Dr. Stephen Hebard joins Prevention Strategies as Research Associate

Prevention Strategies recently welcomed Dr. Stephen Hebard as our new Research Associate. Below is a short interview with our newest team member.

What is your academic background?

I earned my master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling in 2011 and Ph.D. in Counseling and Counselor Education with a minor in Educational Research Methodology and a Sport Psychology cognate from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. My dissertation work examined the coach-athlete relationship and its influence on various mental health factors via an attachment lens. Most of my clinical training is in the application of Motivational Interviewing to promote healthy behavior change.

Can you share a little about your professional background?

Yes! After graduating with my master’s degree, I practiced as a licensed counselor in the state of North Carolina, where I worked with clients struggling with a variety of mental health concerns. My primary focus has been on treating adolescent and young adult substance use and abuse with Motivational Interviewing and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

After finishing my terminal degree, I took a position as an Assistant Professor of Counseling at The University of Alabama at Birmingham where I focused my scholarship efforts on research related to mental health in sport and Motivational Interviewing. I also provided clinical supervision to mental health counselors in training and taught graduate courses in substance abuse counseling, multicultural counseling, and counseling skills. I am very proud to have been selected for membership with the Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers (MINT), the international organization for excellence in MI, in 2016.

What areas of research are you interested in?

I am interested in developing and evaluating innovative, feasible, and scalable ways to enhance prevention and intervention efforts related to substance abuse, mental health, and wellness. Although my primary population of interest has historically been collegiate student-athletes, I have become very interested and engaged in better understanding the challenges that other high-risk groups experience.

What are your goals for your work at Prevention Strategies?

My number one goal is to learn from others and try to better understand their personal and professional opinions and ideas. I try my best to approach this work with humility and openness. Prevention Strategies has positioned me amongst peers and mentors that collaboratively integrate their expertise and support one another through the rigors of this work. I hope to always be curious and creative in this work. We work hard to push innovation forward in this field and I think it is making a difference for people who need the support.

What are your general feelings about the current state of athlete health and wellness?

I am proud of the progress being made in athletics, from youth to elite sport. I think sport organizations are beginning to understand the importance of addressing the unique challenges that athletes experience. Leadership in sport has become more open to consultation on how to creatively address these complex issues. Yet, we need to continue to grow.

I believe that leadership in athletics, health practitioners, scientists, support staff, and other stakeholders need to commit to developing improved cultural competence in sport. We need to deconstruct stigma around mental health and wellness issues and prioritize the athlete voice in the creative process of addressing their concerns.

As someone whose training is in mental health counseling, I see incredible potential for an improved response to mental health issues in sport. I would like to see the mental health professions prioritize collaboration and competence in sport over competition with one another.

Anything in closing?

We have a great team here. I love being a part of a forward-thinking group that always aims high. I’m learning and having fun every day.

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