Dr. Kenya D. Key is a licensed clinical psychologist and the Chief Psychologist at Cermak Health Services, a division of Cook County Health & Hospital System, service providers at Cook County Jail. She has previously worked as a staff psychologist at the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center and served as a consulting psychologist for The Women’s Treatment Center. Dr. Key has extensive experience with women’s mental health concerns. She has presented at national conferences pertaining to gender specific treatment for incarcerated girls and women, including participation in a broadcast seminar for the U.S. Department of Justice – National Institute of Corrections, entitled “Health, Justice, Women: Behavioral Health and OB/GYN.”

(Photo Courtesy of Dr. Kenya D. Key)

(Photo Courtesy of Dr. Kenya D. Key)

In Key’s current role as Chief Psychologist, she is responsible for the supervision and coordination of all clinical activities of the psychologists, social workers, mental health specialists and expressive arts therapists employed by the Health & Hospital System. They are responsible for the identification and treatment of detainees with serious mental illnesses while they are in custody at the Cook County Department of Corrections.

Key’s earned a Bachelor of Science in education and social policy with a concentration in psychological services and a Master of Arts in counseling psychology from Northwestern University in Evanston, IL.  She earned a Doctorate of Clinical Psychology (PsyD) from Pepperdine University in Malibu, CA.

What are the scope and responsibilities of your current role?

“I manage the day-to-day clinical operations to ensure that our (approximately 100) professional mental health workforce delivers quality therapeutic services to the male and female detainees. This entails a great deal of daily coordination and problem solving with nursing, medical and custody staff to effectively provide healthcare to hundreds of patients on any given day.”

What is your favorite part of your daily duties?

“My favorite part of my day is making clinical rounds because it affords me an opportunity to touch base with my staff and to interact with patients.  Since much of my day is spent performing administrative tasks, I relish those opportunities to engage in the therapeutic milieu.”

Do you feel your education prepared you for your current role?

“I was very fortunate to obtain my education and clinical training from two extraordinary academic programs. The practitioner-scholar model of each program afforded me the challenge of rigorous coursework as well as an extensive array of clinical field-training opportunities. I had the opportunity to work in hospitals, homeless shelters and rescue missions, community mental health clinics, head start and elementary school programs and college counseling centers. The balance of academics and broad field-training offered the best preparedness for transitioning into a competitive workforce.”

Do you have any advice for people who desire to pursue a similar career?

“Make every effort to get a variety of clinical training experiences so that you are better able to make an informed career choice. There are so many career paths that a clinical psychologist can take, find your ‘good fit’ by testing the waters as a trainee.”

Michelle Guilbeau is a writer, reviewer, teacher and business owner. She also has experience in school administration, literacy coaching and is proud founder of CraftKitsForKids.com and MichelleGuilbeau.com Michelle enjoys sharing her knowledge of cities, food, travel, education and parenting issues with her readers. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.

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