Exciting News at APA Books!

dictionaryWe are pleased to announce that in January, the APA Dictionary of Psychology, Second Edition, was named the Choice Outstanding Academic Title for 2015!

A review of the dictionary was previously published in Choice’s October issue, in which it said, “Thorough but concise definitions remain the norm in this update, and the challenge of encompassing the diverse fields of psychology in a single volume makes this a triumph of cooperative composition and outstanding editing.”

Choice’s January 2016 issue highlighted the list of winners and best in scholarly titles.

Ron Miller: On Abnormal Psychology

This is the fourth in a series of interviews with APA Books authors and editors. For this interview, Mary Lynn Skutley, the Editorial Director of APA Books, interviewed Dr. Ron Miller, of Saint Michael’s College.

Note: The opinions expressed in this interview are those of the authors and should not be taken to represent the official views or policies of the American Psychological Association.


Ronald B. Miller, PhD, is professor of psychology at Saint Michael’s College where he has also directed the master’s program in clinical psychology for 30 years.

He is the author of Not So Abnormal Psychology (2015), Facing Human Suffering: Psychology and Psychotherapy as Moral Engagement (2004), an associate editor for the Encyclopedia of Psychology (2000), and the editor of The Restoration of Dialogue: Readings in the Philosophy of Clinical Psychology (1992). He is a founding associate editor of the journal Pragmatic Case Studies in Psychotherapy and the former editor of the Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology.

A fellow of APA, Dr. Miller is currently the chair of the Vermont Board of Psychological Examiners.

It was just announced that your book, Not So Abnormal Psychology, won Honorable Mention in the Textbook/Social Sciences category of the 2016 PROSE Awards. Congratulations!

In the opening pages of this book, you describe personal struggles that ultimately lead you to reject mainstream diagnostic models. Personal revelation is unusual in scholarly scientific writing.  Why did you feel it was important to include?

I think the real challenge in psychology and many aspects of life is to integrate our subjective experiences, which are very personal and unique, with the world of other people—each having their own unique experiences. Sometimes when we do this we find a common or objective truth, and many times we don’t. Experimental psychology can only pay attention to the former, but the latter is as or more important in our lives. I always understood as a psychotherapist that this was a critical aspect of my work—honoring the client’s own experience while also looking for shared experiences that build a sense of relationship. The longer I taught college students, the more I realized they needed to understand that process too.

How do students react to that narrative?

Students always respond well to narrative accounts that illustrate psychological principles and theories. Every instructor knows that. That is why case studies are such powerful pedagogical tools. While this is generally acknowledged by authors of traditional textbooks in abnormal psychology, the justification given is usually that cases pique the students’ interest and sustains them for the “real (much more important) work” of studying the subject matter through quantitative or experimental methods.

My view is that there is a strong epistemological argument that can be made for the role of case studies in validating and communicating clinical practice knowledge. As Dan McAdams has argued more broadly, the creation of narrative is central to our very Being. When the case study is the professor’s own life, the power of the narrative is even greater. My students spontaneously will offer their appreciation for sharing with them the struggles I had as a young adult and graduate student. They say it makes them feel less alone with their own life struggles.

 You’ve said that students are often drawn to psychology by a desire to help others.  How can we teach them about the profession in a way that will kindle that desire?

I think students want to know that there are concepts and methods in psychology that can be applied in the real world that can make a transformational difference in their own and other people’s lives. They want to know how to turn their own lives around or help others they care about or work with to do the same. They have a vision of wanting to do good in the world, and they don’t want to have to give up their values of being a decent human being in order to practice experimentally validated procedures where everyone is following the same therapeutic script regardless of the differences among clients. Nor do they wish to practice techniques that produce statistically significant effects unless those differences are meaningful in the lives of those receiving services.

Why did you title your book, Not So Abnormal?

I was reviewing a number of undergraduate abnormal psychology textbooks at the beginning of the process, and as I read and summarized the descriptions and explanations for the causes and treatments of various diagnoses I found myself repeatedly writing after most of the summary statements, “Not So.” Eventually it occurred to me to simply insert the words “Not So” at the beginning of the title.

“Not so abnormal” makes a broader statement about mental health. What will readers of your textbook take away that they would not take away from a traditional textbook? 

I see the abnormal psychology course as both an opportunity for students to learn about an academic discipline and to contribute to the improvement in the mental health of the millions of students who will enroll in this course during the college years.  It is a rare opportunity to offer intensive mental health education, and this is badly needed in our society today.

I have attempted to provide a coherent integrated framework for understanding human psychological suffering (“psychopathology”) that is informed by pragmatic humanistic values, an awareness of the importance of unconscious developmental mental processes, and an understanding of the power of the family and social-political environment. The goal of this framework is to produce greater self-understanding in the reader, and to lay out a path for transformational psychological change. After reading the traditional abnormal psychology textbook, the student comes away with a knowledge of hundreds of terms and disparate facts that seem to have no coherent relationship to one another. It as though anxiety and psychosis are unrelated phenomena as opposed to the framework I propose where psychosis is the absolute extreme of the anxiety state we all experience from time to time.

Although this may sound like a self-help book, it is also a textbook that covers the philosophical, historical, and social/political context of the development of the sub-discipline of abnormal psychology and the field of mental health as a whole. Rather than ignore the theoretical models that do not fit into my integrated framework (viz., the biomedical and cognitive-behavioral approaches), I discuss their pros and cons, and cite evidence for where I think these models are or are not helpful.

What books do you recommend for students and therapists?

I was heavily influenced by philosophy and literature prior to entering the field of psychology. Some classics that stand out are The Myth of Sisyphus by Camus, War and Peace by Tolstoy, J.L. Austen’s, How to Do Things with Words and Freud’s Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis And I urge all my students to read Yalom’s  works on existential psychotherapy and Love’s Executioner, which is a great book of case studies.


January Releases From APA Books!


ethical choices

Ethical Choices in Research  

Managing Data, Writing Reports, and Publishing Results in the Social Sciences

by Harris Cooper

If you conduct original research and publish the results, this book is for you. Following the course of a typical project, Harris Cooper describes the ethics—and etiquette—behind each stage. He anticipates ethical problems that occur in the early stages of planning research, the middle stages of data management and report preparation, and the final stage of publications. At each stage, he emphasizes the value of early planning to meet one’s professional responsibilities as a scientist.




cultural complexitiesAddressing Cultural Complexities in Practice 

Assessment, Diagnosis, and Therapy


by Pamela A. Hays

This third edition is richly illustrated with case material and includes up-to-date information on the DSM-5, ICD-10, and upcoming ICD-11, plus new sections on working with people in poverty, children, and transgender people; and trauma-informed care.  Each chapter includes a Key Ideas summary and practice exercises, making it ideal for personal education or group use.




Internationalizing the Undergraduate Psychology Curriculum 

Practical Lessons Learned at Home and Abroad

Edited by Dana Gross, Kenneth Abrams, and Carolyn Zerbe Enns

Building on the foundation laid by the APA-sponsored book Undergraduate Education in Psychology: A Blueprint for the Future of the Discipline (Halpern, 2009), this book offers teachers of psychology what they need most to internationalize the undergraduate curriculum: clear approaches to studying psychology across cultures, practical ideas they can use in the classroom, resources that connect students to the world beyond their home campus, and expert advice on how to develop and administer study abroad programs.



positive psych

Positive Psychology in Racial and Ethnic Groups 

Theory, Research, and Practice

Edited by Edward C. Chang, Christina A. Downey, Jameson K. Hirsch, and Natalie J. Lin


For the first time, leaders in the field have come together to provide a comprehensive reference that focuses specifically on how a culturally-informed approach to positive psychology can help capitalize on the strengths of racial minority groups and have a greater potential to positively impact their psychological well-being.



psychoanalytic theory

Psychoanalytic Theory and Cultural Competence in Psychotherapy

by Pratyusha Tummala-Narra

While psychoanalytic scholars often address specific aspects of diversity such as gender, race, immigration, religion, sexual orientation, and social class, the literature lacks a set of core principles to inform and support culturally competent practice. This approachable volume responds to that pressing need. Drawing on the contributions of psychoanalytic scholars as well as multicultural and feminist psychologists, Tummala-Narra presents a theoretical framework that reflects the realities of clients’ lives and addresses the complex sociocultural issues that influence their psychological health.




psychtherapy teaching

The PsycTHERAPY® Teaching Guide

The PsycTHERAPY®Teaching Guide provides practical ideas on how to use APA’s video database of streaming psychotherapy demonstrations in a variety of classes, in clinical supervision, and in other training contexts.

On the surface, PsycTHERAPY is simple to use: Find a video and learn as you watch a master clinician demonstrating psychotherapy. However, professors in clinical psychology and counseling have discovered many different uses for PsycTHERAPY, including teaching personality theories and psychopathology classes, training researchers on how to code therapy sessions, and augmenting empathy training for psychotherapy students.


Stan Brodsky and Tom Gutheil: On Expert Expert Witnesses

For this interview, David Becker, APA Books Development Editor, interviewed Drs. Stan Brodsky, Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Alabama, and Tom Gutheil, Professor of Psychiatry in the Department of Psychiatry at Beth Israel-Deaconess Medical Center.

Note: The opinions expressed in this interview are those of the authors and should not be taken to represent the official views or policies of the American Psychological Association.

Stanley Brodsky

Stanley Brodsky

Thomas Gutheil

Thomas Gutheil

Stanley Brodsky and Thomas Gutheil are renowned forensic clinicians who have written about and taught psychologists and psychiatrists the ins and outs of expert testimony.

Through their many workshops and publications, they have given expert witnesses the confidence and skill to overcome numerous challenges in a courtroom environment, including intense cross-examination. In The Expert Expert Witness: More Maxims and Guidelines for Testifying in Court, Second Edition, they offer advice on how to become expert expert witnesses based on scientific knowledge, professional practice, and their own experiences.

Dr. Brodsky has also written other guides for expert witnesses, including Testifying in Court: Guidelines and Maxims for the Expert Witness, Second Edition (2013), a companion to The Expert Expert Witness, and Coping With Cross-Examination and Other Pathways to Effective Testimony (2004), as well as other books, such as Therapy With Coerced and Reluctant Clients (2011). Dr. Gutheil has authored or coauthored Practical Approaches to Forensic Mental Health Testimony, The Psychiatrist as Expert Witness, The Psychiatrist in Court: A Survival Guide, and his 2015 book Six Psychiatric Cases for Non-Psychiatrists.

What are the common and uncommon errors made by expert witnesses when they testify?

Tom: My nominee for the commonest error is the reluctance to throw away a throwaway question, rather than putting out a string of defensive qualifiers. Can psychiatrists disagree? Yes. Can bad outcomes occur even with the best care? Yes. Can all suicides be prevented? No. Credibility is enhanced by acknowledging the obvious.

Stan: When I work with beginning psychotherapists, usually 2nd year PhD students, I seek to stop them from piggybacking their responses. That is, they make a good statement, then explain it, and then explain some more, so that the power of the original comment is lost. The same thing applies to testifying experts. A good, brief answer that goes to the heart of the question often closes down the line of inquiry.

It might be worthwhile to note that uncommon errors can be catastrophically bad. A local Assistant D.A. with whom I work out daily told me about an out-of-town expert witness who was being grilled severely but appropriately about gaps in his assessment. After this had gone on for while, the frustrated, exasperated expert blurted out to the cross-examining attorney, “Why don’t you go f – – – yourself!” The judge was not pleased, and ordered a police officer to stand immediately behind the expert, and told the expert that one more outburst would lead to him being held in contempt and led off to jail. The jury disregarded everything the expert said and found for the other side.

What should experts do when an attorney uncovers some error or omission in their assessments?

Stan: This is a time when a core of solid feelings of professional worth needs to come to the surface. There will be always be a time when experienced and good experts miss something, especially in complex cases with extensive records. Good experts lose by getting defensive. If there is indeed something the experts have missed (and they should never automatically take the word of opposing counsel that they have missed it), then a straightforward and unadorned admission is in order.

Tom: One of the hardest lessons to teach trainees is the idea that “I don’t know” is a perfectly good answer to a number of questions.

Stan: I don’t know about that. Actually, I agree. Sometimes saying I don’t know galvanizes the attention of the courtroom. It reflects good boundaries and humility.

When attorneys are downright nasty and insulting, how should the ethical and effective expert reply?

Stan: I see such nastiness as an opportunity for experts to show how nice and likeable they can be. When attorneys raise their voices, good experts lower theirs. When attorneys get sarcastic, effective experts become earnest. When attorneys become aggressive, good experts don’t bite, and extend a soothing and calming quality to their responses.

Tom: If the attorney is screaming at you, and you are calm, you are the one with credibility.

What do you really like and dislike in expert testimony?

Tom: I like the challenge of the two translations: taking the psychiatric clinical issues and translating them into the legal criteria; and then translating that result into a form that the jury will understand. I don’t like having my testimony or my writings misquoted and distorted, but I realize fully that those events come with the territory.

Stan: Positive psychology has emphasized the concept of being in the zone, when there is an easy flow of ideas and feelings. I like I watching experts in the zone and like it when I am in the zone. Some attorneys are very skilled at creating enough static so that one cannot have that ease of being both oneself and a good expert. That’s their job. Testimony works best when one does not take it personally and seeks to be polite, responsive, and nondefensive even when the strong wind is blowing in your face.

Is there some mantra or thought to say to self before going onto the stand?

Tom: My favorite is saying to myself, “My job is to protect the truth of my opinion from both attorneys. My retaining attorney—at least at some level—would like me to slant the testimony in favor of his side. The opposing attorney, of course, wants to discredit me and impeach my opinion.” The challenge, of course, is to walk the path between, sticking to the truth wherever the chips may fall.

Stan: Every now and then, I give retaining counsel an answer they have not wanted. It is a good thing, because it reflects integrity. When counsel and I meet in advance, there is less likelihood of this happening because they try out their questions and learn what I have to say.

The Psychology of Democracy


by Chris Kelaher

The explosive U.S. presidential campaign is about to slam into even higher gear, as candidates prepare for the Iowa caucuses (February 1) and New Hampshire primaries (February 9). Anyone who has watched the past several months would admit the American system is far from perfect. But democracy still seems to be the best available system of governance when allowed to develop properly. Countries that have transitioned successfully to democracy are still a minority, however, and none has attained what Fathali Moghaddam calls “actualized democracy,” in which all citizens share full, informed, equal participation in decision making.

What is it about human nature that seems to work for—or against—democracy? In his new book The Psychology of Democracy (APA, 2016), Moghaddam explores political development through the lens of psychological science, examining the factors influencing whether and how democracy develops within a society. He concludes with recommended steps for promoting in citizens the psychological characteristics that foster democracy.

Fathali M. Moghaddam, PhD, is a professor of psychology at Georgetown University and editor-in-chief of Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology (APA). His previous books include APA Books’ The Psychology of Dictatorship (2013). His research focus on psychology and the transition from dictatorship to democracy dates goes as far back as 1979, when he returned to his native Iran after its revolution.

Watch Dr. Moghaddam discuss this important new work below! To order or read more about The Psychology of Democracy, go to http://www.apa.org/pubs/books/4318137.aspx

Note: The opinions expressed in this interview are those of the authors and should not be taken to represent the official views or policies of the American Psychological Association.