Volunteer Services

Rewarding opportunities for volunteer work are available at Psychiatric Institute. The Department of Volunteer Services makes every attempt to provide interested and appropriate volunteers with personally meaningful placements.

 Since Psychiatric Institute is a major research institution (one of our investigators recently was awarded a Nobel Prize in Medicine), most volunteers here choose to work on one of our many exciting research studies. In this setting, the volunteer may assist in the formulation or execution of research that is designed either to better our understanding of the causes of a variety of psychiatric illnesses or to develop better treatments for them.  Volunteer responsibilities range from data entry and data management, to literature reviews, to some form of patient or research subject contact, typically observing interviews conducted by researchers.

 Another path that a volunteer may take is working directly with the in-patients at the Institute, most of whom are participating in research studies. The major diagnostic groups represented at the Institute include people with schizophrenia, depression and eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia. Volunteers lead or co-lead activity groups in Creative Writing, Gardening, Newsletter, Art, and Computer Skills. Some volunteers work individually with patients, serving, for instance, as academic tutors at the Children's Day Unit, or as computer tutors at the Patients and Family Library and Resource Center, or as Spanish language translators in our Washington Heights Community Service. All volunteers accepted for placement must provide a Physical Health History and also must attend an orientation on fire safety and infection control procedures.

At any given time, there are between 75 and 100 volunteers, many of whom are psychology students looking for practical experience to augment their academic training.

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer here, the first step is to contact:

Matt Gold, CTRS, Director of the Department of Volunteer Services at
(212) 543-5240 or at goldmat@pi.cpmc.columbia.edu, for an interview.

This helps ensure that there will be a good fit between the volunteer’s strengths and the Institute’s needs.  


This page updated 04/10/07