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Assessment of Competencies among Doctoral Trainees in Psychology

Description: The recent shift to a culture of competence has permeated several areas of professional psychology, including competency identification, competency-based education training, and competency assessment. A competency framework has also been applied to various programs and specialty areas within psychology, such as clinical, counseling, clinical health, school, cultural diversity, neuro-, gero-, child, and pediatric psychology. Despite the spread of competency focus throughout psychology, few standardized measures of competency assessment have been developed. To the authors' knowledge, only four published studies on measures of competency assessment in psychology currently exist. While these measures demonstrate significant steps in progressing the assessment of confidence, three of these measures were designed for use with individual programs, two of these international (i.e., UK and Taiwan). The current study applied the seminal Competency Benchmarks, via a recently adapted benchmarks form (i.e., Practicum Evaluation form; PEF), to practicum students at the University of North Texas. In addition to traditional supervisor ratings, the present study also involved self-, peer supervisor, and peer supervisee ratings to provide 360-degree evaluations. Item-response theory (IRT) was used to evaluate the psychometric properties of the PEF and inform potential revisions of this form. Supervisor ratings of competency were found to fit the Rasch model specified, lending support to use of the benchmarks framework as assessed by this form. Self- and peer-ratings were significantly correlated with supervisor ratings, indicating that there may be some utility to 360-degree evaluations. Finally, as predicted, foundational competencies were rated as significantly higher than functional competencies, and competencies improved significantly with training. Results of the current study provide clarity about the utility of the PEF and inform our understanding of practicum-level competencies.
Date: August 2017
Creator: Price, Samantha

How Exposure to Parental Intimate Partner Violence Affects College Students' Dating Violence: A Structural Equation Model with Adult Attachment and Social Information Processing as Mediating Factors

Description: The effects of childhood exposure to parental intimate partner violence (EPIPV) on dating violence (DV) were examined through two layers of mediations. Based on attachment theory, individuals who are exposed to parental intimate partner violence are less likely to experience secure parent-child attachment, which in turn transfers to insecure adult attachment that is prone to perceive significant others as less trustworthy and less reliable as well as higher likelihood of over-reacting and/or staying in an unhealthy relationship. In the second layer of mediation, insecure adult attachment would lead to biased SIP which in turn, would result in an increase of DV. A total of 327 university students participated in the study by voluntarily completing the research questionnaires. Among them, 253 reported having experienced mild to severe DV and were included in the final data set. The data analyses procedures included examinations of the measurement models and structural equation modeling (SEM) analyses. Findings from the final models best supported by the data indicated that EPIPV predicted both dating violence perpetration and victimization and that EPIPV predicted adult attachment anxiety and avoidance, both of which are consistent with existing literature. However, findings revealed that EPIPV did not predict SIP and SIP was not predictive of DV perpetration. In addition, neither adult attachment anxiety nor attachment avoidance was predictive of DV perpetration and victimization. For DV victimization SEM model, adult attachment anxiety predicted SIP, however, SIP did not predict DV victimization. Findings are discussed based on DV literature and attachment theory. Limitations, clinical implications, and future research directions are also outlined.
Date: August 2017
Creator: Chong, Chu Chian

The Role of Self-Compassion in Posttraumatic Growth

Description: Although the experience of trauma is associated with a great deal of psychological distress, it may also lead to meaningful positive change, known as posttraumatic growth (PTG), evidenced as progression in areas of life appreciation, intimacy in relationships, sense of personal strength, new possibilities, and spiritual development. Utilizing an acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) perspective, the current study explored whether self-compassion helped to explain the willingness to approach and make sense of a trauma, leading to growth. A sample of 758 undergraduate students completed online self-report questionnaires, and results suggested that self-compassion does partially predict PTG and support for how self-compassion may be understood in relation to PTG is provided. Implications of the current study's findings, as well as suggestions for future research related to trauma within a college population, are discussed.
Date: August 2017
Creator: Connally, Melissa Londoño

Trajectories of Treatment Change among Patients with Major Depressive Disorder: Predictors and Associations with Outcomes

Description: Previous research has revealed heterogeneity in outcome trajectories among individuals seeking psychotherapy. However, questions remain as to the number, nature, and predictors of these trajectories. Therefore, the present study had three aims: 1) to identify heterogeneous latent groups among treatment trajectories of 212 clients with major depressive disorder (MDD) seeking psychotherapy at a community mental health training clinic; 2) to identify significant associations between clinical and demographic variables and group membership; and 3) to identify correlations between trajectory shape and positive treatment outcome. Prior to treatment, participants provided demographic information and completed symptom severity ratings. Once in treatment, participants completed a self-report of distress via the Outcome Questionnaire (OQ-45) at every session. Growth mixture modeling was utilized to identify distinct patient subgroups based on outcome trajectories among the sample. Three distinct latent classes of treatment trajectory were identified, providing evidence of heterogeneity in treatment trajectories among individuals with MDD. Baseline distress, pre-treatment work problems, and sleep difficulties were found to be predictive of an individual's membership in a specific trajectory group. Finally, specific shapes of change, namely early response and sudden gains, were associated with positive treatment outcome. Findings from this study can be used to identify patients at risk for treatment failure, allowing clinicians to intervene earlier to enhance mid-treatment feedback and prognosis.
Date: August 2017
Creator: Kilmer, Jared Newman

Assessment of Competencies Among Doctoral Trainees in Psychology

Description: The recent shift to a culture of competence has permeated several areas of professional psychology, including competency identification, competency-based education training, and competency assessment. A competency framework has also been applied to various programs and specialty areas within psychology, such as clinical, counseling, clinical health, school, cultural diversity, neuro-, gero-, child, and pediatric psychology. Despite the spread of competency focus throughout psychology, few standardized measures of competency assessment have been developed. To the authors' knowledge, only four published studies on measures of competency assessment in psychology currently exist. While these measures demonstrate significant steps in progressing the assessment of confidence, three of these measures were designed for use with individual programs, two of these international (i.e., UK and Taiwan). The current study applied the seminal Competency Benchmarks, via a recently adapted benchmarks form (i.e., Practicum Evaluation form; PEF), to practicum students at the University of North Texas. In addition to traditional supervisor ratings, the present study also involved self-, peer supervisor, and peer supervisee ratings to provide 360-degree evaluations. Item-response theory (IRT) was used to evaluate the psychometric properties of the PEF and inform potential revisions of this form. Supervisor ratings of competency were found to fit the Rasch model specified, lending support to use of the benchmarks framework as assessed by this form. Self- and peer-ratings were significantly correlated with supervisor ratings, indicating that there may be some utility to 360-degree evaluations. Finally, as predicted, foundational competencies were rated as significantly higher than functional competencies, and competencies improved significantly with training. Results of the current study provide clarity about the utility of the PEF and inform our understanding of practicum-level competencies.
Date: August 2016
Creator: Price, Samantha

Attachment Insecurity, Emotion Regulation Difficulties, and Mindfulness Deficits in Personality Pathology

Description: A growing body of research has documented associations between personality disorders (PDs) and attachment disturbance, and yet, attachment disturbance does not necessarily guarantee the development of PD pathology. Thus, understanding the mechanisms mediating the relationship between attachment disturbance and PD pathology remains an open area of research. One area with sound theoretical and empirical evidence has shown that attachment disturbances are associated with emotion regulation difficulties, as well as maladaptive interpersonal patterns of behavior. However, the research conducted thus far has predominately focused on borderline personality disorder, at the exclusion of other PD domains, and also has not broadened the scope of research to include other relevant psychological processes that may clarify how personality pathology and attachment disturbance are interrelated. Using a large independent sample of college (n = 946) and community-based individuals (n = 271), the current study aimed to (1) examine how the Personality Inventory for DSM-5 (PID-5) PD trait domains would be differentially associated with maladaptive attachment processes and emotion regulation problems, and (2) explore whether deficits in mindfulness and emotion regulation mediated the relationship between disturbed attachment and PD trait domains. Findings suggested that the PID-5 PD trait domains have general and specific relations to attachment insecurity, impairments in emotion regulation, and decreased mindfulness. Overall, the current study suggests that improving emotion regulation skills and increasing dispositional mindfulness may limit the expression of pathological personality traits. Implications of these findings and directions for future research are discussed.
Date: August 2016
Creator: Lewis, Jonathan James

Attitudes about Caregiving: An Ethnicity by Generation Approach

Description: The goal of this project was to understand ethnic and generational differences in attitudes towards caregiving and expected burden while taking into consideration factors such as gender, generation, familism, and acculturation. One hundred and sixteen young adults (ages 18-25) and 93 middle-age adults (ages 38-62) were enrolled in the study. Participants included European Americans, African Americans, and Hispanics. Using moderation analysis, two hypotheses were investigated: 1) Ethnicity relates to attitudes towards caregiving, moderated by gender, generation, familism, and acculturation. 2) Ethnicity and expected burden relate to each other, moderated by gender, generation, familism, and acculturation. Familism emerged as a moderator in the relationship between ethnicity and expected burden. Results suggested that the strength of the relationship between being African American and expecting burden was less for those with moderate familism (R =.078), slightly higher for low familism (R = .176), and the highest for high familism (R= .261). Additional results indicated that the strength of the relationship between being Hispanic, as opposed to being European American, and expected burden, was higher for middle-aged adults (R =.23) when compared to young adults (R =.19). The current findings lend support to the recently established idea that familism is not protective against burden as it increases one's sense of obligation towards family (Knight & Sayegh, 2010).
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Date: August 2016
Creator: Caballero, Daniela M

A Comparison of Treatments for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Symptoms: Memory Specificity Training (MeST) and Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT)

Description: The effectiveness of memory specificity training (MeST) was compared with standard cognitive processing therapy (CPT) in treatment of individuals with posttraumatic stress disorder. Eighteen adults aged 18-36 were randomly assigned to the MeST intervention (n = 9) or to the active control group (n = 9) of CPT. Both treatments were administered in group format across 6 weeks. MeST consisted of 6 weekly sessions, while CPT consisted of 12 biweekly sessions. The trial was undertaken in the Psychology Clinic of the University of North Texas, with randomization to conditions accomplished via computer random number generator. The primary outcome measure was change in PTSD symptoms post-treatment from baseline. Sixteen individuals (13 women and 3 men; MeST n = 8 and CPT n = 8) completed treatment and their data was analyzed. MeST significantly decreased PTSD symptomology at post-treatment and these results were maintained at 3 months post-treatment. MeST was found to be as effective as the established CPT intervention at reducing PTSD symptomology. Both MeST and CPT significantly increased participants' ability to specify memories upon retrieval at post-treatment, with results maintained at follow-up. There were no significant effects of MeST or CPT in ability to increase overall controlled cognitive processing at post-treatment or follow-up. No individual in either group reported any adverse effects during treatment or at 3 months follow-up. MeST appears to hold promise as an efficacious treatment option for PTSD. MeST was as effective as CPT in reducing symptoms of PTSD, but required only half the number of treatment sessions to accomplish these gains. Replication of these findings in larger samples is encouraged.
Date: August 2016
Creator: Maxwell, Kendal Lynn

Eight-Year Course of Cognitive Functioning in Bipolar Disorder with Psychotic Features

Description: The purpose of the current study was to examine neuropsychological functioning in patients with bipolar disorder (BD) with psychotic features. Data from a large, epidemiological study of patients with first-episode psychosis was used to examine verbal learning and working memory 10 years after onset of psychosis in patients with BD relative to patients with schizophrenia (SZ) and patients with psychotic major depressive disorder (MDD). Cross-sectional comparisons of verbal learning and working memory at the 10-year follow-up mirrored findings of relative performance at the 2-year follow-up (Mojtabai, 2000), as patients with SZ performed significantly worse than patients with psychotic affective disorders. When FEP patients' cognitive performance was examined longitudinally, all groups showed non-significant decline over time, with no significant diagnostic group differences after accounting for current symptoms. More frequent hospitalizations and longer treatment with antipsychotics were associated with poorer performance on cognitive testing 10 years after illness onset, but these associations disappeared when controlling baseline cognitive performance. Within the BD sample, current positive and negative psychotic symptoms were associated with poorer performance on cognitive testing. After controlling for baseline cognitive performance, markers of clinical course were unrelated to cognitive performance, consistent with existing literature on longitudinal cognitive functioning in patients with BD. The current findings support a neurodevelopmental model of verbal learning and working memory deficits in patients with bipolar disorder.
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Date: August 2016
Creator: Bain, Kathleen Marie

Feigning ADHD: Effectiveness of Selected Assessment Tools in Distinguishing Genuine from Simulated ADHD

Description: Research indicates that some college students may be strongly motivated to feign AHDD symptoms for desired external incentives, such as stimulant medication or academic accommodations. To date, literature examining feigned ADHD has been primarily focused on ADHD specific self-report measures (e.g., CAARS) and continuous performance tests (e.g., CPTs); however, little attention has been devoted to the use of multi-scale inventories in detecting feigned ADHD. For CPT measures, virtually no literature exists on the effectiveness of the TOVA to identify feigned ADHD, despite its frequent clinical use for establishing this diagnosis. The current study utilized a between-subjects simulation design to validate feigning cut scores on ADHD-specific measures using 66 feigners and 51 confirmed ADHD cases. As prior literature suggested, the results convincingly demonstrated that face-valid ADHD assessment measures were easily faked. Across both TOVA modalities (e.g., Auditory and Visual), the ADHD simulators performed significantly poorer than those diagnosed with ADHD. As an innovative approach, a Dissimulation-ADHD (Ds-ADHD) scale was developed and initially validated. The Ds-ADHD is composed of ten MMPI-2-RF items mistakenly believed to be clinical characteristics associated with ADHD. Requiring cross-validation, Ds-ADHD optimized cut scores and classification of ADHD feigners appears promising. They were clearly distinguishable from ADHD client, as well as those feigning general psychopathology. Recommendations for the utilization of the Ds-ADHD scale, and future directions for research are discussed.
Date: August 2016
Creator: Robinson, Emily

Phases of Change in Psychotherapy Across Levels of Clinician Training

Description: Given the alarmingly high rates of premature termination in training clinics, research aimed at understanding the course of change and treatment outcomes in training clinics deserves considerable attention. Additionally, more research is needed to understand the effectiveness of psychotherapy training and whether more training is actually associated with better client outcomes. Thus, this study sought to investigate whether clinicians' level of training and experience were related to a variety of clients' outcomes (e.g., well-being, symptom reduction, and life functioning) based on the phase model of psychotherapy. Unfortunately, confirmatory factor analysis of the OQ45.2 did not support the three-factor conceptual model paralleling the phase model. Rather, a two-factor model of best fit was identified. Neither clinicians' level of clinical training nor therapeutic orientation were found to be related to client improvements. However, this finding may have been attenuated by limited variance in client outcomes. Implications for clinical training and future outcome research methodologies are discussed.
Date: August 2016
Creator: Connor, Dana R.

Using Pre-Session Mindfulness to Improve Session Presence and Effectiveness: A Randomized-Controlled Trial

Description: While a significant amount of research illustrates the overall positive effects of therapists' general use of mindfulness, very few studies have addressed whether therapists' use of mindfulness translates to improved psychotherapy outcomes. The present study utilized a randomized-controlled design to test whether a brief mindfulness training program and pre-session mindfulness practice could have a positive impact on therapy; in particular, we hypothesized that mindfulness training and practice would improve ratings on therapeutic presence as rated by clients and therapists and session effectiveness as rated by clients. The present study also examined whether clients' subjective ratings of therapy outcome and therapists' theoretical orientation impacted outcome measures after therapists completed mindfulness training. The 20 participating therapists were randomly assigned to either the mindfulness training (MT) group or control group according to a computer generated randomization list. Results indicated that clients did not significantly improve on outcome measures after completing the mindfulness training. Clients' subjective ratings on a psychotherapy outcome measure did predict changes in their ratings of therapeutic presence. This finding may have important implications for future research examining client characteristics that may moderate the relationship between therapeutic presence and session outcomes. Limitations of the present study and future directions are discussed.
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Date: August 2016
Creator: Dunn, Rose

Attachment Theory Within Clinical Supervision: Application of the Conceptual to the Empirical

Description: Attachment theory has established itself as applicable to many types of relationships, encompassing caregiver-child, romantic, interpersonal, and psychotherapeutic interactions. This project sought to investigate the application of attachment theory to clinical supervision. Using suggestions put forth in previous work by Watkins and Riggs, this study examined the dyadic interactions inherent in both supervision and attachment. Using the working alliance as determination of the quality of supervision, attachment styles, leader-follower attachment, and attachment-based expectations were explored as predictors for supervisor-trainee dyad outcome in a training clinic for doctoral psychology students. The study design is longitudinal and prospective. Findings indicate the necessity of measurement of supervisory-specific attachment rather than general attachment, the stability of working alliance over time, and the large contribution of the leader-member attachment framework to the understanding of supervisory attachment. Implications include the importance of maintaining hierarchical, evaluative boundaries within supervisory relationship, consistent with a leader-follower dynamic.
Date: August 2015
Creator: Wrape, Elizabeth R.

The Effects of Attributional Styles on Perceptions of Severely Mentally Ill Offenders: a Study of Police Officer Decision-making

Description: Police officers are allowed considerable discretion within the criminal justice system in addressing illegal behaviors and interpersonal conflicts. Broadly, such resolutions fall into two categories: formal (e.g., arrest) and informal outcomes. Many of these interventions involve persons who have historically faced stigmatization, such as those who have mental disorders, criminal histories, or both (i.e., mentally disordered offenders). On this point, stigma generally includes discriminatory behavior toward the stigmatized person or group and can be substantially influenced by internal and external attributions. In addition, researchers have suggested that internal attributions lead to punishing behaviors and external attributions lead to helping behaviors. The current study examined attributions about offender behavior made by police officers in an effort to evaluate the effectiveness of Corrigan’s model. Specifically, this study investigated the effects of officer attributions on their immediate decisions in addressing intentionally ambiguous and minor offenses. Officers provided one of two vignettes of a hypothetical offender who was either mentally disordered or intoxicated and provided their anticipated resolution of the situation. Encouragingly, disposition decision differed by offender condition, with a substantially higher rate of arrests for the intoxicated offender (i.e., the external condition). Corrigan’s model was initially successful for both offender conditions, but was overall more successful for the mentally disordered condition. Results are discussed within the broader context of police policy, such as crisis intervention training, and identification of officers who could benefit from additional mental health trainings.
Date: August 2015
Creator: Steadham Jennifer A.

An Exploration of Parenting Styles’ Impact on the Development of Values

Description: The term emerging adulthood was coined during the 21st century to describe human development between adolescence and adulthood, during the ages of 18-25 (Arnett, 2000). During this stage, individuals can explore life areas. Emerging adults beginning college have a unique opportunity to form their identities and develop value systems (Hauser & Greene, 1991). With increasing autonomy, college students have possibilities for positive development and risk; values may be imperative in that differentiation. Furthermore, value systems are believed to play a major role in decision-making (Schwartz, 1992). Parents are influential in values development (Simpson, 2001; Steinberg & Sheffield Morris, 2001). During emerging adulthood, individuals have opportunities to notice discrepancies between their parents’ value system and society. Thus, emerging adults evaluate and choose personal values, which may or may not be similar to those of their parents, peers, or broader culture. Findings from this study indicate female caregivers’ parenting styles and closeness of the parent-child relationship have significant direct effects on the degree to which values are freely chosen. Specifically, Authoritarian parenting style (β = -.43 B = -1.70, p < .001), Authoritative parenting style (β = .12, B = .53, p < .001), and Emotional Support (β = .30, B = 6.80, p < .001) significantly predicted the degree to which values are intrinsically chosen. Only one significant relationship was found for male caregivers; there was a significant positive relationship between the authoritative parenting style and quality of the parent-child relationship (β = .64, B = .10, p < .001).
Date: August 2015
Creator: Mannon, Kristi A.

An Initial Validation of the Virtual Reality Stroop Task (VRST) in a Sample of OEF/OIF Veterans

Description: Currently, neuropsychologists rely on assessment instruments rooted in century old theory and technology to make evaluations of military personnel’s readiness to return-to-duty or return to their community. The present study sought to explore an alternative by evaluating the validity of a neuropsychological assessment presented within a virtual reality platform. The integration of a neuropsychological assessment into a cognitively and emotionally demanding virtual environment – reminiscent of a combat experience in Iraq – offers a more ecologically valid manner in which to evaluate the cognitive skills required in theater. U.S. military veterans’ (N = 50) performance on the Virtual Reality Stroop Task (VRST) was compared with performance on a paper-and-pencil, a computer adapted version of the Stroop task, and the subtests included in the Automated Neuropsychological Assessment Metrics-4 (ANAM4) TBI-MIL test battery. Results supported the validity of the VRST, indicating it demonstrates the typical Stroop effect pattern. The emotional salience of the VRST resulted in slowed reaction time compared to the ANAM Stroop. Further, the complex interference condition of the VRST offers opportunities for evaluation of exogenous and endogenous attentional processing. In the evaluation of threat, participants were noted to perform more accurately and more quickly in low threat versus high threat zones. Ancillary inquiries found no clinically meaningful findings regarding the role of deployment or post-concussive symptoms, and mixed findings regarding the effect of posttraumatic stress symptoms on neuropsychological performance among the three tested modalities.
Date: August 2015
Creator: Feil Johnson, Stephanie

The Role of Values in Psychotherapy Process and Outcome

Description: Given the importance of client characteristics and preferences, and therapist expertise to evidence-based practice in psychology, the current study sought to contribute to the literature concerning the role of values in psychotherapy. Personal values of clients and trainee therapists in 29 dyads were examined for relationships between client and therapist values and associations with working alliance and outcomes. Although previous literature in this area has suggested that successful therapy is characterized by an increase in similarity of client and therapist values, the current study did not replicate this finding. However, client perceptions of therapist values were found to be important to working alliance and outcome. Findings are discussed in terms of suggestions for future research as well as implications for clinical practice, including the importance of discussing expectations and preferences with clients.
Date: August 2015
Creator: Hogan, Lindsey R.

Therapist (Dis)Continuity, Therapeutic Relationship, and (Premature) Termination in a Psychology Training Clinic

Description: Premature termination is a substantial problem with significant adverse effects for clients, therapists, and treatment organizations. Unfortunately, it is also a relatively common phenomenon within mental healthcare settings. Across varied mental healthcare settings, rates of premature termination have reportedly ranged from 19.7 % to 40 %. Perhaps not surprisingly, the rate of premature termination in training clinics is substantially higher than in community mental health settings and private practice, with 75 to 80 % of clients ending treatment services prematurely. The purpose of this study was to explore the combined effect of intake therapist continuity or discontinuity, and quality of the therapeutic relationship on premature termination. Intake therapist continuity, measures of working alliance, and termination outcome from 524 clients at the University of North Texas Psychology Clinic were utilized for adults receiving individual therapy services between August 2008 and August 2013. Results of the study suggest intake therapist continuity did not predict subjective termination status (X2(2, n = 524) = 1.61, p = 0.45), nor did it predict change in symptomology status (X2(3, n = 453) = 1.14, p = 0.77). Additionally, working alliance predicted subjective termination status (X2(6, n = 212) = 21.17, p < 0.01), but not change in symptomology status (X2(9, n = 208) = 6.27, p = 0.71). The findings of the current study are discussed, as well as suggestions for further research related to client, therapist, treatment, and procedural variables and their impact on premature termination.
Date: August 2015
Creator: Al-Jabari, Rawya M.

Refining the Definition and Detection of Response Styles: An Initial Examination of Defensiveness and Feigning on the Personality Inventory for DSM-5

Description: The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM 5) presents an alternate model for personality disorders, blending categorical and dimensional assessment into a hybrid diagnostic procedure. Released concurrently, the Personality Inventory for DSM 5 (PID 5) measures the five domains and 25 facets that comprise the trait components of this hybrid model. However, the PID 5 currently lacks validity indicators to capture intentionally distorted responding. The current study investigated the susceptibility of the PID 5 to defensiveness and feigning among a large sample of undergraduate students. First, a detailed desirability analysis (N = 465) was conducted of the PID 5 items and response options. Responses from the study were used to create three desirability based validity scales. Next, in a between-subjects simulation design (N = 128), the effects of faking were explored at domain and facet levels. As a result, two symptom based validity scales were created. In a separate validation sample (N = 134), the five newly created validity scales were compared with the Paulhus Deception Scales for capturing both defensiveness and feigning. All five scales were evaluated for ruling out faking (i.e., identifying likely genuine respondents) and ruling in either defensiveness or feigning. In most areas, the symptom based scales were more successful than the desirability based scales, though all scales had difficulty identifying defensiveness. These initial results offer fertile ground for additional testing and development of PID 5 validity scales.
Date: May 2015
Creator: Fiduccia, Chelsea E.

Assessment of Cognitive Performance in Mixed Martial Arts Athletes

Description: Incidents and awareness of sports-related concussion have grown in recent years, attracting attention in both the academic and popular press. These concussions can lead to the rapid onset of neurological dysfunctions, as well as a variety of subjective symptoms. Although concussive sequelae are typically considered transient, debate remains about the persistent effects of repeated traumatic contact during sport participation. Although research has examined the complications of head trauma found in traditionally popular sports (e.g., football, soccer, boxing), little research has focused on the growing sport of mixed-martial-arts (MMA). Research specifically pertaining to MMA is in nascent stages, but to-date studies suggest that concussive injuries for this sport are prevalent and the training regimens of these athletes may place them at a high risk for concussive or subconcussive head traumas—as well as the accompanying neurological difficulties. The current study is the first to assess cognitive profiles of MMA athletes using an objective neuropsychological assessment instrument. Among 56 athletes (28 MMA athletes and 28 athletes not exposed to head traumas), no neuropsychological differences were found between groups of athletes. Additionally, no aspects of MMA training regimen shared a reliable relationship with neuropsychological performance or subjective concussive symptoms. This suggests non-professional participation in MMA may not typically pose a significant risk for cumulative concussions and associated adverse neuropsychological consequences.
Date: August 2014
Creator: Heath, Christopher J.

Complex PTSD As a Less Pejorative Label: Is the Proposed Diagnosis Less Stigmatizing Than BPD?

Description: Clinicians’ attitudes and behaviors toward patients with borderline personality disorder (BPD) are affected by the label’s stigma. Complex posttraumatic stress disorder (CPTSD) was proposed as a comprehensive and less stigmatizing diagnostic category for clients with BPD and a history of complex trauma. Given considerable similarities across both disorders’ diagnostic criteria, the CPTSD framework holds promise as a means to improve therapists’ attitudes towards clients with BPD and a history of complex trauma. However, this quality of CPTSD had not yet been examined empirically. Using vignettes in a between-subjects experimental design, this study investigated whether CPTSD is a less stigmatizing label than BPD for trauma survivors. Participants were 322 practicing psychotherapists. Evidence of BPD stigma was found, as was an affinity for CPTSD. Results generally supported CPTSD as a less stigmatizing label than BPD; therapists presented with a CPTSD-labeled vignette were somewhat less likely to blame the client for her symptomatic behavior and expected slightly stronger working alliance with the client than therapists presented with the BPD-labeled vignette. However, therapists’ agreement with the BPD diagnosis and theoretical orientation were found to be more salient than diagnostic label in affecting concepts related to the stigmatization of BPD clients. Additionally, familiarity with CPTSD was related to more favorable attitudes toward the client and her course of treatment. Regardless of CPTSD’s recognition as a formal diagnosis, education about the construct is widely recommended for therapists.
Date: August 2014
Creator: Miller, Susannah Catherine

Conceptualizing Quality of College Life

Description: The objectives of this study were to mathematically model the quality of college life (QCL) concept and to study the associations between attachment style, emotion regulation abilities, psychological needs fulfillment and QCL via structural equation modeling. Data was collected from 507 undergraduate students (men = 178, women = 329; age M = 21.78 years, SD = 4.37). This data was used to provide evidence for the validity of the College Adjustment Scales (CAS) as a measure of quality of college life. The CAS demonstrated good convergent validity with the World Health Organization Quality of Life measure (WHOQOL), Subjective Well-being and Psychological Well-being Scales. Results: Students who were insecurely attached were as likely to feel adequate in their academic and professional endeavors as securely attached students. However, insecurely attached students had lower QCL levels, lower fulfillment of psychological needs and more emotion regulation difficulties than securely attached students. The results also indicated that Anxious Attachment and Avoidant Attachment were positively and strongly associated. Nonetheless, Anxious Attachment and Avoidant Attachment affected QCL through different mechanism. Emotion regulation mediated the path between Anxious Attachment and QCL while the fulfillment of psychological needs mediated the path between Avoidant Attachment and QCL. The fulfillment of psychological needs also mediated the path between emotion regulation and QCL. The described pattern of results was found for three separate models representing 1) the student’s attachment with their romantic partner, 2) best friend and 3) mother. Additionally, the study’s findings suggest a change in primary attachment figure during the college years. Emotion regulation, the fulfillment of psychological needs and QCL were all affected more strongly by the student’s attachment style with their romantic partner and best friend compared to their attachment style with their parents.
Date: August 2014
Creator: Cardona, Laura A.

Development and Validation of a Measure of Religious and Spiritual Flexibility

Description: Religion and spirituality are vital aspects of many people’s lives both in the United States and across the globe. Although many constructs and measures exist to describe and assess the experience of pursuing the sacred, the complexity of religious and spiritual experience leads to mixed results in relation to well-being and psychopathological traits. However, in broad terms, the relationship appears positive. Over the past 30 years the need for more refined and useful approaches to the study of religious and spiritual behavior has been repeatedly acknowledged. Although authors wisely caution development of further measures without due cause, extant constructs and measures do not provide clear and consistent results for understanding the influence of one’s relationships to religion and spirituality upon behaviors of clinical interest. The present project drew from the functional contextual concept of psychological flexibility, which provides clarity to understanding the encouragement and maintenance of psychological well-being. A new construct of religious and psychological flexibility is explicated as a functional approach to understanding religious and spiritual behavior in a manner that is useful in research and clinical settings alike. The development and evaluation of the Measure of Religious and Spiritual Flexibility (MRSF) is described. The MRSF evidenced adequate internal consistency and test-retest reliability. Confirmatory factor analysis results were positive, but indicate further refinement. Analyses suggested good construct validity of the MRSF in relation to psychological well-being and psychopathology; construct validity in relation to extant constructs in the psychology of religion was varied. Implications and future directions are discussed.
Date: August 2014
Creator: Schmalz, Jonathan E.

Evaluating Preventative Interventions for Depression and Related Outcomes: a Meta-analysis

Description: The burden of depression requires modalities other than individual psychotherapy if we are to reduce it. Over the past two decades preventative programs for depression have been developed and refined for different populations. The six years since the last meta-analysis of preventative interventions—inclusive of all program types—have seen a number of new studies. The current study used the greater statistical power provided by these new studies to analyze moderators of, and sub-group differences in, the effect of these interventions on depression. Moreover, this meta-analysis synthesized effect sizes for outcomes other than, but often related to, depression (e.g., anxiety) and for within-group change scores with the goal of better informing program implementation and evaluation. Twenty-nine studies met inclusion criteria and indicated that small, robust effects exist for reductions in depression diagnoses and symptomatology. Significant effects were also observed for anxiety, general health, and social functioning.
Date: August 2014
Creator: González, David Andrés