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COST Program Celebrates One Year of Specialized Training

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Nicole Militello

Senior Media Relations Specialist

Nicole Militello

New Program Offers Doctoral Students Expertise in Substance Use Disorders

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Colorado has the second highest prescription drug abuse rate in the country, yet reports show only a small percentage of people coping with the problem are able to access treatment.

The University of Denver’s Graduate School of Professional Psychology aims to address that access problem with its new COST program, which takes the school’s innovative specialty track in substance use disorder psychology a step further. COST, which stands for the Colorado Opiate Use Disorder/Substance Use Disorder Training program, addresses substance use in pregnant and parenting mothers, as well as in Spanish-speaking Coloradans.

Seeing the field evolve over more than 20 years, I also knew that substance use treatment had been completely sidelined in doctoral training in psychology and that psychology, as a field faced with a growing public health problem, had an obligation to be better prepared to serve our communities,” says professor Kim Gorgens, who spearheads the new program.

Thanks to a 3-year $1.35 million grant from HRSA (Health Resources and Services Administration) — the largest GSPP has ever been awarded — the COST program enrolled its first cohort of PsyD students and Morgridge College of Education PhD students in fall 2019.

“We want to educate our students in the most robust way,” COST program coordinator Hollis Lyman says. “Those are such underserved areas. We really want to focus on those populations with our expertise. We want to make sure our supervision is great, our mentorship is great and our academic background in it is great.”

Students complete a three-course specialty track for substance use disorder and 1 speciality course in either Latinx psychology or infant & early childhood mental health. Then students participate in a one-year field placement at one of COST’s partner agencies. These include Denver Health Medical Outpatient Behavioral Health Services, Salud Family Health Center clinics, Parentline Colorado at GSPP’s Caring for You and Baby (CUB) clinic sites and Anschutz's Addiction & Treatment Services.

This new specialty adds to the groundbreaking academics that make GSPP one of the most comprehensive programs in the field. COST brings together an all-star lineup of professors: clinical professor Laura Meyer; clinical assistant professor Jennifer Tippet, who directs GSPP’s substance use disorder specialty; clinical assistant professor Tracy Vozar, director of the specialty in infant and early childhood mental health and head of the CUB clinic; and clinical assistant professor Henrietta Pazos, director of the Latinx psychology specialty.

I knew we could capitalize on one of the things that makes GSPP so special: We have extraordinary faculty expertise in substance and opiate use treatment with a special emphasis on pregnant and parenting moms and underserved members of our Latinx community,” Gorgens says. “We also have incredibly talented staff that could build and support the infrastructure necessary for a large federal training grant.”

In addition to specialty supervision and mentorship, the COST program provides participants a $25,000 stipend, health care coverage and travel funds for one professional conference.

Read the full article here.