UM Junior Wins Prestigious Psychology Grant

May 01, 2015

MISSOULA – University of Montana junior Philip Thomas recently earned a prestigious $5,000 grant from Psi Chi, the national honors society of psychology. The scholarship will support his research to understand the effectiveness of UM’s Youth Engagement Through Intervention program, a weeklong intensive treatment designed by UM researchers.

Thomas, a Bozeman native, majors in psychology and aims to pursue an educational-specialist degree in school psychology.

“I grew up with a brother who has very low-functioning autism,” Thomas said. “I knew from a young age that I wanted to be involved in a career that made an impact on children with disabilities and their families.”

YETI is an intensive, weeklong social-skills intervention for children ages 8 to 13 with autism spectrum and related disorders. The program uses evidence-based practices such as video modeling, visual schedules and social narratives to improve social skills.

Thomas’ research with the YETI program aims to examine whether the skills taught in the program are being maintained and used at home and whether individualized treatments are effective for reducing disruptive behaviors within group settings.

“I am thrilled to learn that I have been awarded the grant, and I’m excited to have the opportunity to learn about different treatments for children with autism through this study,” he said.

Contact: Anisa Goforth, assistant professor, UM Department of Psychology, 406-243-2917,