UW Expands Psychotherapy Capability for Violence Victims

December 7, 2011 - Mental health care for Wyoming's domestic abuse victims is expanding with a grant from the Verizon Foundation to the University of Wyoming College of Health Sciences' Center for Rural Health Research and Education (CRHRE). The grant will be used to expand an existing psychotherapy service provided by the Department of Psychology .

The psychotherapy service is provided by fully qualified students who are pursuing doctoral degrees in psychology, supervised by Matt Gray, associate professor in the UW Department of Psychology. He says the individuals receiving the free psychotherapy are clients of domestic violence and sexual assault crisis centers in the Wyoming communities served.

"Many of the domestic violence victims cannot afford therapy, and it may be difficult to find counselors trained in domestic abuse or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) treatment," Gray says. "PTSD is a frequent result of domestic violence."

The $16,300 Verizon Foundation grant will expand the Wyoming Trauma Telehealth Treatment Clinic (WTTTC) to year-round service, adding counselors in the summer semester in addition to the regular school year. Counselors in Laramie now provide service to clients in Cheyenne, Gillette and Rawlins and plan to expand service with the grant support.

"Verizon and its employees are part of the fabric of the communities we serve, and we champion many efforts in support of victims of domestic abuse and violence," says Bob Kelley, Verizon's community relations manager. "The expanded psychotherapy service provided by UW through a grant from the Verizon Foundation will help survivors of domestic violence recover from the mental trauma and begin to rebuild their lives."

CRHRE Director Rex Gantenbein says his department and the Department of Psychology have collaborated on this project for three years and applying for the Verizon Foundation grant was a logical step to move the program forward.

"We are working to improve the availability of mental health care in the state through a telehealth network UW has been building," Gantenbein says. "Expanding assistance for this highly at-risk population is an important part of our plan."

Gray says the program benefits both the students and the clients.

"It gives the clients the help they need in dealing with the violence they have suffered, and students receive carefully supervised experiences in dealing with violence PTSD victims," says Gray.

For more information, call Gantenbein at (307) 766-6544 or visit www.uwyo.edu/health .

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