Larry Long Counsels Future Health Care Providers

Helps students deal with problems

In the Long household, with two busy professional parents, three active boys and two or three dogs – depending on how you factor in the 170 pound Mastiff-St. Bernard mix – it seems as though peace and quiet would be at a premium.

Larry Long relaxes by training and taking part in endurance running, triathlons and family time. He follows the same sound advice he gives to the health science students at the University of Kansas Hospital. As a psychologist and Senior Director of Counseling and Education Support, Long counsels health science students on dealing with the stress of rigorous academics, a demanding pace and assisting in determining patient care, by finding their inner strength and resiliency.

Long, Ph.D. ’97, School of Education, was selected by the UMKC Alumni Association and the campus as the 2015 School of Education Alumni Achievement Award recipient. He is among the 17 UMKC alumni who will be recognized at the annual Alumni Awards luncheon on Thursday, April 23.

“I would like to think that I help our future health care providers be happier people and that translates into better health care received by patients,” Long said.

An early fascination with the connection between athletic performance and psychology pressed Long to contemplate a career in sports psychology. But a college class convinced him to consider counseling psychology instead.

As a doctoral student, Long was drawn to counseling university students. While interning at Texas A&M University, a combination of what Long calls “passion, networking and luck” landed him a director position at Tarleton State University counseling center after graduating from UMKC.

Long has nothing but gratitude for the support and preparation he received at UMKC. He and his wife, Amy, married while still students; and their first son was born when Long was in graduate school. UMKC faculty members not only attended the wedding, but gave the young couple support through some pregnancy issues and health concerns for Long’s father.

Long singled out Dr. Bill Lewis as a mentor and teacher who challenged him to become a more critical thinker and question assumptions. Long said  “he inspired, frustrated and nurtured me.”

Long joined the University of Kansas Hospital in 2001. Students and staff have been helped by his programs on becoming an ally for LGBT family and friends, overcoming bullying, unemployment and financial hardship, and suicide assessment and prevention.

He takes particular pride in his brainchild, PICC 2.0 (Positions in Counseling Centers), a source of career positions for psychology students seeking work in an academic setting. Users from the U.S., Canada, Europe and Australia post positions and resumes to fill university counseling jobs.

From what he has observed while practicing over the past 19 years, Long believes student problems are increasing. Each day, they care for people with depression, anxiety and eating disorders, and that exacts a toll on the counseling students. They must consider themselves as well.

“People are constantly changing and growing throughout their lives,” Long said, “but the transitions are not always seamless. People regularly turn to counseling for help managing stress, overcoming depression, improving relationships, coping with loss or becoming more self-confident.

“My personal mantra is to hold on a little longer, especially when the circumstances feel bleak.”

Lest one think of Long strictly in psychology terms, he is quick to confess another side.

“If I hadn’t become a counseling psychologist, I might have gone into information technology – I am a computer geek at heart.”

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