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Graduate School of Professional Psychology
Alumni DU GSPP

Alumni Profiles

About this series: Leading up to our 40th anniversary celebration in 2016, we released an alumni profile each Friday where we introduced you to 40 inspiring alumni from our first 40 years. We want to keep sharing more stories, beyond number forty, of individuals who make up our vibrant community! Read on.

Share your story here.


Charlee Borg

 

Charlee Borg

IDP, 2016

Charlee brings a trauma-informed approach to her work with human-trafficking survivors, helping clinicians reconsider their screening questions. 

Profile coming soon! Read more about Charlee's new job here.

 


Marc Perkel

 

Marc Perkel

FP, 2013
PsyD, 2017

The PsyD program allowed Marc to receive a core clinical foundation, while also pursuing specialized training experiences in health and pediatric psychology settings.

 

I am a first-generation American who grew up in Orange County, California. During high school, I had the opportunity to take multiple psychology-related courses including Forensic Psychology, AP Psychology, and Early Childhood Development. I decided to attend college at UC-Davis with a major in psychology and an emphasis in biology in order to keep my options open to work in health care. I worked part-time as an Emergency Medical Technician and gravitated to more psychiatric cases.

In college, I was recommended by my Abnormal Psychology professor for a part-time job working at a crisis house for patients transitioning from inpatient psychiatric hospitalization and from the community. Due to this experience, I decided to apply for graduate school for Psychology. I first attended the Forensic Psychology program at GSPP because of my interest in crisis management of patients and the various ethical-legal aspects that come along with this.

Through the MAFP program, I was reminded of my prior interest in working within health care and also discovered working with children, adolescents, and their families. Joining the PsyD program allowed me to receive excellent core clinical training to thrive in any future career, while also allowing me to pursue specialized training in Health and Pediatric Psychology settings.

I completed an APA-accredited internship with the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia in Primary Care, Outpatient, Specialty Clinics, and Inpatient Medical units.  Currently I am a post-doctoral fellow in the Pediatric Psychology Consultation Program at Kennedy Krieger Institute and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.  I am part of a team providing behavioral health consults to patients during their stay at Johns Hopkins Children's Hospital. I also play a significant leadership and clinical role within specialty clinics including Diabetes and Cystic Fibrosis, and provide outpatient Pediatric Psychology services to children and adolescents. 

I work with extremely diverse patients who come to the Johns Hopkins Medical Institute campus. I see children, adolescents, and adults at the local level from nearby neighborhoods in Baltimore, MD, as well as patients and famil ies coming in from all over the United States and internationally to obtain the world-renown health care provided by Johns Hopkins. 

I am proud of what I do! GSPP teaches the concept of "being psychology-minded." This mantra has connected with me since my departure from Colorado and allowed the skills and training I received during my time at GSPP to help me thrive as a Pediatric Psychologist. 

 

Fast Facts

What Does GSPP Mean to You?: GSPP means community. During my five years calling Colorado my home, I felt supported and nurtured by cohort members, staff, and faculty at GSPP.

Favorite Class: Mental Health Law and Diagnoses courses stand out for me because of the knowledge I have retained and the excellent professor who taught both. Two Professional Seminars including Dr. Cornish and Dr. Taylor's provided me with the clinical supervision and mentorship to grow as a clinician and a human being.

Current Connections with GSPP: I just graduated! I do plan to stay in touch with many of the students, alumni, staff, and professors in the future. If I return to Colorado, I would love to give-back to GSPP as a supervisor.  

Ben Barone

 

Ben Barone

SPP, 2014

 

Ben credits GSPP with giving him the structure and discipline he needed to run a startup that integrates biofeedback and virtual reality to reduce stress and improve wellness.

 

During undergrad at UNC, I took a class in biopsychology where we began to discuss how the mental realm was connected to these cells in our head that fire off electricity, and I just thought that was the coolest thing in the world. I told my professor this was it - this was what I wanted to do with my life - and asked, "how could do it?" She replied, "I don't know." That led me down a winding path to learn more about the brain/mind gap and ultimately toward entrepreneurship. I haven't looked back yet.

I chose GSPP for graduate school because of the outstanding faculty in the MASPP program. I knew I wanted my next step to be in sport and performance psychology, and this was widely regarded as the top applied program in the field. I also knew I'd be able to take a course in biofeedback and saw this a great place to launch into both interests simultaneously. I pursued board certification in biofeedback independently during my master's program. 

After GSPP, I was very fortunate to work with an excellent mentor in a biofeedback clinic, who taught me to use a wide array of sensors and modalities (brainwave, muscle, heart rate, breathing, temperature, sweat, etc.). I worked with students, athletes, and clinical populations who had been in car accidents or had multiple moderate to severe TBI incidents working overseas in the military. GSPP was unbelievably important at preparing me to work with individuals from a wide range of backgrounds and wellness states, and equipped me with the communication skills necessary to make a meaningful impact.

I currently run a startup, Coresights, that integrates biofeedback and virtual reality to reduce stress and improve wellness. We work with psychologists, hospitals, and corporate wellness programs to implement solutions designed to educate, engage, and train clients to gain greater control over their mind/body wellness and develop tangible skills to measurably reduce stress.

We were fortunate enough to be selected by MIT for their Playlabs accelerator program this summer, and are honored to join the MIT community. 

GSPP gave me the structure and discipline I needed to run a startup for the past year. With such an outstanding support network, I'm able to continue to receive and share mentorship from professors and peers alike.  

 

Fast Facts

Memorable Mentor: Impossible to pick one! All of my professors brought so much to the table and influenced my career massively. I wouldn't be on the path I'm on without each one of them.

Favorite Class: Definitely practicum. It was a rich learning experience to hear from my classmates who were doing such amazing things in the field, and to be able to share our highs, lows, and learning moments together.

Hopes for Our Next 40 Years: That it continues to expand its offerings into the merge between neuroscience, physiology, and psychology. The science is so rapidly evolving that we can see and do things now we couldn't dream of 10 years ago.  

Francis

Francis X. Gaebler

PsyD, 1980

 

Francis was one of GSPP's first graduates in the newly developed PsyD program and practiced clinical psychology for 34 years...until he and his wife quit their jobs and joined the Peace Corps.

 

Expect The Unexpected In Life: A Psychologist Enters The Peace Corps

"The School of Professional Psychology was my home from 1976 until my graduation in 1980. We were the first class of Psy.D. graduate students at the University of Denver under Dr. Nelson Jones, PhD and many other talented and progressive thinking professors. This marvelous education gave me the opportunity to practice as a Clinical Psychologist for 34 wonderful years.

So, at the age of 67, my wife introduced the idea of ending our jobs and joining the Peace Corps. This idea was not alien to me. I had always wanted to volunteer in the Peace Corps once again.

With the rise in hopelessness, fear, anger and violence in our cities across the US and the evident increasing lack of medical, economic and educational opportunities for people around the world, I had an overwhelming desire to help others beyond our borders. The idea of volunteering over seas had come up to us on a number of occasions. All the stars were aligned in our lives to jump into this adventure. Our children were fully employed and excited for us and there were no grandchildren on the way.

We sent in the necessary Peace Corps application, medical forms ,and security information. In six months, we were offered a position as Youth Development workers in Peace Corps Costa Rica. We rented our home, sold our cars and gave away a third of our worldly possessions and set off for the unknown world of Costa Rica.

After three months of Spanish language, cultural emersion, and community youth development training , we were sent to a rural farming community in the lush central highlands of Costa Rica. We moved into a 350 square foot Spartan apartment attached to the home of our host family. Our first three months were focused on “integrating” within the community and designing and implementing an assessment of the needs of the youth within this small town. We presented the results to our Costa Rican “Project Partners” at the elementary school and the high school as well as to the Peace Corps Costa Rica staff.

For the next two years we focused our efforts on developing programs, co-teaching with the high school and elementary school teachers and the community youth leaders. In the elementary school we developed curriculums and taught classes for 2nd through 6th graders on leadership, self-esteem, teamwork, active listening (also known as Life Skills), as well as, conflict resolution and mindfulness training. During our second year, we trained the 6th graders and their teachers how to be “school mediators” in an effort to diminish the problem of “bullying” within the school and reinforce the concept of a “school of peace”.

In the high school of 1400 students (7th-11th grades) we worked with the guidance counselors and homeroom teachers of the 10th graders to teach Life Skills, as well as the development and implementation of Social Projects in the community, using experiential and non-formal education methods. Since the dropout rate in the high school was very high, we also initiated a Mentor Program, where the 10th graders were trained to work with the 7th graders once a week to foster academics, life skills, social skills and recreational activities. This program was highly successful in not only keeping the 7th grade participants in school, but in developing leadership skills in the 10th graders. In its first year, all of the 7th graders who participated in the program passed onto the 8th grade.

Outside of school my wife and I along with other Peace Corps Volunteers carried out a summer English Conversation and High School Readiness Camp for incoming 7th graders. We also worked with the local Girl and Boy Scout Troup and the Red Cross Youth groups to teach them Life Skills, yoga and sexual education as well as team building skills.

Peace Corps Volunteers are called to integrate within the community, craft meaningful relationships, and practice patience. These are qualities I had learned while I was a developing psychologist at the Graduate School of Professional Psychology. PCVs also learn to work alongside peoples of different cultures, races, languages, religions, and dispositions. Bathed in these new experiences, they are transformed and awakened to the beautiful diversity our World.

All I can tell others as a result of my experience as a Peace Corps Volunteer is to chase your dreams with courage and expect the unexpected in life. One is never too old to do so."

Francis X. Gaebler, Psy.D.

(’76-’80) RPCV Nepal (’69-’73), Costa Rica (’14-’16)


Amy

Amy Wanninger

MAIDP, 2014

 

Amy's training in trauma psychology helped her to realize the similarities between her cancer survival and the trauma survived by her clients-- inspiring her to get involved with oncology psychology at GSPP.

 

I accidentally fell into an undergraduate degree in Psychology. I tried out a few majors and none felt right for me. As a Lilly Scholar, I had been fortunate to receive a full tuition scholarship, and as I neared my final year, I had to select a major that I could complete within that year. While I had been testing out various majors throughout the previous three years, I continued to advance through the levels of courses offered in the psychology department. I felt drawn to them, and as a result, I had somewhat accidentally completed more than enough credits for a degree in psychology.

After that, I carved out a career in advertising, ultimately landing as a brand strategist. While I advanced quickly in that field, it also never felt right for me. It wasn't until I was working for an international disaster response non-profit in their marketing department that I felt my first pang of a real calling.

I witnessed their immediate response to the 2011 Japan earthquake and tsunami. I marveled as field teams discussed the best way to adapt psychosocial programs for the survivors and knew that I wanted to be doing that kind of work. I wanted to be on the other side of the table, working with survivors in the field.

From that point, I started working my way toward this field. I moved to Denver, received my wilderness EMT, and discovered the International Disaster Psychology program at GSPP. What ended up feeling "right" was returning to where it all began and acknowledging that perhaps falling into psychology all of those years earlier hadn't been an accident after all.                          

When I began the search for a graduate program to meet my newfound career path, I expected to find a general psychology program in which I would focus my clinical work with trauma survivors in international settings. I was shocked to discover the International Disaster Psychology program during my search. It offered the specialized training and field opportunities that I imagined I would need to develop on my own in a more generalized program. Once I saw that the program required and provided international field placements, I didn't even apply elsewhere. It was IDP or bust.   

I took full advantage of the clinical field placement opportunities and interned with at least two each year. I was fortunate to work with a variety of client populations including torture survivors seeking asylum in the U.S., child trauma survivors at the Kempe Center, and sexual assault survivors in the hospital setting. Through these internships, I received thoughtful and thought-provoking supervision. I developed a close relationship with my supervisors which created a beautiful space for learning and growing in a vulnerable environment. I continue to utilize the wisdom that they shared with me and sometimes even find myself imagining how they would guide me in a given situation today.             

During my final year at GSPP, one of my internship supervisors recommended me for a job opening that had come across her path. It wasn't ideal timing, as I was in the throes of finals and preparing for comps, but it was an opportunity I could not pass up. A couple of months before graduating, I began managing training and project development with the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (ISPCAN).

Only a few weeks after graduating, I was diagnosed with stage IV cancer. The next year was largely spent in the hospital, although I continued to work part-time with ISPCAN, tapping away on my laptop while I was tethered to multiple machines. It came as somewhat of surprise to me that my training in trauma psychology at GSPP helped me immensely in realizing that my cancer survival appeared strikingly similar to my clients' trauma survival.

GSPP helped prepare me for trauma work that I had never considered. More recently, I have been conducting trauma-informed trainings for local foster care organizations as well as contributing to international research projects with the Center for Victims of Torture (CVT). The particular focus on cross cultural trauma recovery in the IDP program continues to inform the work that I do today.             

I continue to stay in contact with some of my former professors, supervisors, and classmates, however my strongest post-graduation connection to GSPP has formed more recently with the development of their Center for Oncology Psychology Excellence (COPE). My firsthand experience with both GSPP and oncology piqued my interest to learn more. I was elated to find that Dr. Nicole Taylor was the force behind this new specialty, as I vividly recalled a wonderful guest lecture she presented my first year at GSPP which, interestingly, was also her first year at GSPP.

I reached out to Dr. Taylor to learn more and offer any small tidbits of personal insight I could share about my experience. She was incredibly receptive, and I have enjoyed chatting with COPE students and prospective students about the multiple aspects of mental health support through a cancer experience. There is dearth of equipped professionals to work with this unique and growing population, and GSPP's development of COPE is yet another example of their ability to identify emerging needs in the field of psychology and quickly adapt to address these gaps by training a new generation of informed practitioners and researchers.             

I had the immense honor of speaking at a COPE event on cancer survivorship and look forward to continuing to contribute to their endeavors as they grow and meet the needs of the burgeoning field of oncology psychology.                                                  

Fast Facts

Hopes for Our Next 40 Years?: I love seeing the innovative and specialized programs that GSPP continues to develop because, in many cases, there are no other programs like them in the world. GSPP is willing to take risks and march into the unchartered territory of psychology in order to serve unique and often overlooked populations. I look forward to seeing what new and exciting territory they decide to charter.

Matthew

Matthew Bergdorf

Sport Coaching, 2016

 

Matthew chose to study at GSPP to get beyond the x's and o's of the coaching playbook and learn more about the unique social issues affecting athletes  

 

I am the first person in my family to obtain an advanced degree. I received my Bachelor's Degree from California State University Fullerton in Kinesiology with an emphasis in Strength and Conditioning. While there, I benefited from the guidance and tutelage of Dr. Lee Brown, past President of the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). I interned at Pepperdine University, CSU Fullerton, and the NSCA Headquarters before beginning a Master's Program for Cardiac Rehabilitation in Wisconsin.

Unfortunately, the program I enrolled in was not the right fit, so I transferred to the MA in Sport Coaching program at DU. I was excited about this program because I knew there was more to coaching than just the X's and O's. I knew that communicating and understanding people was a crucial component missed by a lot of coaches. Dr. Brian Gearity is an expert when it comes to understanding the social issues of athletes and how to address them.

There are many coaches out there who ruin sports for athletes, or who misuse their authority as a coach. One of the most influential experiences in my life came after a family tragedy when a few of my coaches stepped in to support me. I was 12 years old at the time and I needed help and guidance. One of my coaches was always there for me and always had my best interest in mind. As I grew older, he continued to coach me and the connection I made with him has stuck with me.

When I got to college, I learned a lot about politics in coaching and decided to give up on coaching baseball to coach strength and conditioning instead. In strength and conditioning there are no politics because no matter who the athlete is, or where they came from, or what their socioeconomic status might be, the athlete still has to pick up the weight and lift it. Athletes must have the drive, and drive comes from within. It cannot be purchased or favorited. The athlete must make the decision to pick it up or to not.  

After GSPP, I was hired by the Florida Panthers as the Head of Athletic Performance for the Center of Excellence in the Florida Panthers Ice Den. My work is shaping the lives of many athletes. I train the Jr. Panthers and Olympic level figure skaters, and run weight loss classes and boot camps for the general public. I am doing what I can to help the Coral Springs area be as healthy as possible and create great partnerships with local businesses.

I was involved with every aspect of setting up of this gym, including painting, purchasing equipment, and build outs of the facility. The course from GSPP that helped me best prepare for this role was Organization and Administration of Sport. It was set up as if I were about to open a business or manage a sports team. I am doing just that in my role— managing a budget, profit loss, marketing, organization of the business, and so on.

When it comes to training the athletes, the science courses come into play; we studied social science, human movement, skill acquisition, the scientific principles of training, and how to better assist the athletes in their mental health, motivation and any other basic issues that I may encounter.

For me, at least right now, DU has brought about the final chapter to my formal education. DU has helped me evolve from a closed-minded coach to a more open-minded coach. Being much more open-minded has helped me understand a great deal about what I do and why I do it. I always had a passion for training and athletes, but DU has helped bring a more concrete definition to why I coach .         

 

Fast Facts

Favorite Class: Sport Coach as a Leader, because of the substance the course itself held. The readings were directly applicable to my setting and understanding different types of athletes and to better communicate with them. It made me a better coach and a better person. Not only did I learn to understand my athletes, but the people around me too.


Memorable Mentor: Dr. Brian Gearity, He's just one heck of a mentor and good friend. I've learned a great deal from him in the classroom and in life.


What does GSPP mean to you?: This program allowed me to be mobile and flexible with my learning. After accepting a job offer that required me to relocate, it was imperative to complete my Master's Degree while also working. This program granted that opportunity.

Kaitlin

Kaitlin Janasek

Sport Coaching, 2016

 

Kaitlin is the first graduate of our fully online MA Sport Coaching program! She plans to continue coaching soccer and volleyball with the expertise she gained at GSPP.   

 

I am from Wichita, Kansas. I am a middle child with two brothers. My brothers and I were very active in athletics. Throughout high school, I worked as a sports official and coach for various sports at the YMCA in Wichita.

My older brother was very influential in my decision to coach because he got me my job at the YMCA and he was my first coach. My little brother was the first athlete I coached. This sparked my love of coaching and decision to pursue a degree in Kinesiology at Washburn University.

After graduating from Washburn, I married my high school sweetheart, Matt. A year later, we moved to Colorado where I got a job coaching C Team Volleyball at Colorado Academy. I have also coached at Mile High Surge Volleyball Club and Skyline Soccer Association.

When I first heard about the Sport Coaching program at DU, I knew it would be a great opportunity for me. This program would allow me to increase my knowledge and become a better coach. I loved the curriculum and knew that the program was going to prepare me for my future.

I also chose the University of Denver because it has the best reputation and sets high standards for their students. I wanted to get the best education from a great program and top professors. The program has aligned with my career goals by helping me to coach high school sports and expanding my understanding about the field of coaching.

After GSPP, I will continue coaching at Colorado Academy in the Volleyball Program. I also plan on coaching for Skyline Soccer Association in their Grasshopper and Munchkin program. GSPP prepared me for this by having amazing professors and creating a program that has challenged me. The courses have allowed me to become a better coach and student of coaching.         

 

Fast Facts

Favorite Class: My favorite class was the Practicum course. I loved that I was able to be hands-on and share my own experiences with my classmates. I also enjoyed hearing about the experiences of my classmates. The coursework included theories and articles that has helped me to better articulate my coaching experiences.  

Nathaan

40/40:

Nathaan Demers

PsyD, 2014

 

Nathaan connects college students with wellness resources using digital technologies-- in an effort to move wellness higher up on their priority list.   

 

I have always been fascinated by different people and cultures. With the maternal side of my family from India and paternal side from Canada, my family has always preached that travel is the best form of education. As a result, I have had the opportunity, and privilege, to experience a number of cultures through the gift of travel.

While I never had the opportunity to take a psychology class in high school, I always had a hunch that it would be my field of study. As a competitive soccer player, I was also afforded the opportunity to play soccer in Europe after high school, an incredibly formative experience that solidified my passion for people, relationships, and cultures.

My first class at Middlebury College was taught by Dr. Laura Basili who opened the class stating, "Welcome to Psych 101, the class that changed my life." This fact could not have been more true in my own life. Laura continues to be a mentor and friend, and was the officiant for our wedding.

I chose DU primarily for the emphasis placed on experiential learning. Having worked as direct care staff at a therapeutic boarding school prior to GSPP, working with clients and learning through experience was a priority. GSPP's location near a mountain playground also helped make my decision pretty easy.

At GSPP, I gained a solid clinical foundation and professional identity that has allowed me to explore and wander within the field of behavioral health. After graduation I undertook a post-doc at the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education – Mental Health Program (WICHE-MHP), a non-profit working to expand and improve behavioral health services in rural and underserved areas of the Western 15 states, including Alaska, Hawaii, and American Territories in the Pacific.  Following my post-doc I stayed on as a Behavioral Health Research & Technical Assistance Associate with WICHE-MHP. Additionally, I have a small private practice in the Loveland/Ft. Collins area.   

I am passionate about "upstream" behavioral health – at present it takes the form of supporting students to develop resilience and place wellness back on their priority list. Over the past decade, college counseling utilization rates have significantly outpaced capacity. With increased academic pressure, ballooning student loans and the pressure to be "fine"- 50% of students report incapacitating levels of stress, up to 33% of students do not return for their sophomore year, and suicide is the second leading cause of death.

With these facts, we need to think outside the confines of our traditional systems of care. In my current role as the Director of Clinical Programs at Grit Digital Health, I develop, curate, and form partnerships to create content for the You student wellbeing hub that connects college students with wellness resources using digital technologies. Over half of individuals under the age of 35 who die by suicide have never seen a mental health professional.

Digital technologies (e.g. phones, laptops, tables) are a unique means to reach millennials to decrease the stigma of mental health, increase help seeking behavior, and connect individuals to resources before a crisis. Why treat heart attacks when we can treat high cholesterol? Similarly, lets treat stress or depression before it becomes acute suicidality. (Visit www.gritdigitalhealth.com if you are curious about the YOU student wellbeing hub!)

Since graduation I have stayed in touch with GSPP through my relationships with professors (now friends/mentors), as well as professional connections through my work. I have also been peripherally involved in organizing alumni events and happy hours. Having such an intensive, and at times intense, experience with peers and professors during my graduate school experience, it feels natural to stay connected.         

 

Fast Facts

Favorite Class: My favorite classes were my seminars. I was lucky enough to have some amazing leaders including Jenny Cornish, Lee Hockman, and Michael Karson. For me, seminar is where the rubber hits the road – integrating theory and practice.    

Memorable Mentors: I've been lucky enough to have a number of close relationships with GSPP professors. I remain close with Michael Karson, Hale Martin, and Jenny Cornish. They have been amazing mentors and friends throughout the many twists and turns of my career and personal life - both while at GSPP and into the present.    

Hopes for Our Next 40 Years: I hope GSPP continues to grow and prosper, specifically to include more training outside of traditional therapeutic settings. Our healthcare landscape is evolving and numerous opportunities are surfacing for psychologists outside of our traditional roles.  

Jenn Paz

39/40:

Jennifer Paz

PsyD, 2015


Jenn (and alum Kate Colón) co-founded a Denver-based psychological evaluation service for children, adolescents, and families.

 

Born in Colombia, South America, my passion for working with Latino and underserved families has been a focus throughout my educational career. I earned my Masters of Education through Regis University and taught for five years within the Denver Public School system at a Title-1 school in Five Points.

I dedicated myself to providing a culturally responsive classroom, formed strong relationships with my students and their families that continue today, and was awarded Mile High Teacher of the Year 2008/2009.

My experience as a classroom teacher allows me to communicate and navigate effectively within the education system and understand the obstacles and capacity of current classroom teachers, which impacts students.

My commitment to and admiration for underserved populations led to volunteering with AmeriCorps. I was awarded with the 2014 Mountain West Engagement Award for Excellence and featured by the University of Denver Magazine.  

After graduating from GSPP, Kate Colón (PsyD '14) and I co-founded Elevated Insights Assessment: Psychological Evaluations for Children, Adolescents, and Families. I specialize in bilingual (Spanish) assessment and treatment of children/adolescents and their families.

Elevated Insights Assessment is committed to serving the underserved and we are currently in the final stages of being able to accept Medicaid. We are one of the few providers in Denver to offer bilingual, Spanish-speaking assessments.

We are also very proud of our 3-week turnaround time for feedback sessions and reports. One of the things we find to be very important and empowering is the feedback process. We sit down with the families and thoroughly review the results of each test to ensure everyone understands the data and what it is telling us. We provide free consultation with schools following each evaluation. Our goal is to ensure families feel supported in taking the next steps to move forward.

GSPP has opened many professional and personal doors for me. I am very thankful to continue to be connected with the program, particularly as Assistant Program Developer for the Latino Psychology Specialty.         

 

Fast Facts

Favorite Class: My decision to join GSPP was driven by the year-long diversity sequence offered. Although I did not have the opportunity to be a part of the Latino Psychology Specialty while a student, I am passionate about the mission and vision, and thankful that I can be a part of this much needed growing focus.    

Current Connections with GSPP: Kate Colón (PsyD '14) and I are currently teaching Psychological Assessment with Latin@s during the summer quarter for the Latino Psychology Specialty. We are very passionate about assessment and the importance of providing culturally responsive services.  

Kate Colon

38/40:

Kate Colón

IDP, 2010
PsyD, 2014


Kate's passion for working with children and adolescents began in the International Disaster Psychology program; she further developed her clinical skills in the PsyD program.

 

I initially came to GSPP as a Master's student in the International Disaster Psychology program. I was drawn to the unique nature of the program and eventually secured a spot after initially being waitlisted. The IDP program aligned with my goals as it offered opportunities to work with international populations impacted by trauma.

Through IDP, I received clinical training in community-based interventions and traumatic stress in young individuals. After working with children in a number of capacities including refugee mental health programs, community mental health centers, and an externship with the World Health Organization in Panama, I knew I wanted to advance my education and continue on to the PsyD program to focus on clinical work with children and adolescents.

Throughout my clinical training, I have worked with children, adolescents, and families across a variety of settings, including community mental health centers, hospitals, schools, and private practice.

The strongest influences I have had in shaping my studies and my career occurred during GSPP and internship. I had a number of supervisors throughout my training who had a major impact on my work now and my vision for a career path. Dr. Ambra Born with Reaching Hope supervised me at GSPP throughout the majority of the PsyD program and instilled in me a passion for working with children impacted by traumatic stress.

My career focus was refined after securing a position with Mindsights while on internship with Morrison Child and Family Services in Portland, Oregon. There, I trained under Dr. Dane Borg, who showed me the power behind providing competent psychological evaluations with children and adolescents, especially those involved in the child welfare system.

As co-founders of Elevated Insights Assessment, Jenn Paz (PsyD '15) and I hope to make an impact on the provision of mental health services to children in the child welfare system. If children can receive comprehensive psychological evaluations at the onset of coming into foster care, we can highlight both areas of strength and need. This will equip foster parents, biological parents, therapists, and teachers with the information and tools they need to support the individualized needs of these children.

In doing so, we can reduce the chances of children being moved from placement to placement and minimize the consequential mental health effects. We are also very proud to be able to provide bilingual assessment services to Spanish-speaking populations.

GSPP has opened the doors to a number of pivotal opportunities in my clinical training and my career. It served as a starting point from which to explore a number of avenues within the field of psychology. My professors consistently challenged my thinking as well as my understanding of my own capacities along the way.         

 

Fast Facts

Favorite Class: Unexpectedly, my favorite "class" was ACT seminar in my second year of the PsyD program. It challenged my thinking and provided the theoretical foundation from which I currently work. During that year, I was supervised by Dr. John Glazer, a person I greatly admire. I was lucky to have fallen into this group.    

Current Connections with GSPP: Since graduating, I have stayed connected with faculty, students, and psychologists in both my professional and personal life. Jenn Paz (PsyD '15) and I also gladly accepted positions to teach the Psychological Assessment with Latin@s course this summer, which has been a great experience.    

Hopes for Our Next 40 Years: I hope GSPP can continue producing competent and thoughtful students who can change the landscape of how services are provided in Denver and surrounding communities. It's an exciting time to be a psychologist.  

Cara

37/40:

Cara Woodward

FP, 2011


A high school-level psychology class that touched on the Id, Ego, and Super Ego among serial killers initiated Cara's passion for Forensic Psychology!

 

I attended undergrad at Colorado State University for Psychology. I always knew I would attend college. I went straight from high school to undergrad to graduate school. My parents and siblings did not have this same desire so I was the odd one out—still kind of am!

When I took my first psychology class during my junior year of high school, I knew right away that I would pursue a career in the field. We discussed Freud in depth and the Id, Ego, and Super Ego-- how it would be different for various populations including serial killers. I was fascinated and knew I wanted to get a degree in Forensic Psychology.

After being accepted to the University of Denver, I was beyond ecstatic. My second year internship was with an agency completing psychosexual evaluations for the courts and attorneys. I fell in love. After GSPP, I continued working at my field placement site! I have now been working with this agency for nearly 6 years and have been lucky enough to do so. It wasn't my original plan of PhD, teaching, and research of psychopathy, but I love it and bet it's even better.

My work determines the outcome of many individuals' lives, including the referred client and the community. I get the opportunity to aid in protection of the community from high risk offenders, as well as management of the offender and improving their lives.

In my current position, I write several evaluations each year. I take care of all incoming referrals and ensure things run smoothly and are completed as needed. I interview and hire our yearly intern and aid in supervision and training.

I have been with my husband for nearly ten years and we have a beautiful baby girl who turns two this year. I love my job and have my educational experience at DU to thank for that!         

 

Fast Facts

Favorite Class: Conflict Resolution with Michael Karson and Self-Report and Assessments with Hale Martin.    

Memorable Mentors: There was one professor at GSPP I learned a great deal from and grew in my writing from and that is Michael Karson. I have always enjoyed a good challenge and his expectations definitely gave me that. I absolutely loved both of my supervisors at placements, as well.    

Hopes for Our Next 40 Years: I hope the programs continue to grow and flourish as they have over the past several years.

Jane Bilett

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Jane Bilett

MA, 1972; PhD, 1974


Jane was a student of Dr. Nelson Jones, GSPP co-founder, in the Child Clinical PhD program that morphed into GSPP. We consider her an early member of the GSPP family!

 

I grew up on Long Island and was a product of the Great Neck Public Schools. My 8th grade history teacher was a DU graduate. He talked about panning gold for spending money.  His description of the mountain creeks made a lasting impression.

When it was time to apply to college, I looked at the map and asked myself where I would like to live. Denver was touted as having 300 days of sunshine. After the unrelenting grey of East Coast winters, with stinging bitter winds and the ground frosted with dirty black crusty snow until spring, I wanted a sunny dry climate. I applied to DU and was invited to join their Centennial Scholar's Program. I came to Denver at 17 in 1962 and never left Colorado. 

As a small university, there was tremendous flexibility in opportunities for students. I started taking graduate classes my second year, including Personality from Dr. Doris Gilbert, who was a student of Anna Freud's at Harvard. She used a 100-page longitudinal case study to teach the class. That was winter quarter of 1965. I was carrying 20 hours and getting married over Spring break. I requested an incomplete so I had six extra weeks to turn in a final paper.

When I turned it in, she asked me about my plans after graduation. I had interviewed with the School of Social Work. Doris suggested I apply to the graduate clinical program. I told her I hadn't considered it because I didn't have the prerequisites or the money. Her response was "Don't Worry and Don't Worry." I wish I could say I was a goal-oriented student and carefully considered my options and planned to become a psychologist, but it was Doris Gilbert's persistence in recruiting me that launched me on the path to a most interesting and personally rewarding career.  

I'm a graduate of the former Child Clinical PhD program—the ancestor that morphed into GSPP. When I started, they took only three 1st-year students. I was fortunate to have an hour of supervision for each hour of clinical work during my first two years at the Child Study Center. During school, I worked four years for the Denver VA as a psych trainee, was a Head Start consultant, and a part time research and clinical psychologist for the CU medical school. By the time I got to my internship, I had had numerous long term cases. Compared to the other psych interns, I had the most robust clinical experience.    

I finished my PhD in 1974 and there were no jobs options due to the Vietnam War (guns trumped butter). I worked for the US Postal Service and Gates Rubber Company while finishing my dissertation. I worked at night, so I could be available to meet with Dr. Nelson Jones and do professional things during the day. Those jobs made me a great blue collar therapist.    

After graduation I stayed at the Post Office until I was hired by Arapahoe Mental Health as the psychology member of an inter-agency Crisis Team evaluating CHINS petitions. Working with Social Services and Juvenile Probation, we evaluated juveniles at the Arapahoe Detention Center. It was a great experience doing four to six 90 minute, team clinical evaluations a week. It really sharpened my intake assessment skills. I stayed at Arapahoe for two years, the second as a clinician at a new outpost mental health center.

By 1976, I was full time in private practice. Although a new clinician, my training was both so varied and robust, it was an easy transition. In 1995, I started the Prescribing Psychologist's Register post doc in psychopharmacology. My four-year inpatient internship at the VA gave me some background in the world of psych meds.      

Being a therapist has been a fascinating, interesting, and heart-warming life work. Hardly a week goes by that I do not think warm, grateful thoughts of Doris Gilbert and Nelson Jones. While I have impacted and touched many individuals, families and couples throughout my career, I am sure I have benefited the most.

In spite of the excessive paperwork and puny compensation, participating in insurance panels has allowed me to interact with both working class, blue collar folks and people I would otherwise not come to know well. In particular, there is a Saudi family I came to know while they were students at DU. There is tremendous validation and personal confirmation in getting referrals from people that go back over 30 years. A kid I saw at the Child Study Center when he was in 4th through 8th grade looked me up in his thirties to discuss an upcoming marriage.            

 

Fast Facts

Favorite Class: Nelson taught a psych testing class and one paper was to pick any character from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and write a psych report using the dialogue from the book as data. That was my favorite assignment. I wrote about the Chief and titled my paper, "And One Flew the Coop."

Memorable Mentors: I think all the students from my era connected with the clinical faculty because they were so readily available. Certainly Doris Gilbert (who I paid back by being her research assistant for a year), Nelson Jones (for his support, encouragement and persistent hand-holding through the dissertation process), Caroline Fox, Bruce Palmer, Len Cirillo, Lou Rutledge, and Seymore Oppochinski were important influences. The program was so small and intimate; the focus was entirely on developing clinical skills. The environment was incredibly supportive.    

Current Connections with GSPP: I reconnected socially at the picnic in 2014. (Thanks to Lindsay for reaching out to me.) Visiting with Nelson and former students was a delight. Meeting new faculty and staff was wonderful. Because I am in Denver (and participate in insurance plans), I have had several occasions to help current students meet the "10 hours of individual therapy" requirement. They are all bright, verbal, curious and motivated for self-understanding.      

Lynett

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Lynett Henderson Metzger

JD, 1997; PsyD, 2003


Lynett attended law school at DU before obtaining her PsyD at GSPP, where she is now a core faculty member and a coordinator of PsyD field placements.

 

My father was a police officer; he died of cancer when I was 6 and my mother was 7 months pregnant with my brother. My mother was an avid reader and—I'm not sure of how else to put it—thinker. She had a terrific imagination and was a student of life, questioning the world around her and discontent with the superficial and unexamined.  She instilled in my brother and me a love of critical, creative thinking.

I wanted to know and understand people at more than a superficial level, and, looking back, I realize I saw language—words—as a tool for doing that.  These early experiences, coupled with the influence of some fantastic teachers and college professors, steered me toward a double major in English (comparative literature) and psychology. From there, it was a fairly easy transition to law, and then clinical psychology.    

Originally from Texas, I attended college at the University of New Orleans as a Taylor Scholar (a scholarship for National Merit Finalists), played a lot of cards, learned useful things like which bars had the best foosball tables and no cover, and some less useful things like the Krebs Cycle, and met my future husband, Steve.

For most of my time in undergrad, I worked in University catering. I once famously lost the singer Paul Simon's dinner, which rolled out of the back of the catering truck I was driving and into Lake Ponchatrain. History does not record Mr. Simon's reaction, but it occurred to me that perhaps catering was not the career path for me.

My route to the Ammi Hyde Building was a bit circuitous. I attended law school at DU as a Chancellor's Scholar, and worked as a Victim Advocate for a bit between degrees. I get asked frequently if I ever practiced law; while I did quite a bit of work writing motions and briefs, I technically entered an appearance in a court case only once (on a motion to dismiss, which I won. I therefore like to think of myself as having a perfect record as an attorney).

There were not a large number of programs at the time that offered dual degrees in law and psychology. Although I ended up doing the programs consecutively, there was a sense of innovation, collaboration, and public-spiritedness at DU that was (and remains) exciting. The GSPP is a great place to take the risks that are a necessary in learning the craft of being a clinician.  

Coming into the program, I think I had a lot of rather inchoate passion, but not the self-awareness, discipline, or tools to put it to use effectively. The professors, supervisors, and clients with whom I worked during my four years in the program and on internship helped me to translate good intent into practical skills grounded in a firm theoretical foundation. I would obviously not be here without them.

For me, GSPP represents a community—people from different backgrounds with varied life experiences, perspectives, and goals, but all committed to the field of psychology. And the GSPP itself is a place where those people learn, challenge themselves, make mistakes, grow, and really start to come into their own as professionals.

Since graduating, I have had a small psychotherapy practice working with adults with developmental differences, taught, and done some writing and scholarship. I think GSPP has long understood that we cannot prepare students for the jobs that exist today; GSPP has been innovative and forward-thinking in terms of what programs and courses to develop, and how to train students in skill sets and ways of understanding themselves and others that translate across disciplines and settings.  

I have remained personally and professionally connected to GSPP through teaching, advising, serving on doctoral paper committees, etc. The why is pretty simple—They pay me to talk to interesting people (students and colleagues) about interesting things (psychology). I can't think of anything I could do that would be more rewarding.  

I am also the Editor for the Psychotherapy Bulletin, which is the newsletter for the Society for the Advancement of Psychotherapy (APA Division 29). This is directly related to my training and involvement with GSPP; the two prior Editors were Jenny Cornish and Lavita Nadkarni. The exciting thing about this position is that, because it is not a peer-reviewed journal and has a vibrant online presence, we can showcase the work of folks who are not traditional scholars and researchers, including students and practitioners. (Pssst—if you have an idea for a print article or online feature, email me.)  

In my primary professional role, that of an educator, I impact future generations of clinicians; their work, in turn, impacts current and future clients, colleagues, and, eventually, trainees of their own—plus all the lives those lives touch. I work with students who work with underserved populations in jail settings, community mental health, nationally and internationally. Taken together, these little ripples change individual lives, the field, and, ultimately, the world.         

 

Fast Facts

Favorite Class: I can answer the "why," but not the "which." There are too many to list, but what united them was being challenged to see myself, the world, and others from a new perspective. Occasional pizza also helped.    

Memorable Mentors: As others have said, the field operates on basically an unofficial apprentice model; at GSPP, relationships are paramount, so, for me, it would have been hard not to connect. Throughout the program, I was able to watch professors and supervisors model the kind of clinical acumen I wanted to develop; I saw their sensitivity and compassion; I saw them balance demanding caseloads and work commitments as well as what seemed like rich and complicated personal lives.
Sometimes, I saw them struggle. This served me well as I faced professional and personal challenges during my own training, and especially when I gave birth to my oldest son a few days before an internship interview! Everyone was so supportive during that time, and the connections made then have lasted for the past 15 years.    

Hopes for Our Next 40 Years: It could be summed up as, "Maintain, and Grow." I would not want GSPP to lose those aspects of its identity that have made it a professional home for so many of us over the decades, even as it evolves and rises to meet the challenges of the decades to come. We have many strengths as a program, and we can do better.  

Crosby Troha

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Crosby Troha

PsyD, 2011


Crosby's background in International Studies and Clinical Psychology led her to become a bilingual grief counselor for children grieving a loss, and their families.

 

I was born and raised in Denver and grew up spending much of my free time in the mountains. After high school, I moved to the Midwest to attend Kenyon College, a small liberal arts school in Ohio. The highlight of my college experience was spending my junior year at the University of Buenos Aires, where I had the opportunity to immerse myself in the Argentine language and culture. After college, I moved back to Colorado and have been here ever since, working closely with Latino children and families and other first-generation or immigrant populations in various settings.  

My family hosted an exchange student from Barcelona for a year when I was 10 years old. As an only child, the experience of having a "big sister" was huge for me. The fact the she spoke almost no English when she arrived created ongoing opportunities for me to understand the power of nonverbal communication within the context of a positive relationship. I admired her strength, bravery, and humor, and that year laid the foundation for my later decision to major in International Studies and realize my dream of living abroad.  

GSPP's main draws for me were the year-long, four-course multicultural series and the breadth of training. Also, I valued the opportunity to begin clinical work right away under the close supervision of experienced faculty and community supervisors. My education at DU gave me the skills and credentials necessary to support and empower the communities I now serve.

After completing my internship in pediatric psychology at Children's Hospital Colorado, I finished my doc paper, graduated, had my first child, and was fortunate to get to stay home with him for the first year. In August of 2012, I began working as a bilingual grief counselor for Judi's House, a Denver nonprofit that provides services to children grieving a death and their families. In that capacity, my primary role has been to develop and strengthen the services we provide for our Spanish-speaking clients. This has included translation of materials, direct clinical work in individual and group settings, supervision, education, and community outreach.

I feel so grateful to have stayed in Denver since graduating from GSPP—allowing me to stay connected to the amazing faculty, community supervisors, and alumni in the area. I still consider my classmates some of my closest friends and most trusted professionals in the field. I attend GSPP's professional development opportunities and networking gatherings whenever I am able. 

One of my favorite ways to stay connected has been through supervising students in the program, both as a community supervisor for the PPC and as a field placement supervisor through Judi's House. I am especially passionate about supporting the students in the Latino Psychology Specialty in my role as the bilingual clinical consultant. In that position, I provide language and cultural consultation to students working with Latino and/or Spanish-speaking clients at the PPC or in their community placements.      

Fast Facts

Favorite Class: Can I list five instead of just one favorite class? All four classes in the multicultural sequence increased my knowledge, deepened my awareness of my own worldviews, and challenged my biases and assumptions in ways that were at times painful and confusing. Also, Ragnar Storaasli's class on Radical Behaviorism and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). I was in that class when a close family member was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Ragnar's experiential teaching style and my experience of writing his "Mechanical Doll" paper in the midst of my grief were simultaneously terrifying and healing for me. I felt that my vulnerability was received with compassion and returned to me with empowerment and strength. Through all these classes, I learned about the value of digging deep and being real with myself and with my clients.    

Memorable Mentors: I love Kim Gorgens for her endless energy, enthusiasm and capacity for cheerleading me before I knew anything! Her commitment to the field of health psychology was hugely influential in my own professional development.  
I also had the opportunity to co-facilitate a Voices of Discovery group with Fernand Lubuguin during my time at GSPP. In this setting, students and faculty were encouraged to talk openly with one another about issues of identity, including racism and other "isms," in the context of current events and the academic setting. Within these groups, I developed a deeper and more personal connection with him, for which I am grateful.  
Last but certainly not least, Mike Monroe for bringing hysterical and memorable real-world examples into every one of his ethical dilemmas. I am a better person and psychologist because of the creativity and passion that he brought to his teaching. I have no doubt that he will be remembered and loved by every student in my cohort.  

Kevin Boully

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Kevin Boully

FP, 2002


Kevin went on to obtain his Ph.D. in Legal Communication and is now a senior litigation consultant with the field placement site where he worked as a GSPP student.

 

As an undergraduate, I knew I was interested in the intersection between psychology and the legal field but was never certain what opportunities might exist and was never confident in exactly what I wanted to do.

Lawrence Wrightsman was my undergraduate advisor at the University of Kansas and later became a member of my Ph.D. committee. It was always inspiring to know that he was working on a book on psychology and law, of which he published more than 70 in his distinguished career. I was amazed by his talent, his productivity, and most importantly his grace.

Probably the most important factor in choosing to attend GSPP was that it emphasized the importance of practical experience that was dynamic and non-limiting in possibilities. It never felt like a place with a predetermined path to the finish line; it turned out to be a place where students can make the most of the program and available resources in a variety of directions that make sense for each student.   

To me, GSPP has always been about the intersection between training and practice and I continue to admire how the program builds practical realities and experiences into the training it provides. It's such a great combination of those two factors that are critical to success.

My second year field placement was at Persuasion Strategies, a litigation consulting service of Holland & Hart, LLP. Today, I am a senior litigation consultant with administrative management responsibilities of our group and I continue to find such great value in being able to have worked from the ground up with this group. I have a full understanding of what each and every person contributes, thanks in large part to being fortunate enough to work here as a Forensic Psychology student.

After GSPP, I entered directly into a Ph.D. program for a doctoral degree in Legal Communication. My experience at GSPP helped me significantly by providing exposure to the possibilities within psychology and law and by giving me the freedom to develop a specific goal. This was critical to getting the most out of my Ph.D. program and ensuring that I was focused and driven toward the path ahead of me.  

The most important impact I observe in this work is being able to apply my psychology and communication training in one-on-one settings with clients and witnesses who are really struggling to communicate their feelings and their perceptions because of fear, uncertainty, and doubt. Perceiving, helping them to understand, and giving them tools to more effectively communicate their thoughts is a great feeling and results in more accurate and honest communication in the variety of legal settings in which we work. 

I have continued to stay in touch with professors and have continued to work with GSPP students, including providing practicum and shadowing experiences when possible and iguest lecturing to classes when invited. I have really enjoyed staying in touch and staying connected and hope to always have the opportunity! 

Fast Facts

Favorite Class: I enjoyed the practicum course because it allowed the freedom to explore areas of interest and have fantastic discussions with extremely smart people.    

Memorable Mentor: At GSPP, Lavita Nadkarni showed me the door to a wider range of possibilities in which to apply the training and skills I was learning, and more importantly she modeled for me what it looks like to be patient, respectful, and successful all at the same time. When I think about Lavita I think about her poise, her grace, and the way she is able to combine assertiveness with a gentle and meaningful approach. I try to model that in my interactions with clients and in the work that I do today.    

Hopes for Our Next 40 Years?: GSPP will continue to thrive because of the willingness and energy for evolving, for pursuing new passions, and for supporting the various endeavors of the people who are a part of the program. If the future continues in these traditions, GSPP will be great for the next 40 years and beyond.  

Greg Hisscock

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Greg Hisscock

FP, 2011


Greg works closely with probation, parole, community corrections agencies, and human services departments to reduce the likelihood of recidivism among convicted sexual offenders.

I am a first generation college student from a rural area of Michigan who went on to obtain a Masters Degree in Forensic Psychology. My first job was picking rocks out of a farm field that was being turned into a golf course, and the job I held when I decided to attend college was a machine shop janitor. I've always known what jobs I did not want to do for the rest of my life, and GSPP helped solidify my education and training so that I never had to go back to that.

While I was at Central Michigan University, a professor was involved in child memory research, and was an expert witness for many years. While working in her lab she began to tell me about the fascinating field of forensic psychology and encouraged me to look into programs in this area. After learning more about what she did, both in her lab and as an expert witness, I was intrigued and decided to look into graduate programs focused on forensic psychology.

I like to joke that the reason I attended GSPP was that it was the only program that offered me a spot, but looking back it's the only decision I would have made. The core faculty members were engaging and well respected. They not only encouraged, but required, field placement training which helped establish the foundation for my career.

After GSPP, I was hired full time with Progressive Therapy Systems providing sex-offense-specific treatment and anger management treatment. The training I received at GSPP was integral in preparing me to work with difficult clients in even more difficult circumstances (poverty, mental instability, few social supports, etc.). Having a working knowledge of the legal system, potential outcomes of criminal involvement, and an understanding of how psychology and the law intersect did not hurt either.

I have risen quickly with Progressive Therapy Systems, and am currently the Director of Northeastern Services, which entails being the primary treatment provider for the 13th Judicial District, conducting psychosexual evaluations, and networking with several different probation and parole offices. I also supervise MAFP students who are accepted for field placements at Progressive Therapy Systems.

I feel that my work is integral in reducing the likelihood of sexual recidivism in convicted sexual offenders. Working closely with probation, parole, community corrections agencies, human services departments, and other referral sources, I believe that we are working toward protecting the community in some fashion from individuals who may otherwise return to antisocial lifestyles. 

Fast Facts

Favorite Class: Projective assessment with Michael Karson. It pulled together several basic competencies that we were expected to have at least understood at that point in the program, and forced us to formulate a coherent hypothesis about a client we had evaluated. It really challenged a small group of students, and each individual student, to contribute to a group project in a cohesive manner, as well as show our individual strengths as they related to diagnosis and case formulation.    

Memorable Mentor: I connected with my first year field placement supervisor, Dr. Walter Simon, who eventually hired me after graduation. I have had the chance to work in a field for which I was trained, with individuals that I like, in an agency that I feel is doing tremendous work.    

Current Connections with GSPP: I have returned for at least two "former student" panels with the MAFP program, and continue to attend trainings hosted by GSPP, with Cocktails and Continuing Education being my favorite.  

Ian Palombo

31/40:

Ian Palombo

SPP, 2014


As an Elite Athlete Clinician at the Eating Disorder Center of Denver, Ian works to help all members of an athlete's support system recognize their roles in preventing and addressing mental health issues in their athletes.

I entered the Sport and Performance Psychology Program following a career in corporate business and health clubs. While it did not make for the most comfortable transition, I quickly learned that I wasn't alone in my discomfort and was surrounded by people that embraced our different backgrounds as opportunities to learn from one another. 

For as long as I can remember I have been passionate about sports (particularly snowboarding and distance running), service to others, and general health & well-being. Although I completed my undergraduate degree in business administration, a majority of my classes were made up of organizational behavior and leadership studies.

During my career in the corporate world I quickly realized that I could not sit idly by while watching so many of my co-workers' quality of life suffer due to the corporate work environment and structure. Drawing from my background in strength and conditioning, I began consulting with organizations to help improve their employees well-being. Under the advice and encouragement of my family, I decided to take a leap and pursue a career in sport and performance psychology.   

The MASPP program aligned perfectly with my career goals in that it encompasses not only psychological and physiological well-being but also performance and exercise enhancement through the lens of sport. Plus, I had the opportunity to do a year long field placement with an internationally renowned ski and snowboard club. What other grad program provides hands-on training opportunities while doing what you love on the side of a mountain?      

After GSPP, I took a position at the Eating Disorder Center of Denver (EDC-D), initially as a therapist and now as their Elite Athlete Clinician where I help coordinate our ELITE Athlete Program, which is one of two programs in the country that is specifically designed to treat athletes through providing the psychological and physiological support to return to their sport stronger, both mentally and physically.

I believe it is imperative that coaches, trainers, and all members of an athlete's entourage recognize and accept their roles in preventing and addressing mental health issues in their athletes. I feel it is my job to provide the support and care to help them do so. Eating Disorders are one of the most deadly and difficult mental health issues to treat. The harsh reality is that good performance on the field does not equate to good health, and a lot of the time the athletes that are performing at the top are closer to injury and illness than they are to health and wellness. That very same culture is wrought with circumstances where normal development may be disrupted - or at the very least negatively impacted - through increasing athletes' exposure to risk factors that have been shown to contribute to the development of mental health issues.

Unfortunately, there are messages inherent to the culture of sport that may inhibit an athlete from seeking help for mental health issues, or worse, overt messages that encourage them not to. Many times coaches may ignore these issues, not out of ignorance, but because they don't know where to turn for help. EDC-D's ELITE Athlete program heeds that responsibility through not only providing specialized treatment for athletes with eating disorders, but also through resources, coaching education, consultation and outreach to members of the athletic community. A major part of the ELITE Athlete Program's mission is to support those that are in a position to help this undeserved population and create change.

GSPP prepared me for my career by providing (from my perspective) unmatched training, the encouragement and freedom to pursue a new and unorthodox field placement (at the time) and ultimately the opportunity for obtaining a full-time position and subsequent advancement here at EDC-D.   

Since graduating I have remained connected with GSPP in several capacities. I can't seem to stay away. I have served as a research committee member two years in a row for 2nd year MASPP students, I was invited to contribute to a round table discussion regarding The Treatment of Eating Disorders and Addiction in Athletes at this year's SW Regional AASP Conference, and currently serve as a mentor for students in the MA in Sport Coaching program. Additionally, I supervise two research assistants at EDC-D; one of whom is a current DU PsyD student, the other is a recent DU graduate.

Remaining connected and giving back to GSPP is important to me. I find that each and every opportunity provides a new challenge and results in continued personal and professional growth. It's deeply rewarding to think that in some way I'm providing a return on so many peoples' investments in my education. 

Fast Facts

Favorite Class: This question is unfair-- I struggle to think of a class that I did not enjoy, including both statistics classes! I think that sums up how highly I regard this program.    

Memorable Mentor: Dr. Artur Poczwardowski: Hands down the best advisor and most influential professor I have ever had the opportunity of learning from. Words can't express how much of an asset he is to the program nor how influential he was to my experience at DU. Additionally, I wouldn't be where I am today without Dr. Jessica Dale-Bartley's support, encouragement, patience (and persistence). She introduced me to my passion; for which I will be forever grateful.    

What does GSPP mean to you?: GSPP is a community of individuals - students, faculty and staff, alike - all striving toward a collective goal: serve those in need of help. GSPP represents a place where I was challenged to reach for my full potential and was challenged, and supported, in moments where I might have drifted off course. GSPP means a tremendous amount to me and I am continuously grateful for my time there.  

Blake

30/40:

Blake Pindyck

SPP, 2015


Blake credits his applied training at GSPP with preparing him for his current job as a sport psychology professional with the Milwaukee Brewers.

 

I graduated from Emory University in 2008. After spending a year working in business, I decided to pursue my passion through a degree in sport and performance psychology. While playing baseball in college, I was greatly helped by working with a sport psychologist and knew that I wanted to help athletes reach their full potential and maintain their love of sport.

I chose the University of Denver because of the expertise of the faculty and the applied nature of the program. GSPP provided me with a great opportunity to learn counseling theory and sport psychology principles while quickly applying my knowledge in a real-world setting. 

Following graduation, I was offered a position as sport psychology professional and Employee Assistance Program (EAP) provider for the Milwaukee Brewers. MASPP helped prepare me by providing a thorough understanding of theoretical aspects of sport and performance psychology, an opportunity to practice my craft, and exposure to experts in the field.

I am provided with the opportunity to help young athletes achieve their goals of playing Major League Baseball. My experience at DU helped me achieve my dream job, and I have a passion for what I do every day.  

Fast Facts

Favorite Class: My favorite course while completing my degree was our weekly practicum where we were given the opportunity to be challenged on our approaches with our clients and fully conceptualize our cases.    

Memorable Mentor: I really appreciated working with all of my professors, but Dr. Steve Portenga and Dr. Mark Aoyagi were particularly vital in my development. Steve provided a realistic perspective on the field of sport psychology and Mark helped me fully understand the importance of looking for the problem behind the problem.    

Hopes for Our Next 40 Years: I hope that GSPP continues to train the next generation of sport psychology professionals who will lift the field into the forefront of any and all performance domains.  

Ashley Gunterman

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Ashley Gunterman

PsyD, 2015


An elective course in criminal justice sparked Ashley's interest in Forensic Psychology. She completed her internship and post-doc at Saint Elizabeths in DC before returning to Denver.

I was born and raised in a suburb outside of Detroit, Michigan and received undergraduate degrees in Criminal Justice and Psychology from Western Michigan University. After college, I worked part-time as a mental health technician at a psychiatric hospital and returned to school to earn my Master's degree in Clinical Psychology from Madonna University.

Following completion of my Master's degree, I briefly ran a private practice, which focused mainly on individual therapy. At that point, I made the decision to pursue my doctorate and to leave Michigan to study at DU.

When choosing doctorate programs, I had no desire to move to Colorado—I wanted away from the snow! Then I had my interview day at GSPP. It just felt right. GSPP practices what they preach, they aren't an easy program, they are going to challenge you, they offer space for your personal development and assist you in finding your path within psychology, and they treat you like family. I have never had such strong and respectful relationships with professors, supervisors, and peers. Many have become like family and will be lifelong connections that I am forever grateful for.

At GSPP, I focused on working with the severe and persistently mentally ill in jails, hospitals, and community mental health settings. My passion quickly grew in the area of psychological assessment and forensics, which fueled my decision to attend internship and begin post-doctoral studies at Saint Elizabeths Hospital in Washington, D.C. My concentration area while at Saint Elizabeths was in psychology (competency evaluation and treatment, risk assessments, and offender treatment).

After graduating from GSPP in August 2015, I returned to Saint Elizabeths Hospital in Washington D.C., for a forensic psychology post-doc. The demands and structure of my education at GSPP allowed me to excel in a rigorous training experience. Although it was demanding, I had learned how to manage multiple priorities, think critically and therapeutically, and understand the impact psychological work can have on the psychologist while at GSPP. I believe this allowed me to transition easily into internship, post-doc, and now as an early career psychologist.

Denver had a strong hold over me—I am currently working as a Forensic Psychologist with the Rise Program at the Arapahoe County Detention Facility. The RISE program is very unique in that it is one of the few jail-based competency restoration programs available in the country. In fact, Colorado is one of the few states that has competency restoration programs in the State hospital (CMHIP), the community (Denver FIRST), and in jail (RISE).

There is a huge demand for competency restoration treatment in a timely manner and as such, the field is changing and growing. Denver is leading the way in that, and GSPP in particular. Because of programs such as RISE and Denver FIRST, individuals will receive more intensive treatment in an attempt to expedite the adjudicative processes and allow them to eventually move on with their lives.

I stumbled along my path into the field of psychology. Although I knew this field excited me in a way no other school topic or hands-on experience had, I didn't know what to do with that. By chance, a criminal justice elective blossomed into a more developed academic and career path, forensic psychology. It is incomparable and I feel so fortunate to be so challenged and intrigued by my work. I have found a true passion for working with those who have mental illness and are involved with the criminal justice system and in some small way, I hope my efforts provide a healing experience for a population that is largely misunderstood.  

Fast Facts

Favorite Class: I have a few that I truly enjoyed despite the level of difficulty. Any class involving the Rorschach makes that list and my forensic seminar. The mentors truly made those learning experiences top notch.    

Memorable Mentor: I still keep in touch with many GSPP professors and supervisors who played very different roles in my experience: therapy, assessment, clinical externships, etc. I have continued to call on their experience and encouragement recently including Hale, Lavita, Neil, and Fernand.    

Hopes for Our Next 40 Years: I hope that GSPP maintains their status within PsyD programs across the nation and continues to produce intelligent, compassionate, and driven clinicians.  

Alison Krawiecki

28/40:

Alison (Witt) Krawiecki

PsyD, 2004



One of Alison's recent accomplishments was developing (and becoming the director of) a doctoral internship site, with the inaugural cohort graduating this summer.

I was born in San Diego, grew up in Texas, then a suburb of Seattle, then went to college at Central Washington University. My undergraduate advisor, Dr. Wendy Williams, was pivotal in my decision to pursue my doctorate. I had taken every class I could take, been teaching assistant in every possible class and lab, and was on a mission to get to the next level (whatever I thought that was at the time). She sat me down to explain in a caring but blunt manner that I needed to be clear about my goals, and that obtaining a graduate degree was essential to being able to do any of the things I wanted to do. 

I always knew that I wanted to work in the overlap of medicine and the psyche.  Interestingly, medical school was never something I wanted to attend. Behavioral Medicine was my thing, but I also knew that having solid diagnostic and treatment skills in the area of major mental illness would be imperative.

After my talk with Dr. Williams, I was determined to get a job doing actual clinical work. As a new (read: naive and green) holder of my bachelor's degree, I somehow got a job in downtown Seattle as a case manager for chronically/severely mentally ill adults. Suddenly all those diagnoses, chapters and research articles were applicable to actual people. It was intense, it was messy, and it was sometimes scary, but it allowed me to pursue graduate training with my eyes wide open.  

I applied to both PhD and PsyD programs and interviewed at both. The PsyD program at DU was a great fit for me. I wanted exposure to a wide variety of theoretical perspectives in my training, but also the opportunity to have in-depth training in behavior analysis. The opportunity to specialize in behavioral medicine and neuropsychology was also a major draw. I wanted a school that was part of a University (as opposed to a freestanding school), and one that had a proven track record of excellence. The variety of clinical experiences I got through my time at GSPP was amazing and left me very well prepared for my post-graduate career.    

In my post-doctoral year, I worked at Regis University in the Behavioral Health and Counseling Services programs. I also was incredibly fortunate to develop a mentoring relationship with Dr. Jay Schneiders at the Colorado Neurological Institute and Swedish Medical Center.  This lead to a clinical postdoctoral position with CNI, which was instrumental in my training and allowed me to be ready to open my private practice upon becoming licensed in 2005.

I was in private practice at Swedish Medical Center from 2005-2013 when I moved to the east coast. During those years I was on staff at Swedish Medical Center and Porter Adventist Hospital, and I remain a member of Colorado Neurological Institute. I saw patients both in the hospitals and as outpatients, provided consultations on virtually every unit, interacted with physicians and surgeons from every specialty, and was part of multiple interdisciplinary teams.

These included performing pre- and post-operative neuropsychological evaluations for epilepsy and deep brain stimulation surgeries, brain tumor resections, organ transplants (recipients and living donors). I provided psychological/ neuropsychological consultation and treatment for differential diagnosis of dementia and/or assessment of impairments for decisional capacity or other purposes. One of my favorite areas of specialty is the assessment and treatment of conversion disorder patients.     

I have been an assistant professor (clinical) at the West Virginia University School of Medicine (East), in the department of Behavioral Medicine and Psychiatry since 2014.  I was also appointed to be the psychiatry clerkship director, which means I am in charge of the psychiatry clinical exposures, training and education our third year medical students receive. It is an honor to be a psychologist in this position (as opposed to a psychiatrist), and it was Dr. John Linton (a psychologist and the dean of the entire medical school campus at WVU Charleston) who put my name in the hat to get it.

As part of my position it was also a mandate to develop (and be the training director of) a doctoral internship in our outpatient department. Since 2014, with the help of my post-doctoral fellow Dr. Stephanie McGraw (who is now a fantastic staff psychologist here), we matched for our first cohort who are graduating now, became APPIC members, submitted our self-study and are awaiting word about a site visit for APA accreditation. We happily matched for our second cohort, who arrive any day now!

Along the way, I have continued to see patients for neuropsychological and psychological testing and treatment. Since August 2014 we have developed our department from being only myself and a post-doc, to including myself, three full time psychologists, a post-doctoral fellow and two doctoral interns.  We are very proud of what we have accomplished.

Recently I cut back my time here to two days a week and opened a private practice closer to my home in Leesburg, VA. This allows me to be much closer to my husband and two beautiful kiddos (Arden, age 6 and Asher, age 4).

The incredible outpouring of support and love I received from GSPP when I had cancer in 2007 is something I will never forget. My odds of surviving were not good.  In February 2017, I will celebrate 10 years of "no evidence of" cancer. I am very aware of how lucky I am to be alive, and am truly grateful.  

Fast Facts

Memorable Mentor: I loved John McNeill's sequence and still have my presentation on chronic pain in case anyone needs it - but it was so long ago it would require an overhead projector.  He is so dedicated to behavior analysis and taught me things that permanently changed (for the better) how I think - at work and elsewhere.  Being careful and thoughtful assessment, noticing as many contextual factors as possible, and evaluating for change in a rigorous way.  Those are important skills that John modeled for me. 

Kim Gorgens is a powerhouse educator and mentor.  Now I am grateful to call her a dear friend.  Her enthusiasm is contagious.  Her brilliance and quick wit made her my idol (which she still is, really).  Physiological psychology and neuropsychology were favorites of mine, which should come as a surprise to no one who knows me. :)   

Hopes for Our Next 40 Years: I hope that GSPP continues to have high standards for students, professors, clinical practica and in every other way.  I am proud to be an alumnus from our program.  

Sarah Brummett

27/40:

Sarah Brummett

MAFP, 2006
JD, 2009


After GSPP, Sarah obtained her law degree at DU and practiced family law for 5 years before transitioning back to psychology to work in suicide prevention.

I attended college at the University of Puget Sound, which was a decision motivated as much by pursuit of education as it was flight from the desert of New Mexico. I happily transitioned to Colorado for the Forensic Psychology program.

Initially I had my heart set on becoming a prison psychologist. However, Professor Jim Watterson's prison-yard videos quickly changed my mind! GSPP was a great place to learn and grow and really challenged me to think critically in my role as a professional serving the community.

After the Masters program I obtained my law degree, also from DU. Being the child of two attorneys I suppose that was inevitable. I practiced family law for 5 years before transitioning back to my psychology roots.

During law school and especially during my law practice- having that forensic psychology skillset came in handy not just for understanding and working with troubled clients- but more so with dealing with the egos and issues of opposing counsel!

I am now the Suicide Prevention Commission Coordinator within the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment. Making the transition to work in the suicide prevention arena was as much personal and professional. Growing up in New Mexico, I lost three friends to suicide before the age of 21. Shortly before being offered the position, a friend and former coworker lost her husband to suicide. As one of the most preventable causes of premature death, I felt drawn to bring my professional skills to bear in informing prevention efforts at a state and policy level. 

The Colorado Office of Suicide Prevention is the lead agency for coordinating suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention efforts statewide. As one of the unspoken and taboo topics that continues to touch Coloradans in profound and devastating ways, suicide prevention is aimed at not only keeping individuals safe, but also in supporting and enriching communities.  

Fast Facts

Favorite Class: It's hard to pick just one (also it's been a decade and my memory may not be as sharp as it could be). I remember really enjoying the adult and juvenile offender courses, the courses each devoted to different therapeutic schools of thought, and systems theory in particular.

Memorable Mentor: Again, who can pick a favorite- with Michael Karson's quick wit and ability to challenge surface-level assumptions, Kim Gorgens' endless supply of energy and anecdotes, or Lavita Nadkarni's unwavering support of our growth- it's a toss up!   

Hopes for Our Next 40 Years: I hope GSPP can continue to grow and thrive and offer more opportunities for scholarships to make a graduate education more attainable for generations to come.  

Lyndsey Seewald

26/40:

Lyndsey Seewald

MASPP, 2013

Lyndsey coached high school basketball through her GSPP field placement; since graduating, she has worked her way up to Head Coach of a collegiate women's basketball team.

 

I am originally from Coleman, WI a town of 834 people and I take pride in the fact that I was able to travel to Denver to receive my MA in Sport & Performance Psychology. It was there I discovered my life's meaning within the coaching realm.Coaching opened my eyes to different cultures, people, and mindsets, and changed my life for the better.

I tore my ACL/meniscus my sophomore year of college while reaching the peak of my basketball career. This was the greatest thing that could have ever happened to me, as it directed me to the mental and emotional side of sport and performance. The scar is a reminder of resilience and my love for helping others to overcome adversity.

I applied to one graduate school (DU) and was blessed that the faculty something in me that I would have never seen in myself. The applied focus was exactly what I needed. I ached to get out into the world and share my experiences with others through basketball, and the MASPP program offered just that. I was able to open my heart and soul while learning about myself; it awakened my spirit.  

After GSPP, I started climbing a new ladder: coaching women's basketball at the collegiate level. I started as an assistant and then worked my way to where I am today. I am the head women's basketball coach at Marian University in Fond du Lac, WI. My field placement at DU was coaching varsity high school basketball at Bruce Randolph, all in hopes that one day I would have my own program to run.

As a head coach, I have realized the responsibility I have to shape lives of 18-22 year old women. Whether pre, during, or post season, I aim to bring purpose and preparation to everything that I do. My overall goal is to make sure they can count on me to be present in their lives in a positive and supportive manner. This mindset carries over when getting our team involved within the community around us and those life lessons extend to their family and friends. I am always available for all student-athletes that cross my path as I want to be a lifelong piece of their puzzle.

DU taught me how to feel. Before DU, I did not know the true meaning of passion or purpose. I knew what I was good at (basketball) and DU helped me transform that into words, emotions, philosophies, lessons, and shaped me into a person with purpose. I was able to let go of my athletic identity and develop a new identity in coaching. GSPP prepared me by supporting my dreams, challenging my ideas, and always pushing me to be a better person. 

Fast Facts

Favorite Class: Practicum and Multicultural Issues. Practicum turned into a place where I could open up and ask questions. I never felt a moment where I could not be my true self when talking with my classmates and professors. Multicultural Issues was eye-opening for me in such a positive manner! As an openly gay professional, I knew it was going to be important for me to learn about different cultures and ways of life so that I could collaborate effectively.

Current Connections with GSPP: I stay connected by supervising current MASPP students with consulting experiences and Master's projects, and connecting with professors through email. I receive the newsletter and always look forward to the Facebook posts as well. :)

Hopes for Our Next 40 Years: I hope it continues to grow and understands the importance it holds for every individual that steps within its doors. MASPP changed my life— I would go so far as to say it saved my life. So in the next 40 years, I hope GSPP grows in order to share the lessons with as many people as it possibly can.  

Rohini Gupta Froude

25/40:

Rohini Gupta

PsyD, 2013

 

Rohini is now a faculty member in our International Disaster Psychology program, as well as the Director of the Trauma & Disaster Recovery Clinic.

 

I was born in India and grew up in the United States. I watched my immigrant parents struggle in the US and find ways that led them to thrive. They have been huge role models for me and have taught me about resilience.

I obtained my BA in Communication and shortly after that, worked a number of years in a domestic violence shelter. I became interested in trauma, resiliency and issues related to immigration and diversity. This passion led me to earn my MSW at DU.

Initially wanting to go into organizational and nonprofit work, I found myself drawn to clinical work and working one-on-one with clients. This led me to obtain my PsyD at DU. I was drawn to GSPP initially because of its strong commitment to diversity issues and I was impressed by the offering of a multicultural sequence.  

After GSPP, I completed a post-doc at a group private practice. Shortly after that I opened my own private practice and obtained a half time position in the International Disaster Psychology program that includes serving as Director of the Trauma and Disaster Recovery Clinic. I also do contract work at a counseling center. GSPP helped me to be well-rounded and learn how to juggle multiple demands.  

In my work with clients, I help people make sense and meaning of their adverse experiences. Through action and insight, I work collaboratively with people to help them make the changes they want in their lives. I love my work as an educator that involves supervising and teaching students. It is a privilege to be a witness to people's personal and professional growth.

GSPP is a community that cares. It is a place where as a student, I felt supported and challenged to learn what it means to be a psychotherapist. My education at DU has helped me learn more about myself, and how to help others. It has shown me the many opportunities that are out there and what being a psychologist could look like. 

Fast Facts

Memorable Mentor: I had one supervisor in the program who was conscious about diversity issues and was the only one of my supervisors to ever discuss the differences between us in terms of intersecting identities and how that might impact our work together. This laid the foundation for our relationship and challenging conversations that led me to grow as a clinician.

Favorite Class: I took a class in grief and loss that I loved. Learning happened not only through readings and class discussions, but also experiential exercises. It highlighted the importance of feeling in learning and that paying attention to that can be just as useful as engaging our intellect.

Hopes for Our Next 40 Years: I hope that GSPP continues to develop a strong relationship with the community, providing opportunities for students to learn and meet the needs of marginalized populations. I hope that GSPP continues to offer a place where professionals can further their learning and feel strongly connected to a professional community here in Denver.  

Jennifer

24/40:

Jennifer Ritchie-Goodline

PsyD, 2000

 

Jennifer now works in private practice and serves as an Expert Advisor to the International Endometriosis Research Center.

 

I am a native New Yorker; I was born in the Bronx and spent most of my childhood there. My brother and I are the first members of our family to attend college and I am the only one to earn a master's degree and a doctorate. Despite not having college educations, my parents always stressed the importance of education and encouraged my educational goals. I have always loved school and learning and thought I would become a teacher.

When I was a senior in high school, my parents, who generously funded my undergraduate education, gave me the option of attending the SUNY (State University of New York) school of my choice. At that time, Binghamton University and the University at Albany were the top two SUNY schools. As my protective older brother was attending Binghamton, I chose Albany, sight unseen. It was there that I took my first psychology classes and developed a love for the field.  

Upon graduating with my BA in psychology, I attended graduate school at NYU, earning a master's degree in counseling. I worked as a family therapist for a few years before deciding that I wanted to continue my education further. I researched various doctoral programs and decided to pursue a PsyD over a PhD because I wanted to focus less on research and more on clinical work. While researching PsyD programs, I stumbled across GSPP and really liked what I read about the program.  My GSPP interview was my first visit to Colorado and I knew the program and state were the right fit for me - the rest is history!

GSPP prepared me well for private practice work. I provide individual, family, and couples psychotherapy services in the DTC area. I specialize in the following areas: emotional growth and development, relationship issues, parenting concerns, women's issues, health psychology, depression, anxiety, and trauma. 

I serve as an Expert Advisor to the International Endometriosis Research Center as a member of the ERC's Medical and Professional Advisory Panel. Health psychology was a focus of my internship at University Counseling and Behavioral Health, and my doctoral paper topic was "An Exploratory Investigation of Women's Experiences in Treatment for Endometriosis."

It's interesting to consider the impact of my work on others.  It is incredibly gratifying to teach people behaviors that contribute to their emotional health and wellness and help them change behaviors that have a negative impact on themselves and their lives. How can I really measure that? It is great to get positive feedback from clients and watch their change and growth, and when a current or former client refers others to me because they think I can help them? That is my greatest compliment and endorsement of my work and impact.

Having entered the PsyD program as a practicing master's-level therapist, my time at GSPP was instrumental in helping me hone my therapeutic skills and gain a deeper understanding of psychology. As an alum, I enjoy returning to DU for various trainings and workshops. As psychologists, our education never really ends; GSPP represents a lifetime of learning. 

Fast Facts

Memorable Mentors: Shelly was a great role model and mentor for me during my time at GSPP and beyond. I also have to give a shout out to Dr. Evan Crist; a fellow graduate of the program, he was my Couples and Family practicum supervisor. He gave me a headache on a regular basis by always challenging me to think about cases differently and proceed with intent and purpose!

Current Connections with GSPP: I have served on students' doctoral paper committees and attend professional workshops and trainings as able. And Shelly and I still exchange holiday cards every year and valiantly try to meet for lunch on occasion!

Hopes for Our Next 40 Years: I am excited about all the growth and change GSPP has undergone since I graduated. Having received a cancer diagnosis last year, I am especially interested in collaborating with the new Center for Oncology Psychology Excellence. My hope for GSPP is continued growth and positive impact on the community. 

Lina Patel

23/40:

Lina Patel

PsyD, 2006
MAFP, 2002

As Director of Psychology for the Sie Center for Down Syndrome at Children's Hospital Colorado, Lina works to highlight the strengths and capabilities of differently-abled individuals.

 

I was born in Leicester, England and my family immigrated to the United States when I was a year old. Of the many places in the United States that we could have gone, we landed in Enid, Oklahoma. While this may seem like an odd place for an Asian Indian family to live, there is actually a fairly large population of Asian Indian families in Oklahoma. My family is in the motel business and I grew up helping to clean rooms at the motel where we lived in the living quarters (My dad still lives in this same motel!). 

I decided to attend the University of Oklahoma for a number of reasons, but one big reason was to stay close to my family. You see, when I was 15 years old, my mother was in a car accident that left her in a permanent vegetative state. My father has always taken care of her at home, so attending OU meant that I could still go home on the weekends to see my father and to help with my mother.

While attending the University of Oklahoma, I also worked at my cousin's hotel as a front desk clerk. These experiences did not directly relate to my career as a psychologist, but I definitely met a lot of very diverse individuals and learned a lot about the human condition.

After graduating from OU, it seemed like the appropriate time to spread my wings and move out of state, but still not too far away. I landed in Denver, Colorado in 2000 and not only completed the MA Forensic Psychology program, but stayed to do my doctorate. This led me to a whirlwind of internships, fellowships and positions at Children's Hospital Colorado that were very different but oh-so-wonderful!    

I've always been the more sensitive, empathetic, emotional person in my family and this was often looked at as a negative. I realized at an early age that this was in fact a blessing, as it allowed me to take perspective and help others in a different way. This inspired me to pursue psychology and channel my intuition into something that could be helpful to others.

Why did I choose GSPP? The honest answer: when I first decided to go to graduate school, I wasn't sure if I wanted to study psychology or law, so the forensic psychology program seemed to be a great way to explore both areas. Clearly my love of the learning that happened at GSPP resulted in me staying to do my doctorate. I also valued the focus on hands-on clinical experience, which meant learning happened in and out of the classroom.

After getting licensed in the state of Colorado, I began working at Children's Hospital Colorado. I have been here for 8 years. GSPP prepared me for my job because I can say that I probably had more clinical experience than most folks that were also applying for the same or similar positions. The externships were high quality and well rounded, giving me a competitive edge.

I am currently the Director of Psychology for the Sie Center for Down Syndrome at Children's Hospital Colorado. This is one arm of a three part system dedicated to serving individuals with Down syndrome (Linda Crnic Institute = research; Global Down Syndrome Foundation = advocacy and outreach; Sie Center for Down Syndrome = clinical care and clinical research). In this position, I work solely with individuals and families of individuals with Down syndrome from ages birth to 25.

My current responsibilities include management of all referrals for psychological treatment and evaluation. I provide consultation with schools, parent training regarding the management of challenging or unsafe behaviors, evaluation for dual diagnoses (Down syndrome and Autism), and I address potty training, desensitization to medical devices (such as hearing aids and CPAP), and procedure-related distress. 

As an "expert" in behaviors of individuals with Down syndrome, I have been able to make an impact through not only the clinical care I provide each day, but also through trainings across the country and consultation with other experts in the field.  We are working together to show others the strengths and capabilities of differently-abled individuals. 

Fast Facts

Memorable Mentors: Lavita Nadkarni. She has such a calm presence and I cannot even begin to thank her for the countless amounts of time that she let me cry in her office because I was homesick, cheered me on when I felt like I was faltering, and pushed me when she knew my potential more than I did.

Hopes for Our Next 40 Years: That it continues to flourish and expands its programs to specialize in other areas like developmental disabilities. 

This week we're featuring two alums who work at DU's Health & Counseling Center! 

Jacaranda

22/40:

Jacaranda Palmateer

PsyD, 2005

 

Jacaranda is now the Director of Counseling Services at DU's Health & Counseling Center, where she interned 12 years ago as a GSPP student!

 

I knew that I wanted to become a psychologist when I was in high school, and never once changed my major in college. I grew up in CA and went to college in upstate NY at Colgate University, where I was a Division I athlete in swimming for four years. I had a significant loss while I was in college and realized that I might want to be in a role of supporting students in a college environment. At the time the PsyD degree was much less known, but when I was looking into graduate school I was thrilled by the idea of a professional degree that really focused on training me to primarily be a clinician.

I initially applied to graduate programs in California, and was considering my options when I visited a friend in Colorado who was enrolled in the PsyD program. I also spent a few days skiing in the mountains! I fell in love with Colorado and was very impressed with GSPP. I ended up deferring my admission to a California school and only applied to GSPP for the following year.

After completing my internship through the consortium at the Health and Counseling Center (HCC) on campus, I completed my postdoc at Metro State University's counseling center. I was hired back to the HCC staff and have been here ever since. I have held five different titles since I have been here, and have been the Director of Counseling Services for the past five years.

Since I am still on campus I have had the opportunity to stay connected to GSPP, mostly through the internship consortium. Having gone to GSPP and then stayed in Denver has been incredible, and I am always thrilled when I meet GSPP alumni or have the opportunity to interview and hire them.

I have a passion for working with college/graduate age students and still enjoy the individually based work I do. I also have the opportunity to impact the greater DU community through initiatives as well as collaboration with different staff and faculty on campus. It has been exciting to watch DU grow and change since I first started as a student in 2000.

GSPP was a place where I found my professional identity, and also marked the beginning of many on-going friendship and professional relationships. I have been selecting and supervising GSPP interns for 10 years as well, so I still feel very connected to the training and academic process. Being a GSPP/DU alumni is something that comes up for me (in a positive way!) almost every day. 

Fast Facts

Favorite Class: Seminar(s). When I think about what was most meaningful in terms of what I learned and the relationships I built with faculty, my seminar experiences were definitely the most influential.

Memorable Mentors: Hale Martin. I really appreciated his teaching style and his passion for the work he does. Additionally, he made me feel valued and seen as a student. 

Leadership Roles: I am now the Director of the place where I did my internship 12 years ago. I am also co-chairing DU's Mental Health Task Force with PsyD Director Terri Davis.

Jess Dale

21/40:

Jessica (Dale) Bartley

MASPP, 2008
PsyD, 2012


A career-ending soccer injury inspired Jess to pursue Sport & Performance Psychology, then Clinical Psychology, in order to provide athletes with the support she lacked.

 

I graduated from the University of Texas with a BA in Government and Sociology as well as a Master's in Social Work (MSW) following a career-ending injury that halted aspirations of being a collegiate soccer superstar. After meeting with a sport psychologist at the University of Texas, I chose to pursue the MA in Sport and Performance Psychology and eventually the PsyD program.

Quitting (or having to quit) sport was the most significant experience in my life. My entire identity was wrapped up in sport and I was lost without it. It took a long time to understand the role that sport played in my life, but MASPP and PsyD helped me to understand it better. Now I enjoy helping other athletes (and anyone struggling with who they are) with the tools I learned at GSPP.

I chose GSPP because it had (and still has) the best program in sport and performance psychology. Once I had completed the MA in Sport and Performance Psychology, I wanted a more generalized understanding of mental health and performance and felt as though the PsyD program could (and did) complete my training. 

After graduation, I had the opportunity to assist in the development of a treatment program for athletes with eating disorders at the Eating Disorder Center of Denver. My training and supervision helped prepare me to understand how to approach an athlete with an eating disorder and address clinical and performance issues.

After establishing the program, I was able to transition back into working with clinical and performance issues in the university setting. Currently, I am happy to be back at the University of Denver working as the behavioral health consultant/staff psychologist in the Health and Counseling Center, and I am teaching as adjunct faculty in the MA in Sport and Performance Psychology program. In addition, I am one of the sport psychologists for USA Track & Field.

With mental health concerns rising in the university setting, I am hoping to continue to make an impact with an increasingly acute and more distressed population as a practitioner dedicated to collegiate mental health. Through my involvement with professional organizations in the field of sport and performance psychology, I had the opportunity to contribute to the new Mental Health guidelines for student-athletes published by the NCAA.

I could not have achieved any of my career goals or set my self up to achieve them without the MASPP and PsyD programs. Hands down, I was provided with the best training and supervision to become a clinical sport psychologist. I don't know anywhere else in the world where I could have received this training!

Fast Facts

Favorite Class: My favorite classes were the practicum in sport and performance psychology – specifically the practicum in Collegiate Athletics because I received supervision and training in exactly what I wanted to do and there is not another program in the world that can provide that.

Leadership Roles: I was recently elected to the Executive Board for the American Psychological Association's Division 47 - the Society of Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology. I have also been honored as a member of the United State Olympic Committee (USOC) Registry and have the privilege of serving as one of the sport psychologists with USA Track & Field. 

Current GSPP Connections: First (and most importantly), I have stayed connected with the people. I attend an annual girls' trips with my favorite friends from my cohort (pictured above at my wedding). I continue to consult with colleagues as well as faculty professionally. And I have also stayed connected as an adjunct faculty member – teaching in the MA in Sport and Performance Psychology and the new MA in Sport Coaching programs as well as the elective, Career Counseling..

Tom Giles

20/40:

Thomas Giles

PsyD, 1980


Tom studied engineering and pre-med as an undergraduate before finding psychology; from there he attended GSPP, went into private practice, and co-founded a company!

 

I went to college on a golf scholarship and enjoyed a certain degree of success in intercollegiate competition. During my first year at GSPP, I considered daily whether or not to attempt a qualifying run for the professional tour.

I majored in engineering, then pre-med, at Virginia Tech. It seemed as though I was having to work extremely hard to keep up, a phenomenon I observed in college golf as well. Fortunately, I set a meeting to discuss this with my chemistry professor. He said that he was completely unable to learn languages and that my only problem was that I had yet to discover where I truly excelled. I started taking a wide variety of classes in disparate subjects after that, and when I found psychology, the plane, finally, lifted off the ground.

I was accepted in the first round for graduate work at a university in Texas, but I was fifth alternate at GSPP. From my interviews, I could tell that GSPP's welcoming atmosphere fit me extremely well, and I had my heart set on coming to Denver as a result. Weeks went by without hearing anything, and finally I called the school to find out what information I could. I must have been desperate because it was 7 PM Mountain Time on a Friday night! Nelson Jones, the director himself, answered the phone. "Dr. Jones," I said earnestly, "you're not going to make me go to Texas, are you?" He started laughing and a week later my acceptance letter arrived.

The first and biggest test of my education occurred on internship at the Temple School of Medicine, where Dr. Joseph Wolpe, the father of behavior therapy, was the director. Also, Dr. Edna Foa, the great Israeli researcher, was in the midst of her groundbreaking research testing a new therapy for obsessive-compulsive disorder, a therapy which eventually turned the field on its head and pointed it in a new direction.

Within a short amount of time, we interns were expected to carry a full patient caseload, assist in analysis of research, publish studies, and co-author important papers. Furthermore, we were required to present faculty research to weekly, highly critical, roundtables attended by faculty and invited guests, as well as become fluent with nearly every important paper that had been published in the field in the prior 10 years. Because GSSP had prepared me so well, I began thriving in this environment. I loved it. And my gratitude to the School increased a great deal.

Although I spent some years working as an executive for a Fortune 500 company, my passion always was private practice, which GSPP prepared me for extremely well. After 20 years in private practice, I co-founded a small, Denver-based company, which helps a select group of talented therapists develop and sustain their private practices despite the highly competitive nature of the Denver marketplace. I like to think we are making a difference. 

Fast Facts

Favorite Class: Philosophy of Science, taught in an ongoing, voluntary, and credit-free seminar by Dr. Frederick Todd, was clearly my favorite. This subject informs us that a scientist should be cautioned by humility, because it is difficult, if not impossible, to prove or disprove anything. It teaches us that at best we can hope and trust that the scientific method, despite its flaws and limitations, will provide a better gauge, a better lens, to reality, to our ability to maximize benefit to others, over that which we can derive from theory or conjecture alone.

Memorable Mentors: The achievements of GSPP founders Nelson Jones, Evelyn Paley, and Joe Dodds were immense, not the least of which was their creation of a supportive and intellectually stimulating environment. This fostered a significant sense of confidence and professional competence in the student body. Having an interest in the science of psychotherapy, I also benefited tremendously from a mentorship at the School under the legendary Dr. Todd. 

What does GSPP mean to you?: My evaluation of GSPP has evolved over the years. In addition to regarding it as an exceptional training and teaching institution, I now regard it as a treasure that bestowed immense personal and professional value upon my life.

Thea Wessel

19/40:

Thea Wessel

MAFP, 2009


Thea, current President of the Colorado Association of Addiction Professionals, credits GSPP with encouraging her to think critically and handle the unexpected.

 

Education has not always been a priority for me, and in high school I had to drop out because of my lack of attendance. I was 15 and my parents told me if I wasn't in school, I would have to work. I started as a hostess making $2.13/hour and it was not long before I realized how difficult it would be to live.

I chose to go back to school, but my motivation was different. I had new life experience that helped me understand why education was so important. I took night and summer classes, graduated on time, and gave the commencement address. I received my undergrad degree in four years. I took a year off and then applied to DU, after identifying a career path that I believe is my chosen path.

I was a Colorado high school senior at the time of the Columbine shootings. I did not recognize then how it would alter my trajectory—but I believe it did. I did not know a degree in Forensic Psychology existed, but when I was looking at graduate schools and saw the program I knew I wanted to apply. I watched many crime shows and was very interested in an individual's motivations behind crime. When I applied to the Forensic program it was just one of my options, but following my initial interview with Lynett Henderson Metzger I knew GSPP was where I wanted to be.

I chose GSPP and The University of Denver because I knew I would be getting a great education and initially that was my only motivation. But after getting into the program and meeting all of my professors and hearing about their personal experiences and passions, it challenged me to find my passion, my niche. It allowed me to create my career path and goals.

Since GSPP, I have worked in many different areas in connection with Forensic Psychology. I have worked with adult men transitioning from the Department of Corrections, adult women in county jail, and adolescents in the juvenile maximum security prison and in the community. GSPP prepared me to work in this field not only by teaching us the required information, but most importantly, encouraging us to think critically. What will you do when something unexpected happens? In this field, you need to be able to handle the unexpected.

I am currently the President of the Colorado Association of Addiction Professionals (CAAP), which is the state affiliate of the National Association of Addiction Professionals (NAADAC). We represent the 3,500 individual addictions counselors in Colorado. My desire to work with addictions began during my internships, and I was very fortunate to have a supervisor who encouraged my understanding of addiction by initially challenging what I thought I already knew. I continually challenge myself and others to provide quality treatment and educate the community about addictions issues.

I believe every individual has done the best they know how, and I give them the grace and understanding of their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. My impact comes when I am able to encourage and challenge clients to become the individual they desire to be. My satisfaction comes when my clients say, "You make me think." 

Fast Facts

Favorite Class: My favorite class at was Neuropsychology because the text book was a coloring book of the brain structures.

Current Connections with GSPP: I have been very fortunate to stay connected with GSPP over the years by giving guest lectures and attending alumni events. I have also had the opportunity to share my expertise and experiences in the field to support GSPP in continuing to develop great Forensic Therapists. 

Hopes for Our Next 40 Years: I hope that GSPP will always have faculty members that encourage and challenge students to find their purpose, while teaching students to remain passionate and dedicated to becoming exceptional professionals.

This week we'll hear from not one but two SPP '12 grads who went on to Springfield College to pursue PsyD degrees (with Athletic Counseling concentrations). Read on.

Dolores Christensen

18/40:

Dolores Christensen

MASPP, 2012


Influential coaches inspired Dolores, a collegiate volleyball player, to pursue sport psychology. (A well-timed fortune cookie played a role, too!)
 

 

I was born and raised in Northern California and earned my bachelor's degree from Southern Oregon University. Moving to Denver was the farthest from home I had ever been in 25 years! My sister Dana and I spent our childhood running around outside in the woods and my parents raised us to have a deep appreciation for the natural world around us. That appreciation continues to influence me today, and the beautiful Rocky Mountains were one of the reasons I fell in love with Denver when I first visited for my MASPP interview.

I was a collegiate volleyball player and had two coaches (Dr. Chuck Johnson and Josh Rohlfing) who were dedicated to preparing me and my teammates mentally, as well as physically. They were extremely invested in "the whole athlete" and getting to know us as people beyond our athletic accomplishments. (I am still in touch with both coaches to this day, even a decade later.) They are largely responsible for shaping my early development as an athlete and as a person, and gave me important insight into the power meaningful influences can have on a student-athlete to create a more enjoyable and life-changing experience in sport.

Those critical relationships during my years as a student-athlete, combined with my interest in psychology, made pursuing a graduate degree in Sport and Performance Psychology seem like a natural "next step." The night I found the MASPP program through a Google search I had gotten a fortune cookie that said, "Keep an eye out for an opportunity in the field of sports." It was like the universe knew I belonged at DU.

I was most drawn to the applied experiences the MASPP program offered. The idea of working with a variety of teams and athletes jumped out at me right away and it was also clear that the faculty were amazing people to learn from. I also loved the idea of living and going to school in Denver where you would never run out of fun things to do during all that "free time" in graduate school.

After GSPP, I joined the Counseling Psychology PsyD program at Springfield College in Springfield, MA. Within my concentration in Athletic Counseling I was able to build on the excellent foundation from the MASPP program while enhancing my skills as a general clinician as well. Because of my time at GSPP, I came to the PsyD program prepared and motivated to draw connections between what I had already learned at DU and how I could grow as a professional in the PsyD-AC program.

I have loved my work with teams and athletes during my training in the Springfield PsyD program. It has been a growing experience to be part of something that is bigger than myself, and to see my clients grow as people in and out of their competitive lives. Currently, I am completing a clinical practicum at a partial hospitalization program for adults and adolescents with eating disorders. It's challenging and draining work, but has also been a very rewarding experience when clients begin to internalize effective coping skills and make positive changes in their relationships with food and their bodies. It's not a population I thought I would ever want to work with but I've really enjoyed being at the clinic. Specifically in work with athletes, this training will impact my future career tremendously.

I am currently one of the Student Representatives to the Executive Board(s) of the Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP) and APA's Division 47 (Society for Sport, Exercise & Performance). It was because of the encouragement of the MASPP faculty that I ran for these elected positions. Serving on each Board has greatly enhanced my understanding of the sport psychology field, increased valuable networking opportunities, and reinforced my desire to stay active and involved in the training and mentoring of future sport psychology practitioners.

DU has given me a platform from which to launch my dream career. I know for certain I would not have the life I have now, or the opportunities I will have in the future, if I had not been a Pioneer. My MASPP education put me in a position to have focus and fulfillment in my life's work. I am forever grateful!


Fast Facts

Favorite Class: I loved the Group Interventions class we had with Dr. Jamie Shapiro. It was so helpful to get immediate feedback from my peers on my facilitation skills and working with co-facilitators. I still use many activities from that class today in my work with teams and groups.

Memorable Mentor: Dr. Mark Aoyagi was, and continues to be, an incredible mentor. At Denver he was extremely patient with each individual's learning curve and was genuinely invested in ensuring that students had time to think aloud and process what was being covered in the classroom before he gave his perspective. To this day, I am continually impressed and inspired by the way that Mark leads by putting the needs of his students first. He is always looking for ways to improve the MASPP program so that students have better opportunities for creating their future careers. 

Hopes for Our Next 40 Years: I hope that GSPP continues to be a leader in psychology for training the next generation of practitioners, researchers, teachers, advocates, and leaders. In the next 40 years my goal for GSPP would be to significantly increase the amount of fully-funded assistantships available to students.

Taryn Brandt

17/40:

Taryn Brandt

MASPP, 2012


Taryn, a competitive figure skater since age 5, was known for giving motivational speeches at the rink prior to competitions. This interest in the mental aspect of sport made MASPP a natural fit!

 

I completed my undergraduate degree at the University of Hartford, graduating in 2010 with a BA in Psychology. Then I completed my MA in Sport and Performance Psychology at DU. Currently I am a third year PsyD student in counseling at Springfield College, with a concentration in athletic counseling. I will likely graduate in the summer of 2018 after completing my pre-doctoral internship.

I have been a competitive figure skater since the age of 5. I competed at the regional, sectional, and collegiate levels. During my time at DU I was president of the club figure skating team and continued to compete at collegiate national events as a senior level skater. Now I skate at an adult national level and am currently the 2016 Eastern Adult Sectional Gold Medalist in the Championship Junior/Senior event. I also coach a number of young, developing skaters in Simsbury, CT.

I began college as a dance major and when I suffered a severe ankle injury requiring surgery, I transferred to psychology. Having been exposed to sport psychology as an elite figure skater, I wondered if this was a viable career path for me. I did a little research and discovered that it was a field of study I could pursue in graduate school. As a figure skater I was always fascinated by the mental side of the sport and how one's mindset could influence performance. I was known at my rink for my motivational speeches prior to competitions, which I think has had a significant influence on my desire to go down the path of becoming a sport psychologist.

I chose GSPP and DU for my graduate studies because I always dreamed of ending up back in Colorado at some point in my life, having lived in Vail as a kid. After I visited for the interview day, I felt that the faculty was the best of the best and the opportunities that existed in both research and applied areas were superior to any other programs I had looked into. It also helped that the staff was so friendly! 

To me, GSPP means opportunity and support. GSPP has provided me with valuable opportunities, has opened doors, and has provided me with support of peers, faculty, and colleagues which continues beyond graduation. DU allowed me to exercise my passion-- with room to explore how I could exercise it purposefully. Professors also encouraged creativity and supported me in carving my own path and niche within the field. 

Coaching, consulting, and counseling all provide me with the opportunity to educate, provide support, and help young adults and athletes achieve their fullest potential and navigate around roadblocks that might be inhibiting their success. My goal is to help athletes, students, and performers cope with challenges they face and to develop grit and resilience in the face of adversity.


Fast Facts

Favorite Class: It is really difficult to pick a favorite class, but the sport and performance psychology practicum classes gave me the opportunity to get out in the field and work with athletes, coaches, and teams. In class I was able to share these experience with my classmates for feedback and to learn from my peers in their own applied experiences.

Memorable Mentor: I really connected with my advisor and professor, Dr. Jamie Shapiro, during my time at DU. I always knew that she had her students best interest at heart and still provides support when I need it. 

Hopes for Our Next 40 Years: I hope for GSPP to continue to grow and focus on developing passionate students who will go on to do awesome things in their field!

Erika Childs Charles

16/40:

Erika (Childs) Charles

MAIDP, 2013


One week after graduation, Erika packed her bags for a volunteer opportunity in Haiti; now she is the CEO and Clinic Director of a community counseling center there.
 

 

After earning a bachelor's degree in Psychology, I decided to take a different path and joined the Teach For America program where I was assigned to teach in an urban elementary school in the heart of Las Vegas. During this time as a teacher I also earned a Master's in Education specializing in Curriculum and Instruction.

I spent the next five years as a teacher witnessing the effects of poverty, violence, and discrimination in my young students' lives, and quickly realized that teachers, administrators, and the education system in general were very ill-equipped to give the students the trauma-informed support they needed to succeed.

I began researching places where I could learn the tools that I was lacking and discovered GSPP's International Disaster Psychology program offered exactly what I was looking for. I made the very difficult decision to leave my teaching career, but knew that the IDP program would not only prepare me to address the issues I saw in one small school in Las Vegas, but address these same concerns on a global level.   

During my last term at GSPP I learned of a volunteer opportunity teaching psychology classes at a small institution in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. One week after graduation I packed my bags with the intention of spending just the summer as a psychology teacher. However, it only took a very short time to see the huge need for mental health services and the severe lack of options. I couldn't ignore the feeling that something needed to be done to fill this gap.

With the help of colleagues and students I met in Haiti along with the theories, skills, and mentors I gained at GSPP, I opened Espere Community Counseling Center, one of Haiti's only mental health facilities. Along with my team of Haitian psychologists and mental health workers, I partner with local and international NGOs and government-sponsored institutions to provide individual and group counseling in local schools, hospitals, orphanages, and other community-based settings.

However, one of our biggest jobs is to spread mental health awareness and education throughout the country because it is a little-known and greatly misunderstood field. We have provided seminars and workshops to medical professionals, religious leaders, school faculty and administrators, and various organizations from malnutrition treatment centers to local artisan cooperatives. Espere has also been invited to participate in marches in support of ethical mental health treatment as well as speak at conferences and radio programs to inform the general public of the importance of mental health. 

Some days can be overwhelming as I am immersed in stories of trauma inflicted by the effects of poverty, violence, discrimination, political unrest, and natural disasters, but I feel humbled that because of the experiences, knowledge, and support I gained through my time at GSPP, I have been able to help provide tools that our clients are using to find the peace, strength, and healing that they are seeking.


Fast Facts

What does GSPP mean to you?: GSPP provided the foundation to grow academically and professionally. It was the starting point to learn theories and best practices for my professional goals while building a life-long network of colleagues and friends.

Memorable Mentor: I loved how each of the IDP faculty provided their own unique perspective that have been invaluable in my career so far. I always think of Judy when issues around attachment come up. Tom's guidance on IASC guidelines and monitoring and evaluation skills have helped me numerous times. I wouldn't be where I am today without Leah and Courtney who helped open the door to the work in Haiti and have provided ongoing mentorship. 

Hopes for Our Next 40 Years: I hope that GSPP continues to expand their influence in the international arena because we need more advocates fighting for better mental health awareness and access throughout the world.

John Kurkjian

15/40:

John Kurkjian

PsyD, 1983


John gave up a tenured teaching career to take a chance on a new degree, something called a "PsyD." This December he'll retire from a long, fulfilling career in private practice.
 

 

My undergraduate degree was in Psychology, but my first years after graduation were spent as a teacher of children with special needs. In fact, I went on to earn a Masters degree in Special Education, and appeared to be settled in to a long career as a teacher.

To be honest, I wanted more power, more influence. I saw school psychologists come into my classroom, observe a bit, then have, it seemed, disproportionate influence as we would conference about my kids. To have more weight, I discovered, I would need more expertise. 

I had looked into PhD programs but was told that those who were most seriously considered for admission had higher GPAs, higher GREs, and lower levels of field experience. But a professor I spoke with at the University of Massachusetts (where I had done my undergrad work) mentioned a new degree, something called a PsyD where I might possibly find a way to clinical psychology. It was pretty scary giving up, as did my wife, a tenured job and a home in a wonderful town, Northampton, Massachusetts, but this was my chance. 

I was accepted at Rutgers' fledgling PsyD program, but just did not feel comfortable with what was then such a behavioral orientation. But at DU, with its diversity of training, as well as its feeling of vitality, I immediately felt at home. Before I even heard whether or not I had been admitted to GSPP, I gave up my spot at Rutgers and hoped I would not have to see this chance to become a psychologist slip away. 

My training in Denver allowed me to win a highly competitive internship at Topeka State Hospital which I was fortunate enough to follow with a two year Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Menninger Foundation. From there I returned to Denver and worked with great clinicians and clients at a variety of settings, before returning to New England and developing a private practice. 

I am not breaking new ground. I am a day-to-day clinician, who believes he has had a positive effect on the people he has served. I am imminently (December, 2016) moving into retirement after a long, fulfilling career. 

I wouldn't have become a psychologist without GSPP. I think I might have languished in Education, maybe always wishing I had been able to make it "to the next level." But beyond that, my experiences there reinforced the conviction that we are all "just people," that looking down on clients was not only ineffective but also degrading. This respect for the humanity of those who we serve was nurtured and honed at DU.


Fast Facts

Favorite Class: There were so many stimulating and enriching classes. Joe Dodds' Child Development course was a welcome re-education about how kids grow. Lupe Samaniego taught psychoanalytic theory in an elegant and understandable way. My favorite class? Nelson Jones' course on psychological assessment.

Memorable Mentor: Joe, Lupe, and Carla Garrity were all powerful influences. Above all, Dr. Nelson Jones conveyed a sense of the dignity and importance of being a sound, ethical, and compassionate clinician. He taught and modeled the values of clear thinking and devoted purpose. Yet he also allowed psychology to be fun. In the assessment class he good-naturedly allowed my friend and fellow student (whose name and reputation I probably should protect) to present our own revision of the WAIS, the "WAIS'T", with its Information subtest items such as "What is my birthday" and my personal favorite, "Name three things that smell like cheese!"

Hopes for Our Next 40 Years: I hope that GSPP will continue to serve as a place for students with a variety of backgrounds, who are looking to do a variety of things, all of them passionately and with respect for people and the profession. 

Final Note: In 1981 I made it to #3 on the ping-pong ladder. Maybe, just maybe, NOW I could take Joe Dodds!

*Next, a special double-header: two PsyD alumni who are also children's book authors!

 

Jonathan JJ Jenkins, PsyD

14/40:

Jonathan Jenkins

PsyD, 2013

Jonathan combined his creativity and his clinical background in adolescent psychology to write the children's book , " Wednesday Afternoons with Dr. J !"

 

I came to psychology after having a truly positive experience with my pediatrician. Dr. Cooley possessed such a calming bedside manner that it made me want to provide the same type of soothing and comfort to other people in my life, and psychology proved to be the best fit.

I chose GSPP for its yearlong Multicultural Sequence and the efforts it made to recognize the importance of having space to speak honestly about the experiences of clinicians and clients of color and those who belonged to other often marginalized or stigmatized minority groups. For me, I needed an academic space where I could engage in difficult societal conversations with others, and where those conversations were accepted as opposed to ignored or discouraged. By fostering this dialogue, I was able to better articulate my own position on certain topics and develop a better understanding of differing points of view.

GSPP was a place where I was challenged not only to address the mental healthcare needs of the community but where I was also presented with the unique opportunity to look within myself to think honestly about my own life narrative and my own biases. Through this process, I feel more capable of having richer experiences with my community, both in and out of the therapeutic space.     

My favorite class at GSPP wasn't actually a class but the GaSPP! skits that I was a part of where we utilized comedy to foster dialogue about privilege and the experience of others at GSPP, DU, and in the general community at large.  These skits were not only hilarious but added to GSPP's ability to create a space of conversation and the possibility for growth in the community.  

Instead of there being just one professor or supervisor that I ran to for support, I felt like I enjoyed a blended family of sorts where I could go to each member of the GSPP community for different advice, support, and camaraderie. Fernand was always available to speak about the unique experience of being a clinician of color (and he provided great fashion advice as we all know), Kim was always incredibly encouraging of my interests in the brain or autism and she introduced me to the LEND Program, Karson taught me how to challenge my own beliefs and comfort levels in the service of both myself and my community, and Judy Fox was tremendous in helping me hone my child psychotherapy skills.

GSPP prepared me well for my current position as a child/adolescent outpatient psychologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and an owner of a small private practice in the Greater Boston area. Via GSPP's Business of Psychology class, I was able to better understand the inner workings of beginning a psychology private practice while also gaining a greater appreciation for the many financial considerations of starting any business. In addition to academic knowledge, this class provided us with the opportunity to engage with psychologists who occupied various jobs within the field and this helped to illuminate the many great careers available in psychology. 

Wednesday Afternoons with Dr. J would not have been possible without my doctoral committee valuing innovation and encouraging me to "make the project fun" by combining my love of creativity with my clinical knowledge. My classmates at GSPP were the greatest asset as we challenged each other to think critically about our patients, to address our biases or cultural blind spots, to practice good self-care, and to represent the field appropriately, even if that meant having difficult but necessary conversations with peers. I am a better person and psychologist for my peers having had those fun, informative, or difficult conversations with me and I look forward to continuing to be a part of the GSPP community through continued involvement in supporting current students, faculty, and alumni.  


Check Out Jonathan's Book!

Jonathan JJ Jenkins, PsyD

 

Wednesday Afternoons with Dr. J. is a research-based illustrated therapeutic narrative created by Dr. Jonathan Jenkins and illustrated by Lynn Jenner. This book chronicles the experiences of a young boy as he encounters psychotherapy for the first time and can be used to help orient children to the often confusing world of psychotherapy.

A portion of the proceeds of this book support the Walker School of Needham, Massachusetts, an organization that supports the educational and psychological needs of children in the Greater Boston area.

 


Marian Camden, PsyD

13/40:

Marian Camden

PsyD, 1995

Marian specializes in family therapy and wrote "Where Do My Brother and Sister Go?" about blended families where siblings sometimes spend time away due to shared custody.

 

My father's family were Lebanese immigrants and I was the first in my immediate family to finish college and go on to graduate school. Because my parents cared for mentally ill people in our home for 25 years, I brought my own unique brand of life experience to my training experiences as well. I can't remember a time when I was not involved with mental health--ever! 

First social work and then psychology were the natural path for someone with my childhood experiences to pursue. I focused specifically on family and family systems work because that's where we can have the most influence on the mental health of children, impacting both the children and their family environment. My own painful experience with divorce also contributed to my desire to work with families dealing with this issue.

When I applied to grad school, I was accepted into another program, a Ph.D. program that offered to waive all of my tuition and pay me a stipend to teach. It was a tempting offer, but in the end, I felt--correctly--that I would get the best clinical training at DU and be able to live in a supportive, caring community of students and teachers. That's what I experienced. I also love being in Colorado and feast on our sunshine!

Shelly was my main professor and I credit her with helping me lay an excellent foundation for all of my professional work. We were both  young mothers when we started at DU, although she was a professor and I was a student. That made her feel very real and believable to me. Another person I remember fondly was Dr. Todd. We were on opposite sides of the spectrum in a lot of ways, him with his passion for behaviorism and me with my very relational focus. Yet, his courage, intelligence, and even his crustiness really inspired me and I was very fond of him. I was saddened that he died shortly after I graduated from the program.

After GSPP I worked in community mental health for a couple of years and then joined a private practice group in South Denver that specialized in divorce and family matters. Since 2003, I have been in my own practice. GSPP gave me everything I needed to be a good therapist. In hindsight, I wish I had gotten a little common-sense business training--I learned most of that the hard way! 

I have worked for many years with families dealing with divorce, single parenting, co-parenting, remarriage, and blended families. I did a lot of custody evaluation in it's various forms in Colorado for about 16 years. Now I do therapy with families in divorce and help them rebuild blended families as well. I also do consultation with family law attorneys and consultation and mediation with divorcing parents regarding their parenting plans. Because of my extensive background in custody evaluation and frequent expert witness testimonies, I have also had opportunities to help train new domestic court judges, present at trainings for judges, attorneys, and other mental health professionals, and consult individually with many family law professionals. I would like to think that my excellent family systems background and my training in child development and neuropsych has helped other professionals understand more and work with more knowledge and skill with the divorcing families in our state.

GSPP feels like my professional homebase, almost like my professional family of origin. I felt tremendously supported and enriched during my years in the program and I love giving back via student supervision, comps, and occasional guest appearances. I also value knowing I have great people to turn to at GSPP if I have questions or need to be updated on important professional matters.

 


Check out Marian's Most Recent Book!

Marian Camden, PsyD

 

There are plenty of picture books for children whose parents have gone through divorce. But what about the children that come later? These are the little "ours" children in the "yours, mine, and ours" families of modern times. These little ones have questions of their own about where their older half-siblings go, who this other parent is, what makes a "real" parent versus a "step" parent and so on. Where Do My Brother and Sister Go? is written just for them! 

 

 


Sarah Burgamy, PsyD

12/40:

Sarah Burgamy

PsyD, 2006

Sarah dreamed of being the swimmer on your Wheaties box, but arrived at GSPP on crutches and found a new passion: specializing in gender identity & sexual orientation.

 

'Psychologist' was not the childhood dream I had for myself. Throughout my childhood and into my recruited college career, I was a high level competitive swimmer. Honestly, I thought I would make a career for myself in the arena of athletics—first as an athlete, then as a coach. While in college, I started playing rugby in my swimming off seasons and integrated this into my evolving vision for my future: now I would compete post-collegiately as a swimmer and pursue rugby excellence! My body, however, had other ideas. (I entered my first year at GSPP, in 2002, on crutches, following a right knee reconstruction—my second). My visions of Wheaties box greatness had been decimated by genetically loose joints.  

I entered Dartmouth College in the Fall of 1996 with the idea that I would be pre-med. Again, my body had other ideas. As it turns out, I am beyond squeamish. A biology pursuit shifted to psychology and brain sciences after I had a run-in with an "Introduction to Neuroscience" course in my first year. I was hooked. I am one of those people who likes to know how everything works; what motivates one person to one pursuit of action, and what motivates another, with equal conviction, to a vastly different pursuit of action? What makes me, me, and you, you? Why and how do we make life so darn difficult for ourselves?  And on and on and on. (Just to keep things interesting, I also minored in Women's Studies and Theater—a true liberal arts trifecta!)

My path to psychologist followed the flow of my earlier passions, to some extent. As a swimmer turned coach (yes, I tried the coaching gig before moving on to graduate school), I found myself facing the stress, struggles and difficulties in my athletes'  personal lives as much, and at times if not more, than negotiating proper stroke technique, keeping tabs on time splits, and doling out difficult swimming sets. I just wasn't satisfied with the limited impact I could have on another's hardships. Why become a psychologist?  

Honestly, I would be remiss not to mention that the mere existence and presence of my own supportive psychologist at a pivotal time in my life, coming out as gay/lesbian to family and friends around the age of 18, and subsequently having something of an early life crisis (why on Earth did I choose to go to a small college in an even smaller town in New Hampshire? Visions of Cal Berkeley danced in my head!), likely had something to do with the specific path I found to help others. Yes, just like my short stint working at REI selling bicycles and gear: if you value something as a consumer, you are more likely to promote and value that same thing as someone who provides that service.

As I requested letters of recommendation from my undergraduate professors and contacts at Dartmouth College before admission at GSPP, many folks responded to my request with a question—why aren't you getting a Ph.D.?  I suppose it is a reasonable question but it also had a simple answer—I wanted to be a treating psychologist and I had, arguably the best Psy.D. program in the country in my "back yard!" I came to GSPP because I arrived at a decision, which felt more like a calling at the time, to become a clinical psychologist. GSPP also gave me a conviction that the work we do as psychologists is vital to human welfare. That is no small feat! 

For some reason, I simply believed I could leave my graduate training and just start a business! I started my private practice, PhoenixRISE in 2006. My generalist training at GSPP was far and away the very best clinical preparation I have encountered. Further, my focus on child and adolescent development while in graduate school prepared me to work as a developmental psychologist. After a few short years in practice, I found myself in a specialty area concerning gender identity and sexual orientation in children, adolescents and adults. I never imagined my little business would grow and develop into the busy and vibrant practice it is today.

It is a funny question to consider how one might impact the lives of others through one's work. From what I can discern, my specialty regarding gender identity development in children and adolescents has helped guide and inform families, schools and the community as to the phenomenology of this development for all people—whether gender conforming or not. I hope my work is aiding in a more competent and respectful understanding of gender identity diversity for all people, while supporting our most vulnerable young people as they navigate life's challenges.


Fast Facts

Leadership Roles: I am a past president of the Colorado Psychological Association (2012-2013), and am currently the Colorado representative to the APA Council of Representatives. Additionally, I have served on, or consulted to, various committees concerning healthcare for GLBTQ people in Colorado.

Memorable Mentor: I can think of two who really pushed my thinking, not only in my graduate training, but in my world view and my understanding of myself—Dr. Vivian Schaefer and Dr. Tony Bandele.

Favorite Class: I have to pick one? This seems like a dangerous question since I am still close with many of my former professors who I now consider colleagues! I can say this much, I loved the speed of light pace of Dr. Kim Gorgens' "Physiological Psychology" course—it was like a jungle gym and amusement park roller coaster all wrapped into one for my poor chugging neurons!

Hopes for Our Next 40 Years: A new, shiny copper top building?  Just kidding.. sort of!  Continued excellence.  

Erin Kennedy

11/40:

Erin Kennedy

MASPP, 2009

Following her passion, Erin switched from clinical training to sport & performance psychology-- a leap that paid off with a job at the International Olympic Committee in Switzerland!

 

I grew up wanting to be a psychologist and went to college to study clinical psychology and Spanish. I realized that I didn't want to work in clinical psychology just one class shy of graduation. I wasn't sure what to pursue, but knew I had taken one class in Sport Psychology and loved it! I was always very active in sports and passionate about coaching education. While I didn't know a lot about the field, I thought it would be a great opportunity to try. It turned out to be the perfect fit!

As I looked for graduate programs, it was really important to me to find a program that was a good balance between psychology and exercise science. Many programs focused on one field and only supplemented a few classes in the other. DU had the perfect balance and had great flexibility to help me build the degree into what I wanted. This degree launched me into the world of sports and helped me to discover some of my greatest passions.

I went on to work as the Youth Development Manager for USA Rugby for four and a half years. I then transitioned to manage youth rugby and women's rugby for all of North America and the Caribbean, I contracted with Rugby Canada, and I currently work at the International Olympic Committee in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Since graduation I have been fortunate to directly impact the lives of many people through the sport of rugby. I helped develop non-profit organizations to help increase the number of children playing rugby in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean. I now work on an international scale for the Youth Olympic Games, which supports young athletes by providing not only a competition atmosphere, but the education to change the world through sport.

Looking ahead to the next 40 years, I can only hope that the graduates of the program go on to make the world a better place through psychology services. GSPP to me means bringing professionalism to the field of psychology and preparing students to contribute to their communities in a positive way through psychology. GSPP was an investment in my future and one I will always cherish.  


Fast Facts

Current Connections with GSPP: I was fortunate to work for GSPP last year to help manage the relationship between CPEX and the Denver Public Schools. It was great to give back to the program that I credit much of my success to.

Memorable Mentor: I was thankful to connect with all of my professors-- they all used different teaching styles to convey information. Steve Portenga was an excellent advisor and I attribute a lot of where I am today to the advice and direction he gave me.

Favorite Class: Cultural Awareness Class - it helped expose us to working with various cultures and push us out of our comfort zones.

Aaron Stewart

10/40:

Aaron Stewart

MAFP, 2014


At the CO Department of Public Safety, Aaron's unit works to change the norms of how probation & parole officers interact with their clients.

 

I was born in Florida and received my BA in psychology and sociology in 2010 from the University of South Florida in Tampa. During this time, I worked in two different research labs focused on substance use and juvenile incarceration, respectively. While pursuing my BA, I took a few interesting classes that related to criminology and was fascinated by some of the staggering statistics surrounding incarceration in the US. This sparked my interest to focus on forensic psychology as a specialization to learn more and, at my most optimistic, attempt to influence the criminal justice system in a positive manner.

After visiting some other MAFP programs around the country, none seemed as genuine, well-rounded, or impressively staffed as the program at the GSPP.  The varied experience and perspectives of the core faculty for this program promised the necessary balance of research, field experience, friendliness, and professional contention to allow for true learning to occur.

I moved to Colorado in 2012 to pursue forensic psychology further through the MAFP program at DU and interned doing therapy for sex offenders on parole and probation at Progressive Therapy Systems during my first year, then at Arapahoe County Coroner's Office assisting with autopsies and death investigations during my 2nd year.

After graduating, I took a job as a Case Manager I with the Colorado Department of Corrections, working at Denver Women's Correctional Facility. I then took a job with the Department of Public Safety as an Evidence-Based Practices Implementation Specialist. I felt well prepared for both of these positions by GSPP as I was able to hone my interpersonal skills through clinical practice, as well as bolster my knowledge of research and evidence-based practices through study and classes.

My work with CDPS takes me around the state of Colorado to assist in the implementation of evidence-based practices within criminal justice agencies. In this capacity, my unit assists in identifying and working with barriers to implementation of these practices, which are often clinical in nature (motivational interviewing, CBT programs, etc.).

By assisting in the implementation of various evidence-based practices through the Colorado justice system, our unit works to change the norms of how direct service providers such as probation and parole officers, case managers, and behavioral health professionals interact with their clients.

The skills and knowledge gained while at DU has given me the necessary platform from which to launch a career with meaning. I can continue to grow and develop as a professional at a respectable rate thanks to my time there. Looking ahead to the next 40 years, I hope that the GSPP is able to expand their community service efforts and continue to attract stellar students and staff alike. I would like to thank the core faculty of the MAFP program for all of the knowledge they imparted, as well as their continued support of and pride in those of us they taught.  


Fast Facts

What does GSPP mean to you?: To me, GSPP represents a commitment to a lifetime of learning. Our field of study is in constant motion and GSPP has reinforced the need to stay ahead of the curve.

Memorable Mentor: I felt that I connected with each of my core faculty, though I stay in the best contact with Neil Gowensmith. A mutual, yet arguably sad, love of statistics and data analysis helped to pull me into a stats TA position for him. (A mutual love of heavy metal bands keeps us chatting somewhat regularly.)

Current Connections with GSPP: I have stayed connected through a few professors and by writing comedy sketches on diversity issues for GaSPP, the GSPP's premier sketch comedy troupe. Always remember, "If you can't laugh at yourself, we'll do it for you."

Favorite Class: Though difficult to pick one, I would chose Conflict Resolution with Michael Karson. This class presented a system I still reference personally and professionally to explore and resolve conflicts from perspectives not frequently considered by most. It was also entertaining to practice this skill during class by dissecting seemingly innocuous arguments that peers had with their significant others.

Nancy Gary

9/40:

Nancy Gary

PsyD, 1992


Nancy has dedicated her career to pediatric mental and physical health through the Piton Foundation, benefitting low income children.

 

By the time I arrived at GSPP, I had raised eight children. I was already practicing as a child health associate working on a child protection team and in a private medical practice. When working for the child protection team, I saw children one time, heard terrible stories and never knew what happened to them. I wanted to work in a longer term capacity with these children. I needed to remain in Denver and the program offered clinical work, under supervision, after only a few months.

After graduation I joined a private inter-disciplinary practice called The Neuro Developmental Center. I was very well prepared. GSPP gave me the ticket to work with those in the community who could not afford care. It also provided me with the educational expertise to work at The Piton Foundation whose vision is to build health and mental health wellness for low income children from birth to age 5. 

I work with other very talented professionals in designing innovative programs for families living in poverty to provide mental health care for those who cannot afford it. I am currently a board member of many boards, including The Piton Foundation, Mental Health Center of Denver, Children's Hospital, The Institute for Children's Mental Disorders as well as schools such as Mackintosh Academy and Denver Academy.

DU gave me the credentials to have respect from others and move into the community to make changes. I loved the faculty, the excellent supervision and the colleagues I met who have remained friends.  


Fast Facts

Favorite Class: Child Psychopathology

Memorable Mentor: Carla Garrity, PhD, who adored children and taught all of us how to protect the children of this world.

Hopes for Our Next 40 Years: Continue the leadership program by following the need in our world.

Amanda Nguyen

8/40:

Amanda Nguyen

MAIDP, 2007

Amanda had never traveled overseas before her GSPP internship in Serbia; now she has coauthored a handbook of recommendations for psychotherapy in areas of armed conflict.

 

I had always been interested in the impact of trauma and adversity, and came from a rather blended psychology and social work background where it made a lot of sense to look beyond an individual to understand the social, cultural, and contextual factors influencing a person's mental health and wellbeing. Through activities in my undergraduate program I became more aware of the many disasters (both natural and manmade) taking place worldwide, which sparked my interest in global health and disaster. I also learned about the often inadequate and sometimes inappropriate responses of the international community to the mental health needs of survivors, and wanted to find a way to improve these services.

Coming into the IDP program at GSPP, I wanted to become a mental health clinician, but I also wanted to learn how to develop and evaluate mental health programs to ensure that the programs being offered were appropriate and effective. The IDP program was brand new and very exciting, and it seemed to meet both of my needs. Although at the time I worried I wasn't getting enough clinical experience, as it has turned out the blend of clinical, programmatic, and global health training has served me quite well.

After graduating from GSPP I spent a few years doing clinical work in the States, first as a counselor for homeless youth and later as a state social worker with child and family welfare services. I then moved to Vietnam, where I worked as a student services coordinator and counselor, before returning to the States for my doctoral studies. I definitely drew on my clinical experience and used my training in program development and evaluation for this work.

I'm currently a doctoral candidate in global mental health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (JHSPH), where I conduct applied research related to the design, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of mental health services in low resource and conflict-affected settings. Through this experience, I have had incredible opportunities to collaborate with local partners on improving mental health services in settings such as Russia, Uganda and the DRC, Moldova, Myanmar, and Iraqi Kurdistan. I've also coauthored a handbook of recommendations for psychotherapy in areas of armed conflict, which is currently in press.

I was young and very green when I came to GSPP – in fact, I had never traveled overseas! But during my two years of study I made friends who are still my colleagues today, was challenged to question my beliefs and expand my mind, and spent an unforgettable summer working overseas. These experiences were certainly a launching pad for helping me become the person I am.


Fast Facts

Favorite Class: I really enjoyed the International Perspectives course, which was taught by guest professor Dean Adjukovic from the University of Zagreb. In this course we studied the social contexts of mass violence, trauma, and healing, using Professor Ajdukovic's experiences in the Balkans as a case example. I appreciated the insights and complexities he raised in our discussions about the social factors that can lead good people to do bad things. The class was particularly helpful in preparing me for my subsequent field placement in Serbia.

Memorable Mentors: Our small group seminar instructor, Gwen Vogel, was fantastic. Gwen is an incredibly skilled group facilitator, and modeled these skills in our seminar group. She also brought a breadth of real-world experience to both the seminar and the other courses she taught, having spent years working as a field psychologist for various INGOs.

Hopes for Our Next 40 Years: I wish all the best for the program and hope that it teaches its students to know their limits, question their assumptions, and respect the knowledge and experience of their local partners. I hope the program emphasizes the importance of evaluating service outcomes, and that global mental health doesn't always mean somewhere "over there."

Eric Schwartz

7/40:

Eric Schwartz

PsyD, 1992


Eric's work in non-profit child and adolescent settings has allowed him to positively influence both individual lives as well as broader child serving systems. 

 

Honestly, choosing GSPP (or SPP as it was called when I graduated) was based on two things; first, I left NYC for my interview in early March 1987 and it was 35 degrees and raining. When I arrived in Denver, it was 73 degrees and incredibly sunny. Score 1 for Denver. I then spent a great day at GSPP and met with wonderful faculty, including Nelson Jones and Joe Dodds. I also met and had lunch with a fellow interviewee, Dr. Jim Baroffio, who eventually became one of my best friends.    

Prior to my years at DU, I got my Masters in Forensic Psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. I have dedicated my career to working in non-profit settings doing clinical work, administration, and supervision. 

After GSPP, I worked at Aurora CMHC, Children's Hospital, and eventually my current 18 year tenure at Sarah Reed Children's Center. The very strong emphasis on high quality clinical training and a strong faculty were absolutely instrumental in preparing me for my career as a psychologist. I now hold two leadership roles at Sarah Reed Children's Center. I am the Vice President of Clinical Services and have been the Training Director for our APA accredited doctoral internship for over 17 years. I have also recently passed my Board Certification (ABPP) in Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology.  

My professional dedication and work in non-profit child and adolescent settings with seriously emotionally and behaviorally disordered children and adolescents and those with histories of trauma has allowed me to positively influence both individual lives as well as broader child serving systems. GSPP helped me to better understand what I wanted in my career and how to see meaning in my work as a psychologist. 

GSPP has always symbolized the place where I truly gained an understanding of what it was going to mean to be a psychologist. Those 5 years from 1987-1992 are filled with so many positive and important professional and personal memories that continue to influence who I am today.


Fast Facts

Favorite Class: Clinical Inference with Ralph Fish and Child Psychopathology with Joe Dodds.

Memorable Mentors: The most influential supervisors I had at GSPP were Ralph Fish and Joe Dodds.

Hopes for Our Next 40 Years: I hope that GSPP continues to be a high quality training program that fosters innovation and encourages it's graduates to take risks and to find avenues to support efforts to improve the public perception and the status of psychology as a discipline.

Anything Else?: I became a really good ping pong player while at GSPP.

Desiree Frierson

6/40:

Desireé Frierson

MASPP, 2013 


Desireé specializes in sport & spirituality through her non-profit, private practice, and work as a Chaplain for the WNBA. 

 

What inspired me to pursue my education and path in life were my unanswered questions and disappointments throughout my sports career.  After having surgery and being cut from my college basketball team (along with every other freshman that year) I felt like I had lost a piece of me.

My college coach told me that it didn't matter how good I was or how much I loved the game, I had to understand that this was a business. I left that room and promised myself I would learn about every part of this business. This was the first time I had ever looked at the game of basketball as a business! It was a defining and motivational moment in my life. That summer, at the age of 19, I started my non-profit, One Luv Athletics, Inc., with a mission of "Putting the Heart Back into the Business of Sport!"

After graduating and finishing a failed professional tryout, I asked myself this question, "If I had to wake up and do something every day for the rest of my life what would it be?" I Googled two things that interested me the most, which were sociology and sport, and up popped the GSPP program, so I applied! I was still so broken from my sport and still looking for answers. I feel as though the program found me at a time I needed to be found. GSPP gave me the tools to help me fulfill the promises I made to myself and my non-profit.

I currently have a private practice in Denver and work with a semi-pro team in Colorado. During the summer I work as Chaplain for the WNBA. I have had the privilege of serving athletes in the 2015 Toronto Pan Am games, and have been blessed to continue to build relationships with elite and Olympic level athletes and coaches.

I believe my niche of sport and spirituality is truly necessary, not only to my field (as it stands, spiritualty in consulting is an extremely underdeveloped area) but to the community of faith holders who are in need the tools sport psychology has to offer. I'm in the process of writing a book that will hopefully touch both communities and allow me to continue to change the way sport psychology and the spiritual athlete are viewed.


Fast Facts

What Does GSPP Mean to You?: It was the greatest investment I could have ever made in myself.

Memorable Mentors: I loved all my professors becaused they all challenged me! My goal as a professional is to be as humble as Mark, as smart as Artur, as resourceful as Jamie,as innovative as Steve, and to be able to charge as much as Jim!

Hopes for Our Next 40 Years: That MASPP is able to implement courses on consulting the religious athlete.

Favorite Class: Practicum, because it allowed me to learn from my peers!

Nick Covino

5/40:

Nicholas Covino

PsyD, 1985 


Since graduation, Nick has gone on to become President of William James College (formerly Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology).

 

I am the first in my family to attend college and, I believe, the only cousin or sibling to have a doctorate. Education was highly prized in my family and I received a lot of support for pursuing it. I spent a fair time (7-8 years) as a Jesuit scholastic where I learned to value both educational work and service. I am probably the oldest living candidate at the Boston Psychoanalytic Institute with 1/2 of a case left to write up and a very patient supervisor. 

My time in the Jesuits allowed me to be a "listener" to the lives of others. Later, my own opportunities to reflect on my own life with the help of others taught me the value of psychotherapy. I had been working with an MA in Counseling for four or five years and was "certain" that I didn't want anything to do with higher education or research, but that I just wanted to work with patients.

DU seemed to offer (and did) the opportunity to become better skilled at helping others to come to know themselves and to grow. At the start, it aligned very closely. I was surprised by Medical Psychology and the chance to work at National Jewish Health. That training changed my life.

I learned most of what I used in practice as a clinician and a teacher from Nelson Jones, Jerry Dirks and Bob Kinsman. The faculty was remarkably engaged with us; all of them. The opportunity to learn from the field while reading theory and research was intellectually stimulating and emotionally rewarding. I looked forward to going to work in each placement and I learned a lot. It was a dignified and respectful place with some opportunities to regress.

After GSPP I went to work at the Beth Israel Hospital. My training in behavioral medicine and psychotherapy gave me my first job there. The depth of training at DU and the perspective that the NJH supervisors provided around psychodynamic psychotherapy and medicine helped me to have something to teach and to supervise.

Currently I am president of the William James College. I would not have this job but for the education that I received at GSPP. Few courses and no field work provide the preparation for this kind of a job, but the investment and involvement of the people whom I learned from and with at DU were influences.

The work that our students, graduates and faculty do in the community is changing lives. The innovation of creating a 'college of psychology' with a faculty that works to increase access to mental health care, especially for Spanish-speakers, children and the military is real and impressive.


Fast Facts

Memorable Mentors: Nelson Jones, Jerry Dirks and Bob Kinsman were my supervisors at National Jewish Health. They taught me how psychology and medicine could be aligned. They taught us how research and clinical work were indispensably connected and they were unbelievably supportive to us.

Hopes for Our Next 40 Years: I hope that GSPP continues to provide the kind of experienced based welcoming experience that I had.

Photo Caption: Nick with his son Peter!

Katie McMann

4/40:

Katherine McMann

MAFP, 2011 
PsyD, 2015


Katie McMann turned her fascination with "Law & Order" into a career that allows her to help law enforcement better understand mental health.
 

 

My grandfather was an FBI agent, and I idolized him from a young age. I became interested in all the TV shows (Law and Order, Criminal Minds, etc.) that glamorize the law enforcement profession. It piqued my interest in the criminal mind and I found personality testing with inmates especially interesting.

I first applied to the MA-Forensic Psychology program because it was so renowned of the few that were available. At the beginning of my 2nd year, I knew I wanted to continue on. I chose to stay at GSPP not only because I was familiar with the professors, the School, and the University, but because working in the Professional Psychology Clinic (PPC) allowed me to see the transformation of student-therapists over just a year or two, and I could see first-hand the progress clients made because of GSPP. (Plus, I love Denver.)

My field placements and PPC hours allowed me to do different types of work with many unique populations. I applied for internship at state hospitals and prisons all over the country, eventually matching locally at Nicoletti-Flater Associates.

My experience within the correctional setting and overall understanding of the law enforcement culture helped me to develop rapport with the first responders I worked with, and my understanding of criminals and their way of thinking has helped when conducting risk assessments. While it was completely different than my previous work, it could not have been a better fit. I would not change the course I am on for anything.

After graduation I was hired by my internship site. I have been working with various law enforcement agencies in improving their own wellness programs, as well as helping law enforcement better understand mental health and how to better interact with those with mental illness in the community. I have also been involved in improving management of threats in the Colorado school system.

To me, GSPP was a place where I could really learn what it takes to become a clinician, as well as a place to be curious with my peers, and learn from mentors. While tough at times, GSPP has prepared me for my career, but more importantly, gave me relationships with people I will never let go of.

Fast Facts

Favorite Class: Do I have to choose just one? I learned the most about psychotherapy in Michael's CBT seminar. I gained the best relationships and mentorship during Lavita's forensic seminar. I was completely engulfed in Claire Poole's Advanced Personality Assessment class. I think these were my favorite classes because it really gave me a chance to apply everything I had learned, not just recite it.

Memorable Mentor: I truly felt I had connections with many professors: Lavita, Fernand, Michael, and Hale. They never made me feel judged because I had differing opinions and I felt like I could be open with them. Hale was my advisor during the PsyD program and I felt I could go to him with anything.

Hopes for Our Next 40 Years: I hope GSPP continues to be a moving force in graduate psychology programs nationally. I hope the larger DU community recognizes our contributions more as we become increasingly competitive. I hope I strike it rich and can buy GSPP a fancy new building!

Photo Caption: In January 2015, Katie traveled to McMurdo Station and South Pole Station in Antarctica to conduct pre-deployment screenings for winter-over candidates!

 

Aimee Voth Siebert

3/40:

Aimee Voth Siebert

MAIDP, 2012 


At GSPP, Aimee Voth Siebert found a way to marry her love of global work, biopsychosocial science, and the resilience of people in the midst of crisis.

 

 

I can't recall exactly when in my life I first noticed, but I became intrigued with the observation that most conflicts are based on people's interpretation of events as much as they are based on any real fact. That was the beginning of my fascination with psychology. Brain science has also been a delight because it blends the "hard science" biological structures that make up the most intricate organ in the human body, with the "soft-science" messy, outward expression of people's social relationships, behaviors, beliefs, and emotions.

In high school, I spent a summer abroad in France-- an experience that sparked my identity as a global citizen and taught me that cross-cultural awareness is fundamental to understanding people and social behaviors.

Then as I finished my undergraduate degree in south central Kansas, the nearby town of Greensburg, KS was hit by the first EF5 tornado, leaving only 10% of the town standing. I was my college's News Editor and went to cover the event. The damage was unforgettable, as were the FEMA trailers and temporary hospitals. I was fascinated by the social fabric in this community that had pulled together and decided they would not only build back, they would build back stronger and greener.

When I discovered not long after that DU's GSPP had an International Disaster Psychology Master's Program, I knew I had found the way to marry my love of global work, biopsychosocial science, and the resilience of people in the midst of crisis.

Almost a month before I graduated from GSPP, I was hired by Colorado's Office of Emergency Preparedness and Response at the State Public Health Department as a Disaster Behavioral Health Specialist and Community Inclusion Coordinator. I have served in this role during the 2012 and 2013 Wildfire seasons, the Aurora Theater Shooting, and 2013 Colorado Floods. Additionally, I spent September and October 2015 as an Ebola Health Promotion Specialist with the Center for Disease Control, responding to the outbreak in Sierra Leone.

In the mix of all the other things that demand attention during a disaster, our team keeps the resilience and behavioral health of communities and responders in the larger emergency conversation. Long after the disaster event ends, people will continue to feel the consequences of it, so we consider it our mission to use people's experiences as a measuring stick to discern whether emergency management is working.

Fast Facts

Favorite Class: I deeply appreciated the class "From Triage to Just Peace" because it demanded that we take everything we learned for a specific field of work (psychology) and apply it within the context of all the other influences and factors involved in a disaster, including what came before and what would come after in the community's life.

Memorable Mentor: Dr. Curt Drennen, who is a GSPP PsyD graduate, was my domestic internship supervisor at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. He challenged each of us to identify the initiatives of the Disaster Behavioral Health team to which we felt most drawn and then advance it through our own project. In his supervision, Dr. Drennen welcomed the personal and school factors that were affecting us at any given time, modeling to us that whole-person, work-life balance was part and parcel of good disaster behavioral health.

Current Connections with GSPP: The State's Disaster Behavioral Health Team, with whom I was an intern and now am a member, continues to host interns from GSPP's International Disaster Psychology program, so I have a deep joy and privilege to continue working with DU students. Because I live in Denver, it is easy for me to attend recruitment weekends to share my experience as a student and alumni. It's also a fun opportunity for me to be invited to lead a talk or a class at GSPP on occasion.

Watch Aimee represent MAIDP on Fox31's "Transforming Passion into Purpose" series!

 

Lindsay Kuhle

2/40:

Lindsay Kuhle

MASPP, 2012 


As Head Coach of Women's Golf at DU, Lindsay (Hulwick) Kuhle uses lessons from the Sport & Performance Psychology program every day.

 

 

At a certain point after you have mastered the skill of your sport, it's all about the mental approach. I wanted to study sport psychology because I consulted with a sport psychologist in college and she helped me achieve great success while golfing at Tulane University.

The ability to be an elite athlete and the best in your sport depends on your mental toughness and mental skills to help you consistently perform under pressure and in the heat of battle. I learned this as a player and believe it even more so now as a coach, after graduating from this program.

I began the Sport and Performance Psychology program in 2007 when it first started, and finished in 2012 while working at the University of Denver. MASPP helped me become a head coach, which was (and is!) my career goal. I use what I learned in the program every day as a coach when managing my team and assistant coach, or working with other coaches.

The real world experiences at GSPP helped me understand what to think about when communicating with my players, and how to ask questions to get the most out of my players. What I learned in the program and how I was able to implement those skills- as an assistant and now head coach- shows what a great program DU offers, with great classmates and professors. 

I have a passion for the game of golf and coaching golf. To be able to teach, coach, manage, and be around the sport I love means the world to me and is a dream come true. I wouldn't want to do anything else.

Fast Facts

Favorite Class: Practicum-- I appreciated my classmates' opinions and suggestions on how to coach. I learned so much from my peers and professors that continues to help me coach to the best of my ability.

Memorable Mentor: Mark Aoyagi is a great teacher and really relates to his students.

Hopes for Our Next 40 Years: I hope that MASPP continues to grow. Our first class in 2007 had about 12 students and I am so happy to see that more and more students are applying and getting accepted. I hope to see the program recognized as the best in the nation!

Follow Coach Kuhle and her team on Twitter!

 


Sally Spencer-Thomas

1/40:

Sally Spencer-Thomas

PsyD, 1995 


Now an international leader in suicide prevention, Dr. Sally Spencer-Thomas says, 
"GSPP prepared me by encouraging me to be vocal, visible and visionary."

 

I chose GSPP because I was interested in doing clinical work, particularly interested in learning more about trauma. I always like to hear people's stories and to learn about their resilience. Things became very personal for me after the suicide death of my brother.

(I also thought Colorado might be cool -- had no idea how much I'd fall in love with this place.)


As a clinical psychologist, mental health advocate, faculty member, and survivor of my brother's suicide, I see the issues of suicide prevention from many perspectives. Currently, I am the CEO and Co-Founder of the Carson J Spencer Foundation, an award-winning organization dedicated to sustaining a passion for living through suicide prevention, social enterprise and support for people bereaved by suicide.

We are leading innovation in suicide prevention locally (Colorado), nationally and internationally with programs like Man Therapy (using humor to engage men to be proactive in taking care of their mental health), Working Minds (comprehensive and sustained suicide prevention in the workplace), the FIRE Within (empowering youth leaders to champion the cause of suicide prevention through the framework of social entrepreneurship), and iCare (supporting people and systems impacted by suicide).

My very first conference at GSPP was about suicide prevention; today I chair several board and national/international committees in suicide prevention and have been an invited guest to the White House Briefing on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention. Coursework I received regarding DBT definitely shaped my thinking. Working with Nicoletti-Flater Associates as a student gave me lots of experience working in the first responder community.

GSPP was a major transformative point in my life-- not only into a professional identity, but also in my role as a woman leader. The empowering opportunities to learn and craft my education were exceptionally important to my growth. By allowing my to try on a number of roles and start some new initiatives, I gained confidence and learned what I am really good at.

Fast Facts

Favorite Class: Psychology of Women -- changed my life

Memorable Mentor: John McNeill challenged me and encouraged me all the way through.

Current Connections with GSPP: I teach a suicide prevention class every so often and received the 2012 Master Scholar award.

Final Thoughts?: I always share with students coming into the field how much my years at GSPP meant to me (took a 5th year because I didn't want it to end!).