Leading Depression Researcher Marks 30-Year Career

Depression Conference at UH to Celebrate Rehm's Contribution to Research, Academia

Lynn Rehm didn’t originally set out to be a psychologist or to research depression. Thankfully, his academic interests evolved. For that, students, colleagues and the field of psychology will be forever grateful.

This year, however, Rehm, professor of psychology and director of the University of Houston’s Depression Research Clinic, will be retiring from the university he has called home for three decades.

"I'll certainly miss the people here, especially the students," Rehm said. "I have long enjoyed the campus and my colleagues, but this is a logical step in my career."

Rehm arrived at UH in 1979, bringing to campus his research interests in depression. He also brought new perspectives to the university's psychology department, revising the curriculum for its clinical training program and later creating the Psychology Research and Services Center (PRSC).

"When I served as director for the clinical training program, my goal was to have it provide scientist-practitioner training," Rehm said. "The courses ultimately would train students so they could conduct patient assessments and therapy, as well as research."

Since opening its doors in 1986, the PRSC has proven to be an effective training ground for clinical psychology students and a base for ongoing research while providing low-cost clinical services for the Houston community.

Among the PRSC's components is Rehm's Depression Research Clinic, which provides insight into a complex and much misunderstood ailment. Rehm and his students also have investigated depression in veterans, cancer patients, children and other groups.

Soon, Rehm's career will be commemorated with a UH-hosted conference on depression in women. The event will offer dialogue and panels on the topic and celebrate Rehm's contributions to the field. Likewise, it will reunite him with many former students who followed in his academic footsteps. The conference, "The Etiology, Assessment and Treatment of Depression in Women and Girls" will be conducted March 6 – 7 in Room 100 of UH's Science and Engineering Classroom Building.

The conference will serve as the focus of a special edition of the Journal of Clinical Psychology that will feature articles submitted by presenters and panelists. The event is sponsored by the Science Directorate of the American Psychological Association, UH department of psychology, UH College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences and the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards. It was organized by Jeremy Pettit, associate professor of psychology and director of UH's Mood Disorder and Suicide Research Program, and Nadine Kaslow, psychology professor at Emory University and one of Rehm’s former students.

"The rationale of the present conference is to celebrate this milestone development and bring together primary figures from depression research for a state-of-the-art conference on the etiology, course and treatment of depression in women across the lifecycle," Pettit said.

Rehm began his academic career at the University of Southern California (USC). Initially, he was a math major, but as fate would have it, an elective course would steer him toward a degree in psychology.

"I have enjoyed math since I was in high school,” he said. "One semester at USC, I had some room in my schedule to explore a few electives, and one of those was a psychology course taught by a professor with strong mathematical leanings. This professor later hired me as a research assistant for a fairly prolific project focused on the structure of the intellect."

The seeds were planted, and Rehm ultimately received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from USC, followed by a master’s degree in psychology and doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Before arriving at UH, Rehm taught at the University of Pittsburgh from 1970 – 1979. During this period, he developed an interest in researching depression.

"While teaching a behavior therapy seminar, I discovered that there were few research efforts focused on depression," he said. "I developed an integrated model to pull together the disparate approaches to depression at that time. That was the basis for my ongoing research and the development of a therapy program."

His retirement from the university will not affect his ongoing contributions to the profession or academics. Rehm still will serve on advisory committees and boards for organizations such as the American Psychological Association and offer his services as a consultant to researchers.

Although he won't be on campus regularly, Rehm's legacy at the university and to depression research will be felt by future generations of students, faculty and clients at the PRSC.

"He has played a central role in the field of the scientific psychology of depression," Pettit said. "At a time when depression research was dominated by psychoanalytic approaches, Dr. Rehm was one of the leaders in delineating and elaborating behavioral and cognitive approaches to depression as alternatives.  This was a milestone in psychological depression research, in that it opened up new vistas for understanding and treating depression. As a researcher, I am grateful for his innovations, and I know students are just as thankful for his contributions to the field and to this university."

About the University of Houston
The University of Houston, Texas' premier metropolitan research and teaching institution, is home to more than 40 research centers and institutes and sponsors more than 300 partnerships with corporate, civic and governmental entities. UH, the most diverse research university in the country, stands at the forefront of education, research and service with more than 35,000 students.