Dr. Alexander was interviewed by Denver Fox31 regarding the recent arrest of Jussie Smollett, star of the Fox show Empire, following allegations of false reporting of a hate crime. The interview and article can be found here.
Dr. Alexander co-authored a manuscript published in the Journal of the Academy of Psychiatry and the Law with several other leading clinicians and researchers in competency restoration. Dr. Alexander serves as the Director of the Denver FIRST Outpatient Competency Restoration Program.
Abstract: The optimization of trial competency restoration is a topic of growing interest and controversy in the fields of forensics, psychology, criminal law, and public policy. Research has established that adult defendants who have severe psychotic disorders and cognitive impairments are more likely than defendants without these conditions to be found incompetent to stand trial and are less likely to be restored to competency thereafter. Research has also identified some of the benefits of attempting restoration in hospitals, jails, or outpatient settings for defendants with different diagnoses or levels of cognitive functioning. Rates of restoration, length of stay necessary to achieve restoration, and, in some cases, how quickly defendants are found non-restorable are primary indicators of positive outcome. We sought to review the extant literature on competency restoration, with the goals of identifying implications for current practice and generating inquiries for future research. We found that there are significant advantages and disadvantages of attempting restoration in a hospital, jail, or outpatient setting on rates of restoration, length of stay necessary to achieve restoration, or length of time necessary to determine non-restorability, while controlling for several relevant factors (e.g., diagnosis, cognitive limitations).
New publication in College Student Journal is a collaboration between Dr. Alexander and her Auburn University student colleagues. Two of the co-authors were undergraduate students at the time it was written!
Abstract: Risky sexual behavior (RSB) is common among undergraduate students in the United States and previous studies indicate an increased likelihood of engaging in RSB while under the influence of alcohol. Alcohol use is highly prevalent among college students, especially those students involved in sororities. The present study aims to examine the frequency of RSB in a sample of 330 sorority and non-sorority students at a Southeastern university using validated measures of RSB and RSB related to alcohol use. Results indicated no significant differences between sorority members and non-sorority members on measures of RSB. Implications for prevention and intervention strategies for college women are discussed.
New publication in the Victimization and the Life Course Special Issue of Criminal Justice Review. A collaboration between Dr. Alexander and her Auburn University student colleagues.
Abstract: Current research suggests a link between childhood sexual abuse and risky sexual behaviors (RSBs) in emerging adults. However, previous studies neglect evaluating the influence of high levels of cumulative childhood victimization. The present study examined the relationships among polyvictimization, six aggregate categories of childhood victimization, and RSB in college women. This study first examined the relative contributions of polyvictimization and individual categories of childhood victimization in predicting RSB and then tested whether polyvictimization contributes any unique variance, beyond that accounted for by the combination of all six aggregate categories, in a sample of 321 college women in a Southern state. Regression analyses reveal that (a) polyvictimization accounts for a significant proportion of variability in scores for RSB, beyond that accounted for by any of the six categories of childhood victimization alone; (b) the categories of childhood victimization contribute little to no variability beyond that accounted for by polyvictimization, and (c) polyvictimization accounts for a significant proportion of variability in RSB, beyond that already accounted for by the simultaneous entry of all six categories as predictor variables. Results suggest treatment providers working with college students should assess polyvictimization in relation to RSB and inform their prevention efforts given this link.
Dr. Alexander authored a chapter in the newly released book entitled Therapist Self-Disclosure: An Evidence-Based Guide for Practitioners by colleague Dr. Graham Danzer.
Inspired by her work as a clinical supervisor and LGBTQ+ advocate, Dr. Alexander authored Chapter 18 entitled Are You Gay? The chapter outlines the unique challenges gay therapists face when making determinations on whether to disclose their sexual orientation to a client. Three case studies are provided along with a discussion and implications align with research presented in Chapter 10 (Sexuality). Finally, there is a brief discussion of self-disclosure in contexts of other LGBTQ and gender non-conforming therapist identities.
Dr. Alexander headed to San Fransisco, California for the annual APA Convention! This year she had several presentations across the four-day conference. Here are a few brief snapshots:
Panel: Can Racism Be Treated Therapeutically? Answers From the Next Generation of Psychologists. Chair: Graham Danzer, PsyD
Can we treat individuals engaging in racist ideology? Five early career psychologists discussed how the field can address racism. Dr. Alexander discussed conceptualization approaches to racism as a potential clinical syndrome, as well as discussed current interventions used to counter implicit biases.
Symposium: Special Topics in Assessment and Treatment--Sexual Offenders and People at Risk of Perpetrating. Chair: Oona Appel, PsyD. Discussant: Apryl Alexander, PsyD
Dr. Alexander discussed the importance of providing culturally competent care to individuals who have committed sex offenses and the limited research on diverse populations within this population despite the emphasis of cultural competence and humility in the field of psychology. Further, the panelists discussed critical areas need in sexual violence prevention.
Paper: Improving Competency Restoration Through Placement Decisions. Lead Author: Graham Danzer, PsyD
Colleague Dr. Graham Danzer (Florida State Hospital) presented an upcoming paper entitled The Association Between Specific Competence-Related Abilities and Competence Restoration. Dr. Alexander serves as a co-author of the manuscript — discussing her experiences as director of an outpatient competency restoration program. The manuscript will be published in the Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law in early 2019!
Symposium: The Disinvited--Opening Spaces for Our Marginalized Selves in Training and Practice. Chair: Apryl Alexander, PsyD. Discussant: Neil Gowensmith, PhD
The symposium explored the role intersecting, marginalized identities in supervision and training context. The presenters, GSPP forensic faculty, explored how these identities impact practitioners and their clients; how conventional approaches to supervision may overlook or discount the importance of these identities; and practical ways to open a space for exploration of these identities within the parameters of ethical and effective training and social justice practice.
Dr. Alexander was invited to present at the University of Denver's Grand Challenges forum on addressing violence. She provided a 5-minute "lightning talk" discussing poly-victimization in children, adolescents, and young adults, as well as in juveniles adjudicated for illegal sexual behaviors. She ended her talk with outlining areas of prevention (e.g., need for medically accurate and culturally informed sexual education, removing juveniles from registries) in addressing violence in our communities. Check out here lightning talk (beginning at the 11:42 mark) here!
Colorado Community Media has a Time to Talk series which focuses on community mental health issues. Part 1 focused on barriers to mental health treatment. Part 2 focused on mental health and incarceration. Part 3 of the series, which focuses on mental health in schools and issues affecting teens, was released this week. Dr. Alexander was interviewed and her remarks on sexting and social media use among adolescents were featured in the two articles written by Alex DeWind below:
Such exciting news for the DU Prison Theatre Program!
Dr. Alexander and Dr. Ashley Hamilton were a Community-Engaged Learning Mini-Grant from the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning (CCESL) at DU to help support the program. Additionally, they were awarded a large Professional Research Opportunities for Faculty (PROF) grant which provided two years of support for the project entitled The DU Prison Theatre Project: Theatre as Rehabilitation; allowing for Dr. Hamilton to implement a theatre arts program at the Denver Reception and Diagnostic Center (DRDC) and Dr. Alexander will assist in program evaluation of the efficacy of the program.
Dr. Alexander was interviewed by Denverite about street harassment in the Denver community. Approximately 85% of women have experienced street harassment in their lifetime--with 30% having experienced confrontational forms (e.g., being followed in a manner that frightened them). Denverite writer Ashley Dean also notes important issues related to street harassment and violence against LGBTQ+ and non-binary individuals. It's important to combat hypermasculine/toxic masculine attitudes and beliefs to combat identity-based violence.
Dr. Alexander and her students traveled to Kansas City, Missouri to the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers (ATSA) Annual Conference. Dr. Alexander served on the conference planning committee and gave a 3-hour continuing education workshop on cultural awareness and competence in sex offense treatment. Also, several Auburn and DU students participated in the Student Clinical and Data Blitz. Bravo to all involved!
New publication in the Journal of Aggression, Conflict and Peace Research. A collaboration between Dr. Alexander and her Johns Hopkins and Auburn University colleagues.
Abstract: Risky sexual behavior (RSB) on college campuses contributes to elevated rates of sexually transmitted infections and sexual assault. Research indicates a positive association between sexual victimization history (SVH) and RSB with alcohol use and sexual sensation seeking as mediators to this association. Hypermasculinity has also been shown to play a moderating role amongst these associations. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to test the associations between RSB, SVH, alcohol use, sexual sensation seeking, and hypermasculinity. A moderated mediation model was run examining the association between SVH and RSB, with alcohol use and sexual sensation seeking tested as mediators of the relationship between SVH and RSB. In addition, hypermasculinity was tested as a moderator of the mediated relationship between SVH and the aforementioned mediator variables. Alcohol use and sexual sensation seeking partially mediated the association between SVH and RSB. Masculinity moderated the association between SVH and RSB via sexual sensation seeking and between SVH and RSB via alcohol use. Individuals with SVH might be at a higher risk for alcohol use and sexual sensation seeking, ultimately increasing their risk for RSB. University policy implications include implementing alcohol use and awareness interventions, strengthening sexual victimization policies, and including screenings for SVH at counseling and medical centers.
New publication in the International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology. A collaboration between Dr. Alexander and her Johns Hopkins and Auburn University colleagues.
Abstract: Depression, substance use, and impulsivity have been linked to family violence exposure and to the development of violent offending during adolescence. Additionally, the indirect effects associated with these factors may not generalize across different racial/ethnic adolescent populations. The present study tested whether race/ethnicity moderated the mediated relationship between family violence exposure and violent offending, with depression, substance use, and impulsivity as mediators. A sample of 1,359 male adolescents was obtained from a juvenile correctional program. Between-racial/ethnic group comparisons were generally consistent with previous findings. The overall moderated mediation model was significant in predicting violence for both racial/ethnic groups. Different factors influenced violent offending among African Americans and European Americans in the tested model. Futhermore, race/ethnicity moderated the relationship between family violence exposure and impulsivity and substance use. Implications and future directions resolving issues are discussed concerning whether race/ethnicity should be included as a moderator in models of violence.
Continuing her advocacy efforts from earlier this year, Dr. Alexander wrote an article on ethical issues concerning "conversion therapy" for LGBTQ+ and/or gender non-conforming people in the latest Psychotherapy Bulletin. You can read the article here. Dr. Alexander presently serves at Contributing Editor for the Ethics Section of the Psychotherapy Bulletin.
New publication in the Journal of Sexual Aggression. A collaboration between Dr. Alexander and her Auburn University colleagues.
Abstract: Intelligence differences exist between sex offenders and non-sex offenders in adult populations, but comparable intelligence differences are not consistently found among juveniles. However, juveniles may differ on measures of intelligence across offence-related variables used to subclassify adults. The purpose of the present study was to determine if between- and within-group differences exist within a sample of 925 juveniles adjudicated for illegal sexual and non-sexual behaviours across offence-related variables. The results suggest that juveniles adjudicated for illegal sexual behaviour outperformed juveniles adjudicated for non-sexual offences on Wechsler Abbreviated Scale of Intelligence (WASI) performance, though full-scale intelligence quotient scores for both groups were lower than would be expected in the general population. Unlike adult offenders, juveniles adjudicated for illegal sexual behaviour do not tend to differ on WASI performance across offence-related variables. These results provide additional evidence that these juveniles adjudicated for illegal sexual behaviour are categorically distinct from adults who sexually offend.
Dr. Alexander attended the American Psychological Association’s Annual Convention in Washington, D.C. During the Convention, she received the APA Achievement Award for Early Career Psychologists from the APA Committee for Early Career Psychologists and National Register for Health Service Psychologists. This award is presented to individuals who have shown themselves to be rising stars, with great leadership under their belts and tremendous promise to change psychology for the better.
Dr. Alexander also received the Early Career Award for Outstanding Contributions to Research/Practice in the Field of Child Maltreatment from Division 37's (Child and Family Policy) Section on Child Maltreatment.
New publication in the Sexual Abuse. A collaboration between Dr. Alexander and her Auburn University student-colleagues.
Abstract: Previous research has found differences in sexual behavior and types of sexual offending by offense category and racial/ethnic group. The present study examined effects of offense category, victim age, and race/ethnicity on sexual behavior. Data from 561 confined adolescents adjudicated for illegal sexual behavior (AISBs) and adolescents adjudicated for illegal nonsexual behavior (AINBs) were included in the present study. A hierarchical multinominal logistic regression was run to test whether sexual experiences and behaviors differentially predicted AINBs, AISBs with child victims, and AISBs with peer/adult victims. Results supported the utility of distinguishing AISBs by victim age. Comparisons between AISBs and AINBs indicated AISBs had more sexual abuse and were more sexually restricted, whereas AINBs reported more sexual behavior, reflecting a finding potentially mirroring sexual development, sexual experiences, and caregiver approaches to discussing sexuality. Over 60% of AINBs and 30% of AISBs reported behaviors that could be classified as distribution of child pornography. Within the group of AISBs, select racial/ethnic group differences emerged such that European American participants were more likely to have had intrafamilial sexual experiences and were far less likely to have had vaginal intercourse than African American AISBs. Future directions and implications regarding policies related to sexual education and sexting are discussed.
Dr. Alexander traveled to Prague, Czech Republic to present at the International Academy of Law and Mental Health Congress at the Faculty of Law at Charles University. Her presentation was entitled Intelligence in juveniles with illegal behaviors: A comparison of juveniles sex offenders and juvenile delinquents, which the lab hopes to be published soon! She also took some time to tour the gorgeous city!
New publication in the Journal of Child Sexual Abuse. A collaboration between Dr. Alexander and her Auburn University colleagues as part of Megan Harrelson's thesis.
Abstract: The current study examined the relationship among self-disclosure of illegal sexual behaviors and two conceptually relevant constructs in psychotherapy: childhood polyvictimization (i.e., cumulative types of victimization experienced during childhood) and caregiver attachment. Participants consisted of 63 adolescent males participating in mandated treatment for illegal sexual behavior. Childhood polyvictimization and caregiver attachment were expected to predict self-disclosure of illegal sexual behaviors. Quality of caregiver attachment was also expected to mediate the relationship between polyvictimization and disclosure. Consistent with our main hypothesis, results indicate that quality of caregiver attachment mediated the relationship between childhood polyvictimization and self-disclosure of illegal sexual behaviors in psychotherapy. The current findings highlight the impact of polyvictimization on important therapeutic processes as well as the importance of assessing for multiple types of victimization in adolescents who engage in illegal sexual behavior. Further clinical implications regarding the use of trauma-informed approaches during sex offender treatment are discussed.
New publication in the Journal of Child Sexual Abuse. A collaboration between Dr. Alexander and her Auburn University colleagues.
Abstract: A growing body of evidence suggests that jurors place greater weight on DNA or other types of forensic evidence than non-forensic evidence (Cole & Dioso-Villa, 2009). For cases involving child sexual abuse, certain types of evidence, including forensic medical evidence, may be viewed as more important or indicative of abuse than other types of evidence, such as victim statements or disclosure. The present study evaluated perceptions of juvenile offenders and victim credibility across four vignettes that systematically manipulated variables related to victim age and physical indicators of abuse. A sample of 636 participants read vignettes and answered questions pertaining to the vignette. Participants also provided demographic information and responded to a series of items assessing participants' judicial decision-making strategies and outcomes. Broadly, the presence of medical evidence significantly influenced participants' decision-making across a variety of variables, including verdict outcome, verdict confidence, confidence that the victim was truthful, and determinations involving sex offender registration and notification requirements. The influence of medical evidence and victim age on perceptions and sentencing of juvenile sex offenders across these and additional outcome variables will be discussed.