September 30, 2014

How Career Dreams are Born: Study shows how to convince those with low self-confidence to pursue their career choice

What do you think of this article by Jeff Grabmeier? Published on September 29, 2014 "COLUMBUS, Ohio – A new study shows just what it takes to convince a person that she is qualified to achieve the career of her dreams. Researchers found that it’s not enough to tell people they have the skills or the grades to make their goal a reality. Instead, many people need a more vivid and detailed description of just how pursuing their dream career will help make them successful. This is especially important for people who have the skills and potential to pursue a particular career, but lack the self-confidence, said Patrick Carroll, author of the study and associate professor of psychology at The Ohio State University’s Lima campus. Students who have chronic self-doubt may need an extra boost to pursue the dreams they are certainly able to achieve,” Carroll said. Dr. Patrick J. Carroll Patrick Carroll “This study finds that what they really need is a vivid picture of what will happen if they succeed.” The study was published online this week in the journal Basic and Applied Social Psychology. The study involved 67 undergraduate business and psychology students at Ohio State. The students signed up to meet with a career adviser to learn about a supposedly new master’s degree program in business psychology that would train them for “high-paying consulting positions as business psychologists.” However, the program didn’t actually exist. The goal was to get the students interested in the program, and see how they reacted when faced with varying levels of validation to their new dreams of becoming a business psychologist. (The researchers followed a protocol to help students who may have been disappointed that there wasn’t a real program. More on that below.) All the students read a brochure about the program and then filled out several questionnaires. They were asked to rate their self-confidence that they could become a business psychologist, whether they were excited about the possibility of becoming a business psychologist, whether they thought they could be admitted to the business psychology program and whether they intended to apply. They also reported their overall GPA. The students were then separated into four groups. Students in the control group were given an information sheet indicating no GPA requirement for the program. The other three groups were given sheets indicating the GPA requirement was .10 below whatever they had listed as their own GPA. In one of these groups, the “career adviser” –- who actually worked with the researchers -- simply pointed out that the students’ GPA was higher than the requirement. In another group, the validation was raised slightly: The adviser told the participants that they were exactly what the program was looking for and that it was unlikely they would be rejected if they applied. The last group received the strongest validation to their hopes of becoming a business psychologist: They were also told they were qualified and were unlikely to be rejected if they applied. But the adviser added that it was likely that the student would be accepted with full funding and excel in the program and would graduate with numerous job offers in business psychology. Afterward, the participants once again filled out forms asking how confident and excited they were about becoming a business psychologist and whether they expected they would be admitted. In addition, the students were given the opportunity to actually apply to the program. The results were striking. The students in the control group and those who were simply told their GPA exceeded the program requirements didn’t embrace the possible new goal of becoming a business psychologist. These participants did not show any elevations in self-confidence related to becoming a business psychologist and were unlikely to apply to the program or even ask for more information. Even when students learn that they exceed some external admissions requirement to become a business psychologist, they still have to decide whether that means they should pursue that career dream instead of any others,” Carroll said. “They may need more validation than that to pursue this career goal.” However, when the adviser clearly detailed the vivid prospect of success, the students were willing to embrace the pursuit of that new business psychology goal. Specifically, students given the most vivid validation had higher levels of self-confidence immediately after meeting with the adviser and were more likely to actually apply to the business psychology program. “Self-confidence played a key role here. Students felt more confident that they could really be successful as a business psychologist when they received a detailed picture from their adviser,” Carroll said. Following the study, the researchers thoroughly debriefed all participants on why it was necessary to use deception to study how students, like them, naturally respond to social validation to pursue new career goals. In addition, researchers provided all participants with detailed information on career counseling services that they could utilize on campus for help in making future career choices. This extensive debriefing was designed to remove any adverse influence of the study feedback on participants before they left, Carroll said. After the purpose of the study was explained to them, many participants were enthusiastic about the research and its relevance in revealing how others can shape their own career decisions, he said. Carroll said he sees the relevance of this research nearly every day, as students seek his input about career plans or the possibility of graduate school. “Sometimes students have the grades, the motivation and the ability but simply lack the necessary self-confidence to whole-heartedly invest in the pursuit of a realistic new goal,” he said. “This work shows how parents, teachers and counselors can steer students into the right direction to achieve their dreams.” The findings are especially relevant now as students prepare for an uncertain job market and they, along with their teachers and guidance counselors, try to find the best career choices for them. “Educators are trying to lead students to the most realistic career options,” Carroll said. “This research is important to understanding how students make revisions in their career goals and decide which career possibilities they should embrace.” This research was supported by a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health." For more informatio0n on mental health and social work topics, please visit Aspira Continuing Education and LPC Continuing Education

September 24, 2014

To curb violent tendencies, start young Working with aggressive children prevents some from becoming violent, criminal adults

What do you think of this article?
DURHAM, N.C. -- Aggressive children are less likely to become violent criminals or psychiatrically troubled adults if they receive early intervention, says a new study based on more than two decades of research. "These findings from researchers at Duke, Pennsylvania State and Vanderbilt universities and the University of Washington are based on the Fast Track Project, a multi-faceted program that is one of the largest violence-prevention trials ever funded by the federal government. Beginning in 1991, the researchers screened nearly 10,000 5-year-old children in Durham, Nashville, Seattle and rural Pennsylvania for aggressive behavior problems, identifying those who were at highest risk of growing up to become violent, antisocial adults. Nearly 900 children were deemed at high risk, and of those, half were randomly assigned to receive the Fast Track intervention, while the other half were assigned to a control group. Participating children and their families received an array of interventions at school and at home. Nineteen years later, the authors found that Fast Track participants at age 25 had fewer convictions for violent and drug-related crimes, lower rates of serious substance abuse, lower rates of risky sexual behavior and fewer psychiatric problems than the control group. "We can prevent serious violence and psychopathology among the group of children who are highest-risk," said Duke's Kenneth Dodge. "That's the essential finding from this study. It provides the strongest evidence yet that, far from being doomed from an early age, at-risk children can be helped to live productive lives." Dodge directs the Duke Center for Child and Family Policy and is the William McDougall Professor of Public Policy at Duke's Sanford School of Public Policy. The program's positive effects held true across four different sites around the country, among both males and females and among both white and African-American children. The study appears online Sept. 15 in the American Journal of Psychiatry. From first through 10th grade, the Fast Track children received reading tutoring and specialized intervention aimed at improving self-control and social-cognitive skills. Parents learned problem-solving skills through home visits and parent training groups. When program participants turned 25, researchers reviewed court records and conducted interviews with participants and control group members, as well as individuals who knew the participants well. Along with fewer criminal convictions, Fast Track participants had lower rates of antisocial personality disorder and avoidant personality disorder, lower rates of risky sexual behavior and lower rates of harsh parenting. The latter finding suggests that the intervention may interrupt the inter-generational cycle of problem behavior. Fast Track is among very few studies to test the long-term effect of environment on children's development through a clinical trial. It provides strong evidence for the critical role environment plays in shaping a child's development. "This study adds to the experimental evidence for the important role that environment plays," Dodge said. "Genes do not write an inalterable script for a child's life. And not only does the environment matter greatly in a child's development, we've shown that you can intervene and help that child succeed in life." Fast Track's positive effects do not come cheap. The 10-year intervention costs $58,000 per child. However, that cost should be weighed against the millions of dollars that each chronic criminal costs society in imprisonment and harm to others, Dodge said. "Prevention takes a considerable investment, but that investment is worth it," Dodge said. "Our policies and practices should reflect the fact that these children can have productive lives." In future studies, Dodge and his colleagues plan to examine the cost-benefit question more closely. ### The research was supported by grants from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH R18 MH48043, R18 MH50951, R18 MH50952, R18 MH50953, K05MH00797 and K05MH01027), the Department of Education (grant S184U30002) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA grants DA16903, DA017589, K05DA015226, and P30DA023026). The Center for Substance Abuse Prevention and the National Institute on Drug Abuse also provided support through a memorandum of agreement with the NIMH. Financial disclosure: Study authors Kenneth Dodge, Karen Bierman, John Coie, Mark Greenberg, John Lochman and Robert McMahon are the developers of the Fast Track curriculum and have a publishing agreement with Guilford Press. Greenberg is also an author of the PATHS curriculum, which is used in the Fast Track program. McMahon is a co-author of Helping the Noncompliant Child and has a royalty agreement with Guilford Publications. He is also a member of the Treatments that Work Scientific Advisory Board with Oxford University Press. The other authors have no financial relationships to disclose." CITATION: "Impact of Early Intervention on Psychopathology, Crime and Well-Being at Age 25," Kenneth A. Dodge and the Conduct Problems Prevention Research Group. American Journal of Psychiatry, September 15, 2014. DOI: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2014.13060786. For more information on mental health topis, please visit CEUs for Counselors

September 10, 2014

Intervention in 6-month-olds with autism eliminates symptoms, developmental delay

What do you think of this article?
'Infant Start' therapy removes disabling delay before most children are diagnosed "Treatment at the earliest age when symptoms of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) appear – sometimes in infants as young as 6 months old – significantly reduces symptoms so that, by age 3, most who received the therapy had neither ASD nor developmental delay, a UC Davis MIND Institute research study has found. The treatment, known as Infant Start, was administered over a six-month period to 6- to 15-month-old infants who exhibited marked autism symptoms, such as decreased eye contact, social interest or engagement, repetitive movement patterns, and a lack of intentional communication. It was delivered by the people who were most in tune with and spent the most time with the babies: their parents. “Autism treatment in the first year of life: A pilot study of Infant Start, a parent-implemented intervention for symptomatic infants,” is co-authored by UC Davis professors of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Sally J. Rogers and Sally Ozonoff. It is published online today in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. "Most of the children in the study, six out of seven, caught up in all of their learning skills and their language by the time they were 2 to 3," said Rogers, the study's lead author and the developer of the Infant Start therapy. "Most children with ASD are barely even getting diagnosed by then." "For the children who are achieving typical developmental rates, we are essentially ameliorating their developmental delays," Rogers said. "We have speeded up their developmental rates and profiles, not for every child in our sample, but for six of the seven." Rogers credited the parents in the small, pilot study with making the difference. "It was the parents – not therapists – who did that," she said. "Parents are there every day with their babies. It's the little moments of diapering, feeding, playing on the floor, going for a walk, being on a swing, that are the critical learning moments for babies. Those moments are what parents can capitalize on in a way that nobody else really can." Early identification crucial Children diagnosed with autism typically receive early intervention beginning at 3 to 4 years, six to eight times later than the children who participated in the study. But the earliest symptoms of autism may be present before the child’s first birthday. Infancy is the time when children first learn social interaction and communication, so autism researchers and parents of children with the condition have been working to identify autism and begin intervention sooner. Effective autism treatment relies on early detection so that a child can begin therapy as soon as possible, to prevent or mitigate the full onset of symptoms and sometimes severe and lifelong disability. "We were very fortunate to have this treatment available for the affected infants identified through our study," said Ozonoff, who directs the MIND Institute's Infant Sibling Study, an early detection project that follows babies at risk for autism or ADHD from birth through age 3. "We want to make referrals for early intervention as soon as there are signs that a baby might be developing autism," Ozonoff said. "In most parts of the country and the world, services that address autism-specific developmental skills are just not available for infants this young." Of the seven babies in the study, four were part of the Infant Sibling Study. In addition to these four, the other three children were referred by community parents. The treatment group was compared with four other groups of children that included: High-risk children with older siblings with autism who did not develop autism Low-risk children who were the younger siblings of typically developing children Infants who developed autism by the age of 3 Children who also had early autism symptoms but chose to receive treatment at an older age Treatment based on Early Start Denver Model The treatment was based on the highly successful Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) intervention developed by Rogers and her colleague, Geraldine Dawson, professor of psychiatry, psychology and pediatrics at Duke University in North Carolina. ESDM is usually provided in the home by trained therapists and parents during natural play and daily routines. Parents were coached to concentrate their interactions on supporting their infants’ individualized developmental needs and interests, and embedded these practices into all of their play and caretaking, focusing on creating pleasurable social routines to increase their children’s opportunities for learning. Parents were encouraged to follow their infants’ interests and subtle cues and gauge activities in ways that optimized their child's attention and engagement. The intervention focused on increasing: Infant attention to parent faces and voices Parent-child interactions that attract infants' attention, bringing smiles and delight to both Parent imitation of infant sounds and intentional actions Parent use of toys to support, rather than compete with, the child's social attention The treatment sessions included: Greeting and parent progress sharing A warm-up period of parent play, followed by discussion of the activity and intervention goals Discussion of a new topic, using a parent manual Parents interacting in a typical daily routine with their child while fostering social engagement, communication and appropriate play, with coaching from therapists Parents practicing the approach with their child across one or two additional home routines with toys or caregiving activities Autism scores lowered by 18 to 36 months All of the participants who received treatment were between 6 and 15 months old, lived within a one-hour drive of the MIND Institute, and came from families where English was the primary language. They had normal vision and hearing and no significant medical conditions. All received assessments prior to their participation and at multiple points throughout the study. The treatment group of seven children received scores on the Autism Observation Scale for Infants (AOSI) and the Infant-Toddler Checklist that indicated they were highly symptomatic and at risk of developing ASD. Their symptoms also elicited clinical concern from professors Rogers and Ozonoff. The study measured the children’s and parents’ responses to the intervention. Treatment began immediately after enrollment and consisted of 12 one-hour sessions with infant and parent. It was followed by a six-week maintenance period with biweekly visits, and follow-up assessments at 24 and 36 months. The treatment sessions focused on parent–child interactions during typical daily life and provided parent coaching as needed to increase infant attention, communication, early language development, play and social engagement. The children who received the intervention had significantly more autism symptoms at 9 months, but significantly lower autism severity scores at 18- to 36-months of age, when compared with a small group of similarly symptomatic infants who did not receive the therapy. Overall, the children who received the intervention had less impairment in terms of autism diagnosis, and language and development delays than either of the other affected groups. Treating severe disability Given the preliminary nature of the findings, the study only suggests that treating these symptoms so early may lessen problems later. Larger, well controlled studies are needed to test the treatment for general use. However, the researchers said that this initial study is significant because of the very young ages of the infants, the number of symptoms and delays they exhibited early in life, the number of comparison groups involved, and because the intervention was low intensity and could be carried out by the parents in everyday routines. “I am not trying to change the strengths that people with ASD bring to this world," Rogers said when asked whether she is seeking to "cure" autism. "People with ASD contribute greatly to our culture," she said. "The diversity of human nature is what makes us a powerful and strong species. We are trying to reduce the disability associated with ASD." “My goal is for children and adults with autism symptoms to be able to participate successfully in everyday life and in all aspects of the community in which they want to participate: to have satisfying work, recreation, and relationships, education that meets their needs and goals, a circle of people they love, and to be generally happy with their lives.” ### Other study authors are Laurie Vismara of UC Davis and York University, Toronto; and A.L. Wagner, C. McCormick and Gregory Young, all of UC Davis. The study was funded by grants from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development R21 HD 065275 to Sally Rogers and National Institute of Mental Health grant MH068398 to Ozonoff. At the UC Davis MIND Institute, world-renowned scientists engage in collaborative, interdisciplinary research to find the causes of and develop treatments and cures for autism, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), fragile X syndrome, 22q11.2 deletion syndrome, Down syndrome and other neurodevelopmental disorders. For more information, visit mindinstitute.ucdavis.edu." For more informationon this topic and other related subjects, please visit Counselor CEUs