Counseling Psychology

Focusing on the normal adaptation of individuals to their environment

Counseling Doctoral Degree

Purpose 

The purpose of the Counseling Psychology Program (CPP) is to train professional psychologists within the broad context of the scientist-practitioner model. This is accomplished through structured requirements such as courses, practica, and research, but also through the multitude of informal learning opportunities that take place while working side by side with faculty and peers as a community of scientist-practitioners.

 

The model focuses on application of the principles of the science of psychology and the perspectives, values, and emphases of counseling psychology to:

(1) provide instruction in the range of scientific and practice activities within counseling psychology and the symbiotic relationship between them

(2) effectively serve as psychotherapeutic agents for persons with severe problems in personal adjustment, distressing psychological symptoms, and/or mental illness

(3) aid individuals who seek to identify and resolve more typical difficulties in life and/or promote growth to enhance their sense of self, relationships, work satisfaction, performance, or general well being

(4) train counseling psychologists as scientists, with the expertise that allows them to make independent contributions to the scientific community and think as scientist-practitioners no matter what the roles or settings of their career path

(5) increase understanding and appreciation of individual and cultural diversity and their fundamental relevance to the science and practice of psychology

 

Training emphasizes acquisition of counseling skills through exposure to specific educational experiences according to the positive developmental perspective held by the faculty. The program’s approach is based on a scientific framework that stresses commitment to empirical, objective, and typically nomothetic evaluations of theory and technique without devaluing the uniqueness of individuals, their experiences, or perspectives.

PHILOSOPHY: Values, Principles, and Emphases

The Counseling Psychology program trains professional psychologists within the context of the scientist-professional model. In adopting the scientist-practitioner (Boulder) model as its training focus, the faculty expects students to be able to: 1) apply scientific thinking to assessment and counseling processes, 2) value and comprehend rigorous treatment outcome research, 3) engage in interventions that are scientifically defensible, 4) informally and formally collect outcome data on the psychological services they provide, and 5) make scientific contributions that seek to understand, prevent, or treat psychological dysfunction and/or promote well being. Our goal is to accomplish these things without losing sight of the value of idiographic perceptions and experiences. Just as we see human beings as dynamic and growth-oriented, so too is our profession; thus, we aim to have our students learn to balance their reliance on data and accepted thinking with a skepticism that keeps their minds searching for new answers, questions, and possibilities.

 

The CPP faculty is committed to the core values, perspectives, and emphases that maintain our uniqueness as a specialty. We hold a positive developmental perspective that views human problems as occurring within a complex interaction of an individual’s native endowments, contextual factors (e.g., culture, environment, relationships), and developmental changes the person experiences across their life. From birth to death, the process of living involves change and, at times, crises. The psychological well being of individuals largely depends upon the degree to which they are successfully adapting to inevitable change and the challenges of the developmental tasks relevant to their unique and common human experiences.

 

Counseling Psychology has also been unique in applied psychology because of its greater interest in the preventive aspects of mental health and the greater concern of the Counseling Psychologist with the nonpathological aspects of a client's condition (e.g., Counseling Psychology's emphasis on the client's strengths and the procedures that might be used to help the client recognize and optimize them; its attention to basic interpersonal processes). The faculty of the Counseling Psychology Program at the University of North Texas has maintained these emphases while recognizing that Counseling Psychologists today must also be able to assess, diagnose, and treat individuals who have more severe problems in functioning and/or meet criteria for a variety of psychiatric diagnoses. When working with these individuals, however, we assess how individual and cultural diversity, strengths, and developmental issues may affect their presentation, counseling process, etc. In particular, the CPP faculty recognizes and values the role that all forms of diversity have in shaping our clients and ourselves, our subjective experiences, perceptions, values, and the contexts in which we are embedded. The faculty believes that the foundational knowledge and basic skills required for operationalizing this philosophy are fundamental to our program.

 

The scope of developmental life issues that engage the interest and practice of counseling psychologists leads them to develop research interests of a very broad nature. In addition to developmental studies and studies of a social-psychological nature, counseling psychologists engage in process research, prevention and resilience research, studies of the profession and training, measurement issues, career development, marriage and family, education, health, performance enhancement, and the psychology of spirituality. We are fortunate at UNT to have such broad research interests well represented across the research programs of our faculty. The CPP faculty believes that a strong foundation based on empirically derived knowledge is essential to expand the discipline of psychology, promote valid techniques in applied settings, and foster students’ ability to think critically as they apply the perspectives of counseling psychology. 


Admission Requirements

In addition to Psychology Department doctoral program requirements, doctoral applicants must meet the admission requirements of the Toulouse School of Graduate Studies.

 

Admission to the counseling psychology program is not determined by any single criterion or quantitative measure of achievement. Motivation, aptitude, self-awareness and interpersonal poise are highly valued, as are skills in communication, research methods and professional/scientific writing.

 

Applicants must submit a resume and a statement of goals. The statement of goals is an essay in which applicants describe their interest in seeking a doctoral degree in counseling psychology. In the statement, applicants can include descriptions of the ways they can enrich diversity of the program, department, college, and UNT; foreign language fluencies they may possess; unique life experiences they have had in/with other cultures; past experiences working with diverse populations; commitment to working with diverse populations; career plans that might involve working with diverse populations; reasons for applying to a counseling program and to UNT; academic goals; research interests; applied practice goals; etc. The overall purpose of the self-statement is to give the applicant an opportunity to convey to the admissions committee a fuller picture of the applicant's own self beyond the impression that can be formed from review of past academic records, test scores, and reference letters.

 

The counseling psychology program regards admission as a serious commitment on the part of both the applicant and the faculty. The counseling admission committee's goal is to make an optimal match between the applicants' qualifications and goals and the training program's resources and objectives

 

Applications are submitted on-line and two applications are necessary: one is to the graduate college and the other is to the department. You will also need to have three letters of recommendation submitted on your behalf. Please visit our admissions portal for more information: http://psychology.unt.edu/graduate-applications

PhD Degree Requirements

The Ph.D. degree in counseling psychology requires a minimum of 113 semester hours beyond the bachelor's degree, including a one-year supervised internship. Students who are able to devote themselves full time to their studies may complete the program in five years. Most students take about six years.

General Core Studies

Doctoral students are required to demonstrate competency (grade of B or better) in 20 hours of core psychology course work:

PSYC 5060 History and Systems
PSYC 5090 Social Psychology
PSYC 5640 Cognitive and Affective Bases of Behavior
PSYC 5700 Quantitative Methods I
PSYC 5710 Quantitative Methods II
PSYC 5790 Physiological Psychology

Counseling Concentration

The counseling concentration core consists of 40 semester hours of course work in the following areas: psychotherapy, assessment, vocational and career counseling, group work, psychopathology, supervision, multicultural counseling, human development, and ethics. The goal is to train psychologists in traditional hallmarks of counseling psychology. An emphasis is placed on developmental and intervention issues as they relate to normal and atypical or disordered behavior.

Counseling Practicum

The applied training experience in Counseling Psychology begins on campus in the first semester. The bulk of applied training occurs at the Psychology Clinic and the University Counseling and Testing Services. The Psychology Clinic practicum team is composed of first, second, and third year students and the supervising psychologist. In the second and third year of the required practicum sequence, students divide their training between the Psychology Clinic and the University Counseling and Testing Services. After successfully completing the required on-campus practica, students may elect to do an external practicum at a site of their choosing.

Elective Cluster

Doctoral counseling students select an elective cluster of 12 to 17 hours from several options: child and family, sport psychology, and minority wellness. Students may design other elective clusters with approval of the counseling committee.

Research

During their first year, doctoral students formulate a thesis research project to complete during their second year. Students are also encouraged to involve themselves in faculty members' research. Second- and third-year counseling psychology students take on increasing responsibility in research projects that will culminate in the student's completion of a dissertation. 

Internship

A full-time, calendar-year internship is required. Internships are independent of academic training programs. Students bear the responsibility for applying for and gaining acceptance to internships.  View the sites where UNT Counseling Psychology students have obtained internships from 2001-2010.

Evaluation of Knowledge and Skills

Throughout training, the counseling program faculty members assess each student's progress. Evaluation focuses on development of general knowledge in the field of psychology and the specialty area of counseling psychology, competence in the delivery of applied services, skill in scientific investigation, and appropriate interpersonal and ethical functioning. Students who do not demonstrate satisfactory and continuous progress in these regards may be terminated from the counseling psychology program.

Financial assistance

Doctoral students may apply for departmentally funded teaching assistantships and fellowships. The department strives to support all doctoral students for at least two years (generally the second and third year). Additionally, competitive scholarships are available from the graduate school and other sources. As UNT strives to become a nationally-recognized research university, more funds are being allocated to support doctoral students and their research.

Facilities

The Psychology Clinic is used for practicum training. The clinic includes psychotherapy and assessment rooms and rooms with one-way mirrors for live observation of individual and group sessions. The counseling psychology program also uses training resources at the University Counseling and Testing Services. Both practicum sites are equipped with state-of-the-art digital video equipment to facilitate supervision and training.

Student Body and Program Statistics

The rate of attrition from the Ph.D. program in counseling psychology varies and has been very low since annual enrollment was capped at 8 students in 2006.  At this time the program has a larger percentage of women than men. Its students are diverse in age, backgrounds, and interests. Most facilities on campus, including the Department of Psychology, are accessible to students with disabilities. The Ph.D. program has about 50 students and admits no more than 8 students annually. The internship placement rate in the counseling psychology program has been about 87 percent for the past seven years.

 

The Doctoral Program in Counseling Psychology at the University of North Texas provides student, education and training outcome data, and financial information in response to directives from the APA Office of Accreditation. The information provided includes data concerning applicants, admitted students, internship acceptance rates, time to program completion, licensure, student attrition rates, and financial costs. The program uses a process of holistic review for admissions, and admission is not determined by one criterion or quantitative measure of achievement.

Student Admissions, Outcomes, and Other Data