Alumnus Sponsors Students for Four Decades at Colorado Springs Conference

The Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs, CO. Public Domain Image.

Gary Forrest, EdD, PhD ’65 ΔΤΔ continually gives back to his alma mater by sending Westminster psychology majors to a seminar each year. Since 1976, the clinical psychologist has arranged for students to attend the Psychotherapy Associates Annual Winter Symposium in Colorado Springs, CO.

Forrest is the Executive Director and Founder of Psychotherapy Associates, PC, in Colorado Springs. He launched the first winter symposium in 1974. Forrest says Psychotherapy Associates has sponsored Westminster students, administrators, faculty, and Counseling Center staff for more than 40 years because the College gave him so much. “I’ve been able to give back to the evolving Westminster College community that provided me with the opportunity to attend Westminster,” Forrest explains. “My experiences at Westminster have profoundly and consistently shaped my career and life.”

While at Westminster, Forrest earned a degree in Psychology. He then received a master’s in Education from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1967 and a doctorate in Education, Counseling and Psychology, from the University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, in 1970. Forrest completed an extended addictions training program at the University of Oklahoma in Norman during his service as a First Lieutenant in the U.S. Army, where he served as clinical director of the Alcohol and Drug Rehabilitation Center at Fort Gordon, GA. Forrest later earned his PhD from Columbia Pacific University in San Rafael, CA, in 1984.

A nationally recognized addictions consultant, Forrest says the annual symposium is aimed at improving the careers of psychology and addictions treatment professionals, but Westminster students who attend also “enhance their awareness and skills related to a wide diversity of human behavior dynamics.”

Zhaoming Wang ’20 from Beijing, China, is one of two Westminster students who attended the symposium Jan. 27 to Jan. 30 at the Hotel Elegante in Colorado Springs. She says she was able to attend seminars related to child and family therapy, which are of particular interest to her. Based on her experience with the conference, Wang says she is even more excited about majoring in psychology at Westminster. “I would love to dedicate the rest of my life to psychology, just like they [the psychologists] did,” she says.

Likewise, Aspen DeShong ’20 of Woodland Park, CO, describes the symposium as a valuable learning experience. “I left the symposium with pages and pages of notes,” she says. “I absolutely loved the diversity of speakers we had the opportunity to interact with.” 

Forrest says these students’ reactions are exactly why he pays the conference and hotel fees for Westminster psychology students each year. “Exposure to the various speakers, topics, and global program content and information provides students with an enhanced sense of well-being and life skills related to many facets of their lives,” he says.

For more information on Westminster’s Department of Psychology or its relationship to the annual Psychotherapy Associates Winter Symposium, please contact Abby Coats, Associate Professor of Psychology, at 573-592-6121 or Or visit the Department of Psychology page on our site here.


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Sarah Rummel Backer

Sarah Rummel Backer is a Media and Content Strategist at Westminster College in Fulton, MO. A 1992 graduate of the College, Sarah has more than 20 years of experience in marketing and strategic communication in the areas of higher education, medicine, agriculture, and the private business sector.