Counseling Psychology Training and Opportunities

You will be able to gain competence in the research and practice of counseling psychology. Preparation in clinical practice includes both psychotherapy and psychological assessment. You will be able to engage with multicultural and social justice topics.

You may also pursue training related to teaching. Professional development and peer support are available through our Association of Counseling Psychology Students(ACOPS).

Psychotherapy Training

Students receive training in individual and group psychotherapy in developmental steps, as outlined below. Our psychotherapy training focuses on adult clients.

Year 1
Students take coursework that introduces them to:
• the counseling psychology profession
• ethics
• counseling theories
• working with diverse clients
• group counseling
• diagnosis
• empirically-supported treatments
• basic helping skills.

Students practice their counseling skills in Introduction to Counseling Practice and Group Counseling.

Year 2
All students complete two semesters of Practicum at Auburn University Student Counseling and Psychological Services (SCPS) where they provide individual counseling. Most students also conduct group counseling and outreach. The structure of the beginning practicum experience includes several supervision formats to help students develop as therapists.

Students receive:
• weekly individual supervision from an SCPS staff member or intern
• bi-weekly small group supervision with an SCPS staff member
• periodic supplemental supervision from an advanced counseling psychology student
• weekly group supervision from the Practicum instructor.

Year 3
Students complete two semesters of Advanced Practicum. Students apply for and accept practicum placements that fit with their clinical interests and career goals. Sites are located in the Auburn-Opelika area, as well as surrounding communities such as Atlanta and Columbus, GA.

Sites include:
• community mental health centers
• group practices
• correctional facilities
• university counseling centers
• behavioral health hospitals
• VA hospitals.

Students receive weekly individual supervision from an on-site supervisor. Weekly group supervision is provided by the Advanced Practicum instructor.

Year 4
Students typically take part in more counseling training during a program-approved clinical experience (PACE). The PACE sites are the same as those used for Advanced Practicum. This allows students to gain additional experience before internship applications. Students engaged in a PACE receive weekly individual supervision from their on-site supervisor and participate in small group supervision with their Externship instructor.

Students also receive training in the provision of supervision in Year 4. They take a course in Counseling Supervision that teaches them to supervise clinical work. They also gain supervising experience by serving as a supplemental supervisor to a beginning practicum student who is conducting counseling at Student Counseling Services. Student supervisors receive group supervision-of-supervision from the Counseling Supervision course instructor.

Year 5
A 12-month full-time pre-doctoral internship is required by all APA-accredited counseling psychology doctoral programs. Students can complete this internship in their fifth year (after applying and matching during their fourth year). The internship almost always requires re-location away from Auburn.

Our students have completed internships at:
• university counseling centers
• prisons
• medical centers
• VA hospitals
• consortiums
• community mental health centers.

Some students choose to stay on campus for a fifth year. These students typically complete another program-approved clinical experience to gain further advanced clinical training. They then apply for internship in their fifth year and complete pre-doctoral internship in their sixth year.

Research Training

Training in research is an essential part of our counseling psychology program. We offer several methods of training.

Counseling Psychology Colloquia Sequence
Students enroll in Colloquium in Counseling Psychology I-IV in their first and second years in the program. These seminar format courses include training and experience on topics related to conducting research.

Students also select a research lab in which to be involved each semester. This is typically the doctoral advisor’s research lab, but can be altered based on students’ expressed preferences and needs. Students attend weekly lab meetings. They can get involved in research projects being conducted by the faculty supervisor and/or advanced students. Students can also transition toward leading their own research project over the first two years.

For Colloquium I-IV, all students will:
• complete an IRB protocol
• submit a conference presentation
• co-author a journal manuscript.

Research and Statistics Courses
The courses within students’ first three years in the program further prepare them for conducting research.

• Students take two courses in statistics. They have the option to take additional courses that cover more advanced statistical procedures.
• All students take Research Design in Counseling & Evaluation. It covers both experimental and non-experimental research designs.
• Professional Seminar in Counseling Psychology includes a focus on being a responsible consumer of research and on psychotherapy process and outcome.

Graduate Research Assistantships
There are some opportunities for students to gain research experience via employment in a graduate research assistantship (GRA). Students employed as GRAs work on research projects under the direction of a faculty supervisor. Depending on student contributions, this may lead to co-authorship on presentations and publications.

Research Lab Involvement
All students are involved in a faculty members’ research lab during their first two years as part of the Colloquia requirements. The majority of students choose to stay involved in a research lab for additional years. Lab meetings provide interaction across cohorts and increase familiarity with the research process. Many students are involved in developing, implementing, or disseminating more than one project. Students often present or publish research as a result of their lab involvement.

The culminating research training experience is the doctoral dissertation.

• Students work with their advisor to develop a written dissertation proposal
• The student’s dissertation committee approves the proposal
• The student completes the data-based research project outlined in the dissertation proposal
• The student reports the study results in the final written dissertation
• The student presents the results of their study to their dissertation committee for final approval

The dissertation is how our students demonstrate their ability to conduct independent research.

Assessment Training

Our program offers several avenues for training in psychological assessment. Starting with an Advanced Measurement Theory course, students are exposed to the assessment development process. Students then take courses on personality assessment (Appraisal in Counseling & Psychology) and intellectual assessment (Intellectual Assessment of Adults). These courses include both didactic and hands-on training in how to administer, score, and interpret common personality and intellectual assessments.

Students can seek practicum or graduate assistantship opportunities to further their training.

Examples of assessment opportunities include:
• attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and specific learning disorder assessments
• substance use disorder evaluations
• intelligence testing
• bariatric pre-surgical evaluations
• diagnostic clarification evaluations
• personality testing
• vocational assessments.

Assessment settings include:
• university counseling centers
• private practices
• juvenile and adult correctional facilities
• hospitals.

Multicultural and Social Justice-Focused Opportunities

Students and faculty in our program are committed to multiculturalism and social justice. Our program includes formal and informal opportunities for work related to culture and equity. Several student-led initiatives have originated from our program.

Social Justice/Advocacy Project
Students take part in a Social Justice/Advocacy Project during their enrollment in Professional Seminar in Counseling Psychology. This occurs in their second or third year of the program. Students work individually or in small groups to develop a project. Projects raise awareness and/or bring social change on issues of discrimination, marginalization, racism, heterosexism, transphobia, ageism, ableism, classism, or other social justice issues.

Counseling Diverse Populations is taken in the first year of the program. It encourages engagement with faculty, peers, and others around topics of identity and intersectionality that will affect their lives as people, therapists, and professionals.

Multicultural and social justice perspectives are integrated in courses throughout our counseling psychology program. Two examples include:
• Advanced Assessment and Diagnosis course weaves a health disparities perspective throughout the semester. This helps students understand the racial, economic, and other disparities surrounding mental health.
• Research Design in Counseling & Evaluation integrates a Cultural Lens Approach to train students on how to examine the cultural validity of research studies.

Diversity Committees
Students are involved in diversity committees at the program, department, college, and university levels. These committees provide opportunities to engage with cultural topics and address equity-related concerns. Committees also host educational and interactive meetings around important issues within the program, department, and university. For example, our Association of Counseling Psychology Students (ACOPS) Diversity Committee coordinates one to two cultural celebrations per year for our counseling psychology program. Students and faculty share aspects of their cultural heritage with one another at the celebrations—food included!

Campus/Community Engagement
Students are also engaged on-campus and in the community with regard to social justice. For example, students hold membership and leadership positions in organizations such as:
• Black Graduate and Professional Students Association (BGPSA)
• Black Women in Mental Health
• Brother Let’s Talk.

Our students have also founded events such as:
• Together We Can: an opportunity for fellowship and relationship-building between local law enforcement and the community
• Diversity Campus Experience (DiCE): a program for highly qualified students from underrepresented groups interested in graduate education

Graduate assistantships also offer the opportunity to engage in diversity work. Our students have held assistantships with:
• Office of Inclusion & Diversity
• Office of Women’s Initiatives
• Community & Civic Engagement Initiative
• Auburn Transition Leadership Institute
• Women’s Studies program
• Center for Disability Research & Policy Studies.

Teaching assistantships often involve teaching undergraduate courses focused on diversity topics (see Teaching Opportunities).

Faculty and student research spans a variety of topics on culture and social justice. Faculty encourage student leadership in their own areas of research and passion. Colloquium in Counseling Psychology IV provides advanced training in developing, conducting, and disseminating social justice-oriented research. It is taken in the students’ second year in the program.

Clinical Work
Students have a variety of opportunities to work with different cultural populations in their clinical work. Each clinical site offers a unique population and aspects of work.

After two semesters of practicum at Auburn University Student Counseling Services (SCS), students have the option to see clients in settings such as:
• other university counseling centers on diverse campuses
• hospitals
• VA clinics
• community mental health centers
• correctional facilities
• private practices.

Teaching Opportunities

There are several avenues to gain teaching experience during our doctoral program.

Graduate Teaching Assistantships
Some of our students hold a graduate teaching assistantship (GTA). This is a paid opportunity to teach one or more undergraduate courses in our department as an instructor of record. Some of our GTAs teach a popular class called Living and Communicating in a Diverse Society (COUN 2000). This is a core undergraduate course focused on developing cultural competence and diversity appreciation.

Other examples of courses our students have taught include:
• Career Orientation Exploration
• Career Success
• Emotional Intelligence
• Introduction to Counseling & Psychotherapy
• Introduction to LGBTQ Studies
• Introduction to Prevention & Mental Health Promotion

Graduate assistant positions in other units on campus sometimes include teaching responsibilities.

Teaching Practicum
Many of our students elect to take a Teaching Practicum course. They work with a faculty mentor who is teaching a master’s or doctoral-level course. Students pair with the faculty mentor in an apprentice-style training experience for a course of interest.

Teaching practicum students have the opportunity to take part in (as appropriate to the course):
• course development
• syllabus writing
• lecture and activity planning
• assignment development
• grading.

The teaching practicum student also prepares and leads one or two class periods during the semester. Teaching practicum allows students to gain experience in graduate-level teaching in a way that is typically not available to instructors-in-training.

First Year Seminars
Students can apply to teach a First Year Seminar (FYS) course after completing 18 graduate semester hours in our discipline. This is a paid experience outside the formal graduate assistantship. Some FYS courses are available to all first-year undergraduate students, with a focus on:
• study strategies
• writing and presentation skills
• test-taking strategies
• career opportunities.

Other courses tailor to students in a learning community of 19 students with similar academic interests. These courses explore issues related to a specific theme through discussion, activities, reading, writing, teamwork, and community service.

Our students can serve as instructor of record for these courses. This offers an opportunity to influence the early academic experience of undergraduate students.