GSAPP provides mental health and autism support services to the community amidst the pandemic

The Rutgers Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology (GSAPP) is providing telepsychology – therapy by phone or video platform – to those who need support during the global coronavirus pandemic.

More than 180 volunteer licensed mental health providers are offering mental health and autism services to those with or without insurance through the recently created Psychological Services Network. The program is available to Rutgers students, faculty, staff, health care workers, families affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and all community members throughout New Jersey.

“Finding mental health support is challenging enough, and even more so during a global pandemic that requires social distancing,” said GSAPP Dean Francine Conway. “With tensions high, compounded by the influence of stressful media content, our nation needs the support of these professionals more than ever. We are proud to have gathered these courageous volunteers to provide services to those in need and a safe space for individuals to share their concerns and receive guidance.” 

Volunteers include faculty, staff and alumni from GSAPP as well as other licensed professionals willing to donate their time. They include psychologists, therapists, analysts, counselors and clinical social workers. Conway said any licensed mental health professionals who can provide phone consultations or brief therapy using a HIPAA-compliant telepsychology platform to protect patients’ confidential health information should contact GSAPP.

Services, using the HIPAA-compliant telepsychology platform, include individual support counseling, group support, facilitating grief rituals, leading meditation and other stress-reduction techniques. The network also provides training resources to professionals on COVID-19, grief and loss and other issues of concern surrounding the pandemic.

I immediately signed up to volunteer for the new program as my way of giving back to the community,” said Jeffrey Segal, a licensed psychologist and assistant teaching professor at GSAPP. “To be able to provide this service, especially to underserved groups who may not have funds for mental health support, has been a rewarding experience.”

The program also offers telesupport and resources to families affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) through the Autism Services Network (ASN) provided by Rutgers-affiliated Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs), clinical psychologists and supervised trainees with experience in ASD. The program provides individualized resources, supportive short-term coaching and guidance and referrals for more intensive and long-term service arrangements.

"One in 32 children identify with ASD in New Jersey. We wanted to make sure we could provide support for those families during this especially challenging time,” said Lara Delmolino Gatley, clinical professor and director of Applied and Academic Autism Services at GSAPP. “We hope to help foster independent activities and routines at home, promote social engagement and offer support to foster leisure and vocational skills."

To learn more about the services or to get involved, visit the program website.