GC psych instructors bring real-world experience to classroom

Bruce Liller and Anita Rhodes certainly have the academic credentials to teach in Garrett College’s Psychology Department. Yet, it’s their real-world experience that has GC Psychology Professor Terry Kasecamp particularly excited about her newest adjunct instructors.

“These are two truly incredible professionals in the psychology field,” said Dr. Kasecamp of Liller, who will teach Introduction to Forensic Psychology (PSY 235), and Rhodes, who will teach Drugs and Human Behavior (PSY 286) during the Spring 2018 semester that begins January 23rd.

Liller, who has been the mental health program manager for the North Branch Correctional Institution since 2010, is particularly suited to teaching the Forensic Psychology course, which explores the relationship between psychology and the law.

“Forensic psychology is the process of looking at the psychological factors that motivate people to commit crimes,” explained Liller, a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC) who earned his Master of Science in Counseling Psychology from Frostburg State University. “Many people have curiosity as to why people commit heinous acts. Forensic psychology seeks to unravel those mysteries.”

Liller indicated those considering law enforcement careers can benefit from this type of course.

“Each day law enforcement officers are confronted with the unique dilemma of intervening in the lives of citizens with mental illness, which in many cases may stretch their boundaries of understanding and intervention skill,” said Liller. “Understanding best practices and interventions is tantamount for law enforcement officers.”

Liller, who has 21 years of experience in correctional/forensic psychology with the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, said he is energized about teaching people who are likely to be the future professionals in this field.

“I really look forward to giving back to the students of today, who I expect to be my colleagues of tomorrow,” said Liller, who has taught graduate-level courses at Frostburg State University in addition to serving as an instructor for the U.S. State Department on best practices in the field for foreign correctional staff.

Forensic psychology, according to Liller, operates on a broad continuum.

“It includes everything from helping the mentally ill adjust to that environment [when incarcerated] as well as release planning to help get people back into the community once released,” said Liller. “More and more we are developing alternative sentencing that includes addressing these issues – for example, how we are dealing with people who have heroin addictions through the use of diversion programs that include counseling.”

Rhodes, the behavioral health clinical supervisor for the Garrett County Health Department, launched her professional career as a non-traditional student at Garrett College. She said she knew immediately that she wanted to pursue a career in the field of psychology.

“I wanted to work with people so they could become more in tune with themselves and acquire the coping skills they need to address anxiety and depression,” said Rhodes, who also earned an M.S. in Counseling Psychology from Frostburg State. “I also wanted to help people work through substance-related issues.”

Rhodes said mental health issues “have been a problem for many years,” but only recently have public attitudes evolved so that addressing those issues is widely encouraged.

“In the past, nobody talked about mental health issues,” said Rhodes. “There was a negative stigma connected to talking with a counselor. Now people are encouraged to go to therapy and talk about what’s going on.”

Rhodes’ course is particularly relevant given the regional, statewide and national emphasis on addressing the opioid crisis.

“The impact substances can have on the body and the mind is a major part of this course,” said Rhodes, who also serves as coordinator of the Garrett County Health Department’s Opioid Response Program that is training community members to be able to administer narcan as an antidote for opioid overdoses.

Rhodes said she agreed to teach the class because of her respect for Dr. Kasecamp, who was a huge influence on her years at Garrett College as a student.

“I admire her greatly – I took every course she taught while I was at Garrett,” said Rhodes, who is also a crisis counselor at the Garrett Regional Medical Center. “She’s an amazing person, she really is.”

PSY 235 and PSY 286 – the courses to be taught by Liller and Rhodes – will be offered as hybrid courses (half online and half face-to-face). The face-to-face portion of the courses will be offered back-to-back on Wednesday evenings at the McHenry Campus (PSY 286 – 5-6:30 p.m.; PSY 235 – 6:45-8:15 p.m.) so that interested students can take both courses.

For more information on the Spring 2018 schedule of classes, please go to: http://www.garrettcollege.edu/images/academics/credit/schedules/course-schedule-spring-18.pdf.