History & Development

The Psychological Services Center was founded in the fall of 1976 as the training center for the University of Kentucky Clinical Psychology doctoral program.

Initially, the center was in the basement of the Psychology building, Kastle Hall. In September, 1979, the center moved to a small house at 441 Pennsylvania Avenue. Evening hours were added at this time.

In 1980, the center began year-round operation, and began seeing child clients. Psychological assessments were done for the first time at the center in 1982. Also, research projects by clinical faculty and graduate students which involved clients as participants were begun.

Undergraduate psychology majors began working as clinical assistants, and this popular experiential education program continues today. In the mid-1980’s, local psychologists became the first “community supervisors," giving clinical psychology doctoral students exposure to a wider variety of supervisory styles.

Following his death in 1988, the center was renamed the Jesse G. Harris, Jr. Psychological Services Center, after the former Psychology Department chair and faculty member. In October, 1989, the center moved to a new facility in a larger building at 644 Maxwelton Court, its current location.

At this time, a series of continuing education workshops and conferences were sponsored by the center and the Department of Psychology. In 1992, the first children's social skills groups were offered. An after-hours pager system for center clients and crisis intervention training for therapists were instituted.

An arrangement with the UK Department of Psychiatry allowed the center to offer psychiatric consultation and medication services, beginning in January, 1994.

New therapy services included the Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) program for treatment of borderline personality disorder. The DBT program remains one of the center's signature programs, receiving referrals from throughout the region.

Also in the 1990's, contracts to provide psychological assessments for local agencies and companies were begun. A programmatic emphasis on using evidence-based treatments was enhanced by acquiring treatment manuals and resource materials.

In 2000, the center instituted a Scientist-Practitioner Award for graduate students demonstrating excellence in the provision of empirically-supported clinical practice. In 2002, the center launched its own website. 

In 2004, new programs began including a relationship-focused group conducted at the Hope Center women's substance abuse recovery program, and a children's managing frustration group.

Graduate students have had opportunities to conduct outcome research with center clients and have participated in standardization trials of revisions of well-established psychological assessment instruments.

The center encourages therapists’ involvement in the Kentucky Psychological Association and actively supports KPA conferences and programs. One of the "heads" from KPA's award-winning "Heads Up Kentucky!" public art and education project is displayed in the center's foyer.

In 2010, the center began conducting pre-employment psychological evaluations of firefighter recruit candidates for the Lexington Fire Department. Currently, these assessments are done for both the Lexington and Nicholasville Fire Departments. 

Recent programmatic improvements have included installation of an electronic health record system and a research-based program to measure progress and outcomes in therapy. 

In 2016, the center celebrated 40 years of graduate student training and provision of high quality services. The center remains committed to its primary missions of providing excellent training and research opportunities to clinical psychology doctoral students, and affordable and effective mental health services to the Lexington community.   

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