What Jeff Reiter lacked most when he enrolled at The College of Wooster in the fall of 1983 was self-confidence. A graduate of Eastwood High School in rural northwest Ohio, Reiter wasn’t sure how he would fare in Wooster’s rigorous academic environment, but early on Professor of History and Dean of Admissions Hayden Schilling was there to help him establish a solid foundation.
Even though Reiter’s high school did not have a tennis team, Schilling quickly recognized his skills and recruited him to play for the Scots. Not only did Schilling serve as a positive model on the court, but he also became a valuable mentor who gave Reiter the confidence that he could succeed academically, athletically, and socially.
With growing self-assurance, Reiter reached out to his professors, and they responded by guiding and encouraging him to reach his full potential. "The teaching at Wooster was intimate, caring, and high quality," says Reiter. "Perhaps the biggest compliment I can give [the College] is to say that I would do it all over again — if I could still make the tennis team, that is."
Psychology had intrigued Reiter from a very young age, and as a fifth grader he decided on his own to subscribe to Psychology Today. He continued to broaden his horizons during his freshman and sophomore years by taking advantage of Wooster’s liberal arts curriculum, but by that point, he already knew what his major interest of study would be.
Reiter graduated with his degree in psychology and earned honors on his I.S. His research focused on whether facial expressions produce or are a product of emotions. "The I.S. process — finding a challenging topic of interest, giving form to it, and pursuing it to the end — is exactly the process that has led to my professional successes," he says.
Reiter decided to stay at the college for one more year to serve as an assistant tennis coach, a residence hall director, and a part-time assistant in the admissions office. He then went on to the College of William and Mary, where he earned a master's degree, and the University of Vermont, where he received a Ph.D. in clinical psychology.
After receiving a health professions scholarship from the U.S. Air Force, Reiter decided to enlist. For the next eight years he was stationed in Washington, D.C., California, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia on active duty as a psychologist. During that time, he made connections that helped him to land his current position with HealthPoint Community Health Centers in Seattle, where he is co-director of the Behavioral Health Consultation, a service he founded in 2002. His focus is on integrating mental health care into primary medical services, and his work was recently recognized when he received the Innovative Practice Award from Dr. James Bray, the president of the American Psychological Association. Like Reiter, Bray is focused on increasing psychology's role in primary health care.
"Research has shown that primary care clinics often don't recognize mental health problems in patients," says Reiter, "and often don't have good care outcomes with them when they are recognized."
Reiter is the co-author of Behavorial Consultation and Primary Care: A Guide to Integrating Services. In addition to writing on the subject, he and his colleagues were hired by the Air Force to implement some of their practices in its care services. This entailed visiting some 40 bases and working with the healthcare staff in both the primary care and psychological care fields.
In assessing his professional success, Reiter attributes much of it to his undergraduate experience. "Wooster influenced my professional and personal development in many important and wonderful ways," he says. "Perhaps most importantly, it helped me to gain the self-confidence I had lacked when I entered college."
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