Dr. Elliott Recognized By AFS For Research Impact


Written by: Ashley Green (cehdcomm@tamu.edu)
Post date: April 24, 2017

He calls his research interests an interesting spider web - a web that has expanded during his time at Texas A&M University.

Dr. Tim Elliott, professor of counseling psychology, was selected by Texas A&M and the Association of Former Students to be honored with a 2017 Distinguished Achievement Award in Research.

Early in his career as a psychologist, Dr. Elliott set out to study different factors that influence the adjustment process for someone following the onset of a traumatic disability. His first interventions looked at areas such as problem-solving skills, but his research quickly took other turns.

“If you’re a behavioral scientist and you’re studying people, you focus on the individual. But, particularly when you’re dealing with healthcare, you can’t help but deal with matters of policy. Getting a traumatic disability often results in bankruptcy, for example, for those who lose their jobs due to the disability, and because insurance doesn’t cover as much as we think it does.”

His policy-relevant work morphed into family caregiver research and the impact on families being thrust into a caregiver role. The expectation that a family member has to stop normal, everyday activities to care for a loved one causes an incredible amount of stress and unpredictability. His randomized clinical trials examined home-based interventions for family caregivers that were provided via telephone and videoconferencing devices.

Access to mental health services is an ongoing concern in rural health communities where access to healthcare professionals is limited. The ability to address the disparities in collaboration with public health colleagues at the Health Sciences Center influenced Dr. Elliott’s decision to take a position at Texas A&M in 2006.

Since then, Dr. Elliott and his colleagues at the HSC established the Telehealth Counseling Clinic which provides mental health services to underserved individuals at rural clinics throughout the Brazos Valley. Doctoral students in the counseling psychology program provide counseling using high-quality videoconference technology. Currently, the clinic is supported by funds from the 1115 Medicaid Waiver program.

“It’s a way of logically providing quality services, long-distance, to people where it might matter the most - in their home communities.”

This research, along with other interests related to counseling and rehabilitation psychology, has resulted in more than 200 publications and federal grant funding for 15 years.

Dr. Elliott’s continued passion for research is one of the reasons he was selected to receive a 2017 Distinguished Achievement Award in Research. Dr. Elliott is still shocked he was nominated for the award, much less chosen to receive it.

“This is a place where there are incredible, high-achieving colleagues renowned in their fields. For people to think that I was worthy of a nomination really was flattering and unexpected. I can’t describe the sense of appreciation for the recognition and the acknowledgement. It means so much that the award is from Texas A&M where I have found my intellectual and scholarly home.”

Dr. Elliott shared a piece of advice for anyone considering research personally or professionally.

“There are these personal qualities that you really need to nurture and hone to use in the service of your science and your profession. You have to have an incredible sense of curiosity. You have to have a nurtured curiosity that you listen to. You also have to be a little hard headed to see your research through.”