BRINGING CARE TO
The Graduate Psychology Education program funds
trainees to provide much-needed care.
When Debbie Gomez first saw the 3-year- old boy, he was in
bad shape. His drug-abusing
parents had neglected and abused
him so badly that child welfare
workers finally placed him in the
care of his great aunt and uncle.
When the boy’s pediatrician at
the Community Clinic at St.
Francis House noticed behavioral
qualified health center gives
Working at this federally
students a chance to put into
practice the GPE program’s public
health perspective, said Bridges.
“In traditional psychology,
the emphasis is on effective
treatment,” she said. “The public
health perspective is looking at
impact, so effectiveness is one but
not the only part of the equation.”
problems, he referred the family
Taking into account how many
down the hall to Gomez, a clinical
people can access a treatment, how
psychology doctoral student at the University of Arkansas.
In their first session together, Gomez taught the boy’s great
aunt and uncle how to effectively reinforce good behavior.
In a second session, they addressed the boy’s sleep problems.
The results were dramatic. “The aunt had tears in her eyes,
and said, ‘He looks like a completely different child,’” Gomez
told participants at APA’s Education Leadership Conference
in September. “They were so much in love, they were actually
going to adopt him.”
For Gomez, that story illustrates how the Graduate
Psychology Education (GPE) program helps bring
psychological services to previously underserved populations.
The GPE program — the only federal program specifically
devoted to funding education and training for professional
psychologists — is also designed to train psychology students to
work in integrated health-care settings.
A GPE grant has allowed the University of Arkansas to
expand didactic training to include sections on integrated care,
diversity and program evaluation; provide opportunities for
students to reach out to the community; create a weeklong
immersion program in partnership with a medical school in
much it costs to deliver it and how long the effects last, a public
health approach might mean choosing a less effective treatment
that can be more broadly disseminated.
The outcomes have been impressive, Bridges said. For
one, GPE trainees feel more competent to work in integrated
settings, be culturally sensitive, consult effectively with medical
providers and practice evidence-based care. Patients are also
benefiting, Bridges said, citing research that found a marked
reduction in distress among patients despite an average of just
one-and-a-half visits per person.
“What I tell Congress and state representatives when I meet
them is that we get 75 percent of the therapeutic effect of a
20-visit treatment in one-and-a-half visits,” she said.
The GPE is also helping community health centers meet
the challenges the Affordable Care Act will bring, said Kathy
Grisham, the clinic’s executive director. For instance, the
GPE program helps prepare psychologists and others for the
new emphasis on team-based care, said Grisham. Even more
important, GPE will help the clinic and other federally qualified
health centers meet expanded demand as the act increases
access to care for more people.
Puerto Rico; and help students engage in advocacy at the state
and national levels. The GPE program’s capstone, however, is
a 10-month practicum at the Community Clinic, said Ana J.
Bridges, PhD, GPE program director and an assistant professor
of psychological science at the University of Arkansas.
“We have been able to gain very positive, measurable
outcomes, which is what everybody is looking for today,” said