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Alabama Psychiatric Medication Review Team (APMRT)

In collaboration with Alabama Department of Human Resources, the APMRT project was developed to investigate the possibility of transitioning children from psychotropic medication to behavioral interventions that are managed by board certified behavior analysts (BCBAs).  The overarching goal of this project is to reduce the use of psychotropic medication for behavior management in Alabama foster care. Our dependent measures include the frequency and intensity of problem behavior emitted by foster care children, as well as a measure of trauma.  This project is being conducted with Montgomery, Autauga, Elmore, Macon, Bullock, Russell, and Lee counties. The project has been approved by the Auburn University Institutional Review Board. Brief descriptions of the APMRT members are provided below. 


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John Rapp

John Rapp, Ph.D., BCBA-D

Chris Newland

Chris Newland, Ph.D.

John Rapp, Ph.D., BCBA-D and Chris Newland, Ph.D. are co-primary investigators for this project and both are professors in the Department of Psychology. Dr. Rapp is the Director of the Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) program at Auburn University and a BCBA-D. He has published extensively on the assessment and treatment of problem behavior displayed by children and adolescents with autism and related disabilities, as well as the application of single-case design methodology for evaluating the effects of interventions on specific problem behaviors. Dr. Newland has extensive experience in basic research on the psychopharmacology of drugs used therapeutically for the treatment of problem behavior. Most recently he has been investigating drug-behavior interactions in experimental models of adolescents using experimental laboratory models. His work has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health.
Erica Kierce

Erica Kierce, MSN

Erica Kierce, MSN, is a psychiatric nurse practitioner and faculty in the Auburn University School of nursing. She is a doctoral candidate at Vanderbilt University and completed her psychiatric nurse practitioner preparation at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Her research and experience focus on child and adolescent mental-health treatment and drug-gene compatibility.
Peter J. Lusche

Dr. Peter J. Lusche, M.D.

Dr. Peter J. Lusche, M.D., graduated from the University of Southern California School of Medicine, and completed training in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the U.S.C. - Los Angeles County Medical Center. For over thirty years, he has dedicated a significant amount of his practice to developing and coordinating community mental health programs for children, including children in protective custody and foster care. For his contributions in clinical and academic practice, program development and community service, he was made a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association in 2003.
Rachel Arena

Rachel Arena, M.S.

Rachel Arena, M.S., is a BCBA who graduated from Auburn University’s ABA Master’s program in 2015. Her expertise includes working with individuals with autism, severe problem behavior, foster youth, and caregiver training. Her research interests include increasing life skills, decreasing problem behavior and decreasing medication use in foster youth using behavioral strategies.
Laura Lynn LaPointe

Laura Lynn LaPointe, M. S.

Laura Lynn LaPointe, M. S., is another BCBA working with the APMRT. She also graduated from Auburn University in 2015. Laura Lynn’s areas of experience include working with children and adolescents, ADHD, problem behavior, parent training, and school consultation.