With its central focus on multicultural competence and social justice, the primary mission of the doctoral program in Counseling Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin is to prepare students to conduct empirical research and develop clinical skills to promote the health of individuals, families, groups, and organizations in a diverse society. The program’s mission is in alignment with the College of Education’s signature impact areas:
- Advancing Equity through Eliminating Education and Health Disparities,
- Attending to Place and Context, and
- Thriving through Transitions.
The Counseling Psychology doctoral program at the University of Texas has been continuously accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA) since 1953; the program’s next re-accreditation site visit will be in Fall 2022. Accreditation status may be confirmed by APA via:
Office of Program Consultation and Accreditation
750 First St. NE
Washington, DC 20002-4242
Phone: (202) 336-5979
TDD/TTY: (202) 336-6123
Fax: (202) 336-5978
The Counseling Psychology program typically receives 150 – 200 applications each year and invites about 20 students to interview. Decisions for preliminary offers are made soon after our interview day. The final class typically consists of five to eight students. There is not a minimum GPA, although students with weakness in this or any other area would need to show outstanding performance in other areas in order to be given serious consideration. Selection of students is based on multiple factors. These include:
- GRE scores,
- undergraduate grades,
- letters of recommendation,
- demonstrated interest and productivity in research, and
- apparent match between student and faculty interests.
Recommendation letters and personal statements that reflect intellectual curiosity, tenacity, open-mindedness, interpersonal sensitivity, and integrity are also highly valued.
The Counseling Psychology faculty subscribe to APA’s (2017) definition of mentoring as a dynamic and reciprocal, personal relationship. Each student accepted into the Counseling Psychology program is assigned a core member of the faculty as an advisor/mentor based on student and faculty interests. Ideally, the mentorship/advising process provides:
- both career and psychosocial mentoring functions,
- a safe-harbor for self-exploration, and
- a transformation in the mentee’s professional identity.
The faculty advisor is responsible for assisting and guiding the student through the program. It is expected that the faculty advisor and student mentee will meet as often as needed to discuss the student’s progress in the program and any questions or concerns. Although the advisors will be the students’ primary research mentors, students may also choose to pursue opportunities to work with other faculty in the program and department.
Practicum training is an essential component of the scientist-practitioner model and our program. It is a developmental process that is sequential and graded in complexity. The first year of practicum training (generally the 2nd year of the doctoral program) will involve more direct training and support from program faculty and include basic training in assessment and intervention via the UT Counseling and Mental Health Center (CMHC) – Counseling Psychology Training Clinic.
Starting with the 2020-2021 academic year, students will receive more intensive training at the CMHC, which offers
- counseling services to the UT student population in their main clinic,
- CARE programs within academic centers, and
- an integrated behavioral health program within student health services.
In the third year of practicum (generally the 4th year of the doctoral program), you may apply to receive training in a hospital, VA, or community mental health clinic where they are supervised by on-site licensed psychologists, as well as their course instructor.
Counseling Psychology students also have the opportunity to be considered for the competitive UT Integrated Behavioral Health Scholars Program.
Four aims guide the program’s graduate training:
- Prepare counseling psychologists who are sophisticated researchers and scholars, able to critically integrate research literature and to design and conduct methodologically rigorous empirical studies;
- Prepare counseling psychologists who are competent and are well-prepared to enter applied practice;
- Develop counseling psychologists who are socially responsible and ethical;
- Develop culturally competent counseling psychologists who are aware of their own attitudes, values, beliefs, and biases, and how they may impact their professional activities.
All four aims of the program rest upon competence in broad and general knowledge of psychology as a discipline. Discipline-specific knowledge is articulated in the APA Standards of Accreditation for Health Service Psychologists (APA SOA). Discipline-specific knowledge serves as a foundation and cornerstone to identity as a psychologist.
All students in APA-accredited doctoral programs are required to demonstrate knowledge in the discipline of psychology, broadly construed. This discipline-specific knowledge base shall include:
- the history and systems of psychology,
- basic content areas in scientific psychology,
- integrative knowledge in scientific psychology, and
- methods of inquiry and research.
The American Psychological Association (APA)’s Commission on Accreditation (CoA) requires that trainees at all levels develop nine broad competencies as part of their preparation for practice in health service psychology. The doctoral program prepares students for the achievement of competencies through various means, including coursework, research lab involvement and research mentoring, dissertation completion, practicum training, and preparation for internship training. Evaluation of each required profession-wide competency area is done via practicum supervisor evaluations and the end-of-year faculty evaluation process.
The nine Profession-Wide Competencies and the associated doctoral student expectations are as follows:
- Demonstrates the substantially independent ability to formulate research or other scholarly activities (e.g., critical literature reviews, dissertation, efficacy studies, clinical case studies, theoretical papers, program evaluation projects, program development projects) that are of sufficient quality and rigor to have the potential to contribute to the scientific, psychological, or professional knowledge base.
- Conducts research or other scholarly activities.
- Critically evaluates and disseminates research or other scholarly activity via professional publication and presentation at the local (including the host institution), regional, or national level.
Ethical and legal standards
- Is knowledgeable of and act in accordance with each of the following:
- the current version of the APA Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct;
- Relevant laws, regulations, rules, and policies governing health service psychology at the organizational, local, state, regional, and federal levels; and
- Relevant professional standards and guidelines.
- Recognizes ethical dilemmas as they arise, and apply ethical decision-making processes in order to resolve the dilemmas.
Individual and cultural diversity
- Demonstrates an understanding of how their own personal/cultural history, attitudes, and biases may affect how they understand and interact with people different from themselves.
- Demonstrates knowledge of the current theoretical and empirical knowledge base as it relates to addressing diversity in all professional activities including research, training, supervision/consultation, and service.
- Demonstrates the ability to integrate awareness and knowledge of individual and cultural differences in the conduct of professional roles (e.g., research, services, and other professional activities). This includes the ability apply a framework for working effectively with areas of individual and cultural diversity not previously encountered over the course of their careers. Also included is the ability to work effectively with individuals whose group membership, demographic characteristics, or worldviews create conflict with their own.
- Demonstrates the requisite knowledge base, ability to articulate an approach to working effectively with diverse individuals and groups, and applies this approach effectively in their professional work.
Professional values, attitudes and behaviors
- Behaves in ways that reflect the values and attitudes of psychology, including integrity, deportment, professional identity, accountability, lifelong learning, and concern for the welfare of others.
- Engages in self-reflection regarding one’s personal and professional functioning; engages in activities to maintain and improve performance, well-being, and professional effectiveness.
- Actively seeks and demonstrates openness and responsiveness to feedback and supervision.
- Responds professionally in increasingly complex situations with a greater degree of independence as they progress across levels of training.
Communication and interpersonal skills
- Develops and maintains effective relationships with a wide range of individuals, including colleagues, communities, organizations, supervisors, supervisees, and those receiving professional services.
- Produces and comprehends oral, nonverbal, and written communications that are informative and well-integrated; demonstrates a thorough grasp of professional language and concepts.
- Demonstrates effective interpersonal skills and the ability to manage difficult communication well.
- Selects and applies assessment methods that draw from the best available empirical literature and that reflect the science of measurement and psychometrics; collects relevant data using multiple sources and methods appropriate to the identified goals and questions of the assessment as well as relevant diversity characteristics of the service recipient.
- Interprets assessment results, following current research and professional standards and guidelines, to inform case conceptualization, classification, and recommendations, while guarding against decision-making biases, distinguishing the aspects of assessment that are subjective from those that are objective.
- Communicates orally and in written documents the findings and implications of the assessment in an accurate and effective manner sensitive to a range of audiences.
- Establishes and maintains effective relationships with the recipients of psychological services.
- Develops evidence-based intervention plans specific to the service delivery goals.
- Implements interventions informed by the current scientific literature, assessment findings, diversity characteristics, and contextual variables.
- Demonstrates the ability to apply the relevant research literature to clinical decision making.
- Modifies and adapts evidence-based approaches effectively when a clear evidence-base is lacking.
- Evaluates intervention effectiveness, and adapts intervention goals and methods consistent with ongoing evaluation.
- Demonstrates knowledge of supervision models and practices.
Consultation and interprofessional/interdisciplinary skills
- Demonstrates knowledge and respect for the roles and perspectives of other professions.
- Demonstrates knowledge of consultation models and practices
Commitment to Diversity
The Counseling Psychology Program’s overarching commitment to multiculturalism, defined as respecting diversity, cultural identities, and social justice reflect the values emphasized by the American Psychological Association’s (APA’s) Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct (APA, 2002), and is a required area of profession-wide competencies identified by Standards of Accreditation in Health Service Psychology (APA, 2017). These values recognize “the broad scope of dimensions of race, ethnicity, language, sexual orientation, gender, age, disability, class status, education, religions/spiritual orientation, and other cultural dimensions” (APA, 2002; p.9), and respects individual and cultural diversity due to each or any intersectionality of these dimensions. Promoting social justice is at the core of counseling psychologists’ professional activities (Fouad & Prince, 2011).
The program faculty has endorsed the APA’s
- Guidelines on Multicultural Education and training, Research, Organizational Change, and Practice for Psychologists,
- Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Girls and Women,
- Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Transgender and Gender Nonconforming People,
- Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Clients and
- Guidelines on Race and Ethnicity in Psychology
These guidelines are based on the premise that because the U.S. population is increasingly diverse, racial, ethnic, cultural, linguistic, and gender-affirming services are necessary.
In particular, counseling psychologists and psychologists-in-training must:
- Recognize that as cultural beings, they may hold attitudes and beliefs that can detrimentally influence their perceptions of and interactions with individuals who are culturally different from themselves.
- Recognize the importance of multicultural sensitivity, responsiveness, knowledge, and understanding about racially, ethnically, sexually, and gender diverse individuals.
- Employ the constructs of multiculturalism and diversity in psychological education.
- Recognize the importance of conducting culturally responsive and ethical psychological research among people from racial, ethnic, linguistic, sexual, and gender minority backgrounds.
- Apply culturally-appropriate skills in clinical and other applied psychological practices.
- Use organizational change processes to support culturally informed organizational policy development and practices.