Psychology Program Expands to Include Neuropsychology

Psychology Program Expands to Include Neuropsychology

by Beth LaMontagne Hall

Monday, November 3, 2014

The troubling long-term effects from concussions and head injuries to athletes have been a subject of national debate for more than a year, and the tragic suicide of Robin Williams this summer prompted a discussion about the challenges those with depression face. Across the country, matters of the brain and behavior are playing a larger role in health care, education and public policy. At the University of New Hampshire at Manchester, interest in studying these subjects has increased. The Psychology program is one of the fastest growing programs on campus. UNH Manchester recently added to its faculty and expanded course offerings to provide students with classes in these growing areas of study. The university has four full-time faculty professors who are focused in a wide variety of fields of expertise, including developmental psychology, experimental sensory psychology, personality psychology and neuroscience. Although psychology isn’t the first major a student might think of when looking for a “hands-on” college experience, the UNH Manchester Psychology program has been designed to do just that, whether in the lab or in the field. This fall, students had even more opportunities to get that important hands-on experience. The university’s most recent hire is Daniel Seichepine, lecturer of psychology, who has done extensive research on the impact of concussions and was a co-author of the first published article on the impacts of brain injuries on behavior among NFL players. Seichepine said he hopes to continue studying concussions and how they affect mood behaviors and plans to expand UNH Manchester’s course offering in neuropsychology. “Neuropsychology is a growing field,” said Seichepine. “It kind of grew in big cities first but now the Elliot Hospital in Manchester has hired two new neuroscientists.”

Seichepine is teaching Sports Neuropsychology this fall, which focuses on the impact of brain injury in athletes, and in coming semesters students will see a brain dissection lab added to the neuropsychology class and a new Clinical Neuropsychology Assessment class, which will teach students how to administer important psychological tests and evaluations. These tests, Seichepine said, are key tools used by neuropsychologists. Staff trained to conduct them, called psychomedtricians, are in high demand, he added. Gary Goldstein, associate professor of psychology and the program coordinator, said the addition of Seichepine rounds out a very diverse faculty when it comes to areas of study. There is Alison Paglia, who teaches courses in developmental psychology and aging issues, but also does extensive community research and analysis. “She has created and is running a community research course where students work on a research project in the community,” said Goldstein. “It’s really a great experience for the students and it’s a great career prep in an area that I don’t think undergraduates really think of.” Students can also get hands-on experience in the psychology lab, overseen by John Sparrow, associate professor of psychology. Focused in the study of sensation and perception, Sparrow offers students the chance to get direct experience doing psychological experiments. Goldstein heads the Psychology program, but also teaches courses in counseling psychological pathology and oversees student internships. These internships place students in clinical settings throughout the community, working in many of the same places students will be interviewing for jobs upon graduation. Internships can range from serving as a court appointed advocate to working with visitors to the local emergency room. Students interested in social work, working with children, serving the elderly, counseling teens and more have access to internships at roughly 60 agencies throughout the greater Manchester area that work in collaboration with the UNH Manchester Psychology program. These internships are demanding, but students will often be asked to perform the same duties as entry-level employees, said Goldstein. That experience is extremely valuable to employers, who look for graduates with experience, he added. “Those entry level positons are what prepare them for advanced degrees and increases their chances of getting into a program,” he said. “It also helps them move up in the ladder within the agencies where they are working.” Request more information about the Psychology program at UNH Manchester

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