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Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology is Tops for Training

May 4, 2009

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From left, clinical psychology students Alvin Poon, Amanda Russo, Associate Professor John Forsyth, and student Isaura Olivares.

From left, clinical psychology students Alvin Poon, Amanda Russo, Associate Professor John Forsyth, and student Isaura Olivares. (Photo Mark Schmidt) 

Isaura Olivares' experience illustrates why UAlbany's doctoral program in clinical psychology just won a national award for outstanding training from the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT).

Olivares, of Brooklyn, N.Y., and a native of the Dominican Republic, is a first-year student in the highly selective program, which accepts six to eight students each year out of more than 180 applicants. "I have been working in Dr. Hazel Prelow's lab to better understand the role of resiliency in the lives of at-risk youths from ethnically diverse populations," said Olivares.

Her long-term goal is to work in a setting where she can make a difference in the lives of vulnerable children.

Amanda Russo of North Haven, Conn., sees herself working in a veterans' hospital. Russo is gaining valuable research and clinical experience using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for the anxiety disorders.

Russo works with John Forsyth, an associate professor of psychology and director of clinical training and the Anxiety Disorders Research Program. Forsyth is an internationally-recognized expert in mindfulness and acceptance-based behavior therapies such as ACT.

The strength of UAlbany's doctoral program in clinical psychology is its "wonderful faculty who work with us individually to meet our personal goals in teaching, research, and clinical work," said Andrea Hobkirk, a first-year student from Hershey, Pa., who wants to work in academia or a teaching hospital.

UAlbany was recently ranked in the top 25 percent of the nation's doctoral programs in clinical psychology by U.S. News and World Report. Its students are immersed in a rigorous program of study focused on the integration of clinical science and practice. All students receive their first formal clinical training under faculty supervision at the Psychological Services Center an in-house training clinic which serves the mental health needs of individuals from the Capital Region.

The program attracts students from around the world, like Alvin Poon, a third-year student from Hong Kong, who has his sights set on a clinical research career in health psychology.

Clinical psychology students Andrea Hobkirk and Ari Rabkin with Associate Professor John Forsyth.

Clinical psychology students Andrea Hobkirk and Ari Rabkin with Associate Professor John Forsyth. (Photo Mark Schmidt)

"This award is a bright feather in our cap, coming on the 30th anniversary of the establishment of our program," said Forsyth, who prepared the award nomination on behalf of the program.  Competition is stiff, and the honor is only given once every two years, he added. "The award recognizes the pioneering contributions of our faculty and our fabulous students in the field of behavior therapy, within clinical science and practice more generally, and ultimately in making a difference in the lives of those with whom they have contact, whether that be in a lab, a classroom, or in the clinic," said Forsyth.

Five presidents of ABCT have been Albany students, post docs, or faculty. Successful UAlbany alumni include:

 Marty Antony, president-elect of the Canadian Psychological Association.
 Gayle Beck, a leader in behavior therapy, serving as president of ABCT and editor of Behavior Therapy.
 Bruce Chorpita, professor of psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles
 Steve Safren, an Associate Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital and the Harvard Medical School.

Recent alumna Christine A. Franco, a postdoctoral fellow at the Yale University School of Medicine, said, "I can see the advantages and opportunities that the training at the University at Albany has afforded me; it has truly prepared me well every step of the way."

 

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