2016 - 2017 Psychology Speakers Series

All presentations are free and held in room 168 of the Wisner-Bottrall Applied Technology Center.  

For more information, contact Dr. Frank Conner (ph: 616-234-3612)

*Streaming video of each presentation will be available here after each lecture.

The Psychology of Political Affiliation: Are Donkeys and Elephants Really that Different?
Thursday, October 27th
1:00 – 2:30

Dr. Frank Conner is professor and chair of the Psychology Department at Grand Rapids Community College. In this presentation Dr. Conner will explore the psychological research on the individual qualities that might cause a person to align with one political party versus another. He will also present information on how the current view of politics in the United States creates a strong divisiveness given our nation’s two party system. Additional information will be shared on how this divide affects individual beliefs beyond politics with suggestions on how persons might bridge this gap.

The Emergent Use of Virtual Reality in the Treatment of Psychological Disorders
Wednesday, November 30th
1:00 – 2:30

Thomas J. Overly is a Licensed Master Social Worker, a psychotherapist, software developer and founder of VR Therapy and Counseling Center in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In this presentation, Mr. Overly will introduce the use of Virtual Reality (VR) in the treatment of psychological disorders. VR is a powerful new tool that can be used to create environments, scenarios, and a wide range of stimuli that can be used in conjunction with cognitive behavioral treatment. Rather than having to rely on individuals imagining the relevant images, scents, sounds, and feelings, or giving them homework to expose themselves to scenarios without any guidance or assistance, VR therapy is able to gradually and safely expose them to all these elements in the comfort of the treatment facility.

Understanding the Neurobiology of Drug Addiction in Humans Through the Study of Animals
Thursday, February 16th
1:00 – 2:30

Dr. Bryan Singer is a research fellow and lecturer at the University of Michigan, studying and teaching about the neurobiology of learning, memory, and motivation. A major research goal of Dr. Singer is to develop novel animal models of addiction that can help us find new ways of treating and preventing the Substance Use Disorder. In this presentation, he will discuss studies that contribute to distinguishing between brain processes that regulate goal-directed and habitual drug-seeking. This is an important topic, because addiction is commonly referred to as a “bad habit,” and this terminology may trivialize drug abuse and be an inaccurate description of the disease. He will also discuss how individuals may vary in susceptibility to drug misuse, and how this can be investigated using animal models of addiction-like behavior.

Introduction to Mindfulness: Exploring the Science and Practical Application
Wednesday, March 22nd
1:00 – 2:30

April Hadley has a Masters of Social Work and is a Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Instructor at the Grand Rapids Center for Mindfulness. Mindfulness is a way of paying attention to, and seeing clearly what is happening in our lives one moment at a time. Grounded in a strong body of research, Mindfulness supports the ability to recognize and step away from habitual, often unconscious emotional and physiological reactions to everyday events, and to live in a way that embraces healthy choices, flexibility and creativity both at work and at home. This presentation will provide an overview of the history and research as well as exercises and suggestions for how participants can bring mindfulness into both their personal and professional lives.