Professor Martin Kivilghan stands in his office

October 4, 2019

Martin Kivlighan, assistant professor in counseling psychology in the University of Iowa College of Education, was awarded a $1.3 million federal grant to enhance opioid and substance use prevention and treatment in the heartland.

The grant is from the Health Resources and Services Administration and will fund the training of graduate students in telepsychology to help address the opioid and substance use issue in rural Iowa.

The project, Graduate Psychology Training in Telepsychology and OUD and SUD Prevention and Treatment in Rural Iowa will extend over the next three years and will develop a new, interdisciplinary training program in telepsychology for opioid use and substance use disorder.

Opioid Use Addition (OUD) and Substance Use Disorder (SUD) are both serious problems nationwide, but especially in rural communities where there are fewer resources.

The state of Iowa currently ranks 46th in the number of licensed psychologists, and has seen an increase of opioid deaths by 250 percent in the last decade. The Center for Disease Control predicts that Iowa will be one of the states hit with the most dramatic increases in the next five years. Eighty-six of Iowa’s 99 counties are designated as having a shortage of mental health care providers.

Kivlighan’s project would help address the need for psychologists trained to provide health care to underserved rural populations in Iowa facing opioid and substance use disorder.

This project directly addresses the critical national need for more licensed psychologists trained to provide coordinated health care to address the behavioral health needs of rural populations,” says Kivlighan. “The grant will also help train competent practitioners in the provision of telepsychology services to specifically address OUD and SUD.”

The grant will result in the development of a telepsychology training clinic at the University of Iowa College of Education to provide specialized training to doctoral psychology students. This grant will build off of existing partnerships between the College of Education’s Counseling Psychology and Rehabilitation Counseling Programs and the Fairweather Lodge, Grinnell College, and the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.

Kivlighan’s broader research interests are in psychotherapy process and outcome. His research examines factors of psychotherapy including therapist effects, cultural factors of psychotherapy, and the therapeutic relationship. Kivlighan’s research aims to enhance the effectiveness of psychotherapy and inform psychotherapy training.

“Effective treatments for OUD/SUD and behavioral health conditions exist, but far too few people have access to the help they need,” Kivlighan says. “This grant will train future psychologists to treat the complex health needs of Iowa and the nation’s rural populations.”