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With Federal Grant, TC Takes the Lead on Realizing Obamacare's Goals of Integrated Care

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Dinelia Rosa

Dinelia Rosa

TC psychology students are being supported to realize President's vision of mental health professionals working with medical caregivers

A prestigious federal grant has positioned Teachers College in the vanguard of realizing the vision of the federal Affordable Care Act to create a stronger alliance between medical caregivers and those working in the mental health fields.

In July TC’s Dean Hope Center for Educational and Psychological Services, in collaboration with the Department of Counseling and Clinical Psychology, received a Graduate Psychology Education (GPE) grant from the federal Health Resources & Services Administration (HSRA) that will provide stipends for six doctoral students (three in counseling and three in clinical psychology) to receive training in integrated psychology/health care. The three-year grant is for an estimated $171,000 per year. 

TC was one of 40 U.S. institutions to receive the HSRA grant, which supports universities and health care institutions to train clinical and counseling psychologists working with other health professions in the provision of health care services to underserved populations such as older adults, children, the chronically ill, victims of abuse and trauma, homeless and populations facing language-barriers. 

“Conditions such as HIV/AIDS, asthma, diabetes and cardiovascular disease require patients to develop a sense of ownership and responsibility about complying with treatment regimens,” says Dinelia Rosa, Director of the College’s Dean Hope Center for Educational and Psychological Services and Adjunct Associate Professor in the Clinical Program, who is serving as Principal Investigator for the grant. “With increased treatment compliance, a patient can be stable for a lifetime. Right now, nurses help doctors ensure compliance, but psychologists, in addition to having the cognitive skills to address noncompliance, can complement their work with mindfulness, and additional techniques to increase body-mind connections, and the government is recognizing that we need to train more clinical and counseling psychologists for interprofessional health work. Obamacare is aimed at reducing medical care cost by keeping people healthy and out of medical settings longer, and psychologists will play a big role in this.”

Lisa Miller, Professor of Psychology and Education; Marie Miville, Associate Professor of Psychology and Education and Chair, Department of Counseling and Clinical Psychology; and Barry Farber, Professor of Psychology and Education, are all working with Rosa on the grant.

Part of the TC grant funds Spanish-speaking students, who will do their field placement work at Rafael Tavares Mental Health Clinic at Columbia University Medical Center serving low-income Spanish-speaking clients with medical conditions. They will be supervised there by bilingual psychologist and TC alumna Diana Punales Morejon.

“Language can become a form of double jeopardy that bars people in need from access to medical care,” Rosa says.

Miville and Elizabeth Fraga, an adjunct faculty member, have also created a course in Latino psychology, which would anchor a planned certificate program in that field.

The other TC students funded by the grant will work at Covenant House, where a TC program called Youth Rising, created by Miller and funded by Goldman Sachs helps Covenant House staff address the psychological, psychiatric, and educational needs of the City’s more than 12,000 homeless youth.

All the students funded by the grant will do supervised pre-field work at TC’s Dean-Hope Center, where those who plan to work Spanish-speaking clients will work with bilingual supervisor Brenda McKee.

Currently five students have received funding through the grant. They are Elizabeth Hernandez, Biagio Mastropieri, Marielle Buque, Zoe Gurnebaum and Jennifer Drapkin.

“We’re bringing something that’s very new and very innovative to TC and making our clinical and counseling psychology students competitive to work in settings where other students won’t have the skills,” says Rosa, who is President the New York State Psychological Association. “It’s great to see TC on the front line in psychology and health care as well as in education.”

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