College of Psychology Faculty Presents at Sports Nutrition Conference

Kayla Thayer, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor Kayla Thayer, Ph.D., from NSU’s College of Psychology, recently presented at a conference on the intersection of psychology and sports performance.

The International Society of Sports Nutrition conference took place in person in Daytona Beach, but implemented masks and social distancing. Presentations covered topics such as diet and amino acids, but Thayer took a different course.

Although sports performance is not Thayer’s main area of research, her presentation took the basic tenets of clinical psychology and evidence-based tools like cognitive behavioral therapy, but applied them to sports. Thayer noted that athletes also contend with common problems – anxiety, depression, trauma, legal issues, substance issues and sleep issues.

“When it’s your job to perform well, all of these problems negatively impact cognitive functioning, so by using clinical psychology, what we’re doing is targeting those underlying problems so that we can dedicate more cognitive resources to performance and enhancing it in the moment on the field,” Thayer said.

NSU Clinic Offering Online COVID-19 Support Groups

If you are feeling stressed out by COVID-19, free online support groups are available from one of the clinics at the College of Psychology’s Psychology Services Center. The support groups, which meet on Zoom, are offered by the Healthy Lifestyles Guided Self-Change Clinic (GSC).

For additional information about the support groups, please call (954) 262-5922. For information on other GSC programs, visit

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Students, NSU Faculty Discussed Art and Therapy

In February, some Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Students joined NSU College of Psychology faculty for a panel discussion on art that the students created after the school shooting that changed their lives.

“I wanted a calming, easy way to distract myself, so I started painting in December 2018,” said Olivia Feldman, who was in her sophomore year at the time of the shooting and graduated from MSD this year. “It clears my mind and helps me feel happy.”

Feldman said some of her school friends also turned to art, and she said participating in the panel helped them express some closure over the shooting before going their separate ways in college.

“Not everybody has either the desire or the ability to verbally process a trauma, and of a mass shooting, because you’re trying to make sense out of something that is a senseless act of violence,” said panelist Tara Jungersen, Ph.D., Chair of the Department of Counseling. “I think that’s where art therapy is beneficial.”

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College of Psychology Hosting Pride Webinar, June 19

The College of Psychology will be hosting a free Shark Chat webinar on LGBTQA Pride in recognition of June being Pride month.

The panel will take place Friday, June 19, 2020, at noon ET. Listen to LGBTQA panelists describe their paths. Hear the panelists share their personal journeys and describe the current challenges to overcoming barriers and stigmatization in a world designed for cisgender and heterosexual people.


  • Cindy Brown, Manager Jewish Community Services Lambda Living Program, Miami LGBT Leader, President of Cenergy, LLC
  • DJ Diva Power Infiniti
  • Mindy Dunagan, Ph.D., LPC, NCC, Assistant Professor, Department of Counseling
  • Amy E. Ellis, Ph.D., NSU alum, Visiting Assistant Professor/Assistant Director, Trauma Resolution & Integration Program (TRIP)
  • Justin Maki, Ph.D., LPC, NCC, Assistant Professor, Department of Counseling
  • Zaver D. Moore, M.S., M.A., Clinical Psychology Doctoral Student, Graduate Assistant–Student Counseling Services, Counselor in Residence
  • Nicolas Meade, M.S. Clinical Psychology Doctoral Student, TRIP
  • Carlos Manuel Perez, Ed.D., NSU alum, College of Psychology Director of Outreach, Adjunct Professor
  • Steve Rothaus, mainstream news pioneer on South Florida LGBTQ issues

To register, visit

College of Psychology Alum working on COVID-19 Front line in New York

Christopher Fisher, Psy.D., is a clinical psychologist currently working at the epicenter of the coronavirus on a COVID-19 positive Adult Inpatient Psychiatry unit at Elmhurst Hospital Center in Queens, New York.

Fisher provides psychological care to those battling the virus who are also requiring psychiatric stabilization before community reintegration. Fisher credits the faculty of the College of Psychology’s Clinical Psychology program, and specifically his mentor, Assistant Professor Jennifer Davidtz, Ph.D., for years of amazing training and supervision that have prepared him for the work he does daily during this pandemic.

College of Psychology Utilizes Webinars During COVID-19 Pandemic

As the COVID-19 pandemic has shifted the higher education world to the virtual space, NSU’s College of Psychology has responded by creating a series of webinars known as Shark Chats.

Recent Shark Chats have covered topics such as mental health strategies for families, utilizing art-based techniques, the benefits of bonding with pets, and developing a coping kit for pandemic-related anxiety. The topics were conceived in part as a counter to misinformation that is being spread about the pandemic, according to Carlos Perez, Ed.D., the college’s Director of Outreach.

“We have an incredible number of individuals at NSU who really understand human behavior, its impact on society and the benefits of positive mental wellness,” Perez said. “To mobilize our people and showcase them has been a privilege.”

To register for upcoming Shark Chats or see videos of past ones, visit

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NSU Psychology Experts Providing Free, Online Mental Health Workshops for COVID-19, Nov. 6

Many People Are Having Challenges While Self-Isolating – We’re Here to Help

Experts from Nova Southeastern University’s (NSU) College of Psychology

Live, online discussions on various mental health issues, with a focus on COVID-19 impacts

Check link for dates and times URL:

Wherever people have a computer and an Internet connection

As the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve, there is a lot of uncertainty facing many members of our community. Many are stressed having to take on additional roles at home, including helping their children succeed with the transition to online instruction. In addition, many have already lost their jobs or been furloughed, which can compound the stress they are already feeling.

Unfortunately we are starting to see reports of the toll the self-isolation is having on members of our community. Realizing that people may need to hear from and talk with experts who can address such issues, NSU’s College of Psychology is organizing a series of Shark Chats specifically focused on the current COVID-19 pandemic.

The online Shark Chats are free, however, there is limited space in each. Interested parties are urged to register online at

Counseling Association Newsletter Publishes two Articles by NSU Students

Two graduate students from NSU College of Psychology M.S. in Counseling program recently wrote articles that were published in the Winter 2020 newsletter of the Florida Association for Multi-Cultural Counseling and Development (FAMCD) a division of the Florida Counseling Association.

An article by Bruce Steinberg titled “A Patchwork of Protections” covered the patchwork of civil rights that members of the LGBTQ+ community face in Florida due to a lack of protections at the state or federal level. An article by Alessandro Antonucci titled “Immigrants in Therapy: Unique Challenges, Extraordinary Resilience” discussed the challenges that immigrants and refugees face when settling and adjusting to life in a new country. Both articles emphasized the need for counselors to understand these issues while providing therapy to clients from diverse backgrounds.

Assistant Professor Justin Maki, Ph.D., LPC, NCC, encouraged his students to submit articles to the FAMCD newsletter.

“I’m very proud of both of these students and their contributions to the newsletter, as well as for representing NSU and the Department of Counseling,” Maki said.

To read the newsletter articles, visit

School Psychology Students Launch Self-Care Flyers


Offers tips for dealing with COVID-19 pandemic

What started out as a directed study project for School Psychology doctoral students Catalina Uribe and Catherine Ivey turned into an effort to spread awareness of self-care techniques during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ivey said the spread of COVID-19 made them reconsider what direction their work could go in instead of a directed study. Ivey said they decided to adapt a five factor self-care wellness model into flyers to share on social media. The flyers outline self-care activities that can be performed from home as people engage in self-isolation to help curb the spread of the virus.

Uribe said the goal with the flyers was to collect information backed by research and present it in a way that wasn’t daunting to the audience. As the project develops, Uribe and Ivey said they might create videos and use other social media channels.

“Some people don’t have strong support systems, especially students at the graduate level,” Ivey said. “That loneliness and isolation can be mentally crippling.”


The flyers are available on tumblr:

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NSU Alum Appointed as APA’s Chief Education Officer

American Psychological Association
Washington DC


Catherine Grus, Ph.D., started her journey into the psychology world in high school, followed it into academia, and now is the newly appointed Chief Education Officer of the American Psychological Association.

Grus credited a high school psychology course and topics like perception for igniting her interest in the field. That led her to earning a B.A. in Psychology from Western New England College and a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from NSU’s College of Psychology. Grus was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Miami’s School of Medicine for a decade and joined APA in 2005.

Grus said NSU faculty helped her direct her passion and prepared her to work in the field.

“I was fortunate to have so many professors who were experts in their areas, both in the courses they taught and in supervision,” Grus said. “I have really positive memories of the faculty, and I’m still in touch with many of them.”

Grus is no stranger to what the position entails, having assumed it on an interim basis in 2018. She said the position broadly covers all aspects of education, including increasing the quality of psychology education programs, accreditation, continuing education, and applying psychology to K-12 education.

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