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Devereux Pennsylvania CBHS doctoral intern Jessica Huntt named 2022 Savin Scholar Award winner


Devereux Pennsylvania CBHS doctoral intern Jessica Huntt was recently selected as Devereux’s 2022 Savin Scholar Award winner for her research study examining the effectiveness of using an app to increase family engagement

Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health Pennsylvania Children’s Behavioral Health Services (CBHS) doctoral intern Jessica Huntt was recently selected as Devereux’s 2022 Savin Scholar Award winner for her research study examining the effectiveness of using an app to increase family engagement for youth enrolled in residential treatment.

Each year, Devereux’s Institute of Clinical and Professional Training and Research (ICPTR) presents the Savin Scholar Award to a health service psychology intern who proposes a research study/program evaluation that is regarded as “exemplary.” Proposals must meet four criteria related to: 1) innovation, 2) quality, 3) feasibility and 4) consistency with Devereux’s Advanced Philosophy of Care.

As the 2022 Savin Scholar, Huntt will receive up to $1,500 to conduct her study and a $500 cash award. She will receive an additional travel stipend if her study is accepted for presentation at a conference within the next year.

“We want to congratulate Jessica on receiving this year’s Savin Scholar Award,” said Devereux Health Service Psychology Director of Internship Training Laura Rutherford, Ph.D., NCSP, BCBA, who oversees the intern research projects. “While there were many outstanding proposals, Jessica’s was extremely well-conceived, and has the potential to improve outcomes for the individuals and families we serve. We wish her well as she implements her study, and cannot wait to see her findings.”

Huntt also noted, “I was excited and honored to receive this award. I put a lot of work into my proposal, and am passionate about engaging families in treatment. This type of research means so much to me, and the fact that my efforts were recognized in this way, makes me extremely happy. I will be conducting my research at the residential treatment facility at Devereux Pennsylvania CBHS’ Brandywine campus.”

About the study

Huntt’s research study, titled “Efficacy of a Technology-Delivered Intervention to Increase Family Engagement for Youth in Residential Treatment,” will analyze the ability of an app to increase family engagement, including attendance in family therapy sessions, as well as a child’s perception of family involvement in treatment.

“Studies show that family engagement in children’s mental health treatment is critical for achieving positive outcomes,” Huntt explained. “The app I developed includes components of motivational interviewing, a counseling approach designed to motivate individuals to make a positive behavior change, and various engagement strategies. These techniques would typically be delivered by clinicians in virtual sessions or over the phone. Using technology to deliver these components not only eases the burden on clinicians, but also improves access to families.

Next steps …

Huntt expects to complete her research by April, and in June, she will present her findings at Devereux’s annual intern research presentation, which is open to all staff.

“My broader program of research involves increasing engagement and treatment-seeking. When I began my internship, I saw a need for this type of intervention with our families,” Huntt shared. “I hope my research study leads to improved outcomes for youth, including stronger family relationships, decreased symptoms and shorter stays in residential treatment.”

Learn more about Devereux’s doctoral internships in health service psychology.


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