Featured Alum: Stephanie Beaman ’13
Stephanie Beaman is a dually licensed co-responder clinician for Denver Police. She has ten years of clinical experience working across a variety of settings including four correctional facilities. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her daughter, husband, and four pets, and hiking national parks whenever the opportunity presents.
Please describe your path from SUNY Brockport to your current position.
While at Brockport, I worked as a Research Assistant and Lab Director in Dr. Lipko-Speed’s Metacognitive Development Lab and Dr. Gillespie’s Positive Psychology Lab. I also completed a research internship with University of Rochester’s Mt. Hope Family Center, an internship with the America Reads program at Brockport Central School District, and a clinical internship with Strong Memorial Hospital’s outpatient substance abuse program.
After graduating from Brockport in 2013 with my Bachelor’s in Psychology and Health Science, and a concentration in Substance Abuse Studies, I went on to obtain my Masters in Mental Health Counseling and Behavioral Medicine from Boston University School of Medicine. I completed a research internship with the Office of Research Compliance’s Institutional Review Board, as well as clinical internships with Massachusetts Mental Health Center and the Boston Emergency Services Team. It was through the latter two experiences that I realized how much I enjoyed working with severe and persistently mentally ill (SPMI) clients, those that are involved in the criminal justice system, and with individuals in crisis.
I then moved to Colorado and spent several years working in four county jails, first providing substance use disorder counseling and re-entry services to inmates, and then conducting suicide risk assessments and providing brief mental health therapy to incarcerated individuals. I became a Licensed Professional Counselor, Licensed Addiction Counselor, National Certified Counselor, Acupuncture Detoxification Specialist, and received training in EMDR therapy, disaster response, and animal assisted therapy. I have worked as a treatment representative for sobriety court, and later spent some time developing and running a new intensive outpatient program (IOP), working in a residential substance use disorder facility, and in private practice before finding my current role as a co-responder with the Denver Police Department.
As a co-responder clinician I ride with patrol officers for the duration of their shift, responding to any type of call for service that comes in to 911 dispatch, and assisting individuals in the community with any mental health related crisis that may arise. Essentially, I talk with people who are usually having one of the worst days of their lives. My position involves conducting a lot of risk assessments, corresponding with collateral contacts, providing brief interventions such as safety planning, and making connections to community resources for longer-term follow-up care. I have immensely enjoyed my time working as a first responder alongside law enforcement, as my job is both incredibly rewarding and exciting, and also provides a great work-life balance with only a three-day work week (12 hour shifts).\
I am now currently finishing up my Masters in Criminal Justice and Masters in Public Administration, as well as my Emergency Responder and Public Safety Clinician Certification.
What was the most valuable lesson you learned while at SUNY Brockport?
To not turn down opportunities that arise, even if you don’t think that’s quite what you want to do. I had no intention of adding a second major (Health Science) or pursuing substance use disorder counseling but doing so opened up many more doors for me, and I ended up really enjoying it and learning so much that I wouldn’t have otherwise! It made me a more well-rounded clinician.
What is your favorite memory from your time at SUNY Brockport?
I have so many great memories from Brockport but the frequent road trips with friends are some of my fondest. I also really miss the late-night garbage plates and Brockport Diner in particular!
What advice would you give to current SUNY Brockport students? Any special advice for our psychology majors?
Fully enjoy your college years as you’ll never get them back. But get really involved and actively seek out experiences that interest you, both on campus and off. Engage with your professors — they are great mentors! Also, don’t “niche down” too soon; you may think you know exactly what you want to do, but change your mind later and need/desire to pivot as you gain more real-world experience. In that realm, don’t say no to opportunities just because they aren’t exactly aligned with the direction you’re currently headed in. A breadth of experiences leads to being well-rounded and having a better idea of what you truly like doing, and what you don’t. And finally, even after graduation — never stop learning.
What learned skills and/or experiences from your time at SUNY Brockport were the most transferable or useful in your current position?
My clinical internships were of course the most useful in terms of clinical skills, and my experience at Strong Memorial was particularly invaluable as it’s there that I first learned how to run various types of therapy groups, write treatment plans, and conduct individual therapy sessions. I also learned so much about medication assisted treatment (MAT) while there. While I’m not doing any of this in my current role as a crisis co-responder clinician, it really laid the foundation in terms of skills and how to talk to people who are having potentially the worst day of their lives and instill hope.
Please describe any challenge/obstacle you faced while at or since leaving SUNY Brockport and how you overcame/dealt with it.
I think if we’re being honest, therapists are just prone to burnout (and vicarious trauma) due to the nature of the work. I experienced this at a couple of points in my career. We hear ‘self-care’ all the time, and while that can look different for different people, ultimately, we shouldn’t completely lose ourselves in our work. Maintain your boundaries, relationships, and hobbies, and make time to rest and recharge. And if it’s not enough, take a break, take a step back, or find a position better suited to you. It’s okay to walk away from a role (even one you love) if it’s consistently leaving you depleted or isn’t great for your own mental health or work-life balance. And what’s a good fit for you in your current season of life may not be down the road, and that’s okay, too. You can always change your mind.