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Program News & Highlights

Recent Faculty Hires for 12-13 Academic year

Christina D. Brown, PsyD, Assistant Professor

Dr. Brown is a licensed clinical psychologist. She obtained a M.S. and Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology from Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and completed both internship and postdoctoral fellowships at Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut. She completed her undergraduate degree in Psychology at New College of Florida. Dr. Brown has worked in community mental health administration and practice for the past four years at Charlotte Behavioral Healthcare, Inc., in Punta Gorda, FL. She began teaching as an adjunct at FSPP at Argosy University, Tampa in Fall 2011. In Fall 2012, she was hired as a full time faculty member within the department. Her areas of interest include psychopathology, biological psychology, psychology of women and gender, PTSD and trauma, and integrative psychotherapy. Dr. Brown is actively involved with the Florida Psychological Association, serving as both Membership Chair and Early Career Mentor for the Lower West Coast chapter. She provides training and education to a wide variety of community agencies, such as law enforcement and child protective services, particularly in the areas of Trauma Informed Care and Vicarious Traumatization.

Patricia Dixon, PsyD, Assistant Professor

Dr. Patricia Dixon earned her doctorate in clinical psychology from Adler School of Professional Psychology , received her Master's in Clinical Psychology from Roosevelt University, and her Bachelor's in Psychology from Michigan State University. She completed the Group Therapy Certificate program while attending Adler. She is experienced working in the academic, research, and clinical settings. She has experience conducting psychological evaluations as well as facilitating individual, group, and family counseling with children, adolescents and adults. Her theoretical orientation is integrative, and she finds the use of Constructivism and Adlerian principles useful. Her research interests focus primarily on social and psychological factors that contribute to positive mental health outcomes among minority populations. She has egaged in various research projects that examine factors such as self-esteem, attachement, academic achievement, racial identity, and parenting among minority populations. She has presented at several conferences including the UCF Annual Counseling Conference 2012, The Florida Association of School Psychologists 36th Annual Conference, The Midwestern Psychological Association 2007 Conference, The Association of Black Psychologists 2003 Annual Convention, The National CIC SROP Conference, The McNair/SROP Research Symposium.

Gary Howell, PsyD, Assistant Professor and Associate Director of Training

Dr. Gary Howell joined the FSPP faculty at the beginning of the 2011-12 academic year but was recently hired as the Associate Director of Training. He is a licensed clinical psychologist in Illinois and Florida. He earned his doctorate in clinical psychology from the Adler School of Professional Psychology in Chicago and received his Master’s in Counseling Psychology along the way in 2004. Dr. Howell is the current chair of the Illinois Psychological Association’s Sexual Orientation Issues Section and is actively involved with several APA divisions as well. He is also the chair of the APA Division 44 Convention Planning Committee for 2013.

Julie Olson Nejame, PsyD, Associate Professor

Dr. Olson Nejame has been employed more than a decade as a correctional and forensic psychologist. She has provided individual and group treatment to offenders for more than a decade and also worked with the Forensic Assessment Division, Board of Parole Hearings, conducting violence risk assessment evaluations with life-term inmates. In addition to working with offenders, she created and implemented a Stress Management in Corrections program within the institutional training department at Avenal State Prison and CSP-Corcoran for a five year period. She continues to advocate for correctional officers and correctional mental health professionals and the effects of stress in the correctional setting through research and education. She educated clinical forensic psychology graduate students and specialized in personality, intellectual, and forensic assessment, psychopathology, correctional psychology, and offender treatment at Alliant International University. She also clinically supervised graduate students in forensic assessment with public defender’s office of Fresno county and brief treatment modalities, and has a private practice. Research interests include: Paraphilias, psychopathy, psychotic disorders and violence, criminal thinking styles and offender treatment effects, risk of violence assessment measures with life crime inmates, effects of stress and correctional officers/law enforcement, developmental disabilities among offenders, and mentally ill offender treatment. She is a member of the Institute on Violence, Abuse, and Trauma (IVAT) and is also a Training and Mentoring Committee member with the National Partnership to End Interpersonal Violence Across the Lifespan (NPEIV).

Recent Faculty Professional Activities

  • Dr. Patricia Dixon recently presented two sessions at the University of Central Florida’s 4th Annual Counseling Conference. The first session was entitled, Self-Esteem as a Moderator for Racial Identity and Academic Achievement in Black American Adolescents. This presentation was based on the premise that Black Americans face various institutional barriers within society, yet in many cases they have managed to demonstrate a tremendous level of resilience. This presentation sought to examine the interactions among racial identity, self-esteem, and academic achievement in order to increase insight into factors that contribute to the resilience among Black Americans. The second session was entitled, Understanding Spirituality in Couple’s Counseling. This presentation examined the connection between a client’s spiritual beliefs and challenges one may face in their relationships while dating, as well as once they are married. This presentation also examined how understanding the foundation of client’s spiritual beliefs can help establish a foundation for counseling providers to build therapeutic goals.
  • Dr. Gary Howell is the new Associate Director of Training at FSPP; he has served and is currently serving in various state and national leadership positions. He served as the APA Division 44 Convention Programming Co-chair/Suite Coordinator for the 2012 convention in Orlando and is currently the Div 44 Programming Chair for the 2013 convention in Hawaii. His second elected term as the Sexual Orientation Issues Section Chair for the Illinois Psychological Association will end in June 2013. He serves on the GLBT Advisory Board for the Metro Wellness & Community Center in Ybor and is actively involved with the GaYbor Coalition. His advocacy work has led to continued involvement with anti-LGBTQ bullying efforts. He presented on anti-gay bullying, homophobia and suicide at the Florida Psychological Association Convention in June 2012 and has submitted a symposium topic related to anti-gay bullying for the APA 2013 Convention. He was recently asked to create a CE webinar for the Florida Psychological Association and potentially present at the FPA Diversity Luncheon at the Summer 2013 FPA Convention and has submitted a proposal for a CE workshop at the same convention on the topic of LGBT treatment concerns for clinicians. He wrote the foreward for a play on gay bullying and suicide in June 2012 where he participated in a Q&A with the actors and director following the last performance. He is currently working with a Tampa producer who is bringing the same play, The Rock & The Ripe, to Tampa in February 2013. Dr. Howell will be involved in various speaking engagements with media and print agencies promoting the play and its fundraising efforts this fall as well as repeating his Q&A with the actors, director and audience members. He has also enjoyed mentoring students via the APAGS Committee on LGBT Concerns Graduate Student Mentor program since 2011. He also serves as the FSPP campus SPA, PRIDE, FPAGS, and APAGS faculty advisor.
  • Dr. Steve O’Brien was recently promoted to Associate Professor in June 2012, and has been a FSPP faculty member since 2000. He continues to appear on-air as Bay News 9’s psychological consultant, and was recently interviewed in September 2012 by local Tampa Bay news anchor Al Ruechel on the topic of maternal filicide, i.e. mothers’ who kill their children. Dr. O’Brien’s recent “Priority Health” segments have also focused on topics such as anticipatory anxiety, parent-child homework conflict, and new developments in child/adolescent research, specifically on the relationship between childhood social relationships and adult well-being, and on the influence of fathers on adolescent self-esteem. Dr. O’Brien has also conducted tours at the new Salvador Dali Museum in St Petersburg, Florida, for a variety of groups including graduate students, businesses, and organizations, as well as the general public. As a volunteer docent, Dr. O’Brien conducts tours which focus on the relationship between Dali’s childhood experiences and his artwork, with special attention on how Dali was influenced by the writings of Sigmund Freud and psychoanalysis.
  • In September of 2012, Dr. Julie Olson NeJame was a co-presenter for two continuing education trainings entitled Child Advocacy Studies Training Child Maltreatment: Forensic Interviewing Techniques for Child Victims and Perpetrators of Child Abuse and Cultural and Gender Considerations when Assessing and Treating Child Maltreatment Offenders which were hosted through the Institute on Violence, Abuse and Trauma’s 17th Annual Conference in San Diego, California. While in attendance, she also presented two research posters on Instituting child advocacy studies: Implementing programs and Experiences of survivors of suicide. Dr. Olson is also an editor for the Journal for Maltreatment, Aggression and Trauma.
  • Dr. Courtney Ramous recently attended Bridging the Couple Chasm: Couples Therapy-A Research-Based Approach. This training was presented by Drs. John and Julie Gottman. There are 3 levels of training that one must complete to become a certified Gottman Couples therapist. This training was a Level 1 training that included research based assessments and effective interventions for working with couples. Dr. Ramous plans to become certified as a Gottman Couples therapist and will attend the next 2 levels of training.

Recent Departmental Accomplishments

Argosy University, Tampa held the second annual Families and Couples Conference, co-sponsored by Florida Clinical Research Center, on July 27, 2012. The goal of the conference was to increase awareness of issues facing today’s families and to improve the quality of treatment that families receive by providing accurate information and skills training to local providers of family services and students in training. The conference consisted of four sessions in which participants were able to choose from one of five workshops for each session and a poster session. Many of the workshops provided free continuing education credits for psychologists. The conference served as an excellent opportunity for faculty, practicum site supervisors, and students to collaborate on presentations. The conference was free of charge and lunch was provided as a professional service to the community. There were approximately 100 conference attendees this year.

Recent Student News

The Student Psychological Association (SPA) is a student run organization that promotes educational, social, and emotional development. SPA is also an organization that serves as the liaison between clinical psychology students and faculty. Students have the opportunity to run for an elected position of President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, Mentor Coordinator, Event and Community Service/Volunteer Coordinator, Multi-Cultural/Diversity Liaison, and Cohort Liaisons for each class each year. Over the past year, SPA volunteered feeding the homeless at Faith Café, organized a game day for residents at a local assisted living facility, and participated in community events that raised awareness about sexual violence. At the beginning of the Fall 2012 semester, SPA held the second annual Mentorship Match-Up where first year students were paired with upper classmen through a fun speed-dating format to serve as a mentor. Additionally, SPA recently held its annual Welcome Back BBQ and Winter Party.