Our Voices: Department Chair Dr. Brian Dew
Dr. Brian Dew currently serves as chair of the Department of Counseling and Psychological Services at the College of Education & Human Development at Georgia State University. Prior to moving into his current position, Dew coordinated the masters and Ed.S. programs in Mental Health Counseling at CEHD. He has also held numerous leadership positions within the American Counseling Association, including serving as president of the Association of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Issues in Counseling. He is currently completing his eighth year as treasurer of the Association for Counselor Education and Supervision (ACES).
Dew’s research on addictive disorders earned him the 2007 Outstanding Faculty Research Award from Georgia State University’s College of Education & Human Development, the 2007 Outstanding Addictions and Offender Professional Award by the Association of Addictions and Offender Counseling, and the 2009 Courtland Lee Social Justice Award from the Southern Association for Counselor Education and Supervision (SACES). We had the opportunity to sit down with Dr. Dew, ask him a few questions, and learn how the department has evolved in his six years as chair.
Q: How long have you been chair of the Counseling & Psychological Services department, and what attracted you to the position?
I assumed the chair position in the summer of 2011. I had previously been the program coordinator of the Mental Health Counseling program, and really enjoyed working with faculty and students to reach program goals. I also served as the primary point person for the CACREP self-study, which I really enjoyed. I was fortunate to move into the department chair position. While I’ve kept up a research agenda and have actively been in service in the profession, as chair, I really succeed when the department succeeds. It’s my responsibility to advocate for our students, faculty, and staff to ensure that department members have the resources they need to be meet their goals effectively.
Q: How have you seen the department evolve during your time as Chair?
My main goals coming in as chair were to improve student educational experiences, increase the efficiency of our operations, to work with faculty and staff to enhance our research infrastructure, provide a safe and collaborative work environment, and make sure I was advocating for our students, staff and faculty. We train Psychologists and Counselors to go out into the community and provide efficient research-based interventions that will make a difference with clients. We also prepare academics to go out into the field as professors and researchers. We’ve enhanced our research efforts and our reputation as researchers.
When I took over this position, the department was in a very different place. We had a different Dean. We were bringing in approximately $200,000 a year in external funding. Now we’re at about 1.6 million. We’ve increased our credit hour production. And all our programs are doing well in enrollment. Never have our graduates been hired at such a national rate as they are right now. Also, the scope of student and faculty advocacy has grown tremendously in the last several years.
Q: How have you seen social changes and issues reflected within the department and the field of counseling?
There is a real energy in the department around social advocacy and justice, and we work to facilitate faculty and student interests in those areas. Many of our faculty have taken on community based research projects, or have responded directly to community-based needs. For example, we had faculty members respond to flooding in the Southeast, and provide on-site clinical services to individuals who were impacted by the mass shooting at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando. Our faculty members reacted immediately to serve as liaisons to the community as trainers and first responders.
We’ve placed a lot of emphasis on training for international work. In the next year, we’ll be taking a group of students to Africa to learn more about how the counseling profession has been integrated into particular countries, and how the HIV epidemic is currently effecting communities. They’ll also look at the effectiveness of school counseling in these communities.
Our students have an interest in social justice and making contributions to the advancement of multiculturalism within the Psychology and Counseling professions. I’ve witnessed our students taking on an advocacy roles in the community, including going next door to the Georgia capital and advocating for our professions. Students are marching in parades for civil rights. They’re writing their congressmen and congresswomen on the national and state levels, going to the state capital, and even going to Washington, D.C.
Q: What are some of the department research interests?
Our department’s research initiatives are incredibly varied. We have faculty researching bullying and populations that have been forced into sexual trade here in Atlanta. We work with refugees, look at issues of HIV, and conduct community based research around drug abuse. We look at the intersection of marginalized populations including sexual orientation, gender, race, ability, socioeconomic status, and issues of perfectionism. We have several labs housed within the department that integrate principals of positive psychology. We emphasize training mental health clinicians to prevent suicide. Also, we invest in play therapy research.
Q: In what ways do faculty & staff interact with students?
Part of my job that I enjoy the most is talking with students, asking them about their program and classes, and getting an understanding for what has stood out for them. Our faculty and staff have an open door policy with students as well. Faculty collaborate with students on research and writing. Our students travel nationally and internationally to present research at conferences with our faculty. They’re being placed in national service roles because of direct mentoring from our faculty.
We have multiple, active centers associated with the department that allow for the collaboration of faculty and students. Research is pursued and graduate students are trained in interest areas at the Center for Leadership in Disability; Center for the Study of Stress, Trauma, and Resilience, Center for Research on School Safety, School Climate and Classroom Management; Georgia State Youth Resilience; HAPPI Lab; IaM PRIDE; Inclusive Digital Expression and Literacy Program (IDEAL); and the Play Therapy Training Institute.
Q: What do you see as the key strengths of the department?
One of the strengths of the department is where we’re located. Atlanta and Georgia State are known for diversity. Because we live in such a large metropolitan area, there are many diverse sites for our students to complete clinical practicum and internships. Often, applicants are interested in our program because of that emphasis.
Because of the size and scope of our faculty, students can be mentored by faculty members who have an expertise in their area of interest. This reality creates an in-depth learning environment.
Q: What do you envision for the department in the future?
We’d love to increase our international efforts. Faculty are interested in developing different travel abroad programs for students. I’d like these programs to be reciprocal and see students from other countries come and learn here in the CPS Department.
We also hope to continue our success in our efforts to obtain external funding. It is not unrealistic to think that in the next five years, we will have exceeded the 2 million, if not 3 million dollar mark in external funding. In 2011 we ranked dead last in the ranking of the six departments in the college as far as external funding. Currently we rank 3rd. It’s my goal for us to rank in the top two, if not in the top position in the next few years.
With some of that external funding, I would like to see the department increase the size of our doctoral programs. By increasing the number of faculty and the amount of external funding, we’re able to take more doctoral students into our programs and place them on projects.
Currently, we have multiple programs entering into the reaccreditation process with CACREP. Our Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling Program will enter that accreditation process for the first time. This means Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling will become our fourth CACREP accredited program in 2019. As Rehabilitation Counseling is increasingly recognized as a unique discipline within Counselor Education, we’re going to need more graduates of doctoral programs who have expertise in areas of Rehabilitation Counseling.
We’re also excited to welcome to new faculty members, Dr. Erin Mason and Dr. Marisa Franco. They will provide unique contributions to the school counseling and counseling psychology programs.
What unique opportunities are available to CPS students?
Our information sessions for potential students are valuable and unique. Once or twice a month, people can come to campus, learn about our different programs and admission standards, ask questions, and meet faculty. We have an admissions office housed in the department that is staffed by actual students from the programs. They are very knowledgeable about the programs, and can be a frontline information resources for anyone interested in our programs.
We’re not just looking at GRE scores or undergraduate GPAs when we’re reviewing applications. We look for students with a wide range of experiences and achievements who are going to make a unique contribution to their program. We’ve worked very hard to create and modify our programs on a cohort basis. Our cohorts are close, and very diverse. Our students matriculate through the program together, which allows them to collaborate and challenge each other. They’re encouraged to look inward at any particular barriers or biases that they may have that could impede work with a client.
Our multiple training grants, specifically in the areas of school psychology and rehabilitation counseling, provide financial assistance to students while they complete academic programs. We strive for all of our doctoral students to be funded and are provided a full tuition waiver. Our master’s students also have many opportunities in the department, college, or university to obtain graduate assistantships that provide a tuition waiver as well.
We have a very high success rate in both program completion and job placement. Our faculty members and programs are internationally recognized and are visible within their respective professional organizations. These levels of recognition and visibility help to advance the placement of our students in professional service opportunities and various leadership roles.
What stands out to you about CPS Faculty and Staff?
A key aspect to being successful in running a department this large and collaborative is efficiency. We have outstanding staff members who understand the complex interactions of multiple systems at the department, college, and university level. Our staff and faculty members work closely together to ensure we run CPS effectively.
We have such a high quality group of instructors and researchers who are so invested in student growth. They provide both an effective educational environment for students, and conduct such instrumental research. Also, our faculty has had an incredible number of national service roles.
Our faculty are not only good instructors and good researchers, but also are great collaborators within the department. We do more together than we could in isolation. Perhaps the biggest accomplishment from my time as chair is that we have hired so many high-quality instructors and researchers. When I started as chair, our number of faculty was approximately 16, and now we have 23 faculty, and we are still growing. It’s because of the hard work of our faculty and staff that we could accomplish what we have in such a short time.
Do you have a favorite quote or words to live by?
“When it rains, I should let it rain.” – unknown