Category: News

Researchers seek to change behavior by normalizing diversity

"Promoting inclusion and dismantling systemic racism is one of the most important issues of our times."

Scroll Down for Dr. Holland's Perspective on this article

Showing people how their peers feel about diversity in their community can make their actions more inclusive, make members of marginalized groups feel more like they belong, and even help close racial achievement gaps in education, according to a new study. Drawing on strategies that have worked in anti-smoking, safe-sex and energy-saving campaigns, University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers decided to try to change behavior by showing people that positive feelings about diversity are the norm.

"In any other domain of public health -- saving for retirement, sustainability, eating healthy -- it's the key thing to communicate: It's the right thing to do, your peers do it, and your peers would actually approve of you doing it as well," says Markus Brauer, the UW-Madison psychology professor whose lab designed the pro-diversity intervention. It's an effect that's reflected in attitudes about ongoing protests over Black people killed by police officers. Exposed to larger crowds, more frequent news coverage and the opinions of friends and neighbors, more people have expressed support for Black Lives Matter groups and activities.

"People are heavily influenced by finding out what their peers have done," Brauer says. "But in the diversity domain, we haven't been trying this." The researchers, who published their findings today in the journal Nature Human Behaviour, conducted extensive focus groups with UW-Madison students. "We asked them -- students of color and white students, students of the LGBT+ community: What actually is it that decreases your sense of belonging? What are the kinds of behaviors that hurt your feelings, that make you feel excluded?" Brauer says. "And then please tell us, what are the behaviors that would make you feel welcome?"

The non-white students felt like they were kept at a distance from white students -- not included in class groups or projects, not included in activities, not invited to participate in simple interactions. "When we asked about what decreased their sense of belonging, they didn't complain so much about racial slurs or explicit forms of discrimination," says Brauer. "It was the distance, the lack of interest, the lack of caring that affected them."

Brauer, graduate student Mitchell Campbell, and Sohad Murrar, a former graduate student of Brauer's who is now a psychology professor at Governors State University in Illinois, used what they learned to choose their messages. "We used a social marketing approach, where we identify a target audience, we decide what our target behavior is, and then we show people how their peers support that behavior," Brauer says. They designed a relatively simple poster, covered in students' faces and reporting actual survey results -- that 93 percent of students say they "embrace diversity and welcome people from all backgrounds into our UW-Madison community," and that 84 percent of them agreed to be pictured on the poster. They also produced a five-minute video, which described the pro-diversity opinions reported by large majorities in other campus surveys and showed real students answering questions about tolerance and inclusion.

In a series of experiments over several years, hundreds of students were exposed passively to the posters in brief encounters in study waiting rooms or hung day after day on the walls of their classrooms. In other experiments, the video was shown to an entire class during their first meeting. Control groups came and went from waiting rooms and classroom with no posters, or watched videos about cranberry production, or other alternatives to the study materials. Then the researchers surveyed subjects to assess their attitudes about appreciation for diversity, attitudes toward people of color, intergroup anxiety, their peers' behaviors and other measures.

"When we measured 10 or 12 weeks later, the students who were exposed to the interventions report more positive attitudes towards members of other groups and stronger endorsement of diversity," Brauer says. The differences for students from marginalized groups went further. "The students belonging to marginalized groups tell us that they have an enhanced sense of belonging. They are less anxious in interactions with students from other ethnic groups. They tell us that they're less and less the target of discrimination," Brauer says. "They evaluate the classroom climate more positively, and feel that they are treated more respectfully by their classmates."

The researchers tested the effectiveness of their diversity intervention in a series of UW-Madison courses in which white students have historically received better grades than their non-white peers. In course sections that viewed the 5-minute video during their first meeting -- classes including more than 300 students -- the privileged and marginalized students' grades were equal in the end.

"We know the marginalized students experience discrimination; we know their feelings are valid. But we know, too, from the campus climate surveys and our own extensive surveys, that their fellow students report real appreciation for diversity, and tell us that they want to be inclusive," Brauer says. "They stay socially distant, though, because they worry about putting themselves out there. Our experience is that this intervention is changing those perceptions and experiences, and possibly the behavior, of both groups."

It may be the first result of its kind for such a long-running study with so many participants, and the researchers are hopeful that future work will help better reveal whether students actually change the way they treat each other.

"Promoting inclusion and dismantling systemic racism is one of the most important issues of our times. And yet, it turns out that many pro-diversity initiatives are not being evaluated," says Brauer, whose work was supported in part by funding from the office of UW-Madison's vice provost and chief diversity officer. "We really need evidence-based practices, but for a long time we've had no idea whether the things we do in the diversity domain actually have a beneficial effect. We're hoping to change that."


Read this article on Science Daily: University of Wisconsin-Madison. "Showing pro-diversity feelings are the norm makes individuals more tolerant." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 July 2020. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/07/200701125448.htm.


Dr. Holland's Perspective

Researchers are only beginning to delve into the psychology of racial stressors.  As a longtime activist I know that conversations about racism, inclusion and cultural bias are long overdue and something we have neglected to confront in meaningful ways. It will take time to bring racial inclusion to a common ground where we can all flourish and grow.

People experience discrimination in different ways, and struggling with this issue can manifest as anxiety, depression, feelings of emotional vulnerability and a full spectrum of emotional and psychological stresses. The bottom line is we all have a right to be healthy, and that includes mental health.

Teletherapy Available - Short-term sessions, single sessions or ongoing support

Contact Dr. Holland for more information and for help, or call 707-479-2946 to schedule a telehealth video therapy session.

 

Teletherapy; a good alternative for therapists & clients

The Unexpected Benefits of Tele-Therapy

Santa Rosa Psychologist Dr. Jenny Holland finds that some patients are thriving under social distancing requirements, thanks to teleconferencing’s surprising appeal.

July 6, 2020, Santa Rosa, Ca. -- Back in March when Gov. Gavin ordered California residents to stay at home and businesses to adhere to mandatory closures, it didn’t seem quite real. And for professionals in the mental health field, not being able to meet patients face-to-face presented some very real problems.  “We had to come up with a viable solution and adapt quickly – for our patients and for our own business viability, or our practices would become obsolete and our patients would suffer,” says Dr. Jenny Holland, Santa Rosa Psychologist.

When counseling patients from her office on Cherry Street was no longer possible, Dr. Holland opted to expand on something that had represented only a fraction of her practice up to that point, Teleheath Video Conference Therapy. “Although I have offered Telehealth Therapy as part of my practice for years, most of my patients preferred to meet face-to-face. And, to be honest, the idea of video conferencing with every one of my patients was a little intimating to me at first. It took some weeks for me to adapt to the process and get comfortable with the technology.”

Healthcare institutes all over the country say the coronavirus pandemic can be extremely stressful for people. Fear and anxiety generated by the idea of a communicable disease and worry over what might happen can become overwhelming and stimulate strong emotions in both adults and children.

“I am finding that teletherapy is an amazingly effective means of counseling, particularly for teens and young adults who already have a familiarity for interacting online with friends. I am also finding that video sessions are extremely helpful for people with anxiety – something we’re seeing a significant increase in since COVID-19 became a thing.”

Public health actions, such as social distancing certainly helps keep everyone safer but, social distancing can leave people feeling even more isolated and lonely. Teletherapy is proving to have some surprising benefits for people who are isolated, and for people who have social anxiety.

“It can be quite relieving for a person with anxiety to not have to be face-to-face for a therapy session. In fact, teletherapy actually empowers my patients who might experience anxiety, because it creates a sense of ‘safe distance’ from the therapist. This alone, often makes it easier for them to open up and to feel comfortable with the therapy modality.”

While most of us are dealing with increased social distancing from one degree to another, it is important for everyone’s mental health and emotional well-being to find new, healthy ways to maintain social connections. Virtual communication including phones and video chats with friends and family can help alleviate feelings of loneliness and isolation. And when people find it too difficult to maintain a positive sense of wellbeing, reaching out to a mental health professional can help.

Dr. Jenny Holland, PsyD“For people with depression, I've noticed teletherapy is particularly effective. Once a patient and therapist are able to create that virtual connection, we actually share a more intimate space. Even though we may not be in-person, sessions are essentially eye-to-eye and there are fewer distractions. I am finding that video conferencing makes it easier to connect with my patients, and it provides an excellent format for exploring deeper into personal issues.”

Clients are reporting that although they were initially very intimidated and even fearful at the prospect of having a video therapy session, once into the process they say they are finding it easier to connect. One of Dr. Holland’s clients recently emphasized this by saying, “… originally I thought that therapy wouldn't work if it wasn't in person. But I am noticing that you are right here with me. And I'm feeling connected."

To learn more about Dr. Holland’s Teletherapy services or to request an appointment call 707-479-2946 or visit drjennyholland.com.

Dr. Holland’s Blog – My Thoughts on Racism

My Personal Thoughts on Racism

As a white person, I must continue to own my racism, and wrestle with it, and challenge my beliefs as they occur in the moment, every day. Racism lives in me. To be actively anti-racist is a choice I must make each moment every day, as well as model loudly and effectively.

I must confront it when I see it in writing, when I hear it in someone’s speech, when I even suspect it is there. Especially when it is in my own heart and mind, and visible in my subtle expressions.

I must continue to examine and refuse to act on my feelings of desperation, embarrassment, shame, privilege, profound white loneliness, my fear of otherness, my assumptions about difference, my hatred, and jealousy.

Even with a solid education, and a leaning towards social justice, I am constantly doing battle with all the subconscious recordings from my family of origin and the generations before them influencing me to believe that I am:

  • better than,
  • entitled to more,
  • have power over.

… because I was lucky enough to be born white.

I wish to continue to strive to override this programming because I want to be close with others. It is also my responsibility to override my own hard-wiring with:

  • conscientious thought,
  • speech and
  • actions.

This is my responsibility as a human being, as a mother and as a psychologist. And I am working to teach my children and clients by my example. And I make a lot of mistakes. And I may be saying this wrong. And I might be misunderstood or misinterpreted, but at least we are talking about it, now.

And thanks for thinking critically and listening, for being willing to consider and ask questions, and for the courage to imagine taking a few risks to create the change we must make.

Video Conference Therapy During Difficult Times

Distance therapy helps to address the stay-at-home trend during flu outbreak

Distance therapy helps to address the stay-at-home trend during flu outbreak

Dr. Holland has offered phone and video conferencing therapy options for patients for some time, and with the rising concerns surrounding the coronavirus, these types of therapy sessions are more relevant than ever.

“Distance therapy using the phone or an online video conferencing system such as FaceTime has long been a good option for my clients who have access issues due to lack of transportation, health or time constraints. And, some clients simply find it more appealing to hold a session outside of an office environment.” Dr. Holland explains. “Now, with the widespread concern over the coronavirus, online therapy is a great way to stay connected with my clients, and a terrific option for new clients that don’t want to put off getting the help they need.” Therapy sessions are one-on-one and individually tailored to the client’s needs.

What is required for online conferencing? New clients will need to go through a screening process that begins with a free 15-minute phone consultation with Dr. Holland. Once the screening process is complete, clients simply need to have access to a reliable computer with a webcam, a smartphone or a tablet equipped with camera and mic. After the appointment is confirmed, Dr. Holland will send a link to the video conference that is used to access the therapist’s private online office room.

Additional Information

As with any new therapy system, it’s a good idea to research and understand the benefits and limits of this form of technology before signing up for a session. It is important to have access to a computer or mobile device with a webcam, a good microphone as well as up-to-date antivirus software and a personal firewall. Clients will also need access to a private space where they will not be overheard. It's also good to create a space that is free from distractions that could interrupt the session such as phone calls, emails, other people or pets in the area.

Please bear in mind that this program is not meant to replace crisis services or hospitalization. New clients who are a good fit for this program are typically eager to get help, they are stable, and they are open to receiving information and guidance for symptom relief.

Please start by booking a free 15-minute phone consultation with Dr. Holland.

 

 

Fury Book Tour – April in Santa Rosa

FURY comes to Santa Rosa on April 3rd

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT:

Jenny Holland PsyD is one of the contributors to FURY.

Copperfield Books Santa Rosa will be part of the #thefurytour roll out! If you're in Santa Rosa, CA on Friday April 3 at 7pm come by to hear the contributors from this powerful collection of first-person accounts speak on what it's like to be a woman in the Trump era! Get your signed copy at Copperfield Books and support this historic and thought provoking read!

FURY is set to be published March 20: "Fury: Women's Lived Experiences During the Trump Era" is a collection of essays by a diverse group of 38 women, from different ethnicity, religions, ages, and sexual orientations. Jenny Holland PsyD is one of the contributors to FURY. There will be two book events scheduled in the Bay area as part of the rollout tour.  A few of our contributors will be at each event. April 3, at Copperfields, Montgomery Village, Santa Rosa, 7 PM April 4, at Book Passage, Ferry Building, San Francisco, 3 PM

To pre-order the book (promo code FURY_JH will save you on shipping costs): ORDER HERE


Advance Praise for FURY

“If ever a book met the historic moment, it is this one. In an era where women are fighting oppression and sexual victimization, we have elevated unapologetic toxic sexual predators to both the White House and the Supreme Court. The authors in this collection bring us inside their workplaces and homes to show how this kind of politics has affected the lives of real people. If we survive the Trump era—by no means a forgone conclusion– we will have women to thank.”

– John Gartner, Ph.D. author of, In Search of Bill Clinton: A Psychological Biography and Founder of Duty To Warn

“These are thunderbolts thrown at the ultimate lightning rod in a cultural struggle that goes back to the dawn of human civilization. If only Donald Trump were just a metaphor, or justifiable outrage able to sway willful ignorance. A treat to meet these women in their fury.”

– John Sayles, author of Yellow Earth

“Women are still, in 2019, discouraged from viewing the world or politics or our surroundings too much as ‘women.’ We’re discouraged from so-called ‘identity politics,’ and made to feel silly if we feel personal grief at the idea of a sexual predator in the White House, the Supreme Court, and probably every other branch of government. This collection gives a defiant middle finger to that idea. In it, women discuss how their gender, racial, and sexual identities have all come into play in their experiences of the Trump presidency, and move quickly past Trump himself to the systemic failures he represents: patriarchy, white supremacy, and toxic masculinity. It’s not a wallowing, but a reckoning. An acknowledgement and a claiming of righteous anger, the goal of which is clear: claiming power and building new systems, and a better world. You’ll feel sadness, anger, empathy and more reading these essays, but ultimately you’ll come away feeling heard and empowered to fight.”
– Amy Westervelt, author of Forget “Having It All”: How America Messed Up Motherhood-and How to Fix It.

Fury: Women’s Lived Experiences During the Trump Era Tour Schedule Released

FURY comes to Santa Rosa on April 3rd

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT:

Jenny Holland PsyD is one of the contributors to FURY.

Copperfield Books Santa Rosa will be part of the #thefurytour roll out! If you're in Santa Rosa, CA on Friday April 3 at 7pm come by to hear the contributors from this powerful collection of first-person accounts speak on what it's like to be a woman in the Trump era! Get your signed copy at Copperfield Books and support this historic and thought provoking read!

FURY is set to be published March 20: "Fury: Women's Lived Experiences During the Trump Era" is a collection of essays by a diverse group of 38 women, from different ethnicity, religions, ages, and sexual orientations. Jenny Holland PsyD is one of the contributors to FURY. There will be two book events scheduled in the Bay area as part of the rollout tour.  A few of our contributors will be at each event. April 3, at Copperfields, Montgomery Village, Santa Rosa, 7 PM April 4, at Book Passage, Ferry Building, San Francisco, 3 PM

To pre-order the book (promo code FURY_JH will save you on shipping costs): ORDER HERE


Advance Praise for FURY

“If ever a book met the historic moment, it is this one. In an era where women are fighting oppression and sexual victimization, we have elevated unapologetic toxic sexual predators to both the White House and the Supreme Court. The authors in this collection bring us inside their workplaces and homes to show how this kind of politics has affected the lives of real people. If we survive the Trump era—by no means a forgone conclusion– we will have women to thank.”

– John Gartner, Ph.D. author of, In Search of Bill Clinton: A Psychological Biography and Founder of Duty To Warn

“These are thunderbolts thrown at the ultimate lightning rod in a cultural struggle that goes back to the dawn of human civilization. If only Donald Trump were just a metaphor, or justifiable outrage able to sway willful ignorance. A treat to meet these women in their fury.”

– John Sayles, author of Yellow Earth

“Women are still, in 2019, discouraged from viewing the world or politics or our surroundings too much as ‘women.’ We’re discouraged from so-called ‘identity politics,’ and made to feel silly if we feel personal grief at the idea of a sexual predator in the White House, the Supreme Court, and probably every other branch of government. This collection gives a defiant middle finger to that idea. In it, women discuss how their gender, racial, and sexual identities have all come into play in their experiences of the Trump presidency, and move quickly past Trump himself to the systemic failures he represents: patriarchy, white supremacy, and toxic masculinity. It’s not a wallowing, but a reckoning. An acknowledgement and a claiming of righteous anger, the goal of which is clear: claiming power and building new systems, and a better world. You’ll feel sadness, anger, empathy and more reading these essays, but ultimately you’ll come away feeling heard and empowered to fight.”
– Amy Westervelt, author of Forget “Having It All”: How America Messed Up Motherhood-and How to Fix It.