A Newsletter from the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology
A Message from the President
As a number of institutions have graduate colleges of Medicine, Law, and Business, MSPP now has a diverse faculty that is teaching in several specialized departments to educate mental health professionals who can deliver expert care in a variety of settings. No we are not changing the school’s name or status, but the metaphor of a “College of Psychology” allows us to express the evolution of our institution, its current complexity and our vision for growth.
As you will read in this special “Annual Report” edition of the MSPP Rapport, we have expanded dramatically since our first class graduated in 1981. With direction from several comprehensive strategic planning initiatives, MSPP now has seven degree programs and a student body of 511. Specialty curricula train mental health professionals to work competently with children, and veterans, and our Lucero Latino Mental Health program is a model for the country. Together with expansion in scope and size, our admissions selectivity, academic quality and accreditation lengths are the highest in the school’s history. With the recent creation of a Division of Research led by Dr. Ed De Vos, MSPP is poised to become a national leader in the quality assessment of Experiential Education and, also, Latino Mental Health Training.
This summer I accompanied eight MSPP students to Ecuador. In a bamboo settlement on the outskirts of Guayaquil our Lucero students took histories in Spanish for an Ecuadorian doctor whose “office” was a small cinder block building on an unpaved hillside with sewage in the street. In a tent outside of the clinic, the students were overwhelmed with patients eager to let the doctor and his team know more about their experience of domestic violence, depression, and substance abuse. In providing the same information for a Fundación that educates “street kids,” our students developed an appreciation for and some initial skill at being with victims of violence and poverty.
Access to health care for all Americans requires a sufficient number of culturally sensitive experts to care for them. Research finds that more than 60 percent of children with diagnosed mental illness are unable to receive treatment in this country; less than two percent of clinicians can treat Spanish speaking patients; there is a critical shortage of substance abuse professionals; and the complex neurological and emotional problems of returning veterans and their families require specially trained practitioners.
MSPP has been diligently acquiring faculty and developing coursework and clinical placements to be able to address these health care disparities. Philanthropic support from people like you has made this possible.
MSPP is poised to take the next critical steps forward with the adoption of a new Strategic Plan. You will read here about some of the programs we will develop, the scholarships we need to fund and the building we need to purchase. In thanking you and informing you, I also ask you to help our faculty, students, and staff to advance the academic and social mission of MSPP by making a contribution to our Annual Fund this year.
As you learn about our programs and those who are transforming the world around us, you will not be surprised that people in the community remark: “There are great things going on these days at MSPP.” We invite you to join us in this exciting journey forward.
Nicholas A. Covino, President
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A Message from the Chairman of the Board
As Chairman of the Board, I strive to be a leader who leads through the championing of colleagues, faculty, and the administrators of MSPP.
In 2002, when I was appointed a board member, the school was facing a challenging picture: our president was new, our financial picture was fragile, and we needed to continue to offer students training for a variety of mental health careers to respond to the critical mental health needs of the community and our society.
Four years ago when I became Chair, we developed a strategic plan that upped the pace of growth towards those goals and created a road map for reaching them.
Due in part to that careful planning process as well as the hard work of countless dedicated individuals, today we find our school in a significantly different environment. First of all, we are financially strong. This strength has allowed us to develop many elements that will lead us directly toward the creation of a “College of Psychology.” These elements include five new degree programs in the past four years, a continued solid commitment to meeting community needs, and a new program to address the mental health needs of service men and women returning from combat. Our community can stand proudly knowing our decisions to grow are based on identified areas of human suffering and our response to that suffering.
While we have successfully met challenges along the way, our greatest strength is our extraordinary MSPP community. Board members, faculty, and administrative staff have all adapted to the concept of a larger school, expanded enrollment, and new programs. Our ability to work as a team with a shared mission has made it all possible.
I know that our work is not completed, and that in the next five years we have even more to do to prepare our students for careers in a society that will need them in ways we don’t yet fully understand.
As we wrap up 2010, on behalf of the Board of Trustees I would like to offer a hearty “Congratulations!” to all of you for your good work, with appreciation for your continued support. And, I would like to give special recognition to our extraordinary students who devote hundreds of thousands of hours each year, mostly unpaid, as part of their internships to community organizations and their constituents in need.
In closing, as one of MSPP’s leaders I would say: “I know I can count on you for the future, and I am looking forward to it.”
Peter Berenson, Chairman of the Board
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As it Meets the Needs and Makes a Difference, MSPP is becoming a “College of Psychology”
These were the parting words of Gerald Chertavian, president and founder of Year Up, as he completed his Commencement speech to the MSPP graduating class of 2010, a class that was both different from and similar to those of the past. The class was distinguished in the variety of degrees bestowed, yet familiar because each graduate was the recipient of an education steeped in the core values of this unusual school of professional psychology. These core values: Experiential Education, Social Responsibility and Personal Growth, have shaped the school’s work and mission since 1974.
At the commencement ceremony, President Nicholas Covino addressed 100 graduates from five academic programs, and recognized the first students to complete requirements for the Lucero Latino Mental Health Program. In his remarks he described the experiential education that these graduates received at MSPP and why the graduates will impact their community and society.
“There is an exciting story to be told here,” Nick says. “In keeping with the charge of the Vail Conference of 1973 (i.e. “Levels and Patterns of Training in Psychology”) that began ‘Professional Psychology,’ MSPP is educating mental health professionals to work in a variety of settings as Clinical, Counseling, Forensic, Organizational, and School Psychologists as well as Executive Coaches.” Much like the complex colleges of medicine, colleges of law and colleges of business that contain a number of graduate degree programs within them, MSPP is bringing a diverse faculty together to educate specialized professionals to work in settings, such as business, courts and schools with specific skills and knowledge of those cultures, while collaborating to lend their expertise across a variety of educational programs.
The process began eight years ago, but it progressed with enthusiasm in 2006 when the school adopted its Five-year Strategic Plan. The authors were faculty, students, alumni, staff and trustees, who met regularly for 18 months. That plan called for MSPP to re-state its mission to include training for a variety of mental health professionals and to assume the social responsibility to meet the mental health needs of a diverse population. It charged the school to develop additional degree programs, initiate a major initiative in Latino mental health education and to begin service and teaching programs in the community. In only four years, the work of that strategic plan was completed with the development of five additional degree programs, the start of the Lucero Program, the acquisition of WarmLines and its integration into the Freedman Center along with several social service projects in this state and in Baton Rouge sponsored by the Brenner Center. Applications soared to over 700, which fueled selectivity and a significant rise in student competence. It was time to renew the Strategic Plan.
Several Degrees, One Mission
In keeping with the directives of the Vail Conference to maintain close connection with the community, MSPP’s focus is clear and singular—to ascertain the mental health needs of the community and to train appropriate professionals to meet them.
“In developing new programs, we are looking to identify the greatest social need and, therefore, where our expertise as professionals in mental health will have the greatest impact,” says Dr. Stan Berman, Vice President for Academic Affairs , who has a major role in the creation, design and implementation of new degree and certificate programs.
Recent years have witnessed a need for mental health services for minority communities, children, veterans, and individuals caught up in the courts, and those others who are underserved. “And, we have seen the workplace become a complicated and intense environment, where attention to the psychological issues has great impact on the quality of life of employers and managers. Thus our commitment to programs that train professionals for these areas,” says Stan.
To bring an idea from concept to reality, Stan works with MSPP’s Implementation Committee, which explores potential programs with an eye towards increasing mental health care to underserved populations and systems. According to Stan, “We are always asking ‘Does this program meet a legitimate social need, and can we create an excellent program? Do we have the capacity to do a good job?’”
“This is not aspiration or rhetoric.” Stan says. “This is really the way we operate. And, when we build a program that is meeting a real need, it is easy to access the energy to do it well, embrace it with passion and to make it happen.
The insufficient number of professionals to work with children and families, the critical shortage of substance abuse counselors and the mental health requirements of our returning veterans and their families are high on our list as the new Strategic Plan considers community needs. Many social service agencies that employ practitioners with only bachelor’s level training could both retain employees and deliver improved service if MSPP partnered in training their staff. In addition, with the serious consideration being given in Massachusetts to the ‘Medical Home,’ there is a growing need for clinicians to work in primary care medicine with psychotherapy, consulting and psychopharmacology skills.
MSPP Growth Leads to a Financial Turnaround
Patrick Capobianco, Vice President for Finance and Operations, can describe the story of MSPP by the numbers, but he says that it is the quality and the authenticity of our mission and the people implementing it that has made the real difference. The turnaround for
MSPP began eight years ago, and it has been bearing fruit in the last four years. “It is the combination of keen business acumen and a real personal commitment to vision and values,” he says.
“In 2002, the total number of students at MSPP was 135, and this number grew to 289 in 2006. Today, 511 students are enrolled at MSPP. This fall’s entering class of 170 is greater than the entire student body of 2002.”
Along with the growing student body, MSPP has been building an infrastructure that has increased the number of employees from 42 to 122 in the past eight years. These added human resources have enhanced the school’s commitment to meet the personal growth needs of students, specifically through expanded student services personnel, and have augmented student access to advanced technology in and out of the classroom.
With the increase in students, the operating budget also grew from $2.2 million in 2002 to $4.5 million in 2005 to its current $13.5 million. “Today our revenues are sufficient to guarantee financial stability for the school,” says Pat. “This year’s operating budget alone saw an increase of 31 percent over the previous year.”
“Ours is a success story because we planned carefully, grew in the right way and had the guidance, hard work and creativity of the right people,” he says.
Dr. Dan King, who was hired as MSPP’s first Vice-President for Academic Affairs last year, attributes MSPP’s development not only to its creative leadership and singular mission, but also to a faculty and administration that are driven by a desire “to enhance the profession, not conserve a discipline. This makes them much more open to new ideas and to change,” he says.
Dan also believes MSPP’s achievements are the result of a faculty still fully engaged in practice themselves. “This faculty contains true teacher-practitioners rather than just scholars,” he says. “As practitioners they are always learning and testing new ideas and bringing their insights back to their students.”
The Next Five Years
A Strategic Plan needs to capture the passion for bringing mental health professionals to serve the community and to develop an infrastructure to support those who are engaged in that work.
With the 2006 Strategic Plan completed, the process began again. The entire MSPP community spent the last ten months researching, brainstorming and collaborating to create a vision for the next five years that evaluates the strengths and limitations of the existing organization and the demand and opportunities to develop its future.
This October, the 2010 Strategic Planning Committee presented its findings to the Board of Trustees, which is composed of psychologists, educators, business professionals, attorneys and philanthropists. In brief, the plan calls for MSPP to aspire to:
- Become a “College of Psychology” with national recognition for its expertise in culturally sensitive mental health instruction through experiential education;
- Create a faculty model with a traditional ranking system based upon the results of a regular and systematic review of productivity and achievement;
- Develop a comprehensive, objective, and dynamic system to evaluate student learning and to insure the high quality of professional scholarship;
- Establish the expectation for and undertake a comprehensive training program to equip faculty with the competence to use available educational technology tools and online resources; v Prioritize the Lucero Latino Mental Health Program; develop programs to equip mental health professionals to work competently with diverse populations, especially People of African Origin;
- Increase philanthropic support for school programs and priorities from local and national foundations; and to
- Explore opportunities for International Education.
In order to further the above aspirations and actions, MSPP is to also acquire:
- A building with appropriate dignity and resources to serve the evolving institution by 2013;
- A Division of Research charged with gathering institutional and educational outcome data and conducting continuous quality improvement research;
- Increased funding for student resources such as a Writing Center, Spanish language instruction, sufficient support for students and faculty with disabilities, and adequate language resources to sustain the school’s commitment to Latino mental health training; as well as a
- Foundation Specialist to research and assist in responding to funding opportunities in support of the school’s programs and initiatives.
MSPP’s Commencement Speaker Gerald Chertavian said, “We need you and we need you to be strong.” MSPP is taking that injunction seriously. We are moving forward, fulfilling our mission and becoming a “college of psychology” with a solid foundation, a dedication to core values and a continuing commitment to: “Meeting the Need and Making a Difference.”
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Here are some of the important changes over the past four years:
- New degree programs in School, Counseling, Forensic and Organizational Psychology that have graduated, at least two classes;
- The Lucero Latino Mental Health Program increased from seven to 43 students and the number of Spanish-speaking faculty members has increased to six;
- The School Psychology PsyD program began in June for experienced practitioners;
- The Brenner Center expanded to provide psychological assessment and consultation in Boston and in Baton Rouge as well as in three languages;
- The Freedman Center acquired the family support and referral services of Newton’s WarmLines and Project INTERFACE℠ organizations;
- Facilities more than doubled in size.
- The PsyD Clinical program received seven years accreditation from the APA for the first time in the school’s history;
- The School Psychology MA/CAGS program acquired full NASP approval in its first application;
- Record numbers of applications (706) allow for greater selectivity to Admissions Committees. The PsyD program, for example, accepts only 37% applicants from a national pool;
- Enrolled students demonstrate stronger GRE and GPA scores than prior years (in some cases one standard deviation better);
- The school’s Audited Financials have been unqualified and without significant findings for each of the last four years;
- Expanded Student support, such as the Deans of Students, Career Services, Multicultural Affairs, Diversity Education, Distance Learning, Financial Aid and expanded Institutional supports, such as a Vice President of Academic Affairs, Alumni Relations and Development, Director of Field Education, expanded IT service and capacity as well as Marketing and Institutional Research.
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Core Values Expand and Deepen as School Grows
As MSPP becomes a “College of Psychology” and continues to grow and change, its core values remain the same. These are the values that the school embraced at its inception and that were based on tenets of the 1973 Vail Conference that established guidelines for a professional school of psychology.
“Those values—Experiential Education, Personal Growth, and Social Responsibility—are who we are as an organization, as professionals and as people,” says President Nick Covino.
In the following artifces, you will hear from faculty who are the keepers of the core values and from students who are living those values on their educational journey at MSPP.
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Being There—Experiential Education
“The essence of experiential education? It really means that field education is inextricably intertwined and meshed with classroom work,” says Dr. Shellee Robbins, the Director of Field Education. She adds, “It is our hallmark value. Students choose MSPP because they know when they get here they will have a field placement their first week.”
“MSPP is a place that embraces the concept of experiential education more than any other institution of higher learning I know,” says Dr. Dan King, Vice President for Academic Affairs. “Many schools talk about their commitment to experiential education, but here it is woven into the fabric of the place,” he says.
And, according to Shellee, “as we continue to articulate our mission as a college, the nature of the sites in which our students practice under supervision is changing and diversifying along with MSPP as a whole.”
MSPP is now placing not only Clinical and School Psychology Doctoral students, but also Masters and CAGS students in School Psychology, Counseling Psychology, Forensic and Counseling Psychology, Organizational Psychology and Executive Coaching. Shellee shares, “In addition, we are looking for opportunities for field work with veterans, Latinos and other minority populations.”
The entire process is enriching for field supervisors, students and faculty alike, she says. “We consider field supervisors a part of our faculty, and they consider our faculty and students a part of their therapeutic team.”
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Liz Niemiec–Elementary or High School? That is the Question
Are drawing with a high school adolescent or playing games on the floor with an elementary school child, really parts of a school psychologist’s regime? Absolutely, says Liz Niemiec, in her second year of the School Psychology MA/CAGS program. “Its amazing how these simple activities can help form a relationship with a student.”
Liz, who spent her first year at a Westwood elementary school, hopes to continue to enrich her experience at Brookline High School this year. “I’m so grateful for the relationships MSPP has with these school systems. In these settings, we are exposed to a variety of situations that we will be prepared to face again in the future.”
“If it weren’t for this philosophy of going out into the field and shadowing established school psychologists, I wouldn’t have been open to elementary school as a possibility. I’ve been so certain that I wanted to work with teens.”
“Just being around the energy of the elementary school children, playing games with them, seeing how they express themselves through play was a learning experience I could never get from a book.”
Brookline High School, too, has already provided her new insights. Recently she was asked to be a special coach to help students achieve their goals. She found herself afraid that the students wouldn’t bond with her, but shares: “I soon realized this was a good thing to have these feelings while under field supervision. Because the next time I meet with a new student, I will feel that much more comfortable.”
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Laura Horn–Experiencing the Full Range
“My father once told me, ‘If you want to get in shape for running, run,’” says Laura Horn, fourth-year student in the clinical doctoral program at MSPP. “That for me is the heart of what experiential education is.”
She decided that clinical psychology was what she wanted, after four years investigating the human condition as a researcher. “I wanted to feel what being a psychologist was like,” she says.
She has since felt what it is like at a school for children with autism spectrum disorders, a university counseling center, and a state hospital. Today, Laura is at the Brookline Community Mental Health Center.
“In whatever context I end up, having this diverse range of experiences will be indispensable. I think it’s essential in clinical work to be able to see things from multiple angles and multiple perspectives,” she says.
And every hands-on experience has had its transformative moments.
“Working with children who have Asperger’s Syndrome, I began to understand that it’s not so much about me teaching them as about me understanding how their minds are working–and seeing the logic of their behavior from their perspectives,” she says.
Through her fieldwork, she has also learned about the psychodynamics or multiple layers of meaning in any behavior or interaction. “It is very different reading and talking about this phenomenon than experiencing it in your clients.”
What does her future hold? “I suspect that I’m going to love the community mental health setting that I’m in now. I really value working in a place where clinicians collaborate with each other and exchange ideas about the most effective ways to help their clients.”
“Ideally, I would like to work in a setting where I would be treating clients who do not have easy access to much needed psychological services,” she says.
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Darleen Gracia–Hitting the Ground Running
While her first three years were spent in small communities, today fourth-year PsyD, Clinical Psychology and Latino Mental Health student, Darleen Gracia, is at Massachusetts General Hospital–Chelsea. She is working with children and families from immigrant and refugee populations. “Many don’t speak English or Spanish (she is a native speaker from Puerto Rico), so sometimes I need interpreters in my sessions,” she says.
“In every field placement, I have learned something new. I’ve basically hit the ground running, which has given me many opportunities to apply what I have learned in the classroom.”
In addition, Darleen has always had a great deal of support. “My field supervisors are practitioners; they can help me in real time and give me practical suggestions. They aren’t asking ‘Well, what does the research say?’”
One important lesson for Darleen has been that not everything always translates clearly from the theoretical to the individual person.
She cites an example of a South American patient with severe symptoms of panic disorder, who could not be convinced his ailments were psychological. He wanted simply to be medicated or undergo medical procedures, rather than face his emotional issues, considered taboo in his culture.
“It became very challenging for me,” she says. “He pushed back. The more I tried, the more he dug in his heels and went the other way.”
Darleen finally stepped back and asked, “Whose agenda am I on?” She began to see that her patient needed more time and she needed to reframe her own approach to his situation. Eventually, she was able to help him reduce his anxieties and fears, but on his own terms and timeframe.
“I learned it’s always about the patients and meeting them where they are,” she says, “something I could never truly learn from a textbook.”
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Growing Pains—Valuing Personal Growth
According to Dr. Frances Mervyn, Dean of Students, the creation of her office is directly illustrative of the commitment the school has made to the personal growth of its students. “This office is dedicated to exactly that, and students can come here at any time to talk about what they need,” she says.
She adds that the central role of the mentor in MSPP culture also demonstrates the importance that the school places on the personal and professional development of each student. “All faculty are encouraged to be mentors, not only to their official advisees, but also to any student who would like their counsel.”
“We are the instruments of our own change and of facilitating change in others,” says Dr. Nilda Clark, Head of the Counseling Psychology Department. She believes this notion captures the essence of the personal growth value in a nutshell. “If we are therapists and don’t attend to our personal growth, we are not fine-tuning our instruments,” she says.
Dr. Jodie Kliman, PsyD, Clinical Psychology faculty, agrees with this concept and believes that faculty should do all they can to foster leadership in students as part of their personal growth and encourage them to get involved in activities in which they can test themselves, such as disaster work, presenting at conferences, or publishing professional papers.
“It’s happening every day and in every class,” adds Nilda, “We are challenging students to see beyond their own experiences, and do it in a very supportive, nurturing environment.”
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Samantha Burns–Self Awareness is Essential to the Process
“Unless you’re self aware, how can you know if you’re biased or if you’re influencing your relationship with your client?” asks second year Counseling Psychology student, Samantha Burns, who says that honing self perspective is a major piece of what she is learning to do at MSPP.
While it was MSPP’s commitment to experiential education that first drew Samantha to the school, it’s the attention to her personal growth that makes her stay.
Samantha’s ideas about what path she will ultimately pursue are shifting. In the past year she has gone from wanting to work with college students to thinking about opening a couples’ retreat in Colorado.
But whatever her ultimate choice, she believes what she is learning about herself will serve her well and will continue to deepen her skills as a mental health professional wherever the future takes her.
“We are always being prompted to ask ourselves what we ask our clients. ‘How does that make you feel?’” she says. And she is always being prompted to explore feelings about potential clients of various cultures and races.
Samantha is grateful for these opportunities for personal growth. “Learning how to ask yourself how your own biases might prejudice a session is so important.”
“This process of self-questioning teaches you how to sit with a client from a different background, understand how it will affect you, and not impose your own beliefs and values on the client.”
Samantha believes that the fact that MSPP faculty are also clinicians is the reason why they are able to be understanding and supportive in her self-discovery. “They are all still clinicians engaged in that process themselves and able to share their insights with us.”
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Kina Dean–A Place with a Heartbeat
“This place has its own heartbeat. I felt it the first time I walked in the door, and I knew then that I belonged here,” says Kina Dean, recent graduate of the Counseling Psychology program and current advanced standing student in the PsyD, Clinical Psychology program.
That heartbeat is detectable in everything that happens at the school, she says, and especially in the way professors and mentors work with students to help them grow as mental health professionals and as people.
“More than anything else what I have gained from MSPP is an ability to trust my own instincts and ambitions about my future,” says Kina.
“When the door of psychology is opened to you, half of the challenge is choosing a place to stand,” she says. “Our faculty, administration, staff, and everyone here is available to help.”
Kina believes that her mentors at MSPP have been the key to her growing confidence and that their belief in her abilities will sustain her as she follows her dreams, one of which is to work with underserved and abused women and children.
“Recently I was weighing some thoughts I had about what I might want to pursue. I asked several faculty, “Is this too ambitious for me?” “No,” was the answer from each one, without any hesitation.
“Without this kind of support, I would not have challenged myself the way I’ve done here.”
Kina, who is also grateful for the personal growth she has gained as the student trustee on the MSPP Board, plans to return as an alumna mentor after graduation.
And in imagining graduation day, she says, “I see myself sitting in the ballroom with such a sense of peace and comfort, and real pride, knowing that all these people will continue on with me, and that’s the best a student can ask for.”
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Jesse Schlueter–Enter with an Empty Cup
“Enter with an empty cup,” was one of the most important messages Jesse Schlueter received as she began her Master’s in Organizational Psychology at MSPP in 2008.
Professor Mike Quinn, who coined the phrase, “was telling us to come to this new learning experience without preconceived assumptions,” she says.
For Jesse, this meant becoming vulnerable and trusting that her professors and the process would support her as she began to “fill that cup” with insights and new ways of thinking, she adds.
This process was very energizing, but not always easy, according to Jesse, who had come from a 10-year career in which she had held a variety of high level positions at Dunkin’ Brands, Inc. During her MA program, Dunkin’ Brands moved her into a position in this field and has since named her Director of Organizational Development.
Sometimes, her ego interfered. “I had this ego, and I was critical of my classmates, but not totally aware of these feelings,” she says. During this time and throughout the program, she found that journaling, which was a required part of the curriculum, helped her to reflect on her own personal and professional development.
“Head fakes” were another technique that her professors used to help shift perspectives. “You think you are doing and learning one thing, but you are actually learning something else. These were personal growth ‘ah ha’ moments and quite enlightening for us who were ‘type A’ personalities who like to have things figured out,” she says.
And almost two years after graduation, the concept of staying open and fresh to new ideas is still very much with her. “I often begin my meetings or coaching sessions with the refrain–‘Enter with an empty cup.’”
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Taking Social Responsibility
“While social responsibility has always been a core value of MSPP and one that was especially evident in the work and lives of a number of our graduates and faculty, MSPP has now declared a major commitment to training in individual differences and identifying the mental health needs of ethnic and culturally diverse persons and those who are underserved,” comments President Nick Covino.
It started with the Lucero Latino Mental Health Program, which trains professionals to care for mental health needs of Latino populations by immersing students in the language and culture of this rapidly growing segment of American society. Since 2006, enrollment in the program has grown from seven to forty-three, and the school now has six Spanish-speaking faculty.
Today, the needs of returning veterans are becoming more acute. Nick states, “We learn everyday about service people returning with post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury and greatly increased suicide rates. It is clear that the mental health needs of these soldiers, sailors and marines will be exponentially worse than their peers from earlier wars. We feel it is important to actively encourage veterans to apply to the school, and to provide scholarships and defray costs through the Yellow Ribbon program. Surprisingly, the significant needs of this population and their families were not on the radar screen during the last Strategic Planning period, indicating the need for a school like ours to stay close to the community. Our students who are veterans bring an authenticity and empathy that is changing the school in the same way that our growing population of Latino students already has.”
Another priority for the school is children and families. More than 75 percent of children need mental health care in this state and they do not receive it. And this school of psychology is assuming a social obligation to increase the number of professionals who can care for them.
The school is exploring a new significant track in Child Studies to be the joint work of the PsyD Clinical, PsyD School and Forensic specialists in both the PsyD and MA programs. The Freedman Center for Family and Child Development and WarmLines, the social service agency acquired by the school last year, are dedicated to responding to the needs of parents and children and training students to do the same.
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Greg Matos & Trey Tippens–
Two Veterans Preparing to Treat Veterans
Army reservist, Norman G. (Trey) Tippens, recent graduate of the Counseling Psychology program and current advanced standing student in the PsyD, Clinical Psychology program, is preparing to return to the Army as a military psychologist.
After three years as a combat-trained soldier, rather than re-enlisting in the Army, Trey went into the Reserves and worked in military intelligence. His re-enlistment is due February of 2011. “When I was in military training and overseas, I was sensitive to the fact that any of us under stress could face psychological issues. My MSPP field site training has given me the opportunity to begin development of my own theory of disorder and what will be useful for treating disorders. One of the main things I can offer in treatment for veterans is that I know what it means to be a soldier,” he says.
Former Marine Corps Sergeant, Greg Matos, a third year PsyD, Clinical Psychology student at MSPP, recently returned to military life in a commissioning ceremony that was held at MSPP. In two years, Greg, who is now a Navy Ensign, will become a psychologist who will treat Marines and sailors in and out of combat situations.
Greg is proud of his role in the Marines as an Embassy Guard. While on duty in Saudi Arabia, he defended the consulate during a terrorist assault and saved over 150 US employees. He was awarded the Bronze Star with Combat Valor and the Department of State Award for Heroism.
Greg believes that veterans want to work with a psychologist who can relate to their experiences on their level, but says that “the challenge for me as a military psychologist is to be aware of my own conflict and traumatic experience, and how this plays into my work with veterans.”
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Dr. Jeanine Baillie–Ready and Prepared to Help Latinos
Jeanine Baillie (now Dr. Baillie), a native of Trinidad and Tobago, was in the first group of MSPP students to participate in the Lucero Latino Mental Health Program. “I cannot deny the incredible impact both personally and professionally that this training has afforded me,” says Jeanine, especially emphasizing her opportunities over three summers to go on unique cultural and linguistic immersion experiences in Central America: specifically Costa Rica, Ecuador and Guatemala.
Her immersion experiences were profound: “My Costa Rican training challenged me to be aware of the person in front of me as a potential patient, trying to understand the historical context of the patient before me. In other words, to see the larger picture,” she says.
In Ecuador the next summer, “we had to speak the language of the patients and went to the only psychiatric hospital in the city.
It was considered a very tough site even for Latino psychologists in training, because of the level of illness and how humans are cared for in the Ecuador mental health system. A number of the patients were abandoned. Very often I heard the story, ‘I have 10 children to feed and can’t pay for medications for this ninth child.’ Considered a shameful experience to have someone thought of as ‘loco’ in the family, means abandonment, and 40 percent of the patients had lived at the hospital their entire lives,” she explained.
A recipient of her doctorate last June, Jeanine joined the counseling team at Boston College as a post-doctoral fellow. She emphasized that social justice and advocacy are a requirement for her professional aspirations.
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Maddie Tepper–Helping Children and Families at The Freedman Center/WarmLines
“For me, the most rewarding part of working at The Freedman Center/WarmLines is taking calls on the Project INTERFACE℠ HelpLine,” says Madeleine (Maddie) Tepper, a 3rd year School Psychology student, who spends two afternoons a week at MSPP’s Freedman Center for Child and Family Development. Project INTERFACE℠ provides mental health resource and referral services for children and families. Its mission is to increase access to mental health and wellness resources within the communities it serves. A community web page has also been developed at www.projectinterface.org. This web page includes categorized resources about a wide variety of mental health and wellness topics. In addition, the site lists related upcoming events, such as lectures, training sessions, and similar opportunities.
Maddie gives an example of a mom looking for services for her daughter who had recently attempted suicide. “Although reaching out to us for her daughter, the mom also needed emotional support. Being aware of her need and giving her support while helping her find the right service for her child ultimately helped both the mom and her daughter,” she says, adding that “these kinds of interactions are very meaningful to me.”Maddie also makes a special contribution because of her involvement in MSPP’s Lucero Latino Mental Health Program. “With my Spanish language skills I play a role in further expanding these valuable resources to Latino populations.”
Project INTERFACE℠ is only one component of WarmLines at the Freedman Center, where parents, teachers and providers also come for seminars on topics ranging from new baby care to the first signs of bullying.
Maddie is grateful to MSPP for encouraging community involvement and offering such grass roots opportunities. “It is very important for me as a prospective school psychologist to be exposed to programs like these. It helps me recognize that the care of children is the social responsibility of the whole community, not just the school system.
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Welcome Stacey Lambert, PsyD Director of Diversity Education and Inclusion
A clinical psychologist, associate professor, board chair for a nonprofit organization, an able administrator with expertise in program development–all of these are areas of professional accomplishment for the newest member to the MSPP administration, Dr. Stacey Lambert. Coming to MSPP from Florida where she was a member of the administration and faculty at her alma mater, Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Stacey comments that many universities are adding a chief diversity officer to their administration as diversity increasingly is viewed as a resource rather than simply an obligation. She notes that her role here involves “distributing a shared set of values.”
During her four years at the Yale University School of Medicine, Stacey completed her internship and postdoctoral training working at a Community Mental Health Center in New Haven–one of the poorest inner cities in the United States. There, she provided psychological assessment and intervention services and experienced first-hand the relationship between minorities and poverty. Stacey shares, “Witnessing the social injustice that some people can have healthcare and some cannot inspired me to spend my career focused on public mental health where due to economic disadvantages, minority populations are over represented and the health care disparities are immense.”
Outside of this clinical experience, Stacey’s career has been in academia, training the next generation of students to work in community mental health. At Nova Southeastern University, in addition to teaching, her major administrative role was responsibility for the school’s internship programs. She also worked as a private consultant on accreditation issues, and served as a site visitor for the American Psychological Association.
Addressing social responsibility as one of the core values of MSPP, and her priorities in carrying out that value, Stacey speaks of the increased numbers of minorities graduating from college, while their entry into graduate school remains minimal. She explains “Although we have a great need for trained psychologists, those services are primarily provided by Caucasian clinicians. That disconnect is the social responsibility of schools like ours.” She noted, “One of the aspects that drew me to MSPP is that MSPP is committed to taking concrete actions to address this need.”
A primary focus of Stacey’s work at MSPP will be to assist with the expansion of the Lucero Latino Mental Health Program. Stacey plans to work with MSPP administrators and faculty to continue to build a national reputation for the program. “MSPP is a leader in this approach to training and we have the potential to make a very significant contribution to meeting the mental health needs of the Latino community.”
Returning to New England, and seeking opportunities to expand her career focus, Stacey was also drawn to this position due to her own multi-cultural background. As a second-generation Puerto Rican, Stacey recalls “My mother was of the generation where speaking English and assimilating into American culture was paramount. Consequently, she never learned to speak Spanish. I learned from my grandmother, so we get to speak Spanish when we don’t want my mother to know what we are saying. I wish that worked with my son, but we are teaching him Spanish.”
Welcome Stacey to MSPP– we are eager for your presence and good work in this critical area of growth.
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Look for our next issue of the MSPPrapport in the Spring. If there are topics you would like to read about, please contact Katie O'Hare at firstname.lastname@example.org.