Behavioral Psychology - No longer accepting applications for 2015

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Behavioral Psychology - No longer accepting applications for 2015


The Behavioral Psychology (Behavioral Medicine/ Severe Mental Illness) fellowship is a state-of-the-art collaborative fellowship between Western State Hospital and the University of Virginia Department of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences.  This fellowship exposes fellows to practice as part of a multidisciplinary team in both academic medical and psychiatric hospital settings.  The Postdoctoral Fellow has the opportunity to provide assessment and treatment of clients with a variety of severe and persistent psychiatric disorders, behavioral issues, and medical illnesses, as well as outpatient clients with presenting issues such as obesity, diabetes, insomnia, depression, eating disorders, phobias, adjustment disorders, OCD, and psychological problems related to medical complications.

wsh_new.JPGClinical training includes ongoing rotations at Western State Hospital, a Joint Commission accredited inpatient facility in Staunton, VA, and at the Behavioral Medicine Center at the University of Virginia Health System.  Fellows receive training in delivering a range of evidence-based practices in both individual and group formats in psychiatric and academic medical settings. There is significant opportunity to seek out training experiences of interest and to customize the fellowship experience.  On each rotation, fellows work with and receive supervision from faculty members who specialize in that service area.

The fellowship program is a one-year, full-time training experience (with a possible renewal for a second year).  The fellowship start date is somewhat negotiable, but typically occurs in July or August.  The fellowship is administered by the Medical Psychology Fellowship Program in the UVa Department of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences. Each fellow is appointed to the Housestaff of the University of Virginia Health System and awarded a certificate by the UVaHS upon successful completion of the training program.

Clinical Focus (80%)

Severe Mental Illness

Three days each week are devoted to Western State Hospital, with a focus on empirically-supported service provision for individuals with severe mental illness.  Common diagnoses include Schizophrenia, Schizoaffective Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, and co-morbid substance use disorders.  At Western State hospital, we use a comprehensive recovery and psychosocial rehabilitation approach to service delivery.  Fellows work primarily on an acute care ward, but also as a hospital-wide behavioral consultant.  Specifically, fellows work as part of an interdisciplinary ward team of psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, nursing staff, and other professionals to develop integrated treatment plans and provide direct care via individual psychotherapy and psychosocial rehabilitation groups on an acute care unit.  Fellows complete core training experiences in severe mental illness and psychosocial rehabilitation, as well as serve as the Behavioral Consultant for the larger hospital, providing behavioral assessments and complex case consultation.  In addition, fellows will choose from among many training options, including training for staff, individual psychotherapy, biofeedback, and supervision of practicum students.  Fellows learn to integrate assessment data and psychiatric history into complex case conceptualizations and gain experience with working with persons from various socioeconomic statuses and ethnic and cultural backgrounds. They lead behavioral and cognitive groups and have significant freedom to design groups of interest to them. Didactic opportunities are available and encouraged.

Behavioral Medicine

Approximately two days each week. The fellow will conduct a variety of outpatient psychological evaluations, including assessments specifically tailored for different patient populations, including bariatric (weight loss) surgery, insomnia, diabetes, and pediatric encopresis and feeding disorders.  In addition, the fellow will provide psychotherapy services to individuals presenting with a wide variety of medical and psychiatric conditions.  Patient referrals to the clinic are made by other clinics and departments in the UVA Health Sciences Center, as well as by the UVA Employee and Faculty Assistance Program and UVA Student Health.  The Behavioral Medicine Clinic also provides services for a broad age range of patients, including pediatric and geriatric.  While treatment plans and approaches are primarily evidence-based and cognitive-behaviorally oriented, fellows will also be encouraged to to utilize interventions based in other theoretical perspectives when appropriate, including dynamic and interpersonal.  Fellows typically conduct no more than one evaluation per week, and maintain a caseload of 8-10 weekly/bi-weekly psychotherapy patients.

In addition to these clinical activities, fellows will be provided with 1-2 hours of individual supervision with an attending psychologist each week, and one hour of weekly group supervision.  There are two didactic hours per month, which include presentations from other UVA psychologists and physicians.  Fellows will also participate in administrative activities in the clinic, including a weekly meeting of all clinical staff and trainees.  See Behavioral Medicine page for information on the clinical component of Behavioral Medicine rotation.

Educational & Professional Development at WSH (10%)*

  1. Meetings with the Program Director and postdoctoral fellows across sub-specialty areas during the academic year to discuss administrative issues and professional development.
  2. Western State Hospital Grand Rounds
  3. A variety of forensic education programs provided through UVa Institute of Law, Psychiatry, and Public Policy (space permitting)
  4. Involvement in hospital-wide committees that focus on the application of psychological knowledge throughout the hospital (e.g., Behavioral Management Committee, behavioral training of direct care staff).

Research Focus (10%)*

This may include projects designed by the Fellow or participation in ongoing research projects at WSH, including:

  1. Assessing the interaction skills of direct care staff
  2. Case studies


* see Behavioral Medicine description for other education and professional development and research focus.

Location of Fellowship

Behavioral Medicine Center, University of Virginia Department of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences (Charlottesville, VA).  See the description provided for the Behavioral Medicine Fellowship.

Western State Hospital (Staunton, VA)

wsh_old.JPGWestern State Hospital (WSH) is a public psychiatric treatment facility located in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia approximately 40 miles west of Charlottesville. The hospital is fully accredited by the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Health Care Organizations (JCAHO). WSH serves 34 counties and 12 cities, and admits individuals who are 18 to 64 years of age.  All patients admitted to WSH must have been assessed by a mental health professional in the community and judged to require inpatient psychiatric treatment. Currently, the hospital maintains a census of approximately 240 patients. Each area of the hospital is described in the following text.  Of note, a new hospital is under construction with an anticipated move-in date in the Fall 2013, thus the fellow will have the opportunity to assist with that transition and work in a state-of-the-art inpatient facility.

Acute Care

The Acute Care (admissions) area is comprised of four units, each with approximately 25 individuals with severe mental disorders.  The majority of these individuals meet involuntary commitment criteria (viz., inability to care for self, dangerous to self or others due to mental illness) at the time of admission. The primary goal of care in this area is to provide intensive diagnostic evaluation and treatment directed toward stabilizing florid psychiatric symptoms (generally, acute psychosis and/or suicidality) and returning patients to their community as quickly as possible. There are two coed civil wards serving patients 18-65 years,  an all-male forensic ward (viz., patients who have pending legal charges, are not competent to stand trial, or who have been adjudicated NGRI), and a coed ward that is mostly forensic.  Most patients on these wards return to a community setting following treatment.  The fellow conducts diagnostic interviewing and assessment, brief individual and group therapy, and behavioral treatment planning.  The fellow's primary base of operations is one of the civil co-ed acute care wards, where he or she serves as a member of the treatment team.

Extended Rehabilitation

The six Extended Rehabilitation wards serve patients who have persistent impairments and who cannot be discharged from an acute care ward. These patients exhibit refractory psychiatric symptoms and living skill deficits that impair their ability to function in a community setting. Some also exhibit problem behaviors or deficits in basic self-care that are difficult for community placements to tolerate. There are several Psychosocial rehabilitation Day programs that provide self-management and self-care training to individuals from these wards. The psychologists conduct a variety of structured group therapies, in addition to ore traditional group therapy in these programs. Psychologists on these wards are also involved in developing and refining ward contingency management procedures (e. g., token economies) and individualized treatment plans. They also conduct serial assessments to assess progress.  They fellow's primary involvement on the extended rehabilitation wards is to serve as a consultant on complex cases, provide psychosocial group treatment, and, if desired, provide individual treatment.


A separate Neuropsychology Laboratory provides intellectual, personality, and neuropsychological evaluations on a consultation basis for patients throughout the hospital. The focus of assessment or consultation may range from brief, focused neurocognitive assessments to a full neuropsychological battery. Dr. Beth Caillouet directs this service.

WSH also offers seminars that are available to psychology fellows. These include the weekly grand rounds for WSH professional staff and the monthly in-services specifically for the psychology department faculty. Dr. Jeff Phillips is the Director of Psychology at Western State Hospital.  Fellows are also required to attend the Monthly Psychology Fellows Meeting held at UVa.

Core Faculty

Western State Hospital

  • Jeff Phillips, Ph.D., Director of Psychology

Behavioral Medicine Center (UVa Health System)

  • Linda Gonder-Frederick, Ph.D. (Behavioral Medicine, Director of Training & Clinic Director)
  • Daniel Cox, Ph.D., ABPP-Clinical Psychology  (Director, Center for Behavioral Medicine Research)
  • Elaine Bailey, Ph.D.
  • Doug DeGood, Ph.D.
  • Jaclyn Shepard, Psy.D.

Current Fellow

  • Allison Splaun, Ph.D.

Admission Criteria

  • Completion of a doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology from an APA-approved program
  • Completion of an APA-approved predoctoral internship in Clinical Psychology.

Materials Required

  • A completed application (available for download from the website).
  • A copy of your most recent curriculum vitae
  • Three letters of recommendation from those familiar with your work.




Linda Gonder-Frederick, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences
Clinical Director, Behavioral Medicine Center
Box 800223
University of Virginia Health System
Charlottesville, Virginia 22903