Psychology fund helps graduate students receive trauma training

Exterior of the Weston A. Bousfield Psychology building. Graduate students in the field of clinical psychology at the University of Connecticut are able to receive scholarships, research opportunities and training through the Leslie Matlen and Christine Miller Andersen Fund. (Via pysch.uconn.edu)

Graduate students working toward their doctorates in clinical psychology at the University of Connecticut are able to receive scholarships, research opportunities and training through the Leslie Matlen and Christine Miller Andersen Fund, created in 2015 to help advance the assessment and treatment of mental health conditions related to trauma.

According to a UConn Foundation article, the life-saving friendship between Dr. Leslie Matlen and Christine Miller Andersen started the fund, which provides training in therapeutic approaches to trauma. Andersen, a former patient of Matlen’s in 1988, was misdiagnosed for 10 years with symptoms of random numbness, flashbacks and episodes. Matlen recognized that Andersen was struggling from severe post-traumatic stress disorder before the trauma spectrum was fully developed.

“I am a trauma survivor. She was my therapist. She basically saved my life,” Andersen said. “ I wanted to start the fund to provide special training for all sorts of trauma, including emotional, natural disaster and physical abuse in order to honor her.”

With the help of the UConn Foundation, Andersen gave $15,000 in 2015 to launch the fund and will continue to donate until she reaches $100,000, according to the article.

On Oct. 9, Dr. Leslie Matlen gifted a donation to the fund, according to an email from Raven Soumpholphakdy, third-semester UConn student and employee at Ruffalo Noel Levitz, a fundraising company that works to raise contributions from alumni toward new scholarships.

The clinical psychology program uses the fund to bring an international expert to UConn for day-long training and to send students to a national conference, according to Andersen.

“The goal is ultimately to help traumatized people,” Andersen said in the article. “Bringing in an expert and having the students go to conferences will really enhance their training.”

Both Matlen and Andersen call UConn their alma mater, and Andersen said they chose UConn as the fund recipient because of its state-of-the-art training facility and clinical director, Marianne Barton, who is motivated to provide trauma training to her students.

“UConn has a good department. They work with a lot of patients and see lots of trauma,” Andersen said. “This past year, they worked with Syrian refugees by offering them free mental health assessments. Without the special trauma training, they would never have been able to do that. The training and the conference takes their hard work to another dimension.”


Rachel Philipson is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at rachel.philipson@uconn.edu.