Southern California Program

California State University, Northridge

Civic and Community
Northridge, CA
December 2018

The SIMPACT Mental Health Project will create a partnership between California State University, Northridge (CSUN) and 30 community-based mental health agencies to develop and assess a virtual simulation curriculum for the training of new mental health clinicians.  CSUN is licensed to provide this type of mixed-reality simulation, which uses a combination of artificial intelligence and highly trained professional actors to animate avatars designed to represent a diverse array of mental health clients.  Subject matter experts in marriage and family therapy, social work, and multiculturalism will work with community partners to create 50 therapeutic scenarios to build the skills of new mental health clinicians, making the clinicians’ first months in the field more productive for the agencies and their clients.  These new scenarios will be piloted and revised in CSUN courses before being implemented at the partnering agencies.  While simulation training has been deployed for decades in medical and nursing education, this approach has not been widely adopted or assessed in the mental health field.  Findings on the efficacy of the model will be disseminated through conference presentations and journal articles.  A Keck grant will support the one-time costs for project coordination, content expertise, and additional actors to perform the new scenarios.

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