Counseling Psychology Program
Training in Counseling Psychology
Doctoral students in the counseling psychology program receive academic training in the broad and general core areas of psychology and in the fundamental areas of counseling. In addition, students receive training in a variety of applied settings such as the Department of Psychological Sciences Clinic, the TTU Student Counseling Center and at various sites in the community. All students are taught methods of scientific inquiry and are expected to produce research-based dissertations. Most students in the program also receive training in the teaching of psychology to help prepare them to be effective classroom instructors as they often teach courses independently.
Students enroll in courses to fulfill certain Department Core Area requirements and Counseling Psychology Area requirements. The Department Core Area requirements are geared to provide comprehensive coverage of the breadth of psychological science. Students are required to complete one course in each of four broad and general content areas: (1) cognitive aspects of behavior, (2) developmental aspects of behavior, (3) biological aspects of behavior, and (4) social aspects of behavior. Students also take 3 courses in statistics as part of the department core area requirements. In addition, students who wish to receive funding though a TA appointment are required to take at least 1 credit hour of a Colloquium of Teaching Psychology course.
To satisfy requirements in the Counseling Program Core Areas, students must enroll in 27 hours of Applied Area courses (e.g., Theories and Techniques of Psychotherapy, Vocational Psychology, Counseling and Psychotherapy with Special Populations, Seminar in Professional Ethics); 6 hours of Assessment Area courses (e.g., Objective Personality Assessment); and a minimum of 3 hours of electives (e.g., Neuropsychological Assessment, Group Psychotherapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy).
In addition, students enroll for credits for their practicum, pre-doctoral internship, second-year research project, and dissertation. Overall, a minimum of 102 credit hours (does not include practicum hours) are required for the doctoral degree in Counseling Psychology. See a complete list and description of our curriculum requirements in the Counseling Psychology Handbook.
During their first year in the doctoral program, Counseling Psychology students are encouraged to begin learning about research opportunities in the department. Students are especially encouraged to learn about their advisor's research activities, and to participate in research meetings with other students that may be sponsored by faculty. Additionally, students enroll in the Research Methods course for Counseling Psychology students during the spring semester of their first year. In this course, students learn fundamental and advanced techniques of the research enterprise as related to the field of Counseling Psychology. As a typical final course project, students are encouraged to develop a rough proposal for a research project that may serve as their second-year project.
The second-year research project, officially called the “prequalifying examination research requirement,” is undertaken during students' second year of doctoral study. This project is an empirical study in psychology that is akin to a research thesis, and developed in collaboration with a faculty member. Unlike a formal thesis, the second year project is not defended before a thesis committee. The project is however, presented to students and faculty in the department which allows students to gain experience in conducting professional presentations. This project frequently results in a manuscript that can be presented at research conferences, submitted for journal publication, and often lays the groundwork for the student’s dissertation. Any student entering the Counseling Psychology program with a master's degree can submit a previous psychology research project for approval by faculty to satisfy this departmental requirement.
Students also complete a dissertation toward the end of their graduate study. While this task may seem daunting to beginning doctoral students, training and mentoring is provided throughout students' graduate education, which prepares them for progressing through this more independent research requirement.
Even though the second-year research project and the dissertation are the two required research experiences in the Counseling Psychology doctoral program, many opportunities exist for students to become involved in other types of research endeavors. Students are free to work with any available faculty on a variety of projects at differing levels of involvement.
We have developed a model of training that provides a relevant and inclusive education in issues of diversity (broadly defined.) In our program, we have courses that focus exclusively on diversity issues while other courses address these issues as they relate to specific course content throughout the curriculum. Training in diversity issues also is considered an integral part of practicum supervision. In practicum settings, students gain exposure to clients who are diverse with respect to race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, disability, age, religion, and gender. Diversity issues related to therapy are discussed in both group and individual supervision. Students also participate in two or more training experiences each semester that focus specifically on diversity and individual differences.
Practicum training experiences vary in complexity and provide for a continuous and gradual education in the practice of psychotherapy within the conceptual frame of the scientist-practitioner model, and conforming to the specified philosophies and goals of this program. During the first semester in the program, students typically enroll in Practicum in Intelligence Testing (PSY 5304) and Introduction to Counseling Psychology (PSY 5316). Both of these courses provide initial training in psychotherapy skills and initial exposure to the Psychology Clinic and other training sites. During the spring semester of the first year, students participate in group supervision practicum meetings, and conduct client screenings to further familiarize themselves with Psychology Clinic operations, as well as to get introduced to the experience of practicum training.
Students formally begin practicum training in the Psychology Clinic during the fall semester of their second year of study, though students entering the program with a Masters degree may begin seeing clients sooner. Five total semesters of formal practicum enrollment are required, although to gain additional and specialized training, students often take more than five semesters. Three semesters of practicum are taken in the department's in-house Psychology Clinic. One semester of practicum is required to be taken in the University Counseling Center. These practicum experiences augment and extend the more strictly didactic training that students receive in individual differences, human development, dysfunctional behavior, professional standards and ethics, theories and methods of assessment and diagnosis, effective interventions, and evaluation of the efficacy of intervention.
The Department's Psychology Clinic is located on the first floor of the Psychology Building, and is utilized by students from the counseling and clinical programs for practicum training. This clinic functions as a community-based, outpatient clinic, and also serves as a source of psychotherapy for people from the Texas Tech University and area communities. Clients are drawn from a large region around the Lubbock area, including people from as far as Eastern New Mexico. Clients present with a broad range of psychological concerns, including a number of Axis I and Axis II diagnoses, as well as relational, vocational, and academic concerns. Clients who visit the client are diverse, representing differences in gender, race, ethnicity, physical ability, sexual orientation, age, socioeconomic status, and religion. A variety of therapy modalities are used in the clinic, including individual therapy, couples therapy, family therapy, and occasionally, group therapy.
Practicum students in the Psychology Clinic are supervised by core counseling faculty. On occasion, adjunct faculty from the community are hired to teach and supervise a practicum class. Students typically receive a minimum of two hours of group supervision, and one hour of individual supervision each week by the practicum instructor. Group supervision is taught in a variety of ways, based on both instructor preference and the developmental needs of students. Training during supervision can range from being quite didactic to being more discussion-oriented. Occasionally, practicum sections for the counseling program, or for both counseling and clinical programs, are combined for special training workshops on topics such as crisis intervention, anxiety disorders, substance abuse and suicide. Though infrequent, counseling faculty will co-facilitate combined group supervision meetings for a few weeks or for an entire semester.
As students continue to advance through practicum training, they are exposed to more complex client issues. During their fourth year of training, students are allowed to enroll in a supervision practicum in the Psychology Clinic. This practicum combines both didactic instruction and supervised experience. Students in the supervision practicum supervise a portion of first-year practicum students' (i.e., second year in program) client caseload, and are in turn supervised by a core counseling faculty.
The Student Counseling Center (SCC) is housed on the second floor of the Student Wellness Center and houses an APA-accredited internship. The professional therapy staff is made up almost entirely of licensed counseling and clinical psychologists, although supervision of practicum students is provided by both senior staff and interns. Practicum students attend a two-hour case conference, one and a half hours of individual supervision, and a two-hour training seminar each week. Clients at the UCC consist of students from Texas Tech University. Specialized emphases for practicum training are available at the UCC, including couples therapy, outreach, intake interviewing, assessment, and group therapy.
In addition to the primary practicum training that students receive at the Psychology Clinic and the SCC, students gain a breadth of applied experiences from the employment opportunities mentioned previously as well as from a variety of external practicum sites. Current external practicum sites include Lubbock Regional Mental Health and Mental Retardation, Lubbock/Crosby Country Community Supervision and Corrections Department, , Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, and various psychologists in private practice. Supervision in these experiences is always provided by licensed counseling and clinical psychologists, except in state agencies, which are exempt from psychological licensure requirements in Texas. In these situations, supervision is provided by doctoral level professionally-trained psychologists.
All students are required to successfully pass a qualifying examination which is taken some time after completion of the second-year research project, but no later than the spring semester of the student’s fourth year of study. This examination is designed to adhere to and reflect the scientist-practitioner approach to counseling psychology by emphasizing clear and cogent linkages among observation and inference, theory and practice. Five core areas of counseling psychology are assessed: (1) counseling theory and practice, (2) vocational counseling and career development, (3) research issues, (4) multicultural and diversity issues, and (5) professional and ethical issues. The evaluation of the qualifying exam is designed to provide a constructive learning experience. Details concerning the format, time sequence and grading of the qualifying exam are outlined in the Counseling Psychology Handbook.
Students are required to complete a year-long predoctoral internship before earning their doctorate. Internships exist at a variety of APA-accredited sites including university counseling centers, medical centers, VA hospitals, correctional institutions, community mental health centers, and mental health consortia. Some of our students have participated in the APA-accredited predoctoral internship program located in the Texas Tech University Student Counseling Center. Most of our students participate in internships which are located outside of the Lubbock area in Texas and throughout the United States. Historically, our program has experienced remarkable success with students obtaining internships in the nationally competitive Match process. In addition, many of our internship applicants receive offers from their first-ranked internship sites. However, as the number of applicants continues to increase each year, this process will become more challenging. One way in which we support or students is that we have designated faculty who work closely with students to help them prepare for internship by offering advice on Vita preparation, interviewing, site selection, etc. For a review of our internship admissions results, see our Student Admissions, Outcomes, and Other Data.
Office of Program Consultation and Accreditation
American Psychological Association
750 First Street, N.E.
Washington, DC 20002-4242