On July 23, 2019, Frank Rzucek, the father of Shanann Watts spoke out about the online harassment and false accusations he and his family have faced after the tragic murder of his daughter and two granddaughters, Bella and Celeste. Listen to his remarks here.
Dr. Alexander spoke with Denver ABC and NBC about the negative consequences of cyberbullying and why individuals engage in cyberbullying or trolling behavior. To see the interviews, click here for ABC7 and here for NBC9.
Additionally, Dr. Alexander was interviewed by Fox31 about some countries and Instagram removing the ‘like’ feature on their social media platforms. Learn more about her thoughts here.
Wakanda Forever! Dr. Alexander contributed two chapters in the recently released book Black Panther Psychology: Hidden Kingdoms, edited by comic book psychology expert Dr. Travis Langley and award-winning writer and comic book creator Alex Simmons.
Dr. Alexander and Dr. Tracy Vozar co-authored a chapter entitled The Raising of a King: Father-Son Attachment between T’Challa and T’Chaka, which analyzes the characters relationship using attachment theory.
Additionally, Dr. Alexander authored a chapter entitled Black Girl Magic: Black Women as Leaders of Wakanda which discusses media tropes, misogynoir, and the importance of Black women as leaders.
Once again, Dr. Alexander and her students and colleagues presented at Denver Pop Culture Con (formerly Denver Comic Con). This year, they held two panels to a large audience. Here are the abstract for both exciting panels:
Anyone Can Wear The Mask: Diversity, Inclusivity, and Representation (moderated by Dr. Apryl Alexander)
In the last year Black Panther and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse broke box office records, gained critical acclaim, and won Academy Awards, which was previously considered an impossible feat for comic book films. In addition to the exemplary writing, design, and direction of these two films, the yearning for characters with dynamic personalities and diverse backgrounds has made these films unique and popular. Comics and their associated media are becoming increasingly more inclusive and are making an effort to depict relatively positive images of underrepresented groups. With Captain Marvel and a rumored Black Widow movie on the horizon, it is clear studios are recognizing the desire for diverse content, characters, and perspectives. Further, many comics and television shows based on comics, such as Black Lightning and Cloak and Dagger, are incorporating more social justice-oriented material. This panel will discuss the importance of inclusivity and representation in the media and social justice themes emerging from current content. Also, we will present potential next steps in terms of creating more inclusive media. Lastly, we will pay homage to Stan Lee for his role in creating a more inclusive universe in his material.
Why So Many Orphan Princesses?: Triggering the attachment system in pop culture (moderated by Dr. Tracy Vozar)
Why do Disney princesses lose their parent(s) seemingly before the opening credits are through? Attachment theory states that loss of a primary attachment figure, such as a parent, is a life altering trauma. Loss of a parent is a common fear throughout childhood and into adulthood. The folks at Disney have mastered the art of triggering the audience’s attachment systems to draw in interest and foster an emotional connection with the protagonist. Disney’s not the only master of this method, with numerous production companies including Marvel, DC, Pixar and others harnessing the orphan trope to endear us to their characters’ plights. Further, the loss of parental figures is commonly used as a catalyst for character development, particularly for child or adolescent characters who are then parentified as a result. Unfortunately, insecure attachment and pseudo mature independence from primary caregivers is commonly glorified by these themes. In this panel, we will review the numerous and varied examples of the use of orphaned characters to generate audience engagement. We will delve into the theoretical and scientific bases of the effectiveness of the absent parent plot device, providing in-session exercises and generating group discussion.
Dr. Alexander was selected to participate in the American Psychological Association’s MOU Partner Collaboration and Exchange program. She attended the British Psychological Society’s annual conference in Harrogate, England. The theme of this year’s conference was The Psychological Impact of Inequality and Dr. Alexander provided a presentation on the school-to-prison pipeline. She also networked with colleagues from throughout the UK and beyond regarding public policy and advocacy efforts (and enjoyed a lot of British foods).
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 headed to the mountainous Vail, Colorado with colleague Dr. Lynett Henderson Metzger to attend the Colorado Advocacy in Action (CAIA) conference. A full day of learning about the latest research and approaches to interpersonal violence and advocacy for persons impacted by interpersonal violence. Drs. Alexander and Henderson Metzger presented a 90-minute presentation providing an brief literature review on the impact of non-fatal strangulation in domestic violence cases.
Non-fatal strangulation refers to those who have survived an episode of strangulation (a form of mechanical asphyxia caused by direct pressure on the neck by one or two hands or arm). It is estimated 3-9.7% of U.S. women who have experienced interpersonal violence have also experienced non-fatal strangulation in their lifetime (Sorenson, Joshi, & Sivitiz, 2014). Further, strangulation attempts has been linked to acts of mass violence. For instance, Omar Mateen (who murdered 49 people at Pulse nightclub in Orlando) allegedly strangled two of his ex-wives and was never charged.
Drs. Alexander and Henderson Metzger hoped to bring awareness to this important issues, emphasize the need for proper assessment of victims of interpersonal violence, and begin a dialogue regarding proper intervention.
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.
Off to Memphis! Dr. Alexander headed to the annual conference for the American Psychology-Law Society (AP-LS). Her presentation titles included:
- Examination of the confluence model of sexual aggression in college males
- The relationship between childhood poly-victimization and psychopathy in college students
- Competency restoration for adult defendants in different treatment environments: A future direction for research and policy
While at AP-LS, she continued her work on the Teaching, Training, and Careers Committee, as well as the Externally Focused Initiative Committee. This year, APLS President Dr. Eve Brank began this initiative to provide service to the community in which the conference was held. Dr. Alexander assisted in bringing 50 local high schoolers to the conference to attend sessions, attend the plenary about Kalief Browder, and have lunch with graduate students. What a great event!
Dr. Alexander also traveled to Williamsburg, Virginia to present at the Virginia Sex Offender Treatment Association (VSOTA) annual conference. She was invited to provide two workshops entitled, Cultural Awareness and Competence in Sex Offender Treatment.
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.