April 2017: Conference Travels

Dr. Alexander headed back to Blacksburg, VA for the 5th Annual Faculty Women of Color in the Academy National Conference (FWCA).  The conference had excellent all-star keynote speakers, including Melissa Harris-Perry, Nikki Giovanni, and Henrietta Mann. Dr. Alexander presented a poster on the Scholars Committed to Opportunities in Psychological Education (SCOPE) program (see below posts for more details), which was developed by her graduate students at Auburn University. It was a wonderful weekend with amazing scholars on Virginia Tech’s beautiful campus. Again, Go Hokies!

Dr. Alexander with world-renowned poet and author and Virginia Tech University Distinguished Professor Dr. Nikki Giovanni!

Dr. Alexander with world-renowned poet and author and Virginia Tech University Distinguished Professor Dr. Nikki Giovanni!

Back in Denver, Dr. Alexander participated in the snowy/rainy/sunny March for Science! There were estimated to be 20,000 people marching for evidence-based research. Go Denver! Go Science!

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Dr. Alexander ventured to Indianapolis, IN as an invited speaker for the Indiana Sex Offender Management and Monitoring (INSOMM) program annual conference. Similar to her 2016 ATSA workshop, she presented on working with a population of dual status individuals in the criminal justice system—those with severe and persistent mental illness who have also committed sexual offenses.

March 2017: Advocacy

We had a busy month! This quarter Dr. Alexander taught Psychology, Public Policy, and Advocacy, which consisted of six students in the Graduate School of Professional Psychology (GSPP) at DU. Guest speakers for the course included individuals from local advocacy organizations (i.e., Mental Health Colorado, ACLU Colorado, Advocacy Denver, Rocky Mountain Victim Law Center). The capstone project for the course involved students providing mock testimony on a current legislative bill—which demonstrated students’ preparedness for legislative testimony. Shortly after the course ended, Dr. Alexander and her students attended Mental Health Colorado’s Legislative Education and Advocacy Day (LEAD Day) where they learned more about current issues involved mental health reform in Colorado and how to be a better advocate at the state level.

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This month Dr. Alexander testified before the Senate State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee at the Colorado state Capitol regarding House Bill 1156. This bill would ban licensed mental health professionals from conducting “conversion therapy” with minors—an ineffective, unethical, harmful, and abusive practice which attempts to alter a person's sexual orientation or gender identity. The practice is not supported by many professional mental organizations (including the American Psychological Association, American Psychiatric Association, and American Medical Association).

Dr. Alexander was there with the support of ONE Colorado and Moses Gur (Policy Associate and University of Denver alum) of the Colorado Behavioral Healthcare Council. Unfortunately, after 3+ hours of passionate, brave testimony by individuals in the LGBTQ+ community, their allies, and mental health professionals discussing negative outcomes of this practice, the Committee voted against the bill (for the 3rd year in a row). Although hurt, no one appeared broken. Hopefully, next year this bill will pass!  

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March 2017: AP-LS 2017

The research team traveled to Seattle for the annual American Psychology-Law Society (APLS) annual conference. Yes, it was rainy!

Dr. Alexander presented a poster summarizing the Mt. Meigs-Mosaic Theatre Company civic engagement project (see prior posts for more details). Third-year Auburn University graduate student and lab member Megan Harrelson presented a poster entitled, Poly-victimization and sexual risk-taking behavior, as well as gave a presentation entitled The effects of poly-victimization and quality of caregiver attachment on disclosure of illegal sexual behavior, highlighting her thesis results. Postdoctoral fellow at University of Maryland and lab member Rebecca Fix also presented a poster entitled Disparities in the Courtroom: Exploring the Influence of Race/Ethnicity and Offense Category on Charge Reductions during Judicial Dispositions, which described her recently defended dissertation results! Yay, Becca!

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Dr. Alexander also served as Discussant for a panel entitled Cultural and Diversity Considerations in Forensic Assessment and Treatment: Implications from Research at a Large Forensic Hospital with her Patton State Hospital colleagues and served on the Teaching, Training, and Careers committee. What a busy, fun time!

All in all, it was an excellent conference which highlighted social justice and public policy issues through its amazing plenary speakers and concurrent sessions. Can’t wait until next year

February 2017: New Publication

New publication in the Journal of Forensic Psychology Research and Practice. A collaboration between Dr. Alexander and her Auburn University colleagues.

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Abstract: Adolescents with sexual behavior problems are a heterogeneous group of individuals, each with unique assessment and treatment needs. Recently, increased attention has been given to risk assessment of adolescents adjudicated for possession of child sexual exploitation material (CSEM), though relatively little is known about their risk for reoffending or specific assessment considerations. The current case study assesses the utility of three evidence-informed risk assessment measures for a 15-year-old boy adjudicated for possession of CSEM, with considerations given to the importance of individualized case formulation and risk assessment with youth adjudicated for CSEM possession.

January 2017: NCUR & ATSA Planning

Auburn University undergraduate research assistant, Will Kelner, had his fellowship project abstract, entitled Perceptions of Mental Illness and Stigmatizing Attitudes in College Students, selected as a presentation for the upcoming National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR) conference in Memphis, TN. There were over 4,000 submissions! Congrats, Will!

Meanwhile, Dr. Alexander traveled to Kansas City, Missouri to serve on the 2017 Association for Treatment of Sexual Abusers (ATSA) Conference Planning Committee. It was a jam-packed weekend of planning plenaries and workshops to match the conference's theme of Creating Balance. She enjoyed working and mingling with colleagues, and also enjoyed Kansas City BBQ. For more information on this year's conference, click here.

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November 2016: New Publication

New publication in the Journal of Forensic Psychology Practice. A collaboration between Dr. Alexander and her Patton State Hospital colleagues.

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Abstract: Prior research has found that individuals with serious mental illness (SMI), such as severe mood disorders and psychotic disorders, tend to have higher rates of trauma. The purpose of the present study was to assess the prevalence rates of diagnosed posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among a sample of forensic psychiatric patients. It was hypothesized that true rates of PTSD may be underrepresented due to the primary focus of treatment in this setting being the treatment of SMI. Recommendations are provided for increasing diagnostic accuracy and improving trauma-informed care.

August 2016: Congrats and Goodbyes!

Megan Harrelson successfully defended her master's thesis entitled, The Effect of Poly-victimization and Caregiver Attachment on Disclosure of Illegal Sexual Behavior, and graduated with her master's degree in Clinical Psychology. Congrats, Megan!

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Dr. Alexander has announced her resignation from her position at Auburn University. She has accepted an Assistant Clinical Professor position at the University of Denver in the Graduate School of Professional Psychology. She will be working in the Master's of Forensic Psychology (MAFP) program and supervising students at Denver FIRST (Forensic Institute of Research, Service, and Training). Dr. Alexander has had an incredible three years at Auburn and will miss her wonderful colleagues, students, and friends.  War Eagle!

Farewell, Aubie!

Farewell, Aubie!

May 2016: Business Professionals of America

Dr. Alexander was inducted in the Business Professionals of America (BPA) Inaugural Alumni Walk of Fame. The Walk of Fame recognizes individuals who, through their performance and achievement, bring credit and honor to themselves and to BPA as a member and continued advocate. Dr. Alexander was active in BPA as a high school student, winning 1st Place in the Financial Analyst Team Delaware competition her junior year and sending her and her teammates to the national competition in Minneapolis. Her brother, Anthony A. Alexander (Assistant Vice President at Brown Brothers Harriman), continues to remain active in the alumni organization.

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April 2016: This Is Research

Once again we had great lab representation at the Auburn University This is Research Student Symposium. We had three excellent paper presentations: A model of risky sexual behavior on college campuses: The role of sexual victimization history, sexual sensation seeking, alcohol use, and masculinity (Madison Silverstein and Becca Fix); The effect of psychoeducation on public perceptions of adolescents with illegal sexual behavior (Megan Harrelson); and Comparing coercive sexuality scores with sexual sensation seeking, hostility towards women, sexual compulsivity, and rape myth acceptance scores (Erin Walker, Mindy Thrift).

Megan's presentation was awarded 2nd Place Oral Presentation for the Social Sciences and Humanities category at a special ceremony. Congrats, Megan!

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April 2016: Mt. Meigs-Mosaic Performance

Dr. Alexander and Dr. Tessa Carr (Department of Theatre, Auburn University) were awarded a Community and Civic Engagement Grant through the College of Liberal Arts for a project proposal entitled, Creating Connections with Detained Adolescents and College Students: A Pilot Project.

The project allowed for Mosaic Theatre Company to provide three workshops for the detained adolescents at the Alabama Department of Youth Services (DYS) Mt. Meigs Campus. Each boy who participated came up with their own performance based on a time they overcame adversity or based on an original poem. The final performance was held on April 29 to an audience of approximately 100 people to much success! Thank you, Mosaic Theatre Company!

April 2016: GO HOKIES!!!

Dr. Alexander received the 2016 Virginia Tech Influential Black Alumni Outstanding Recent Alumna Award from her alma mater. She had a fun filled weekend watching the Spring Game from the President's suite, tailgating, attending a black tie gala, and most importantly--reuniting with the Hokie Bird.

While in the New River Valley area, Dr. Alexander was also invited by her mentor, Dr. Ann Elliott, to present a colloquium at her other alma mater, Radford University. Sponsored by the Department of Psychology and Center for Gender Studies, Dr. Alexander presented a talk entitled,  Juvenile Injustice: How Psychology Can Inform Public Policy and the Law.

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March 2016: Congrats, Undergrad Fellows!

Two of our undergraduate research assistants, William Kelner and Erin Walker, were awarded the Auburn University Undergraduate Research Fellowship!!! Both of them were required to develop their own research proposal for an independent project under the supervision of Dr. Alexander. Their fellowship provides them a stipend each semester of their project, research funds, and travel funds to present their results at a national conference.  Congrats again!

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January 2016: New Publication

New lab publication in Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment. Congrats team!

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Abstract: Most studies on the mental health consequences of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) focus predominantly on CSA survivors who do not commit sexual offenses. The current study examined the effects of CSA on 498 male adolescents adjudicated for sexual offenses who represent the small portion of CSA survivors who engage in sexual offenses. The prevalence of internalizing symptoms, parental attachment difficulties, specific sexual offending behaviors, and risk for sexually offending were compared among participants with and without history of CSA. Results indicated that participants with a history of CSA were more likely to be diagnosed with major depression and posttraumatic stress disorder than those who did not report a history of CSA. A history of CSA was also positively correlated with risk for sexually offending and with specific offense patterns and consensual sexual behaviors. No significant differences emerged on parental attachment difficulties. These results highlight that adolescents adjudicated for sexual offenses with a history of CSA present with differences in sexual and psychological functioning as well as markedly different offending patterns when compared with those without a CSA history. Clinical implications and future directions are discussed.

September 2015: Civic Engagement

Dr. Alexander and Dr. Tessa Carr (Department of Theatre, Auburn University) were awarded a Community and Civic Engagement Grant through the College of Liberal Arts for a project proposal entitled, Creating Connections with Detained Adolescents and College Students: A Pilot Project. The project will allow for Mosaic Theatre Company to provide workshops for the detained adolescents at the Alabama Department of Youth Services (DYS) Mt. Meigs Campus.