Program of the Month Q&A: PsyD Program Director Dr. Lynn Horne-Moyer (Chair, Department of Counseling & Clinical Psychology)
"A PsyD degree trains students in psychotherapy but also in areas such as supervision and applied research that allow them to provide clinical leadership."
Medaille College’s doctoral program in clinical psychology (PsyD) is steered by a team of faculty members who are experienced clinicians, led by Department of Counseling & Clinical Psychology Chair and PsyD Program Director Dr. Lynn Horne-Moyer. Dr. Horne-Moyer began teaching at Medaille in 2007, when she was hired to help develop and direct the PsyD program, and she became the chair of the Department of Counseling & Clinical Psychology during the 2016-17 academic year.
Dr. Horne-Moyer discovered her love of psychology when she was an undergraduate college student, along with discovering a faculty mentor who was teaching part-time while also seeing clients in his private practice. She learned a great deal from him, including how practitioners can do more within the field of clinical psychology than other areas of psychology. She pursued the same career path, and currently maintains a behavioral health practice and provider privileges at United Memorial Medical Center, Internal Medicine Clinic in Batavia, in addition to serving in her academic roles.
Here, Dr. Horne-Moyer shares her clinical psychology experience, provides insight into the field and Medaille’s PsyD program, and offers her expert advice on coping with stress and achieving a work/life balance.
What is the focus of the care you provide through your private practice?
It is a primary care clinic, so we see a wide range of cases. Some of the most common areas we treat are geropsychology, anxiety, depression and stress management. We use a team approach, and I get to consult with the physicians on staff.
How does your clinical work influence the content of the courses you teach?
I am able to bring the real cases into the classroom [respecting confidentiality] to give students vivid examples. My clinical work also allows me to keep current on what it takes to be a psychologist in today’s world, including the maintenance of electronic medical records while talking with patients. Additionally, it gives me the chance to research and read up on a particular area when I face a challenging or unique case, so I am continually learning and modeling that process for students.
How would you describe the value of a PsyD degree in today’s clinical psychology world?
Psychological assessment is at the core of clinical psychology. A PsyD degree trains students in psychotherapy but also in areas such as supervision and applied research that allow them to provide clinical leadership. It allows for more practitioners who are very needed to enter the field upon graduation, and so the program is filling the need for more local clinicians in Western New York and beyond.
What makes Medaille’s PsyD program unique?
While the program uses fairly standard curriculum to meet the requirements for licensure in New York, Medaille’s tradition of making its programs accessible and incorporating flexible scheduling has been extended to the PsyD program. Holding classes two weekdays in a row allows students to commute or hold down other jobs and responsibilities. We have also worked on developing training sites closer to our students who commute from a distance.
What advice would you give people who want to get into the mental health field?
If you are interested in helping people or working with people with mental health issues, there are a lot of different options. I would tell people curious about the field to find out as much as they can all the different options within the field, like the difference between Medaille’s clinical mental health counseling, marriage and family therapy, and clinical psychology programs. In particular, our PsyD program gives students an in-depth knowledge base to become and educated and informed person who will advance the field.
What advice would you give to current PsyD students?
I always advise current PsyD students to read everything they can get their hands on. The best way to develop in their thinking and writing is to read. I would tell them to swim in the sea of clinical and scientific literature and theory. Follow and start to develop their interests, because those will take them into the area where they will make their biggest contribution. But I also advise them not to make their entire life about psychology, because those other things in life can end up enhancing their practice more than they realize.
Coming from a psychology-based background and having a lot on your plate with running your private practice and serving as department chair, what do you find is the best way to achieve a work/life balance?
In my opinion, balance is the wrong term and the wrong way to look at things, because it implies something will tip. I think in terms of work-life integration; if you are doing fulfilling work, it will enhance what you bring to those other areas of your life, and vice versa.
In your professional opinion, what is the best way to cope with or handle stress?
Stress gets a bad name right now, but it’s not a completely bad thing. In fact, if you are completely relaxed, then you are not growing. Psychologically speaking, there is an optimal level of stress and anxiety. If stress is taking over, the remedies to that will usually fall under the category of mastering it, whether that is through stress management (relaxation techniques), becoming more mindful and present, or actively making different choices. There are also a number of things that work on a nervous system level that can help us mitigate the effects that chronic stress has on our bodies — things that everyone knows to do but can forget — like exercise, getting enough sleep, good nutrition or relaxation. The key for most people is to set the intention to address the problem head on. Avoidance gets you into the biggest trouble, because the things we do to avoid our feelings often do more harm than good.
Medaille College’s doctoral program in clinical psychology (PsyD) is a full-time, five-year, practitioner-oriented program that prepares a student for a career as a licensed psychologist. The PsyD program requires over 1,000 hours of supervised practicum experience in assessment and therapy, as well as the completion of a clinical dissertation in close consultation with the student’s faculty advisor.
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