Courtney Miller Wins 2020 Alameda County Psychological Association Dissertation Award

This month, Wright Institute Clinical Psychology student Courtney Miller was awarded the 2020 Alameda County Psychological Association (ACPA) Graduate Student Dissertation Award for her dissertation, “Bridging the Gap Between the Altar and the Therapist’s Office.” “I am honored to receive the 2020 ACPA Graduate Student Dissertation Award,” says Miller, “and I am thrilled to be able to use this award to further my research to impact my community.”

Miller’s study, “Bridging the Gap Between the Altar and the Therapist’s Office: A Needs Analysis for a Church-Based Mental Health Program from the Perspective of Pastors and Afican American Young Adult Congregants,” was designed to assess the attitudes, preferences, experiences, and needs for a church-based mental health program.

“In my various spheres of work, I have developed a broad network of relationships with churches in Alameda County and across the greater Bay Area which are interested in creating mental health programming for their African American young adults,” says Miller. The study was structured in two strands, the first of which was a survey of African American young adults, the Inventory of Attitudes Towards Seeking Mental Health Services (IASMHS) (Mackenzie et al., 2004), alongside a questionnaire created by Miller. The second strand consisted of interviews with pastors to discuss their reactions to and thoughts about the young adult responses as well as their own attitudes, perspectives, preferences, and needs for a church-based mental health program.

“My work will not stop at the completion of my dissertation research,” says Miller. “I plan to share my research by providing presentations and discussions with various churches across the nation.” Based on these findings, Miller will give recommendations for implementing a church-based mental health program that will take into consideration the attitudes, perspectives, preferences, and needs of all participants in this study—both the pastors and African American young adult congregants who completed the questionnaire.

“I want to thank Katie McGovern, PhD, and Allison Briscoe-Smith, PhD for their constant support,” says Miller, “and I want to thank Alameda County Psychological Association for considering me for this award.”


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