How are Derner School of Psychology doctoral students applying their training in the community? Learn about the growth of the Derner Hempstead Clinic, its impact, and the experience of student psychotherapists training at this innovative program.
Since 2015, the Derner School of Psychology has sponsored a clinic at which Derner clinical psychology and school psychology doctoral students, under the direction of Dr. Kirkland Vaughans (Ph.D. ’85), provide individual and family psychotherapy to children and teens from the community of Hempstead, NY. This project was inspired when Dr. Vaughans, then a psychologist in the Hempstead school system, observed low income African-American and Latino/a students from the Hempstead community experiencing limited access to psychological services. Children and adolescents were being subjected to punitive suspensions and expulsions as early as pre-K rather than receiving supportive mental health care. Recognition of this problem moved him to action, and with the support of Dean Jacques Barber, and in collaboration with Dr. Francine Conway (Ph.D. ’99), Director of Practicum Training Dr. Jonathan Jackson, and doctoral candidate Catherine Holder, the Derner Hempstead Child Clinic was established.
The clinic is presently housed in the offices of the Mental Health Association of Nassau County, and serves children experiencing a range of difficulties from ADHD to posttraumatic stress disorder. Dr. Vaughans noted that the Hempstead Clinic has recently expanded its programmatic capacity from two to four days per week and is in the process of incorporating multidisciplinary services that would include assessment of speech, language, and hearing disorders, as well as parent support groups. He hopes to obtain services from other professional disciplines available here on campus as well. Lastly, Dr. Vaughans indicated doctoral students are now offered additional clinic supervisory support—increased time in individual supervision as well as monthly group consultation. Dr. Vaughans, doctoral students working at the site, and the Derner School of Psychology leadership will continue to develop the Derner Hempstead Clinic in years to come.
Along with providing care to children who otherwise would have limited access to psychotherapy, the Hempstead Clinic also provides Derner doctoral students valuable training experience and the opportunity to affect change in an underserved community. In the words of current 3rd year doctoral candidate Tiarra Currie, “Working at the Hempstead Clinic is providing me with advanced clinical training that is not easily learned through theoretical and foundational course material. Within my training, I have been able to explore the impact of current social issues on the transference and countertransference in the therapeutic relationship.” She continues, Derner Hempstead Child Clinic Grows By John Burke, 3rd Year, and Rachel Small, 5th Year Spring 2018 Page 5 DAY RESIDUE “Additionally, through my clinical work and supervision I have developed markers to identify and examine the influence of social structures like poverty and its impact at the interpersonal and intrapersonal level for a patient. It is an amazing opportunity to bring hope, empowerment, and support to families that are in distress due to issues associated with immigration, racism, socioeconomic status, and trauma, just to name a few.”
Students interested in getting involved as psychotherapists at the Hempstead Clinic are encouraged to contact Dr. Jonathan Jackson for information. Additional clinical supervision is provided for student psychotherapists providing treatment at the Hempstead Clinic. Finally, there is an ongoing need for financial support of this project, and alumni interested in contributing can send funds to Dean Jacques Barber with notice that their contribution is for this program.
The Derner Hempstead Child Clinic is located at 16 Main Street, Hempstead, NY and open Monday-Thursday from 4:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m.
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