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Rural Psychology: Essentials of An Informed and Ethical Practice

10 CE Credits/Hours - Online Course - $89.00

Pamela Mulder, Ph.D.

This course includes materials consisting of:

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General Course Description

This is a comprehensive course covering multiple topics related to the rural environment and the behavioral health care needs of rural residents across the United States. The course includes information about the tremendous unmet need for mental health services in rural areas, the myriad differences (and similarities) among rural, urban and suburban settings, and the characteristics of the rural population from the perspective of both the ruralites themselves and those who have practiced with or researched this enormous and diverse population. Sociocultural and socioeconomic barriers to accessing services and the financial and professional challenges rural clinicians encounter are described and, more importantly, interventions that work are presented. This course covers critical topics from ethics to policy making, from advocacy to training qualified professionals who are prepared to meet the challenges and enjoy the benefits of a successful rural practice.

This course is presented in 5 modules beginning with an "Overview" module comprised of 7 very brief articles that provide a preview of the major topics covered in greater detail in the remainder of the course. The second module, "Mental Health in Rural Communities," includes 2 articles that describe rural America in terms of demographics, mental health issues and many other unique aspects of the economic, geographic and socio-cultural environment. The third module, "Special Groups", is comprised of 4 articles that explore the potentially differential impact of the rural environment on the basis of gender, age, ethnicity and sexual orientation. In the fourth module, "Ethics in Rural Practice," an extensive article highlights the myriad challenges that rural practitioners face in their efforts to uphold the ethical principles and guidelines in their work. It covers issues of confidentiality and privacy, unavoidable dual relationships, extensive self-disclosure and familiarity, bartering and many other ethical and therapeutic boundaries considerations. Finally, the fifth module, "How To of Rural Practice," includes 3 articles that describe many useful innovations, policies and strategies for facilitating, establishing and maintaining effective rural mental health practices.

Educational Objectives

This course will teach psychotherapists to:

1.    Identify the various aspects of rural residence which are commonly representative of this socio-cultural environment.

2.    Identify the unique ways that the rural environment can impact the mental and behavioral health of rural residents.

3.    Identify the behavioral and mental health needs and concerns of rural residents.

4.    Identify the barriers to service delivery which frequently challenge rural mental health providers.

5.    Identify the differential impact that the rural environment can have for members of special populations.

6.    Identify the unique ethical challenges that the rural socio-cultural environment can present for practitioners.

7.    Identify a variety of government policies which can present both challenges and opportunities for the rural clinician.

8.    Identify innovative solutions that can be used by clinicians, educators, professional groups and political advocates to address the myriad challenges facing rural practitioners.

Course Syllabus

  • Overview: Special needs of rural and frontier communities
  • Mental Health in Rural Communities: Demographics, economic, geographic and socio-cultural environment
  • Special Groups: Concerns with gender, age, ethnicity and sexual orientation
  • Ethics in Rural Practice: Concerns of dual relationships, self-disclosure, confidentiality & privacy, bartering and other ethical and boundary considerations
  • How To of Rural Practice: Innovations, policies and strategies for facilitating, establishing and maintaining effective rural mental health practices.
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