Grant awarded to increase the number of doctoral health service psychology students serving in Kentucky

As Kentucky faces a need for more well-trained psychologists, Spalding University has created new opportunities for students to enter the field of health service psychology with an emphasis on providing services to communities most in need. To support this work, Spalding University has been awarded a grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) Graduate Psychology Education (GPE) program. Their award of nearly $1 million over three years will support the new Integrated C.A.R.E. (Community-based, Accessible, Recovery-oriented Education) Program. Funding will provide stipends for doctoral psychology students to train in integrated, interdisciplinary primary care settings (IIPC).  

The Integrated C.A.R.E. program will focus on IIPC training with a concentration on trauma-informed substance use/ opiate use disorder treatments as well as telehealth. Dr. Norah Chapman, Associate Chair of the School of Professional Psychology at Spalding University, will be the project director. Her passion for developing evidence-based practices in increasing the access to, and quality of, mental health care amongst underserved populations is reflected in this program.

Dr. Chapman states, “I am thrilled for our students to have the opportunity to support underserved populations in interdisciplinary primary care sites across the state. Their work will result in approximately 4,400 hours of additional behavioral health care support for Kentuckians each year of the three-year grant cycle. I have every confidence it will change their lives and the lives of those with whom they work.”

This grant also aligns with Spalding’s mission to create a diverse and inclusive learning environment. The program will increase the diversity of the psychology workforce by specifically recruiting students who are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC).

The focus on diversifying our workforce is crucial. Chapman explains, “The Integrated C.A.R.E. program is dedicated to using the resources provided through HRSA to especially support diversifying our workforce. For example, in Kentucky, only 4% of Psychologists are BIPOC. This is a significant underrepresentation in our community and a disservice to the Commonwealth. We will be recruiting BIPOC students especially for the program who will be able to receive financial support through the grant along with high quality training in health service psychology, to improve representation in our workforce in high need and high demand areas of Kentucky.”

Over the three-year cycle, twenty-one advanced doctoral psychology students will receive training in integrated, interdisciplinary primary care settings. Training sites are located in Medically Underserved Areas, including rural areas of Kentucky. Students will also receive specialized training in opiate use/substance use disorder (SUD/OUD) and will attend the annual Collaborative Family Healthcare Association (CFHA) conference. A final key element of the program will provide long-term sustainability by training six faculty in the School of Professional Psychology in IIPC and SUD/OUD assessment, prevention, and recovery. These faculty can train psychology students in these methods for years to come. Together, these outcomes will create transformative opportunities for our doctoral psychology students, while increasing the capacity in Louisville Metro and the Commonwealth of Kentucky to provide interdisciplinary behavioral healthcare for vulnerable and medically underserved populations. 



 LEARN MORE: Doctor of Clinical Psychology


Spalding University has once again received a grant of more than $1 million from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to support advanced-level psychology and social work students who provide behavioral health services in integrated primary care settings in medically underserved areas of Louisville.

The $1,048,827 grant, which comes via the federal Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training (BHWET) program, will fund stipends over four years to Spalding students pursuing a doctorate in clinical psychology (PsyD) or a master’s degree in social work (MSW). It continues BHWET support that Spalding has received since 2017 through the university’s Interdisciplinary Behavioral Health Scholars Program. The stipends assist in the recruitment and retention of future behavioral health professionals who do their training work in medically underserved areas.

Over the four-year cycle, a total of 36 Spalding PsyD and MSW students will provide assessments, counseling, addiction therapy and a range of other services at five Louisville health and wellness sites that also provide primary medical care. In addition to providing in-person services, the program aims to train students in and familiarize patients with the use of telehealth.

Program Overviews – BSSW | MSW | DSW
Social work faculty bios

The practicum and fieldwork sites partnering with Spalding are Family Health Centers’ Iroquois, Portland and Southwest branches; the Shawnee Christian Healthcare Center; and the Smoketown Family Wellness Center. These sites also provide pediatric services and support at-risk youth, which is a focus of the Spalding program. The sites are located in parts of the community that have a shortage of behavioral health providers.

Program Overviews | BA in Psychology | PsyD
Psychology faculty bios
Explore the PsyD program

School of Professional Psychology Professor Dr. Steve Katsikas, who will continue to direct the project on behalf of Spalding, said the university’s HRSA BHWET grant “represents an incredible investment in the future workforce that will have immediate and long-term benefits to Louisville and surrounding areas.”

“The majority of health conditions that impact people have a behavioral component, including smoking, diabetes, asthma, substance misuse, COPD, obesity and chronic pain,” Katsikas said. “Professionals working as a part of an integrated team can help prevent or address these and other concerns in a setting that is accessible and familiar to patients. We are thrilled to be able to support these students in their training and bring healing and help to our community.”

School of Professional Psychology Chair Dr. Brenda Nash said integrated primary care (IPC) settings are projected to be a “major avenue of practice for psychologists in the near future.” The training opportunities provided by the BHWET-supported project will make Spalding PsyD students more competitive for IPC internships and, ultimately, those emerging jobs, she said.

Spalding PsyD students selected for the program will receive $25,000 annual stipends, and MSW students will receive $10,000 stipends.

“The fact that we are able to train students in this model and provide grant-funded stipends to them is huge as it helps cut down students’ debt load as they are learning marketable skills,” Nash said. “We do everything we can to find opportunities and partnerships to help reduce students’ debt. We are thrilled and honored to have received the HRSA Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training grant for the second cycle in a row. It shows our commitment to training and supporting students, and it shows the confidence that HRSA has in us to train the next generation of psychologists.”

School of Social Work Chair Dr. Shannon Cambron called the grant “a game-changer for both our Master of Social Work students and the community they serve.”

“Students are given the opportunity to prepare for the work they’re called to in an interdisciplinary setting where they can holistically consider the needs and strengths of the client,” she said. “The tuition support means they graduate with far less financial burden, which opens more broadly their avenues of service to the community. This grant and those who participate in it are living examples of Spalding’s mission to meet the needs of the times. It’s an exciting reflection of what truly being a diverse community of learners can mean for the student, the university and the community.”

The HRSA grant also supports a faculty clinical coordinator and student supervisors. Dr. Sarah Shelton from the School of Professional Psychology will continue to serve as the clinical coordinator and PsyD supervisor. School of Social Work Assistant Professor Glynita Bell is the MSW supervisor.

Note: This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of an award totaling $1,048,827 with 0 percentage financed with non-governmental sources. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA, HHS, or the U.S. government. For more information, please visit

Spalding University Chief Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Officer Dr. Steven Kniffley, a faculty member in the School of Professional Psychology and the leader of Spalding’s Collective Care Center behavioral health specialty clinic for racial trauma, was recently honored by Louisville Business First as a 2021 Health Care Hero.

Dr. Kniffley, a clinical psychologist, was honored in the category of Health Equity Champion following a year in which he helped Collective Care Center fill a key role as the only behavioral health clinic in Louisville to specialize in treating race-based trauma and stress. The Collective Care Center is a division of Spalding’s Center for Behavioral Health, which is a training clinic for clinical psychology doctoral (PsyD) students in the School of Professional Psychology.

Kniffley is a scholar and frequent public speaker on matters of race and racial trauma and has given dozens of presentations, interviews and seminars on those topics.

Dr. Kniffley, who is a graduate of the Spalding PsyD that he now teaches in, was also recognized last year as a member of Louisville Business First’s Forty Under 40 list of outstanding young professionals in Louisville and received a MediStar Award from the Medical News for his work in treating and raising awareness for racial trauma.

He was appointed to the role of Chief Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Officer in December. A member of President Tori Murden McClure’s senior leadership cabinet – known as the Operational Council – Kniffley plays a broad role in promoting diversity and inclusion in programs across campus. He is also the President-Elect of the Kentucky Psychological Association.

A list of all 2021 Louisville Business First Health Care Heroes can be found here (subscription link), and the honorees will profiled in the April 9 issue of the publication.

After stepping into the role of Chair of Spalding University’s School of Professional Psychology last July, Dr. Brenda Nash will have the opportunity to enhance her leadership skills over the coming year in one of the nation’s most highly regarded professional development programs for women leaders in her field.

Nash is among the small group across the nation who were recently chosen to participate in the 13th class of the American Psychological Association’s Leadership Institute for Women in Psychology, which exists to enhance the number and effectiveness of women psychologists holding leadership positions in academic, practice and other professional settings.

Nash will participate in more than a dozen workshops and discussion sessions this spring and fall while also completing a leadership project.

“I am incredibly proud to be selected,” Nash said. “It’s a program that is set up to educate, empower and support women in psychology as leaders. For me, having just transitioned into the Chair role, it’s perfect timing for me to get some additional training, some additional support of being a woman leader in academia.”

Nash said that while she is excited for the personal opportunity to develop her leadership skills, she is “equally or more excited” for the chance to share what she’ll learn with other women on the psychology faculty and in the student body who aspire to be leaders.

Nash said that while a lot of administrative models are so-called “power over” models – in which the leader exhibits power over others on a team and exercises authority and decision-making with that in mind – she prefers a “power with” leadership model that is more collaborative.

“That is my style as an instructor, as a therapist, and it makes sense that would be my style as a leader,” she said. “But there is not a whole lot of information and training out in the world about how to be a collaborative leader. … I think (going through this institute) is not just about learning skills but feeling the support and empowerment of being that kind of leader – seeing that as a viable, important way of leading.”

BA in Psychology | PsyD in Clinical Psychology | Faculty bios
*Dr. Brenda Nash honored with 2020 Outstanding Faculty Award
*Spalding PsyD program achieves perfect internship match rate
*Collective Care Center fills key need as racial trauma specialty clinic
*Faculty Q&As with Dr. David Morgan and Dr. Amy Young

Inclusion in the APA’s LIWP is the latest accolade in a distinguished tenure for Nash at Spalding.

Before ascending to the role of Chair, Nash spent nine years as the School of Professional Psychology’s Director of Clinical Training, where she managed practicum and internship placements of students in Spalding’s Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) in Clinical Psychology program.

Under Nash’s watch, Spalding has matched 100 percent of its doctoral students with an internship for the past seven years, including a current four-year streak in which every student was placed at an APA-accredited site. The rate at which students are matched with APA-accredited internship sites is considered a key measure of the overall quality of a PsyD program, and Spalding has been perfect in that category since 2017.

Nash, who graduated summa cum laude for all three of her degrees (doctorate from the University of Kentucky, master’s from Xavier University and bachelor’s from Morehead State University), came to Spalding as an adjunct instructor in 1998,  then joined the fulltime psychology faculty in 2006 as Director of the Adult Emphasis Area. In 2013, she earned tenure, and in 2019 she was elevated to full professor.

Last June, just before she became SOPP Chair, Nash was honored with Spalding’s 2020 Outstanding Faculty Award.

“I never envisioned being Chair of the program, but it’s such a privilege and honor to be in this role,” she said. “I love this program and believe in this program.

“When we train one student to be a wonderful psychologist – and they go out into the world, and you think about all the people they work with, and then all the people in those people’s lives – the impact of that one student just ripples. … To teach and train the next generation of psychologists to have an impact in their communities and their world, it’s very humbling.”

Spalding Dean of Graduate Education Dr. Kurt Jefferson said he is happy that Nash earned the recognition from the APA’s prestigious training program.

“She will enjoy this opportunity,” Jefferson said, “and her stellar vision and leadership, in guiding Spalding’s School of Professional Psychology, will guide her in working with colleagues across the nation on many topics, such as clinical education, social justice, and training doctoral-level clinical psychology students.”

Nash said that her inclusion in the LIWP is a symbol of validation of the APA’s view of Spalding’s psychology programs.

“The fact that they see me as someone they want to spend the time and energy developing as a leader says they also see the value of what we do in this program and at this university,” she said. “I think it’s huge.”

During a moment in which the deaths of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and others have renewed and heightened the focus on racism in America, a specialty clinic at Spalding University’s Center for Behavioral Health has served a unique role in raising awareness and providing therapy for victims of race-based stress and trauma.

The Collective Care Center, which is a division of the comprehensive Center of Behavioral Health psychological services and training clinic, is the only mental health clinic in Louisville – and one of only a few nationally – that specializes in racial trauma.

Over the past several months, in the wake of the killings of Taylor and Floyd, the Collective Care Center has offered free telehealth services to dozens of clients during the pandemic, helping them process and cope with the racial trauma they’ve experienced throughout their lives.

The clinic fills a need in a country in which 96 percent of Black citizens report daily experiences of racism and discrimination, said Spalding Chief Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Officer  Dr. Steven Kniffley, who leads the Collective Care Center while also serving on the faculty of the School of Professional Psychology.

“We do the work that we do because we recognize that there’s this unique form of trauma that Black and Brown folks are experiencing that can’t be explained away by (more commonly discussed forms of) physical trauma or emotional trauma,” Kniffley said. “And we recognize that the earlier that we can intervene, the better support that we can provide.”

MORE | Center for Behavioral Health | Collective Care Center 

Kniffley is a frequent public speaker who leads talks and seminars explaining racial trauma, estimating that he’s given more than 100 community presentations since March. Since June, about 400 clinicians, including ones in Africa, England and the Caribbean, have participated in training workshops developed by Kniffley on racial trauma and therapy.

Kniffley said socioeconomic status and educational status do not provide buffers against the experience of race-based stress, noting that in Louisville, Blacks have about the same life expectancy regardless of if they live in the West End or East End.

People experiencing race-based stress may include those who have been direct victims of discrimination, targets of racial slurs or witnesses to a traumatic event. People can also be vicariously traumatized by seeing disturbing images and news accounts of traumatic events involving race.

“We would ask, ‘When was the last time you experienced a racially traumatic event?’” Kniffley said. “‘How distressing was that to you? In what ways is that distress showing up for you? Are you having a hard time sleeping? Are you feeling anxious … around your surroundings?’”

MORE | Spalding PsyD Program Overview | Psychology Faculty Bios

He said race-based stress is nothing new, but only in recent years has it been more formally recognized as a potentially serious physical and psychological health factor that may require professional help.

“From a public health standpoint, racism can literally kill you,” Kniffley said, “because it can contribute to depression, anxiety, and it can also lead to high blood pressure, diabetes, low birth weight.”

RELATED | Kniffley named Chief Justice, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion Officer
RELATED | PsyD student selected for prestigious APA Minority Fellowship 

The Collective Care Center is able to offer free therapy services through the support of community partners. In one such partnership, Heine Brothers’ Coffee recently donated $1,212 to the Collective Care Center as one of its 2020 Social Impact Partners. For several months, Heine Brothers’  contributed $1 of every bag sold of its Mountain Dream coffee to the CCC.

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Overall growth at Center for Behavioral Health

The increased impact of the Collective Care Center has coincided with the overall growth of the Center for Behavioral Health (CBH), which serves as a training clinic for many students in Spalding’s Doctor of Clinical Psychology (PsyD) program.

The CBH offers a range of mental health services to the public at an affordable rate, using a sliding scale based on income and home size. The clinic offers psychological assessments and individual, couple, group and family therapy services with children, adolescents, adults and older adults.

Over the past two years, visits to the CBH have more than quadrupled, now averaging about 115 per week, according to Dr. Norah Chapman, Director of the CBH and Associate Chair of the School of Professional Psychology.

The CBH, located in Spalding’s Mansion East complex at 851 S. Fourth St., continues to offer in-person assessments while conducting therapy sessions exclusively via telehealth during the pandemic.

“I think now, more than ever, people are isolated and anxious in the uncertainty of our times,” Chapman said. “Receiving mental health care and just having somebody to (help people) feel less alone or maybe validated in the experiences that they are going through is crucial.”

Chapman said the CBH is developing a specialty clinic for women and families dealing with the emotional toll of infertility, pregnancy loss and other postpartum issues. One in four women have experienced pregnancy loss, and it can be exacerbated for women of color, she said.

“Fertility counseling and post-partum counseling are not widely talked about in our field,” Chapman said, “and it’s not readily accessible to a lot of folks because of cost. It’s very expensive to go through that process. These experiences can be really painful for a lot of people, and especially if that care is not available to them, the psychological ramifications of that are paramount.”

Chapman said the CBH has probably become the largest PsyD practicum site in the city, with students gaining the experience of working with clients while under the supervision of Spalding faculty members who are licensed clinical psychologists, such as herself and Kniffley.

“I have tremendous pride that Spalding University is behind the CBH and the CCC in our dual mission of training doctoral students and working with underserved communities, including ensuring that racial trauma treatment and healing are offered in our community,” Chapman said.

“We’re doing something novel to really meet the needs of the times and to really help to facilitate access to quality behavioral health care while also making sure that our students are getting training before they go off independently to create their own ripples in the world.”

For more information on the Collective Care Center or any services offered at the Center for Behavioral Health, call (502) 792-7011 or visit

Consistent with its mission of promoting peace and justice through education, Spalding University announced on Martin Luther King Jr. Day that it is launching an online training and professional development program in antiracism.

Available nationally to individuals and groups from public-sector, corporate and nonprofit organizations, the range of half- and full-day online courses – collectively titled Restorative Practices for the Antiracist Journey – will teach concepts of cultural humility and restorative practices as a means to bring about positive social change.

Enrollment is open now for Restorative Practices for the Antiracist Journey with live virtual sessions set to start in late January. It is the first featured offering of a reorganized interdisciplinary institute of social justice-themed training at Spalding – called The Well – that will be housed in the School of Social Work. Visit to register.

Spalding’s Restorative Practices for the Antiracist Journey is designed and facilitated by faculty and staff leaders of the university’s Center for Peace and Spiritual Renewal, School of Social Work, School of Professional Psychology and Collective Care Center, which is one of the nation’s only behavioral health clinics to specialize in treating race-based trauma and stress.

REGISTER | Restorative Practices for the Antiracist Journey courses now available on The Well

The faculty and staff serving as facilitators for the program are among Louisville’s leading scholars on matters of restorative practices and dialogue, conflict resolution, polarity management, cultural humility, institutional oppression and racial trauma.

“This program is designed for individuals and groups who are interested in meaningfully and constructively addressing and healing race relations in their professional and personal lives through self-exploration, truth-telling, difficult dialogue and action,” said Spalding Executive Director for Peace and Spiritual Renewal Chandra Irvin, who helped lead the Charleston (South Carolina) Illumination Project of community conversations and healing following the tragic shooting of nine Black parishioners at Emanuel AME Church in 2015. “The Spalding faculty and staff who have collaborated to create this program have a great deal of experience in these spaces and bring a diverse set of perspectives. Organizations that participate in this training at Spalding will be making a valuable investment that demonstrates a strong commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.”

Certified in 2011 as the World’s First Compassionate University, Spalding is a historic, private institution that has been located for 100 years in downtown Louisville – which, as the hometown of Breonna Taylor, saw months of demonstrations last year in the name of racial justice, including several that took place on or near Spalding’s campus.

“Spalding’s mission states that we are a diverse community of learners dedicated to meeting the needs of the times by promoting peace and justice through education and service,” Spalding President Tori Murden McClure said. “As the past year has shown, pain and suffering from racial injustice and inequity remain prevalent in our society. Offering the Restorative Practices for the Antiracist Journey training program is an example of Spalding meeting the needs of the times by using the experience, wisdom and teaching skills of our faculty and staff to help promote a more equitable world.”

Upon completion, participants in Restorative Practices for the Antiracist Journey will be awarded three tiers of certification badges by Spalding – Bronze, Silver and Ebony (highest level) – based on the number of sessions completed, and these credentials will be appropriate to share on resumes and online professional profiles. Completed hours in the program can be applied to continuing education requirements for social workers, and Spalding plans to seek approval for continuing education credits from other professions’ governance boards in the future.

“Spalding’s School of Social Work has a rich tradition of providing quality continuing education for practitioners and community members throughout Kentucky,” School of Social Work Chair Dr. Shannon Cambron said. “The Well is the next chapter for us. It’s a reflection of our commitment to meet the needs of the times by co-creating an interdisciplinary space of training and engagement with a justice and equity lens – a space that equips people with the skills to begin the work of dismantling white supremacy and injustice. Restorative Practices for the Antiracist Journey is evidence of that commitment, and we are excited about this new chapter.”

For more information on participating in Restorative Practices for the Antiracist Journey, visit

Spalding University has named School of Professional Psychology faculty member Dr. Steven Kniffley – an innovative therapist and researcher on matters of race and racial trauma – as the university’s Chief Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Officer.

Kniffley is a clinical psychologist who is distinguished as the leader of Spalding’s Collective Care Center – one of the nation’s only behavioral health clinics to specialize in treating race-based trauma and stress. Since 2018, he has served as Associate Director of Spalding’s Center for Behavioral Health training clinic, of which the Collective Care Center is a specialty division.

Beginning in January, in his new role as Chief Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Officer, Kniffley will be a member of President Tori Murden McClure’s senior leadership team – known as the Operational Council – and will take on a broad role across campus in promoting best practices and developing initiatives that advance diversity as a critical component of social, academic and intellectual life at Spalding.

Working out of the President’s Office, Kniffley will support Spalding’s mission to be a “diverse community of learners dedicated to meeting the needs of the times” while promoting peace and justice. He will actively engage students, faculty and staff to further behaviors, attitudes and policies that support diversity, equity and inclusion. In addition, he will also represent Spalding in the community on matters of diversity and inclusion and serve as a point person in developing partnerships related to those issues.

“Dr. Steven Kniffley is a rising star on the faculty at Spalding and is a perfect choice to become our Chief Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Officer,” McClure said. “Through his work in the Collective Care Center as well as through his teaching and scholarly work, he has demonstrated a deep understanding of issues of race and inequity in society. Moreover, through his public speaking and service work, he has demonstrated a passion and skill for raising awareness and turning conversations toward the need to promote justice, equity, diversity, inclusion and cultural competence. On a range of day-to-day and long-term issues at Spalding, our students, faculty and staff will be well-served by hearing his ideas and advice.

McClure continued: “For decades, Spalding has been committed to the promotion of social justice in downtown Louisville, and throughout my term as President, adding diverse voices to our university leadership and continuing to advance our diversity and inclusion efforts have been a priority of mine. Elevating Dr. Kniffley to this role is another step in showing that commitment while expanding Spalding’s history of promoting diversity and inclusion. During a year in which the attention of our city and our nation has focused sharply on justice and equity, there has never been a more important time to emphasize that commitment.”

Kniffley will remain on the Spalding faculty in the Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) in Clinical Psychology program and continue his role at the Collective Care Center.

“I am excited and grateful for the opportunity to lead Spalding University’s justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion efforts,” Kniffley said. “As chief diversity officer, I will work to enhance Spalding’s impact as an anti-oppression institution through meaningful policy, results-oriented programming, and capacity building through the development of community partnerships.”

Off campus, Kniffley serves as a research consultant for the Louisville Metro Police Department’s Synergy Project, which aims to improve relations between residents and the police. He is also a member of the City of Louisville’s Citizens Commission on Police Accountability.

He was recently voted the President-Elect of the Kentucky Psychological Association.

In addition to publishing numerous scholarly articles and book chapters, Kniffley co-authored the book Out of K.O.S. (Knowledge of Self): Black Masculinity, Psychopathology, and Treatment, and he co-edited the book Black Males and the Criminal Justice System.

Kniffley has given dozens of public and professional seminars and presentations, including a 2019 lecture series for the Louisville Free Public Library titled Mental Health and the Black Community.

Earlier this year, Kniffley was named to Louisville Business First’s Forty Under 40, honoring outstanding and service-minded young professionals in Louisville, and this month he was honored by IGE Media and the Medical News as the recipient of the 2020 MediStar Healthcare Advocacy Award for advocating for increasing culturally competent care for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) individuals, and for more education, training and service provision for the experience of racial trauma.

In 2018, he received an award for multicultural professional development from the Kentucky Psychological Association.

Kniffley is a graduate of the Spalding PsyD program. He also holds a master’s degree in public administration with a concentration in nonprofit leadership from Wright State University and a bachelor’s in psychology from the University of Louisville.

Kniffley did a post-doctoral fellowship in child and adolescent acute services with Cambridge Health Alliance and Harvard Medical School in Massachusetts. Before joining Spalding’s faculty, he was on the faculty at Wright State from 2014-18.

A Spalding University psychology doctoral student who aspires to provide therapy to Black people involved in the criminal justice system – and to understand how their lives have been affected by racial trauma – has been chosen for a prestigious fellowship from the American Psychological Association.

Lashawn Ford, a second-year student in the School of Professional Psychology’s Doctor of Clinical Psychology (PsyD) program, was informed this month that she is one of only a handful of graduate students nationwide to be selected for the APA’s Minority Fellowship Program, which provides professional and financial support to students who are training for careers that enhance psychological and behavioral outcomes of ethnic minority communities.

“When I got the news, I was very excited and surprised,” Ford said. “It was difficult to breathe for a minute.”

Ford’s PsyD concentration is forensic psychology, and she is currently participating in two Spalding practicums.

Her assessment practicum involves working with Black inmates at Luther Luckett Correctional Complex in Oldham County. She is conducting research to understand how racial trauma may contribute to persons of color becoming involved in crime and their likelihood of recidivism.

In addition, Ford is conducting her clinical therapy practicum at Spalding’s Collective Care Center – a division of the SOPP’s Center for Behavioral Health that focuses on treating race-based trauma and stress. Ford works with eight clients at the Collective Care Center, including a therapy group that processes racial trauma and microaggressions.

Ford was awarded the APA’s Interdisciplinary Minority Fellowship, which is supported by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The fellowship is awarded to students ” who commit to significantly improving the quality of care provided to ethnic and racial minorities who have a mental or cooccurring mental and substance use disorder,” according to the APA.

School of Professional Psychology Chair Dr. Brenda Nash said she was “thrilled but not surprised” that Ford received the APA Minority Fellowship.

“According to APA, the awards are offered to about 5% of the hundreds of doctoral students who apply, based largely on their potential as future leaders in ethnic minority psychology,” Nash said. “Lashawn exudes such potential. She exemplifies the excellence of our PsyD program and our mission to grow students into being agents of change.  I cannot wait to see how Lashawn changes the world!”


Earning the APA Minority Fellowship is the latest accomplishment in Ford’s exceptional academic career. She is a former Fulbright Scholar who earned four bachelor’s degrees (in psychology, sociology, philosophy and criminal justice) and a 3.96 GPA in four years at the University Louisville before earning her master’s at the University of Kent in England.

Her accomplishments are all the more remarkable given her personal story. Ford is a first-generation college graduate whose father was incarcerated on drug charges. She has two uncles who are currently in prison for murder. Her personal experiences have contributed to her interests in forensic psychology and race-based trauma therapy.

Ford said it is important to increase the number of African American mental health care providers.

“Unfortunately, a lot of people who are struggling with mental health are people of color, and there are not enough clinicians who look like them to help,” she said. “People of color are also disproportionate in the prisons.”

Ford said the country’s focus on racial injustice the past several months in the wake of the killings of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and others has also raised awareness about racial trauma.

“This trauma that Black people and people of color have been experiencing all their lives is now being brought to the forefront,” Ford said. “That can be very damaging for people to realize and have to live it over and over, like, ‘Wow, I’ve been experiencing this my whole life.’ They knew it, and they’ve been living in it, but it might have been something that was more suppressed. … But like any trauma, it’s important to process it and learn strategies to help deal with it. I get to be that person for a lot of people and help them get through it.”

Ford is the second student ever from the Spalding PsyD program to earn the APA Minority Fellowship, following Steven Kniffley, a mentor of Ford’s who is now on the Spalding faculty, is the head of the Collective Care Center, and is the Associate Director of the Center for Behavioral Health. Kniffley is the person who encouraged Ford to apply for the APA fellowship.

“He’s my mentor, and he got it, and now I have it,” Ford said. “It was a really good moment to share the good news with him.”

Ford said she has enjoyed training at Spalding under a range of faculty in a range of settings – under Kniffley in the Collective Care Center, under Forensics Program Director Dr. Ida Dickie at the prison, and under Dr. DeDe Wohlfarth in cultural humility training groups – who are all carrying out a social justice mission.

“These are separate professors and clinicians who are serving the same kind of purpose but doing very different things,” Ford said. “And it’s very powerful.”

Faculty Focus Friday is a Q&A series that highlights individual faculty members in various academic programs around Spalding University. This week’s featured faculty member is Dr. David Morgan, Professor in the School of Professional Psychology. Dr. Morgan, who earned his PhD in experimental psychology from Auburn University in 1988, teaches primarily in Spalding’s Bachelor of Arts in Psychology program, including courses in Social Psychology, Applied Behavior Analysis, Environmental Psychology, Evolutionary Psychology, and Experimental Procedures. He also teaches Cognitive/Affective Bases of Behavior in the Doctor of Clinical Psychology (PsyD) program.

What do you like about working and teaching at Spalding?

I’ve spent 30 years at Spalding and have never felt a desire to seek another academic home. Spalding has always been a very collegial place, with a respected and long history of professional training. I’m especially proud to be a member of the School of Professional Psychology, which has been training clinical psychologists for more than 35 years, and remains fully accredited by the American Psychological Association. That is a pretty remarkable achievement.

What is your academic specialty, areas of expertise or research?

My graduate training was in Experimental Psychology, more specifically, the experimental analysis of behavior, a laboratory-based science devoted to understanding basic learning principles. As a result, my major expertise is in learning in both humans and other animals, and in the application of basic learning principles to behavior, known generally as applied behavior analysis.

Why is the program in which you teach (BA in Psychology) a good option for students to consider for their major?

Psychology has always been a very popular major, not only because of the inherent interest that most students have in the subject matter, but because the discipline is an extremely useful background for a wide variety of vocations and professions. An undergraduate degree in psychology is excellent preparation for graduate work in psychology, social work, mental health and counseling, applied behavior analysis, and for job opportunities in human resources, personnel, case management, and other client-focused work. In addition, the psychology curriculum is a great adjunct to disciplines like business, communication, education, environmental science, and a host of others.


What is an example of a discussion topic, lecture, assignment, project, etc. in your class that you enjoy presenting or working with students on and that they have found engaging?

In both my Psychology of Learning and Applied Behavior Analysis classes, I have students read about and watch videos on clicker training. Clicker training was developed by Karen Pryor, author of the best-selling book Don’t Shoot the Dog, and it is an especially powerful method of teaching complex behavior repertoires. As a result, it has been adopted worldwide by both professional and amateur animal trainers. Clicker training utilizes the basic principles of behavior developed in the operant laboratory more than 75 years ago (e.g., reinforcement, stimulus control, etc.) to bring about behavior change across a growing spectrum of applications: basic obedience training in pets, scent training in both dogs and rats (drugs, explosives and even diseases like TB), service and assistive animals, and many others. The clicker training community has grown immensely in recent years, and you can find great examples of their work on Youtube.

What is an interesting thing you have in your office? 

I have a painting done by one of the resident gorillas at the Louisville Zoo. I believe it was done by Kindi as an infant.

Spalding’s mission is to meet the needs of the times, to emphasize service and to promote peace and justice. What is an example of how your teaching style, your research, your class or your curriculum is supporting the mission of Spalding?

It’s always been my opinion that one of the most important ways to promote peace and justice is to highlight those things that are universal to humans as a biological species, rather than paying so much attention to irrelevant and often transitory group differences. These universals can be seen throughout a psychology curriculum, and they are especially evident in two courses I teach – Evolutionary Psychology and the Psychology of Learning. Evolution tends to conserve features that prove adaptive, and that is true both of anatomical and physiological structures and behavior. The capacity to learn, for example, is distributed everywhere in nature, not just among humans, and that’s because it is an extremely powerful means of adapting individual behavior to changing environmental conditions. This universal characteristic of behavior emerged hundreds of millions of years ago, and is seen in every animal ever studied by science. It is this capacity that makes it possible to change virtually any behavior, either at the individual level (as in education, coaching, therapy, etc.) or at the collective level (e.g., cultural practices). Peace and justice are dimensions of human behavior, and they are both understandable and readily modifiable because they reflect learning processes.

FACULTY FOCUS FRIDAY ARCHIVES | Read all our professor Q&As

Spalding University School of Professional Psychology Assistant Professor Dr. Steven Kniffley was recently honored by Louisville Business First with inclusion on its 2020 list of Forty Under 40 – recognizing a group of the city’s most outstanding and promising young professionals who excel both in their careers and in service.

The 35-year-old Kniffley serves as Associate Director of Spalding’s Center for Behavioral Health while leading the Collective Care Center, which is a specialty clinic within the CBH that specializes in treating race-based stress and trauma. The CCC is the only behavioral health clinic in Louisville – and one of only a few in the nation – with a focus on racial trauma.

At a moment when the nation has been focused on issues related to racism and social injustice, Kniffley has established himself one of Louisville’s leading experts on race-based trauma.

FORTY UNDER 40 | Full Q&A with honoree Dr. Steven Kniffley
LEARN MORE | Spalding’s PsyD program | Center for Behavioral Health | Collective Care Center 

He is a frequent public speaker who has led dozens of seminars and talks on the issue this year, and through his work with the Collective Care Center, he has helped assess and treat victims of race-based trauma. Since June, about 400 clinicians, including ones in Africa, England and the Caribbean, have participated in training workshops developed by Kniffley on racial trauma and therapy.

Kniffley is an alum of Spalding’s Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) in Clinical Psychology program, of which he is now a faculty member.

In a Q&A with Louisville Business First, Kniffley was asked why he is deserving of being a Forty under 40 honoree.

He responded: “I am an innovative, courageous and committed leader willing to leverage my time, talent and resources to uplift marginalized communities and create spaces of healing for the oppressed. This is reflected in my work as an assistant professor, where I mentor, educate and train the next generation of culturally humble psychologists to work with diverse and underserved populations; (and) in my work as an associate director for our community-based mental health center with a mission of providing affordable and compassionate care.”

Kniffley said his work as coordinator of the Collective Care Center reflects his belief “that access to mental health services is a social justice issue.”

This is the 25th anniversary of Louisville Business First’s Forty Under 40 program.

Kniffley was recently interviewed by the Frazier History Museum about a range of topics related to racial trauma. You can watch the interview below or at this link.