We know that Outreach Community Counseling Centers (OCCC) provide professional, faith-based counseling to more than 1,000 people in our community every year, offering services to individuals, couples and families who may not be able to otherwise access or afford therapy. But did you know the Outreach counseling centers are also part of a consortium with like-minded organizations that pool their resources to train future psychologists?

This partnership, the Chicago Area Christian Training Consortium (CACTC), exists with a distinctive purpose in mind. “The mission of CACTC is to equip and prepare future psychologists to work competently with underserved persons and their communities through a distinctly Christian perspective,” says Dr. Jessica Marshall, CACTC director and OCCC licensed clinical psychologist. “The Chicago Area Christian Training Consortium (CACTC) – Internship in Health Service Psychology is designed to provide training in a wide range of clinical skills and experiences essential to the practice of health service psychology.” CACTC is a collaborative effort of mental health organizations that provide mental health services in urban and suburban contexts, plus an APA-accredited doctoral program in clinical psychology.

CACTC graduating class of 2018.

The consortium, developed in 2000, has been APA accredited since 2002 and completed reaccreditation process in 2014. Partner organizations in the consortium include:

Outreach Community Ministries (Wheaton/Carol Stream)

Central DuPage Pastoral Counseling Center (Carol Stream)

Cornerstone Counseling Center of Chicago (Chicago)

Lawndale Christian Health Center (Chicago)

Meier Clinics (Wheaton/Chicago)

Wheaton College Graduate School (Wheaton)

Outreach is the CACTC fiscal/administrative agent, providing the training director (Dr. Marshall) and assistant training director (Dr. Alana Roth). “Each intern is employed by their primary site, while CACTC is the training entity,” explains Dr. Marshall. The Consortium Steering Committee (CSC) includes at least one representative from each site, and 22 licensed psychologists are involved in supervision and/or training.

The results of the program are indicative of its success. A total of 97 students have graduated the program since its inception. According to a 2013 survey, 87% of graduates are providing professional services, 89% are utilizing professional scholarly literature to inform clinical work, and an average of 95% spend clinical time working with underserved populations (rural, children/adolescents, homeless, severely mentally ill, ethnic/cultural minorities, older adults, low-income).

Thanks to CACTC, interns are trained to be professional psychologists who uniquely serve their clients through a Christian perspective, benefitting the organizations in the consortium, and ultimately, individuals and communities. “By working with underserved populations, our interns are able to grow their individual competencies while also meeting the needs of our neighbors here in the Chicagoland area,” says Dr. Marshall. “We look forward to many more years of launching psychologists into their professions to serve the vulnerable, have positive impact in areas of great need, and make a kingdom difference.”