November 2018: HokieTalks Denver Vol. 2

Dr. Alexander was invited to speak at HokieTalks Denver Vol. 2, a networking and speaking session where three Denver-area Virginia Tech alum share stories and life lessons they’ve learning since graduating from Virginia Tech. In it’s first year, HokieTalks Denver won an alumni outreach award!

Her talk, entitled Ut Prosim: Finding Solutions for Violence Prevention, discussed how her experiences at Virginia Tech (i.e., working for a domestic violence program, clinical research), informed her career in forensic psychology and violence prevention. The audience was great, including the Hokie Bird ;)

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October 2018: Faculty Award

Dr. Alexander received the Faculty Award at the Graduate School of Professional Psychology’s (GSPP) annual Redefining Mental Health: Celebration of Impact event (formerly the Philanthropy Gala). Each year an honoree is nominated and selected by the Graduate Student Association of Professional Psychology (GSAPP) and given to a faculty member who raises understanding and awareness for student scholarship and philanthropy at GSPP, as well as community advocacy and outreach.

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September 2018: New Publication

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.

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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.

 

August 2018: The Denver Post Op-Ed

On August 8, 16-year-old Jennie Bunsom was arrested on first-degree murder charges for the death of 7-year-old family member Jordan Vong. On August 13, upon receipt of autopsy information, new documents were filed charging Jennie with first-degree murder after deliberation and first-degree murder by a person in a position of trust (victim under the age of 12). Later in the week, it was decided that her case would be heard in Denver District Court as opposed to juvenile court. The judge in Jennie's case has the opportunity to redirect the case back to juvenile court through a process known as a reverse transfer hearing.

Dr. Alexander authored an Op-Ed for The Denver Post discussing adolescent development and recent policy changes concerning juveniles in the justice system.

 

August 2018: APA Convention

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.

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  • 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.

June 2018: Denver Proclamation

The Denver City Council unanimously passed and signed a proclamation in support of banning the use of "conversion therapy" with LGBTQ+ minors. Dr. Alexander was invited to share a few words by Councilwoman Ortega after the proclamation was signed and she was provided a copy of the signed proclamation. Another move forward as community advocates aim to get a bill passed during the next legislative session.

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June 2018: Denver Comic Con 2018

We're back at Denver Comic Con!

Dr. Alexander and her team of GSPP students presented a panel entitled A Rose From Concrete: Examining Post-Traumatic Growth in the Media. Dr. Alexander provided an introduction of the concept of post-traumatic growth (the subjective experience of positive psychology change reported by some individuals who have experienced trauma) and discussed how many superheroes have suffered a loss or trauma in their origin story.

Jason Silverberg (PsyD student) presented on Frank Castle's experience of moral injury in the Netflix series Punisher. Loe Blackmond (MAFP graduate; PsyD student) discussed Gamora's (from Guaridans of the Galaxy and Infinity War) journey to post-traumatic growth. Despite the session being the very last session of the last day of Comic Con, there was a great audience turnout! The audience was very engaged during the Q&A portion, which centered on trauma-informed practice in writing, education, and the workplace. Way to integrate psychological science into popular culture! 

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June 2018: Colorado Advocacy in Action

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.

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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.

May 2018: DU Grand Challenges

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!

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April 2018: Social Media and Sexting

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:

Time to Talk: Sharing concerns about social media

Sexting poses legal, psychological risks for teens

 

April 2018: Op-Ed

Dr. Alexander wrote an editorial for Colorado Politics concerning the need to ban "conversion therapy" with minors. Read the editorial here! Unfortunately, the bill failed for the 4th time on Monday evening. May we continue to fight against this discredited, unethical, and harmful practice.

April 2018: Grants!

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. 

Woohoo!

April 2018: New Article on Advocacy

Dr. Alexander wrote an article entitled Social Justice, Advocacy, and Early Career Practice for the Psychotherapy Bulletin. She discusses the importance of early career professionals' involvement in social justice movements. Further, she highlights how involvement in advocacy is part of professional ethics in psychology. Check out the article here (or a PDF here).

March 2018: More Advocacy

Dr. Alexander testified for the Colorado House Committee on Public Health Care & Human Services regarding HB 18-1245 aimed at banning practices labeled "conversion therapy" for LGBTQ+ minors, a harmful and practice which is opposed by major professional organizations, including the American Psychological Association. This is the fourth year the bill has been introduced to the Colorado State Legislature and Dr. Alexander's second year testifying about the issue. The bill passed the House Committee in a 7-6 vote, and will reach the House floor soon.

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March 2018: APLS & VSOTA 2018

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
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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!

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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.

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March 2018: Good News!

Dr. Alexander and her DU Department of Theatre colleague Dr. Ashley Hamilton were awarded the Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences (AHSS) Dean's Award for Interdisciplinary Studies. This funding will allow for a their steering committee to host a consultant for planning a Prison Education Program (PEP) through DU!

Dr. Alexander was also one of 20 faculty members selected for DU's inaugural Public Impact Fellow program. The Public Impact Fellows will receive training, access to workshops, and consultation focused on translating their research for public dissemination. Thus, continuing and supporting Dr. Alexander's commitment to advocacy, outreach, and public policy efforts!

Additionally, Dr. Alexander returned to Wheat Ridge, CO to testify again in front of the City Council regarding a resolution opposing conversion therapy for minors and supporting a statewide ban against conversion therapy for minors. In a 6-1 vote, the City Council voted for the resolution! Finally progress is being made! Dr. Alexander will testify at the State Capitol next week for the state bill regarding the same issue.