Expanding Our Reach: Increasing the Role of Psychologists in Public and Community Mental Health

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Abstract

Psychologists are currently underrepresented in community and public mental health settings, despite the advanced training and competencies that are salient for service in various unique and important functions in the public sector. This article will explore those functions including: transformation to recovery-oriented care, delivery of positive behavioral support, implementation and evaluation of evidence-based interventions, application of scholarly guided practice, emphasis on context, therapeutic relationship, and history in therapeutic interventions, provision of training, education, program development and evaluation, and development of leadership and leadership training in systems of care. To illustrate these, the authors share specific clinical applications that provide a picture of psychologists serving in these roles, with the aim of providing examples for other organizations to increase the representation of psychologists in the public sector. Finally, the potential opportunities through initiatives such as loan forgiveness and other economic incentives are briefly explored as possible mechanisms to achieve this aim.

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