By Hannah Calkins
At the end of 2016, the Idaho Psychological Association (IPA) presented Kathryn Morris, PhD, and Christine Pickford, PhD, each with the John Cambareri Award for Excellence in Psychology. There have only been 15 other recipients of this prestigious award, which was established in 1985 in honor of Idaho’s first licensed psychologist. The award recognizes distinguished service to psychology and the recipients’ extraordinary accomplishments in the profession, says Deborah Katz, the executive director of IPA.
This award isn’t given every year, and in only one other instance has been bestowed on more than one psychologist in a year. “In this case, we had two standout nominees,” Katz said. “This truly is a lifetime achievement award.”Morris and Pickford, who are both based in Boise, Idaho, worked in different sectors during their respective careers: Morris in Child and Family Services at the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, and Pickford as a psychologist in Boise’s public school district and as a private practitioner. Both were recognized for their major roles in improving mental health services for children in the region.
Their accomplishments highlight the challenges and opportunities of practicing in a rural state like Idaho, where funding and resources for mental health are scarce and there are relatively few providers. However, that scarcity can give practitioners like Morris and Pickford the chance to make a large impact.
Pickford came to the state in 1976 after earning her PhD from the University of Michigan and completing an internship at C.S. Mott Children's Hospital. “In Idaho, you couldn’t — and still cannot — get a degree in child psychology,” she says. “So I had the unexpected advantage of being offered a job everywhere I interviewed.” Over the next four decades, Pickford helped modernize the assessment and treatment of children’s mental health in Idaho, both in her work in Boise school district and in her private practice, where she specialized in the behavioral health of infants and children with medical problems.
Similarly, Morris found that she was well-equipped to help expand and improve services in the state.“Before coming to Boise, I had trained to work in a multidisciplinary rural setting,” says Morris, who received an undergraduate degree from the University of Idaho, completed her doctoral training at Utah State University, and returned to Idaho in 1987. “I gravitated to public service because of my background and training. Not everyone has the personality or temperament for that work, but it was a great fit for me.” During her career at the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, Morris was hugely influential in establishing current standards, practices and policies in child welfare.
In addition, Morris has been very active in IPA, and served as the association’s treasurer for 13 years.
The IPA Board votes on who will receive the Cambareri award, but any IPA member can make a nomination, Katz reports. Pickford and Morris received their awards at the Southwest Idaho Regional Meeting in Boise on Dec. 1, 2016.