AUGUST 26, 2021 — The University of Texas at San Antonio Department of Counseling will partner with the Department of Social Work and UT Health San Antonio to train a new generation of behavioral healthcare practitioners to meet the shortage of psychological services for children and teens at risk.
The four-year interdisciplinary project is funded by a $1.6 million grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration. This partnership will guide close to 100 students from additional disciplines to provide real-time services in the local region.
In 2017, the UTSA Department of Counseling received a similar grant to establish the Program for the Integrated Training of Counselors in Behavioral Healthcare (PITCH). The program allowed 12 clinical mental health counseling students each year with specialized training in integrated behavioral health to intern at primary care doctor’s offices throughout San Antonio. Four years and nearly 50 students later, the program has evolved into the PITCH Expanded Providers Program (PEP).
“In this new project we will continue placements in the primary care settings but adding additional disciplines and internship sites,” said Jessica Lloyd-Hazlett, project director and associate professor with the Department of Counseling.
Professor Heather Trepal serves as co-project director and will oversee the counseling track. Associate professor Heidi Rueda, in the Department of Social Work, oversees the social work track for students in the College for Health, Community and Policy. Mercedes Ingram, a licensed professional counselor from University Health, will serve as the project evaluator while associate professor Stacy Ogbeide, an expert in integrated behavioral healthcare from UT Health San Antonio, will serve as the project consultant and oversee the clinical psychology track for residents at UT Health San Antonio.
“Interprofessional education is an integral part of promoting team-based care within health care,” Ogbeide said. “I am excited to help with the development of PEP's interprofessional education curricula to better equip our learners for team-based care practice upon graduation.”
Besides the benefit of higher enrollment numbers, the inclusion of other behavioral health disciplines will give students valuable insights into how these programs are similar and how they may differ. The grant will also foster interprofessional education, an essential component of the program.
“Even though sometimes students training in clinical mental health and school counseling take classes together, we don’t always do a great job of explaining what they do in their roles,” Trepal explained. “We’re going to also have to learn about clinical psychology and social work and how those interface as well, so there’s going to be a whole lot of learning and growth that goes on.”
Regardless of their track, each student will complete an internship in an integrated setting serving children, adolescents, and transition-age youth split over two semesters. Those in the clinical mental health counseling program will take courses toward a graduate certificate in integrated behavioral health and would complete their internships in a primary care office or be co-placed with a social worker.
School counselors, on the other hand, will complete their internships at their home campuses. Their courses will focus on integrated care in a school setting, including more advanced studies in addictions counseling. All the disciplines covered by the grant will experience interprofessional education content on a quarterly basis.
Students also receive a stipend as support to participate in the program.
“They’re getting the extra training but they’re also getting help to pay for part of that education, which is a secondary goal of our advocacy,” Trepal explained. “I think that’s important too, trying to strengthen our profession and strengthen the behavioral health workforce.”
Once the funding ends, Lloyd-Hazlett hopes that more primary care offices will see the advantages of integrated behavioral health, and directly support expanded opportunities for students.
“Being able to promote sustainability through working with the clinics to establish this service and its benefits—hopefully that will be something they can integrate into their programs,” she said.
The grant’s aim goes beyond workforce development in the mental health profession. It also focuses on community access. A primary task of integrated behavioral health is to increase accessibility to services by combining them.
“Often times, when people either need to seek help or are identified by either medical or behavioral health disciplines and they are given a referral to go somewhere else, they don’t always follow up on that,” Trepal said. “So any time you can put services together, it decreases stigma, eases access and follow-up on actually getting those services.”
In 2018, UTSA launched the Classroom to Career Initiative to focus on providing more UTSA students with experiential learning opportunities during their academic journey. The university’s 2028 goal is to have 75% of students complete some form of experiential learning prior to their graduation.
The Dreamer and Undocumented student conversation consists of a panel discussion that will center in the immigrant experience while attending college and as a new professional. Our panelist will discuss their experiences as immigrants from different Latin American countries, and as current or former members of the undocumented community.Virtual Event
Come learn more about the Whataburger Resource Room and what you can do to fight food insecurity on our campus!Student Union, Paseo Principal Staircase, Main Campus
Join us for the grand opening of our new office space! There will be a ribbon cutting ceremony at Noon with an open house at HSU 2.206, and student organization tabling on the Paseo. We will have DJ Loko along with snacks, give aways, and activities.H-E-B Student Union, 2.206, Main Campus
This year we will have a NNO kickoff party at the Downtown Campus - Frio Building breezeway. The event will be on Wednesday, September 29, 2021 from 11:30 am - 1:30 pm. We will have snow cones, music, and door prizes! The is a free event for all our DTC community. The NNO main event will be held at Main campus on October 5.Frio Breezeway, Downtown Campus
A virtual conversation about how we can take action to improve our wellbeing to prevent future mental health burn out.Virtual Event
No matter your first language, Coffee & Conversation can help you expand your horizons. We invite all UTSA students to come spend your lunch hour with Coffee & Conversation, where international and domestic students gather and build inter-cultural connections.Anaqua Room, 2.03.08, Student Union, Main Campus
For Hispanic Heritage Month this year we will be reading two books, starting in September with "I, Rigoberta Menchú", an autobiography. The October book will be "Cemetery Boys" by Aiden Thomas. Students who join the RJBC are eligible to receive the book free.Virtual Event
The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.
To be a premier public research university, providing access to educational excellence and preparing citizen leaders for the global environment.
We encourage an environment of dialogue and discovery, where integrity, excellence, inclusiveness, respect, collaboration and innovation are fostered.
UTSA is a proud Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) as designated by the U.S. Department of Education.
The University of Texas at San Antonio, a Hispanic Serving Institution situated in a global city that has been a crossroads of peoples and cultures for centuries, values diversity and inclusion in all aspects of university life. As an institution expressly founded to advance the education of Mexican Americans and other underserved communities, our university is committed to ending generations of discrimination and inequity. UTSA, a premier public research university, fosters academic excellence through a community of dialogue, discovery and innovation that embraces the uniqueness of each voice.