Dr. Kimi Cohen came to the Arizona State Hospital (ASH) in the mid-1990s to make sure her doctoral education in clinical psychology was well-rounded. After training in a community mental health center, an outpatient therapy clinic, and a family therapy clinic, she wanted to experience work in a psychiatric hospital.
Twenty-six years later, she not only remains on the staff at ASH, she leads the psychology department after working as a staff psychologist and supervising psychologist here.
Day in and day out, dedicated professionals fulfill ASH’s key mission of providing the highest level of patient care with a focus on recovery and community reintegration. They accomplish this in what is considered the highest and most restrictive behavioral health environment in the state.
According to Dr. Cohen, a key to excellent patient care is teamwork and good relationships within the department and with hospital colleagues. She said, “With good relationships we are able to collaborate on developing the best support and treatment for the patients. And we are able to support each other in doing the significant and challenging work that we do. These relationships, and the great work that they contribute to, are what has kept me here all these years.”
Every member of the psychology department plays a role in helping patients with their recovery, she said. The team includes psychologists, therapists, interns, and students who provide services on the hospital’s civil, forensic and Arizona Community Protection and Treatment Center campuses. Services are provided in both English and Spanish.
Some of the work performed by ASH psychology staff includes:
- Individual and group therapies that are designed to meet patients’ specific needs and include work in areas such as emotion regulation, interpersonal/relationship functioning, symptom management, and coping with life challenges. The staff also offers sessions that include patients’ families so they can support their loved ones in treatment and recovery.
- Assessment services that include psychological evaluation to clarify diagnoses, neuropsychological evaluation, violence risk assessment, and evaluation of competency to stand trial.
- Participating with, and on some units providing leadership for, multidisciplinary teams to develop individualized plans of treatment and provide support to patients as they work toward their goals.
- Addressing maladaptive behaviors, such as self-injury and aggression, by developing behavior plans that incorporate positive reinforcement of adaptive behaviors.
- Providing an educational program to patients that addresses issues of healthy relationship behaviors, with a focus on areas such as consent and intimacy.
Like other areas within ASH, teaching is an important part of the role of our psychologists. The department participates in training interns who are doing their last year of clinical work before receiving their doctoral degree. The internship program attracts graduate students from across the country and is accredited by the American Psychological Association.
I look forward to introducing you to other professionals who, like Dr. Cohen, are dedicated to public service through their efforts at the Arizona State Hospital.