MSP Spring Research

MSP faculty & student research teams were unable to present their work as planned this spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In May, Dustin Shepler, PhD, Core Faculty and research team lead, reached out to the community to offer an opportunity to share research that was intended for spring conference season. Below are the responses.

Authors and Co-authors:

Nadeen Majeed (PsyD 1), Sierra Gillis (PsyD 1), Kaitlin Hamacher (PsyD 1), Kevin Johnson, PsyD

Title of Poster/Presentation:

Examining Mental Healthcare Utilization in Adults with Suicidal Ideation

What conference was the poster/presentation accepted to?

Midwestern Psychological Association

Abstract:

This study examines the mental healthcare utilization in adults with suicidal ideation. Significant findings have implications for clinical practice to better understand where clients are reaching out for treatment after thinking about, planning, or attempting suicide. Directions for future research are considered.

Nadeen Majeed (PsyD 1), Sierra Gillis (PsyD 1), Kaitlin Hamacher (PsyD 1), Kevin Johnson, PsyD

Authors & Co-authors:

Kevin Johnson, PsyD, Dustin Shepler, PhD, Bryan Gibson, PhD, and Ryan Blackstock, PsyD

Title of Poster/Presentation:

Video Games, Virtual Reality, and Aggression

What conference was the poster/presentation accepted to?

Midwest Psychological Association 

Abstract:

Prior research indicates that playing violent video games leads to short-term, aggressive behavior by the player. This poster highlights a dissertation aimed at examining this phenomenon with the inclusion of using virtual reality to study the effects of violent video games on aggression.

Authors and Co-authors:

Lauren Dushane (MA) and Athaliah Ingram (MA)

Title of Poster/Presentation:

Using Various Holistic Interventions to Improve Low Self-Esteem

What conference was the poster/presentation accepted to?

Sixth Annual Research Symposium by Psi Chi

Abstract:

There have been many studies showing how various interventions have been used to help those struggling with low self-esteem. From traditional therapeutic practices to psychotropic medications, these common interventions have been used to address the pervasive issue of low self-esteem as well as any potential causes (i.e. past trauma, depression, etc.). In recent years, there has been an increased shift of focus away from these traditional means and towards more holistic approaches. In terms of medicine, and for our purpose here, holistic interventions are defined by their treatment of the whole individual, with an emphasis placed on both mental and social factors, instead of just treating the presenting symptoms. Here, we explore the success of holistic interventions, such as the utilization of music, art, exercise, etc. in treating low self-esteem. We also examine the powerful implications of these methods as tools for helping professionals, especially when coupled with traditional approaches.

Authors and Co-authors:

Johanna Soet Buzolits, PhD, Ann Abbey, MA (’19), Sierra Gillis (PsyD 1), Kate Johnson (PsyD 1), Nadeen Majeed (PsyD 1), Hashim Malik (PsyD 1),  Vinnie Mangiapane (MA), Alexa Resetar (MA)

Title of Poster/Presentation:

Trauma Stewardship: How Do We Navigate our Responses to Others’ Suffering?

What conference was the poster/presentation accepted to?

13th Annual Society for Humanistic Psychology Conference (APA Division 32)

Abstract:

In the new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5), the APA outlines the impact of exposure to trauma during the course of one’s work. Specifically, it states that: “Repeated or extreme indirect exposure to aversive details of the event(s), usually in the course of professional duties (e.g., first responders)” may create trauma symptoms (APA, 2013). Since that time, issues of vicarious trauma, compassion fatigue, and secondary trauma have been increasingly focused on both in epidemiologic research as well as exploring interventions for those in high exposure professions. For psychologists, this exposure is evident in our daily work – clinical, teaching or research – as our primary focus is the alleviation of human suffering. Additionally, the idea of vicarious resilience, or identifying the benefits and growth that comes from working with other’s pain has become an important aspect to understanding of the complex dynamics of working with suffering. Trauma Stewardship is an approach developed by Lipsky and Burk (2009) in a book of the same name. Lipsky and Burk define trauma stewardship as: “A daily practice through which individuals, organizations and societies tend to the hardship, pain, or trauma experienced by humans, other living beings, or our planet itself.” (p. 11) In addition, the authors describe what they call Trauma Exposure Response which details the many manifestations of vicarious trauma, and then explore ways that professionals who are exposed to suffering can ameliorate those impacts and focus on their own wellness while helping others.

Authors and Co-authors

Dustin Shepler, PhD, Jared Boot (PsyD 1), Kristine Vichinsky (PsyD 2), Logan Chappell (PsyD 1), Chris Bernardo (MA)

Title of Poster/Presentation

Predicting Intimacy: Differences and Similarities Across Gender and Sexual Orientation

What conference was the poster/presentation accepted to?

Midwestern Psychological Association

Abstract:

The relationship between gender and intimacy is described inconsistently in current literature. Some research indicates factors that contribute to intimacy, such as emotion work, are minimally impacted by gender (Cura et al., 2015), while others report factors such as empathic responding lead to feelings of intimacy that differ little by gender (Mitchell et al., 2008). Many studies have focused on heterosexual couples (Graham et al., 2011), leaving open possibility for different factors predicting intimacy in gay men and lesbian women. Here, we examine how factors may differentially predict intimacy based on gender and sexual orientation

Dustin Shepler, PhD, Jared Boot (PsyD 1), Kristine Vichinsky (PsyD 2), Logan Chappell (PsyD 1), Chris Bernardo (MA)

Author:

Vincent Mangiapane (MA)

Title of Poster/Presentation

Grief: The Loss of a Child

What conference was the poster/presentation accepted to?

Sixth Annual Mental Health Research Symposium

Abstract:

This literature review explores the grief reactions of mothers, fathers, and surviving siblings in response to the loss of a child in their immediate families. Current social science research has neglected the topic of grieving parents, and this lack of attention to this population has negatively impacted the broader understanding of the death of a child. The majority of current grief research evaluates death in the elderly, at the end of life, and responses to such losses. Understanding how the death of a child impacts familial and social development could allow for a more informed understanding for professionals, families, and the general public. Having a widened understanding on the impact of the death of a child could lead to new forms of treatment, as well as specific therapeutic interventions. Grieving a child is explored to alleviate parental grief, from a clinical standpoint, in attempt to reduce distressing symptomology. Prevalent coping mechanisms are identified to highlight common trends in the ways in which parents and families respond to their loss.

Authors and Co-authors:

Kevin Keenan, PhD; Hashim Malick (PsyD 1)

Title of Panel:

Not laughing at oppression and injustice: A case study using the film Joker to examine the role of empathy and oppression on human being and becoming.

What conference was the poster/presentation accepted to?

13th Annual Society for Humanistic Psychology Conference (APA Division 32)

Abstract:

The film Joker draws us into the world of Arthur Fleck who is trying to bring happiness into the lives of others in an effort to remedy his own bleak and painful experience. As Arthur’s story unfolds we see him receiving an unrelenting series of emotional and physical injuries until he ultimately breaks. And, as within so without, the story of Arthur’s becoming Joker plays out against a social backdrop of a growing revolt against an oppressive and unjust society. Arthur’s development from a wounded child through his malevolent transformation into “Joker” is explored using the empathic sensibilities developed by the Humanistic and Psychoanalytic psychotherapies to explore the experience of oppression at personal, interpersonal, institutional and cultural levels. Evidence-based empathic strategies in the Humanistic and Psychoanalytic traditions will be explored for addressing oppression and its internalization. An understanding of empathy as necessarily rooted in countertransference will be developed. The empathic challenges of working with either Arthur or Joker will be discussed.

Authors and Co-authors:

Mackenzie Glaros (PsyD 2), Chris Corbin (PsyD 2), Lauren Herline (PsyD 2)

Title of Poster/Presentation

Sleep: Quality over Quantity

What conference was the poster/presentation accepted to?

Midwestern Psychological Association

Abstract:

Purpose: A majority of health professionals within the United States maintain the belief that that sleep quality and duration are citricial components for proper daily functioning and emotional well-being (CDC, 2016). However, researchers have differing opinions about what factors influence people’s sleep quantity and quality, such as mood, affect, and overall physical health (Bassett et al., 2015; Liu, 2013). We hypothesized that increased negative mood symptoms would predict lower sleep quality and lower sleep quantity; and decreased overall physical health would predict lower sleep quality and sleep quantity. Procedure: This study utilized data from The Health and Relationships Project, United States, 2014-2015 (Umberson, 2019). The current study includes the sums of 740 individual’s responses to a web-based survey over the course of ten days. Demographics included age, race/ethnicity, and gender. Items included questions surrounding affect and mood, overall physical health, sleep quality, and sleep quantity. Participants included 323 married men and 417 married women. Participants mostly identified as White (86%) and ranged in age from 35 to 65 years-old (M=48.22 years-old, SD=8.44). Results: Two multiple regression analyses were conducted to evaluate the predictors of sleep quality versus sleep quantity. The first regression indicated that feelings of frustration, being upset, and overall physical health were significant predictors of sleep quality; feelings of calm, worry, anger, and happiness were not (R2=.488, F(7,739)=99.72, p<.000). A second regression analysis indicated that only overall physical health predicted sleep quantity (R2=.029, F(7,732)=3.108, p=.003). These findings suggest that overall physical health predicts both sleep quality and quantity. Affect and mood variables were only significant predictors for sleep quality. Conclusions: The results contribute to previous research suggesting that mood and affect have a greater influence on sleep quality compared to sleep quantity, while overall physical health impacts both sleep quality and sleep quantity. Clinically, these findings suggest that when talking with clients about sleep hygiene, improvement is likely to be greater when focused on improving sleep quality over quantity while also exploring the impact of physical health on sleep. Additionally, these results help to identify specific moods (i.e. frustration and upset) that may impact client’s sleep quality, which can exacerbate psychological distress. Identifying these moods helps to guide therapeutic treatment planning for clients struggling with sleep. Further research is needed to understand how other physical health symptoms may affect sleep quantity versus sleep quality.

Authors and Co-authors:

Mackenzie Glaros (PsyD 2), Holly Spencer (PsyD 2), Christine Sebastian (PsyD 2)

Title of Poster/Presentation:

Development of a Comprehensive Death Attitude Scale

What conference was the poster/presentation accepted to?

Midwestern Psychological Association

Abstract:

Purpose: Historically, scales assessing death tended to surround only the maladaptive aspects; such as death anxiety (Russac et al., 2007), rumination (Zia & Aslam, 2018), and death distress dimensions (Mohammadzahed et al., 2018). We proposed that death attitudes encompass both adaptive and maladaptive variables, such as acceptance and fear. This scale may help to identify how death may or may not be causing a person to feel distress. These attitudes could then potentially cause disordered thinking that can lead to anxiety, depression, rumination, and/or obsession. Procedure: Data from 217 individuals were collected with online surveys through links posted on Facebook. Surveys included demographic items and questions surrounding death anxiety, depression, obsession/rumination, acceptance, spirituality, coping, and the role of love in death attitudes. Participants included 52 men, 140 women, and 2 others who identified as Christian (n=126), agnostic (n=19), Jewish (n=2), Muslim (n=3), Buddhist (n=3), unaffiliated (n=48), B’hai (n=1), athiest (n=6), prefer not to answer (n=4), and other (n=5). Participants mostly identified as White (80%) and heterosexual (91%) and ranged in age from 18 to 82 years-old (M=39.7 years-old, SD=14.2). Results: The exploratory factor analysis was on 41 items using principal-axis factoring procedures. The factor analysis yielded 11 possible factors, with five factors having more than two items each. This five-factor solution accounted for 48% of the total variance with a total of 27 questions. The first factor (distress over death) accounted for 24% of the variance (eigenvalue = 9.95), consisted of 8 items, and had a cronbach’s alpha of .86. The other four factors (acceptance of death, spiritual comfort, spiritual distress, and increased vulnerability about death) had cronbach’s alphas ranging from .78 to .70. Conclusions: Results indicate that death attitudes encompass both adaptive and maladaptive perspectives. This scale can be useful in treatment planning for patients in palliative care, working with medical professionals who are exposed to death, assessing death attitudes in grieving clients, and in treatment planning with individuals exposed to terrorism, traumatic death of others, and life-threatening trauma. Most literature focuses on various forms of death anxiety (Neimer et al., 2000). In conclusion, the results in the present study demonstrate that both negative and positive death attitudes exist and a comprehensive assessment of the full spectrum of death attitudes is necessary for understanding reactions and treatment planning to death.

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