Highlights

Highlights

The Forensic Center PCIT Program Feature in Insight magazine
August 2011

The Forensic Center’s PCIT program was featured in August 2011 in Insight, a magazine for alumni and friends of The Chicago School of Professional Psychology.  To view the full article, visit Insight’s website.

The Forensic Center Opens Doors to the Community
January 30, 2009

Practice Arm of the School’s Department of Forensic Psychology Dedicates New Facility in the Merchandise Mart

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology is poised to further connect its psychology services to the legal sector and community agencies that interface with the court system thanks to its new Forensic Center, which was formally dedicated at a Merchandise Mart event on January 30.

As the practice arm of the Forensic Psychology Department, the center brings students together with local organizations on projects that bolster hands-on learning experiences while addressing unmet needs in the community. Students benefit from the opportunity to put classroom instruction into practice in real-world settings that range from the Cook County Department of Juvenile Probation to women’s shelters, residential treatment centers, and programs for ex-offenders.

“For nearly three decades, we sent students, faculty, and alumni into the community to lend their skills and compassion to the underserved,” said Chicago School President Michael Horowitz in his event remarks to faculty, staff, students, trustees, and community partners. “Now, because of the center, we are inviting the community to our campus and providing services to our neighbors who need help keeping their families together and strong. The Forensic Center is another example of how our campus isn’t just in Chicago but of Chicago.”

The new home for the Forensic Center is the school’s 40,000 square feet of annex space in the Merchandise Mart, which opened last fall. At the heart of the center is the new Mr. and Mrs. Philip R. Utigard and Transwestern Treatment and Observation Room, which supports the center’s initiatives including instruction of Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT). The facility is equipped with a one-way mirror and a separate observation room that will allow the use of a “bug-in-the-ear” communication system to facilitate observation and discreet coaching by therapists to parents as they interact with their children. Because PCIT is empirically based, it carries the endorsement of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services as a recognized model for helping families with a history of abuse. Although it is a therapy that has been shown to be effective with abusive families in several states, few Illinois practitioners have been trained in its use.

The Forensic Center is staffed by Chicago School Forensic Psychology Department faculty, who collectively bring years of experience and expertise to the initiative. Although launched with a single program, Parent-Child Interaction Therapy, the center has since expanded to include a wide range of short-term services that address issues of delinquency, child maltreatment, pre-and post-transitional living for offenders, and victim-related trauma. In addition, the center offers professional development and continuing education workshops. The center was developed under the leadership of Dr. Mike Fogel, department chair; Dr. Darlene Perry, executive director; and Dr. Tiffany Masson, director of the center.

“With students working alongside faculty gaining hands-on experience and direct supervision, we have provided psychological services to ex-offenders to address factors that lead to increased rates of recidivism,” said Dr. Fogel at the event. “We have provided parent training to individuals working toward reunification with their child or children after a finding of child abuse or neglect.  And we have assessed the effectiveness of a high school to college program for youth in care and a life skills program for gang involved youth.”

Started in 2002, The Chicago School’s M.A. in Forensic Psychology was the first of its kind in the Midwest. Since then, the program has grown to become one of the school’s most popular with more than 200 students currently enrolled and more than 300 graduates.

The Forensic Center is the latest example of initiatives introduced by Chicago School faculty and staff to open the campus community to the outside world. Other examples are the Center for International Studies, the Center for Multicultural and Diversity Studies, and the Center for Latino Mental Health.

Treatment and Observation Room
April 7, 2008

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology Receives Gift from Transwestern and Mr. and Mrs. Philip R. Utigard to Build Treatment and Observation Room for Forensic Psychology Practice

Students studying Forensic Psychology at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology have access to a unique teaching venue thanks to a significant gift from Transwestern and Mr. and Mrs. Philip R. Utigard.

Located in the school’s new 40,000 square feet of annex space in the Merchandise Mart, the Transwestern and Mr. and Mrs. Philip R. Utigard Treatment and Observation Room supports the center’s initiatives, which include instruction of Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT). The facility is equipped with a one-way mirror and a separate observation room that will allow the use of a “bug-in-the-ear” communication system to facilitate observation and discreet coaching by therapists to parents as they interact with their children. Because PCIT is evidence based, it carries the endorsement of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services as a recognized model for helping families with a history of abuse. Although it is a therapy that has been shown to be effective with abusive families in several states, few Illinois practitioners have been trained in its use.

“This gift is yet another example of the commitment that Phil and Transwestern have shown to our school over the years,” said Chicago School President Michael Horowitz. “The treatment and observation room they are helping to support will not just be an invaluable resource to our Forensic Psychology Department but to the community at large. Speaking on behalf of the entire Chicago School community, I would like to thank Phil and Transwestern for supporting this project.”

“I am personally delighted and honored to be able to support The Chicago School’s new Forensic Center,” said Philip R. Utigard, Executive Vice President with Transwestern. “The center will be a tremendous asset for the school and will be a valuable resource for helping families learn how to better communicate and interact.”

“We are very proud, together with Phil, to support the Chicago School in establishing their new Forensic Center,” said Robert Bagguley, Midwest President for Transwestern. “This only emphasizes the shared culture and vision of our two firms in contributing towards the greater Chicago community.”

The Transwestern and Mr. and Mrs. Philip R. Utigard Treatment and Observation Room is the centerpiece of The Chicago School Forensic Center, which was founded in 2007 as the practice arm of the school’s Forensic Psychology Department. The center integrates student learning through community initiatives that connect psychology services to the legal sector and community agencies that interface with the court system. The center also serves as a Chicago-based hub for forensic psychology professionals to come together and learn about new developments and trends in the profession.

Utigard’s friendship with The Chicago School is longstanding. As an executive with Transwestern, he worked with the school to acquire its current campus at 325 N. Wells Street in 2004 and, more recently, planned and implemented its expansion into the Merchandise Mart. He currently specializes in professional portfolio advisory services and representation of the real estate needs of corporate clients, nonprofits, public sector and high technology firms.

New Chicago School Forensic Center Connects Students to the Community
March 27, 2008

Practice Arm of the School’s Forensic Psychology Department among First Training Sites in the Region to Teach Parent-Child Interaction Therapy

The Chicago School is poised to further connect its psychology services to the legal sector and community agencies that interface with the court system thanks to its new Forensic Center. Developed this academic year (2007) by faculty members in the school’s Forensic Psychology Department, the center will serve as a practice arm that creates learning opportunities for students while reaching into the community.

“We saw an opportunity to provide more direct service within the Chicagoland area, particularly in the area of forensic mental health,” said Dr. Michael Fogel, department chair.

“Center projects have already started providing our students with hands-on experience, which provides them with exceptional training, increased marketability after they graduate, and a stronger understanding of the needs of the forensic community.”

Treatment models devoted to child protection and trauma are at the heart of the center’s first major initiative. Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) is currently being conducted by Forensic Psychology faculty and students in the observation room within the school’s Clinical Psychology Department. Established on campus last fall, PCIT is an evidence-based method for teaching parents skills to decrease the risk for future incidents of abuse and neglect. In one room a parent plays and interacts with his or her children. On the other side of a one-way mirror sits a faculty member and student wearing headsets. A “bug-in-the-ear” communication system connects the rooms with the therapist providing discreet coaching to the parent wearing an earpiece. Because PCIT has shown to be effective in helping families with a history of abuse, it is a nationally recognized treatment method for children who have been abused and neglected.

“By making child protection the center’s initial focus while advancing the school’s initiative of student learning through community engagement, we can do more outreach to high-risk families and help further secure that parent-child relationship,” said Dr. Tiffany Masson, assistant professor of forensic psychology and the school’s lead PCIT practitioner. “I thought that it would be a great opportunity for our students to learn and be exposed to a specific evidence-based therapy as part of the child protection concentration, which started last fall. It’s a pioneering idea because Forensic Center projects will allow us to incorporate training directly into course work. It is rare for students at the master’s level to have this opportunity.”

PCIT training will have a new home this fall when the Forensic Psychology Department and the Forensic Center move to the 4th floor of the Merchandise Mart. By then at least two more Forensic Center initiatives are expected to be underway, both of which were designed by forensic psychology students as part of their Correctional Settings course. One involves the center working with the Safer Foundation to develop transitional programming for individuals previously incarcerated. The other is working with the Chicago Youth Center to create a parenting program for young fathers whose fathers are incarcerated.

“Our goal with these particular projects is to help individuals transition successfully into the community while encouraging innovative program development by our students in the classroom,” said Dr. Darlene Perry, associate department chair. “The initiatives that we are planning are consistent with the school’s mission overall. We want to create learning opportunities for our students that meet the needs of our community. The center will do this within the borders of forensic psychology.”

Dr. Fogel sees the Forensic Center as not just a new way to link faculty and students to the community, but as a Chicago-based hub for forensic psychology professionals to come together and share ideas about the profession. “There is an opportunity for our department to be more nationally recognized as a resource for forensic psychology research and training,” said Dr. Fogel. “The work we’re doing with the Forensic Center puts us one step closer to realizing this vision.”

In January, the center welcomed more than 70 forensic psychology professionals from around the Midwest for a workshop featuring Dr. Yossef Ben-Porath, a recognized expert on MMPI-2 interpretation.

Started in 2002, The Chicago School’s M.A. in Forensic Psychology was the first of its kind in the Midwest. Since then, the program has grown to become one of the school’s most popular with more than 300 students currently enrolled and more than 270 graduates.

The Forensic Center is the latest example of initiatives introduced by Chicago School faculty and staff to open the campus community to the outside world. Other examples are the Center for International Studies, the Center for Multicultural and Diversity Studies, and the forthcoming Center for Latino Mental Health.