Counseling Psychology (MSCP) Curriculum
The program focuses on both the professional, intellectual, and personal growth of students, emphasizing human-centered values as well as evidence - informed treatment approaches. The program aims to prepare students to become competent providers of counseling psychology services in the context of a diverse community and the ever-changing healthcare environment.
Successful completion of the counseling psychology courses prepares students for master’s level positions in professions promoting the optimal development of individuals, families, groups, and organizations. Graduates of the program will be ready for employment in agencies providing mental and physical health services, social services and other educational, professional, and business organizations. The psychology-based curriculum integrates theoretical foundations, experiential perspectives, and research methodologies with practice. In addition, students learn to assess persons in their familial and social contexts, design strategies for change, and evaluate the effectiveness of those interventions. Students are further encouraged to be mindful of the socio-cultural diversity of individuals, families, and groups.
Program of Study (39 credits + 9 credits of field placement = 48 credit hours for MSCP degree)
PSY501 Foundations of Counseling Psychology
The course focuses on historical, theoretical, ethical, and practical aspects of the counseling psychology field. Students will write a research paper, using the American Psychological Association Publication Manual and library resources commonly used by counseling psychologists. The course will also introduce students to the theory and practice of basic counseling skills.
3 PSY503 Applied Biological Psychology
The course addresses biological aspects of human psychology, including the biological basis of neurological deficits and mental disorders, and the use psychotropic medications for treating mental illnesses. Topics also include stress and health, mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia, and contemporary issues in biological psychology.
3 PSY555 Statistics and Research Methods
The course provides a basic review of descriptive and inferential statistics and how these techniques are used with research methods in counseling psychology. Students will become proficient in computer analysis of data sets, designing and evaluating research designs and techniques, and understanding primary research in counseling literature
3 PSY617 Psychology of Culture and Identity
The course offers theories and techniques related to the design, administration, and interpretation of quantitative tests measuring psychological variables such as intelligence, aptitude, and personality traits. It does not involve actual test design, administration and interpretation, but does explore theories and techniques related to these activities.
3 PSY627 Vocational/Career Counseling
The course addresses the issues involved in the lifelong process of vocational development, through exploration of theories and assessment approaches in career counseling. Additional topics addressed include self-awareness, career awareness and assessment, career decision making and planning, and career implementation.
3 PSY629 Human Development across the Life Span
The course explores cognitive, social, emotional and physiological development throughout the life span. While including concentration on the major theoretical approaches to life span development, an equally significant focus will be on practical application of material.
3 PSY635 Concepts of Mental Health and Illness
The course provides an overview of concepts of mental health and its development, and of the etiologies of psychopathology, from a culturally sensitive perspective. Students learn to recognize the complex biological and environmental contributors to mental illness, and to evaluate effective treatment approaches for mental illness.
3 PSY642 Assessment
The course covers the basics of psychological assessment. The importance of integrating information from various sources when formulating hypotheses and diagnostic impressions and when developing treatment plans is emphasized. Other topics include interviewing, mental status examinations, psycho-physiological strategies, psychological tests related to various diagnostic groupings, and program evaluation.
3 PSY660 Counseling Theories and Techniques I
The course presents the following approaches to counseling: behavioral, cognitive, cognitive-behavioral, reality, mindfulness-informed therapies, person-centered, humanistic, existential, and integrative. The course includes both theory and opportunities to develop and practice skills related to the theories.
3 PSY661 Counseling Theories and Techniques II
The course presents the following approaches to counseling: psychoanalytic, psychodynamic, Adlerian, interpersonal process, Gestalt, postmodern, and feminist. The course includes both theory and opportunities to develop and practice skills related to the theories.
3 PSY672 Group Counseling
The course explores the theory and practice of group experience from the perspectives of a member and observer. Topics include basic elements of group dynamics, interpersonal styles as they affect or hinder group functioning, role identity, leadership style, and application of group skills in organizations.
3 PSY674 Foundations of Family Therapy
The course focuses on the evaluation and treatment of psychological symptoms from the perspective of the family and systems theory. The history and evolution of the family movement will be presented and multiple family therapy modalities introduced, with an emphasis on selected theories and applications. Prerequisite(s): PSY660 and PSY661.
3 PSY681 Professional Integration Seminar
The course explores ethical conceptualization, analysis, and practices of applied and counseling psychologists. Topics include the ethical standards of the American Psychological Association and the American Counseling Association, the history of applied psychology, and the developing mental health counseling movement. Certification, licensure, and regulatory practices are also discussed.
3 Field Placements PSY682 Practicum
The course is an entry-level fieldwork course in which students obtain supervised counseling experience. They work directly under the supervision of a qualified professional and obtain experience interviewing clients and conducting sessions in group and individual formats.
3 PSY685 Supervised Internship I
The course is a supervised field placement experience focusing on integration of theory and practice. The course requires attendance at a weekly seminar on campus, which involves presentations focusing predominantly on assessment, diagnosis, and case conceptualization. Prerequisite(s): PSY 682.
3 PSY686 Supervised Internship II
The course enhances students' abilities to effectively offer mental health treatment and services to clients. Activities include discussion of issues in contemporary counseling psychology and treatment planning, formal case presentations, and completion of the graduate portfolio. Prerequisite(s): PSY 682.
+Licensed Professional Counselor
A total of 60 credit hours is needed to become a licensed professional counselor in PA. Students may take 12 or more credit hours of electives in order to become eligible for the LPC in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The electives may be taken as a specific concentration (Infant Mental Health or Sport and Exercise Psychology) or as a Self-Designed concentration. Each elective below is 3 credit hours: PSY511E PAAR Training in Sexual Assault Counseling
This course will provide students with 40 hours of volunteer training developed and implemented by the Pittsburgh Action Against Rape (PAAR). Successful completing of the training will qualify them as a Sexual Assault Counselor.
3 PSY513 Learning and Behavior
The course addresses concepts of instrumental and classical conditioning. Topics include concepts relevant to behavior formation and maintenance, application of conditioning techniques to counseling sessions, research data on learning techniques, and effective and cognitive elements of learning theories. The course also emphasizes ways to improve clients' self-change abilities.
3 PSY515 Human Sexuality
This course draws from current research to examine biological, psychological, and social aspects of sexuality. In addition, issues relating to sexuality for parents and educational and counseling professionals will be addressed.
3 PSY530 Introduction to Sport and Exercise Psychology
This course is designed to introduce students to the basic concepts and intervention techniques of sport and exercise psychology. Topics covered will include motivation theory applied to sport, team dynamics, an introduction to psychological skills training, the psychology of sport injury, and issues pertinent to exercise adoption, adherence, and drop-out.
3 PSY561 Pharmacology
This course covers the general principles of drug action, including administration, distribution, mechanism, and excretion. Emphasis will be placed on key pharmacological concepts, basic signal transduction pathways and molecular mechanisms. Pharmacology of the nervous, cardiovascular, and endocrine systems as well as the mechanisms of various antimicrobial agents will be considered.
3 PSY602 Sport and Exercise Psychology Interventions
Students in this course will become competent in the understanding and application of the core mental skills of sport and exercise psychology across settings and across the lifespan.
3 PSY610 Advanced Seminar in Sport & Exercise Psych
This course focuses on research and professional practice in an athletic or exercise setting. Issues of credentialing, certification, and licensure will be presented. Further, pertinent ethical issues will be examined. Students will develop a research project that involves conceptualizing a problem statement and designing a study to address the question.
3 PSY621 Advanced Seminar in Diversity Issues
The course further develops the multicultural competency of counselors in relation to specific selected topics related to diversity and counseling. This is an elective course.
3 PSY632 Positive Psychology
Positive Psychology is the study of how humans do well and flourish. This course is an introduction to positive psychology theories and techniques. Didactic, experiential, and interactive elements will be used to explore concepts, research, interventions, and exercises that positive psychology has contributed to the larger field of psychology.
3 PSY645 Environmental Psychology
Students will explore concepts, research, and practice related to the interface between environment and psychology. The course emphasizes the effects that environmental and climate change issues have on human health and well-being.
3 PSY663 Foundations of Health Psychology
Students will explore how psychological processes influence physical health. Further, the psychological sequellae of physical illness will be examined. Students will delve into the mind-body connection with consideration given to the cultural context. The role of the counseling psychologist as a member of the healthcare team will be explored.
3 PSY665 Addictions Counseling
The course addresses a variety of addiction topics, including chemical dependency, eating disorders, sexual addiction, the chemically dependent offender, and women's issues in addiction. Several treatment models are explored, with emphases on effectiveness of treatment approaches and on multicultural sensitivity.
3 PSY668 Crisis, Trauma and Recovery
The course is an introduction to the field of psychological trauma, examining the historical development of trauma as a clinical entity and an overview of theories and strategies for treating trauma. Students will learn to identify and work with their own reactions to clients who present trauma issues.
3 PSY669 Foundations of Expressive Arts Therapy
This class explores the use of various expressive art modalities and theoretical approaches, including Eastern traditions, Jungian psychology, and other sources. The student will participate in experiential exercises to further understanding of the expressive arts theories and applications.
3 PSY671 Mindfulness Counseling
This course explores mindfulness and acceptance based approaches to counseling and discusses the integration of art and science when utilizing these approaches. Students will examine current research about efficacy of such approaches, and also develop beginning skills in these approaches.
3 PSY673 Couples Counseling
This advanced course covers selected theories and techniques related to couples counseling. The emphasis in the course is on practical application of the theories.
3 PSY676 Counseling Children and Adolescents
The course focuses on issues and concepts related to counseling children and adolescents with social and/or emotional problems. Topics include significant differences between children/adolescents and adults; theories of normal child development and temperament; and conceptualization and effective treatment of problems.
3 PSY677 Grief Counseling
The course introduces students to the techniques, strategies, and treatment modalities counselors use to work with adults, children, and families dealing with bereavement. The class focuses on psychological, somatic, cultural, and spiritual aspects of grief and loss. Other topics included are interventions, community resources, and diverse religious and cultural practices.
3 PSY678 Risk and Resilience in Childhood
The course covers child/adolescent psychopathology and psychological assessment of children and adolescents. Specific topics include diagnostic and assessment issues specific to children and adolescents; psychological and developmental disorders specific to children and adolescents; and related social and cultural issues.
3 PSY693 Independent Study 3
+Infant Mental Health Concentration
12 credits from the following:
PSY506 Essentials of Infant Mental Health
This course will provide an introduction and overview of Infant Mental Health (IMH). Core theoretical concepts related to the practice of IMH will be examined. Emphasis will be placed on understanding how IMH principles provide a foundation for working with infants, toddlers, and families across settings and disciplines.
3 PSY509 Infant Development
This course will provide in-depth examination of infant development from conception to age 3. Participants will gain an understanding of the bio-psychosocial aspects of brain development, attachment theory, temperament, and the potential consequences of trauma and loss. The development of specific development milestones across key skills will be reviewed.
3 PSY510 Infant-Toddler Assessment
This course will provide students with an introduction and hands on experience completing developmental assessment of infants from a multidisciplinary perspective. Participants will learn to assess infant development of milestones in cognitive, social-emotional, communication, adaptive skills as well as sensory integration. Prerequisite(s): PSY 506 and PSY 509.
3 PSY512 Practices & Principles of Infant Mental Health Int
This course introduces specific prevention and intervention approaches for promoting attachment relationships and social-emotional development in children aged 0 to 3 emphasizing evidence-based practice. Participants will gain valuable skills for assisting parents, caregivers, educators and children in the promotion of positive social, emotional and behavioral development. Prerequisite(s): PSY 506 and PSY 509.
3 PSY514 Infant Attachment: A Dual Relationship
This course will explore parent-infant interactions with specific emphasis on early attachment relationships between parents and child, problems in the attachments process, family systems, and interventions to improve the quality of parent-infant relationships. Opportunities to observe and assess attachment relationships and parent-infant interactions within different at-risk populations will be provided. Prerequisite(s): PSY 506, PSY 509, and PSY 510.