MA International Disaster Psychology: Trauma and Global Mental Health

The Master of Arts in International Disaster Psychology: Trauma and Global Mental Health program trains graduate students who become highly competent and committed mental health professionals. In addition to providing master's-level training in general clinical psychology, the program meets a clear need for specialized knowledge and experience to work in the trauma, disaster and global mental health fields. Our students provide mental health services, train and consult with agencies, develop emergency preparedness and response plans, and monitor and evaluate psychosocial interventions domestically and abroad. Students also develop a background in global mental health, a field that focuses on methods for increasing the mental health workforce in low-resource communities, addressing stigma regarding mental illness and mental health care and expanding beyond treatment models that are based on a Western understanding of disease and recovery.

Our students and alumni go on to provide quality, culturally-informed care, domestically and worldwide. They work with individuals and communities who are affected by traumatic events, acute and chronic civil conflict, natural disasters, health-related pandemics, and longstanding socioeconomic disparities. 

Our program is recognized for Innovative Graduate Training by both the American Psychological Association and the National Council of Schools in Professional Psychology and is the first master’s degree program of its kind in the nation.

A Statement from Our Program: Black Lives Matter

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Areas of Instruction & Training

Students take courses consistent with a Clinical Psychology Master’s Program, including:

  • Ethics
  • Clinical Interviewing
  • Psychopathology & Diagnosis
  • Lifespan Development
  • Group Interventions
  • Psychotherapeutic Models
  • Substance Abuse
  • Psychobiology
  • Family Therapy
  • Research Methods
  • Statistics
  • Multiculturalism and Diversity

In addition, students have specialized coursework in the following areas:

  • Trauma interventions
  • Disaster Mental Health
  • Gender-Based violence
  • Crisis intervention
  • Grief and Loss
  • Program Evaluation
  • Global Mental Health
  • Cross-Cultural Analysis
  • Intercultural Practice
  • Public Policy
  • Assessment
Students at Internship Presentations

Program Structure

The program includes an integrated academic and practicum curriculum that provides students with expertise to pursue a variety of career options in the mental health field domestically and abroad. 

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    Designed to be completed in 7 quarters over 2 years

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    Includes 90 quarter hours of course work

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    Local field placements & an international internship

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    Experience in our campus-based community clinic

Who We Are

  • Travis Heath, PhD
    Travis Heath

    Associate Professor | Co-Director 

    Dr. Heath is a co-director of the program and practices Narrative Therapy. He is a former team consultant for the NBA and maintains an independent psychotherapy practice where he is interested in preferred mediums of healing. Dr. Heath has also worked as a clinician, researcher, and was previously a tenured faculty member at Metropolitan State University in Denver, CO. He is currently finishing a book with Routledge-London in collaboration with David Epston and Tom Carlson tentatively entitled, Autoethnography in Narrative Therapy: Reimagining Stories and Storytelling in Mental Health Research and Practice. Heath received a doctorate in psychology from the University of Northern Colorado, a master’s in psychology from Pepperdine University in Southern California, and a bachelor’s in psychology from MSU Denver.

     

  • Gwen Mitchell, PsyD
    Gwen Mitchell

    Associate Professor | Co-Director

    Gwen Mitchell is a Co-Director and Associate Professor in the International Disaster Psychology Master's Program at The Graduate School of Professional Psychology, University of Denver.  She is a clinical psychologist with extensive experience working in the global mental health and humanitarian aid spaces. She has a doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of Denver and has been conducting psychological evaluations and providing treatment, both domestically and in the international context, since 1999.   She has provided expert testimony in both immigration and criminal courts in the areas of asylum, torture, unusual hardship, PTSD, complex trauma, child abuse and fight-vs-flight.  Her international work experience includes work with Doctors Without Borders, The Center for Victims of Torture, Open Society Foundation, and SalusWorld.  In these training environments, she has trained extensively using participant centered and experiential education methodology on topics such as: trauma counseling, basic mental health, the psychology of aging, working with ex-combatants, child development and child-centered interventions, gender based violence and victim support services, group facilitation and counseling interventions for People Living with HIV/AIDS and LGBTQIA+ communities. She has also played a part in the development of a mental health policy for the country of Liberia and consulted with a number of NGOs as an expert in mental health and trauma.  Dr. Mitchell has presented at conferences domestically and internationally and co-authored various publications in the areas of: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in refugees and IDPs, Post Traumatic Growth (PTG), counseling applications with people of African ancestry, the impact of war on civilians, therapeutic photography, re-entry trauma, group counseling with vulnerable groups in Myanmar and the experience of working as a psychologist internationally.

  • Tiamo Katsonga-Phiri, PhD
    Tiamo Katsonga-Phiri

    Clinical Professor | Trauma Disaster Recovery Clinic Director 

    Tiamo Katsonga-Phiri, Ph.D., is a Project Lead and Clinical Faculty in the MA program in International Disaster Psychology: Trauma & Global Mental Health.  She completed her doctoral internship and post-doctorate fellowship at the Aurora Mental Health Center's Colorado Refugee Wellness Center. She is a Clinical Psychologist with broad interests in child psychology, refugee mental health, and trauma-informed practices. In addition to being appointed the Director of the Trauma Disaster Recovery Clinic, she will continue to run our Survivors of Torture (SoT) program, a collaboration in partnership with the International Rescue Committee and Denver Health's Human Rights Clinic. Her research has appeared in leading journals, including the Journal of Ethnographic and Qualitative Research, Archives of Women's Mental Health, Trauma, Violence, & Abuse, and Prevention Science, among others. Professor Katsonga-Phiri earned her Ph.D. in Clinical-Child Psychology from DePaul University in Chicago Illinois.

     

  • Judy Fox, PhD
    Judy Fox

    Professor

    Dr. Fox is a Professor in the Graduate School of Professional Psychology and the former director of our Master’s Program in International Disaster Psychology: Trauma and Global Mental Health Program.  Serving in that position for 15 years she developed the foundation of the program and lead a faculty team who deepened its academic and clinical training and global learning opportunities.  She founded and was the first director of the program’s Trauma and Disaster Recovery Clinic, a community mental health clinic serving transnational populations in Denver who have been impacted by disaster and trauma. Additionally, Dr. Fox supervised and helped to develop the Colorado Resilience Collaborative, an initiative that focuses on the prevention and detection of identity-based violence.  Throughout her career she has taught both doctoral and masters-level courses and seminars in development across the lifespan through a cross-cultural lens, clinical interviewing, trauma treatment, psychopathology and integrated approaches to child and adolescent diagnosis and treatment.  She supervises students at the masters and doctoral levels and her clinical interests include the impact of trauma and disaster on children, adolescents, and their families.    Her scholarly interests are in attachment and systems theories that include a socio-cultural lens as applied to a variety of populations and settings, mental health stigma and psychotherapy, family functioning, trauma, and graduate level training and supervision.

    Dr. Fox has a private practice in the Denver area serving clients and their families and has worked in mental health care settings and in Veteran’s Administration and medical training center hospitals providing direct service, training to psychology interns and psychiatric residents, and leading psychosocial teams providing comprehensive care to clients receiving outpatient and inpatient care.   

  • Maria Vukovich, PhD
    Maria Vukovich

    Research Faculty & Acting Director of the Colorado Resilience Collaborative

    Dr. Vukovich is an expert evaluator with a diverse portfolio of research projects.  She is the Co-PI on a number of our grant-funded research projects, including our Survivors of Torture Program (SoT) and the Colorado Resilience collaborative which is an interdisciplinary initiative that supports those impacted by targeted violence due to radicalization and discrimination, focusing on race/ethnicity, nationality, faith, and ideology. This program utilizes a trauma-informed, culturally alert, and inclusive approach and integrates a public health model to the prevention of identity-based violence. This work promotes understanding, healing and help for individuals impacted by targeted violence, as well as for those recruited into groups that advocate violence as a solution. 

    Dr. Vukovich's primary roles include providing leadership and administration for multiple projects focused on direct mental health services for newcomers and torture survivors, safety net access for New Americans, and targeted violence prevention programming Dr Vukovich supervises staff and students, and has successfully led grant applications that have resulted in federal awards and sub-contracts for the University of Denver. She completed her Ph.D. in Research Methods & Statistics (with Concentrations in Global Health and Human Rights) from DU in 2016. Previously, Dr. Vukovich implemented projects in global humanitarian settings in East Africa, Middle East and North Africa, and Latin America, and in U.S. based newcomer communities in Minneapolis/St Paul, Atlanta, and Denver. Her research experiences range from leading a multi-site, longitudinal Randomized Control Trial to cross-cultural measurement validation to community participatory engaged mixed method studies.

     

  • Max Murray, MA
    Max Murray

    LPC-C & Project Coordinator of the Colorado Resilience Collaborative

    Max works closely with IDP-GMH students who join the CRC team, and coordinates the program’s outreach efforts with community partners and stakeholders and the development of the program’s training materials. 

    Information about the Colorado Resilience COllaboration can be found here: https://psychology.du.edu/counseling-consultation/colorado-resilience-collaborative

    As a graduate of the IDP program (2018) and with a background in child and adolescent mental health, the majority of Max’s experience has been as a psychotherapist co-located in various Denver Public Schools with both elementary and high school aged students, many of whom were new Americans.  Max continues clinical practice part-time through Maria Droste Counseling Center, and his interests aside from those referenced above include Spanish language psychotherapy and research on culturally responsive, intercultural, and trauma informed training in psychotherapy. 

     

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International Internship

Global Mental Health

During the summer between their first and second year, students spend eight weeks applying theory to practice in the global context. International internships are arranged by MAIDP with organizations whose missions focus on a variety of mental health and psychosocial issues relevant to individuals and communities affected by disaster and trauma. We collaborate with local and international non-governmental organizations.

Explore Our Impact
Field Placement Map
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Field Placements

Our program offers more than a hundred field placement options in the Denver metro area and greater front range.

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"Both of my supervisors have been attentive, trauma-informed, knowledgeable, and willing to take the time to help me learn and grow." MAIDP Student - 2019
"I provided therapy to refugee clients and their families [during field placement]. I was also given the opportunity to work with community navigators and provide support, consultation, and mental health training. There was also additional opportunities to work with research, on a radio program, and in schools with kiddos. It was amazing!" MAIDP Student - 2018

Community Resources

Trauma & Disaster Recovery Clinic

Students provide clinical services to clients in the Trauma & Disaster Recovery Clinic at DU, which provides help to those affected by trauma including accidents, crime, abuse, natural disaster and refugee status. The TDRC offers comprehensive psychological services to alleviate the effects of traumatic experiences and foster resilience as well as personal, family, and community growth.

GSPP Clinics

The Colorado Resilience Collaborative

The Colorado Resilience Collaborative (CRC) is an interdisciplinary initiative promoting insight, healing and action to support survivors of identity-based violence and to prevent and interrupt radicalization and violent extremism. We achieve this by developing partnerships and convening community members, as well as consulting with local communities and referring for needed mental health services. 

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Peace Corps Fellows

We are proud to partner with the Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program to support returning Peace Corps volunteers to continue their dedication to community service while developing essential professional skills.

Benefits for returned Peace Corps volunteers:

  • Application fee waiver 

Scholarship Information:

GSPP has one Coverdell Fellowship to award per year.  Thus, not all RPCV students receive this scholarship.  Please email julie.schellman@du.edu to inquire.

Eligibility and requirements:
Please indicate on your application to the program that you are a returned Peace Corps volunteer and wish to be considered for a Coverdell Fellowship and upload a copy of your official Description of Service from the Peace Corps.

More information about The Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program can be found on the Peace Corps website.

Please contact julie.schellman@du.edu with questions. 

Program Requirements

  • Degree & GPA Requirements
    • Bachelor's degree: All graduate applicants must hold an earned baccalaureate from a regionally accredited college or university or the recognized equivalent from an international institution.
    • Grade point average: The minimum undergraduate GPA for admission consideration for graduate study at the University of Denver is a cumulative 2.5 on a 4.0 scale or a 2.5 on a 4.0 scale for the last 60 semester credits or 90 quarter credits (approximately two years of work) for the baccalaureate degree. An earned master’s degree or higher from a regionally accredited institution supersedes the minimum standards for the baccalaureate. For applicants with graduate coursework but who have not earned a master’s degree or higher, the GPA from the graduate work may be used to meet the requirement. The minimum GPA is a cumulative 3.0 on a 4.0 scale for all graduate coursework undertaken.
  • Prerequisites

    Applicants without a psychology background (major or minor) must meet the department's psychology prerequisite prior to matriculation. The psychology prerequisite can be met either through psychology coursework or by obtaining a score of at least 660 or higher on the psychology subject GRE exam. Applicants should state how they plan to meet the psychology prerequisite in their application. For the psychology coursework prerequisite, applicants must complete four (4) psychology courses earning a 'B' or better in these classes from a regionally accredited institution. Applicants offered admission should be aware that all psychology classes must be completed before registration in September.

  • English Language Proficiency Test Score Requirements

    The minimum TOEFL/IELTS/CAE test score requirements for this degree program are:

    • Minimum TOEFL Score (Internet-based test): 80
    • Minimum TOEFL Score (Paper-based test): 550
    • Minimum IELTS Score: 6.5
    • Minimum CAE Score: 169

    English Conditional Admission: This program does not offer English Conditional Admission.

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Take the Next Step

Learn more about our admissions process and resources before you apply. 

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