UMass Boston

New Behavioral Health Certificate Program Offers Undergrads Field Experience and Mentoring

12/14/2023| Sandra Mason

For undergraduates interested in behavioral health careers, a new certification program launching in Spring 2024 at UMass Boston offers a way to test the waters while receiving valuable mentoring and training.

Amy Cook
Amy Cook, department chair and associate professor of counseling psychology, who is principal investigator for Transforming Boston Access to Mental Health.

The program, Transforming Boston Access to Mental Health (BAMH), is the result of a partnership between the College of Education and Human Development (CEHD), College of Liberal Arts (CLA), Center for Evidence-Based Mentoring, and the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC). Upon successful completion of the program, students have practical knowledge of the field, hands-on experience, a certificate of completion in therapeutic mentoring from the Center for Evidence-Based Mentoring, and they earn a stipend.  

“The partnership with BPHC is an exciting opportunity for CEHD. Transforming BAMH is designed to expand access to behavioral health services for Boston residents by growing the number of trained providers who are out in the field," said Dean Tara Parker.  

“For students with diverse cultural, linguistic, racial, and other minoritized identities, this program is a supportive pathway to become human service and mental health providers. The program leverages the strengths of CEHD and our Counseling and School Psychology Department for the benefit of our students and our surrounding Boston community,” added Principal Investigator (PI) Amy Cook, department chair and associate professor of counseling psychology.  

Behavioral healthcare is a broad term that includes treatment, support, and wellness care for mental health, substance use, relationships, stress management, trauma, and more. Providers work with youth in the City of Boston to close the gaps in behavioral healthcare with a focus on serving populations that have difficulty accessing behavioral health services. 

Transforming BAMH addresses several concerns related to behavioral health services in Boston such as the growing need for mental health services for individuals, particularly for youth with minoritized and marginalized identities. And, while minoritized individuals benefit from working with providers with minoritized identities, the demand currently outpaces the number of available providers. To expand the workforce, Transforming BAMH removes structural barriers that have previously limited individuals from marginalized communities from entering the field.  

The BAMH Fellow opportunity is geared towards juniors and seniors with experience or previous coursework in human services, psychology, or mental health. Over the course of two to three semesters, fellows will receive an introduction to the field through three classes, additional training, mentoring from graduate students, and 100 hours of supervised fieldwork at youth-focused community-based behavioral health sites.  

The program’s training is focused on key areas for success in the behavioral health field: making ethical decisions, carrying out evidence-based practices, assuming a professional identity, providing trauma-informed treatment, and developing trust with area partners.  

Transforming BAMH is supported through a three-year $2.5 million award from the BPHC. In addition to PI Cook, the project team includes Co-Principal Investigator and Associate Professor of Counseling & School Psychology Lindsay Fallon; Professor of Counseling & School Psychology Sharon Lamb; Professor of Psychology Jean Rhodes; Professor of Counseling & School Psychology Sharon Horne; Associate Professor of Psychology Sarah Hayes-Skelton; and consultant Josephine Cardona. 

Registration for the program’s inaugural semester opened on September 1, 2023.