The Wright Institute News & Events

Surfing as Therapy: Introducing Surf Circle

Surfing as Therapy: Introducing Surf Circle

Surf therapy is a relatively recent addition to the mental health landscape. Best known for its use by the U.S. Navy, it is most often used to work with veterans suffering from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Two graduates of the Wright Institute Clinical Psychology Program, Adam Moss, PsyD (class of 2016) and Nathan Greene, PsyD, (class of 2017) have partnered with two of their mentors to launch Surf Circle. The four psychologists are blending the surf therapy model with more traditional group therapy to provide a unique experience for adolescent boys and young men in the San Francisco Bay Area.

"We're passionate about creating an expansive therapeutic healing space that extends beyond what is accessible in a therapy room" says Adam, who began surfing in high school. "We're engaging in a process that supports the individual growth as well as the social engagement of each participant."

Student Spotlight: Ananya Rajaraman, first year Diversity Committee Representative

Student Spotlight: Ananya Rajaraman, first year Diversity Committee Representative

Ananya Rajaraman"I had a mentor that said stereotypes are like paper cuts - they may seem small and insignificant, and no one on the outside can really see them. But you feel each and every one, and they can really build up over time."

Fresh out of her Diagnosis & Empirically Supported Treatments class with Professor Beth Greivel, Ananya Rajaraman settles in for an interview. From her first answer, it's clear why she was elected as the representative of first year students on the new Counseling Psychology Program Diversity Committee. "Community advocacy is something I've always been interested in. Sometimes it feels like I can't change anything because I'm only one person, but I'll continue to make an impact in any way I can."

Alumni Spotlight: Jeri Mares ‘15, Mentoring Program Coordinator

Alumni Spotlight: Jeri Mares '15, Mentoring Program Coordinator

Jeri Mares"Humans have an innate drive towards attachment. In many ways, attachment is like survival," says Jeri Mares about her work with couples, which she calls her most impactful. Never one to cut corners, she cites research which supports that a healthy, loving, high-functioning relationship benefits several aspects of health. "But of course we know that to be anecdotally true as well," she adds.

Yet it's clear that Jeri's passion for her work and connections towards her clients is greater than the expertise and clinical acumen she clearly possesses. "Helping couples achieve more lasting and enduring satisfaction in their relationships means that we're making little ripples in the overall health of people themselves," she explains.

Helping Children Process Trauma

Helping Children Process Trauma

"Bibliotherapy can be a powerful medium to help process distress," says Dr. Ritchie Rubio, faculty member with the Counseling Psychology program and Director of Practice Improvement and Analytics for Children, Youth, and Families System of Care with the San Francisco Department of Public Health.

"With kids, my experience is that the books need to be as close as possible to what they went through but it doesn't have to be. My personal favorite is 'A Terrible Thing Happened' by Margaret Holmes. Another good one is 'When the Bough Breaks: A Story For Children Suffering Natural Disasters.'"

Dedicated LGBTQ safe space established

Dedicated LGBTQ safe space established

Abigail Johal, a student in the Clinical Psychology Program, started a group for LGBTQ-identified students enrolled in high school programs at Contra Costa College in the 2017-2018 academic year. Wright Institute faculty member Daniela Kantorová has worked with students Joshua Chow and Candice Bain to establish a safe space for this student group while continuing to build on Abigail's work.

The new safe space was featured in the Contra Costa College student newspaper, The Advocate. Click here to read the article and learn more about the project.

Abigail is currently writing a dissertation on how ethnic minority parents come to accept their Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, or Queer (LGBTQ) children.

Dr. Kantorová is a graduate of the Wright Institute Clinical Psychology Program, and is now on the faculty for both the Clinical Psychology Program and the Counseling Psychology Program.

Fostering Heroism in Fourth and Fifth Grade Students

Fostering Heroism in Fourth and Fifth Grade Students

Wright Institute Clinical Psychology Program alumnus Elisabeth Heiner, Psy.D., has adapted her dissertation into an article, which was recently published in The Journal of Humanistic Psychology. The article, "Fostering Heroism in Fourth- and Fifth-Grade Students," was published online by the journal in January 2018. The print version will be available later this year.

A desire to research prosocial, heroic behavior led Dr. Heiner to formulate a study that “empirically evaluated the potential effect of a training program...designed to foster heroism in children.” This grew to be her dissertation, which she completed with committee members Dr. Jerry Diller and Dr. Karen Wise.

Dr. Heiner researched the effectiveness of teaching children to think of themselves as “‘heroes in waiting,’ [who] can stand up to injustices they may witness, such as bullying,“ and measured how this affected their internal feelings of courage.

Dr. Diamond Deepening Our Understanding of Autism

Dr. Diamond Deepening Our Understanding of Autism

Since graduating from the Wright Institute Clinical Psychology Program in 2004, Faculty member Emily Diamond, PsyD has focused on gaining a deeper understanding of autism. In her groundbreaking International Autism Mapping Project, she found correlations between children with a confirmed diagnosis of autism and parents' proximity to toxic sites during the child's gestation.

Fueled by a desire to better understand the medical, genetic, and chromosomal issues which account for autism in the participants of her International Autism Mapping Project, Dr. Diamond and student Bridget Wieckowski are reviewing the records of over 8,000 project participants.

“This will help people doing assessments for autism to understand that the autism spectrum is made up of people with several conditions, and that medical and genetic testing is likely going to be a more and more important part of diagnosis,” Dr. Diamond explains.

Motivational Interviewing in Educational Settings

Motivational Interviewing in Educational Settings

Kristin Dempsey, EdD, is co-leading two presentations at the upcoming Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers (MINT) 2018 International Forum. The Forum for MINT trainers will be held in New Orleans November 1 - November 3, and will be preceded by pre-Forum workshops on October 30 and 31 that interested individuals may attend for a fee.

Wright Institute Professor Pens a Letter to the Editor to Protest "Dreadful Conditions at Alameda County’s Jails"

Wright Institute Professor Pens a Letter to the Editor to Protest "Dreadful Conditions at Alameda County’s Jails"

Professor Emeritus Terry Kupers, M.D. wrote a letter to the editor of The Mercury News arguing that the jails in Alameda County in Northern California are "entirely unacceptable and must be changed immediately."

Dr. Kupers is nationally recognized as an expert on the mental health impacts of solitary confinement on inmates. In 2017 he published Solitary: The Inside Story of Supermax Isolation and How We Can Abolish It. Read more about the book and Dr. Kupers's work.

“I think society needs to be very careful that what we do to people in prison makes people more likely to succeed going straight when they get out, rather than less likely,” Kupers said.

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