WVPA May Newsletter

Dear Colleagues –

What a month it has been for our organization. The 2018 Spring Conference and Business Meeting was an incredible success. 200+ participants packed the room. Officials from Marshall University, local government, and your WVPA leadership welcomed colleagues from across the country to Huntington for this training. As Mayor Williams explained, Huntington is the “epicenter of the solution”. I am so grateful for the vision of our Program Chair, Dr. Penny Koontz, and the instrumental leadership of our Executive Director, Dr. Jocelyn Burum, to bring this conference to fruition. Because of the skills and interventions taught by Dr. Najavitz, lives will be saved.

Nonetheless, it was a long day, and many members decided to forego the Business Meeting (which started at nearly 5 pm on a Friday afternoon). Thus, I want to provide a brief recap of the President’s report at this time. First, I have worked closely with our Executive Director, Dr. Jocelyn Burum, to improve systems within WVPA by implementing a formal orientation at our Spring Board meeting, improve transparency with monthly communications, and advance our online presence. Sustainability in leadership has also been an important focus; I was thrilled to welcome both former and new board and committee members to our leadership group. Second, I have worked to protect our identity as psychologists among many other providers by aligning with WVBOEP, APA, and APAPO when appropriate. Third, I have supported and cultivated collaboration with outside organizations and stakeholders, including Fairness West Virginia, West Virginia Psychiatry Association, West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources and Bureau for Health Facilities, and legislators at both state and federal level.

I have one more important topic to share from our Board of Directors meeting on April 26. Late in 2017, WVPA was approached by a Delegate in the West Virginia House of Representatives in hopes that we would support his introduction of legislation to allow psychologists with accredited training to have limited prescribing privileges. Because this was not a topic for which our Board had even discussed in recent years, WVPA was not in a position to formally support this legislation. Instead, the Board voted to create a committee to study the issue and determine recommendations for future steps. Dr. Lisa Ryan is chair of the Prescriptive Authority Review Committee (lryan@wellspringfm.com). In the coming weeks, she will be working with the committee to amalgamate views of those who support, oppose, or have neutral assessments of prescriptive authority for psychologists. We will then be calling for comment from stakeholders and WVPA members. This process will be transparent and fair as we decide how to proceed as an organization. At the 2018 Fall Conference, we plan to have a panel discussion on Prescriptive Authority as well.

As always, if you have questions or concerns or ideas, please do not hesitate to contact me at jluzier@hsc.wvu.edu.

Best wishes,

Jess Luzier, Ph.D., ABPP

Nominations Committee Update by Dr. Keith Beard

It is an exciting time of the year for WVPA. Nominations for several positions are being taken until May 30.

  • President-Elect: The President-elect will serve a term of one year then move into the President position, and finally the Past President position, for a three-year term.  The President-elect serves as presiding officer of the Association and the Board of Directors in the absence of the President. The President-elect is the Chair of the Program Committee and appoint members of that committee in consultation with the President.
  • Secretary: The Secretary serves a three-year term.  The Secretary keeps minutes of all Association business meetings, and all meetings of the Board of Directors and the Executive Committee.  The Secretary also notifies members of Association affairs at the direction of the President.
  • Member-at-Large (early career delegate): The Representatives-at-Large shall serve as conduits for sharing the concerns of the membership with the Board of Directors. This is a two-year term.
  • Additionally, nominations are being taken for WVPA Fellows. Fellows are distinguished, senior Association members who have spent significant time working, mentoring, and leading the organization in accomplishing its goals.

Nominations can be made at: https://wvpsychology.org/2019-officer-nominations-2/

We will also be submitting an up-date to the WVPA By-Laws for consideration. This most significant change is in the committee structure for the organization. The changes will streamline the committees so that they may be more effective in reaching the organization’s goals. Another change is an additional Member-at-Large who will be identified as our diversity delegate. Other changes include up-dating the definition of early career from seven years to ten years and some other grammatical changes. By-laws changes will be posted for all members to review for at least 30 days prior to the election.

We hope that you will decide to take an active role in WVPA and consider nominating yourself or someone else.



Special thanks to Communication Committee members, Drs. Jennie Hughes, Billy Rutherford, and Aaron Williams, as they explore options for a WVPA Podcast – Updates will be forthcoming on our facebook page and list serv!

Kudos to researcher, clinician, and treatment innovator Dr. Lisa Najavitz, who presented an incredible 6-hour workshop on Trauma Informed Care and Seeking Safety, having arrived in Charleston at midnight the evening before!


WVPA April Newsletter

Dear Colleagues –

Have you had a moment that truly validated your reasons for pursuing a career in behavioral healthcare? Recently, the universe offered me an epiphany. One of my children was hospitalized for double pneumonia (thankfully he is fully recovered now). I was reminded that relying on health providers to diagnose and treat a loved one can be a difficult experience, leaving me and my partner feeling vulnerable and frightened. Yet already, this experience has made me a better doctor. I listen a little more empathically, and I provide a little more legwork to ensure that treatment is coordinated and collaborative. I also advocate more strongly for my patients who need it, humbly recognizing that my own situation benefitted from privilege. We had a children’s hospital within a 5 minute drive from our home, health insurance benefits to cover my son’s care, a support network of friends / family / colleagues, available leave from work, and even physician friends who were treating my son and offering me their cell phone numbers if I had questions. Events like this bring to mind my reasons for joining this field. I am reminded that compassionate healthcare providers make a difference in the lives of our patients.

Your membership in WVPA is one more way that you are connecting with your profession and your colleagues. This is a big month for our organization: I’m eager to meet with the WVPA Board members and Committee Chairs later in April at our first in-person Spring Board Meeting. The following day, on April 27, we will be welcoming Dr. Lisa Najavits to Huntington, West Virginia, for the 2018 Spring Conference. The response to this topic and speaker have been incredible, as my colleague Dr. Koontz outlines below. We are nearly at capacity – If you have not yet registered, please do so ASAP (http://wvpsychology.org/2017-spring-conference)!

Because of the conference schedule this year, we will be holding the WVPA Business Meeting at the end of the day, beginning at 430 pm. I look forward to using that time to share updates and welcome WVPA committee leaders as they provide information to our membership. There are some important initiatives underway, and I greatly encourage you to stay and attend.

The conference will be here before we know it – I very much look forward to meeting you in Huntington! As always, if you have questions or concerns or ideas, please do not hesitate to contact me at jluzier@hsc.wvu.edu.

Best wishes,

Jess Luzier, Ph.D., ABPP

2018 WVPA President

WVPA presents Trauma Informed Care & Seeking Safety

Penny Koontz, Psy.D.

Researchers have estimated that nearly 60% of WV adults have experienced at least one adverse childhood event, with another 14% experiencing four or more ACEs (WV ACEs Coalition Report, 2014). In addition, among all U.S. states, WV has the highest annual drug overdose mortality rate at 52 per 100,000 residents, or 884 people (CDC, 2016).  There is no denying the toll that trauma and addiction have taken in our state, and we are just beginning to understand the relationship between our patients’ trauma histories and the development and maintenance of their substance related disorders.

In response, WVPA is excited to bring Lisa Najavits, Ph.D. to WV on Friday, April 27th to present a full day of training on Trauma Informed Care & Seeking Safety. Dr. Najavits is professor of psychiatry at Boston University School of medicine and is a research psychologist with the Veterans Affairs Healthcare System. Her clinical and research interests are addiction, trauma, comorbidity, behavioral addictions, veterans’ mental health, and outcome research.  She is author of over 190 publications, as well as the books Seeking Safety: A Treatment Manual for PTSD and Substance Abuse; A Woman’s Addiction Workbook; and Recovery from Trauma, Addiction, or Both: Finding Your Best Self.  Dr. Najavits received her PhD in clinical psychology from Vanderbilt University and she is a licensed psychologist in Massachusetts, where she also conducts a psychotherapy practice.

In conversations with Dr. Najavits, she has indicated her desire to bring a very practical approach to this training event, and she expressed her hope that the information will prove to be an effective tool for combatting the trauma and addiction problems that are so prevalent in WV. In this training, participants will learn of the latest research and clinical issues in treating trauma and substance abuse and will learn how to conduct Seeking Safety, an evidence-based model for these comorbid disorders.  Participants will also receive assessment and treatment resources that can be immediately utilized in practice.

Online registration for the training will be accepted through April 24th at https://www.treatment-innovations.org/store/p195/4-27-18-WV  You can inquire about the availability of onsite registration by emailing Dr. Penny Koontz at koontz7@marshall.edu.  We hope to see you there!!


Dr. Emily Selby-Nelson Named American Psychological Association Citizen Psychologist

Dr. Selby-Nelson of Cabin Creek Health Systems has been named a 2018 APA Citizen Psychologist by the American Psychological Association for her dedication, advocacy, and action to address access, quality of care, and quality of life in rural communities.

“Dr. Selby-Nelson exemplifies the definition of a Citizen Psychologist by using psychology to make her community a better place,” said 2018 APA President Jessica Henderson Daniel, PhD. “Helping to improve lives one community at a time is how we can change the world.”

Along with her volunteer activities within the American Psychological Association on rural health issues as an early career psychologist, Dr. Selby-Nelson has also committed herself to raising awareness to the mental health crisis facing rural Americans through frequent public speaking engagements in her community about rural mental health disparities. Aside from her daily work in rural primary care to ensure that health and mental health services remain accessible in her rural communities, Dr. Selby-Nelson extends beyond her role to support her communities.  This was personified during the severe “one hundred year flood” in 2016 when water levels rose above 10 feet devastating the small town of Clendenin, WV.  Dr. Selby-Nelson worked tirelessly with her CCHS team for weeks working out of tent clinics, doing door-to-door house checks, ensuring food and shelter, distributing hygiene and other items during house calls, addressing crises, and participating in community wide disaster relief efforts.  She worked vigilantly with her community over the ensuing months to address increasingly worsened barriers to care, such as access to transportation and money for health care.  “When the community needs her the most, Emily answers the call.”

Launched by Daniel, the Citizen Psychologist Initiative recognizes APA members who engage their communities through public service, volunteerism and board membership. Representing every branch of psychology, Citizen Psychologists serve as long-term volunteers for Habitat for Humanity; participate in church ministries; and volunteer as expert speakers for non-profit organizations, among other roles. “Through their efforts, Citizen Psychologists work toward APA’s mission to use psychology to benefit society and improve people’s lives,” Daniel said.




WVPA March 2018 Newsletter


Dear Colleagues –

Though it looks like winter outside, spring is around the corner! I’m grateful to see that the majority of WVPA members have renewed their WVPA dues for 2018. More and more early career and student members are joining the association, and many have elected to participate in WVPA committees and task forces. Their energy and enthusiasm, plus fresh, new ideas have continued to motivate me this year. We have renewed many of our committees and taskforces, and I look forward to continuing to update you on our goals and targets.

Your WVPA Leadership has been very busy. As you’ll read below, six delegates from West Virginia attended the APA Practice Leadership Conference in Washington, DC this past week. This conference is invaluable for state psychological associations; not only do we learn best practices for managing our associations, but we also visit Capitol Hill to visit with our federal legislators. Suffice to say that the WVPA delegation is exhausted but also quite grateful for this opportunity.

The next significant WVPA event is the 2018 Spring Conference, which will be held on the Marshall University Campus in Huntington on April 27, 2018. Dr. Lisa Najavits is a well-respected and internationally known researcher and clinician, who developed the Seeking Safety program for treating trauma and substance use disorder. This year, Dr. Koontz (President-Elect and Program Chair) has developed an innovative model to train not only psychologists but many other behavioral health professionals. WVPA has partnered with the WV DHHR Bureau for Behavioral Health and Health Facilities, Marshall University Department of Psychology, Marshall University Wellness Center, and The Trust to keep costs as low as possible and to offer CE’s to all participants. The conference brochure is attached with all details. Registration is open and there are still spots available (http://wvpsychology.org/2017-spring-conference/).

Many of us have been deeply affected by the terrible school shooting in Parkland, Florida last month. The WVPA Board of Directors voted in favor of WVPA joining many other state and national mental health organizations to support the Call to Action to Prevent Gun Violence in the USA, Interdisciplinary Group on Preventing School and Community Violence. Please check our website for helpful and informative information for professionals, parents, and kids as we continue to cope with this tragedy (http://wvpsychology.org/legislative/).

I am encouraged by the energy in WVPA, and look forward to seeing some new faces at the Spring Conference in Huntington. As always, if you have questions or concerns or ideas, please do not hesitate to contact me at jluzier@hsc.wvu.edu.

Best wishes,

Jess Luzier, Ph.D., ABPP

2018 WVPA President

Federal Advocacy Committee Update, by Dr. Emily Selby-Nelson

The APA Practice Leadership Conference (PLC) is the annual advocacy and leadership training conference for leaders in professional psychology practice. The conference brings together psychologists from the states, U.S. territories and Canada, along with APA governance and divisions, to advocate for issues important to practicing psychologists. The conference also fosters leadership and effective governance strategies for participating associations. Participants include students, early career psychologists, diversity leaders, and expert psychologists from across the field of professional psychology.  The inclusion of such a diverse group of psychologists from a range of practice experience and expertise contributes to the breadth and diversity of learning and collaboration that ignites the unique energy and solution focus that characterize the experience.

Over 500 psychologists from all different perspectives in professional psychology attended PLC from March 10-13. The conference culminates in a day of advocacy on Capitol Hill, where psychologists lobby on topics important to psychological practice and issues relevant to the improvement of access to quality behavioral health services. Past Hill visits have brought psychologists face-to-face with legislators to increase the public’s access to psychological services — for example, in achieving true mental health parity and advocating for meaningful health care reform.

This year’s PLC conference theme, “Advancing Practice Together,” provided intensive leadership training focusing on strategies targeting the identification of shared goals and the formation of strategic and effective alliances with other psychologists, health care professionals, systems, and elected officials.  The West Virginia delegation included Sarah Reynolds, MA (APAGS/student representative), Emily Selby-Nelson, PsyD (Federal Advocacy Coordinator and Early Career Psychologist representative), Shelia Robinett, PsyD (Diversity Delegate), Penny Koontz, PsyD (WVPA President Elect), Jessica Luzier, PhD, ABPP (WVPA President), and Jocelyn Burum, PsyD (WVPA Executive Director).  Our advocacy team participated actively in important discussions throughout the conference, shared lessons learned from our experiences in leadership and advocacy in West Virginia, and learned many new ideas to share with WVPA as the association continues to evolve and better meet the needs of our membership.

On lobby day, the WVPA delegation visited each of our Senate and Congress offices to advocate for Medicare and Medicaid legislation that will improve access to much needed behavioral health and substance use disorder treatment.  In the midst of our state’s collective effort to improve the lives and well-being of those individuals most in need across our state, these lobbying efforts could not have been more current.  West Virginian individuals, families, and communities have struggled through hardship triggered by the opioid epidemic, and psychologists are perfect situated to share the voices of the voiceless. The WV delegation was honored to represent other hardworking psychologists across WV who care deeply for our state and citizens, and additionally look forward to continue the mission of “advancing practice together.”

Would you like to get more involved in Federal Advocacy Initiatives? If so, please email Dr. Selby-Nelson at enelson@cchcwv.com.



    • Dr. Shelia Robinett and Mayor Steve Williams accepted a first place award for the Open to All Campaign on behalf of the City of Huntington. The award was presented at the Breakfast Honoring Excellence in Multicultural and Diversity Initiatives by the National League of Cities in Washington, DC on March 12, 2018.
    • Dr. Marianna Linz is featured on page 39 of this month’s APA Monitor for her incredible work advocating for graduate students with West Virginia federal legislators.  http://www.apamonitor-digital.org/apamonitor/201803/MobilePagedReplica.action?pm=1&folio=39#pg42
    • Dr. Jess Luzier was interviewed for an article titled Sequence of States: Psychologists Advocate for a Shift in Training Requirements in the 2018 Winter issue of APA Good Practice. This article described the shift in many state licensing law to recognize predoctoral training hours as counting toward licensure requirements.
    • Drs. Chantel Weisenmuller, Brittany Canady, and Jess Luzier had a productive phone meeting earlier this month to revitalize WVPA’s Colleague Assistance Program. This committee is recruiting more members, especially early career psychologists and students. Please contact Dr. Weisenmuller if you are interested in assisting at chantel.weisenmuller@hsc.wvu.edu.
    • Let us recognize you or a colleague for a professional accomplishment! Please email info@wvpsychology.org so that we can include it in our next monthly communication.



WVPA February 2018 Newsletter

Dear Colleagues –

I can’t believe we are already half way through the month. 2018 seems to be flying by! I am grateful to see that more than half the WVPA members have renewed their dues for 2018. Please renew by the end of this month, or you will lose access to this listserv and other important member resources. The easiest way to renew is online at http://wvpsychology.org/2018-membership-dues/.

Already, the generosity of WVPA members and leaders has been truly impressive. Your WVPA Board of Directors is working hard to advocate for the association. At our first board meeting of the year last weekend, we discussed many exciting events and initiatives. Just this week, a group of 11 psychologists and trainees met with state lawmakers, communicating the value of psychologists and advocating for an issue of import. Six leaders plan to attend the APA Practice Leadership Conference in March in Washington, DC, where we will visit our federal legislators on Capitol Hill (more updates to come next month). Committee work is underway, with many new volunteers from across the state who are putting time and energy into WVPA. I’ve already been in touch with state leaders about the feedback from the WVPA Substance Abuse Taskforce on the DHHR Opioid Response Plan (see http://wvpsychology.org/legislative/).  And of course, I couldn’t be more excited about the 2018 Spring Conference announcement (registration is open: https://www.treatment-innovations.org/store/p195/4-27-18-WV); Dr. Penny Koontz has an incredible vision and knack as the Program Chair!

I am encouraged by the energy in our association, and look forward to seeing folks at the Spring Conference in Huntington. As always, if you have questions or concerns or ideas, please do not hesitate to contact me at jluzier@hsc.wvu.edu.

Best wishes,

Jess Luzier, Ph.D., ABPP

2018 WVPA President

State Advocacy Committee Update:

In state government news, our 2018 Legislative Day at the Capitol Building on 2/13/2018 in Charleston was a successful venture for practitioners and students alike. This year eleven people attended, including four practicing psychologists and seven psychology Psy.D graduate students from Marshall University.  Those in attendance made new friends in the legislature and built on existing ones with our state officials.  We were able to provide state senators and delegates with our mission statement at WVPA and field any questions that they had about our organization.  We also had the opportunity to talk about what kinds of health and mental health issues we could assist our legislators with if they should need a professional to testify or educate others at state hearings. Finally, we discussed our strong support for House Bill 4435, the Youth Mental Health Protection Act.  Armed with information from the American Psychological Association, we discussed the negative effects of so-called “conversion therapy” on our youth in WV.  HB 4435 would make it illegal to perform conversion therapy on anyone under 18 years of age.  The bill is, at current time, in the House Health and Human Resources Committee.  We looked forward to its successful passage in the near future!  We also look forward to another WVPA legislative day in 2019.

Those who attended WVPA 2018 Legislative Day were: David Clayman, Ph.D., Scott Fields, Ph.D., Jessica Luzier, Ph.D., ABPP, and Jake Van Horn, Psy.D. The following graduate students from the Marshall University Psy.D. program attended: Carrie Dean, Beth Gentry, Jessica Hunter, Briana McCoy, Jacob Mills, Ashley Sansone, and our WVPA Board of Directors student representative Sarah Reynolds

Submitted by:

Scott A. Fields, PhD

Chair, WVPA State Government Affairs


WVPA January 2018 Newsletter

Dear Colleagues –


Welcome all new and returning WVPA members and Happy New Year! This year, I plan to reach out in monthly listserv communications to update you on WVPA events. Monthly updates will also include updates from members of the WVPA Board of Directors and Committees.

My first order of business is to communicate the value of your membership in your state psychological association. Most of you have seen the emails referencing the 2018 WVPA Membership Drive. This is an important initiative for psychologists in our state, as the climate for both practitioners and psychological scientists is ever changing. Academic budgets are shrinking, research support is dwindling, and teaching loads are increasing. Compounded with these challenges is the importance of timely access to high-quality, ethical, evidence-based psychological care. Psychologists treat patients with complex needs and significant comorbidities. Now more than ever, our state needs us.


When you join WVPA, you are communicating your desire to stand with your colleagues in a collective voice. We are indeed stronger together. Personally and professionally, I’ve found that advocating for my patients and my profession is an antidote to burnout. Let me highlight this with an example from WVPA. Already, the State and Federal Government Affairs committees are preparing for important advocacy ventures. WVPA has formally aligned with Fairness WV to support a ban on conversion therapy for youth. Additionally, we are working with state legislators on promoting the recruitment of psychologists to West Virginia and addressing the substance abuse crisis in our state. A WVPA delegation will be visiting our Federal legislators on Capitol Hill in March as well. Are there other legislative or policy issues that you are passionate about? Consider joining the government affairs committee by emailing Scott Fields, sfields@hsc.wvu.edu.


My pledge to the membership during this year as WVPA President is that I will be present and communicate regularly. If you have questions or concerns or ideas, please do not hesitate to contact me at jluzier@hsc.wvu.edu.


Best wishes,

Jess Luzier, Ph.D., ABPP; 2018 WVPA President


Get to know your new Board Members:

Susan Walker-Matthews, Ph.D. (2018-2020 WVPA Treasurer), completed her internship at WVU Charleston Division, followed by 17 years at the Family Resource Center, and now owns/operates a private practice,  Medallion Psych.

She explained, “WVPA is valuable to me because it gives me a chance to connect with other psychologists who understand the complexities of living and working in a small community, the unique needs of our client population, and who share my goal for staying in the state and improving opportunities for future psychologists. I chose to take a leadership role in WVPA because I would like to support their efforts at the state level and I believe having experience in both a large hospital-based, group practice and now a small, fee-for-service private practice will allow me to provide a unique perspective that would be beneficial.”

Billy Rutherford (WVPA Representative At Large 2018-2019) is a clinical psychologist in the trauma recovery program at the Huntington VA Medical center, and earned a Psy.D. from Marshall University in 2009.

He explained, “WVPA is an accessible organization with knowledgeable, approachable members and officers that provides an enjoyable and informative professional environment for meeting training and other professional needs. The value of WVPA, to me, is the opportunity to stay educated about the dynamic state of the practice of psychology in WV and to be a part of a collective, informed response to changes that affect our practice environment.  I chose to take a leadership role in WVPA in order to make a more active contribution to a professional community that has provided a valuable experience for me, and, to open that experience for others.”

Sarah Reynolds, M.A. (WVPA Student Representative) is a 3rd year student in Marshall’s Psy.D. Program.

She explained, “I believe WVPA is important because it helps psychologists in the state stay connected and up to date on current issues and events in the field. This community becomes even more valuable in a state like West Virginia where many practicing psychologists are in rural, more isolated areas. I was interested in taking a role with WVPA to expand my knowledge and experience with advocacy and leadership within the field of psychology. This has been an important part of my education throughout my graduate career. I also hope I am able to represent fellow graduate students well within the organization and help continue to bridge the gap between current and future professionals.”