Clinical Geropsychology

Clinical geropsychology is a growing specialization, with board certification by the American Board of Professional Psychology, that attempts to meet the needs of the increasing older adult population. Faculty within this subarea conduct applied research in cognition; decision-making (medical, financial); interventions for dementia caregivers and for individuals and families near the end of life; person-centered organizational culture change, pain, and quality of formal and informal long-term care.

For more details, see the clinical geropsychology curriculum, or find affiliated faculty in the department directory.

Coordinator: Dr. Rebecca Allen

Research Topics

Specific research topics include

  • everyday quality of life in the context of pain and other chronic illness symptoms
  • interventions to reduce the stress of individuals, family, and professional caregivers within the context of advanced chronic or terminal illness
  • the cultural (race/ethnicity; rural/urban) dynamics of healthcare decision making
  • age-related changes in attentional and semantic processes
  • ethics
  • racial/ethnic and geographic disparities
  • memory and aging
  • quality of care across the long-term care continuum
  • quality improvement and organizational change in long-term care

Clinical Training Opportunities

The UA Geropsychology subarea offers a wide variety of clinical training opportunities with older adult populations, including

  • Geropsychology Clinic (required): Psychology graduate students provide individual and family psychotherapy to older adults in the clinic or in the home. This clinic is one of several specialty clinics in the department’s Psychology Clinic.
  • University Medical Center Geriatrics Clinic (required): Psychology graduate students work as part of an interprofessional team with geriatricians, social workers, pharmacists, and family practice residents to provide assessment within the context of primary care to older adult outpatients.
  • Mary S. Harper Geriatric Psychiatry Center (potential paid placement): Psychology graduate students conduct assessment and consultative services and provide group and individual therapy to geriatric psychiatric inpatients.
  • Elder Law Clinic: Psychology graduate students conduct civil capacity evaluations in the areas of capacity for independent living, capacity to execute advance directives and legal documents, financial capacity, and capacity for caregiving. There also may be opportunities for work in visitation and mediation. This experience provides an excellent opportunity for integrative report writing.
  • Hospice of West Alabama: Psychology graduate students have the opportunity to work as “volunteers” with individuals receiving hospice care and their family members in-home or in the 15-bed inpatient facility. The opportunity to sit in on bereavement groups is also available.
  • Safe Harbor Inpatient Hospice at the Birmingham VA: Psychology graduate students have the opportunity to work with an interprofessional team on an inpatient hospice unit at the Birmingham VA. Students provide individual and family therapy and attend interdisciplinary treatment team meetings.