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From the Dean's Desk: December 2019

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GSPP Communications Team

News  •
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Happy Holidays from Dean Smith-Acuña

It's hard to believe that 2019 is coming to an end, but encouraging to reflect on what an incredible year we have had at GSPP! Our students have served over 550 people in our Professional Psychology Clinic and dedicated nearly 60,000 hours to our community in field placements. Our faculty have received countless awards and demonstrated excellence through research efforts, publications and community projects. We have developed more ways to reach our community through events and made care even more accessible by launching our first tele-behavioral health service. Our accomplishments this year are thanks to you, our community. Whether you are a student, faculty member, alumni or friend, thank you for your contributions to make this place spectacular. Happy Holidays and best wishes as we head into a new year!


GSPP Alumni build therapy-focused non-profit

ardent grove group photo

In the wake of this year's STEM School shooting, a clinician at the Ardent Grove Foundation received more than 45 text messages from parents in her community. "We feel unsafe," they read. "What should we tell our children?" It was this flood of community concern that inspired the work that Ardent Grove has been doing in the community since May.

The Ardent Grove Foundation is a non-profit that was founded by a group of GSPP alumni. Their goal is to provide high-quality mental health care at a very low cost, but the group is also committed to a community engagement element of their work, which they call a Resilience Project. Right now the project they are focusing on, is working with community members affected by school violence.

"We started out doing some trauma work with teachers at STEM," Executive Director Dr. Courtney Klein said. "We then used those discussions to build a curriculum for this project."

Part of that curriculum will help adults to recognize and address signs of trauma in themselves and children. Their discussions and presentations also focus on concerns of children, parents, and other adults, and directly address school violence using psycho-education in social-emotional awareness and resilience for all ages.

"We spend time talking about the effects of fear and trauma, and helping their children feel safe going back to school." Klein said.

This project comes at no cost to the community, but is funded through donations. As the team at the Ardent Grove foundation continues to grow, they plan to hold regular discussions in locations that are accessible to community members.  

At their clinic, they make care accessible to anyone, regardless of whether they have insurance or not. Their clinicians are trained to specialize in advanced therapy techniques, including EMDR as an evidenced-based trauma treatment, and receive ongoing expert supervision so that they may provide the best treatment to their clients.

Learn More


Advancement and Community Partners

Bank Philanthropic Consortium launches

citywide bank logo

Citywide Banks has committed to supporting the Graduate School of Professional Psychology by joining the Bank Philanthropic Consortium (BPC).

The purpose of the BPC is to create community-based philanthropic support to Colorado communities by helping meet mental health needs and bolstering the strength and the fabric of our city. For the BPC’s inaugural year, the theme is BabyFest2020. It brings together the impact of GSPP’s Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health (IECMH) Specialty and Latinx Psychology Specialty. Specifically, if our fundraising goal is reached, the two specialties will be able to serve nearly 300 families, with 550 contact hours, in a year of clinical work.

Give Now


GSPP officially launches Parentline Colorado

parentline logo

In November, GSPP's Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Specialty launched the school's first tele-behavioral health service. Parentline Colorado is a free service offering brief, strategic psychotherapy through video chat and telephone to pregnant and postpartum families with children up to age five.

To contact Parentline Colorado, call 303-871-7935 or email

Faculty & Staff Accomplishments

We are thrilled to announce several faculty and staff accomplishments this month. Please join us in congratulating:

shelly smith acuna

Dean Shelly Smith-Acuña - In November Shelly was selected for a special Presidential Recognition, which will be awarded at the NCSPP 2020 Mid-Winter Conference in January 2020, for her outstanding contribution to the field of Professional Psychology.






brian gearity

Dr. Brian Gearity - Dr. Gearity released a book in December on sport instructional strategies called Coach Education and Development in Sport. He was also recently cited in a Sports Illustrated article Breaking the Ice: After Revelations of Abuse by Coaches, Hockey Is Facing a Reckoning.





Jessica Bartley

Dr. Jessica Bartley - Dr. Bartley co-authored the publication: Sorting it out: a framework for increasing mental flexibility and valued action in athletes using the ACT matrix. You can find the publication here.







Katy Barrs

Dr. Katy Barrs - Dr. Barrs was selected as Citizen of the Year by the VFW Post 1. The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 1 is a global veteran organization based in Denver and recognized Dr. Barrs accomplishment during their annual banquet this month.






Apryl Alexander

Dr. Apryl Alexander - Dr. Alexander was selected as the recipient of the 2019 Michele Alexander Early Career Award given by the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI). The SPSSI noted that Dr. Alexander's record of scholarship, teaching, and service was described by the committee as the embodiment of this honor.





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