Costa Rica Weekend Report

The second week in Costa Rica has come to an end. This past weekend we went to Manuel Antonio National Park. We spent Saturday laying out at the beach, eating civiche, and relaxing. At one point a bunch of men began running to one side of the beach and were then followed by a truck. Of course we had to get in on the chismes, so we asked nearby onlookers what was happening. One lady told us that a parasailing cord broke and that a couple had flown toward the land before falling. No ne was certain what happened to the parasailors, but it was then that we decided not o do any water sports. It began to pour shortly after the incident, so we went to eat lunch. The rain did not stop until around nine at night. Although it rained, we had a good time shopping around and even squeezing in a small siesta.


Manuel Antonio

Manuel Antonio

The next day we got up bright and early and headed to the National Park. Luckily, our hostel was in a great location, so we saved money on cab fare by walking. Once in the park we saw monkeys, sloths, and iguanas. There was a path that led us to a beach that looked like it came from a scene in a movie. After setting our towels down and claiming our spot, we took turns spending time in the water. At one point we had a visit from a raccoon. The raccoon went around the beach in search for food. He looked through a couple of bags before making his way over to our spot. He must have smelled our Doritos because he came over and snatched them. I was surprised how close he got to us, as well as by his entitlement to our snacks. Even though he finished off our snacks, we, and people nearby had the perfect opportunity to take pictures. The majority of us spent all day in the water until we got too hungry to stay at the park.   Linner (lunch/dinner) was next on the agenda before our bus came to take us back to San Jose.

Best, Veronica Rios

Posted in Latino Mental Health

Cat Smail – Costa Rica 2014


All continues to be well with LMHP 2014 in Costa Rica! Today we had our first class on hypnosis – the professor had such a calming presence and voice, we were all relaxed from the start! She ended the class with a 40 minute relaxation and we were able to end our day feeling relaxed and energized. She is definitely an expert!

Last week we experienced our first Costa Rican “temblor,” a very small earthquake which woke must of us up. The walls, our bed, and all the stuff on our shelves rattled us awake. It passed quickly and caused no harm, but it definitely surprised us all.

Very early Saturday morning, we will catch a bus to Manuel Antonio. We will be staying in a hostel and will spend our two days at the beach before returning to San Jose and UNIBE for class. We can’t believe we are almost half-way through our trip!

Take care all,

PS – we are officially obsessed with the local ceviche and we have (we believe) found the best in town. Yummmm

Posted in Latino Mental Health

Andrea Bedoya – Ecuador 2014












Con el ritmo de vida que llevamos en las grandes ciudades es fácil olvidar cuanto nos favorece relacionarnos con la naturaleza. Durante nuestra visita a Baños conocimos la región andina del Ecuador. Las enormes montañas que nos rodeaban, la vista del volcán Chimborazo, y las lindas cascadas que visitamos me hicieron sentir invadida por un sentimiento de paz, admiración y relajación. Gracias MSPP y a la Familia Lucero por hacer posible nuestra visita a Ecuador :0)

Posted in Latino Mental Health

LMHP Summer Immersion Costa Rica 2014


We are beginning our 2nd week in Costa Rica and have been busy adjusting to our schedules, new host families and life in Costa Rica. During the day we attend classes at UNIBE, spend time at a children’s mental health clinic, and observe clinical sessions and psychological testing conducted by professors at UNIBE.

This weekend we went zip lining and to Baldi hot springs near the Arenal volcano.  It was an incredible day! We had a bunch of laughs with the Zip lining staff, and got to ride on a tarzan swing through an opening in the forest. The last zip line, the highest and the longest was nicknamed “Superman” and provided spectacular views of the forrest canopy through the fog. It took me a couple of seconds to convince myself to open my eyes, but when I did I was greeted with the most incredible experience of my life!

Most students took Sunday to visit Jako, a beach town about 90 minutes from San Jose where they saw crocodiles, an incredible surfing competition and rare birds. Some chilled on the beach while others took on the 9 foot waves all afternoon!

Although we’re having quite an adventure, we’ve taken moments to miss our lives in the United States. I’ve heard from others that while we (of course) miss our families, friends and significant others most, we also really miss our own pillows and our pets. Shout outs to Luna (the cat), Nuki (the dog) and Ernie (the dog) – we miss you bunches.


Posted in Latino Mental Health

Executive coaching training: Expect to be challenged, academically and personally

Studying to become a coach for business leaders did not match what had I expected of graduate study. I hadn’t been to graduate school, but plenty of friends had told stories.

Of course, I expected to study hard, learn theories and techniques, and rely on memory and experience to synthesize ideas and see me through. But good coaches offer much more than smarts and tactics and models. In fact, the first lesson of the GCEC is learning the difference between knowledge and practice. If you’re considering a coaching ceritifcation program, you should expect that in addition to rigorous formal education, you are laying the foundation of a practice rather than simply acquiring skills and knowledge.

Education for practice

Recently a prospective student asked me whether his business and public service background would put him at a disadvantage. “I haven’t studied psychology,” he said, “and MSPP is focused on that, right?” If you haven’t read any psychology since college or before, you will encounter new theories, research, and thought leaders’ names. I was eager for more. I did a little extracurricular reading. Throughout the program, I added to a reading/learning list that I’ve been using since graduation. Most of these discoveries offer clues and answers about why people, and leaders in particular, behave as they do. Learning them has been invigorating and useful.

Learning as a habit of inquiry

Image: and

But this education is not only about others. Most of the frameworks and theories you’ll encounter will prompt you to reflect on how you behave, think, learn, and present yourself. And this is a critical part of a coaching practice. Though clients buy coaching as a service, it is not only a transaction.

The work requires curiosity about others and ourselves: Who am I? How do I operate? What does that tell me about my assumptions about the world? How do I use myself to have a positive effect on clients and the world? These are the questions that leaders are not often asked in the boardroom. But they motivate most of their decisions. As their coaches, we must be able to ask the questions and be prepared to help them sort among partial answers and clues.

Expect a good coaching program to raise questions for which you uncover partial answers and clues today. This is the foundation of your practice.

Posted in Executive Coaching

Spend the right amount of time on learning to coach

Before I was admitted to the seven-month Graduate Certificate in Executive Coaching, I learned from my colleague Ann that she’d completed the program when it was two years in duration. Now, I love a challenge. And I wanted to get a lot out of this program. Ann’s a great coach. Was I missing something?

Before it was over, I did wish the program were longer. Not because it wasn’t rigorous and complete. I came to appreciate my instructors and classmates. Sometimes, the learning and the challenge of putting theory into practice made the assignments intense. And I was stimulated by the satisfaction of learning not just ideas, but ways to use what I learned.

The program proved to be a genuinely graduate-level challenge, but short enough to be achievable by people like me: with a demanding full-time job, a family, and a life. The program didn’t need to be longer, but I wanted the learning community to carry on and stick together. We had committed to learning with each other. We came to rely on learning from each other, too. I had not anticipated how important that would be.

Don’t shortchange practice time

In the GCEC, we spent one weekend-in-residence each month. These were two days full of learning coaching psychology. While encountering and inquiring into what motivates people, practice coaching sessions also uncovered some of my motivations. Listening for what’s not said in others’ communication means that you will learn a good deal about what you think and feel, but are not saying.

A shorter program would have left me with the impression that I’m a clumsy and inarticulate coach. We spent just the right amount of time to have plenty of experience getting it half right and recognizing that we could do better. And I experienced enough success that I completed the program with confidence that I’d acquired skills that could be refined through more practice and experience.

Posted in Executive Coaching, Experiential Education | Tagged ,

How is Massachusetts addressing and treating postpartum depression?

Contributed By Margaret Hannah, Executive Director of the Freedman Center for Child and Family Development

Tom Ashbrook of WBUR’s “On Point” recently discussed the struggle with depression that parents often face. I applaud him for bringing this conversation to the nation’s attention, and I hope we continue this discussion about helping parents and families to cope with the mental health issues they face.

New research shows that maternal mental illness is much more common and wide-reaching than people expect. About a fifth of women had an episode of depression in the year after giving birth, according to a meta-analysis of 30 studies.Unfortunately, we tend to only hear about maternal mental illness, such as postpartum depression, in the wake of a tragedy. What is Massachusetts doing to prevent, identify and treat maternal mental illness and postpartum depression in particular?

I am the Executive Director of the Freedman Center for Child and Family Development at the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology, as well as a member of Governor Patrick’s Commission on Postpartum Depression. The Freedman Center helps connect children and families with appropriate information, providers, resources, and one another, to serve their mental health and wellness needs.

The Freedman Center is working with the University of Massachusetts Memorial Health Care Medical School and the Massachusetts Child Psychiatry Access Project, as well as MotherWoman, a community organization that supports and empowers mothers, to implement MCPAP for Moms. MCPAP for Moms is funded by the State Department of Mental Health and aims to promote maternal and child health by advocating for, and offering the resources to effectively prevent, identify, and manage depression. At its core it provides capacity-building within the medical and provider community to conduct depression screenings, offers real-time psychiatric telephone consultation for providers serving pregnant and postpartum women, and offers community resources to support pregnant and postpartum women.

Postpartum depression impacts entire families, including mothers and fathers. It is important that we educate and train the public and healthcare providers about postpartum depression and other perinatal emotional concerns. I thank the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health for supporting this endeavor.

The Great Expectations Recession

If you’re worried about the future, you’re in good company. But it isn’t company that’s good for you. Not only are we still in a stubborn economic recession, we’re in an expectations recession.Danger expectations

Don’t forget what your broker says: Past performance is no guarantee of future returns. This is usually a warning to prevent inflated expectations. But there is little optimism in the news that’s not countered by skepticism. We’re in a boom that may be a bubble. Consider these few data points.

  • “…young people today expect to work more, achieve less, and have fewer children [compared to a 1992 Wharton study].
  • “For all of that work and sacrifice of family, recent grads don’t expect to rise as high in their careers. Stewart Friedman, a Wharton professor who directed the study, says that it’s part of a general trend toward lower aspirations in work and family lives.”
  • “The majority of college graduates believe that their generation will not do better than the one that came before them.”
  • “Not even half expect to have more financial success than their parents; one in five expect to do less well than their parents and another 31 percent say they expect to do equally well.”

And the Federal Reserve offers,

  • “…the large, unexplained shock to income expectations might suggest a permanent change in households’ views – a phenomenon that would continue to weigh against a recovery in consumer spending.”

Our own worst enemy, or is it ‘best ally?’

Not only are we expecting less, but our expectations may be keeping us from experiencing a more typical recovery. Our inability to envision and make a better future are getting in the way of having a better future.

There’s a body of research that bears this out. Richard Rosenthal could be called the father of expectancy research. He showed that teachers influence their students’ scholastic performance as a direct result of what they expect of them. And he continued to demonstrate the effect in follow on research (pdf). Not only do we get what we expect, we get what those around us expect.

You’re not alone, and you can make a difference

You shouldn’t feel to disappointed if you’ve been influenced by low expectations surrounding you, or even imposed on you where you work. They are numerous and pervasive. And a conservative approach to risk is built into our biology.

But consider how different your day might be if you thought that expectations around you were positive. What if you could change things? Could you aim to invent and innovate instead of aiming to be sure that you don’t fail?

In a time when so much uncertainty prevails in markets and forecasts, it may be smart to hedge against your own optimism. But for most of us, envisioning a future through and beyond the boom or bubble may call for breaking familiar habits of thinking. For new college graduates, they’ve only known recession expectations. They can expect more.

Shaking off the The Great Expectations Recession

To make fundamental change in Great Recession habits and adjust the trajectory they’ve set is not the work of a day. It may call for outside advice – a stronger voice asking, “Now that you’ve answered ‘what if…,’ and you’ve hedged against likely risk, what if things go well?  What if best case is the reality? How does expecting good outcomes influence your thinking? How might it influence others to re-engage and strive, innovate, and hope for the best case themselves?”

Some people will find that voice in a friend, mentor, or other adviser. Some will look to executive coaches for a dose of that alternate, pragmatic, very real possibility that recession thinking has taken over our expectations, and that they’re getting exactly what they expect. We can expect more.

Posted in Executive Coaching

Part-Time Allows for a Good Time

I am a part-time student in MSPP’s Organizational Psychology & Leadership graduate program.  The part-time program works really well for me with my full-time career and mobile, active lifestyle.  I began in the program in August 2013 and anticipate graduating with a Master of Arts Degree in Organizational Psychology in August 2015.

Essentially, I have six weeks on, and six weeks off from class.  Throughout the year I have six weeks to stay nose-to-the-grindstone in coursework, and six weeks to work on long-term projects toward achieving my MA (e.g. my capstone and field projects) at my own pace and as my schedule permits.  During the weeks in which I am not enrolled in a class, I like to travel and find that I appreciate my time much more.  This more relaxed part-time schedule allows me to feel that I am maintaining work-life balance.  And that matters.

I offer the deepest respect to and applaud the many full-time students in my cohort who are nearing graduation after beginning coursework just this past August.  They have worked extremely hard to achieve their Master’s degrees in one year, and this is a monumental accomplishment.  MSPP holds its students to high standards and packs a great deal of rich learning material and experiences into its curriculum.

There are two different types of student status in this program purely (on-line or blended on-line and class) and two different types of scheduling (part-time or full-time).  Whatever a student chooses, we are all  able to connect via group projects, on-line office hours, discussion posts, and e-mail.  I have found that each student has her/his unique perspective on how they make their selected status/schedule work and to what degree they are able to manage personal and family life.

I know me pretty well, and know that I would surely perish if I tried to take on this level of achievement in a one-year time span.  Many students can and successfully have, however, and that is what is great about MSPP’s Organizational Psychology program.  Dr. Gregory and his Org Psych program faculty offer students this opportunity to identify within themselves what they are capable of doing and to then apply to either the full-time or part-time program options.  I believe this reflects a great deal of consideration and adult learning insight on these curriculum developers’ behalf; they create opportunities for anyone in any stage of adult learning to attain a graduate level education.

I would love to answer any questions you may have about completing graduate school while working a full-time job and simultaneously retaining some semblance of [self-diagnosed] sanity.

“I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity.” 
― Edgar Allan Poe

Posted in Applying to MSPP, Online Education, Organizational Psychology & Leadership | Tagged

Decisions, decisions

As tax day approached, so, too, did the deadline to respond to invitations graduate programs. I think back to a year ago when I was buried in my own decision-making process; I had spreadsheets, pro-con columns strewn about, and the counsel of friends and family. The factors included in my process were the following:

Program. I looked through the curriculum requirements for each program and thought about which set of classes both seemed more interesting to me and seemed like they would supply me with the information I was seeking. Wiggle room for electives and the opportunity to take classes in departments outside of the designated program were additional pluses.

Degree. Like some others, I had applied to various degree programs with different foci. MSPP’s clinical psych PsyD seemed like the best bet, but having been a teacher for over 6 years, I was also strongly considering School Psych MA/CAGS programs in the Boston area. What helped me differentiate? The possible career trajectories for each program. I knew that I wanted flexibility and didn’t necessarily want to be locked into school psychology or even working with the school-aged population.

Resources. Here I’m specifically referencing time and finances. Going to graduate school, particularly to a full-time program, is a serious undertaking. As this is my second career, I am trying to be efficient rather than to fulfill my quasi-secret dream of being a life-long student. I also realized that moving forward, there was a good chance I’d want to pursue a doctorate, so why not commit to a doctoral program with the opportunity to grab my masters on the way?

Location. This is the domain that boxed me in a bit. I was committed to staying in the Boston area for various reasons. As you may know, MSPP has one of the few APA accredited Clinical Psychology PsyD programs in New England. For me, this was a major determinant.

Experience vs. Research. I knew I wanted as much clinical experience as possible. MSPP’s program offered a clinical practicum from day one. Now nearing the end of the second semester, I can attest to the fact that learning by experience is incredibly powerful. It informs the conversations in the classes, putting the theory in the context of actual client interactions.

If you’re still in the process of making your decision (although by the time of posting, I believe the deadline has passed), I strongly encourage you to post questions or reach out to your potential schools’ communities to pose further queries. Best of luck in your decisions!

Posted in Applying to MSPP, Change of Career, Clinical PsyD, Counseling Psychology, School Psychology