What are Microaggressions?

While the term has been around since 1970, Merriam-Webster only recently added “microaggressions” to its dictionary. It’s defined as, “a comment or action that subtly and often unconsciously or unintentionally expresses a prejudiced attitude toward a member of a marginalized group.”  Merriam-Webster uses racial minorities as one example; however any marginalized group is vulnerable to microaggressions.

This January, APA Books released the paperback edition of That’s So Gay! Microaggressions and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community. In this book, Dr. Kevin Nadal explains how microaggressions affect the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. Nadal describes microaggressions as the “New Face of Discrimination.” It has become unacceptable in the present day and age to openly voice and act on discrimination. Because of this, it can be commonplace for Americans in the majority to determine that they are not prejudiced, because they associate prejudice with the more outright forms of discrimination, such as hate crimes. However, they may not realize the ways in which their seemingly innocuous statements and behaviors can subtly harass or insult minorities.

Unlike blatant acts of discrimination, the motivations behind microaggressions are often ambiguous. Nadal uses the example of a White woman alone on an elevator who moves to the side and grabs her bag when joined by an African-American man. Nadal notes that there are several possible explanations for the woman’s action, but regardless of her intention, the man may suffer psychological stress as a result.

What can we do about microaggressions? Nadal gives several recommendations.  One location where microaggressions occur most often is in the workplace. It may be more difficult to confront microaggressions in this environment because of power dynamics and concerns over one’s employment status. It also raises the concern that one won’t be able to prove a microaggression to human resources representatives—or to convince them that such subtle interactions are worth investigating. Therefore, Nadal recommends that workplaces remain open to discussing microaggressions, and incorporating education about them in training and hiring opportunities.

 

References

Nadal, K. L. (2013). That’s so gay! http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/14093-000

May Releases from APA Books!

Toward a More Perfect Psychology 

Improving Trust, Accuracy, and Transparency in Research

Edited by Matthew C. Makel, PhD, and Jonathan A. Plucker, PhD

At its foundational level, the heart of science is that its methods allow for others to believe its results. This foundation is served by trust, accuracy, and transparency. Toward a More Perfect Psychology presents strategies to help strengthen the field by improving research quality. This includes strategies for not just maximizing the quality and impact of one’s own work, but also evaluating and responding to the research of others. Toward a More Perfect Psychology is a vital step in making psychology a stronger, more rigorous science.

 

How and Why Are Some Therapists Better Than Others?

Understanding Therapist Effects

Edited by Louis G. Castonguay and Clara E. Hill

Some therapists are more effective than others, that much is clear; why they are more effective is less clear. To answer this question, Louis Castonguay and Clara Hill compiled this comprehensive guide that brings together expert scholars and clinicians from a variety of theoretical backgrounds. They explore the empirical foundations of therapist effects as a broad concept and propose practical strategies to help mental health practitioners become more effective. Chapters also closely examine specific therapist characteristics, skills, and attitudes that are relevant to all clinical contexts, including therapeutic presence, technical interventions, cultural competence, reactions to negative emotions, and humor.

 

Practical Ethics for Psychologists 

A Positive Approach

THIRD EDITION

Samuel J. Knapp, Leon D. VandeCreek, and Randy Fingerhut

Guided by the American Psychological Association’s “Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct,” this book illustrates how psychologists can actualize their ethical acumen in their daily work. The authors discuss a variety of ethically tricky areas for psychologists, including patient confidentiality and inappropriate relationships, and provide risk-reduction strategies as well as a five-step decision-making model for difficult ethical quandaries. This third edition of Practical Ethics for Psychologists includes new findings on the science of morality and on working with morally diverse clients, and ethical issues regarding the use of social media and other online communications.

 

Treating Infants and Young Children Impacted by Trauma 

Interventions That Promote Healthy Development

Joy D. Osofsky, Phillip T. Stepka, and Lucy S. King

Infants and young children exposed to trauma can suffer with developmental, emotional, behavioral, and social problems across the lifespan. Continuing research dispels the myth that children simply “grow out of it,” by demonstrating how trauma impacts neurobiological development and emphasizing the need for early intervention. The authors of this book distill the literature in this concise volume that explores the effects of trauma on infants and young children along with the treatments that are best suited for addressing these effects.

APA Author Discusses Solitary Confinement

In “Last Days of Solitary,” a Frontline documentary that aired last month on PBS, professor and APA author Craig Haney talks about the history of solitary confinement in America, and efforts to decrease its use in the prison system.

Dr. Haney, who teaches at the University of California, Santa Cruz, has spent decades studying the psychological effects of imprisonment and other aspects of crime and punishment.  As a graduate student, he was one of the researchers on the 1971 Stanford Prison Experiment.  More recently, he testified before a Senate subcommittee during a hearing on solitary conferment.

He is the author of the APA book Reforming Punishment: Psychological Limits to the Pains of Imprisonment, and has contributed to APA journals, including Law and Human Behavior. 

In Reforming Punishment, Dr. Haney argues that the United States has pursued fundamentally flawed prison policies that don’t just impose punishment, but cause real and lasting harm. He uses modern psychological theory to challenge current prison practices and point to ways psychologists, policymakers, and others can help create a more effective and humane justice system.

Currently, Dr. Haney is working on a new book with APA about the nature of criminality. For more information about Dr. Haney and his work, click here.

Inside APA Books: An Interview With an Acquisitions Editor

What makes APA Books tick? This is the first in a series of interviews with APA Books staff, to help shed light on what we do, and how we do it.  For this interview, Tyler Aune, Editorial Development Manager, interviewed Chris Kelaher, Senior Acquisitions Editor.

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

Chris Kelaher, Acquisitions Editor with APA Books

TA: What’s a typical day in the life for an Acquisitions Editor at APA Books?

CK: I correspond with current authors as well as prospects, trying to bring in new material. When everything works out, we get a strong manuscript with which to work.  Much of my time is spent searching for new ideas, guiding new proposals through review, and eventually  getting a manuscript in good enough shape to send over to you guys [in development].  That can involve a lot of back-and forth with authors—sometimes for years, quite honestly.  To develop ideas, I look at what else is going on in the field, what’s being published in journals, which scholars and topics are prominent at the major professional meetings.  I spend a fair amount of time preparing for, attending, and following up on the key conferences in my fields. I keep an eye on the APA website and visit college campuses. And sometimes I actually find the time to do cold prospecting—researching who’s working on what, who’s teaching on which topics, identifying the gaps in our list, and approaching authors I think could fill those gaps.

TA: So when you go to a conference, do you already know ahead of time who’s gonna be there? You’re setting up meetings ahead of time?

CK: I do plenty of advance work and schedule meetings in advance, but I also meet with people on the fly, as well.

TA: So can people walk up to you, and say “hey Chris, I have a great idea for a book. . . “

CK: Absolutely! I want them to do that.

TA: What are the areas that you’re looking to acquire in, specifically?

CK: I’m one of three acquisitions editors at APA Books. My areas include cognitive psychology; developmental; social and personality; neuropsychology; forensic; and military.  I handle four series, including Division 35’s Psychology of Women series, Division’s 44 series on Perspectives on Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity, Latin American Perspectives on Psychology, and the Language and the Human Lifespan Series, which we copublish with DeGruyter Mouton, a major linguistics publisher.  I’m also looking for new material in environmental psychology, particularly climate change.

TA: Can you describe the typical author that you work with? How young, how old, how experienced?  At what point in their career is the typical APA book author?

CK: We have a number of outstanding younger authors, but more often than not, they’re degreed psychologists well along the tenure track in a university. It’s not always in their best interests career-wise to work on a book earlier than that.

TA: Because it’ll take time off from other things?

CK: Right. Producing a book is a lot more work than publishing a single journal article, yet the young scholar working his or her way up the university ladder often doesn’t get much credit for it.

TA: So then why write a book?

CK: Because many topics simply cannot be adequately covered in a journal article, which are shorter and more tightly focused. Sometimes the books come out of larger programs or conferences.  Books can pay special attention to specific areas, like the divisional series I mentioned earlier.  There are royalties involved, so you can make some money doing this. And you do get a certain cache, because not everyone can do it.  A book can pull together various strands of research after it reaches a critical mass, with enough data or raw material to synthesize it into something larger and more cohesive.  A book does that better than any other vehicle, I feel.  So plenty of folks still want to tackle the challenge, but our typical author tends to be somebody who has tenure, or is getting close to it, or is at least working with a more senior person.

TA: I’ve heard psychologists with publishing experience say, “don’t do edited volumes.” In other words, don’t be the person who has to corral the contributors, and handle all the paperwork, because it’s so much work with so little reward.  Is it harder these days to get people to do edited volumes, or to do books in general?  Do you get resistance?

CK: Well, publishers in general stress single author titles more these days if they can. There are a lot of benefits to them; however, many scholars feel they don’t have the time to write an entire book themselves, and many don’t feel that they have the full expertise necessary.  That’s especially the case with younger people, where the first part of their research careers is spent developing important but relatively narrow ideas. They’re encouraged to stress depth, but expanding the breadth or audience of their work is not yet in their comfort zone.  And many times they need reach a certain point in their careers before it’s even professionally advisable to go for breadth.

TA: Why is that?

CK: Well, a lot of psychology departments want you to make your bones with original research, which is usually put out piecemeal, in journal articles. That’s the way the system works.

TA: Does it actually help the science, the accumulation of knowledge, for things to be done this way? Or is that just the way the hierarchy works?

CK: I have a hard time discerning cause and effect here. It’s probably a little of both.  Because the process works that way, it keeps working that way, like a self-fulfilling prophecy.  But there are exceptions.  Actually just now, as you walked in this door, I was getting ready to meet with our marketing department about a forthcoming book called Making Research Matter: a Psychologist’s Guide to Engagement Beyond the Academy [coming in November, 2017].  One thing we can accomplish with this handy book is to help researchers reach beyond the people in their cohort, floor, or building, in the interest of increasing the impact of their work. I’m hearing more and more desire for translational research, a desire to have impact beyond just continuing one’s own career, and I find that very encouraging.

TA: We’ve seen some pushback over the idea of impact.  Some people say that that, in the effort to make a big splash, to get noticed, researchers may be tempted to cut corners, to make their work more appealing.  Is that a real risk?  Not that publishing with APA is gonna turn people into rock stars overnight, but…

CK: Now now, if you had seen the way people were approaching and talking about [Roberta] Golinkoff and [Kathy] Hirsh-Pasek at the last conference I went to, you might feel differently! They were rock stars!  Their tremendously successful book [Becoming Brilliant: What Science Tells Us About Raising Successful Children] is a bit of an outlier, but there are people who can write psychology in a way that is authoritative and scholarly, yet still accessible.  I’m not talking about pop psychology; I’m talking serious folks like Stephen Pinker, Dan Gilbert, Roy Baumeister, and the like.  Those people are in high demand, because what they do is important, and it’s useful, and it’s hard to do.

TA: It’s especially hard if you’ve been writing only in scholarly venues your whole career.

CK: Right. If you’ve had it pounded in your head for years not to do it that way.  Look: we’re very discerning in what we publish.  We’re very conscious that we represent APA, we represent psychology.  So we take steps to ensure that when we go for breadth, we don’t sacrifice depth.  That’s where our thorough process of vetting, our developmental editing (which most publishers don’t do anymore), really helps.  I think you can be serious and still speak to more than a handful of people at a time.

TA: Are there any areas that you feel are currently underrepresented in our list? If somebody wants to get a proposal into you, and it’s unsolicited, what’s the best chance of getting your attention?  What area(s)?

CK: Neuropsychology, for one. We do have some upcoming books in this area that I’m excited about, on topics such as multiple sclerosis and concussion.  And there’s also Clinical Neuropsychology: A Pocket Handbook for Assessment, [now in its third edition] which is a great resource.  But we want to do even more in this area.

TA: Obviously most unsolicited proposals get rejected. Why?  What are you looking for that you don’t find in those rejects?

CK: Many times, the prospective authors are not as qualified to write a book as they think they are. That’s part of it.  So credentials is one criterion.  Experience, is another.  It can be difficult to market an esoteric book written by someone with little name recognition.  And if our previous experience publishing on a certain topic was problematic, it would be foolhardy to ignore that.

TA: I know it’s very rare that an unsolicited book proposal can turn into a contract—

CK: Rare, but not impossible. Speaking for myself, I wish we got more proposals over the transom than we do.  It’s not usually the best stuff, and we don’t get a lot of it, but I’ll tell ya, when someone wants to work with you, it’s a good head start.  I’ve spent months, years, just trying to convince someone to write a book proposal.  It’s a lot faster just to react to one that comes at you, even if that one still needs a lot of work.

TA: That’s interesting. I always assumed that the slush pile was all rejects.

CK: Well, it’s called the slush pile for a reason. It can get pretty slushy.  But occasionally, you find a real snowball in there.

 

Mindful Photography: Finding Presence Through the Lens

By David Becker

Thanks to modern technology, taking photos is such a simple task that we rarely put much thought into it. All we need to do is pull out our phones, point them at something, and quickly snap a photo just by tapping on the screen. And we don’t even have to worry about wasting film, so there’s no need to put a lot of careful thought into making sure we get the photo just right.

Long before digital cameras and smartphones made photography so effortless and convenient, Ansel Adams commented on how easy it is to just go “snap, snap, snap” and take a bunch of photos to quickly capture a memory. However, he advocated a more thoughtful and creative approach. A legendary innovator in artistic photography, Adams pioneered the concept of visualization, which entails seeing your photo in your mind’s eye and “feeling it” before you actually click the shutter. The goal is to capture not just an external event, but also the internal event that occurs in the photographer’s mind as he or she takes the photo. Quoting fellow artistic photographer Alfred Stieglitz, Adams said, “I give [the photograph] to you as the equivalent of what I saw and felt.” His approach resulted in phenomenally beautiful images that continue to evoke strong emotional reactions from their viewers to this day.

Adams’s visualization technique can be seen as a precursor to mindful photography, a meditative exercise developed by psychiatrist and photographer M. Lee Freedman. In her book A Practical Guide to Cultivating Therapeutic Presence, clinical psychologist Shari Geller (2017) offers this exercise as a way to cultivate a greater sense of presence in our daily lives. By presence, Geller means “(a) being grounded and centered in yourself, while (b) feeling deeply immersed in the moment, with (c) a larger sense of expansion or spaciousness” (p. 4). Mindful photography in particular teaches us how to shift from an immersive experience, in which we become cognizant of fine details, to a more expansive awareness of the big picture. It means seeing both the forest and the trees—perhaps even each individual leaf as well.

Black and white image of a lake with snow capped mountains in the background.

In her book, Geller lays out each step of the mindful photography exercise, which can be done with any sort of camera, whether a digital SLR or a mobile phone:

  1. Pause and take three full breaths, feeling your feet on the ground.
  2. Go for a walk, or look around your current space, to find three objects or images: one that you are attracted to, one you have an aversion to, and one you feel neutral about.
  3. Beginning with the first object or image of something you are attracted to, look through your camera’s viewfinder and notice what you see. Be curious about this object. Allow yourself to receive the image rather than looking out at it.
  4. Now either zoom in or move your body physically closer to the object, focusing on one aspect. Notice what is calling your attention to the subject as you zoom in closer.
  5. Now zoom your lens out, or move your body further away from the image. Look and feel, with curiosity, your relationship with this image.
  6. Walk further away and then pause to look at the image with your eyes or the viewfinder.
  7. Now move closer to the image with your body and/or the viewfinder of your camera. How does this image look or feel different or the same? What do you feel in your body as you use the camera or your body movements to see this object from different vantage points?
  8. Repeat this practice with an image of something you feel averse to and something you feel neutral about. Notice how your perspective, feeling, or relationship with the object may change as you see what is present before you from different perspectives. (pp. 187–188)

Like Ansel Adams, the mindful photographer develops a deep connection with his or her subject. This creates a powerful, mind-opening experience for the photographer that is translated into a beautiful image for others to enjoy as well. In capturing the photographer’s internal event, the resulting photo can also cultivate presence in its viewers, especially those who view it mindfully and take the time to really internalize the image.

References

Geller, S. (with Siegel, D. J.). (2017). A practical guide to cultivating therapeutic presencehttps://doi.org/10.1037/0000025-000