Faculty and students at Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology have been actively involved in meeting the challenges presented by COVID-19, from offering telehealth services to their clients at the Parnes Clinic to discussing the important psychological effects that the pandemic has had on people’s psychological spirits and equilibrium.
Dr. Lata K. McGinn is professor of psychology, director of the Clinical Program and director of the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) Training Program for Anxiety and Depressive Disorders. On Thursday, July 9, she led a one-hour free webinar titled “Stabilizing Chaos: Fostering Psychological Resilience in the Wake of Adverse Events” as part of a series curated by the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT).
“The COVID-19 pandemic, the economic downturn and the racist killing of George Floyd have led to national crises and have impacted all of our lives in unprecedented ways,” said Dr. McGinn. “For many in our communities, including essential workers and those who have lost family and friends as a result of the virus, the risk for stress, grief and trauma exposure is high.” The webinar, explained Dr. McGinn, offered practical strategies rooted in Psychological First Aid (PFA), an evidence-based approach for fostering resilience, helping people effectively cope in the aftermath of adverse events, including trauma, and preventing the development of pathological symptoms. The webinar also described maladaptive coping that increased the chances of developing pathological symptoms and presented CBT strategies that prevent onset of symptoms and help individuals adaptively cope with chronic stress.
“I wanted my webinar to help clinicians feel prepared to navigate the increase in chronic stress, sadness, and trauma reactions that their clients may soon be, or already are, experiencing,” she pointed out. “Knowing about chronic stress, sadness, and trauma reactions, common trauma reactions, risk and resilience factors, the components of PFA and how to apply PFA and other CBT principles during these crises will help them maintain their own balance so that they can serve their patients and colleagues.”
Dr. Tracy Prout, associate professor in the School-Clinical Child Psychology Doctoral Program, is also the Communications and Publications Committee Chair for the Society for the Exploration of Psychotherapy Integration (SEPI) and has been organizing all of the webinars in their year-long series. “The last one was on telepsychotherapy during COVID-19,” she noted, “and the first webinar was on a method of training in psychotherapy called ‘deliberate practice.’ We have 16 more webinars planned.”
The next one in the series happened on Monday, July 13, when Dr. Paul Wachtel and Dr. Marvin Goldfried, co-founders of SEPI, gave “An Overview of Psychotherapy Integration: History and Current Issues,” in a talk moderated by Dr. Prout and Dr. Alexandre Vaz, a clinician teacher and psychotherapy researcher at ISPA – University Institute in Lisbon, Portugal.
“As moderator, I wanted to ask about what research questions Drs. Goldfried and Wachtel see as essential for the future of psychotherapy integration as well as ask them about their perspectives on training students in an integrative perspective from the beginning versus developing their skills in specific modalities first.”
Dr. Prout believes that psychotherapy integration has a significant role to play because “as therapists, we need to adapt and be flexible in how we care for patients and be willing to learn from divergent perspectives and to provide treatment that best meets the needs, values, and goals of the patient. These are skills that are much needed in nearly every realm of life today, especially given the stressful circumstances in which we, as therapists, find ourselves.”