Newly-Remodeled Comprehensive Clinic Means Better Therapy

“We’ve arrived; we’ve made it to the Promised Land!” said Director Dean Barley in reference to BYU’s newly remodeled Comprehensive Clinic. Opened in the 70’s, the clinic was recently updated to allow for increased patient comfort and more space for students to work. Furthermore, a new assistant director was hired, David Fawcett, who will help move the clinic technologically forward in the hopes that it will be cutting edge and better able to serve the community.

The Remodel

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An updated therapy room

 The much-needed remodel had been a goal for decades; limited space made it hard for students to work and sparse therapy rooms sometimes made the work difficult. Specific changes that were made include:

  • Accent walls, whiteboards, and TVs  in rooms
  • Soundproof therapy rooms
  • A mothers’ lounge
  • Increased storage and moving shelves
  • A play therapy room with a plethora of toys, a castle, and a sand table

“It’s great, [I] love it,” a student working at the clinic said. “It’s good to be back, now I have a space.”

What is the Clinic?

The BYU Comprehensive Clinic offers counseling services to members of the public in the Utah County community. It is a research and training facility where counseling is provided by graduate student interns under the close supervision of experienced faculty who are licensed therapists. In addition to therapy, the clinic offers various psychological assessment. In 2016, 1,191 people were helped at the clinic; this was higher than average, as the clinic sees 900-1,100 people a year. More than 100 therapists are employed there and oversee a multitude of graduate students. They supervise their therapy and teach them the skills they need to be successful at their work.

LDS Family Services and the Communication Disorders Department are housed in the clinic. In addition, BYU recently acquired the old seminary building adjacent to the clinic; they will host psychology students there.

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Panorama of the new play therapy room

Future of the Clinic

“It’s a brave new frontier,” said Dr. Barley in reference to the future of the clinic. He and Dr. Fawcett will use technology to supplement their therapeutic process so as to improve it and the flow of the treatment. To him, the remodeled clinic is truly “a dream come true.”

 

Feature image: By GreenwoodKL (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

New Faculty Spotlight: Natalie Hancock

New FHSS professor Natalie Hancock had an “aha” moment on the first day of her undergraduate interior design class at BYU. Her professor was listing a few majors that might interest students who liked the class. “When she said Family and Consumer Sciences Education, I knew that was the major for me,” Professor Hancock said.

Then-student Hancock had always loved sewing and cooking, and she’d taken a few FACS classes during junior high, but it took the interior design professor’s comment to make Professor Hancock realize what she wanted to do with her life.

“I love Family and Consumer Sciences Education”

Natalie HancockSince taking that undergraduate course, Professor Hancock has given her all to helping family and consumer science students. She worked as a middle school and high school teacher for several years, where she integrated technology, math, science, and even social media into her classroom.

“Once I entered the teaching profession I loved learning how to become a better teacher. I wanted to share that passion with others,” Professor Hancock said. “I love Family and Consumer Sciences Education and believe everyone should major in this program.”

Professor Hancock said she has a clear goal in returning to BYU as a professor: to help students all over campus know about the FACS Education major. “The skills that are taught to secondary students by our FACS Education majors are vitally important,” Professor Hancock said. “FACS graduates can have a tremendous influence after they graduate and enter the secondary education classroom.”

Pursue What Inspires You

Professor Hancock said students should pursue what inspires them. They should also get to know their professors, she said, who “are wonderful people who want you to succeed.”

Looking back on her own undergraduate and graduate studies, Professor Hancock said the most valuable lesson she learned was to always do her best work. That way, she knew she was being true to her potential, and she could happily accept any grade she received.

Her parting word of advice? “One thing I absolutely loved about being a student at BYU was being able to attend devotionals and forums. Make sure you are attending.”

Welcome back to BYU, Professor Hancock!

Does Exercising Together Bring Couples Closer? New Study Says Maybe Not.

A new study done by BYU Family Life professor Dr. Lee Johnson shows that exercise, while helpful for individuals, might not be good for couples. It might, in fact, be an indicator of problems in the relationship. Women in couples therapy with their husbands reported that the more they exercised, the more intense their arguments tended to be.

The Study

The study consisted of daily surveys from 36 heterosexual couples, cohabitating or married. The questionnaire included such queries as:

  • What did you argue about?
  • How heated was the argument?
  • Since you last reported, did you spend time exercising?
  • How many minutes did you exercise?

couple 2Dr. Johnson found that when males were more stressed, they reported a higher level of argument intensity. Male exercise had no significant impact on the variables. However, when females reported exercising, both partners reported higher argument intensity.

This result was surprising, and ran counter to the hypothesis Johnson and the other investigators were looking to prove. “Exercise has been an important part of my life,” said Dr. Johnson, “and has contributed to bettering my relationships.  I have also seen in be helpful in the lives of couples I work with in therapy. At first, we were surprised by the finding.  There is a lot of research on the benefits of exercise helping many mental and physical aspect of our life but no research on how exercise will influence couples who are attending therapy.  However, when we thought further about the findings, we came up with the explanation that as time exercising increases that is time away from the relationship, which can contribute to increased arguments.  This is our current hypothesis that we need to conduct additional research on.”

Additionally, they posit that some partners might withdraw from their spouses to exercise because of increased argument intensity. Exercise, in this sense, can be an indication of decreased relationship quality.

Meaning and Next Steps

exercise

With those findings and theories in mind, Johnson offered the following advice to clinicians:

  • be conscientious of how they prescribe exercise interventions in couples therapy
  • help males learn to be attentive to their own physiology and facilitate self and partner soothing

By extension, then women and men in couples should be conscientious of how they use exercise in their relationships: as escape or aid.

The researcher plans to continue this study using accelerometers to gauge physical activity as opposed to using participants’ responses. “This study opens many areas for future research. These include generalizing the current study to a sample including non-white couples and non-heterosexual couples,” said Johnson.

 

Exercise photo courtesy of Curtis MacNewton

 

New SFL Professor Aims to Mix Religion and Science

alyssa witting“There is no conflict between science and religion. Conflict only arises from an incomplete knowledge of either science or religion, or both,” said Elder Russell M. Nelson. New School of Family Life professor Dr. Alyssa Witting believes that religion and science can tremendously inform and help each other in the field of therapy. She intends on bringing this perspective to her work at BYU. 

The Scientific and the Spiritual

“As an LDS scholar, I have an overarching hope that my work will help in the effort to bridge gaps in AND between our gospel understanding and scholarly understanding of how to heal from trauma. We know that anything true is part of the gospel of Jesus Christ…. There is much to be learned about what we can and should do to help those affected by mass and personal traumas by turning to the scriptures and the words of modern-day prophets as well as the wonderful work and work of trauma researchers and theorists,” said Dr. Witting, who studies trauma.

Work with Students

The scholar is also excited to be teaching at BYU, calling her relationship with educating others a “love story.” While teaching at another university, she “learn[ed] to approach [her] students with an aim to serve them and stretch them rather than impress them.” This led to “[being filled] with confidence and peace that I had something to contribute. It also allowed me to practice…trying new things all geared toward creating an environment where people enter and feel respected, challenged, stretched and cared about, just like I do in my clinical work.”

She offered the following advice to students:

  • Rise above the fear that you are not good enough. Look outwards and find people that you can help and encourage. “Actively consider and pray to know how your talents can fit the needs [of those] around you. It will truly alleviate anxiety about being good enough because you will see the work the Lord has given you is uniquely suited for you. There is no one better for your mission than you.”
  • View failure as “inspiring learning.” Use your setbacks and challenges to reach farther and climb higher.

Time at BYU

“I feel very humbled to be a faculty member at BYU. I have truly extraordinary researchers and teachers who are people of great character to interact with and learn from as my colleagues and I feel privileged to be surrounded by the incredibly bright and dedicated students here in FHSS. I can honestly say there is no place I would rather or even would have continued my work as an academic,” said Dr. Witting. Welcome to BYU, Dr. Witting!

In a Stepfamily? Come to this Lecture!

“When you have a blended family,” said stepparent Isabella, in a recent Connections article, “you have the chance to learn how charity works. Having a blended family has been a blessing to us because we had the opportunity to become an eternal family.”  While stepfamilies are becoming more common in modern society, blending them is still a challenge, according to Patricia Papernow, an expert in the study of stepfamilies and a speaker at our 2016 Social Work Conference. “It’s like Italians eating with chopsticks.” At an upcoming presentation, School of Family Life professors Jeff and Tammy Hill will share some useful tips for members of blended families both on- and off-campus.

In particular, they’ll:

  • share their own personal experience of blending their 12-kid family,
  • provide the most current research on blended families and what actually works.
  • tackle counterproductive myths about blended families,
  • equip attendees with research and gospel-oriented principles to assist them

The lecture will be held on November 8th and 7pm in room 2265 of the BYU Conference Center. Overflow will be in room 2267. It is offered as part of the Families at Risk lecture series, which provides family with techniques, perspective, and hope to take on today’s threats to family. Registration is required beforehand here, and the cost is $25.

The stress associated with numerous family transitions can pile up, the consequences of which may persist into emerging adulthood.,” said Drs. Erin Holmes, Kevin Shafer, and Todd Jensen in a 2016 study. It is imperative that people who are in stepfamilies or who know people in stepfamilies understand the importance of successful blending and the best ways to do so. Each widowed and remarried, Tammy and Jeff Hill are eager to share their experiences with others.

 

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What is Your Young Adult Thinking?

What is your young adult thinking? Until recently, the concept of emerging adulthood (ages 18-24) was not academically recognized as distinct from adulthood. But now, in part thanks to School of Family Life professors Larry Nelson, Jason Carroll, Brian Willoughby, and Laura Padilla-Walker, researchers are beginning to study it. In a recently-released 2017 Connections article, writer Jake Healey said: “Emerging adulthood is a unique time of life, complete with its own set of challenges and struggles, and it is important for parents, teachers, employers, and others to learn about these issues. So what does the research of Carroll, Nelson, Padilla-Walker, and Willoughby reveal as the four primary concerns of this age group? They are, in order of importance:

  • identity,
  • parental involvement,
  • sexual behavior/relationships, and
  • morality/religion

For explanations of each of those categories, check out the full article on the Connections magazine webpage. While there, you’ll also find information on:

  • cutting-edge Alzheimer’s Disease research at BYU
  • helpful money management tips
  • an analysis of the U.S.’s relationship with Germany, from political science professor Wade Jacoby, an expert on the subject
  • our most recent and successful Utah Colleges Exit Poll
  • the changing face of invention (clue: it’s more of a team effort than you thought!)
  • help for members of stepfamilies

Let us know what you think in the comments below!

When Women’s Voices are Truly Heard: Chris Karpowitz and “The Silent Sex”

“Culture does not make people. People make culture. If it is true that the full humanity of women is not our culture, then we can and must make it our culture,” wrote Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in her book We Should All Be Feminists. BYU Political Science professor Dr. Chris Karpowitz has researched what that “full humanity” looks like currently, in the context of public meetings and politics. In the 2014 book The Silent Sex: Gender, Deliberation, & Institutions, authored by him and Princeton University professor Dr. Tali Mendelberg, they discuss the reasoning behind, methods, results, and implications of a study they conducted on the subject of gender equality in politics. They found, among other things, that only in certain situations are women’s voices truly heard.

Gender Equality – The Study

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Photo courtesy of Goodreads

That study, The Deliberative Justice Experiment, included both male and female participants who were divided into groups and tasked with discussing and making decisions regarding the redistribution of money. They were told that they would be paid based on their group’s decision; the decision had to be by majority or unanimous, depending on which group they were placed in.

This experiment allowed Doctors Mendelberg and Karpowitz to ask important questions, such as:

  • How much do women and men speak?
  • Do men use interruptions to establish their status in the group?
  • Do women use them to create a warmer tone of interaction in the group?
  • Do women express their preferences during discussion?
  • How does what happens in the discussion affect the decision the groups ultimately makes?

The researchers found that those in unanimous decision groups were more inclusive and more vocal in expressing their preferences, and discussed the issue longer. If men were in the numerical minority in such a group, though, they tended to increase their participation and interrupt more. According to Karpowitz, this meant that “unanimous rule is good for women when [they] are in the [numerical] minority…but it is bad for women when they are the majority, …as men—the numerical minority—increase their participation.”

Majority rule groups also demonstrated behaviors that had both benefits and drawbacks for women. “Majority rule signals that the more numerous groups…are entitled to exercise power,” said the authors. When women are in the majority, they participate more and “can benefit from this signal to exercise power.” So, in order to achieve their goals, women must have a large majority. The opposite is true for men: they can get away with having a small majority. Furthermore, when women are in the majority, the men in the group are more resistant to their stances. “Unanimous rule helps women when they are few, while majority rule helps women when they are many.”

Implications for Change

The authors posited that simply holding meetings and increasing the proportion of female municipal leaders were ineffective ways to boost female involvement. Indeed, the question of whether or not more females should get involved in politics because of their gender has tended to be a topic about which people have strong opinions. Margaret Dayton, a BYU alumni who is the longest-serving woman in the Utah state legislature, said in last year’s issue of Connections: “Your gender does not qualify you to serve. Your principles, your willingness to work, your experience that brings you there, those are the kinds of things that qualify people, not gender.” And Karpowitz conducted a study with fellow political science professor Jessica Preece that found that “quotas, which face practical and ideological barriers in the United States, are not the…way to increase women’s representation.”

Rather, Karpowitz and Mendelberg suggest that increasing the number of women in meetings and municipalities where they might be underrepresented or in the minority, and implementing unanimous rule—or measures that lead to total inclusion—might rectify the problem of “the silent sex.” Although unanimity is not without its problems, the process aids women when they are in the minority.

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The authors cite political theorist Alexis de Tocqueville‘s views on class differences: “The humblest individual who is called upon to co-operate in the government of society acquires a certain degree of self-respect; and as he possesses authority, he can command the services of minds much more enlightened than his own.” The same can be said for gender equality. Only by making a concerted effort can we be more inclusive of women in politics and other public forums.

 

How can You Help Kids Learn about Healthy Living?

Anatomy AcademyAccording to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 17% of American children are obese. As obesity can lead to a plethora of health problems, the prevalence of it is a serious problem. BYU Neuroscience professor Jonathan Wisco recognized this and founded the Anatomy Academy to combat the nationwide epidemic by teaching children about healthy living.

 

 

 

What is it?


The program recruits BYU students to go visit local fifth and sixth grade classes to teach the kids about healthy living. “You’re teaching all these young kids how to take care of themselves so that they can be healthy in the future, and they won’t have to go to the hospital,” said former BYU student and Academy mentor Janeen Williamson.

Dr. Wisco, in an interview with KBYU Radio’s Top of Mind host Julie Rose, said that some of the activities the mentors and middle schoolers do are:

  • Measuring out the amount of sugar in foods, especially drinks, so that the kids can see how much sugar they’re really consuming
  • Studying a cow heart to gain an increased understanding of how the organ works
  • Playacting as blood cells to better comprehend how the heart functions
  • Inflating cow lungs with a straw

anatomy academyBy having students engage in hands-on activities, Dr. Wisco believes that they will learn how to live a healthy lifestyle. And they seem to be getting the message. A mother of one his students received a call from her son’s camp leader. While on a camping trip, her son would not sit next to the fire because he didn’t want to inhale the smoke. “It was a little extreme, but he clearly got the message,” said Dr. Wisco.

Origins

How did Anatomy Academy begin? While Wisco was employed at UCLA’s medical school, he and other faculty members were “looking for an impactful way to help our medical students translate complicated medical information to a population that’s often ignored. And those are junior high students.” While there are programs and classes for high school students, very little was being done for those in middle school and junior high. Anatomy Academy was introduced to a school in the area, eventually spreading to Utah when Dr. Wisco became a professor at BYU. Since then, it has “just exploded.” Through word of mouth, it has spread to a profusion of states.

“Healthy citizens are the greatest asset any country can have,” said former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Through his Anatomy Academy, he is giving the rising generation invaluable instruction about how to live a healthy lifestyle.

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What tips or healthy recipes have helped you or your kids lead healthier lifestyles?

 

What is a Fulbright, and Why Should Faculty and Students Care?

Are you a faculty member interested in becoming a Fulbright Scholar or in learning more about the Fulbright Scholars Program? Are you an undergraduate or graduate student interested in doing research abroad? On March 23rd, the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences will host two representatives of the Fulbright Program—Sophia Yang, and Lee Rivers—who can tell faculty and students how to apply for either kind of opportunity.

Fulbright student scholarships fund an academic year of international experience for U.S. citizens, and are open to graduating seniors and graduate students. With more than 1,900 awards available, the Fulbright is a terrific opportunity to study, conduct international research or work as an English teaching assistant abroad.

Faculty members interested in learning about opportunities with the Fulbright Scholar Program may attend the presentation given by Sophia Yang at 12:00 p.m. on March 23rd in the Hinckley Building east conference room. A light lunch will be served at 11:30. Ms. Yang’s presentation will be followed by an opportunity to speak with her one-on-one about the application process and more specific information about various opportunities. Faculty members should RSVP using this Google doc, or by emailing fhssresdev@byu.edu.

Faculty Informational Session
Thursday, March 23
12 p.m., lunch at 11:30 a.m.
Benson building
W170

Students interested in learning about opportunities with the Fulbright Student Program may attend the presentation given by Lee Rivers, the Assistant Manager for Outreach and Special Projects for the Institute of International Education. This presentation will be at 11:00 a.m. on March 23rd in room W170 of the Benson building.. There will also be a Q&A following the presentation.

Students may sign up in this Google doc.

Student Informational Session
Thursday, 
March 23
11 a.m.
Benson building
W170

For more information, contact Kristen Kellems at fhssresdev@byu.edu.