March 19, 2021 4:16 PM | Deborah Katz (Administrator)


    Dennis J. Woody, PhD
          IPA Fellow


BUSINESS NAME:   Optum Idaho/United Health Group

REGION OF IDAHO WHERE YOU PRACTICE:   When actively practicing pediatric neuropsychology, I was principally working in the Treasure Valley, but often consulted around the state for the Dept. of Health & Welfare. I continue to practice essentially in the Treasure Valley on a limited basis in the Boise School District.

WHERE DID YOU GROW UP:   I was raised within an active duty Air Force family until my junior year in High School and consequently lived in multiple places. When dad retired, we settled in Emmett, Idaho (parent’s hometown).

University of Idaho (1973-77) - BS Elementary Education & BS Early Child Development

University of Montana (1980-87) - BA Psychology, MS Clinical Psychology and Ph.D. Clinical Psychology

University of Minnesota (1989-90) - Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Clinical Neuropsychology

CURRENT WORK:  On staff with Optum Idaho participating as the Senior Clinical Services Program consultant and member of the medical team for utilization management.


POPULATIONS SERVED:  Infant/Toddler & Child/Adolescent/Young Adult

My focus within the Optum Idaho framework is clinical system development with evidence based mental health service lines for members of Idaho Medicaid. This entails clinical program evaluation, clinical service utilization and analysis as it interfaces with service efficacy, new clinical services development and establishment of funding platforms for provider training in evidence-based practices for children, adolescents and adults. It is also within my responsibilities to assist in the improvement of mental health resource accessibility for Idaho Behavioral Health Plan (IBHP) members. This occurs in the context of workforce development projects, collaboration with community stakeholders and sponsoring new interventions in Idaho’s Medicaid based treatment arrays.

Formerly - I maintained a private clinical practice in Boise addressing consultation for children and adolescents with neurocognitive challenges. Simultaneously, I was on contract with the Idaho Elk’s Pediatric Rehabilitation program (20 years), St. Luke’s Children’s services in pediatrics at MSTI (18 years) and the State of Idaho for Family and Children’s Services (16 years). I also consulted for the Meridian (about 10 years) and Boise School Districts (about 16 years and continue to do so).

WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT BEING A PSYCHOLOGIST?  The strongest appreciation I have for my role as a psychologist is the ability to contribute to the improvement of people’s lives at a clinical level and at a systems level for service provision. This capacity is a function of the natural transition across a career of providing direct clinical services that benefitted patients to one wherein the changes are brought about through experience with the system of care vulnerabilities and its potential for improvement. Now, to be a psychologist working within a care management team that supports improvements in care through expanded accessibility and improved clinician skills, it affords me opportunities to make contributions through shared projects, professional relationships and a willingness to “try something different”. This resonance with betterment and sustained effort is the very core of what we practice as psychologists. I’m fortunate enough to be in a role to help make that happen within Idaho’s system of care for persons challenged with behavioral health concerns.

THEORETICAL ORIENTATION:   My clinical training and practice were essentially oriented to a bio-psycho-social model that was influenced by cognitive behavioral methods for treatment and intervention. As a neuropsychologist, I was always most comfortable with normatively based delineations of cognitive abilities and the potential they portrayed in a(n) child, adolescent or adult. However, there were occasions wherein I certainly appreciated an Exner oriented scoring of a Rorschach protocol with well-developed overtones of dynamic implications and interpretations.

SERVICE IN PROFESSION:   I’ve always felt that being involved with colleagues through APA and IPA was a sure way to stay connected personally and professionally. In doing so, I participated within APA as the Federal Advocacy Coordinator for multiple years in Idaho and briefly for the Louisiana Psychological Association in the early 1990’s. I also served on the Idaho Board of Psychologists for a rotation and enjoyed getting to know other psychologists from around the state. There have also been rotations for varying periods of time serving on different committees for IPA such as Ethics and Continuing Education. For about the past 10 years I’ve served on the Idaho State Bar’s Reasonable Accommodations Committee addressing Bar Examinees’ requests for changes in their testing circumstances.

WHERE ARE YOU IN YOUR CAREER:   At this point I’m looking at elements of change in a mental health delivery system that is just beginning here in Idaho when compared with our neighbors in the Pacific Northwest. So, my intentions are focused on the development of high-quality care supported by solid underlying platforms of funding that reward excellence. That objective is anchored to accountable outcomes of treatment within the mental health domain. Bringing workable solutions to our system that have worked in other rural/frontier states is an obtainable goal that I see myself working toward with the help of multiple community stakeholders.


Sports Fan: Observer Status (Baseball, Football); SCUBA; Woodworking; Socializing with Others; Reading; Travel for Fun (on hold); Shooting (Targets); Gardening/Landscape

Excellent with kitchen clean-up (Bull Cook)

Grateful to have been able to work as a psychologist in a place like Idaho given the people, the need, and the community of other colleagues having the same intentions. A good run……..ongoing! 

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