Baylor Clinical Psychology Program To Move To Downtown Waco

Dec. 2, 2009

Follow us on Twitter: @BaylorUMediaCom

Faculty with top graduate program will relocate to Wells Fargo Tower

One of Baylor University's top research and service programs will soon make the move to a new downtown Waco office tower, establishing a university presence in the city center and bringing together under one roof some of the world's leading scholar-practitioners in the field of clinical psychology.

Baylor's nationally renowned clinical psychology program - including five faculty members, their clinical research labs and the Baylor Psychology Clinic that serves the local community - will relocate in January to the eighth and ninth floors of the Wells Fargo Tower on Washington Avenue in downtown Waco. Plans are under way to add another lab later on the tower's fifth floor.

Currently, the program is housed in six locations, ranging from space in Ivy Square near campus to offices and classrooms in the Baylor Sciences Building. While clinical psychology faculty will continue to teach and have offices in the sciences building, they will have a single location in downtown Waco to provide clinical services to the community and conduct pioneering research in their various fields.

"Baylor University is pleased to be a part of the ongoing revitalization of downtown Waco," said Baylor Interim President David E. Garland. "It is exciting to expand the boundaries of our campus to the downtown area, especially with a top academic and clinical program that provides a vital service for the community and an important research program for our faculty and doctoral students."

Baylor established its doctor of psychology (Psy.D.) program in 1971, only the second program in the United States at the time. The program has been accredited by the American Psychological Association since 1976, currently the longest history of continuous accreditation by the APA among Psy.D. programs nationally.

"This is really an integrated program where people come into the clinic for services, while we, in turn, train clinicians in that function," said Dr. Jim Diaz-Granados, associate professor and chair of the department of psychology and neuroscience at Baylor. "All of our clinical doctoral students are very closely supervised by licensed psychologists, and that's really the marriage of the community service, the clinical services and the academic part of our program. It's a training ground, and our local community gets excellent clinical services that are being supervised by leaders in the field. That's been the model for this program for decades."

"This downtown space provides a great deal of flexibility for our faculty to design a layout suitable for clinical training and research," said Dr. Elizabeth Davis, interim provost at Baylor. "As a result, we can enhance the learning environment to be even more beneficial than what our students and faculty currently experience."

The Baylor program follows a scholar-professional training model that emphasizes the interdependence between science and practice, recognizing their equal contributions to training in professional psychology. The major components of the program include a rigorous, broadly based curriculum in clinical psychology, extensive practicum experience in a variety of community-based clinical settings, experience in a clinically applied research laboratory including completion of an independent research project (dissertation), and completion of an APA-approved internship in clinical psychology.

"It's a very strong program, and we generate on an annual basis anywhere from five to eight doctoral degrees," Diaz-Granados said. "It's also a unique professional program with an academic component, where students conduct research and complete a dissertation. They're very interested in being clinicians, but they also understand and appreciate the value of research.

"The greatest advantage is that we'll get our clinical faculty back together under one roof. We have an open position that we're trying to fill this year, so hopefully by fall of 2010, we'll have six faculty over there and some room to grow."

Diaz-Granados said the core clinical faculty members who will move to the Well Fargo Tower include:

Dr. Gary Elkins, professor of psychology and neuroscience and director of the Psy.D. graduate program, whose research in the Mind-Body Medicine Research Laboratory focuses on mind-body interventions for physical and emotional symptoms. One of Elkins' research projects, funded by the National Institutes of Health, focuses on the use of hypnotic relaxation and mental imagery techniques for the treatment of hot flashes in breast cancer survivors and menopausal women.

Dr. Helen Benedict, professor of psychology and neuroscience and director of clinical training, who is world-renowned for her research in play therapy and assessment with young children.

Dr. Gary Brooks, professor of psychology and neuroscience, who is a nationally known expert in men's issues in psychotherapy.

Dr. Sara Dolan, assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience, who is known for her research in the neuropsychological function in persons with substance abuse and other impulse-control disorders and how these issues affect substance abuse treatment processes and outcomes.

Dr. Keith Sanford, associate professor of psychology and neuroscience, whose research focuses on marriage counseling and couples' therapy, including analyzing the way couples communicate and how spouse communication affects the long-term health of the relationship. Sanford is in the process of developing an online tool to help couples with their relationships.

Baylor is leasing more than 10,000 square feet of space in the Wells Fargo Tower for the program. To prepare for the move, Baylor facilities personnel have been renovating and upgrading the space. The university also is pursuing the expansion of the DASH (Downtown Area Shuttle) route to include the Washington Avenue location to make it easier for graduate and undergraduate students to travel downtown.

Media contact: Lori Fogleman, director of media communications, (254) 710-6275

Looking for more news from Baylor University?