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College of Humanities & Sciences

Psychology Department

Counseling Doctoral Student Spotlights

Allen and team win grant for Building Legacies Around Cultural Knowledge (B.L.A.C.K.) project

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Keyona Allen, counseling psychology doctoral student, is the leader of a team based in the Department of Psychology who recently received a $2,500 grant from the VCU Division for Inclusive Excellence's Social Justice Fund for the project Building Legacies Around Cultural Knowledge (B.L.A.C.K.). These students are sponsored by Shawn Utsey, Ph.D., chair of African American Studies and professor of counseling psychology.

The team will facilitate community dialogue centered on experiences that impact the well-being of Richmond’s black communities. Through weekly presentations and dialogue with individuals at a community center in the south side of the city, B.L.A.C.K. hopes to provide a vehicle to healing and positive development. 

Team members include the following Department of Psychology doctoral students: Allen, Christina Barnett, Randl Dent, Ebony Lambert, Krystal Thomas, Mona Quarless, Melissa Avila, Jasmine Coleman, Stephanie Wilson, Amanda Parks and Eryn Delaney

On well-being: Better to be older or younger?

Janna Lynn Imel is a doctoral student of counseling psychology and student representative for the Older Adult Special Interest Group (OASIG) in the American Psychological Association's Division 17 (Society of Counseling Psychology). She recently composed a blog post for the OASIG in which she shared her reflections on successful aging interspersed with insights from socioemotional selectivity theory.

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"In thinking about successful aging, including anecdotal stories from older adults in my family and my research on emotional well-being in older adults, I realized I may be the only 24-year-old who is excited to enter older adulthood decades from now, as it is associated with perks younger adults do not report. The term 'older adult' encompasses a vast array of people with unique experiences, personalities, and stories all over the age of 65. More often than not, society associates older adulthood with decline. It is true that older age can bring forth declines in health, the loss of close friends and family, and difficult transitions. However, one consistent research finding is that older age is linked to increased well-being and more positive affect in comparison to individuals in younger and middle adulthood (Gooding, Hurst, Johnson, & Tarrier, 2012). This blog is intended to counteract the deficit model of aging and focus on some positive aspects of growing older."

Read the full blog post.

Kwitowski, Riley and Simpson awarded dissertation assistantships

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All three of Psychology's applicants to the VCU Graduate School's Dissertation Assistantship Award Program - Melissa Kwitowski (counseling program), Tennisha Riley (developmental program) and Courtney Simpson (counseling program) - will receive an $18,000 stipend and full tuition for the 2017-18 academic year. ‌This funding program is for doctoral scholars who have completed all program requirements, including didactic courses, except for the dissertation and who will be defending the dissertation and graduating by the end of the fall 2017 or spring 2018 semesters. ‌Importantly, the award stipulates there may be no work required other than work on the dissertation. Nominations are evaluated on the basis of scholarship, methodology, clarity of style and presentation, strength of recommendations and academic record.

Griffin Featured in VCU News Article on Stellar Grads

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Brandon Griffin, a doctoral student in the counseling psychology program and upcoming graduate, was profiled in a recent VCU News article featuring outstanding graduates from across campus.

Excerpt: Currently a psychology resident at the Veterans Affairs Salt Lake City Health Care System, he provides psychotherapy to combat veterans seeking treatment for PTSD. He soon will begin working at the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center, where he will develop a new psychological intervention for PTSD stemming from killing in war.

While studying at VCU, Griffin was active in serving the Richmond community. After reading a 2015 VCU study showing that people living in his East End neighborhood had a life expectancy of 20 years less than other parts of the city — for possible reasons such as lack of access to health care, availability of food and physical activities, and safe housing — Griffin was inspired to sponsor and coach a soccer team for the neighborhood community center.

“Our team did not solve all of the problems that my players encountered; however, it provided a space where the players developed the interpersonal skills necessary to work as a team, built confidence in themselves by trying a new sport, and were cheered on and even provided with after game lunches by many of my colleagues in the VCU Department of Psychology,” he said.

Read the full feature.

Counseling and Clinical Students Match for Internships

Congratulations to our wonderful counseling and clinical doctoral students who are headed out on internship next year!

Annalucia Bays
Counseling Psychology Program
Adviser: Kathleen Ingram, Ph.D.
Internship placement: College of William and Mary

Melissa Dvorsky
Clinical Psychology Program
Adviser: Joshua Langberg, Ph.D.
Internship placement: Cincinnati Children's Hospital

‌Laura Eddy
Clinical Psychology Program
Adviser: Heather Jones, Ph.D., and Joshua Langberg, Ph.D.
Internship placement: University of Texas Health Sciences Center - San Antonio

Lisa Goldberg-Looney
Counseling Psychology Program
Adviser: Paul Perrin, Ph.D.
Internship placement: Malcolm Grow Medical Clinics & Surgery Center (U.S. Air Force)

‌Chelsea Hughes
Counseling Psychology Program
Adviser: Everett Worthington, Ph.D.
Internship placement: University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Autumn Lanoye
Clinical Psychology Program
Adviser: Bruce Rybarczyk, Ph.D.
Internship placement: West Virginia University

Annie Rabinovitch
Clinical Psychology Program
Adviser: Paul Perrin, Ph.D.
Internship placement: Kennedy Krieger/Johns Hopkins University

Zachary Radcliff
Clinical Psychology Program
Adviser: Bruce Rybarczyk, Ph.D.
Internship placement: Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children

Utsey Lab Shares Expertise at Winter Roundtable

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The Winter Roundtable at Columbia University is the longest running continuing professional education program in the U.S. devoted solely to cultural issues in psychology and education. Shawn Utsey, Ph.D., professor of counseling psychology and interim chair of the VCU Department of African American Studies, and his lab members attended this year's roundtable, which was called "From Ferguson to Flint: Multicultural Competencies for Community-Based Trauma." He and his lab members - Princess Louden, Ashley Hill, Keyona Allen, Sultan Hubbard and Christina Barnett -  led a symposium about the community engagement series "Building Legacies Around Cultural Knowledge," a series Utsey and his lab conduct in partnership with Blackwell Community Center, which hosts the weekly conversations about topics particularly pertinent for black people. 

In addition to the symposium, Utsey and his students presented a poster about race-related stress and held a roundtable discussion about navigating graduate school as a black student.

Many thanks to James Cones lll, Ph.D., a 1987 graduate of the clinical psychology doctoral program at VCU and mentee of James McCullough, Ph.D., who came out to support Utsey and his students!  

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