Counseling Psychology PHD
Educational Philosophy and Training Model
The CP program emphasizes the educational, developmental, preventative, and remedial functions of counseling psychologists. Students are primarily prepared to work as counseling psychologists in academic departments and counseling centers in university and college settings, although they are also qualified to seek clerkship, internship, and post-doctoral employment in other mental health settings.
The CP program is primarily psychological in nature and is based upon the scientist-practitioner model of training. The scientist-practitioner model is an integrated approach to training that acknowledges the interdependence of theory, research, and practice. Counseling psychologists engage in the pursuit and application of psychological and educational knowledge to promote optimal development for individuals, groups, and systems and to provide remedies for the psychological and educational difficulties that encumber them.
Faculty members in the CP program fully support both the academic and spiritual mission and aims of BYU. In the CP program, we seek to integrate, where appropriate, spiritual with psychological perspectives in our classes. Currently, efforts to integrate spirituality and psychology occur in a number of ways:
- All Ph.D. students are required to take a 3-credit specialty course on the integration of spirituality and psychology (CPSE 656: Spiritual Values and Methods in Psychotherapy). This course includes training in religious diversity and in integrating spiritual perspectives/interventions into psychological treatment (Richards & Bergin, 2000).
- Religious and spiritual issues are infused in a number of other academic classes, including CPSE 672 (Empirical Inquiry), CPSE 702 (Philosophy and Theories in Counseling Psychology), CPSE 710 (Ethical/Legal Standards and Issues), CPSE 715 (Diagnosis and Treatment of Mental Disorders), CPSE 744 (Advanced Career Counseling), CPSE 746 (Supervision and Consultation), CPSE 748 (Advanced Theory of Group Counseling), CPSE 751 (Counseling Multicultural and Diverse Populations), and CPSE 750 (Research Theory and Methods in Counseling Psychology).
- Because the vast majority of clients seen at our primary practicum site (the BYU Counseling and Career Center (CCC)) are devoutly religious, religious and spiritual issues frequently arise during assessment and treatment and are often discussed during both individual and group practicum supervision. Practicum supervisors at the CCC help our Ph.D. students understand how to work sensitively with religious and spiritual issues in therapy.
- One of the written comprehensive examination items Ph.D. students are tested on pertains to the integration of spirituality and psychology. This item assesses students grasp of important theoretical and applied issues concerning the integration of spirituality and psychology.
- Because a number of our faculty members are conducting research and writing books and articles about the interface between spirituality and psychology (e.g., Lane Fischer, Rachel Crook Lyon, Scott Richards, Tim Smith, Aaron Jackson, Marlene Williams), many of our Ph.D. students receive training and experience in conducting research and scholarship in this domain.
By providing training in religious and spiritual aspects of diversity and treatment, we produce graduates who are able to sensitively work with the large client population in the U.S. who come from various religiously committed backgrounds. In this regard, we help fill a void left by secular training programs that typically provide little or no training in this domain (Richards & Bergin, 2000; Shafranske, 2000).
Program Education and Training Objectives
The overall goal of the counseling psychology program at BYU is to prepare students to work as competent counseling psychologists in university counseling centers or other educational and mental health settings where the developmental and preventative functions of counseling psychologists are valued. Faculty seek to increase students' knowledge of psychological theory, research and practice, enhance students performance of psychological practice, and help students acquire and develop ethical and professional dispositions and attitudes. In an evaluation meeting conducted at the conclusion of fall and winter semesters, faculty members collectively rate each student on their knowledge, performance, and disposition and attitudes. Students who are judged as deficient in any of these competency areas are given opportunities to remediate their deficiencies. If deficiencies are severe and persistent, students are counseled out of the program or dropped if they fail to remediate the deficiencies over time.
- Knowledge. Students are required to understand the historical, philosophical, social, and research foundations of counseling psychology. Students understand the integration of the science of psychology and practice of psychology. Knowledge is demonstrated by grades in required courses and written comprehensive examinations.
- Performance. Students are required to demonstrate the skills of a professional psychologist in the application of individual and group counseling and psychotherapy, psychological and educational assessment and career counseling. They must also demonstrate skills in effective work with individuals and groups from diverse populations, and in integrating spiritual issues in counseling and psychotherapy when appropriate. Performance evaluations occur through supervisor observations, videotapes of counseling sessions, and clinical performance evaluations. The dissertation gives students an opportunity to demonstrate skills in conducting research.
- Dispositions and attitudes. Students are chosen for the program and allowed to continue in the program, based, in part, on a set of dispositions and personal qualities that are required for effective service as a counseling psychologist. Caring for others and developing empathy are key elements of the personal qualities required regardless of how divergent their clients' backgrounds may be. Students must also demonstrate honesty, integrity, emotional stability, mature judgment, effective communication, and the ability to relate to others in a helping relationship. Students must value and adhere to the professional and ethical standards of the American Psychological Association. Being open to and making use of supervision and feedback from faculty and supervisors is another important disposition required of students. Students should be cooperative, reliable, responsible, and found in compliance with agency policies when on placement for supervised experience. Assessment of student dispositions and attitudes occurs through faculty and supervisor observations of their behavior throughout their time in the program, including classroom, practicum, advisement, research, and assistantship settings.
Within each of these three competency areas, there are five domains that we seek to promote professional development in: (1) scientific foundations, (2) theory and practice of counseling psychology, (3) psychological assessment and diagnosis, (4) cultural and individual diversity, and (5) life-long scholarly inquiry. In an effort to more clearly communicate how our programs goals/objectives, assessment methods, and outcomes are linked, we have created a table which is presented in Appendix A. This table is organized according to the conceptual framework described above and summarizes material described in sections B1 - B4 in this self-study. This table is used to guide faculty curriculum development and evaluation efforts.
Students are able to plan, develop, and disseminate scholarly works.
Students demonstrate competence in assessment and interventions consistent with their future role as health service psychologists.
Students demonstrate competence in identifying and successfully resolving ethical issues in the science and practice of counseling psychology.
Students are able to appropriately integrate spiritual and religious issues into the science and practice of counseling psychology
Students demonstrate multicultural competence in the science and practice of counseling psychology.
Evidence of Learning
- Completion of program proposal in CPSE 702
- Completion of literature review & method section in CPSE 750
- Authorship of presentations and articles (annual survey items)
- Successful defense of dissertation prospectus
- Successful defense of dissertation
- Satisfactory completion of comprehensive exam questions on research design
- Employment of graduates in academic departments
2. Counseling Practice
- Ratings by practicum, clerkship, and internship supervisors beginning in 2nd semester of the program and continuing through graduation
- Satisfactory completion of a performance comprehensive exam that demonstrates skills in case conceptualization, assessment, and counseling interventions
- Employment of graduates as practicing counseling psychologists
- Licensure as a psychologist
3. Counseling Ethics
- IRB approval of dissertation prospectus
- Ratings by practicum, clerkship, and internships supervisors on items related to ethical practice
- Satisfactory completion of comprehensive exam questions related to ethical practice
- Demonstration of ethical practice in performance comprehensive exam
4. Respect for Diversity
- Ratings by practicum, clerkship, and internship supervisors on items related to multicultural competence
- Completion of portfolio documenting multicultural competence and multicultural service learning project in CPSE 751
- Satisfactory completion of comprehensive exam questions related to human diversity
5. Integration of Spiritual Issues
- Satisfactory completion of integration paper in CPSE 702
- Ratings by practicum, clerkship, and internship supervisors on items related to integration of spiritual issues
- Satisfactory completion of comprehensive exam questions related to integration of spirituality and psychology
- Grades in CPSE 678, CPSE 750, PSYC 501, PSYC 502
2. Counseling Practice
- Grades in CPSE 642, CPSE 702, CPSE 710, CPSE 715, CPSE 648, CPSE 748, CPSE 644, CPSE 744
3. Counseling Ethics
- Grade in CPSE 710
4. Respect for Diversity
- Grade in CPSE 751
5. Integration of Spiritual Issues
- Grade in CPSE 654
Learning and Teaching Assessment and Improvement
Analysis, Evaluation, and Improvement Process
Our program's self-assessment process is ongoing and includes a number of components. We evaluate the program's effectiveness in achieving distal program goals and objectives (i.e., its outcomes) by collecting data on the progress and achievements of our current and recently graduated students. Two procedures that assist us in this task are (1) the completion of annual APA reports, which request specific information about our current and past students, and (2) sending out an alumni survey every three years to graduates of the program to collect up-to-date information about their professional status and to solicit their feedback about their perceptions of the quality of the training they received in our program.
We evaluate the program's effectiveness in achieving the program's proximal educational and training objectives by conducting a variety of student evaluations throughout the year. These evaluation methods include course exams, comprehensive examinations, practicum and clerkship supervisor evaluations, end of semester evaluations, performance evaluations, and dissertation oral exams. Tracking students' progress in an ongoing manner provides faculty with regular insight into whether the program's coursework and other training offerings are producing the desired proximal outcomes.
We also seek feedback about the program's effectiveness by seeking student feedback on a regular basis. We seek feedback from students about our program by assigning a student to represent the Ph.D. students each week at our faculty meetings and by assigning one faculty member to be a Graduate Student Advisor. One of the responsibilities of the student representative and Graduate Student Advisor has been to seek and convey feedback from students to the faculty about program policies and suggested changes.
In 1999 we implemented two additional procedures for formally soliciting student feedback about the program. First, we constructed a questionnaire that allows students to present their views on the quality of the program. Second, we hold an annual student program feedback and evaluation meeting each year where students are invited and encouraged to share feedback about the program and to offer suggestions for strengthening it.
Relationship of Program Outcome Data with Educational Philosophy, Goals, and Objectives
One of the program's distal outcomes is that we desire that our students obtain employment in university and college settings, and with lesser frequency, in other mental health settings. Another important distal outcome of the program is that we desire that our students pass the psychology licensure exam and obtain licensure as a psychologist. A third distal outcome we desire is that our graduates will eventually take positions of leadership within the profession. A fourth distal outcome we desire for our graduates is that some of them will contribute through professional presentations and publications to the advancement of research and scholarship in the field.
We gather outcome data about these distal outcomes by surveying program graduates. In the past we have done this on an as needed basis by contacting graduates by phone or survey. As explained above, we now send out an Alumni Survey to program graduates every 3rd year. This survey asks graduates about their past and current employment, licensure status, awards, publications, and so on. It also asks them to provide feedback regarding their perceptions of the quality of the program.