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This community blog is written by the current OPA Board of Directors' President.

 

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President's Message: December 2019

Posted By Erich Merkle, PhD, EdS, NCSP - OPA President, Thursday, December 19, 2019

December has arrived and with it, hopefully ample holiday cheer as we all prepare to celebrate with family, faith, and friends towards the forthcoming New Year. Your Ohio Psychological Association Board of Directors continue their work on behalf of the Association during the yuletide season and in hopes that Santa (or their preferred nocturnal gift bearer) might reward our leaders with stockings full of treats in celebration of their volunteer efforts.

As we appreciate in the behavioral sciences, prescription opioid use is a major risk factor for developing opioid use disorder, and initiatives underway in both Ohio and across the country have begun reducing opioid prescribing. However, rates of prescription opioid use in the U.S. are still two to five times higher than in most other developed countries, and the CDC reports that Ohioans are being prescribed opioids at a higher rate than the U.S. average. OPA, in partnership with the American Psychological Association, will be hosting a first-ever Ohio Opioid Summit, shared across two days: January 23, 2020 and January 24, 2020. The January 23 event will be a shared forum with Federal, State, and Local policymakers, national pain management experts, along with APA and OPA leadership to review evidence-based psychological pain management interventions and their potential role in patient care, and discussion of policies affecting access to these services. The next day, January 24, 2020, OPA will be hosting a daylong Psychological Pain Management Training that will feature nationally recognized experts who will provide participants with a strong understanding of the biopsychosocial nature of pain and the use of psychological and behavioral approaches to addressing chronic pain in adult populations. You can learn more about both events through the OPA website, and we look forward to seeing you there.

Over the past weekend, your OPA Board of Directors also convened for its December meeting. We are excited to announce a new focus for the former OPA Colleague Assistance Program with a new name, the OPA Prevention and Wellness Program. This group of dedicated OPA colleagues offers the opportunity to support OPA members in a diversity of needs, ranging from consultation to linkage to our own psychological services to ensure we are functioning at our best while protecting the interests of our clients and patients. Our appreciation to the exceptional Prevention and Wellness Program Committee for their passionate efforts to advance this resource for our members. You can learn more by visiting the OPA website.

Ever wonder how you can support the Foundation for Psychology in Ohio (PSYOHIO) while transacting many of the online activities so many of us already do, especially during the fleeting days of holiday shopping? Consider linking your Amazon account to the Amazon Smile program, an effort by Amazon.com to allow its customers to support the organizations and causes that mean the most to them. As a part of this program, customers can select their preferred non-profit or charity, which Amazon.com will donate .5% of their eligible purchases. PSYOHIO’s mission is to promote healthy communities throughout Ohio. We do this by supporting educational programs that increase access to and awareness of psychology; and philanthropic efforts and initiatives that promote psychology. The Foundation for Psychology in Ohio envisions a day when “good health” in Ohio is synonymous with “good psychological health” for all Ohioans. You can learn more at the Shop…Save…Support with Amazon Smile at https://ohpsych.org/news/480655/Shop-Save-Support-with-AmazonSmile-Program.htm.

Calling all students…Michael Sullivan Diversity Scholarship applications are now being accepted! The Michael Sullivan Diversity Scholarship Fund was created to provide financial assistance to support graduate student research projects in honor of Dr. Sullivan’s work with American Psychological Association, State, Provincial, and Territorial Psychological Associations and his commitment to diversity and inclusion. The deadline for the 2020 award is January 7, 2020. Proposals must be submitted electronically by 4:30pm (eastern) on Tuesday, January 7, 2020. Proposals must be in Microsoft Word or PDF format as described on the OPA website (https://ohpsych.org/page/MichaelSullivanDivSc). For more information or to submit proposals, please contact OPA’s CEO, Mr. Michael Ranney at mranney@ohpsych.org.

Finally, as an early Save the Date, our Diversity Committee will be hosting the 2020 Multicultural Conference, Saturday, November 14, 2020 at the Quest Conference Center. Dr. Josephine Ridley will share an entire day with attendees as she emphases culturally responsive psychological practice. Stay tuned for more information! 

On behalf of all of us at OPA, please accept our best wishes for a peaceful and joyous holiday season. We look forward to starting a new year in 2020 and working on behalf of each of our members to promote Ohio psychology. As always, do feel welcome to contact me if I might offer anything to support you.

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President's Message: November 2019

Posted By Erich Merkle, PhD, EdS, NCSP - OPA President, Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Thanksgiving is a reflective and celebratory holiday season where we are afforded opportunities to retrospectively acknowledge the prior year for all the joys, opportunities, bounties, and (hopefully) few trials, life has afforded. For many of those we serve though, Thanksgiving is also a time of year that serves as a distressing reflection of numerous challenges and social disparities between those who have and those who do not. As we celebrate with our families and friends alike, please do remember to take a moment to share in the appreciation of what you have to celebrate while continuously committing ourselves to serving those who do not. In doing so, I would be remiss if I failed to celebrate our shared work in psychology as part of what affords me so much, including the humbling opportunity to serve each of you as our Association president in remainder of this membership year.

Over the past week, your Board of Directors reconvened for its November Board meeting where we transact the affairs of the Association. OPA remains financially strong through the generous support of our members and fantastic attendance at OPA’s Annual Convention. Yet, we need to redouble our efforts towards improving our Association’s standalone workshops as an important offering in our professional development product line, accessed by many in the mental and behavioral health arenas. Our OPA membership base represents the premier body of Ohio psychologists who have advanced training and extensive content to share with our constituents. If you are interested in sharing your background and specialty area knowledge, please reach out to OPA’s Director of Education and Communication, Karen Hardin (khardin@ohpsych.org) to learn how to offer a standalone workshop in the coming year.

Speaking of our Annual Convention, we had over 40 outstanding proposals submitted for the 2020 Annual OPA Convention! With the licensure biennium arriving in a few weeks, please plan on attending next April 23-25, 2020 at the Quest Conference Center, where you can access everything in the realm of professional development you need to renew your license, including ethics and multicultural content matter. 

On January 23-24, 2020, OPA will be hosting a shared APA/OPA Opioid Pain Management program, which will be attended by many of the APA executives and should be both a wonderful opportunity to learn more about the challenges of treating opioid related issues while simultaneously showcasing Ohio’s leadership in this domain. Be sure to watch your email and the OPA webpage for more information as we close in on this exciting training and professional networking experience. 

Finally, I would like to acknowledge the commitment our Colleague Assistance Program has in serving OPA members by adopting a new name, the OPA Prevention and Wellness Program! Remember, this program of psychologists serving psychologists is one of the benefits you can access as an OPA member and helps to distinguish our Association in its care for its membership in times of need or wellness alike.

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President's Message: October 2019

Posted By Erich Merkle, PhD, EdS, NCSP - OPA President, Thursday, October 17, 2019

October is here, and at least in Ohio, means that the days are getting darker and shorter, leaves are turning their vibrant hues before their deciduous flora to transition into a winter slumber, and our thoughts start turning towards spooky hobgoblins as we approach Halloween. Children may be excited for the anticipatory sugary richness of trick-or-treating while some adults equally celebrate the arrival of Oktoberfest and its Bacchanalian array of beverages and foodie indulgences.

Fall is also a time of celebrations in the Ohio Psychological Association. During this past week, members of your Board of Directors held its October Board meeting and commemorated our future leadership pipeline members in the Leadership Development Academy (LDA). This year, 9 LDA fellows participated in a 10-month leadership experience, overseen by a cohort of OPA faculty, representing a diverse collection of our Association’s preeminent leaders, who met with these fellows on a regular basis towards development of a capstone project that supports Ohio psychology. Several of these LDA fellows shared their remarkable projects during the Board meeting, with topics ranging from substance use disorders, eye-opening Ohio psychological practitioner demographics, to development of a mentorship program for state and regional psychological associations among so many others. OPA envisions these LDA experiences to offer value to our membership towards cultivating leadership opportunities while helping us identify future Association leaders. Our next LDA cohort will be beginning in Fall 2020, and we cordially invite you to contact Dr. Wanda McEntyre, Dr. Jim Broyles, or Dr. Peg Mosher if you would like to become involved in this symbiotic and remarkable leadership exchange opportunity!

On October 26, 2019, OPA will be hosting its annual Fall Virtual Assembly, lead by President-Elect, Dr. Cynthia VanKeuren. The Annual Assemblies, which occur during fall and spring of each year, are a part of the Association’s new governance model we began several years ago. These assemblies are opportunities for you to discuss current challenges in psychological practice while informing your OPA leadership about topical trajectories we should pursue. This year’s Fall Assembly will focus on “Despair Deaths,” recognizing the societal and psychopolitical impacts of mass violence, suicidality, and trajectory so many of our clients and patients have experienced. Please accept this outreach as my warm welcome to have you join us for a dynamic and didactic professional experience this coming October 26. You can learn more about registering on the OPA website.

Finally, in reviewing the past year of fiscal and Association activities, we discovered there has been a shortage of standalone workshops offered through our Association’s professional development programming compared to prior years. We know our OPA membership represents a diverse and incredibly talented pool of myriad practice specialties, with so many of our members able to contribute outstanding learning opportunities for all of us. As the licensure renewal biennium comes upon us in 2020, we are hopeful to see many new workshop opportunities come to be offered. As someone who has presented in many of these workshops, I can tell you the process is very simple to propose such a workshop through our Association’s Education Committee, which carefully guides your proposal into a successfully scheduled workshop. From there, our dutiful OPA professional staff, led by Karen Hardin, organizes all of the logistics in consultation with you, allowing you to simply focus on preparing and delivering the training experience. If you would like to learn more about proposing and offering a future standalone workshop, please contact Karen Hardin in the OPA office at khardin@ohpsych.org. I look forward to learning from many of you in the coming year’s time.

As always, please do feel welcome to reach out to me if you have any comments, questions, or concerns. I continue to look forward to hearing from our members and offering any support I can throughout my presidential year.

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President's Message: September 2019

Posted By Erich Merkle, PhD, EdS, NCSP - OPA President, Thursday, September 26, 2019

With both K-12 and higher education returning to another academic year, the days starting to lose previous midsummer sunshine, and the ever-joyous return to football season, fall appears to have officially come upon us. This is an opportunity as our outside flora begins to transition into the quiescence of the looming winter months to think about preparing ourselves for important professional fall preparatory tasks too – namely, renewing your annual OPA membership. Each year, your generous membership helps to fund the overall operations of our Association, its staff, and the countless benefits offered to its members. In addition, with two legislative bills representing prescriptive authority for psychology and the inter-state PsyPACT practice compact needing our advocacy, your membership funding is working harder than ever for Ohio psychology. If you have already renewed your OPA, thank you kindly for your support and welcome to the new 2019-20 membership cycle! If not, here is your not-so-subtle reminder to support your Ohio Psychological Association and either become or renew your membership.

Aside from starting a new membership year, your OPA Board of Directors have been assiduously working on behalf of you and leading the Association for another dynamic year. On Friday, September 13 and Saturday, September 14, 2019, the OPA Board of Directors convened for their annual day and half Leadership Retreat. Specific content areas included orienting the Association’s leadership teams towards their efforts on each foci of the Strategic Plan, creating specific action plans to advance the Plan over the coming year, and engaging in team building to help the leadership further their professional relationships towards transacting the affairs of the Association. This year’s Retreat was further benefited through the participation of Dr. Steve Gravenkemper, an organizational psychologist who recently relocated from “that state up north,” and whose efforts facilitated the Board to learn about aspects of a “Psychologically Healthy” Board and Association. At the conclusion of the Retreat, each Board member had gained further clarity on their respective leadership expectations, a decisive action plan, and considerable knowledge about navigating the challenging dualities of Association leadership and everything else our Association leaders have within their spheres of life.

Several days after the OPA Annual Retreat, OPA hosted its annual Legislative Day at the State Capitol in Columbus, OH. While usually held in the spring, this year the Legislative Day was moved to the fall and September 18, 2019 to better match the legislative activity cycles and be ahead of their efforts. This year’s participants were able to receive professional development from Dr. Amber Hewitt, a counseling psychologist and manager of advocacy for a national children’s healthcare system, on how to engage in legislative grassroots advocacy and lobbying, an essential but sometimes misunderstood part of our psychology work. From there, participants met with their state representatives to discuss our Association’s legislative platform for the coming year, particularly around RxP and PsyPACT. The day concluded with a reception in the Capitol to convene with Ohio’s lawmakers and support staff in a relaxed atmosphere.

Finally, as your new OPA President, I would be remiss if I did not offer a lens into my leadership priorities for the coming year. As a school psychologist who has been in social service and psychologist leadership for 20 years, becoming your Association president has been a humbling and outstanding learning experience for me to support each of you and our Association. Over the coming year, I am striving to navigate three priorities throughout my leadership tenure: (1) Facilitate action on the Association’s Strategic Plan elements; (2) Address and resolve barriers to successful implementation of the Plan’s workflow; and (3), Promote interconnectivity and shared interdisciplinary collaboration across Ohio’s social and mental/behavioral health entities, which further aligns with our Strategic Plan. If I can make fractional inroads to each of these, I will conclude my presidential term as having some modicum of success.

Until then, please accept our best wishes for a new wonderful start of fall and we look forward to supporting each of you as our membership. As always, I remain at your service and welcome hearing from you if you have thoughts, ideas, or actionable items how to improve your OPA membership experience.

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President's Message: June 2019

Posted By Katharine Hahn Oh, PhD - OPA President, Tuesday, September 3, 2019

We are taught that self-care is an ethical responsibility, but recently the idea of “community care” has become popular. What does it mean to care for each other as colleagues to ensure that we are maintaining our own well-being as we help our clients? In my training with feminist psychologist Dr. Pamela Remer, we were taught to critique notions that are overly individualistic or de-contextualized, and self-care may be one of these. If self-care is meant to help us maintain our well-being, it may be inadequate at times. When we have severe or acute health concerns, have intense care giving roles, or experience grief or depression, self-care is not enough. Rather, we need others to support us. 

Johnson et al. suggest that we develop “competency constellations” to help us stay accountable and well. Their idea is that competency can be reduced at different times throughout our careers as we face health problems, overwhelming stressors, or fail to maintain up-to-date knowledge. If we accept this as normal, then we can talk openly with trusted others about our concerns and let them help us to (a) maintain our competency through additional learning, treatment, or expert support, or (b) know when to take a break from our practice for more intensive treatment. 

I have a few people who are part of my own constellation. Across my professional organizations, these are people I call to ask about challenges I’m facing for the first time. As I’ve been leading the OPA Board this year, I’ve asked for feedback about how I’m doing as a leader. At work where I direct our Counseling Center, I get advice and feedback from trusted colleagues and my staff to help improve my work. In the Counseling Center, we recently read Robin DiAngelo’s article on White Fragility, discussed it among White staff and then all together as a diverse group. We agreed to call each other out when we hear a racial microaggression so that we can each improve our own work toward dismantling racism. So in this way we are pushing and supporting each other to enhance our competencies with implicit bias. 

Finally, I have had the privilege to have supervisors who helped me think about my own mental health and how it can be managed while helping others. During my doctoral program, my depression kept me from going to my practicum site a few times: if I couldn’t stop crying to get ready, I didn’t go. With treatment, I was able to work every day and be present with clients. My supervisors helped me explore how the depression impacted my work and how I could increase my treatment to recover from it. After multiple major depressive episodes my psychiatrist recommended staying on medication indefinitely, and colleagues helped me adjust to this reality. Now I see a therapist every two weeks and continue medication. I’ve been depression-free for four years, the longest in my adult life! As I’ve supervised practicum counselors and interns over the years, a number of them have let me know about their own depression or anxiety symptoms. We are not immune to mental health concerns because we practice in the field, but we can support each other and make it okay to talk about. 

OPA is an organization that cares about us as people. The Colleague Assistance Program is one way to connect with others for support. As I’ve been involved with OPA, I’ve met mentors and friends who are part of my trusted community. Whether your community is with colleagues or family and friends, I hope you have a constellation of people looking out for you as you do the important work of healing, teaching, consulting, or researching. 

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