Dr. Michael C. LaFerney, winner of the Teachers College Career Achievement Award, earned a master’s degree in Counseling from Ball State in 1980. He is an Advanced Practice RN and Social Psychologist and has been at the forefront of mental health innovation since the early 1990s.
Dr. LaFerney has taught courses on a wide variety of topics, including abnormal psychology, child development, child psychology, general psychology, group dynamics, growth and development, medical terminology, psychology of change, psychology of learning, social psychology, sports psychology, and adolescent psychology. He has also made various continuing education presentations on dementia, Behcet’s disease, and managing agitation in the elderly at Morton Hospital in Taunton, Massachusetts.
Research and publications
Dr. LaFerney has an extensive background in research and has published extensively. He helped develop the Dorn Building on the grounds of Taunton State Hospital, a psychiatric hospital in Taunton, Massachusetts as one of the first transitional residential houses in the United States. During this time, he completed a national study raising the question of whether these programs were truly transitional or just an extension of institutionalization and published his findings.
He co-developed a systematic chart review process to evaluate past antipsychotic response to avoid using ineffective medication again – thus saving time and money.
Focus on Geriatric Mental Health
In recent years, Dr. LaFerney has focused on the mental health needs of older adults and has written several papers using evidence-based research to challenge and improve mental health treatment. These include: the use of ineffective medications to treat the behavioral issues of patients in long-term care settings. He points out non-medication behavioral ways to do this. This paper was noted worldwide – including by the Australian Alzheimer’s Association.
His paper on ways to reduce recidivism rates in managed care partial hospitalization patients and his study showing that older (Geriatric) patients completed partial hospitalization at the same rate as younger adults was used to show insurance companies that older patients could profit from this type of treatment.
He has advocated against the involuntary psychiatric admissions of patients with dementia, and his paper on how to maximize psych consults in nursing home is used as a model in Massachusetts by consultants. Dr. LaFerney has published several articles on mental health topics in little-researched areas. He has advocated for “orphan diseases” and has written about the effect of depression in chronic fatigue syndrome.
He also looks at the mental health effects in Emergency disaster management and holds a Personal Development certificate from FEMA.
This is not the first time that Dr. LaFerney’s hard work has been recognized. A few of his most notable recognitions include commendations for his work at the 2012 International Dementia Excellence Awards, Long-Term Living Magazine’s Leaders of Tomorrow Award (2015), the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award (2017), and the Bridgewater State University Dr. Marilyn White Barry Graduate Alumnus/na Professional Achievement Award.
Dr. LaFerney is also the only two-time award winner of the Innovative Programming and Advocacy Awards from the American Association of Ambulatory Behavioral Healthcare. He won the awards in both 1996 and 1998 for his work developing innovative programming for older adults.