Campus News

UK Family Center Utilizing Pilot Program to Better Serve Clients

Computers in the UK Family Center
Waiting room of the UK Family Center
Detail of quote sign hanging on wall

LEXINGTON. Ky. (Dec. 18, 2019) — Earlier this year, the University of Kentucky Family Center, served by the Couple and Family Therapy Program in the Department of Family Sciences in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, was selected as one of only two marriage and family therapy program clinics nationally for a pilot program enabling clinicians to administer online psychological assessments to clients.

The benefits of using the program include accelerated response time for client assessments, reduction of carbon footprint and contribution to ongoing research.

The UK Family Center is a community mental health facility serviced by therapy interns in the Department of Family Sciences' graduate programs that provides affordable services to couples, families and individuals. The center averages 2,300 sessions a year.

Assessments are an integral part of clients’ initial and ongoing treatment. They are commonly used to identify important issues that a client could be struggling with, including mental health, substance use, childhood trauma, etc. Pinpointing these helps counselors to more accurately structure a successful treatment plan for clients.

The UK Family Center administers the assessments electronically by using a device, such as an iPad or laptop, paired with the Marriage and Family Therapy Practice Research Network (MFT-PRN) as opposed to traditional pencil and paper.

The integration of technology allows online assessments used in the treatment of clients to replace paper ones, accelerating the process time for counselors.

“Being involved in the pilot program, MFT-PRN allows us to administer assessments electronically. This improves the quality of treatment for our clients and gives our therapists a cutting edge training experience in the importance of assessments, exposure to a wide variety of assessments, and how to use assessments when developing a treatment plan for clients,” said Tracey Werner-Wilson, director of the UK Family Center and clinical director of the Couple and Family Therapy Program.

Both UK and the Family Center are committed to becoming paperless and supporting sustainable alternatives. The center’s involvement in this pilot program enables them to strengthen that commitment to reducing its carbon footprint.

The use of iPads and laptops allows clinicians to receive and analyze instant feedback because the tool scores the assessments and sends the data immediately for review at the beginning of the initial session. Information inputted throughout their treatment is able to track how the client is progressing through therapy.

The third element of participating in this pilot program is that the clinic is contributing to ongoing research. In collaboration with other clinics across the country, the research is helping clinicians to understand how people evolve in therapy as well as contributing to a secondary database for UK students to use in their master’s theses.

“Clinical researchers can use data gathered at sites throughout the MFT-PRN network to better understand how couples and families change in therapy and share the results of their research with clinicians across the world,” Werner-Wilson said.

The electronic capabilities are a synchronized benefit for both students training for a career in counseling and for clients seeking a beneficial experience.

“It is enormously helpful in supervision as I can quickly gain greater insight into the clients' trajectory of change. It also provides opportunities for me to reinforce the great work our therapists are doing with clients or brainstorm options with the therapist in moving therapy forward,” said Nathan Wood, Couple and Family Therapy Program director and supervisor.

The UK Family Center is celebrating 30 years of serving the campus and Lexington community. The center’s participation in the pilot program is yet another example of how adoption of technology is aiding student learning and experience while contributing to a greater good.

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.