UCCS receives federal graduate student training grant

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UCCS-Photo-by-Tom-KimmellThe University of Colorado Colorado Springs Department of Psychology recently received a two-year, $325,000 graduate psychology education grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration.

The grant will be used to prepare doctoral students in the clinical psychology program to deliver mental health services to older adults within integrated medical settings, according to Dan Segal, professor, Psychology Department.

The Department of Psychology previously received a three-year $405,000 training grant and is one of 40 programs in the country to be funded by the Department of Health and Human Services. Established in 2002, the graduate psychology education grant is the nation’s only federal program dedicated solely to the education and training of doctoral-level psychologists.

The grant will help support three students working at Peak Vista’s Lane Family Senior Health Center, one student at Rocky Mountain Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly and one student working in the Aging Center’s Aging Families and Caregiver Program.

“This grant program was a great fit for us because the training focus is on integrated care,” Segal said. “The UCCS psychology doctoral program has a long history of training students to provide mental health services in integrated care settings, working collaboratively with other health professionals to treat older adult clients in a more holistic way.”

Both the Aging Center and the Senior Health Center are located in the new Lane Center for Academic Health Sciences. The Lane Center is dedicated to a new model of healthcare that promotes integrated wellness. Student clinicians have trained at Peak Vista Community Health Centers since 2005. Through the use of on-site behavioral health co-visits and consultations merged with primary care, both providers and patients learn how cognitive and psychological concerns can affect physical conditions. Studies show collaborative, holistic care where primary care providers, nurses, behavioral health clinicians and others work as a team to diagnose and treat physical and mental disorders, improve outcomes and lower costs.

Through a partnership with Rocky Mountain PACE, clinicians work with a multidisciplinary team to strive for maximum independence and quality of life for very low-income, frail older adults in El Paso County. The Caregiver Program, funded in part by the Pikes Peak Area Agency on Aging, provides coping with caregiver classes, consultations, caregiver family therapy and information services. In Colorado alone, there are an estimated 843,000 caregivers, many of whom are older adults themselves and suffer from stress, depression and chronic health conditions.

Segal will serve as the grant’s principal investigator and project director. He will be joined by Michael Kenny, director, UCCS Aging Center; Laura Engleman, project manager, UCCS Aging Center; and Sheri Gibson, integrated care consultant and postdoctoral fellow at the Aging Center, as well as other faculty members and Aging Center staff.

The UCCS doctoral degree program in clinical psychology emphasizes geropsychology and trains future clinicians to address both normal and abnormal psychological processes that accompany aging. In addition to coursework, students are required to complete a minimum of three years of clinical training.