Because the Radford Counseling Psychology Psy.D. Program is relatively new, we anticipate that prospective students and others may have some questions about us. We have posted some questions and answers here but feel free to e-mail us (email@example.com) with additional questions or if you want more information related to any of the material on the Psy.D. webpages.
COUNSELING PSYCHOLOGY vs. CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGY
PSY.D. vs. PH.D.
One of the reasons a Psy.D. appeals to me is that I don’t like math or statistics and don’t want to do research, how many statistics courses would I have to take and how much research would I have to do?
WHAT MAKES RADFORD’S PROGRAM DIFFERENT?
Attention to Diversity
Foundation in Evidence-Based Practice in Psychology
One of the most important things prospective students should find out is whether a doctoral program is accredited by the American Psychological Association. The Radford program is relatively new – our first cohort enrolled in the Fall of 2008 – and APA will not accredit a program until there are students at all levels of training. This basically means that we will not be able to apply for accreditation until the Fall of 2011, when our first cohort of students is on internship (our plan is to send in the paperwork as soon as internships start). The earliest our site review would happen is the Spring of 2012. Importantly, accreditation is granted based on when the site visit occurs, not when the final paperwork is filed by the APA Commission on Accreditation. Thus, if all goes as planned, we will be APA-accredited as soon as possible, which will be before the first group of students graduates – so even the first cohort of students will be able to say that they graduated from an APA-accredited program. If you have questions about the accreditation process for doctoral programs in psychology, you can contact the APA via the following means:
American Psychological Association
Program Consultation and Accreditation / Commission on Accreditation
Internet Webpage: http://www.apa.org/ed/accreditation/
The goal from the very beginning of planning for the Psy.D. program has been to become APA-accredited as soon as possible. To achieve this goal, the Psy.D. planning committee, Psychology Department, and Administrators (including the University’s Provost and President), have fully committed themselves to making sure APA requirements are met. As a result, years of work have gone into the planning of the program and the progress toward accreditation has been closely monitored at all levels of the University. National experts were consulted in the planning stages and consultations have continued.
In addition to the planning, the University has committed significant financial and personnel resources to the program (see below for information on student funding). Several new faculty were hired for the Program and we now have five full-time faculty. All of the new faculty members have been in programs that went through APA-accreditation reviews within the last few years, and the Program Director has received training from APA about how to prepare for an accreditation site visit as well as how to be a site visitor. Therefore, the faculty will be able to draw upon significant experience as the program moves toward accreditation. At the APA training, the Program Director was informed that starting a program with the intent of receiving APA-accreditation can make the process much smoother for everyone, including students.
The answer to this question is complicated. The simplest situation is if the site visit occurred in the Spring of 2012 and APA decided to accredit the program based on that visit. Then, regardless of when the approval takes place in the calendar year, the program will be considered accredited as of the date of the site visit.
If APA does not accredit the program based on this visit and comes back after students have graduated, then the issue will be where the students want to practice. Virginia has a provision in its psychology licensing law that allows a student to say that he or she is from an accredited program as long as accreditation happens within four (4) years of when the student graduated (read the actual rule from the Virginia Board of Psychology’s website: http://www.dhp.state.va.us/psychology/psychology_laws_regs.htm go to rule 18VAC125-20-54, part A). We cannot imagine a realistic situation where the program would not be accredited in four years. If a student wanted to practice in another state, then licensure could be more difficult, but states have provisions to license students from non-APA-accredited programs as long as the programs meet their requirements (e.g., are ASPPB/National Register designated programs; see www.nationalregister.org/desig_about.html). Because the Radford program is designed to meet APA requirements, the coursework and training we provide should meet individual state requirements and we are a Designated Program (see below). If a state has a special training requirement for students coming from non-accredited programs, the program faculty would work with students and make every effort to help them meet such a requirement.
The Program is listed in the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards / National Register of Health Service Providers in Psychology Doctoral Programs Meeting Designation Criteria (see www.nationalregister.org/desig_about.html for information about the Designation program). The Program’s listing can be found at www.nationalregister.org/desig_VA#radford. The following is the language that we can use to explain the implications of being listed as a Designated Program:
This program meets the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards / National Register of Health Service Providers in Psychology "Guidelines for Defining 'Doctoral Degree in Psychology.’" Therefore, graduates of this designated program who decide to apply for licensing as a psychologist typically will meet the educational requirements for licensing. However, in each jurisdiction there are additional requirements that must be satisfied. For exact information, please contact the state or provincial licensing board in the jurisdiction in which you plan to apply. Additional information including links to jurisdictions is available on the ASPPB's web site: www.asppb.org.
Once licensed, graduates are eligible to apply for credentialing as a Health Service Provider in Psychology. Graduation from a designated program ensures that the program completed meets the educational requirements for credentialing by the National Register. However, there are additional requirements that must be satisfied prior to being credentialed by the National Register of Health Service Providers in Psychology©. For further information consult the National Register's web site: www.nationalregister.org.
We are requiring enrollment as a full-time student. Based on what APA requires for programs to become and remain accredited as well as the faculty’s beliefs about how rigorous the program is – both in coursework and in applied training – we believe students need to make a complete commitment to the program. Students are at their practicum sites two full days a week (typically Monday and Wednesday), be in their classes full-time two days (Tuesday and Thursday), and in supervision or meetings or working on their assistantship on Fridays. Thus, we expect that students will be working 40+ hours a week on activities related to the Psy.D. program, which does not leave time for other employment. We therefore want to make sure that prospective students are aware that they need to be considering enrollment in the Psy.D. program as if it were a full-time job with lots of overtime.
The fact that we are requiring full-time enrollment is one of the differences between our psychology doctoral program (and most others of which we are aware) and many master’s programs – especially those in professional counseling and social work. We realize this may place a hardship on some people financially so we have attempted to compensate with some financial assistance for qualified students (see below); however, we know that this requirement will mean that our program is not the best fit for some very good prospective students.
One of the goals of a program that focuses on training skilled practitioners, such as the Psy.D. program at Radford, is that graduates have a wide variety of training experiences in many diverse settings so that they have a true generalist background. Obtaining practicum hours exclusively at a site where a student already works would not be conducive to attaining this goal. In addition, while enrolled in the program, practicum experiences are focused on your training whereas if you have been working somewhere, the focus of your time has been on service.
The Psy.D. program requires a master’s degree in a human service field (e.g., psychology, counseling, social work). Thus, if you do not have a master’s degree now, you can apply to one of Radford’s master’s programs (e.g., Clinical Psychology, Counselor Education, Social Work) or a master’s program at another school and apply for the Psy.D. later.
Because the types of courses offered in human services fields differ and we want to encourage students from a variety of programs to apply, we have only a few prerequisites. Most importantly, applicants must have completed a Master’s degree from a regionally accredited institution of higher education, in a human services field, where they provided face-to-face counseling services for at least a total of 60 hours, working with multiple clients, under the supervision of an appropriately credentialed professional (except under unusual circumstances).
In addition, we want applicants to have completed the following courses either during the Master’s program or another graduate program in the last five years. If students are invited for interviews, syllabi from these courses will need to be submitted to the Psy.D. Program Director. Note: These courses MUST BE COMPLETED BEFORE a student can enroll in Psy.D. Program courses:
o Professional issues and ethics (equivalent to RU’s PSYC 640)
o Counseling Theories (equivalent to RU’s PSYC 641)
o Counseling Techniques (equivalent to RU’s PSYC 642)
o Basic Assessment Methods (fundamental assessment considerations)
o Basic Statistics (equivalent to RU’s PSYC 610)
o Research Design (equivalent to RU’s PSYC 611)
These guidelines will be followed except under unusual circumstances (please direct inquiries to the Program Director about whether such circumstances may exist for you).
If courses were not taken at Radford, the PsyD faculty (in consultation with the appropriate RU course instructors when necessary) will determine whether non-RU courses are equivalent to those taken at Radford. If you do not have one or more of these courses you will need to remediate (i.e., take these prerequisite courses prior to enrolling in the Psy.D. program), which may mean your needing to defer entry into the program for a year. Obviously, if faculty have a choice of two otherwise equal students, the one who is able to enroll right away will have an advantage over the one who would need to defer for a year.
There are some additional courses that it would be helpful for you to have because, if you do and they appear to be substantially equivalent to courses we require, you may be able to waive the Psy.D. Program course (up to a total of 5 courses may be waived). These courses include:
· Psychometric Theory
· Psychopharmacological Medicine
· Social Psychology
· Couples and Family Counseling
· Cognitive and Affective Aspects of Psychology
· Physiological Psychology / Biological Aspects of Psychology
· History and Systems of Psychology
· Lifespan Development
If you graduated from the Clinical or Counseling Psychology Master’s programs at Radford in the last five years then you probably would be able to receive credit for some of the courses you took in the Master’s program; however, graduating from the Radford Clinical or Counseling Psychology Master’s programs does not guarantee that you would be offered admission into the Radford Psy.D. program, because there are many factors that go into admissions decisions.
We want to emphasize that you could still be a competitive applicant even if you do not have all or even many of the optional courses listed above (but you need to meet the practicum/internship prerequisite and have the other foundational courses), depending on how strong the rest of your application is, how you compare with others applying, and how well you interview if you are invited to do so. If you are admitted, we will discuss with you how to remediate any courses you are missing before you enroll, which may mean that you have to defer enrollment if you cannot complete the courses prior to the Fall in which you are scheduled to begin the Program.
Aside from having a master’s degree in a human service field, completion of the appropriate courses, and the prerequisite of having some experience providing counseling, as with application to any doctoral program, the elusive quality of “fit” is probably the most important factor in being competitive in applying to the Psy.D. program at Radford.
Regarding “fit,” because our program is focused on rural mental health and we are taking a social justice approach with a focus on cultural diversity (see below), we will be looking at the degree to which applicants have a history of attention to these issues and indicate an interest in integrating attention to these issues into their career. You would also need to know the fundamental things that make Counseling Psychology unique (see below). We have provided more information about what we are looking for in students on the Admissions page.
COUNSELING PSYCHOLOGY vs. CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGY
Early in the field’s history, Counseling Psychologists tended to work with more well-adjusted individuals, leaving people with severe mental illness to Clinical Psychologists. Over the past few decades, however, the differences between what Counseling and Clinical Psychologists do and where they work have decreased. Several studies have demonstrated that Counseling and Clinical Psychologists work side-by-side in inpatient hospitals as well as university counseling centers.
What seems to set Counseling and Clinical programs and professionals apart, in general, are some of the perspectives taken and emphases given in training and when working with clients. One description of the differences (and similarities) can be found in a 2000 article written by Dr. John Norcross and published by Psi Chi, the National Honor Society in Psychology http://www.csun.edu/~hcpsy002/Clinical Versus Counseling Psychology.pdf; see also Norcross et al., 1998). Some of the biggest differences Norcross noted were that faculty in Counseling Psychology programs had more of an emphasis on multicultural issues, vocational psychology, and professional issues with less emphasis on psychopathology and hospital work.
According to Gelso and Fretz (2001), there are 8 “unifying themes” in Counseling Psychology, which reflect some of the things that differentiate Counseling Psychology from Clinical Psychology:
You can find the APA’s “Public Description of Counseling Psychology” at http://www.apa.org/ed/graduate/specialize/counseling.aspx and the Society of Counseling Psychology (APA Division 17) at http://www.div17.org/. The Archival Description and a commentary were published in The Counseling Psychologist (the official journal of the Society of Counseling Psychology). Finally, you can also find a discussion of the “anticipated future” of Counseling Psychology in an article by Neimeyer and Diamond (2001).
Under Virginia licensure law, there are different types of psychologists. Those who conduct psychotherapy and provide other direct service to clients, regardless of the field of psychology in which they received their degree (i.e., regardless of graduating from a counseling psychology or a clinical psychology program) are licensed as “clinical” psychologists. This just happens to be the way it is written into the licensure law and rules. You can read more about how Virginia licenses psychologists on the Virginia Board of Psychology website (http://www.dhp.state.va.us/Psychology/).
PSY.D. vs. PH.D.
There are several reasons, but the primary one is that Psy.D. programs are designed to train psychologists who will be practitioners. Because Southwest Virginia, and most rural areas, need psychologists who will be in practice, it made sense to have a doctoral program that would focus on preparing psychologists to be able to practice independently and meet the various mental health needs of a rural region. Thus, because we can focus on applied work and do not have to have as many courses on statistics and research design, we can offer more courses on practice and assessment and fewer on designing research studies and doing statistics.
When considering options, the program developers took into account that there are already Clinical Psy.D. programs in Virginia and there is a Clinical Ph.D. program at Virginia Tech (which is nearby); however, the only Counseling Psychology program in Virginia is at Virginia Commonwealth and they offer the Ph.D. Thus, one reason is that a Counseling Psychology Psy.D. program offered something new. Another reason was that the emphases of counseling psychology, as described above, seemed to fit the needs of people in rural areas.
At this point there are only two APA-accredited Counseling Psychology Psy.D. programs (Our Lady of the Lake University and University of St. Thomas) and we are aware that Carlow University and Chatham University each recently admitted their first groups of students into their Counseling Psychology Psy.D. Programs. Thus, the Radford University Psy.D. is somewhat unique in the country as well.
There are different training models in psychology doctoral programs, and a school needs to describe itself using one of these models. In Counseling Psychology there are two main types of programs: the Scientist-Practitioner and the Practitioner-Scholar (although there are certainly schools that identify with other program labels). As the order of the words and the specific words themselves imply, in general the Scientist-Practitioner model places more emphasis on research and is therefore the predominant type of Ph.D. program. On the other hand, as noted above, Psy.D. programs focus on training practitioners but there is still an emphasis on critical thinking and being able to understand and contribute to the scholarly literature. Thus, the Practitioner-Scholar Model places an emphasis on training students to do applied work and understand the professional literature.
A 2004 article by Norcross and colleagues examined Clinical Psychology Psy.D. programs (because there were too few Counseling Psychology programs to include in the analyses) and did some comparisons between Ph.D. and Psy.D. programs. These authors did, indeed, find that Ph.D. programs tended to be significantly smaller than Psy.D. programs. However, they also found differences among types of Psy.D. programs, with programs located in university departments (which is where the Radford program is located) enrolling significantly fewer students. Similarly, the few Counseling Psychology Psy.D. programs that exist admit small groups of students each year.
The University intends to provide funding for up to 5 students per year (see below) and we have 5 Psy.D. faculty members so, at most (i.e., assuming we enroll the maximum number of students), the ratio will be 1 student per year per faculty member. Given that three cohorts of students per year will be on campus taking classes, the overall ratio will be at most 3 students per faculty member.
One of the reasons a Psy.D. appeals to me is that I don’t like math or statistics and don’t want to do research, how many statistics courses would I have to take and how much research would I have to do?
As noted above, Psy.D. programs tend to place less emphasis in coursework on research design and statistics, but in order to meet APA requirements and to be able to provide appropriate care, students (and graduates) will need to be able to understand and apply the literature when working with clients. Thus, there is a sequence of research and data analysis courses that culminate in a doctoral dissertation (more on this below) but the total number of courses is less than in most Ph.D. programs. The curriculum includes a course on psychometrics and instrument design, an advanced research design and statistics course, a qualitative analysis course, and a program evaluation course, as well as dissertation hours.
The dissertation is the only required research project that involves data collection and analysis. However, as noted above, the Radford program follows the Practitioner-Scholar model, which means that we believe there are more ways to understand and contribute to the literature than just traditional quantitative studies. Scholarship is a broader term that, for us, encompasses projects such as literature reviews, program evaluations, and a variety of qualitative methods such as case studies and grounded theory projects. The program has a portfolio requirement (see below) that includes experience doing scholarship but, again, this does not mean that you must conduct a large-scale randomized study; it does mean, however, that you must attempt to understand and apply your coursework to working with clients in your practicum and to the larger community, environment, and profession.
Yes you would have to do a dissertation but it would not necessarily have to be similar to what is done in Ph.D. programs. Because our emphasis is on scholarship, broadly defined, and on community involvement (see section on social justice below), we envision that dissertations will likely be qualitative or mixed-method (i.e., combine both quantitative and qualitative methods) and may involve program evaluation as well as traditional experimental methods. Therefore, you will have to complete a research-based final project in order to graduate. For example, the students in the first and second cohorts are doing dissertations examining:
· How mental health practitioners in rural areas engage in social justice activities (qualitative)
· Veterans transitioning from the military to campus (mixed methods)
· The effectiveness of an intervention program focused on girls in southern West Virginia (mixed methods)
· The experiences of atheists (qualitative)
· Mental health effects of mountaintop removal in Central Appalachia (qualitative)
· Women who self-objectify and objectify other women: The role of self-compassion (quantitative)
The timing of the project is also important. It is the faculty’s collective experience, and the experience of nearly every psychologist with whom we have talked, that it is best to complete the dissertation before internship or at least be done by the time the internship is complete. In addition, we have been told that in order to be maximally competitive when applying for internship students should have proposed their dissertations. Thus, the program has a requirement that in order to apply for internship, a student must have successfully proposed her or his dissertation. Basically, this means that by November 1 of the third year, a student must have worked with her or his advisor and dissertation committee to come up with a project and then get the committee to sign off on the proposal. We have designed our sequence of research courses to allow students to develop their proposal as part of the courses in order to meet this deadline.
In terms of completing the dissertation, it will be best for the student and the program for it to be done as quickly as possible. For the student, we have found and been told that it is very difficult to make progress on the dissertation while on internship – and we anticipate this will be especially true for students in the Radford program because of the types of projects we anticipate (e.g., community-based and involving qualitative methods as opposed to large-scale quantitative studies involving college students where participants can fill out forms on a computer). Thus, our goal is for the student to be completely finished with the dissertation or at least done with data analysis before internship starts.
WHAT MAKES RADFORD’S PROGRAM DIFFERENT?
We are very excited by the commitment the University has made to the Psy.D. program and its students. Unlike many Ph.D. programs and most Psy.D. programs (see the 2004 Norcross article noted above), we anticipate that all admitted students will receive graduate assistantships and will not have to pay tuition while they are enrolled full-time in classes on campus, maintain good academic standing, and receive positive assistantship evaluations. Once a student is on internship that site will, in nearly all situations, pay the student a stipend and if a student is not done with the dissertation prior to completion of internship, the university will not pay for the extra time. In essence, this means that you would not have to pay tuition during the three years you are enrolled full-time in courses and you would be paid approximately $13,800 to take classes, provide applied services at your practicum placement, and work on campus. In other words, the assistantship and tuition support is to learn how to be a counseling psychologist so you do not have to split your time between classes, practicum, and an off-campus job. We think that if you compare this situation with most other programs you will see that this offer makes us different.
At this point we believe that, pending adequate legislative funding and continued support from the University administration, anyone who is offered admission into the program will also be offered the assistantship and will not have to pay tuition. However, because we are a state university, the faculty cannot make guarantees. The letter you receive offering you admission will let you know if you are being offered the financial assistance as well as information on loan programs if you want to apply for more funding. Thus, at this point we suggest that you proceed as if you will receive funding but, to be honest, we cannot make any guarantees until you get the admission offer letter.
As noted earlier, the Radford University program is the only Counseling Psychology Psy.D. program in the state and is one of only a handful in the country. The combination of having the emphases of Counseling Psychology programs and of Psy.D. programs, combined with our focus on rural mental health, offers students a unique perspective on training and service. This means that we will be a good fit for some students and will not be a good place for others.
The primary distinction of the Counseling Psychology Psy.D. Program at Radford is the rural mental health focus. A significant amount of data indicates that a large percentage of the U.S. and Canadian population lives in rural areas but there are few professional psychologists available to provide services. Although professional counselors and social workers, and other health professionals, can and do provide important services to those residing in rural areas, psychologists have unique skills to complement those of other providers. Our goal with the Radford program is to train students who can work with people across the lifespan and present with a broad spectrum of issues and severity of psychological conditions; who can provide counseling, assessment, and educational services to individuals, couples, families, and groups; in a variety of settings; and who can collaborate with other professionals in their community and region. And all these efforts must be done while taking into account the cultural aspects of the person as well as the culture of the rural area in which the psychologist practices. Thus, in addition to a large number of practice-oriented courses and experiences, we also have a series of courses related to working in rural areas and we infuse rural issues into all core courses.
The APA has made a compelling case that there is such a need: “The nation continues to face challenges in providing equitable and adequate health care for rural Americans. This is especially true for mental and behavioral health care. Thus, while rural residents often have a greater need for these services, they have less access to care than their urban counterparts.” (quoted from http://www.apa.org/about/gr/education/rural-need.aspx).
There are a number of resources that discuss how rural issues are different from those of other area. For example, in a comprehensive survey of mental health care issues (McDonald, Harris, & LeMesurier, 2005), the researchers stated that “One of the primary problems with mental health access in rural and frontier areas is that quite simply, there are very few mental health practitioners who work in these areas” (¶2). The study reported that professional shortage problems are reported to be even worse for providers trained to treat special populations such as children and seniors. The report noted that the fact that "mental health services are difficult to access in rural and frontier areas is distressing, particularly in light of recent research that suggests that rural and frontier residents seem to suffer from high rates of depression and substance abuse, as well as suicide” (¶2).
Substantiating this report, the U.S. Health Resources Services Administration (http://hpsafind.hrsa.gov/HPSASearch.aspx) has designated many counties in Virginia as Mental Health Provider Shortage Areas (http://www.vdh.state.va.us/healthpolicy/primarycare/shortagedesignations/documents/MHPSA.pdf. Such a designation implies a severe need for mental health services in those areas.
One thing that we want to make explicit is that because we have a rural emphasis and Radford is located in a rural part of the state, our practicum sites are located throughout the region, necessitating some driving on the part of the student. The amount of commuting time will not be much different than you may find in some large cities, but the distances traveled will likely be longer (e.g., in a city you may drive 10 miles in 45 minutes whereas here you may drive 40 miles in the same 45 minutes).
Programs are defined in large measure by the faculty. Programs are ranked in various ways, and programs gain reputations based on the quality and ability of the faculty. All programs logically believe they have strong faculty who have a lot to offer students, and we are no different from others in that regard. All of the faculty members at Radford are accomplished educators, but we are also experienced psychotherapists who are committed to continuing to provide various applied services to the university, surrounding community, and region. Our commitment to community service is different from many schools (see below where we talk about our social justice orientation).
Further, even though we are a Psy.D. program, and therefore (as described above) the faculty’s focus is on training future practicing psychologists, we are committed to all aspects of the Practitioner-Scholar Model. Thus, in addition to our commitment to being active practitioners in various ways, we are also committed to being active contributors to the field through presentations at professional conferences, articles in journals, and books for various audiences. We believe that the best way to train students to be Practitioner-Scholars is to be models ourselves. As a result, from their first days in the program, students will be able to see how professionals are able to be both good practitioners and good scholars.
We believe that there are several aspects of the program that may not be unique in and of themselves, but when placed together, especially in combination with the rural focus and the funding provided that we highlighted above, make the Radford program special. We outline these below.
As noted earlier, the rural focus of the program sets us apart from other Counseling Psychology Psy.D. programs. It also makes us different from most Clinical Psychology Psy.D. programs.
Attention to Diversity
Counseling Psychology programs in general tend to emphasize diversity and cultural considerations, and we are no different. Just as we infuse rural issues into the core courses, we also include discussion of cultural considerations in classes. Of course, we believe that size of community is a cultural issue, so there is overlap between the rural focus and the inclusion of diversity. As evidence of our commitment to diversity, we adapted the Council of Counseling Psychology Training Programs’ Counseling Psychology Model Training Values Statement Addressing Diversity (http://www.ccptp.org/trainingdirectorpage6.html) to fit for our program. Students (and faculty) are expected to adhere to the statement.In addition, students (and faculty) are expected to adhere to the APA Ethics Code as well as the various guidelines that APA has passed regarding working with members of diverse populations
· American Psychological Association. (2010). Ethical principles of psychologists and code of conduct (2002, Amended June 1, 2010). Available at http://www.apa.org/ethics/code/index.aspx
· American Psychological Association. (2003). Guidelines on multicultural education, training, research, practice, and organizational change for psychologists. American Psychologist, 58, 377-402.
· American Psychological Association. (2004). Guidelines for psychological practice with older adults. American Psychologist, 59, 236-260.
· American Psychological Association. (2007). Guidelines for psychological practice with girls and women. American Psychologist, 62, 949-979.
American Psychological Association. (2011). Guidelines for assessment of and intervention with persons with disabilities. Available at http://www.apa.org/pi/disability/resources/assessment-disabilities.pdf
· American Psychological Association. (2011). Guidelines for psychological practice with lesbian, gay, and bisexual clients. Available at http://www.apa.org/pi/lgbt/resources/guidelines.aspx.
A natural outgrowth of this focus on diversity is the program’s focus on social justice. We purposefully integrate social justice material and discussions into the coursework, offer practicum placements that allow for social justice opportunities (when possible), and have two semester-long social justice practica. This means that students (and faculty) in the Program will attend to issues of privilege, oppression, equity, and equality as they affect the lives of clients and others in the community, region, state, country, and world, across settings and systems. The goal is to sensitize students, and faculty, to injustice and oppression, helping us all to understand the factors that contribute to human suffering, and enabling us (and others) to develop skills to intervene at a variety of levels in order to promote human welfare and rights. The faculty members see social justice as inherently related to equity and equality and therefore attend to the distribution and access to power and economic / other resources as well as work toward the reduction of various forms of stigma.
A definition that brings together these different aspects follows (from the website of the University of California, Berkeley’s Social Justice Symposium http://socialwelfare.berkeley.edu/sjs/; see also the Social Justice Training Institute, http://sjti.org/home_professional.html, for a similar definition):
Social Justice is a process, not an outcome, which (1) seeks fair (re)distribution of resources, opportunities, and responsibilities; (2) challenges the roots of oppression and injustice; (3) empowers all people to exercise self-determination and realize their full potential; (4) and builds social solidarity and community capacity for collaborative action.
One example of how the program is emphasizing social justice is by adding two “social justice practica” to the curriculum. During the summer of Year 2 and summer of Year 3, students will spend one day a week at a local agency where they will provide consultation and outreach on social justice related activities. In the summer of 2010 [RU1] four students did social justice practica, providing free services to the Virginia Wounded Warriors Program (developing material for a group designed to help veterans and their families after the veteran returns home), High Rocks for Girls in West Virginia (developing program evaluation material for a new component of their services), the RU Experiential Learning and Career Services (gathering material on potential volunteer sites that can be placed on the Center’s website to facilitate student volunteering), and Radford City Schools (developing a lunch delivery program for students who qualified for free lunches during the school year but who could not get to the school over the summer).
Another way the program faculty have been true to the emphasis on social justice and on diversity is by developing a graduate course on social justice in the helping professions that was co-taught by a Psy.D. faculty member and a faculty member in the Appalachian Studies program and was cross-listed across these two departments as well as Counselor Education, Criminal Justice, Nursing, and Social Work.
Foundation in Evidence-Based Practice in Psychology
The APA has a policy statement on evidence-based practice, which states that “[r]esearch, clinical expertise, and patient characteristics are all supported as relevant to good outcomes” (p. 271). The definition of evidence-based practice in psychology is defined in the policy statement as “the integration of best available research with clinical expertise in the context of patient characteristics, culture, and preferences (p. 284; see http://www.apapracticecentral.org/ce/courses/ebpstatement.pdf for the full statement). The program faculty members subscribe to this definition and believe that it is consistent with our beliefs about how best to help clients. We therefore include discussion of evidence-based practice (according to the definition above) in courses and discussions of service provision (e.g., in practicum class and in supervision).
There are many ways that students are assessed in the program. Course grades and performance tap into scholastic abilities and practicum/supervisor evaluations provide evidence of practical skills. A student’s ability to work with others is constantly being evaluated through courses, practicum, and interactions with professors, staff, and student-colleagues. However, none of these avenues examines professional development. Therefore, there is also a set of expectations related to development as a scholar and future professional. Each student is expected to participate in appropriate professional organizations (e.g., APA, Society of Counseling Psychology, Virginia Psychological Association) and contribute to the knowledge of the field (e.g., through professional presentations and publications).
In general, because we value the scholarly process, (a) each year each student is expected to be a member of appropriate professional organizations; (b) by the end of the program, each student is expected to submit at least one project for presentation (e.g., as a poster or paper) at a professional conference; (c) by the end of the program, each student is expected to submit at least one paper for publication in a professional journal; and (d) by the end of the program, each student is expected to have participated in a community outreach project (e.g., professional workshop, community presentation). The program assists in the achievement of these latter three requirements by helping students turn required papers for courses (and the dissertation) into possible presentations (community and professional) and/or publications. Pending availability and resources, at least once before internship, each student is expected to attend a professional conference, be involved in a grant submission, be involved in consultation with a community organization, and be involved in the teaching of a course.
American Psychological Association. (1999). Archival description of counseling psychology. The Counseling Psychologist, 27, 589-592.
American Psychological Association Presidential Task Force on Evidence-Based Practice. (2006). Evidence-based practice in psychology. American Psychologist, 61, 271-285.
McDonald, T. W., Harris, S. M, & LeMesurier, E. A. (2005). Mental health care issues in a predominantly rural and frontier state: Results and implications from a comprehensive survey. Journal of Rural Community Psychology, E8(1). Retrieved September 24, 2007 from http://www.marshall.edu/jrcp/8_1_McDonald.htm
Neimeyer, G. J., & Diamond, A. K. (2001). The anticipated future of counselling psychology in the United States: A Delphi poll. Counselling Psychology Quarterly, 14, 49-65.
Norcross, J. C. (2000). Clinical versus counseling psychology: What’s the diff? Eye on Psi Chi, 5(1), 20-22.
Norcross, J. C., Castle, P. H., Sayette, M. A., & Mayne, T. J. (2004). The PsyD: Heterogeneity in practitioner training. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 35, 412-419.
Norcross, J. C., Sayette, M. A., Mayne, T. J., Karg, R. S., & Turkson, M. A. (1998). Selecting a doctoral program in professional psychology: Some comparisons among Ph.D. counseling, Ph.D. clinical, and Psy.D. clinical psychology programs. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 29, 609-614.
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As we discuss in both the Accreditation page and the first section of the FAQs page, the Radford University Psy.D. Program is not yet accredited by the American Psychological Association. If you have questions about the accreditation process for doctoral programs in psychology, you can contact the APA via the following means:
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Last Updated 10/16/2012