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Program Emphases

The Radford Psy.D. Program has 4 major emphases

  • Rural Practice
  • Cultural Diversity
  • Social Justice
  • Evidence-Based Practice in Psychology

Each of the sections below briefly describes the focus area

rural practice

The primary distinction of the Counseling Psychology Psy.D. Program at Radford is the rural mental health focus. A significant amount of data indicates that a large percentage of the U.S. and Canadian population lives in rural areas but there are few professional psychologists available to provide services. Although professional counselors and social workers, and other health professionals, can and do provide important services to those residing in rural areas, psychologists have unique skills to complement those of other providers. Our goal with the Radford program is to train students who can work with people across the lifespan and present with a broad spectrum of issues and severity of psychological conditions; who can provide counseling, assessment, and educational services to individuals, couples, families, and groups in a variety of settings; and who can collaborate with other professionals in their community and region. And all these efforts must be done while taking into account the cultural aspects of the person as well as the culture of the rural area in which the psychologist practices. Thus, in addition to a large number of practice-oriented courses and experiences, we also have a series of four courses related to working in rural areas and we will infuse rural issues into all core courses. Further, students are encouraged to take advantage of the significant resources available on campus related to rural issues, including the Appalachian Regional Studies Center (http://www.radford.edu/arsc/) and experts at the Library

The APA has made a compelling case that there is a need for psychologists such as those who will graduate from Radford:

The APA has identified rural health as a priority and has developed an APA Committee on Rural Health (CRH), which resides in the Practice Directorate. The objective of CRH is to ensure that the behavioral healthcare needs of rural and frontier Americans are met. Through the establishment of CRH, the APA has committed resources to addressing the behavioral healthcare needs of individuals residing in rural and frontier areas. (quoted from http://www.apa.org/practice/programs/rural/committee/index.aspx)

In almost all rural and frontier areas, health care practitioners, services and infrastructure are in short supply. The population is small and is disproportionately older. These areas have low household incomes, relatively high unemployment rates and high poverty rates. Unfortunately, they also have a high proportion of the population that lacks health insurance or has inadequate coverage. Providing behavioral health care services to rural residents is further complicated by the presence of stigma. (quoted from http://www.apa.org/practice/programs/rural/index.aspx)

Part of our commitment to the rural emphasis is evidenced through the formation of the special interest group (SIG) in Rural Practice and Scholarship. Information on the group can be found here.

Faculty and students have made several presentations, are working on publications, and have had grants related to rural mental health

Bodenhamer, A., Gullion,J., Spraker, J., Caldwell, M., Tavenner, T.C., Littrell, H., Cullop, S., Nunn, J., & Nicely, Z. (2009, March). Appalachian Events Committee: Student perspectives. Symposium presented at the Appalachian Studies Association Conference, Portsmouth, OH.

Hastings, S. L. (2008, August). Stories from the mountain: Resilience in Appalachian women. In J. Werth (Chair), Resilience among, and empowerment of, underdiscussed cultural groups. Symposium conducted at the American Psychological Association Annual Meeting, Boston, MA.

Hastings, S. L., Burns, A., Sanderson, M., Zaro, A. (2008, March). Counseling psychologists in rural practice: Training implications. Poster session presented at the International Counseling Psychology Conference, Chicago, IL.

Werth, J. L., Jr. (Chair). (2008, March). Rurality and diversity: Reciprocal implications. Symposium presented at the International Counseling Psychology Conference, Chicago, IL.

Cohn, T., & Leake, V. (2008, March). Allies and affective distress in rural GLB youth.

Symposium paper.

Hastings S.L.  (2008, March). Rural women and mental health. Symposium paper.

Werth, J. L., Jr. (Chair). (2008, August). Facing challenges and opportunities in rural communities: Counseling psychologists respond.Symposium presented at the American Psychological Association Annual Convention, Boston, MA.

Hastings, S. L., Cohn, T. J., & Pinterits, E. J. (2008, August). Service provision

challenges and opportunities in rural areas. Symposium paper.

Werth, J. L. Jr. (Chair). (2008, November). Community environmental health issues in the classroom: The case of surface mining. Symposium presented at the Annual Conference of the Appalachian Teachers’ Network. Radford, VA.

Werth, J. L., Jr. (2009, March). Integrating primary care and mental and behavioral health.Panel for the Virginia Rural Health Summit, Abingdon, VA.

Werth, J. L., Jr. (2009, June) Cultural considerations and ethical dilemmas in rural mental health practice. Two hour workshop recorded for on-line presentation by the American Psychological Association, Washington, DC.

Werth, J. L., Jr. (Chair). (2009, August). How cultural identity can help explain issues in rural areas. Symposium presented at the American Psychological Association Annual Convention, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Bradley, J. M. (2009, August). Appalachian White men: The negative implications of their cultural identity. Symposium paper.

Nicely, Z. K. (2009, August). Youth and education: Perceptions of opportunities and possibilities. Symposium paper.

Werth, J. L., Jr., Riding-Malon, R., & Nicely, Z. (2009, October). Rural Mental Health: Cultural and Ethical Considerations. Symposium presented at the Fall Conference of the Virginia Psychological Association, Richmond, VA

Leake, V.S., & Cohn, T.J. (in preparation). Effects of family belonging, school belonging,

and mentoring on affective distress in rural sexual minority adolescents.

Riding-Malon, R., & Werth, J. L., Jr. (in preparation). Rural populations, social class, and counseling. In W. Liu (Ed.), Oxford Handbook of Social Class in Counseling. New York: Oxford University Press.

Werth, J. L., Jr. (Ed.) (in preparation). Handbook of rural mental health. New York: Springer.

Werth, J. L., Jr., Hastings, S. L., & Riding-Malon, R. (in preparation). Ethical issues practitioners may face when providing services in rural areas. Journal of Clinical Psychology. [invited article

Hastings, S. L. (2008). Self-compassion and emotional eating in rural women.

Faculty Seed Grant, Radford University.

Hastings, S. L. (2008). Voices from the mountain: Resilience in Appalachian women.

Faculty Summer Grant, Radford University.

Werth, J. L., Jr. (2008). Collaboration regarding the issue of mountaintop removal: Partnering among RU Departments/Schools/Colleges and community stakeholders. Faculty Summer Grant, Radford University.

Faculty are also becoming involved in state and national rural-focused organizations. For example, Dr. Werth was elected to the American Psychological Association’s Committee on Rural Health for a three year term beginning in 2009 and served as Chair of the Committee in 2010. He also is serving as the Rural Health Coordinator for the Virginia Psychological Association and is on the Board of Directors for the Virginia Rural Health Association

CULTURAL DIVERSITY

Counseling Psychology programs in general tend to emphasize diversity and cultural considerations, and we are no different. All members of the Psy.D. faculty are committed to a multicultural perspective, broadly defined. Just as rural issues are infused into the core courses, discussion of cultural considerations also is included in courses. Because the faculty believe that size of community is a cultural issue, there is overlap between the rural focus and the inclusion of diversity

The commitment to diversity is evident in the Program’s mission statement, integration of multicultural issues into courses, applied practice, sequence of four required courses on rural issues, an additional required course on Multicultural Counseling, faculty membership in professional organizations (e.g., APA’s Division 44: Society for the Psychological Study of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Issues), and the diversity within the faculty. Faculty also have developed collaborative relationships with others on campus and in the community, such as the Center for Gender Studies, the Appalachian Regional Studies Center, Radford University Safe Zones, and the Women’s Resource Center of the New River Valley

Because of the faculty’s respect for diversity, the faculty endorsed an adapted version of the Council of Counseling Psychology Training Programs’ Counseling Psychology Model Training Values Statement Addressing Diversity (see the Program Documents page). Students (and faculty) are expected to adhere to the statement. In addition, students (and faculty) are expected to adhere to the APA Ethics Code as well as the various guidelines that APA has passed regarding working with members of diverse populations

· American Psychological Association. (2010). Ethical principles of psychologists and code of conduct (2002, Amended June 1, 2010). Available at http://www.apa.org/ethics/code/index.aspx

· American Psychological Association. (2003). Guidelines on multicultural education, training, research, practice, and organizational change for psychologists. American Psychologist, 58, 377-402

· American Psychological Association. (2004). Guidelines for psychological practice with older adults. American Psychologist, 59, 236-260

· American Psychological Association. (2007). Guidelines for psychological practice with girls and women. American Psychologist, 62, 949-979

· American Psychological Association. (2011). Guidelines for assessment of and intervention with persons with disabilities. Available at http://www.apa.org/pi/disability/resources/assessment-disabilities.pd-Says page not found

· American Psychological Association. (2011). Guidelines for psychological practice with lesbian, gay, and bisexual clients. Available at http://www.apa.org/pi/lgbt/resources/guidelines.asp

Faculty and students have made several presentations and are working on publications related to cultural diversity:

Armoutliev, E., & Werth, J. L., Jr. (2008, March). Bisexual identity, group identity, and well-being. Poster presented at the International Counseling Psychology Conference, Chicago, IL.

Boone, D., & Hastings, S. L. (2009, April). Social support among first-generation minority and non-minority college women. Poster presented at the 2009 Gender Conference, Radford University, Radford, VA.

Hastings, S. L., & Boone, D. (2009, August). College satisfaction among first-generation African American students attending predominantly white institutions. Poster session presented at the Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association, Toronto, Canada.

Hastings, S. L., & Nash, T. (2008, February). Optimism in women reporting relationship abuse histories. Poster session presented at the American Psychological Association Summit on Violence, Bethesda, MD.

Herren, A. M., Hamden, J., & Elliott, A. N., (2009, March). Childhood maltreatment, poly-victimization, and psychological distress in college males. Poster presented at The College of William & Mary Graduate Research Symposium, Williamsburg, VA.

Londry, M., & Hastings, S. L. (2008, February). Applications of positive psychology to domestic violence survivors. Poster session presented at the American Psychological Association Summit on Violence, Bethesda, MD.

Nash, T. A., Bradley, J. M., Mullis, T. H., & Cohn, T. J. (2009, February). Community size, religiosity, and homophobia: Variations of tolerance. Paper presented at the Southeastern Psychological Association Annual Conference, New Orleans, LA.

Werth, J. L., Jr. (Chair). (2008, August). Resilience among, and empowerment of, under-discussed cultural groups. Symposium presented at the American Psychological Association Annual Convention, Boston, MA

Choi, J. L., Rogers, J. R., & Werth, J. L., Jr. (2009). Suicide risk assessment with Asian American college students: A culturally informed perspective. The Counseling Psychologist, 37, 186-218.

Cohn, T. J., & Hastings, S. L. (in press). Resilience among rural lesbian youth. Journal of Lesbian Studies.

Maguire, C. P., McNally, C. J., Britton, P. J., Werth, J. L., Jr., & Borges, N. J. (2008). Challenges of work: Voices of persons with HIV disease. The Counseling Psychologist, 36, 42-89.

Werth, J. L., Jr., Borges, N. J., McNally, C. J., Maguire, C. P., & Britton, P. J. (2008). Integrating health and vocational psychology: HIV and employment. The Counseling Psychologist, 36, 8-15.

SOCIAL JUSTICE

A natural outgrowth of this emphasis on diversity is the program’s focus on social justice. We purposefully integrate social justice material and discussions into coursework, offer practicum placements that allow for social justice opportunities (when possible), and have two semester-long social justice practica. This means that students in the Program will attend to issues of privilege, oppression, equity, and equality as they affect the lives of clients and others in the community, region, state, country, and world, across settings and systems. The goal is to sensitize students, and faculty, to injustice and oppression, helping us all to understand the factors that contribute to human suffering, and enabling us (and others) to develop skills to intervene at a variety of levels in order to promote human welfare and rights. The faculty members see social justice as inherently related to equity and equality and therefore attend to the distribution and access to power and economic / other resources as well as work toward the reduction of various forms of stigma

A definition that brings together these different aspects follows (from the website of the University of California, Berkeley’s Social Justice Symposium, http://socialwelfare.berkeley.edu/sjs/; see also the Social Justice Training Institute, http://sjti.org/home_professional.html, for a similar definition)

Social Justice is a process, not an outcome, which (1) seeks fair (re)distribution of resources, opportunities, and responsibilities; (2) challenges the roots of oppression and injustice; (3) empowers all people to exercise self-determination and realize their full potential; (4) and builds social solidarity and community capacity for collaborative action.

One of the ways that we are putting our emphasis on social justice into action is the arrangement we have established with the Mental Health Association of the New River Valley (MHANRV). We have agreed to place our first year practicum students in their sites, including a newly established location in an underserved rural county that may become a multidisciplinary training site. The MHANRV sponsors a Pro Bono Counseling Program that provides free counseling to people who have no insurance and cannot afford to pay for mental health services and these placements demonstrate our commitment to assisting with the PBCP

Another way we have “walked the talk” is through the inclusion of a social justice practicum in the summer of the students’ second and third years. In the summer of 2010 four students did social justice practica, providing free services to the Virginia Wounded Warriors Program (developing material for a group designed to help veterans and their families after the veteran returns home), High Rocks for Girls in West Virginia (developing program evaluation material for a new component of their services), the RU Experiential Learning and Career Services (gathering material on potential volunteer sites that can be placed on the Center’s website to facilitate student volunteering), and Radford City Schools (developing a lunch delivery program for students who qualified for free lunches during the school year but who could not get to the school over the summer).

Faculty and students have made several presentations and are working on publications related to social justice:

Bradley, J. M., Moberg, J. L., Simonson, K. R., Herren, A., & Hastings, S. L. (2009, August). Accessing volunteer opportunities: The role of personality. Poster presented at the American Psychological Association Annual Convention, Toronto, ON.

Leake, V. (Chair) (2009, April). Starting from scratch: Building a social justice oriented program. Symposium conducted at the Southeastern Regional Counseling Psychology Conference, Athens, GA.

Bradley, J. M., Nicely, Z. L., Simonson, K. R., Moberg J. L., & Herren, A. (2009, April). Social justice through the process of program development. Symposium paper.

Leake, V., Hastings, S., Cohn, T., Mullis, T., Riding-Malon, R., & Werth, J. L., Jr. (April, 2009). Faculty perspectives on infusing social justice throughout the curriculum. Symposium paper.

Riding-Malon, R., Leake, V., & Werth, J. L., Jr. (2009, April). Applying principles of social justice in the community through the creation of a wellness center. Symposium paper.

Werth, J. L., Jr. (2009, April). Social justice at an individual and organizational level. Invited Keynote lunch presentation for the Virginia Psychological Association. Williamsburg, VA

Borges, N. J., McNally, C. J., & Maguire, C. P., Werth, J. L., Jr., & Britton, P. J. (2008). Work, health, diversity, and social justice: Expanding and extending the discussion. The Counseling Psychologist, 36, 127-131.

Werth, J. L., Jr., Borges, N. J., McNally, C. J., Maguire, C. P., & Britton, P. J. (2008). The intersections of work, health, diversity, and social justice: Helping people living with HIV disease. The Counseling Psychologist, 36, 16-41.

Faculty members are also involved in volunteering with local organizations that promote social justice. For example, Dr. Werth is a member of the Board of Directors for the Mental Health Association of the New River Valley, serves as Secretary of the Board of Directors for the Women’s Resource Center of the New River Valley, and was on the Board of Directors for the Center for Family Health (a group attempting to bring a Federally Qualified Health Center to the city of Radford). Dr. Cohn was on the Board of Directors for the Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine Federally Qualified Health Center Planning Group (which has submitted a grant proposal for a FQHC that would open as soon as the grant is funded

EVIDENCE-BASED PRACTICE

The APA has a policy statement on evidence-based practice, which states that “research, clinical expertise, and patient characteristics are all supported as relevant to good outcomes” (p. 271). The definition of evidence-based practice in psychology is defined in the policy statement as “the integration of best available research with clinical expertise in the context of patient characteristics, culture, and preferences (American Psychological Association Presidential Task Force on Evidence-Based Practice, 2006, p. 284; see also http://www.apapracticecentral.org/ce/courses/ebpstatement.pdf for the full statement). The program faculty members subscribe to this definition and believe that it is consistent with our beliefs about how best to help clients. Therefore, discussion of evidence-based practice (according to the definition above) occurs in courses and discussions of service provision.

Faculty have published and received grants related to evidence-based practice:

Wilson, J. L., Armoutliev, E., Yakunina, E., & Werth, J. L., Jr. (2009). Practicing psychotherapists’ reflections on evidence based practice in psychology. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 40, 403-409

Leake, V. S. (2008). Efficacy of CPT-FAM for trauma survivors. Developed family support modules as an addition to cognitive processing therapy, an established best-practices treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder. Radford University Summer Grant.