Freed-Hardeman University to Offer Doctorate of Behavioral Health

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In the Fall of 2016, Freed-Hardeman University will begin offering Doctoral Degrees in Behavioral Health, pending final approval from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Dr. Michael Cravens, director of FHU's DBH program, works with Phillip Nicholas, a graduate student in clinical mental health counseling.

Given the complexity of care, growth of information and technology, an increasingly diverse population and the disparities in care, the need for such a program is both timely and necessary.

Freed-Hardeman University will offer a Doctorate of Behavioral Health beginning Fall 2016, according to an announcement made by FHU President Joe Wiley. The FHU Board of Trustees has approved offering the Doctor of Behavioral Health degree, pending final approval of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

“I am gratified that the SACSCOC commissioners at their meeting in December approved FHU's request to move to a Level V institution, which allows us to offer up to three doctoral degrees. This means that FHU may now offer up to two more doctoral programs,” Wiley said. The university currently offers a Doctor of Education and will be seeking final approval specifically to offer the Doctorate of Behavioral Health.

The D.B.H. will be one of Tennessee’s first professional doctorates in behavioral health, as well as the one of the first offered by universities associated with churches of Christ. It is a professional doctoral degree that will prepare post-master’s, licensed, clinicians to provide advanced-integrated care in a variety of behavioral health settings. The new D.B.H. is designed to meet the needs of working clinicians who may enroll in the program as full-time or part-time students.

The 60-hour program will be delivered face-to-face and online. The curriculum includes traditional courses, virtual sessions, clinical rotations, video consultations with practitioners in the field and a capstone research project focused on students’ professional career interests, according to Dr. Michael Cravens, director of FHU’s clinical mental health counseling program and professor of counseling and of family science. It is geared toward students who prefer an alternative to research-focused doctoral programs.

The unique curriculum is designed to meet the “triple aim” of improved patient care, better clinical outcomes and reduction of the per capita cost of healthcare. The curriculum also focuses on developing advanced clinical skills to meet the needs of the new Accountable Care Organization model. Its executive leadership component will enable students to maximize earning potential by filling organizational and market demands.

“Given the complexity of care, growth of information and technology, an increasingly diverse population and the disparities in care, the need for such a program is both timely and necessary,” Cravens said.

The D.B.H. differs from a Ph.D. in both objectives and curriculum, according to Cravens. The program is similar to clinical-practice doctorates in other health disciplines such as pharmacy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, nursing and audiology. It focuses on advanced clinical (practice) skills, applied research and executive leadership. The D.B.H. covers a wider range of topics than those in a typical Ph.D. counselor education and supervision program. Reflecting current thought and practice in behavioral health, the program is geared to a changing market place, academic arena and health-related fields, Cravens said.

Additional information regarding the program is available at fhu.edu/dbh.

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