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Lynch School of Education

Program Goals

lynch school of education counseling psychology

Goal #1: Students demonstrate foundational knowledge, and identification with, the field of psychology, generally and counseling psychology, specifically.

Goal #2: Students demonstrate competency as theorists, researchers, and scholars, who are knowledgeable of the ways in which practice influences science.

Goal #3: Students demonstrate competency as practitioners and are knowledgeable of the ways in which science influences practice.

Goal #4: Students demonstrate social justice practices in their professional work.

 


 

Goal #1: Students demonstrate foundational knowledge, and identification with, the field of psychology, generally and counseling psychology, specifically.

Consistent with the APA training model in professional psychology, students take courses in each of the core domains of psychology: biological, cognitive/affective, and social aspects of behavior, history and systems of psychology, psychological measurement, research methodology, and techniques of data analysis.  For the most part, these core courses are completed in the first two years of the program, providing the basis for further specialized training.  In addition, students learn about the counseling psychology specialty via courses such as Professional Issues in Counseling Psychology; Seminar in Career Development; and Counseling Psychology in Context, as well as through research, practica, and informal socialization efforts.  Taken together, these two bodies of foundational knowledge (i.e., psychology core and counseling psychology specialty) create a platform for the development of skills in practice and research.  Student knowledge of the psychological foundations and counseling psychology core increases in complexity during the training program.  For example, material presented in the first year (e.g., Counseling Psychology in Context; Intermediate Statistics) provides foundational knowledge for and the capacity for critical thinking about more advanced courses in research methods, counseling practice, and the dissertation.  Throughout the foundational training, students are provided with multiple opportunities to develop a counseling psychology identity and to expand upon this identity with lifelong learning in their careers (such as engagement in systematic research programs and involvement in professional associations).

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Goal #2: Students demonstrate competency as theorists, researchers, and scholars, who are knowledgeable of the ways in which practice influences science.

Student acquisition of the foundational core summarized in Goal 1 coupled with more advanced coursework and research experience provides the framework for the development of our students’ scholarly identity and skill set. This content knowledge from the core coursework provides the substantive context for the identification of problems that frame students’ research agendas.  Training in research skills, which takes place in courses, research assistantships, the second-year research project, and dissertation research, provides students with an increasingly more sophisticated set of tools, encompassing multiple methodologies and perspectives.  The primary foundation in research methods is provided during the first and second year with courses in quantitative methods, qualitative methods and statistics.  Students then take a more advanced course in either qualitative or quantitative methods and a research elective. Another major venue for research training is student assistantships, which provide a carefully supervised apprenticeship, with skill development encompassing a broad spectrum of activities within the research enterprise (e.g., formulating questions, designing studies, completing IRB applications, analyzing results, disseminating findings).  These streams of research training are linked in our program by a focus on the interface of research and practice.  For example, many of the scholarly questions examined in the program are informed by issues that arise in practice and by a consideration of broader social problems that contribute to psychological distress and well-being.  A critical opportunity for the integration of research training midway in the program is the second-year project (and presentation) which provides an opportunity for students to develop a research proposal, conduct a study, and then present the findings at a research seminar to students and faculty.  The doctoral dissertation represents the culmination of training in research, providing an opportunity for students to develop and design an independent study under the close mentorship of a dissertation chair and committee members. 

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Goal #3: Students demonstrate competency as practitioners and are knowledgeable of the ways in which science influences practice.

The development of practice skills is integrated throughout the program.  Students learn foundational theories and research in psychotherapy, career counseling, and assessment in their first two years of coursework.  In the first year of the program, students participate in the First Year Experience (FYE), which provides training in a diverse array of non-therapy roles in practice contexts.  Starting in their second year, students move into the first of two required years of practicum, which entails working 2-3 days per week in a field site, under the supervision of a licensed psychologist.  Students continue with their practicum work in their 3rd (and sometimes 4th) year, with increasing levels of complexity and responsibility. A key aspect of practicum training is the acquisition of supervised experience in assessment, which is required in at least one of the practicum settings.  Throughout their practicum work, students integrate science and research into their work via theory-driven and evidence-based case conceptualizations. In addition, student research projects and the dissertation generally have an explicit applied focus, reflecting a sophisticated synthesis of the intersection of science and practice.

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Goal #4: Students demonstrate social justice practices in their professional work.

Students begin their training in promoting social justice in their professional work in one of their required first year courses, entitled Counseling Psychology in Context. This course includes a coherent body of literature on counseling psychology and social justice, teaching students to integrate a social justice approach to intervention at the individual, community, and larger policy levels.  Students also begin to apply a social justice perspective in the First Year Experience, where they engage in nontraditional roles in a community program or context over the course of one year. Building on these experiences, students expand and apply their growing social justice orientation in their subsequent courses and practica.  Most of the content courses in counseling psychology (e.g., History of Psychology; Seminar in Career Development; Seminar in Counseling Theories) provide explicit opportunities to consider social and political issues, thereby fostering an integration of social justice ideas in relation to specific foci within psychological practice and research. Students also are required to take a course entitled Critical Perspectives on the Psychology of Race, Class, and Gender, which provides an opportunity for integration and application of knowledge about social justice to a wide array of issues and challenges in counseling psychology.  In addition, students have opportunities to further develop their social justice skills via their work with Master’s students in the skills training lab and internship seminar.  Furthermore, doctoral students typically attend the Diversity Challenge (the annual diversity conference held at Boston College) wherein they learn about how others in the field are infusing social justice ideas and practices in research and practice. Later in the program, students often become panelists and presenters at this conference. Finally, most of the independent research projects that students initiate (including the dissertation) reflect the sequential training in social justice as exemplified by the focus on diverse and/or underserved populations and the critical perspective that is used to formulate the research questions.

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