The Counseling Psychology Doctoral program at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is a full-time APA-accredited doctoral training program. Our core faculty have appointments in the Department of Educational Psychology. Two of our faculty have joint appointments in the Department of Psychology and the Department of African American Studies, respectively. We have adopted the following four central educational goals in our multicultural scientist-practitioner training model: (1) to provide students with a broad education in core areas related to counseling psychology, general psychology, and professional psychology; (2) to educate students about a range of research approaches and sophisticated analytic tools necessary for contribution to professional psychology literature; (3) to train students to be skilled in provision of a wide range of psychological services in a variety of contexts; (4) to encourage the adoption of values associated with being a competent, socially responsible professional psychologist. We facilitate these goals in a variety of ways as described below. While there are a number of requirements, the program is designed to promote each students’ specific identity as a counseling psychologist. To that end, faculty work with students to choose courses, training experiences, and professional activities that advance their personal and professional goals.
Coursework - Our students are offered coursework that is empirically based and sequential. The program provides for increased difficulty and greater choice of courses as students advance through their training. Our program collaborates with additional faculty in Psychology and the broader Educational Psychology Department who are specialists in different areas. Many courses are designed within a multicultural context. The Counseling Psychology Course Planner outlines required courses. These courses are consistent with our goal to provide students with a broad education in core areas related to counseling psychology, general psychology, and professional psychology.
Research – Our program also strives to educate students about a range of research approaches and sophisticated analytic tools necessary for contribution to professional psychology literature. To provide a strong empirical foundation for students, students take research methods and statistics courses in their first year followed in later years by a choice of statistics courses related to one's research and/or interest. Consistent with a scientist practitioner model, training includes required and optional courses about clinical work and its dialectical relationship with research, including the study of empirically supported interventions. Due to the program’s research emphasis, students are required to complete a master's thesis unless they have an empirically rigorous thesis from another institution. They will complete their thesis and dissertation under the tutelage of their research advisor with regular, supportive and productive feedback from their colleagues through the program Brown Bag. There are also several opportunities to collaborate with and learn from other students and faculty both in the Program and in the larger university. We believe that research and practice cannot inform each other without dissemination of empirical findings. Additionally, training is designed to help students develop an array of skills to become a successful researcher. To that end, students are encouraged to present and publish their research, including a requirement to submit at least one article for review and to present their findings at one conference. Through Brown Bag and encouragement of peer support, students learn how to critique research and to be good colleagues.
Clinical Skills - The program is designed to provide broad clinical training that allows graduates to function in a variety of academic and clinical arenas. We endeavor to train students to be skilled in provision of a wide range of psychological services in a variety of contexts and to encourage the adoption of values associated with being a competent, socially responsible professional psychologist. The program has a strong commitment to training students as ethical, multiculturally sensitive psychologists well versed in social justice and in evidenced-based practice. Based on a developmental model, coursework and practica are designed to be sequential allowing students to build their skills upon the foundation of the prior work. Clinical training begins second semester with prepracticum followed by a year of beginning practicum where students can develop counseling skills and learn interventions under careful supervision. Due to the availability of excellent supervision and an environment consistent with counseling psychology values, beginning practicum typically takes place at the university Counseling Center or a similar campus unit. Supervision includes individual meetings, didactic training, and review of video recordings. We then offer a range of advanced practica in diverse settings serving clients with a range of issues including other college counseling centers, VAs, hospitals, the university disability resource office, and community mental health centers. Students learn how to serve and assess clients with more complex issues and, depending on their placement, learn neuropsychological testing, supervision of beginning students, individual and group therapy with children, and empirically supported intervention skills. All practica are associated with courses taught by program faculty who provide didactic training, additional clinical supervision, and facilitation of peer consultation. There are also opportunities to apply to a variety of assistantships on campus where students can get experience with a variety of additional interventions including outreach and prevention, career counseling, or employee assistance and counseling. Clinical training culminates with an APA-accredited, pre-doctoral internship. Our program has a very high match rate, and our students received excellent evaluations from their internship sites.
Professional Development -
Consistent with all four of our goals, we also provide additional opportunities for growth. In an effort to help students develop skills needed for work in academia, to disseminate their research findings and to develop skills in a wider range of interventions, students are required to provide classroom teaching experience. They will have an active instructional role in at least two semesters of a paid teaching assistantship. Additionally, to promote socialization of students into the profession of psychology and encourage adoption of related values, students become members in at least one professional psychology organization.
More details about our training program can be found in the Counseling Psychology Program Student Handbook and the Counseling Psychology Practicum Manual.