Psychology Department Opens New Mental Health Clinic on South Campus

UMBC’s Department of Psychology is opening a new mental health clinic at the Psychology Training, Research, and Services Center on September 15, 2014. The clinic provides evidence-based treatment for a variety of behavioral health issues, including individual and group therapy and consultation for anxiety, depression, substance use, health challenges, marital and family issues, and other types of emotional adjustment problems. The clinic is open limited hours during the week and provides referrals for patients requiring medication management or 24-hour crisis care as we are unable to serve those needs in the clinic. Fees are on a sliding scale and designed to make treatment affordable.

The clinic is a teaching facility operated by the UMBC Psychology Department that provides training for UMBC graduate students pursuing a PhD in Clinical Psychology. UMBC’s Clinical Psychology training program emphasizes the importance of science in clinical practice. Consistent with this approach, clinic activities are science-informed. Director Dr. Rebecca Schacht manages the clinic in consultation with Psychology Department clinical faculty. Dr. Schacht and other licensed psychologists on the faculty and in the community provide close supervision of graduate students, who provide direct services to patients in the clinic.

The Clinic is housed in the Psychology Training, Research, and Services Center (PTRSC) at UMBC’s South Campus Research and Technology Park on South Rolling Road.

For more information and to be screened for eligibility, please call us at 410-455-5530.

Shawn Bediako, Psychology, Receives 2014 Champion Award from the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America

Psychology Associate Professor Shawn Bediako has received the 2014 “Champion Award” from the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America (SCDAA). The prestigious award is given annually to individuals who have made a significant impact in the sickle cell community.

Shawn Bediako

Bediako has done extensive research on sickle cell disease, including race and social attitudes and optimism and perceived stress. In addition to his research, Bediako is also engaged in several community-based projects and was selected in 2008 by Governor Martin O’Malley to serve on the Statewide Steering Committee on Comprehensive Services for Adults with Sickle Cell Disease, a committee that he has chaired since 2010.

Bediako will be honored in October for his dedication to sickle cell disease during the SCDAA’s Annual Convention in Baltimore. Past recipients of the Champion Award include: Clarice Reid, MD, Marilyn Gaston, MD, Congressman Danny Davis (IL), Elliott Vichinsky, Carlton Haywood, PhD, Hertz Nazaire and actor Sidney Poitier.

Robert Provine, Psychology, in BBC Future

As Psychology Professor Robert Provine puts it, “yawning may have the dubious distinction of being the least understood, common human behavior.” A recent in depth story published in BBC Future attempts to answer the baffling question of why we yawn, and Provine, one of the leading experts in the field and author of Curious Behavior: Yawning, Laughing, Hiccupping, and Beyond, is quoted extensively in the story.

Robert Provine

In the article, Provine discusses how contagious yawning is: “Around 50% of people who observe a yawn will yawn in response,” Provine said. “It is so contagious that anything associated with it will trigger one…seeing or hearing another person, or even reading about yawning.” He also discussed how audiences frequently yawn as he is giving presentations: “It makes a very effective lecture,” he said. “You talk and then the audience starts yawning. And then you can ask people to experiment on their yawns – like closing the lips, or inhaling through clenched teeth, or trying to yawn with the nose pinched closed.”

To read the full article in BBC Future titled, “One of science’s most baffling questions? Why we yawn,” click here.

Robert Provine, Psychology, in New York Magazine

Can just talking and reading about bedbugs make you feel itchy? That’s a question New York Magazine set out to find the answer to in a recent post on its “Science of Us” blog. The author asked Psychology Professor Robert Provine the question and this was his response:

Robert ProvineItching and scratching, like yawning, laughing, coughing, and vomiting, is contagious. Simply seeing someone scratching is enough to trigger your own bout of clawing, in a vain effort to rid yourself of pests, real or imagined. You don’t need to actually be bitten by a bedbug, louse, or flea — simply seeing their image, thinking about them, or reading about them — as you are doing now — may trigger a seesaw bout of itching (the stimulus), and scratching (the response).

This hair-trigger, contagiousness and hyper sensitivity to itchy stimuli makes sense. Your neighbor’s pest may jump ship and infect you. Better start scratching, just in case. Unfortunately, scratching causes more itching, locking you into an escalating cycle of itch and scratch.

Provine is author of Curious Behavior: Yawning, Laughing, Hiccuping, and Beyond. To read the full blog post in New York Magazine, click here 

Robert Provine, Psychology, in Real Simple

Psychology Professor Robert Provine appeared in the July 2014 edition of Real Simple magazine in an article about the evolution and science of laughter. The magazine published a lengthy article in the print edition and also posted a version of the article on its website.

Robert Provine

In the print version, Provine said that more research is needed, but it’s probable that those who laugh easily and often are happier than those who don’t. Laughter is “the sound of play,” he said. “So our brain automatically associates it with carefree interactions with friends, family and lovers.”

The article also cites one of Provine’s earliest research experiments in which he found that just listening to recorded laughter can often evoke fits of giggles. According to his research, you’re 30 times more likely to laugh when someone else is around than when you’re by yourself. “It’s highly contagious,” he said.

To read the online version of the article titled, “13 Things You Probably Don’t Know About Laughing,” click here.

Robert Provine, Psychology, on National Geographic Video

A new National Geographic video examines what laughter can do for human health. Psychology Professor Robert Provine appears in the video and provides insight on the origins of laughter, saying it begins at three to four months of age and is one of the most important forms of early communication between babies and mothers.

“It’s a kind of instinctive language that exists before we learn to talk. Laughter, like speech, evolved to change the behavior of other individuals,” Provine said.

“Does [laughter] have to have other purposes? It probably does, but we’re just now starting to tease out what those differences are,” he added. “Did the benefits of laughter come from the act of laughing or is it the social context, spending time with friends, family, and lovers? All of these are very difficult scientific issues that haven’t been teased out. But laughter clearly feels good when we do it. Isn’t that enough?”

You can find the video on National Geographic’s website here.

Robert Provine, Psychology, on The Atlantic Video and ABC Australia Radio

Robert Provine“We have the illusion that laughter is a choice, that we speak laughter as we speak any other word. But we don’t speak hah-hah when we laugh. It’s an involuntary action,” says Psychology Professor Robert Provine in a compelling new video exploring why humans laugh. The video is part of The Atlantic Video web series.

Provine narrates the video and it’s broken into parts including segments on the anatomy of laughter and the danger of laughter. During one portion of the video, Provine visits The Commons at UMBC and conducts an experiment simply by sitting down and observing the people around him.

“Breakthroughs in science come from studying things that are simple and easily described. I call it sidewalk neuroscience,” says Provine. In the video, he listens to two people laughing nearby and highlights that social laughter is caused by relationships, not jokes.

Provine has been studying the social and neurological roots of laughter for 20 years and his latest book, Curious Behavior: Yawning, Laughing, Hiccupping, and Beyond (2012), is an exploration of neglected human instincts.

To watch the complete video titled, “Why We Laugh,” click here 

Provine also participated in a recent discussion about laughter on ABC Australia Radio’s “Life Matters” program. To listen to the complete interview, click here.