Robyn Shepardson wants more mental health care to be available for veterans.
“They’ve experienced horrors of war that civilians cannot imagine,” said Shepardson, who earned a degree in psychology from the University of Mary Washington in 2005. “As a society, we owe it to those who have served to take good care of them when they leave the military.”
She hopes to impart her message – that integrating mental health into primary care settings is key to increasing access to service for veterans affected by repeated deployments, combat or traumatic brain injuries – during a visit tomorrow at UMW.
This year’s psychology graduate-in-residence, Shepardson will deliver a lecture titled “Increasing Access to Mental Health Treatment: Clinical Research Evaluating a Brief Anxiety Intervention for Primary Care Behavioral Health Settings.” The free public presentation will take place in the Hurley Convergence Center Digital Auditorium on Thursday, Sept. 15, at 4 p.m.
A clinical psychologist and researcher at the Department of Veterans Affairs in Syracuse, New York, Shepardson said her career began to take shape at Mary Washington. Courses in abnormal psychology with Professor Miriam Liss and in health psychology with Professor Christine McBride led her to graduate study of the connection between mental and physical health.
“UMW offers excellent experiential learning opportunities to allow students to get a real feel for what careers in research and clinical work might be like,” said Shepardson, who also completed two yearlong research projects under McBride as an undergrad.
She went on to earn a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Syracuse University. She also completed a predoctoral internship at Brown University’s Clinical Psychology Training Consortium and a postdoctoral fellowship at the VA Center for Integrated Healthcare before transitioning to her role as an investigator.
Shepardson has received numerous grants to fund her research and published more than 50 articles in peer-reviewed journals. She is licensed in New York, supervises psychology interns and fellows, and serves as co-editor of an integrated care journal.
Back at her alma mater tomorrow, she’ll address specific psychology classes, presenting about her work developing, testing and implementing interventions for veterans with anxiety and depression. She’ll also have lunch with students interested in pursuing graduate school or careers in related fields, sharing with them her experiences in a clinical research career.
“I hope students will appreciate the wide array of interesting and fulfilling career pathways that are available in the realms of clinical psychology and research,” she said. “I hope they’ll get a sense of what’s involved in it and the potential wide-scale impact it can have.”
The Graduate-in-Residence program began in 1995 to enhance career advising in the Department of Psychological Science. Each year, the faculty invites to campus an alum who’s engaged in interesting work to introduce psychology majors to UMW grads who work in the field. For more information about the program, contact the Department of Psychological Science at (540) 654-1054.