statewide needs assessment in the areas of research, evaluation, and assessment with an opportunity to provide input on ways to respond to statewide needs.

The MDE Back to School Conference hosts education leaders and takes place August 9 -10 at the Minneapolis Marriot Northwest. This year’s theme is Minnesota’s commitment to the drivers of effective education leadership.

Theodore J. Christ’s leadership supports CAREI’s mission of improving the quality of education for all learners, and thereby society as a whole, through four service offerings: 1) evaluation, 2) research, 3) assessment, and 4) innovation and outreach. As applied researchers and evaluators, CAREI strives to have an immediate impact on communities, listening to and working with clients and partners to understand their experiences. CAREI seeks to impact 80% of Minnesota students within five years.

CSPP doctoral candidate, Durkin, featured in Synthesist for her work studying disordered eating and emotion regulation

Nora Durkin headshot
Nora Durkin

Nora Durkin, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Educational Psychology’s counseling and student personnel psychology program, was recently featured in the University of Minnesota’s Graduate School newsletter, Synthesist, for her work to improve understanding about the causes and consequences of eating disorders and to inform better treatment programs for the broad range of people who suffer from them.

“There is compelling evidence that eating disorder behaviors are used to help regulate strong negative emotions,” Durkin told the Synthesist. “For example, if an individual is feeling ashamed or sad, binge eating might help to reduce such feelings temporarily. This helps to explain why someone might continue to binge eat over time despite many consequences, including weight gain.”

Durkin is this year’s recipient of the Emily Program Fellowship which is given to Ph.D. students in the College of Education and Human Development with a preference for studying eating disorders.

Read full article on Nora’s research in Synthesist.

School psychology student accepts fellowship with STAY!

Hannah JacobsHannah Jacobs, a master’s student in the school psychology program, has accepted a Minority Fellowship Program Fellowship in Services for Transition Age Youth (STAY)! with the American Psychological Association (APA). Through this fellowship, Hannah will receive a $6,000 stipend for one year in addition to trainings, professional development, mentoring, and lifetime access to the APA’s network of over 1,700 fellows.

Now in its third year, the MFP STAY! Fellowship is awarded through a federal grant to the APA form the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

CSPP alumni recipient of CEHD’s 2016 Rising Alumni award

(L-R): John Romano, Jonina Olafsdottir Kardal, Tom Skovolt
(L-R): John Romano, Jonina Olafsdottir Kardal, Tom Skovolt

Counseling and Student Personnel Psychology alumni, Jonina Olafsdottir Kardal, was a recent recipient of CEHD’s 2016 Rising Alumni award.

Jonina grew up in St. Paul and participated in an Icelandic community with her parents who were both originally from Iceland. She grew up in an academic atmosphere where education was valued and a professor was greatly admired. This upbringing helped shape Jonina’s interest in education and counseling. She graduated from the University of Iceland in 1995 and was interested in obtaining her MA degree in counseling. Through a connection, she applied to the University of Minnesota’s CSPP program and was accepted.

Jonina immediately utilized every opportunity to gain more experience in the workplace through research and internship opportunities. She completed her practicum at the University of Minnesota Counseling and Student Services and did work with a learning center, too. She commends the professionalism and dedication of the staff that she had the opportunity to work with and noted that she keeps this in mind in her own work.

Upon graduation from the CSPP program, Jonina was offered a position at the University of Iceland in the Student Counseling and Career Centre. She began working right after graduation in August 1999 and holds a position currently with the center. When she began, there were about 5,500 students and she works with about 14,000 students today. Her work involves the development of the center by increasing services for students to assist them in meeting their educational and career goals. The center hosts various services, including: walk-in hours, book appointments, workshops, lunch bag sessions, career-based workshops, courses on academic goals and effective study skills.

Jonina admits that it was a “dream come true to study at the University of Minnesota” in the CSPP program and it formed her vision for a post-graduation career in counseling. Jonina considers her time at the U of M as one of the greatest times in her life and an immense pleasure to be a part of the CSPP program.

CEHD ranks among top 20 graduate schools of education

U.S. News and World Report has released its annual rankings of graduate schools, placing the University of Minnesota College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) No. 20 overall and No. 12 among all public professional schools of education. It ranked No. 6 among the schools of education of the 15 peer institutions in the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC).

Areas within education that ranked in the top 10 of their specialty areas were special education (No. 8) and educational psychology (No. 10).

“We are pleased that our college continues to move up in the rankings and that the excellence in our graduate teaching, research and outreach is recognized,” said Dean Jean K. Quam. “We are particularly excited about the new pathways to teaching we are developing within the college that are meeting the needs of the diverse student body in our state and nation.”

U.S. News surveyed 376 schools granting education doctoral degrees. It calculates its rankings based on quality assessments from peer institutions and school superintendents nationwide; student selectivity; and faculty resources, which include student–faculty ratio and faculty awards; as well as support for research.

CEHD also includes developmental psychology, a program surveyed in another report, which was last ranked in 2013 (No. 1).

 

FSoS alumnus benefits from deportation reprieve program

PerezDAfter years of living in the United States illegally, Daniel Perez, a former FSoS undergraduate student and current graduate student, has a green card after qualifying for a federal program that offers deportation reprieve for immigrants who entered the country as children.

Perez, who crossed the Mexican border when he was 15, qualified for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), passed by the Obama administration in 2012.

According to an article in the Star Tribune, for those who qualify, DACA offers a temporary reprieve from deportation and a work permit. For some immigrants married to U.S. citizens, the program also allows government-approved travel abroad to nullify their initial illegal entry into the country and permit them to apply for a green card.

Perez’s wife, Kendra, a Canadian who is now a U.S. citizen, sponsored him.

Through DACA, Perez has been granted “advanced parole,” according to the Star Tribune. This means that a person with a pending immigration application has permission to  re-enter the country, as long as they had an educational, professional, or humanitarian reason to leave the country. Perez, who now works as a social worker in Minneapolis, was granted advance prole for a professional conference in Canada.

Now Perez and his wife are planning his first trip to Mexico since he and his family left in 2002. They will visit his grandparents and other family.

Perez will be eligible to apply for citizenship in 2018.

Read the Star Tribune Article here.

Harris shares coping strategies for children dealing with divorcing parents

HarrisSteve150In a US News and World Report article, Department of Family Social Science professor Steve Harris stressed the importance of preserving children’s mental health as parents divorce, and shared coping strategies for divorcing parents hoping to avoid long-term emotional effects on their children.

Read the article here. Also, read about the Minnesota Couples on the Brink project.

Serving as a peer study group facilitator: Catalyst for vocation exploration of a teaching career.

David Arendale, associate professor in PsTL, and Amanada Hane, his former graduate assistant, had another manuscript published from their qualitative study of UMN peer study group facilitators. It will be featured in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Developmental Education published by the National Center for Developmental Education. While there have been previous reports that some former study group leaders considered careers in education as a result of their experience, this is the first article that linked the behavior with vocational choice theory to help explain this outcome. Ms. Hane has an MS in Human Development and Family Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an MA in Counseling and Student Personnel Psychology from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. She currently works at Wilder Research in Saint Paul, Minnesota and conducts community-based research and evaluation in the human services field.

Social Work graduate’s innovative partnership helps better serve state’s children, families

Katy Armendariz
Katy Armendariz

When she made a last-minute decision to abandon a scholarship from a sociology Ph.D. program and enroll instead in the University of Minnesota’s master’s of social work (M.S.W.) program, Katy Armendariz had no idea that would be her first step toward fulfilling a lifelong dream of serving children and families.

Katy is an international adoptee and former foster child who knows the child welfare system from personal experience. She received her M.S.W. from the University of Minnesota in 2009. In 2013, she started MN CarePartner, a mental health agency to bring psychotherapy services into the homes of people who could not make it to a clinic due to physical, mental, financial or transportation barriers.

The agency started out small, with just two part-time therapists. By August of 2015, it had six therapists and a certificate from the Minnesota Department of Human Services to provide Children’s Therapeutic Services and Supports (CTSS). CTSS is an in-home rehabilitative service that teaches children and families the necessary skills to manage the symptoms of a child’s mental health condition and bring the child back to a normal developmental trajectory.

Then, last spring, Katy and Laura Skoglund, owner of Families in Transition Services (FiTS), had a conversation over coffee. Laura has a degree in social work and paralegal studies, with a strong advocacy background in domestic violence and sexual assault. When she took over Families in Transition in January of 2012, she found a niche serving families through supervised visitation and parenting skills.

Laura, who grew up in a home where domestic violence and chemical dependency were prevalent, saw FiTS as an opportunity to help families in similar situations. FiTS provides supervised visitation for child protection families requiring oversight throughout the process of permanency and reunification, as well as family law cases. Laura saw that children’s acting-out behaviors often increased before and/or after visits with their parents, and she saw a need for in-home skills and therapy to smooth the transitions. Katy wanted the services her agency provided to help disadvantaged families who have a hard time parenting due to psychosocial barriers, such as the homelessness and mental illness that prevented her own birth mother from being able to parent.

It was a perfect match and happened to coincide with the release of 93 recommendations by the Governor’s Task Force on the Protection of Children, which had examined the Minnesota child welfare system. It concluded that the system could not improve without additional resources, training and workforce. Katy and Laura quickly realized that their partnership could help child welfare providers meet several of the task force recommendations about providing more seamless services to children and families.

Together, FiTS and MN CarePartner offers supervised visitation in the home, CTSS services and in-home psychotherapy. In order to reduce the number of providers coming into a family’s home, the two agencies work together to hire people who can provide more than one kind of service. The person supervising the visit is often the same person who teaches CTSS and parenting skills between visits. The CTSS skills worker is supervised by the in-home therapist, ensuring complementary treatment plans and a quality coordinated-care team for each family.

FiTS and MN CarePartner reached out to several child protection units in several counties, and had 16 partnerships set up in 10 counties by the end of August. The response to the partnership has been extremely positive, and child protection workers have reported that they feel at ease knowing that a committed team is in the home working for the empowerment and self-determination of children and families. Additionally, MN CarePartner and FiTS actively recruit staff of color, as well as bilingual staff, to address the cultural disparities that have made it difficult for far too many families to connect with their service providers and have a fair shot at reunification.

In November, Katy will receive an Outstanding Service Award from the Minnesota Association for Children’s Mental Health for showing extraordinary leadership in the field.

Educational Psychology CSPP student presents at ACES conference

Sarah Cronin, Counseling and Student Personnel Psychology (CSPP) Doctoral Student presented at the Association for Counselor Education and Supervision National Conference in Philadelphia, on October 7-11, 2015. The conference theme was ACES Leadership for Culturally Relevant Pedagogy and Practice. Cronin presented Dr. Marguerite Ohrtman and her research entitled, What makes a good supervisor?: Supervision Activities and the Supervisory Working Alliance. The conference was attended by counselor educators from across the country as well as international educators.

Wolff’s research on autism featured in SFARI

WolffJason-2014Jason Wolff, assistant professor in the special education program in the Department of Educational Psychology, was recently featured in an article by Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (SFARI). The article, “Thick bridge of nerves may signal autism in infancy,” highlights Wolff’s study published in Brain in May. His research findings suggest that the bundle of nerves that bridges the brain’s two hemispheres is abnormally thick in infants later diagnosed with autism.

“I think it drives home to us how important it is to think about how much the brain changes throughout life,” Wolff told SFARI.

Read the full article in SFARI.

Read Wolff’s study in Brain.

“Three Good Things” gratitude exercise is beneficial in substance abuse treatment, study finds

Professor Amy Krentzman, University of Minnesota School of Social WorkUniversity of Minnesota School of Social Work Assistant Professor Amy Krentzman recently published a study on gratitude and its positive impact on helping people recover from alcohol use disorders. The study was published in the Journal of Positive Psychology and was also featured on the website of the Harvard-affiliated Recovery Research Institute.

It is the first formal study of the use of gratitude in alcoholism treatment. Krentzman said she conducted the study after discovering that positive psychology interventions had not been tested among individuals with substance use disorders, even though they are commonly used in recovery programs.

“I thought a gratitude practice would be perfect as the first positive psychology intervention to test among individuals with addictions because gratitude is a naturally occurring theme in addiction recovery. For example, it is a regularly occurring theme in Alcoholics Anonymous literature,” Krentzman said.

The gratitude exercise, “Three Good Things,” asks participants to write about three positive things that happened in a day and why they happened. Krentzman said that her study will serve as a pilot program for further study about the impact of using “Three Good Things” in substance use disorder treatment programs and in post-treatment recovery organizations, such as sober living houses.

“I study addiction recovery and the factors that make the experience of recovery positive and reinforcing, which is a hedge against relapse,” Krentzman said. “Positive psychology is an excellent framework for my research.”

Read more on her research.

SSW alum named U.S. Ashoka Fellow

Amelia Frank MeyerAmelia Franck Meyer (M.S.W. ’01), CEO of Anu Family Services, was named an Ashoka Fellow, joining a network of over 3,000 of the world’s leading social entrepreneurs.

Ashoka Fellows are chosen for having innovative solutions to social problems and the potential to change patterns across society. They demonstrate unrivaled commitment to bold new ideas and prove that compassion, creativity, and collaboration are tremendous forces for change.

Franck Meyer has been CEO of Anu Family Services since 2001 and has built an award winning organization that is achieving nationally leading outcomes in finding permanence for children in out-of-home care.  Last year, she shared her message and expertise with system leaders, legislators, front line staff, educators, and students across Minnesota, Wisconsin and 15 other states. Being an Ashoka Fellow will give her an opportunity to build on this growing momentum and desire for much needed systems change across the country.

Anu Family Services has offices in St, Paul Minnesota and Hudson, Madison and Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Learn more about  Anu on their website.

Ashoka is the largest network of social entrepreneurs worldwide, with nearly 3,000 Ashoka Fellows in 70 countries putting their system changing ideas into practice on a global scale. Founded by Bill Drayton in 1980, Ashoka has provided start-up financing, professional support services, and connections to a global network across the business and social sectors, and a platform for people dedicated to changing the world. For more information, see the Ashoka website.