Archive for the 'Marquette University' Category

Dr. Melchert Publishes New Book

melchert-tim-2020In April, Dr. Timothy Melchert published Foundations of Health Service Psychology; An Evidence-Based Biopsychosocial Approach. This volume is a thoroughly revised and updated second edition of his first book. It describes a contemporary science-based approach to the clinical practice of psychology. The scientific understanding of human psychology has advanced dramatically in the last 25 years, and Melchert’s books have focused on the implications of those advances for understanding human nature in general and the process of psychotherapy and behavior change specifically.

For many people, there is no more interesting topic to contemplate than the nature of human nature. We tend to be fascinated with the amazing abilities, soaring intellect, and creativity of the human mind. Some of our personal experiences, with others or when alone, can bring great contentment, joy, and sometimes even exhilaration. But people are also capable of very hurtful and even depraved behavior, and the psychological suffering caused by mental health problems and disorders can be unbearable.

Melchert notes that until recently, the extremely complicated nature of human psychology was not well understood from a scientific standpoint. Psychologists and other behavioral scientists lacked comprehensive, empirically-validated explanations for the tremendous variability in human behavior, the unconscious nature of most mental activity, or why we can be the nicest of creatures but also the nastiest. The primary reason we lacked those explanations was simply the tremendous complexity of the human mind and brain. Indeed, the human mind and brain are widely regarded to be the most complicated system known to exist in the universe. But major scientific progress has been made in recent decades. Though we are still early in understanding many of the details involved, the neural and behavioral sciences are steadily uncovering the way the mind and brain actually work.

Melchert argues that education, practice, and research in the behavioral health field need to be continually updated so they keep current with the advancing science. Much has been learned about the evolutionary basis for why humans are “designed” the way we are, the importance of childhood experience for later mental and physical health, the prevention and treatment of mental health concerns, and many other topics. Many traditional orientations and practices that guided psychologists, psychiatrists, counselors, and social workers in the past are now outdated. The field now takes a much more evidence-based and integrated approach to understanding people’s behavior, personality, psychopathology, and the process of psychotherapy and behavior change.

The contemporary practice of psychology requires a modern understanding of the science of human development, functioning, and behavior change. Melchert’s book shows how this type of understanding can be gained.

New Research Seeks to Learn How Students Are Processing COVID-19

Dr. Gabriel Velez has started a new research study entitled “Adolescent Meaning Making: Processing What COVID-19 Means for Sense of Self, Place in Society and Future Trajectory.” Currently, he is seeking middle or high school students to participate.

Coronavirus Disease 2019 GraphicCOVID-19 represents a major shift across various aspects of life—economic, educational, health, etc. Furthermore, the impacts on the near and long-term future are still uncertain. Given the current moment of flux, he is seeking to better understanding how various groups of adolescents are processing the current moment and integrating it into their developing senses of self. In terms of human development, older adolescence is a prime time in the life course for developing and affirming a sense of self (an identity) as well as considering this in relation to a future orientation and as to one’s place in society.

The aims of this research are to use an online survey to collect older adolescents’ perspectives and thoughts on COVID-19 and its impact on their lives and communities. Dr. Velez believes it is extremely important to gather students’ voices and perspectives to better understand what they are going through and ultimately be able to support them.

The survey is meant for middle, high school, and early college students and asks about:

  • Their understanding and processing what COVID-19 means to humanity and their societies
  • Their thinking about themselves and their places in society during this moment
  • Their thinking about their future trajectories and opportunities
  • Their trust in different institutions and groups in their society


  • Online survey of approximately 20-25 minutes
  • A short section of close-ended questions and 11 open-ended questions
  • At the end of the survey, there are resources for any individual struggling with coping with the current situation
  • Participants are US middle, high school, or early college students

This study has been approved by the Marquette Institutional Review Board, #HR-3589. If you have any other questions or concerns, please contact Dr. Gabriel Velez.

Ambiguous Loss During a Pandemic

Helpinghands.svgBy Jennifer Rodewald

Grief and loss are complicated matters that directly affect individuals and family systems. These can become more complicated when considering the impact of ambiguous loss, which can come in many different forms. There is the ambiguous loss that involves a physical presence with a psychological absence. This would include people who struggle with addiction, mental health struggles or trauma. The other type of ambiguous loss involves a physical absence with a psychological presence, which could include things such as an elderly parent moving into an assisted living facility, a child leaving the home, losing a job, or having to move. The most relevant current event that reflects ambiguous loss featuring physical absence with psychological presence is social isolation due to COVID-19.

Mental illness struggles are an example ambiguous loss with physical presence and psychological absence. On an individual level, severe mental illness can make it difficult to function on a daily basis (i.e., maintaining good physical and sleep hygiene). This can also extend to the rest of the family system in many ways, such as a family member transitioning into the role of the individual’s caretaker or having more people outside of the immediate family enter the family system by hiring professional help in the home. When discussing mental health struggles that do not overly impact an individual’s day-to-day functioning, there are still other considerations. For example, if an individual is depressed and has a hard time feeling motivated to do either daily tasks or hobbies, others in their family system will feel that impact. On top of that, if the individual cannot communicate their feelings, there can be conflict and higher tensions among the family system. Essentially, there is a lack in psychological functioning that is mixed with being in the physical presence of others, which is a form of ambiguous loss.

We are all dealing with our own individualized ambiguous losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has affected billions of people’s everyday lives. While my spouse is still going to work, I am no longer going to my internship site. I am lucky enough to be able to do telehealth with the clients that wish to do so, but that number has been dwindling down. I have somewhat abruptly terminated one particular therapeutic relationship because the client just couldn’t talk while in his home, due to others being there who could hear our sessions. There is also the fact that we no longer are going on campus for classes. This has been a difficult transition for everyone, and I wanted the chance to reflect on how it is affecting my family.

I thought a good way to conceptualize how this has affected my family would be to follow Worden’s Task-Oriented Model of Loss. I completed the first task of accepting the reality of the losses just last week. Things have been difficult, and I think it was made more so by fixating on the people, places, and interactions I am missing due to the pandemic. This made it impossible for me to focus on homework assignments and my compulsions significantly increased. Because of my lack of focus and increase in compulsions, my patience was also limited, and it was easier for me to become frustrated with my daughter over things I would not normally be frustrated by. It also meant I was not communicating with my spouse at the level I normally would—I was afraid I would come off as overreacting (surprise, I was sometimes—also underreacting—sometimes at the same time!) and would let things I was worried about or grieving over bottle up until my grief and anxiety would just explode from my eyes (in the form of tears).

I am currently working through the process and adjustment tasks in the model. I have started to be able to address how I’m feeling about the inability to physically be in the same room as friends, peers, and professors. I have also begun to be able to articulate what it is like to work with clients more on the phone as well as to have their therapy terminate earlier than what was planned. I also sometimes think about what it is going to be like when this period of social isolation ends (and when it will actually be, but I realize thinking about that is something that can send my compulsions up, so I try to keep that to a minimum). It will be a different world on some practical, day-to-day levels, as well as on a larger scale for businesses, schools, and families.

As I mentioned earlier, doing telehealth is a different experience with clients. There is one client who simply was unable to do this mode of therapy, so we terminated the first time I called him from home. We had discussed the possibility of therapy ending prior to this call, and it was still a disappointment for me to have to end a month before planned. Luckily for my client, I was able to transfer him to another counselor at my site who is still physically going there for sessions. I am mainly only doing phone sessions with two other clients for the next few weeks. Working with clients has also served as a solid distraction from my own ambiguous losses, even though one of them discusses how social isolation is affecting her (which is understandable). Despite the similar topic, it is so helpful to be able to focus on someone else during this time. I suppose that is another piece being the idea of the “wounded healer.”

Ambiguous loss is something that can affect anyone on individual, family, and systemic levels, with the current pandemic as an example of physical absence with psychological presence. After this pandemic has passed and we get out to the other side, there will still likely be losses to work through. This is why it’s important to connect where we can, stay mindful and grounded if we are able, and to reach out to others and let them know we are not alone in this.

2020 Outstanding Secondary Pre-Service Teacher: Elli Pointner

Each spring, the College of Education celebrates faculty, students and friends with the annual Mission Recognition awards ceremony. As this year’s event had to be canceled, we wanted to share some thoughts and words from our student winners. Please join us in congratulating this year’s Outstanding Secondary Pre-Service Teacher, Elli Pointner.

Professional Picture

Throughout my four years at Marquette, I’ve had countless professors and mentors who taught me so much and who provide opportunities and skills for me to learn through experience in the classroom and outside of class, through field placements. So, thank you…I’m forever grateful for your accompaniment, your wisdom, your passion, our community. Thank you for helping me grow into the educator I am to day, and thank you for being my home at Marquette.

2020 Outstanding Counselor Education Counseling Psychology Graduate Students: Peter Grau and James McDonald

Each spring, the College of Education celebrates faculty, students and friends with the annual Mission Recognition awards ceremony. As this year’s event had to be canceled, we wanted to share some thoughts and words from our student winners. Our 2020 Outstanding Counselor Education Counseling Psychology doctoral students, Peter Grau and James McDonald, reflect on what this award means to them.

“…the amount of support that we get at Marquette to do the things that we’re trying to do is pretty remarkable. And I know that both of us have had a lot of big things, good things happen this year that I think wouldn’t have happened without the community around us. So, thank you…”

2020 Outstanding Counselor Education Counseling Psychology Master’s Student: Alice Lindo

Each spring, the College of Education celebrates faculty, students and friends with the annual Mission Recognition awards ceremony. As this year’s event had to be canceled, we wanted to share some thoughts and words from our student winners. Our Outstanding Counselor Education Counseling Psychology Masters student, Alice Lindo, shares her reflections on what this award means below.

file[4404]I am honored to have received this award. My heart is overwhelmed with gratitude and excitement. Marquette is such a special community, and it’s great to be in an environment that overlaps with my own personal values. May we never forget where we come from, and always strive to incorporate service, social justice in all parts of our lives, and display excellence by living authentically. Leading by example. Thank you to the faculty in the Counselor Education Counseling Psychology department who inspire me daily by doing just that. I hope to do the same.

2020 Outstanding Elementary Pre-Service Teacher: Olivia Commer

Each spring, the College of Education celebrates faculty, students and friends with the annual Mission Recognition awards ceremony. As this year’s event had to be canceled, we wanted to share some thoughts and words from our student winners. Olivia Commer is one of two Outstanding Elementary Pre-Service Award winners. 


I just wanted to take a little bit of time to say thank you to all the incredible professors who work in Marquette University’s College of Education. I truly would not be who I am today without their help and I greatly appreciate everything they’ve done for me the past four years.

You can also see Olivia’s full remarks on our YouTube channel.

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