Casey Taft: On Non-Violence

This is the latest in a series of interviews with APA Books authors and editors. For this interview, Andrew Gifford, Development Editor at APA Books, interviewed Casey T. Taft of the National Center for PTSD, VA Boston Healthcare System, and Boston University School of Medicine.

Casey Taft

Casey T. Taft, Ph.D. is a staff psychologist at the National Center for PTSD in the VA Boston Healthcare System, and Professor of Psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine. Dr. Taft was the 2006 Young Professional Award winner from the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, and the 2009 Linda Saltzman Memorial Intimate Partner Violence Researcher Award winner. He has served or is currently serving as Principal Investigator on funded grants focusing on understanding and preventing intimate partner violence through the National Institute of Mental Health, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Centers for Disease Control, the Department of Defense, and the Blue Shield of California Foundation. Dr. Taft has published over 100 empirical papers and book chapters, chaired an American Psychological Association task force on trauma in the military, and consulted with the United Nations on preventing violence and abuse globally.

In addition to the book discussed in this interview, Dr. Taft is also the guest host of Intimate Partner Violence, a Psychotherapy Training Video available on DVD.

In your work with veterans suffering from PTSD, you managed to create something unique, as far as I know:  a model for treating interpersonal violence (IPV) that addresses both perpetrators and victims. How did you come up with this idea?  Could you tell us about the development of this model?  

Our model is trauma-informed in that we account for and discuss the role of trauma throughout the entire assessment and therapy process. What we’ve found is that when we give space for the perpetrator to discuss prior traumatic events, not only does this help set the stage for developing a positive therapeutic alliance and enhance motivation, but it can be healing in and of itself. While our program is not a trauma treatment per se, we do have some evidence that those who receive the program are themselves healing from trauma while they’re also much less likely to inflict trauma upon others. The goal of our program is to stop the cycle of trauma, and we do that be increasing an understanding of trauma and its impacts, and really focusing on how our prior experiences influence how we interpret various situations and our relationship partners.

You’ve noted that many models of IPV treatment do not take trauma into consideration at all. What inspired you to change that, with your model?

 Trauma-informed intervention is increasingly the standard of care for all kinds of problems that might lead someone to treatment, and it stands to reason that we should be doing the same with those who use violence in their relationships. In fact, trauma-informed intervention may be even more important with this population since more than half of those who engage in partner abuse have been abused themselves growing up or observed their parents abusing each other. While almost everyone in the partner violence field acknowledges high rates of trauma in this population, and there seems to be a growing belief that we should be educated about trauma, this hasn’t necessarily translated into specific evidence-based trauma-informed approaches. Especially when we consider that interventions to prevent and end intimate partner violence have not been particularly effective, and other research showing that trauma and PTSD are associated with violence through their influence on how we interpret our social worlds, this seemed like an obvious direction to go.

In your new book Trauma-Informed Treatment and Prevention of Intimate Partner Violence, you and co-authors Christopher M. Murphy and Suzannah K. Creech discuss the importance of a positive therapeutic process. Could you elaborate on what you mean by that phrase? What are some ways that practitioners can adopt a positive approach?

By positive therapeutic process, we’re referring to facilitating positive therapist-client relationships, motivation for ending the abuse, and engagement in the treatment process in general. Historically in partner violence intervention, there has been a tendency to downplay the importance of these factors, with intervention strategies that may be considered overly confrontational and shaming. This is unfortunate because when we’re working with a trauma-exposed population, they may have difficulty trusting and joining with providers. Therefore, taking a more alliance-enhancing and motivational approach may go a long way towards enhancing our ability to reach violent individuals and help them end their violence. In fact, my dissertation research from long ago showed that when we are able to build a positive working alliance and facilitate group cohesion, those who are in partner violence intervention are less violent and abusive to their partners after program completion.

The programs you’ve developed to end domestic violence in military service members have seen terrific successes and have been adopted by many hospitals and clinics. How do you feel, seeing your work take root in so many places?

It feels amazing, to be honest. So many people have worked really hard to get us to this point. We spent over eight years running randomized controlled trials where we developed our violence prevention programs and evaluated them. Ours are the first programs shown to be effective for this population through controlled trials so we truly believe we are onto something important with this work. To be able to then help with implementing these programs across the VA healthcare system and within the military is exactly what we were hoping for when we began this endeavor. Our vision for the next phase of our clinical research program is to do the same thing with a civilian population. We have every reason to believe that a trauma-informed violence prevention intervention would similarly work for a civilian population.

As a vegan, you’ve written about how you want to promote non-violence towards animals, and echo a similar message of positivity when it comes to our treatment of all living creatures. Do you see violence as a systemic problem in our society?  Are there things we can do in our own lives to help prevent violence, whether on an interpersonal level or more broadly?

We know that when children are violent to animals, it’s a warning sign for problems with interpersonal violence down the road. Similarly, when we sanction unnecessary violence towards other sentient beings in any form, it promotes the view that violence is acceptable. I do see violence as a systemic problem in our society. Violence in many forms towards both human and nonhuman animals is all around us, and I believe that a pro-intersectional framework is required to understand that various forms of violence and injustice are all inter-connected, and all violence stems from the idea that some lives matter less than others, or that some are lesser. It’s quite amazing that all three of the authors for this book are vegan and share this pro-intersectional worldview.

 

June Releases From APA Books!

handbook clinical psychAPA Handbook of Clinical Psychology

Volume 1: Roots and Branches; Volume 2: Theory and Research; Volume 3: Applications and Methods; Volume 4: Psychopathology and Health; Volume 5: Education and Profession

Editors-in-Chief John C. Norcross, Gary R. VandenBos, and Donald K. Freedheim

The 5-volume APA Handbook of Clinical Psychology reflects the state-of-the-art in clinical psychology science, practice, research, and training. The Handbook provides a comprehensive overview of:  the history of clinical psychology, specialties and settings, theoretical and research approaches, assessment, treatment and prevention, psychological disorders, health and relational disorders, health promotion, educational paths, psychologists’ development, ethics and standards, professional organizations, and future directions of clinical psychology.

 

telemental health A Practitioner’s Guide to Telemental Health

How to Conduct Legal, Ethical, and Evidence-Based Telepractice

by David D. Luxton, Eve-Lynn Nelson, and Marlene M. Maheu

When providing telehealth services, physical distance can create ethical and safety challenges. Such challenges are manageable when following the best practices outlined in this book, which illustrates how to conduct mental health services via videoconferencing and other technologies.

 

 

 

 

bilingualism across lifespanBilingualism Across the Lifespan

Factors Moderating Language Proficiency

Edited by Elena Nicoladis and Simona Montanari

copublished by APA Books and De Gruyter Mouton

This book pioneers the study of bilingualism across the lifespan and in all its diverse forms. In framing the newest research within a lifespan perspective, the editors highlight the importance of considering an individual’s age in researching how bilingualism affects language acquisition and cognitive development.  This book is a call for language researchers, psychologists, and educators to pursue a better understanding of bilingualism in our increasingly global society.

 

 

women with disabilitiesEliminating Inequities for Women with Disabilities

An Agenda for Health and Wellness

Edited by Shari E. Miles-Cohen and Caroline Signore

Contributors to this book examine the widespread barriers that prevent women with disabilities from accessing effective health care, and offer plans for action to improve wellness, health promotion, and disease prevention among this broad yet underserved population.

 

 

 

 

evidence-based treatment ethnic minoritiesEvidence-Based Psychological Practice With Ethnic Minorities

Culturally Informed Research and Clinical Strategies

Edited by Nolan Zane, Guillermo Bernal, and Frederick T.L. Leong

 

This book suggests strategies for promoting and strengthening research on evidence-based psychological practice with ethnic minority clients and highlights effective and culturally competent treatment programs.

 

 

 

 

interviewing childrenInterviewing Children

The Science of Conversation in Forensic Contexts

by Debra Ann Poole

In this book, Debra Ann Poole presents a flexible, evidence-based approach to interviewing children that reduces the ambiguities and errors in children’s responses. Through her descriptions of best practices, brief summaries of supporting research, and example interview dialogs, Poole provides a roadmap for anyone working in a forensic context. This book is essential reading for those who interview children, supervise interviewers, review interview findings, or craft local policies about interviewing children.

 

 

womanist & mujeristaWomanist and Mujerista Psychologies

Voices of Fire, Acts of Courage

Edited by Thema Bryant-Davis and Lillian Comas-Díaz

This inspiring book introduces the psychologies of womanists and mujeristas—African American women and Latinas, respectively, who have a broad and inclusive approach to feminism and liberation. Womanist and mujerista values and worldviews emphasize resiliency, strength, activism, self-expression, creativity, spirituality/connection, self-definition, and liberation of all oppressed people.

 

 

Book Launch for APA LifeTools® Release Held at the Brookings Institution

golinkoffRoberta Michnick Golinkoff, PhD, obtained her bachelor’s degree at Brooklyn College, her PhD at Cornell University, and was awarded a postdoctoral fellowship at the Learning Research and Development Center of the University of Pittsburgh. She is the Unidel H. Rodney Sharp Professor of Education and professor of psychology and of linguistics and cognitive science at the University of Delaware.

 

hirsch-pasekKathryn Hirsh-Pasek, PhD, is the Stanley and Debra Lefkowitz Distinguished Faculty Fellow in the Department of Psychology at Temple University and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. Her research examines the development of early language and literacy, as well as the role of play in learning. With her long-term collaborator, Roberta Michnick Golinkoff, she is the author of 12 books and hundreds of publications.

On June 7th the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC, held a book launch for the new APA LifeTools® book, Becoming Brilliant: What Science Tells Us About Raising Successful Children.

The launch featured a presentation by the authors, Roberta Michnick Golinkoff, PhD, and Kathryn Hirsh-Pasek, PhD, on the topic of the book, which offers solutions that parents can implement right now. Backed by the latest scientific evidence and illustrated with examples of what’s being done right in schools today, this book introduces the 6Cs—collaboration, communication, content, critical thinking, creative innovation, and confidence—along with ways parents can nurture their children’s development in each area.

 

The presentation was followed by a moderated panel that focused on what new systems can be put in place to help children develop a breadth of skills to thrive and find success in the workplace. In addition to the authors, the panel was comprised of Sherry Cleary, the executive director of the New York Early Childhood Professional Development Institute, Susan Magsamen, the senior vice president of Early Learning at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and Sarah Wolman, the head of partnerships, North America for the LEGO Foundation.

The authors also spoke about the event they helped lead on June 6th on the South Lawn of the White House, Ultimate Block Party, a social movement that focuses on the importance of play and playful learning in children’s lives.

Memorial Day 2016

Since the Civil War era, the United States has publicly honored its fallen soldiers in late spring. Memorial Day, formerly known as Decoration Day, is now a federal holiday celebrated on the last Monday in May. It has always been a poignant occasion but has taken on additional resonance since 2001, when the attacks of September 11 precipitated nearly fifteen years of warfare overseas that continues to this day.

Vietnam Was MemorialMilitary service is challenging under any circumstances, but combat certainly increases the peril. Too many American men and women have made the ultimate sacrifice since the Battles of Lexington and Concord, in addition to the even greater numbers of soldiers that have been damaged physically or psychologically. And while it is entirely appropriate to honor those that have fallen, that is not enough—our debt to those brave men and women goes well beyond that. We must pick up the mantle by caring for their comrades who have survived, and the family and friends they have left behind. The field of psychology has a core role to play in that mission, and APA Books has tried to do its part.

In the autumn of 2010, APA Books released Deployment Psychology: Evidence-Based Strategies to Promote Mental Health in the Military. Edited by military psychologists Amy Adler, Paul Bliese, and Carl Castro, it focused on systematic, evidence-based attempts to prevent mental health problems among service members and enhance their well-being and resilience.

In 2011 APA Books published Wheels Down: Adjusting to Life after Deployment. Part of APA’s LifeTools series, it was written by Bret Moore PsyD, a psychologist who served two tours in Iraq, and Dr. Carrie Kennedy, currently the Department Head for Mental Health at the U.S. Naval Health Clinic, Bahrain.  Moore and Kennedy wrote this book for veterans returning to “normal life” after being discharged. In it, they share practical insights for dealing with this often difficult adjustment and the surprises it can bring, including family challenges and financial problems, as well as residual effects such as PTSD, and even suicidal tendencies. New England Psychologist called it “the best self-help book of its kind, easily a stand-alone guide filled with practical and reasoned tips.”

2011 also marked the release of Caring for Veterans With Deployment-Related Stress Disorders: Iraq, Afghanistan, and Beyond, co-edited by Josef I. Ruzek, PhD, Paula P. Schnurr, PhD, Jennifer J. Vasterling, PhD, and Matthew J. Friedman, MD, PhD. Its introduction made clear our obligation to veterans who had served so bravely: “We must all broaden our skills to help these men and women. As practitioners, program administrators, policy makers, or students, we are called to go beyond our current understanding of the mental health consequence of deployment to master emerging knowledge.”

In 2013, APA Books published Building Psychological Resilience in Military Personnel: Theory and Practice, edited by Robert R. Sinclair PhD and Thomas W. Britt PhD. This volume investigates the concept of resilience, its essential role in normal psychological development and its central importance to the military, and evaluates existing programs designed to help U.S. service members develop and maintain resilience.

Memorial Day Weekend 2016 beckons.  Enjoy the three-day weekend, the “unofficial start of summer,” especially as much of the east coast has been slogging through the wettest spring in recent memory. Go to the beach, have a cookout, attend a ballgame, watch the Indianapolis 500. But don’t lost sight of what the holiday is all about: remembering, honoring, and helping those who have helped us.

 

Rain, Rain, Go Away

stephanie hendersonby Stephanie Henderson

I hit the snooze button for the third time, begrudgingly slumped out of bed and opened my curtains. It was still raining.

Here at APA headquarters in Washington, DC, it has been raining every day for the last three weeks.

Later that morning, during one of our routine chats, my mother asked me, “Are you doing okay? I know how down you can get when the sun hasn’t shined for a few days.” It was a valid question, considering that to keep me motivated in the winter I often play songs that remind me of summer. Although I have never been clinically diagnosed, her question made me think about seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Although many of us complain about the “winter blues,” SAD can severely affect one’s day-to-day life. The APA Dictionary of Psychology (2007) defines SAD as:rain-cloud-clipart

A mood disorder in which there is a predictable occurrence of major depressive episodes, manic episodes, or both at particular times of the year. The typical pattern is the occurrence of major depressive episodes during the fall or winter months. Also called seasonal mood disorder.

In Creating Well-Being: Four Steps to a Happier, Healthier Life, Pamela A. Hays (2014) explores the importance of light in improving one’s general well-being. While describing her time spent living in Alaska, Hays notes that during the winter the sun shines for only a few hours each day and for some people, this can lead to depression. She then goes on to say that “exposure to outdoor light helps to counter seasonal affective disorder” (p. 131) and cites studies that have shown how light that mimics sunlight can have similar effects.

Although SAD has only recently been recognized as a mental health diagnosis, research on SAD is steadily increasing. This past March, the National Institute of Mental Health published a comprehensive web page exploring SAD: https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/seasonalaffectivedisorder.html).  More research still needs to be done, but in the meantime, let’s hope that “the sun will come out tomorrow!”

References

Hays, P. (2014). Creating well-being: Four steps to a happier, healthier life. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

VandenBos, G. R. (Ed.). (2007). APA dictionary of psychology. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.