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Grant to improve psych program

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The department of psychology at the University of La Verne received a $100,000 grant to complete their work with the California Department of Mental Health.

The grant will be used to improve the California Brief Multicultural Competence Training Program, a program developed by ULV’s psychology department.

Some of the contributors include Glenn Gamst, professor of psychology; Aghop Der-Karabetian, associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences; and Associate Professor of Psychology Leticia Arellano.

“The program will help train mental health professionals to become more culturally sensitive,” Gamst said.

The first step was developing a scale. The scale consists of four factors: multicultural knowledge, awareness of cultural barriers in mental health consumers, sensitivity and responsiveness to consumers and sociocultural diversities.

The development of the scale was the foundation of the training program.

In August 2004 the program was administered to mental health professionals across the state of California as four eight-hour modules.

“We received a lot of good feedback from the Department of Mental Health,” Gamst said.

The Department of Mental Health awarded the $100,000 grant to help revise the training program.

“I think the Department of Mental Health wants to use our research because it is scientifically based,” Der-Karabetian said.

Gamst, along with other contributors, is currently revising the training program based on the feedback received.

The process is expected to last until December 2005.

“The new training program will be pilot tested in three or four counties in California during spring 2006,” Gamst said.

If the testing is successful, this training program will be used to train mental health professionals throughout California.

“Even if the program is implemented, it will continue to be evaluated to review the effectiveness of the training itself,” Der-Karabetian said.

The program is expected to help many mental health professionals in northern and southern California.

“I think it’s great that the University is doing something that will benefit a great deal of people,” said Julia Bobadilla, a senior psychology major.

“Especially since California is such a diverse place,” she added.

Professors currently involved with the revision of the training program are expecting it to be very successful in the future.

“Each ethnic group requires particular sensitivities, that is what this training attempts to deliver,” Gamst said.

Along with this training program, the team is currently working on evaluating skills implemented in counseling centers and the effectiveness of some of the classes that are taught and how successful they are in dealing with multicultural diversity.

“I am really exited at the fact that we have come to the point where we can show some practical implications of our research,” Der-Karabetian said.

The psychology department will continue their work and are hoping to receive more grants in the future to help with further research.

Laura Bucio can be reached at

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