2011-2012 News

Dr. Michael Southam-Gerow Begins 4-Year-Term as Associate Editor 

Dr. Michael Southam-Gerow

Michael Southam-Gerow, Ph.D., of the Clinical Psychology Program, will serve as an Associate Editor for the Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, the official journal of the Society of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology (APA Division 53), beginning in 2012.

W & M, VCU Colleagues Speak to Congressional Subcommittee about Puller Veterans Benefits Clinic


An excerpt: "Two members of the William & Mary Law School faculty, Patricia E. Roberts and Stacey-Rae Simcox, traveled to Washington on April 24 at the invitation of the Advisory Committee on Disability Compensation to brief its members on the work of William & Mary Law School's Lewis B. Puller, Jr. Veterans Benefits Clinic. Congress established this Advisory Committee in 2008 'to advise the [Veterans Administration] Secretary with respect to the maintenance and periodic readjustment of the VA schedule for rating veteran disabilities.' The committee also heard from Dr. Leticia Flores of the Virginia Commonwealth University Center for Psychological Services and Development, which works in tandem with the Puller Clinic to serve veterans. . . 'Since its inception, the Puller Clinic has trained nearly 100 law and psychology students in the intricacies of the benefit claims process,' Roberts said, 'and instilled in them a sense of responsibility for meeting the commitment that our nation made to its veterans.' She noted that the partnership with the VCU Center for Psychological Services and Development allows the Puller Clinic to serve veterans holistically by addressing both their legal and psychological needs."

Andrea Shamaskin and Dr. Bruce Rybarczyk's Research Featured in New York Times

shamaskin-thumb rybarczyk-thumb View the article featuring their research.

An excerpt: "Just a decade ago, people 65 and older were routinely rejected for heart transplants at all but a few institutions. But in 2006, the International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation issued new guidelines saying that heart failure patients should be considered for transplants up to age 70. . . Another study in the journal, published earlier this year, found that heart transplant patients 60 and older reported greater satisfaction with their quality of life, less stress and depression, and more compliance with follow-up medical regimens ‌than younger patients. Older patients seem to be “a distinct group” with more ability to handle the psychological aftermath of a transplant, said Bruce Rybarczyk of Virginia Commonwealth University and several co-authors. The study was based on survey responses from 555 transplant patients at four medical centers."

View more detail about the study on our New Research Findings page.

Amy Jeffers Wins Research Awards

jeffers-thumbAmy Jeffers, a PhD student in the Health Psychology Program, was recognized for submitting an excellent abstract to the Society of Behavioral Medicine (SBM) Conference. She received a Citation Abstract award as well as a Meritorious Student award. The abstract was entitled "The misuse of prescription stimulants for weight loss, psychosocial variables, and eating disorder symptoms." The study examines the misuse of prescription stimulants, defined as those normally used to treat ADHD (e.g., Ritalin, Adderall), for the purpose of weight loss, the motivations behind it, and how this use is related to various psychosocial variables, and eating disorder symptoms.

Kelly Pugh and Dr. Al Farrell's Research Featured by Prevention Action

pugh-thumb farrell-thumbView the article featuring their research.

An excerpt: What are the pathways that link maternal depression to adolescent aggression? . . . The findings suggest that maternal depression can influence both parenting practices and family functioning in ways that contribute to teenage aggression. However, depressed mothers, rather than having a distorted view of their adolescents' aggression, were found to be more accurate in their views than less depressed mothers. . . . In contrast to the many previous studies that have included predominantly Caucasian families with higher levels of economic status, this study used a high-risk, predominantly minority sample of adolescents from families with a diverse range of socioeconomic backgrounds. This focus is appropriate because research has found high rates of depression among minorities and low-income families that place children at a higher risk for negative outcomes."

Students Win Department Awards and Scholarships

You are invited to the Department's Annual Award and Scholarship Reception, Tuesday, April 3, from 4-5:30 p.m. at 806 W. Franklin Street, 1st floor. Please find the list of this year's award and scholarship recipients below (we will have a few additional recipients still to be announced).  We hope you will be able to join us to recognize and congratulate these students.  


  • Psychology Undergraduate Black History in the Making: Quandrea Harper
  • Psychology Graduate Black History in the Making: Michell Pope & Jacqueline Woods
  • Outstanding Psychology Junior Award: TBA
  • Outstanding Psychology Senior Award: Kyra Kiehna & Ashvin Sood
  • Outstanding Behavioral Medicine Track Graduate Student Award: Laurin Mack
  • Outstanding Biopsychology Graduate Student Award: Caroline Cobb
  • Outstanding Child Clinical Track Graduate Student Award: Lillian Christon Arnold
  • Outstanding Counseling Graduate Student Award: D. Jeff Jennings & Nichole Kelly
  • Outstanding Developmental Graduate Student Award: Lillian Christon Arnold & Neeraja Ravindran
  • Outstanding Graduate Student Teacher Award: Russ Clay
  • Outstanding Social Graduate Student Award: Laura Kiken


  • Melvin V. Lubman Undergraduate Scholarship: Ly'Shawn Powell
  • Deborah Braffman Schroeder Award to Outstanding Clinical Student: Aaron Martin
  • Elizabeth Fries Memorial Scholarship: Laura Shay
  • John Corazzini Award for Therapeutic Group Work: TBA
  • John P. Hill Award for Adolescent Research: Priscilla Powell & Nikola Zaharakis
  • Outstanding Master's Candidate Award: Adriana Rodriguez

Dorothy Fillmore Wins Service Award

filmore-thumbDorothy Fillmore, Associate Director of Academic Operations in the Psychology Department, was awarded a faculty/administrator Burnside Watstein LGBT Award. The award is given annually by the LGBT subcommittee of VCU's Equity & Diversity Committee to individuals who enrich the community at VCU and make a significant difference in the lives of LGBT faculty, staff, and students.  



D. Jeff Jennings Wins Research Award

jennings-thumbJeff Jennings, a PhD student in the Counseling Psychology Program, won the first place award in the 2012 Christian Association of Psychological Studies (CAPS) student paper competition. It includes a small cash award and recognition at the 2012 CAPS International Conference being held in D.C. March 29-31. It was entitled "Inspiration: A Definition and Theoretical Model for Empirical Investigation."  He has completed data collection on one of the studies and will be presenting the results at the conference this month. He is currently collecting data on two additional studies. The studies examine inspiration as a psychological construct, investigating its emotional correlates and testing a value-specificity hypothesis regarding its experience and its influence on behavior.

Brain Day for Local High School Students


An excerpt: "Brain Day is a neuroscience initiative held in connection with National Brain Awareness Week, which takes place March 11-17. The conference is a joint initiative between the VCU Psychology Department and Henrico County Public Schools and is directed by Joseph H. Porter, Ph.D., professor of psychology and director of the Biopsychology Program, and Tim Donahue, a graduate student...The conference was instituted to provide advanced placement psychology students with an academic experience highlighting the intersection of research in neuroscience and psychology."


Daniel Snipes Wins Research Scholarship


Daniel Snipes, a Health Psychology doctoral student, received the VA pride scholarship for his research on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) health disparities. Daniel intends to use the award to fund a project that seeks to examine human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine uptake among gay and bisexual men. The results of this project will inform future interventions aimed at reducing the burden of HPV-related outcomes in gay and bisexual men. Daniel's general research interests aim to improve the sexual health of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) individuals.


Dr. Victoria Shivy Interviewed on WRVA Radio


Dr. Victoria Shivy, of the Counseling Psychology Program, was interviewed by Jimmy Barrett of Richmond's Talk Radio --WRVA -- pertaining to two local workplace shootings that occurred in February. Dr. Shivy noted that these rare, but high-profile, events are traumatic for workplace witnesses and bystanders, who need time, support, and a safe place to debrief. Workplace violence violates peoples' expectations about the safety of the workplace, and because they are rare events they are very difficult to predict. [Link to interview no longer available.]



Dr. Tom Eissenberg's Hookah Smoking Research Featured in USA Today


Dr. Tom Eissenberg's primary area of research is the behavioral pharmacology of drugs of abuse, focusing primarily on nicotine/tobacco. His current work, funded by the U.S. NIH, involves 1) developing laboratory methods to evaluate potential reduced exposure products (PREPs) for tobacco users, and 2) understanding the knowledge, beliefs, attitudes, and effects of waterpipe tobacco smoking.

Jessye Cohen-Filipic Appointed to APA Virtual Working Group on Restrictions Affecting Diversity Training in Graduate Education

Jessye Cohen-Filipic was recently appointed as the only student member of the American Psychological Association (APA) Board of Educational Affairs (BEA) Virtual Working Group on Restrictions Affecting Diversity Training in Graduate Education. The working group is charged with preparing informative materials for education and training program administrators, faculty, and prospective and current students, as well as for state psychological associations and the general public, addressing the potential impact of legislative provisions or court rulings on diversity training in graduate education. Jessye is completing her final year of the doctoral program in Counseling Psychology.

Dr. Heather Jones Receives CTE Teaching Grant

Heather Jones thumbnail

Heather Jones, Ph.D., of the Clinical Psychology Program, has been awarded a VCU Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE) Small Grant to use bug-in-the ear technology to improve graduate therapist use of child behavior management skills. Dr. Jones is co-director of the ADHD Specialty Clinic at VCU’s Center for Psychological Services and Development. The funded project will entail Dr. Jones using bug-in-the-ear  technology behind a one-way mirror to provide immediate feedback to graduate student therapists in the ADHD Clinic at VCU as they work with children with attention and behavior problems and their families.


Dr. Ev Worthington Wins APA William C. Bier Award


Everett Worthington, Ph.D., of the Counseling Psychology Program, was selected to receive the American Psychological Association (APA) Division 36 (Psychology of Religion and Spirituality) William C. Bier Award. This award is offered annually to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution through publication and professional activity to the dissemination of findings on religious and allied issues. The award will be presented at the annual APA convention in Orlando, FL, where he will give an address entitled, "Virtue Resurrected: Theory and Research."


Dr. Michael Southam-Gerow Selected for APA Committee

Dr. Michael Southam-GerowDr. Michael Southam-Gerow, Associate Professor in the Department (and member of Clinical Psychology Program), was selected to serve on the APA Committee on Children, Youth, and Families (CYF) for a three year term starting in 2012. The CYF has 6 total members, selected from a pool of nationally nominated experts, who each serve staggered three year terms so that each year there are two new members. The mission of CYF is to increase the influence of psychological science on policy and services relevant for children, youth, and families.



Dr. Leticia Flores Honored for Service to Veterans

flores-thumbDr. Leticia Flores, Director of the Psychology Department's Center for Psychological Services and Development, was recognized by the Lewis B. Puller, Jr Veterans Benefits Clinic for her outstanding commitment to serving veterans. Her award was presented at a ceremony as part of William & Mary's Law School Veterans Day observance.




Dr. Jody Davis and Anthony Coy's Environmental Research Featured by European Commission

davis-thumbDr. Jody Davis and graduate student, Anthony Coy, both of the Social Psychology Program, recently published research (with collaborator Dr. Ben Le) describing the relationship between individuals' commitment to the natural environment and their willingness to sacrifice for the environment (e.g., recycle, purchase energy-efficient products). Their research examined commitment to the environment, defined as psychological attachment and long-term orientation to the natural world. They theorize that commitment emerges from structural interdependence with the environment and leads to pro-environmental behaviors. 

‌In December, a summary of their research was selected to be featured by the European Commission's environmental news service for policy makers. 


Primary Care Psychology Program "Champion" Wins 2011 Unsung Hero Award

primary_careThe Department of Psychology's Primary Care Psychology team nominated the medical director of the primary care clinic where the program is embedded for the Virginia Healthcare Foundation 2011 Unsung Hero Award. Denise Borden, MD, was nominated for the outstanding work she has done in collaborating with Dr. Bruce Rybarczyk to build the program that has now provided over 3,000 treatment sessions to uninsured and underinsured patients who otherwise have very limited access to mental health services.

Dr. Borden was selected from among many nominated physicians from around the state who have dedicated their careers toward meeting the needs of undeserved Virginians. She has been tireless in championing the program and its accomplishments. The Primary Care Psychology program received a $2,000 prize as a result of Dr. Borden winning the award. The program has already been awarded over $500,000 in funding from both the Health Resources and Service Administration and the Virginia Health Care Foundation. It has 20 doctoral students embedded in both adult and pediatric primary care settings.

Please view the video posted at the Virginia Healthcare Foundation web site that is a tribute to the work of Dr. Borden with the program.


Janet Lydecker Receives Dissertation Grant for Eating Disorders Research

Janet Lydecker, a doctoral student in Counseling Psychology, received an American Psychological Association Dissertation Research Award. Her dissertation is on visual attention biases and body dissatisfaction in eating disorders. The project aims to establish whether biases exist in how women look at pictures, and whether these potential biases can be changed. Results from this study could have applications for psychotherapeutic and outreach interventions for eating disorders. This project will occur over the next year, and is part of Janet's broader research interest in body image and health-related applications of counseling psychology.


Department Honors Colleagues and Students at Veteran's Reception

As part of VCU's Military Services Appreciation Week, on Monday, November 7, the Psychology Department hosted a Veteran's Reception at the Richmond T. Robertson Alumni House. 

Helping Military Veterans through Higher Education Fundraiser

On Thursday, November 4th, Governor McDonnell will speak at the Virginia Bar Association's kick-off event for the Veterans Legal Services Month. The VBA's Veterans Fundraiser this year will benefit Helping Military Veterans through Higher Education (HMVHE). HMVHE  was founded by William & Mary's law school and our Psychology Department's Center for Psychological Services and Development (CPSD), and stemmed from our successful collaboration assisting veterans through the Lewis B. Puller Veterans Benefits Clinic. HMVHE is a consortium of Virginia colleges and universities that are marshaling their schools' legal, mental health and medical resources to assist Virginia's veterans and military service members with a variety of needs. During last year's Veterans Legal Services Month, the VBA raised over $25,000 to support the Puller Veterans Benefits Clinic. These funds help the Puller Clinic to pay for the comprehensive psychological and neuropsychological evaluations their veteran clients receive at the CPSD. The collaboration has provided excellent services to our nation's veterans as well as excellent training to VCU's psychology doctoral students. For more information on the Puller veterans Benefits Clinic and CPSD's role in the clinic, go to https://law.wm.edu/academics/programs/jd/electives/clinics/clinics_list/veterans/index.php.

Adriana Rodriguez Funded on an NIMH Diversity Supplement

rodriguez-thumbDrs. Bryce McLeod and Michael Southam-Gerow received a Diversity Supplement to their NIMH R01 grant developing treatment integrity measures for child therapies. Treatment integrity is the degree to which therapists are delivering a specific therapy correctly (i.e., adherence) and skillfully (i.e., competence). The supplement award will provide research and career development experiences for Adriana Rodríguez, a second year clinical PhD student. Through the award, Adriana will develop research skills needed to progress toward independent research focused on treatment integrity through classroom experiences and guided research opportunities. Her specific focus will involve exploring what are called benchmarks. That is, she will be investigating whether or not there are minimum levels of therapist adherence or competence needed for treatments to produce positive effects. This research may help guide future research, particularly in the area of training therapists in novel treatment approaches.

Faculty Job Ad in Health Psychology

Our department is seeking to hire a tenure-track faculty member at the assistant professor level in the area of health psychology to begin August, 2012. 

Lily Christon Receives Dissertation Grant for Autism Research

christon-thumbLily Christon, a doctoral student studying jointly in the Developmental Psychology Program and Clinical Psychology Program, was awarded a dissertation grant from the Organization for Autism Research (OAR). Her grant is called Coordination of care, treatment beliefs, and treatment practices in professionals working with children with autism spectrum disorders. First, the project aims to provide rich descriptive data of professionals' practices and intervention use with children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). A secondary aim is to provide a better understanding of the factors that predict two important aspects of evidence-based practice in these professionals working with children with ASDs: the use and recommendation of evidence-based interventions and use of family-centered care approaches that take into account patient preferences, characteristics, and values.

Clinical and Counseling PhD Programs Receive Reaccreditation from APA

The American Psychological Association (APA) manages accreditation for certain types of programs in psychology, including two programs offered in our department. The Clinical Psychology Program and Counseling Psychology Program each received reaccreditation from the APA for 7 years.

Dr. Tom Eissenberg Appointed to FDA Committee


Thomas Eissenberg, Ph.D., of the Biopsychology Program, recently began a multi-year invited membership on the Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Dr. Eissenberg's primary area of research is the behavioral pharmacology of drugs of abuse, focusing primarily on nicotine/tobacco. His current work, funded by the U.S. NIH, involves 1) developing laboratory methods to evaluate potential reduced exposure products (PREPs) for tobacco users, and 2) understanding the knowledge, beliefs, attitudes, and effects of waterpipe tobacco smoking.


Dr. Ev Worthington Wins APA Dorothy Booz Black Award in Counseling Psychology


Everett Worthington, Ph.D., of the Counseling Psychology Program, received the prestigious American Psychological Association (APA) Division 17 (Counseling Psychology) award, given to encourage and award outstanding research and practice in counseling health psychology. The award has an associated monetary prize, funded by Consulting Psychologist Press, Inc. Nominees must have made a primary contribution in research and practice of counseling health psychology focused on health-related processes and outcomes. One of his recommenders stated: "Ev's contributions to counseling health psychology reflect his research interests over the trajectory of his career. His more contemporary work in the study of forgiveness – in which he has advanced a theoretical and empirical agenda concerning the concept – has resulted in a series of studies that illustrate his influence in counseling health psychology – and beyond. Ev has always put his theoretical notions to the test in rigorous laboratory and field examinations, making him a true scholar and important figure in our field. Ev's contributions to counseling health psychology are apparent in his scholarship, training and mentorship." As another of his letter writers stated: "I believe he represents the true ideals of our scientist-practitioner model, and he has exemplified these ideals in the work most relevant to counseling health psychology."

Our VCU program in counseling psychology is the only program in the country that has two winners of the Dorothy Booz Black award for scholarship in counseling health psychology. In addition to Dr. Worthington, Dr. Marilyn Stern, Director of the Counseling Program, received the Dorothy Booz Black Award in 2005. Having two winners reflects the strength of the program in counseling health psychology and sets us apart from other programs in the country.

Dr. Wendy Kliewer's Project CARE Featured by Partner University

Wendy Kliewer thumbnail image"Project CARE is a collaborative research project by UKZN’s Department of Behavioural Medicine and Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). CARE is an acronym for Community Assessment of Risk and Resilience. Project CARE, a pioneering study on the continent will span four to six years and will analyze risk and resilience amongst youth in Durban. It is the brain-child of Dr Wendy Kliewer, a Fulbright scholar and Head of the Department of Psychology at VCU and Professor Basil Pillay, Head of the Department of Behavioural Medicine at UKZN. The first of its kind undertaken in Africa, the project has received $64 509 in seed funding from VCU’s Global Education Office and the College of Humanities and Sciences. The project will follow two age-groups of youth as well as their caregivers from low income families in the greater Durban municipality annually for four years."

Bruce Park Receives Fulbright Scholarship

park-thumbBruce graduated with his BS in Psychology with University Honors in May 2011 and was selected as a member of the Guaranteed Admission Class of 2015 at VCU Medical School. He will defer his admission to medical school to spend the next year in Korea teaching English and learning Korean and Korean culture.