Friday, November 4, 2016 - 10:00

Faculty, Students Present Research on Human Emotions and Autism to New England Psychological Association

By Marissa Smith ’18

NEPA logoOn October 15, the New England Psychological Association (NEPA) held its 56th Annual Meeting at Assumption College, providing an opportunity for psychologists, and psychology students from across the Northeast to gather and discuss issues affecting the world of psychology. The day-long event also provided psychological professionals and students – including several members of the Assumption community – an opportunity to present their research to their psychology community.

“The conference brings psychologists and students together each year to learn about new developments in psychological science,” said Leonard A. Doerfler, Ph.D., a psychology professor at Assumption and the director of the College’s clinical counseling psychology program. “For our students, it also provides a forum to present and discuss the work they have done with faculty members in the Psychology Department.”

Prof. Doerfler also noted that hosting the event at Assumption College provided a number of additional benefits to the College, including enhancing its place in the psychology community. “Most of the psychologists who attended the meeting had never visited our campus before, so they had an opportunity to learn about the Assumption and its programs,” he said. 

Seven Assumption College faculty members, five graduate students and seven undergraduate students presented their work at this year’s NEPA meeting. To present, student and faculty proposals were first reviewed and approved by a selection committee comprised of NEPA psychologists.

For the undergraduate presenters, the conference provided an opportunity to immerse themselves in the culture of psychology professionals, as well as to share their research findings.

Senior Alex Cerbo’s presentation, Course of Depression and Anger in an Acute Intensive Treatment Setting: How Closely Does the Change in Depressive Symptoms Correspond to Changes in Anger?, analyzed the correlation between changes in depressive symptoms and symptoms of anger throughout the course of treatment. Cerbo believes his presentation provided him with a unique professional experience that will help him prepare for his future career.

“It gave me an opportunity to present my work to others as well as learn not only how to present properly but also how to communicate my research findings properly to others,” he said.

Shannon Campbell ’17 presented on The Influence of Social Context on Communication and the Expression of Restricted and Repetitive Behaviors in Autism. Her study found that tasks that decrease the amount of stigmatized autism-related behaviors also decrease the language skills of autistic students, which suggests that a well-rounded program of treatment should target both behaviors.

Campbell sees her presentation as a new experience and an opportunity that prepares her as a future graduate student and professional in a related field.

“I was exposed to a lot of other work that I am not familiar with,” she said, “Not only was I able to present my own research to others in the field of psychology, but I was able to better appreciate other research that I would not have had the exposure to otherwise.”

Lauren Price ’17, leader of Assumption’s chapter of Psi Chapter, the psychology honors program, participated in a Psi Chi Leadership Chapter Exchange, where she and other Psi Chi chapter leaders shared tips on running a successful chapter.

“I think conferences like this enable people to improve on their public speaking skills,” she said, adding that this conference gave her an opportunity to enhance her professional skills.  

Next year’s annual meeting of the NEPA will be held at William James College, located in Newton, MA, in October 2017. 

Kimberly Dunbar, Director of Public Affairs, Assumption College @AssumptionNews