RTC:Rural disability maps used in new rural psychology textbook

August 21, 2020


RTC:Rural’s national disability rate maps are featured in a newly published text book “Ethics in Rural Psychology.” The book was written by Dr. Sara Boilen, a psychologist practicing in northwestern Montana, and published by Routledge on Aug. 3.  

We emailed Dr. Boilen with a few questions about her new book. The below questions have been lightly edited.

Q & A with Dr. Sara Boilen, author of Ethics in Rural Psychology

RTC:Rural: What is your new book about? Who is it written for?

Dr. Sara Boilen: The book is a tool aimed at mental healthcare professionals in rural areas and students who may someday serve rural Americans. I provide the reader with a general understanding of rural America (and the complexities of rurality) and an overview of some of the relevant cultural factors therein. I then provide a pathway for navigating the tricky ethical landscape commonly found by practitioners serving in insular communities. 

RTC:Rural: How do RTC:Rural’s disability rate maps contribute to your book?

Dr. Boilen: For my book, I realized that before I could dig into discussions about rural psychology, I first had to get a good handle on what “rurality” even meant. My research quickly yielded about five different definitions of rural and urban. I came upon your maps when I was looking to better understand the definitions and then found it incredibly useful to gain a better, sort of flyover, understanding of where these rural places were.

I used your maps to provide readers with the same visual understanding of where rural Americans live. It’s not always clear cut so it was helpful to have these maps. Furthermore, I used your maps as an overlay when looking at other social factors such as deprivation. Holding your maps up against a map from the folks over at the Neighborhood Atlas Project I was able to have a visual representation of how things like deprivation and rurality overlap. 

RTC:Rural: Why did you want to write this book?

Dr. Boilen: I wrote this book because when I was just getting started as a rural practitioner (having trained in an urban environment), I needed a book such as this (and I couldn’t find one!). I had read books on other diverse groups but never on rural Americans. I had studied ethics, but I found that many of the things I had learned, really didn’t apply. I also have hope that by having this resource, perhaps other practitioners might be more excited to come join us in rural America because we certainly could use more professionals in these parts! 

To see these and other disability-related maps, explore RTC:Rural’s Disability in America Map Series. The maps show rates of disability for every county in the U.S. There are maps on many topics, including veterans, poverty, employment, and rural-urban classifications. There are also maps for different kinds of impairments, including: hearing, seeing, mobility, cognitive, self-care, and Independent Living. Each map includes a text description and is available for download.

If you’d like to explore disability data at the state level, check out our State Profile Map Series. For each state in the US, view and download county-level maps of  general disability rates, as well as maps of: disability rates among veterans; people with disabilities in poverty; disability rates by sex; disability rates by functional limitations, including vision, hearing, cognitive, mobility, self-care, and independent living difficulty; employment, unemployment, and out of labor force rates among people with disabilities. These maps are a work in progress, and additional maps will be added over the coming months.

Visit the Routledge website for more information about Ethics in Rural Psychology or to order a copy of the book.