Four people talk to one another in a group counseling session

Faculty awarded grant to train rehabilitation counselors

Three faculty members in the College of Education & Human Development’s Department of Counseling and Psychological Services have been awarded a five-year, $750,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Rehabilitation Services Administration to prepare rehabilitation counselors to work with people with mental illness.

Cirleen DeBlaere, Franco Dispenza and Dennis Gilbride will work with the Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency and Boston University’s Center for Psychosocial Rehabilitation to train counselors to help people with mental illness and psychiatric disabilities find jobs and integrate into the community.

“The nationally accredited rehabilitation counseling program at Georgia State University has a long and successful history, and this grant will allow Georgia State to become a leader in vocational rehabilitation training designed to help people with psychiatric disabilities,” Gilbride said.

The grant will also enable them to address diverse populations living with psychiatric disabilities, including ethnically and racially diverse, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, and people living with multiple marginalized intersecting identities, in order to better understand and alleviate the stressors they experience in their lives.

“Besides developing new graduating classes of clinical rehabilitation counselors specializing in psychiatric disabilities, this grant will allow us to consider innovative training and practice-related needs for the profession of rehabilitation counseling,” Dispenza said. “This grant will also allow us the opportunity to help facilitate the needs of persons living with multiple marginalized identities, persons of diverse racial, ethnic and cultural backgrounds, and the LGBT population.”

For more information about the College of Education & Human Development’s Rehabilitation Counseling program, visit