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Devereux’s Behavioral Health Consultant Wins Prestigious Educational Research Award

Dr. David Messer receives Outstanding Counseling Dissertation Award from American Educational Research Association on psychological care for
cancer patients, survivors

PHOENIX – October 12, 2018 – David Messer, Ph.D. and Behavioral Health Consultant for Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health Arizona’s Adolescent Health & Wellness Clinic, recently received the 2018 American Education Research Association’s (AERA) Outstanding Dissertation in the Counseling & Human Services Division Award. The award was presented at the AERA’s annual convention last April.

The American Educational Research Association (AERA) is the largest national interdisciplinary research association devoted to the scientific study of education and learning. Founded in 1916, AERA advances knowledge about education, encourages scholarly inquiry related to education, and promotes the use of research to improve education and serve the public good.

Dr. Messer’s dissertation involved the creation, implementation, and evaluation of an online mindfulness training for cancer survivors. His research, upon realization that cancer patients and survivors rarely receive any psychosocial support during or after treatment, found that online mindfulness training helped patients cope with the stress of cancer by alleviating survivors’ anxiety, depression, fatigue, sleep problems and improved overall mood. Learning to cope with the psychological impact of a cancer diagnosis was found to be quite important as many experience anxiety and depression about their health, the possibility of recurrence, changes in social roles or physical functioning because of cancer treatment.

“We want to be known as the best behavioral health care option for those wanting to end the stigma facing people with emotional, behavioral and cognitive differences,” said Lane Barker, executive director for Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health Arizona. “This award, won by our own Dr. Messer, shows our thought leadership and showcases that an individual’s reaction to certain life-changing issues can be supported in parallel fashion to interventions targeting the disease or event itself.”

A licensed psychologist specializing in child and family therapy, Messer joined Devereux’s Adolescent Health & Wellness Clinic prior to the clinic’s opening in July. The Adolescent Health & Wellness Clinic provides integrated healthcare to youth ages 10-29. Messer is the clinic’s behavioral health consultant and works closely with the medical team to provide individual treatment tailored to youth facing emotional and behavioral challenges. He received his Ph.D in counseling psychology from Arizona State University and is a board member for the Arizona Psychological Foundation in Phoenix.

About Devereux Arizona

Established in 1967, Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health Arizona provides a wide array of programs and services for children, adolescents and adults – ages newborn through life span – with emotional/behavioral differences and autism spectrum disorders. Every year, Devereux Arizona helps more than 5,500 individuals – and their families – across the state. Programs include: residential treatment, short-term assessment and intervention, outpatient counseling services, prevention programs, placement stabilization, traditional foster care and therapeutic foster care for children, therapeutic foster care for adults, respite services, autism services and in-home behavior coaching. The Human Rights Campaign recognized Devereux Arizona in 2012 for its work with LGBTQ foster and adoptive families, with the “All Children – All Families” seal. DevereuxAZ.org

About Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health

Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health is one of the nation’s largest nonprofit organizations providing services, insight and leadership in the evolving field of behavioral healthcare. Founded in 1912 by special education pioneer Helena Devereux, the organization operates a comprehensive national network of clinical, therapeutic, educational, and employment programs and services that positively impact the lives of tens of thousands of children, adults – and their families – every year. Focused on clinical advances emerging from a new understanding of the brain, its unique approach combines evidence-based interventions with compassionate family engagement.

With approximately 7,500 employees working in programs across the nation, it is a recognized partner for families, schools and communities, serving many of our country’s most vulnerable populations in the areas of autism, intellectual and developmental disabilities, specialty mental health, and child welfare. Programs are offered in hospital, residential, community and school-based settings. They include: assessments; interventions and support; transition and independent life services; family and professional training; research and innovation; and advocacy and public education. For more than a century, Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health has been guided by a simple and enduring mission: To change lives by unlocking and nurturing human potential for people living with emotional, behavioral or cognitive differences. devereux.org

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