The school psychology doctoral program at the University of Montana has successfully obtained accreditation from the American Psychological Association. The doctoral program matriculated its first student in fall of 2005 and graduated its first student in 2014. This is the program’s initial accreditation.

School psychologists, like clinical or counseling psychologists, are health service psychologists who provide expertise in mental health, learning and behavior to help children and youth succeed academically, socially and emotionally.

“The school psychology Ph.D. program at UM is the only program in the state of Montana that prepares future school psychologists to work with children in a variety of settings, including schools, hospitals and community mental health centers,” said Anisa Goforth, director of UM’s School Psychology Graduate Training Programs. “We are also the only APA-accredited doctoral program in the region, so this accreditation means we are able to train more psychologists who can meet the mental health and academic needs of children and youth.”

The School Psychology Program is housed in UM’s Department of Psychology and has three full-time faculty members: Greg Machek, Jacqueline Brown and Goforth. The department also includes the Experimental Psychology Program as well as the Clinical Psychology Program, which has been fully accredited by APA since 1965.

“We are so fortunate to have the dedicated and highly qualified school psychology faculty who shepherded this effort along,” said Christine Fiore, chair of the Department of Psychology. “Greg Machek, as director of the School Psychology Program at the time, was unstoppable in all of his work ensuring our success. Certainly, the expertise of Drs. Goforth and Brown, and our exceptional school psychology students solidified our success in achieving this milestone as well.”

Status as an accredited program means that doctoral students have met rigorous, nationally recognized standards for the provision of quality mental health care set by APA. Programs seeking accreditation by APA undergo an extensive self-assessment and onsite review by APA Committee on Accreditation.

“It is incredibly exciting for me to graduate from an APA-accredited program,” said Laura Ambrose, a school psychology doctoral student who soon will begin her pre-doctoral internship (similar to a medical residency) at Kennedy Krieger Institute at Johns Hopkins University. “This means that I will be eligible for many wonderful opportunities in the future to work with children, families and education and mental health professionals.”