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California Institute of Integral Studies Launches Groundbreaking Community Mental Health Program

Master's degree program addresses growing mental health workforce crisis

SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In response to the growing mental health workforce crisis, California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) will launch a groundbreaking graduate degree program in Community Mental Health in fall 2008.

The program will offer an M.A. in Counseling Psychology with a concentration in Community Mental Health, as well as an advanced Certificate in Community Mental Health for those with a master's degree in counseling psychology. The two programs are designed specifically to help build a diverse mental health workforce trained to provide effective and culturally competent therapeutic services in the public sector. Both build upon CIIS's long and successful history of educating people to be licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (MFTs), and its commitment to increase the diversity of counseling psychologists and psychotherapists.

"This program has the potential to serve as a national model for training counseling psychologists who can work in public and community mental health agencies fulfilling the needs of a diverse clientele," said Barbara Garcia, Deputy Director of Health, San Francisco Department of Public Health, who serves as one of the community advisors to the program.

The San Francisco Bay Area's need for culturally competent community mental health providers is expected to intensify over the next few decades. According to Garcia, San Francisco will need to replace nearly 70 percent of its public mental health workforce due to retirement within the next 10 years -- a trend that is echoed throughout the state and the nation.

Most graduate psychology programs implicitly prepare graduates to go into private practice. CIIS's Community Mental Health counseling psychology master's degree will train students to work specifically in community and public health clinics. In these settings, therapists treat clients with severe psychopathology, often combined with dual and triple diagnoses, substance abuse, or homelessness.

To facilitate the Community Mental Health program, CIIS recently appointed Steven Tierney as program director. He is the former deputy director of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and co-chair of the Mayor's Task Force on Crystal Methamphetamine. In January, Tierney was appointed by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom to serve on the San Francisco Health Commission. He has more than 20 years of experience in community mental health, as an administrator, teacher and lecturer, and is credited with playing a key role in reducing new HIV infections in San Francisco.

"CIIS's Community Mental Health master's program is a tremendous opportunity to prepare therapists to work in public settings and to provide new and more effective models of therapy," said Steven Tierney. "The program is designed to integrate the work experience of students -- many who will come from community mental health settings -- into the design of the curriculum. The process will be academically rigorous, alive and inclusive."

Those interested in applying for the program should contact CIIS's Admissions Office at 415.575.6154 or e-mail For more details on the program, visit

About California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS)

California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS), now celebrating its 40th anniversary, is an institution of higher education that strives to embody spirit, intellect and wisdom in service to individuals, communities and the earth. The Institute expands the boundaries of traditional degree programs with interdisciplinary and cross-cultural graduate studies in psychology, counseling, philosophy, religion, cultural anthropology, transformative studies and leadership, integrative health, women's spirituality, and community mental health. The Institute also offers advanced certificates and a unique Bachelor of Arts Completion Program in Interdisciplinary Studies. For more information, visit

Contact: Valerie Chow Bush, Director of Communications, 415.575.6165,

SOURCE California Institute of Integral Studies
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