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Ph.D. Program - Counseling Psychology

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is Counseling Psychology?

The specialty of counseling psychology was formalized in the 1940s and 1950s and grew from the field of personnel and guidance. With an emphasis on overall well-being throughout the lifespan, counseling psychologists have stressed service to "non-clinical" client populations (i.e., people without serious or persistent mental illness). Counseling psychology is guided by multicultural, feminist, and social justice principles; incorporates person-environment fit and other contextual perspectives; incorporates educational and vocational theory and practice, and has a focus on client and community strengths (vs. pathology).

Counseling psychologists are employed in a variety of settings including academic and research institutions, college and university counseling centers, mental health agencies, VA Medical Centers and military bases, private practice, health care settings and hospitals, organizational consultant groups, and industrial and business settings.

The Society for Counseling Psychology (SCP; Division 17 of the American Psychological Association) represents and advocates for the field. The website of SCP has excellent resources to further explore the field of counseling psychology and what makes it unique (including the differences between counseling and clinical psychology).

Is the UT Counseling Psychology Program a good fit for me?

The UT Counseling Psychology Program is accredited by the American Psychological Association with a scientist-practitioner-advocate training model. This means we prepare students to be researchers, clinicians (i.e., therapists), and social justice advocates that bring about systemic change. While our graduates work in a variety of academic, research, and clinical settings, students admitted into our program can expect an emphasis on all three roles (researcher, clinician, and advocate). Therefore, students who are a good fit are those with previous research and interest in conducting original empirical studies, dedication to learning and providing competent and ethical clinical work, and engaging in systemic interventions aimed at bringing about social justice.

Our program is informed by feminist, multicultural, and social justice principles and admitted students are expected to exhibit cultural humility and engage in ongoing self-reflection and critical multicultural education to prepare them to work with all clients and communities, regardless of age, disability status, gender identity, immigration status, nationality, race, religion, sexuality, social class, veteran status, or any other dimension of difference.

Additionally, although students are encouraged to get involved in research project across labs, students are admitted to work with an individual advisor with whom they have a clear expressed match in research interests.

Finally, good candidates for our program are those whose values align with the Statement of Training Values endorsed by our program.

What is Knoxville Like?

The City of Knoxville, nicknamed the “Scruffy City” when it hosted the 1982 World’s Fair, is a mid-sized city in East Tennessee on the Tennessee River. Its population as of the 2010 census was 178,874 in the City itself, with 432,226 in Knox County.  Its proximity to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Ijams Nature Center, and its own “Urban Wilderness” trail system mean that outdoor enthusiasts have a lot of hiking and biking options. Knoxville is also home to a variety of cultural events like the Kuumba Festival and Knox Pride, as well as arts and cultural venues like the Beck Cultural Exchange Center, the historic Tennessee and Bijou Theaters, and UT’s own Clarence Brown Theater. Knoxville also hosts the city-wide music festival Big Ears each spring.

Much more information about the City of Knoxville can be found on the City’s website, as well as from Visit Knoxville.

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