- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 20, 2007

When Sally Horwatt isn’t healing wounds left by the Virginia Tech tragedy, she is making sure that mental health is a top priority for Virginians.

Mrs. Horwatt, a certified clinical psychologist, was named president of the Virginia Academy of Clinical Psychologists, a lobbying group for psychologists in Virginia.

“I think that Sally will do exceptionally well,” said Bruce Keeney, executive director of the academy. “She has a gift for getting people together for a common cause.”

After the April 16 massacre in Blacksburg, Mrs. Horwatt used her networking skills to start the Virginia Tech Project, a coalition of more than 100 clinical psychologists who agreed to provide free treatment to students, faculty, staff and families affected by the shootings.

“Sally was on the phones as soon as we heard the news report,” Mr. Keeney said.

“She initiated the program, and two hours later Virginia Tech officials said they were overwhelmed by clinical psychologists who wanted to help,” he said.

Mrs. Horwatt will divide her time between the academy and the private practice she founded in Reston 27 years ago.

The Chicago native moved to Virginia in the late 1970s, when she earned a doctorate in clinical psychology from Catholic University.

She began working as a psychologist at St. Elizabeths Hospital in Southeast while building up her private practice in the evenings.

Mrs. Horwatt has leadership experience at other psychological organizations in Virginia. In 2000, she was named president of the Virginia Psychological Association, the parent organization of the Virginia Academy of Clinical Psychologists and other psychological associations in Virginia.

Mrs. Horwatt said her biggest goal at the academy is to get lawmakers to focus on Virginia’s mental health issues.

She said that she wants to emphasize the importance of parity laws, which treat mental illness as a physical disease. She also wants to educate legislators about the limits of evidence-based psychotherapy, a course of treatment that diagnoses mental illness with empirical evidence rather than professional intuition.

“The goal of the organization is to bring the level and quality of clinical psychologists to a higher plateau,” Mr. Keeney said. “She recognizes that the profession needs to appreciate and take a real role in the advocacy of mental health services, and she can help us achieve that.”

Mrs. Horwatt earned her undergraduate degree in political science from Grinnell College in Iowa. She received a doctorate in clinical psychology from Catholic University in the District. She earned a postdoctoral master of science degree in clinical psychopharmacology at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Mrs. Horwatt lives in Reston with her husband, Bob.

For more information about the Virginia Tech Project, call 804/643-7300. A list of participating psychologists can be found on the Virginia Academy of Clinical Psychologists Web site, www.vapsych.org.

Bryce Baschuk

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