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NMSU?s Counseling Psychology program featured in national report

A health care program at New Mexico State University that not only provides care to underserved communities but also trains health care workers to be more culturally aware is receiving national recognition.

The Ph.D. Program in Counseling Psychology, part of the Counseling & Educational Psychology department in the College of Education, was recently featured in a national report from the Patient-Centered Primary Care Collaborative (PCPCC) for its grant activities.

The PCPCC is ?dedicated to advancing an effective and efficient health system built on a strong foundation of primary care and the patient-centered medical home.?

The report, ?Progress and Promise: Profiles in Interprofessional Health Training to Deliver Patient-Centered Primary Care,? looks at federally funded health workforce training programs such as the Ph.D. Program in Counseling Psychology.

The NMSU program?s training activities are funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration through its Bureau of Health Workforce, and more specifically through the Graduate Psychology Education program.

For 11 years, Eve M. Adams, associate professor and director of training for the Ph.D. Program in Counseling Psychology, has been the principal investigator of the grant, which has been funded for more than $1.5 million. The grant requires that students in the program be trained along with other health care disciplines including family medicine, nursing, pharmacy, social work and public health.

The students receive specialized training as they serve ?low-income and linguistically diverse populations? at primary care sites such as the Southern New Mexico Family Medicine Residency Program, La Clinica de Familia and the Las Cruces Public School District?s school-based health centers. Over these 11 years, 66 psychology doctoral students have been trained alongside 127 other healthcare trainees to provide more than 12,000 direct service hours at community agencies.

The primary NMSU instructor and supervisor for these training activities, Daubney Harper, cited an example of the program?s effectiveness. A 39-year-old Hispanic woman with Type 2 diabetes isn?t exercising or eating well. A student in the program will work to help her make positive and lasting lifestyle changes. This type of work allows students to see how the mind and body interact.

?It?s an ?aha? experience for trainees,? Adams said in the report. ?They just really understand the biopsychosocial model on a totally different level.?

Students in the program are required to take classes in primary care psychology, behavioral health practicum, a mindfulness course and a geriatric immersion. Through the course of the program, students develop knowledge and skills in the following areas:

? Apply the biopsychosocial model of health and illness with primary care patients
? Apply knowledge regarding the mind-body connection to address stress management, emotion regulation and sleep medicine
? Apply culturally responsive behavioral assessment/interventions
? Describe/demonstrate behavioral health consultation skills
? Develop interprofessional collaboration skills that include understanding the roles of all healthcare professionals and learning how to communicate effectively in order to engage in service delivery as a team

The Ph.D. Program in Counseling Psychology was one of seven exemplar programs the PCPCC?s report featured, and the only academic program that trains psychologists.

?For us to be picked as an exemplar program shows that our training activities are cutting edge,? Adams said.