Travis County is one of three in Texas to receive mental health workforce development grants
October 18, 2011
Travis County Juvenile Probation
Contact: Dr. Erin Foley
AUSTIN, Texas – The Travis County Juvenile Probation Department is one of three grant sites chosen for a $1.6 million initiative to create internships for doctoral psychology students that will help alleviate mental health workforce shortages in Texas.
The department received a five-year $464,733 grant from the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health at The University of Texas at Austin. The grant will fund a new internship program that will enable students to get the year of supervised training and experience required for a doctoral degree in psychology.
The department will begin accepting interns in July 2012. The grant will pay intern salaries and cost of supervision and training for the first five years of the program. In return, the interns will expand the department’s mental health services to youth ages 13 to 17 and their families. The department currently has two full-time psychologists and more than 30 programs that serve about 1,000 juveniles on probation.
Many youth who are in the juvenile justice system have experienced physical, emotional or sexual abuse or neglect and have undiagnosed, untreated mental health conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety.
“With this grant, we can serve more youth in our programs and the interns will gain invaluable experience working with kids and families from diverse backgrounds who are dealing with a variety of challenges,” said Dr. Erin Foley, lead psychologist for the internship program. “We hope our program will become a national training model for preparing psychologists to work with youth in the juvenile justice system.”
In accepting the grant, the department has agreed to seek national accreditation for the internship program from the American Psychological Association (APA), which means the program must meet national standards for quality of training. Only 23 sites are accredited in Texas, including two in Austin and San Marcos.
“This is an exciting development for the capital area, which currently has only two APA- accredited internship sites, both of which are university counseling centers,” said Dr. Michele Guzmán, assistant director of research and evaluation at the Hogg Foundation and a clinical associate professor in counseling psychology.
“The grant will create a new training opportunity in a specialization strongly desired by psychology doctoral students,” she added. “It is clear that the Travis County Juvenile Probation Department values the delivery of mental health services, making them a great fit for the new internship.”
Guzmán said that psychology workforce trends in Texas are troubling. Between 2000 and 2009, the number of practicing psychologists in 77 counties decreased, and 102 counties had no practicing psychologists in 2009. The shortages have been most severe in rural areas, especially in South Texas, West Texas and the Panhandle.
Two other sites participating in the initiative are Scott & White Healthcare System in Temple and the University of Houston–Clear Lake Office of Counseling Services. The three programs combined will train an estimated 38 interns during the next five years.
The Hogg Foundation advances recovery and wellness in Texas by funding mental health services, policy analysis, research and public education. The foundation was created in 1940 by the children of former Texas Governor James S. Hogg and is part of the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement.