The Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies has awarded its 2017 Outstanding Training Program Award to Virginia Tech’s Department of Psychology Clinical Science doctoral program.

The award is given to one program every two years that has made significant contributions to training behavior and cognitive-behavioral therapists and promoting the scientific advancement of behavior and cognitive behavior therapy. Previous winners include programs at State University of New York at Stony Brook, the University of Washington, and Harvard Medical School’s Massachusetts General Hospital.

“We are truly delighted and honored to be selected for this award,” said Lee Cooper, director of the clinical science doctoral program and an associate professor with the Department of Psychology, part of the College of Science. “This is a proud moment knowing that our training program with its outstanding faculty, graduate students, and alumni is among the most elite in the country.”

The department began a Ph.D. program with a concentration in clinical psychology in the mid-1970s, directed by George Clum. In the late 1970s, under the direction of Richard Eisler and the assistance of E. Scott Geller, the program began to hire faculty with a behavioral orientation. The program has since been led by Tom Ollendick, Richard Winett, and presently, Cooper.

It now has 12 clinical core faculty members and four affiliated faculty members. Faculty members have advanced the field of clinical psychology through scholarly contributions, training doctoral students, providing clinical supervision, and/or volunteering service to the profession, including the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, Cooper said.

Phillippe Cunningham, a 1993 alumnus of the department, said psychology faculty were key in helping shape his career, where he is now a professor of psychiatry and behavioral science at the Medical University of South Carolina.

“They taught me how to think scientifically, manage the rigors of academic life, persevere in the face of adversity, and make significant and unique contributions to my family and community,” Cunningham said. “I can say unequivocally that if it was not for the Virginia Tech Clinical Science faculty acting affirmatively before it was popular to do so this particular minority student would not have become a scientist.”

Faculty from the Clinical Science program — including several faculty and current and past graduates of the program — will accept the award in November at the annual conference in San Diego, California.

The program is accredited by the American Psychological Association and the Psychological Clinical Science Accreditation System, recognition of its consistent high-quality, science-centered education and training in clinical psychology. The program also is a member of the Academy of Psychological Clinical Science and the Clinical Child and Pediatric Psychology Training Council.

The department was designated as a Virginia Tech Exemplary Department in 2014, based in part on outreach efforts by the clinical training clinics and centers that serve as the basis for the clinical science training.

The Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies is a multidisciplinary organization committed to the advancement of scientific approaches to the understanding and improvement of human functioning through the investigation and application of behavioral, cognitive, and other evidence-based principles to the assessment, prevention, treatment of human problems, and the enhancement of health and well-being. 

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