Substance Abuse Services / Substance Abuse Treatment Unit

APPIC #118315


The Substance Abuse Treatment Unit (SATU), a satellite clinic of the Connecticut Mental Health Center (CMHC), is a cooperative endeavor between the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services and Yale University School of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry. Placement at the SATU Clinic affords fellows the opportunity to learn cutting edge treatments for substance use disorders, to have access to world renowned faculty in the Division of Addictions Research, and to develop leadership skills in addictions administration.

Placement Options

This track is structured with a primary placement at the Substance Abuse Treatment Unit (SATU), for a full year, comprised of 30 hours per week.

This can be combined with the following CMHC secondary placements: Adult Community Mental Health Services / 34 Park Street; Child & Adolescent Services / West Haven Mental Health Clinic; or The Consultation Center.

Number of Fellows

Primary Placement Slots: 2

The Setting

Since 1968, the Substance Abuse Treatment Unit (SATU) has been at the forefront of the Nation’s efforts to assess and treat substance use disorders. Locally, SATU is a leader in providing education, consultation, and mentorship to community agencies and city and state government. The clinic serves a racially, ethnically, and economically diverse population of adult clients from the Greater New Haven area and surrounding communities. Additionally, specialty services are offered for health care providers with addictions from across the state identified by the Department of Public Health, as needing assessment and long-term treatment for a substance use problems.

The clinic staff is a diverse and compassionate multidisciplinary team that provides the following services: diagnostic evaluation, crisis management, pharmacotherapy, case management, psychotherapy for individual, group, and families, consultation, and referral to appropriate levels of care. Group offerings at SATU include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Life Skills Group, Mindfulness for Relapse Prevention, Spirituality, Health and Recovery, Harm Reduction, Motivational Enhancement, 12 Step Group, Auricular Acupuncture, Smoking Cessation, Bilingual Therapy Group, and Gender Specific Trauma Groups.

The Internship

Fellows placed at SATU function as members of a large outpatient team, and participate in all aspects of providing community-based care. Primary responsibilities include the provision of clinical assessment services, individual and group psychotherapy, and case management and referral services.

Fellows evaluate clients who walk into SATU requesting clinical services. While working in this fast paced environment, fellows gain proficiency in: rapid assessment; management of acute substance abuse psychiatric and psychosocial issues; and consultation and referral.

Following the triage evaluation, clients with a wide range of psychopathology are assigned to fellows for treatment. A clinical caseload at SATU includes both individual and group clients and ranges from 15-20 cases. SATU faculty provides support and guidance around caseload management and offer specialized training to fellows in Motivational Interviewing and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

Evidence-Based Practices

The following evidence-based practices (EBPs) are used in this placement setting. Fellows generally have exposure to most of these EBPs though do not necessarily receive training or supervised experience in all of them. The EBPs include: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT); Motivational Interviewing (MI); Relapse Prevention; Mindfulness for Relapse Prevention (MDRP); 12 Step Facilitation; Psychodynamic Therapy for Addiction; Cognitive Behavioral Analysis System of Psychotherapy (CBASP); and Auricular Acupuncture.

Psychological Assessment

Both primary and secondary fellows at the Substance Abuse Treatment Unit will develop thorough competency in substance abuse, psychotherapeutic, behavioral, and auricular acupuncture assessments during the internship. These assessment skills are learned and refined in close collaboration with supervisors and seasoned clinicians, with the goal of considering and integrating assessment into each dimension of clinical practice. For those fellows interested in more formal psychometric assessment opportunities, specialized supervision is available to meet those learning objectives.


The internship affords the opportunity to work with a racially, ethnically, and economically diverse population of adult clients ranging in age from 17-80, hailing from all of the New Haven neighborhoods. Fellows are encouraged seek out first-hand knowledge of the various New Haven neighborhoods to develop a unique understanding of the environment in which clients live. In addition, fellows often attend 12 step meetings embedded within these home communities as a way to understand the language and culture of addiction and recovery.

Scholarly Activity

Scholarly projects at SATU involve the opportunity to work with talented faculty from the Division of Substance Abuse. Fellows can learn about the following ongoing research: Behavioral Pharmacology and Medications Development, Psychotherapy Treatment Development and Efficacy, Patient Treatment Matching and Process Research, Stress, Self-Control and Addictive Behaviors, Diagnostic, Epidemiology and Policy Studies, International Research, Primary Care Interventions, and HIV Risk Reduction.

More specifically, fellows have the opportunity to participate in conducting manually driven psychotherapy, attending research seminars and meetings, and writing scholarly projects through the Psychotherapy Development Research Center. The Center is the only National Institute on Drug Abuse clinical research focused exclusively on psychotherapy development. The Center aims to catalyze innovative and efficacious psychotherapies that have promise for real world implementation.


Donna LaPaglia, Psy.D., Primary Advisor
Matthew Steinfeld, Ph.D., Supervisor
Brian Kiluk, Ph.D., Supervisor


Fellows obtain both individual and group supervision for their clinical work. Fellows meet regularly with a primary advisor, several clinical supervisors, an assessment supervisor (as needed), and may pursue a research mentor from a faculty group of over 20 full-time psychologists within the Division of Substance Abuse. Formal evaluations are completed that serve as opportunities to review progress on training goals and address progress toward core competency areas.

Seminars and Specialized Training

In addition to the Core Seminar, fellows at this placement may participate in the following Division of Substance Abuse seminars: Psychotherapy for Substance Use Disorders, Special Populations in Addictions Treatment, Psychotherapy Research and Addiction Psychiatry. In addition, specialized psychotherapy training and supervision is offered by expert faculty in evidenced based interventions. Fellows also receive certification in auricular acupuncture, an adjunctive intervention offered in the clinic for relief of withdrawal symptoms; help with craving, and with anxiety symptoms. Fellows also participate in a yearlong psychotherapy case seminar to support the development of enhanced conceptualization and psychotherapy skills.

Applicant Qualifications

Strong applicants for this placement generally have experience working with adults with substance use disorders and mental illness. In addition, strong applicants will have experience conducting intake assessments and providing evidence based group therapy with substance using populations. Fellows who match with this placement typically have a strong interest in addiction services and scholarship and their future goals often include providing clinical services, conducting research, and pursuing leadership opportunities.

Applicants selected for this placement must successfully pass background checks conducted by Yale University. Since this placement requires travel between different training sites, previous fellows have considered it essential to have access to their own car.

For Further Information

Contact Dr. Donna LaPaglia at