Chatham University

Doctor of Psychology in Counseling Psychology (PsyD): FAQs

What is Counseling Psychology?

Counseling Psychology is a subfield in psychology that focuses on health and well-being, helping people cope with problems from a strength-based perspective. In addition, counseling psychologists are aware and affirming of differences among people, including those differences related to race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and physical ability. People often seek help from counseling psychologists for problems related to work or school, relationships, and normal life transitions, in addition to crises or more severe difficulties.

What is a PsyD degree?

Doctoral training in psychology culminates in the awarding of either a Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) or a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree. Each degree enables its holder to pursue licensure as a psychologist and to practice independently. The difference between the two degrees lies in their relative emphasis during the training process. Most Ph.D. programs have a dual training emphasis on both clinical practice and conducting scholarly research. In contrast, the training model adopted by most PsyD programs places greater emphasis on clinical practice rather than on research. Graduates of PsyD programs are generally better prepared for a direct service rather than an academic or research-oriented career.

What is special about Chatham University’s PsyD in Counseling Psychology program?

Chatham University offers one of only a few PsyD in Counseling Psychology programs in the nation. Chatham already has a strong presence in the region with its well–established Masters of Science in Counseling Psychology program, which prepares students to become licensed professional counselors. The Doctor of Psychology in Counseling Psychology degree builds upon this strong foundation, and enables students to become practice-focused doctoral level psychologists.

What else is special about the program?

Chatham’s PsyD program offers comprehensive basic education and training in counseling psychology, with an added unique focus on counseling psychology’s role in promoting sustainable health and well-being across many dimensions, including mind, body, and the larger world. We recognize the interdependence of all parts of the world – including individuals, families, schools and work, neighborhoods, and the nonhuman natural world, and the importance of using a systems perspective when helping people. This means that we consider how the domains of mental, physical, social, economic, spiritual, vocational, political, and communal functioning, among others, might be related to the clients' concerns. Our students learn to support client health and well-being that is sustainable – that takes into account the resources that are needed to thrive both today and into the future. These ideas are woven through many of the academic courses.

Is the idea of sustainable health and well-being a new idea in psychology?

Yes and no. The concepts of balance, reflection, long-term thinking, and thoughtful action have long been a part of the psychologist’s practice. In addition, the science of psychology has from the beginning involved the study of human behavior and systems, and of the interaction between humans and their environments. Keeping these concepts in mind when working with individuals and families with a variety of problems is very important.

More recently, psychology has moved toward recognition of the importance of issues related to the natural environment for everyday human functioning. According to the past president of the American Psychological Association, Alan E. Kazdin (2008), "[psychology] ought to make the promotion of a sustainable environment a high priority within psychology and integrate our rich offerings with the efforts of other sciences, agencies and organizations. So many topics of our field (and virtually all of our APA divisions) are directly relevant and could be mobilized to convey more clearly that psychological science makes a difference." In addition, the APA Task Force on the Interface between Psychology and Global Climate Change (2009)recommended that psychology become actively involved in addressing problems related to global climate change, and include information about these topics in the education and training of psychologist practitioners.

Is a doctoral degree necessary for a career in psychology?

It is possible to enjoy a career as a mental health professional at the bachelors or the masters degree level. However, the term “psychologist” is protected and reserved for those individuals who have earned a doctoral degree in psychology. Licensure as a psychologist is limited to those who have earned a doctoral degree. The decision to pursue doctoral training in psychology is a personal one that depends on many considerations, including career goals, life circumstances, and many other factors.

What is the model of training in Chatham’s PsyD program?

Chatham’s PsyD program in Counseling Psychology has adopted the practitioner–scholar model of training. This means that students will receive training in both research and practice, but that there will be greater emphasis on practice.

What are the basic requirements for admission to the program?

Enrollment in Chatham’s PsyD in Counseling Psychology program requires a masters degree in psychology, counseling, or a related field. Click here for additional requirements for the program. Interested applicants who do not meet all requirements for admission are encouraged to consult with program directors about their situations and individual options. For example, many of the pre-requisite courses are available for students to take at Chatham the summer prior to admission to the doctoral program.

What are admissions requirements

See PsyD Requirements for specific admissions requirements.

What kinds of practicum training are offered?

Chatham’s psychology department has strong relationships with many agencies, hospitals, schools, and organizations within the Pittsburgh region. Practicum settings will allow students to provide services to a wide variety of populations under the supervision of psychologists.

Is a dissertation required for the PsyD in Counseling Psychology degree?

Yes, PsyD students complete a dissertation as a requirement for the degree. Consistent with the philosophies of the PsyD degree and the practitioner–scholar training model, the project involves research that will inform practice and be directly beneficial to communities and constituencies affected by or involved in the research.

Who are the faculty in the PsyD program?

The PsyD faculty is widely diverse, and represents a range of orientations and types of practice. However, we have a shared commitment to the goals and values of Chatham’s PsyD program. Students in the program can expect to be challenged and supported by faculty members to grow intellectually, professionally, and personally. Click here for information about individual faculty members.

What careers are possible with a PsyD from Chatham?

Graduates of Chatham’s PsyD program can expect to pursue careers in most areas of psychology practice across the full spectrum of settings, including hospitals, community agencies, university counseling centers, clinics, and independent practice.

Will it be possible to work full–time while enrolled in the PsyD program?

Working full-time while completing the PsyD program would present many challenges. Courses are offered during the day and evenings. Beginning in the second semester, there are practicum experiences each semester, each requiring about 20 hours per week on-site.

Is financial assistance available?

Chatham University offers several part–time assistantships to qualified students, as well as providing opportunities for on-campus employement. The Office of Admissions provides information about these opportunities. In addition, students may obtain information about educational loans from The Financial Aid Office.