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Counseling Psychology Program

Overview

The Ph.D. program in Counseling Psychology in the Department of Psychological Sciences at Texas Tech University offers training in the professional practice of psychology. Our primary objective is to prepare students for positions as counseling psychologists in a variety of settings. Our program has been accredited by the American Psychological Association since 1964, and is grounded in a science-practitioner model of training. The Counseling Psychology program affords students an opportunity to develop competencies in the following areas: 1) understanding and application of various models of psychological theory, 2) counseling and psychotherapy skills, 3) psychological assessment, 4) research and methodology, and 5) professional ethics. Both research and practice are considered important.

Our program recognizes the importance of both personal and professional development as integral aspects of training counseling psychology students. Additionally, our program is generalist in nature; i.e., while remaining anchored in the basic values of the discipline, enough breadth and flexibility is available for students to tailor training experiences to match their interests, as well as the demands of a changing marketplace. Students in our training program are urged to obtain applied experience in a variety of settings and to seek opportunities for teaching and research collaboration. Finally, we strive to maintain a training environment that promotes a supportive and positive learning experience.

The Counseling Psychology program is committed to fostering both knowledge of and appreciation for diversity as reflected in our students, our faculty and in our professional activities. Moreover, this s commitment is evidenced by our integration of multicultural topics throughout our counseling and departmental core courses, students’ practicum experiences, and courses which focus primarily on broadly defined issues pertaining to diversity and underrepresented groups. In addition, the Counseling Psychology program actively recruits applicants from diverse groups, including racial and ethnic minorities, gays/lesbians/bisexuals, individuals with physical disabilities, non-traditional students, members of varying socioeconomic divisions and other traditionally under-represented groups.

Our counseling psychology doctoral students are required to successfully complete courses that fulfill both departmental area requirements as well as requirements specific to the Counseling Psychology program. In addition, each student is expected to successfully complete a written qualifying examination, a master's level research project (commonly called a second-year project), and a dissertation. Students begin their practicum experience in the spring semester of their first year. Completion of our program typically requires three to five years to complete coursework and the second year project, prepare for and pass the qualifying exam, participate in practica and devote time to dissertation research.

Students attend on a full-time basis and register for course hours throughout the fall, spring and summer semesters. In addition, students are required to successfully complete one additional year of training at a predoctoral internship site. Graduates of our doctoral program have obtained employment in a variety of settings such as university counseling centers, VA hospitals, outpatient clinics, community mental health centers, psychiatric and medical hospitals, prisons, university or college academic departments, and independent practice.

Program Philosophy and Training

The Counseling Psychology program adheres to a “scientist-practitioner” model of training originally derived from the philosophical tenets outlined at the 1949 Boulder Conference on Graduate Training in Clinical Psychology (Baker & Benjamin, 2000) and most recently articulated at the National Conference on Scientist-Practitioner Education and Training for the Professional Practice of Psychology (Gainesville, 1990; Belar & Perry, 1992). This model represents a long-standing integrative approach that combines science and practice. That is, students are trained to value ways in which practice and research inform one another as scholars, teachers and practitioners. As a result, our students are taught how to think scientifically about human behavior, deliver empirically-supported and theoretically sound psychological services to clients and contribute to the field through research, scholarship and teaching.

We have a generalist training model that is designed to lead students through a graduated sequence of learning tasks. Our courses and practicum opportunities are grounded in basic psychological science and offer the breadth of training that prepares students to work as counseling psychologists in a variety of settings such as university counseling centers, medical centers, prisons, higher education and private practice. Moreover, our curriculum is grounded in the foundational and functional competencies developed by the Assessment of Competency Benchmarks Work Group (Fouad et al., 2007):

The basic philosophical tenets and core values of our training program are as follows:

  1. We believe in the importance and value in training our students to be scientist-practitioners in the fullest sense of the term.
  2. We believe in fostering a full appreciation of diversity in our students and in ourselves.
  3. We believe in fostering the professional and personal development of our students.
  4. We believe in maintaining a professional environment that is supportive, collaborative and ethical.

From these program philosophies, the following basic training goals and associated competencies are derived:

GOAL 1: To prepare students to be effective science-practitioners in the field of Counseling Psychology.

  • Objective 1a: Students will utilize the knowledge of the theoretical and scientific foundations of the discipline of counseling psychology to work effectively with clients.
    • Competency Assessment: (1.a) Students will develop theoretically based case conceptualizations that will inform the assessment and diagnosis of client issues and employ scientifically informed interventions with clients.
  • Objective 1b: Students will become proficient producers and consumers of psychological science and demonstrate knowledge about the process of scientific inquiry including research methods and relevant statistics.
    • Competency Assessment: (1.b) Students will conduct independent, methodologically sound research relevant to the discipline of Counseling Psychology.
  • Objective 1c: To assist students’ development of their professional identity as counseling psychologists.
    • Competency Assessment: (1.c.1) Students will develop their own theoretical orientation.
    • Competency Assessment: (1.c.2) Students will engage in professional activities.

GOAL 2: To prepare students to be culturally sensitive practitioners.

  • Objective 2a: To assist students in recognizing how their biases as well as how their own and other’s diversity impacts relationships with clients.
    • Competency Assessment: (2.a) Students will be able to appropriately apply the knowledge they have of diversity, broadly defined, when working with clients.

GOAL 3: To prepare counseling psychologists who behave in a professional manner and who act in accordance with the Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct of the American Psychological Association.

  • Objective 3a: Students will learn the relevant laws and ethical practices associated with the field of professional psychology.
    • Competency Assessment: (3.a) Students will identify and effectively respond to ethical and legal conflicts in the practice of counseling psychology by applying models of ethical decision-making when appropriate.
    • Competency Assessment: (3.b) Students will demonstrate the ability to apply Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct (2010) of the American Psychological Association in research and clinical endeavors.

    References

    Baker, D. B., & Benjamin, L. T., Jr. (2000). The affirmation of the scientist practitioner: A look
           back at Boulder. American Psychologist, 55, 241-247.

    Belar, C. D., & Perry, N.W. (1992). National conference on scientist-practitioner education
           and training for the professional practice of psychology. American Psychologist, 47, 71-75.

    Fouad, N., Baker, J. M., Behnke, S. H., Campbell, L. F., Collins, F. L., Constatine, M.G.,
           Crossman, R. E.,… Zeiss, A. (2007, June). Assessment of competency benchmarks work
           group: A developmental model for the defining and measuring competence in professional
           psychology.
    Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/ed/graduate/benchmarks-evaluation-system.aspx

    Counseling Psychology Program Diversity Statement

    The Counseling Psychology program exists within multicultural communities that contain people of diverse racial, ethnic, and class backgrounds; national origins; religious, spiritual and political beliefs; physical abilities; ages; genders; gender identities, sexual orientations, and physical appearance. Our program recognizes that no individual is completely free from all forms of bias and prejudice. Furthermore, it is expected that each training community will evidence a range of attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors. Nonetheless, faculty and students are expected to be committed to the social values of respect for diversity, inclusion, and equity. Furthermore, students and faculty are expected to be committed to critical thinking and the process of self-examination so that such prejudices or biases (and the assumptions on which they are based) may be evaluated in the light of available scientific data, standards of the profession, and traditions of cooperation and mutual respect. Thus, faculty and students are asked to demonstrate a genuine desire to examine their own attitudes, assumptions, behaviors, and values and to learn to work effectively with “cultural, individual, and role differences including those based on age, gender, gender identity, race, ethnicity, culture, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability, language, and socioeconomic status” (APA Ethics Code, 2002, Principle E, p. 1063).

    In our program trainees will be expected to engage in self-reflection and introspection on their attitudes, beliefs, opinions, feelings and personal history. Trainees will be expected to examine and attempt to resolve any of the above to eliminate potential negative impact on their ability to perform the functions of a psychologist, including but not limited to providing effective services to individuals from cultures and with beliefs different from their own and in accordance with APA guidelines and principles. Members of the training community are committed to educating each other on the existence and effects of racism, sexism, ageism, heterosexism, religious intolerance, and other forms of invidious prejudice. Evidence of bias, stereotyped thinking, and prejudicial beliefs and attitudes will not go unchallenged, even when such behavior is rationalized as being a function of ignorance, joking, cultural differences, or substance abuse. In such cases, members of the training community will meet with the person in question to educate that person as to the harmful effects of his or her behavior, and arrange for appropriate counseling or other remediation to ensure such behavior is not repeated. Appropriate disciplinary action will be taken in cases where a student continues to engage in conduct that is in violation of university policy or law.

    Contact Information for Accrediting Association


    Office of Program Consultation and Accreditation
    American Psychological Association
    750 First Street, N.E.
    Washington, DC 20002-4242
    Phone: 202-336-5979
    Fax: 202-336-5978
    Email: apaaccred@apa.org
    Web: http://www.apa.org/ed/accreditation/index.aspx

    Counseling Psychology Program Handbook

    Counseling Psychology Graduate Student Handbook