The doctoral program in counseling psychology is APA accredited. Our program follows the Boulder model for preparing scientist-practitioners, with an emphasis on social justice issues. The University of Kentucky Counseling Psychology program closely follows the American Psychological Association guidelines for professional practice.
The doctoral program generally takes six years of full-time study (minimum of nine credit hours per semester) to complete if the student enters with a Master’s degree in Counseling. This optimal timeline includes a one-year, full-time internship at an APA accredited site, which may require relocation to another city or state. A majority of our program graduates gain employment either in Mental Health Agencies, University Counseling Centers, or in federal facilities (e.g., VA or prison). Another large group of graduates engage in private practice. Some graduates pursue research or teaching positions in institutes of higher education. These first employment setting is typically closely related to the specialized type of experience gained from the student’s internship year.
Program Philosophy and Social Justice Statement
The philosophy of the Counseling Psychology Program is rooted in the values and goals of a socially just society. A socially just society is contingent on the optimal health and well-being of all persons in that society. The health and well-being of persons is contingent on access to healthy environments that support healthy development and functioning. Our goal is to train counseling psychologists who are competent in providing professional psychological services that facilitate human well-being and the transformation of unhealthy and oppressive societal structures.
We use a competency-based approach to training based on the benchmark competencies developed for Professional Psychology and endorsed by the Council of Chairs of Training Councils (see our summary of Goals, Objectives, and Competencies). To further guide our training, we have endorsed the pedagogical principles for Preparing Professional Psychologists to Serve a Diverse Public and the Counseling Psychology Model Training Values Statement Addressing Diversity. We also embrace the following APA aspirational Practice guidelines: Guidelines on Multicultural Education, Training, Research, Practice, and Organizational Change for Psychologists; Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Girls and Women; Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Older Adults; and Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Clients.
Mission and Goals
Our mission is to prepare and equip counseling psychologists to use their core values, scientist-practitioner skills, and leadership skills to competently address the ever-changing needs of a diverse society. Our program focuses on providing competency-based training in counseling interventions, in the scientific skills needed to create and evaluate new knowledge, and in the ethical and professional attitudes that promote excellence and leadership in the field of professional psychology.
The three goals that we have for each and every graduate from our program are:
- Professional identity as a counseling psychologist that is grounded in a holistic, systemic, strengths-based, culturally informed perspective on research and practice.
- Skilled and ethical scientist-practitioners who reflexively use skills in both domains to generate new knowledge and to evaluate the effectiveness of prevention and intervention efforts to optimize human functioning and health environments that support human functioning.
- Effective and engaged leadership across professional roles and activities.
Academic Preparation for the Doctoral Program
Generally, students who enter the doctoral program have completed the master’s degree in a psychology-related area. We do occasionally accept strong applicants who have completed an undergraduate degree in psychology, but do not have a master’s degree. These students are expected to complete master’s level coursework and practica prior to beginning the doctoral coursework and practica. Students negotiate a specific program of study with their advisory committee during their first semester in the program.