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Counseling Psychology Ph.D. Program

Scientist-Practitioner-Advocate Model

Our faculty share a strong commitment to sound, ethical, and multiculturally-competent research and clinical practice. In addition, we believe that psychologists need the awareness, knowledge, and skills to intervene at systemic levels to address oppressive contextual factors that also contribute to the lived experiences of our research participants and to the presenting problems of our clients. Therefore, in 2007, we decided to adopt a new model that incorporates the role of social justice advocate within the traditional scientist-practitioner model. 

Consistent with calls for counseling psychologists to step outside of traditional scientist-practitioner roles1 we adopted a scientist-practitioner-advocate-training model (see Mallinckrodt, Miles, & Levy, 2014). Within this model, we continue to place a very high value on science, practice, and the integration of the two. Graduates of our program are culturally competent and ethical researchers, consumers of research, and individual and group therapists. They use their highly developed research skills to enhance the effectiveness of their practice and use their clinical skills to inform the research questions they pursue. 

Our addition of advocacy to the traditional scientist-practitioner model brings an explicit social justice focus on the roles of scientist and practitioner. The integration of advocacy and science means that we study the impacts of complex social issues and systemic inequity. We use the results of our research to raise critical consciousness, inform policy, and advocate for systemic change. The integration of advocacy and practice means we examine the impact of inequitable social contexts on the lived experiences and presenting concerns of our clients, we work outside of the therapy room to advocate for our clients and members of oppressed groups, and we seek to empower our clients and community groups to advocate for themselves. 

At the core of this model are feminist, multicultural, and social justice principles2 related to equity, sharing power, giving voice, raising consciousness, and cultural humility.3 We also emphasize the importance of taking an intersectional perspective4 that examines the ways in which different forms of power, privilege, and oppression collide to uniquely impact individuals based on their social locations. 

In July 2009, the APA Commission on Accreditation reviewed our training model and accredited for seven years, making us the first counseling psychology program accredited under this model. We were re-accredited by the APA Commission on Accreditation in the summer 2016 for another seven years. The figure below depicts how we conceptualize our model.

For an in-depth description of the UT Counseling Psychology program's scientist-practitioner-advocate training model, please see: 

Mallinckrodt, B., Miles, J. R., & Levy, J. J. (2014). The Scientist-Practitioner-Advocate Model: Addressing contemporary training needs for social justice advocacy. Training and Education in Professional Psychology, 8, 303-311. doi:10.1037/tep0000045


Social Justice Practicum

While we infuse social justice in all aspects of our training, the capstone experience in our scientist-practitioner-advocate training model is our two-semester Social Justice Practicum (SJP). In this didactic practicum, students develop knowledge and skills related to intersectionality, activism, social movements, needs assessment, participatory action research, program development, consciousness-raising, and advocating to policy makers for systemic change. They also continue to develop self-awareness related to their own positionality as it relates to their developing identity as a social justice advocate.

The SJP provides students with an opportunity to develop a relationship with individuals or an agency in the community working to address some social injustice. Students work with this agency over the course of the academic year to collaboratively conduct a needs assessment, develop a systemic intervention that addresses one or more of the identified needs, to implement and evaluate the intervention, and to develop the resources and tools for the work to continue after the student has completed the SJP. Our students have worked in the community on a wide range of social justice issues including immigrant and refugee issues, domestic violence, sexual assault, cultural competence in policing, health inequity, drug courts, comprehensive sex education, sexual and gender minority mental health care, and veteran’s issues. Our program has ongoing relationships with community agencies that work on these issues, but students often also find agencies working on other issues about which they are passionate.

1For example:
  • Fassinger, R. E., & O'Brien, K. M. (2000). Career counseling with college women: A scientist-practitioner-advocate model of intervention. In D. A. Luzzo (Ed.), Career counseling of college students: An empirical guide to strategies that work (pp. 253-266). Washington DC: American Psychological Association.
  • Fouad, N. A., Gerstein, L. H., & Toporek, R. L. (2006). Social justice and counseling psychology in context. In R. L. Toporek, L. H. Gerstein, N. A. Fouad, G. Roysircar, & T. Israel (Eds.), Handbook for social justice in counseling psychology (pp. 1-16). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
  • Vera, E.M., & Speight, S. L. (2003). Multicultural competence, social justice, and counseling psychology: Expanding our roles. The Counseling Psychologist, 31, 253-272.
  • Toporek, R. L., & McNally, C. J. (2006). Social justice training in counseling psychology: Needs and innovations. In R. L. Toporek, L. H. Gerstein, N. A. Fouad, G. Roysircar, & T. Israel (Eds.), Handbook for social justice in counseling psychology: Leadership, vision, and action (pp. 37-43). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
2Goodman, L. A., Liang, B., Helms, J. E., Latta, R. E., Sparks, E., & Weintraub, S. R. (2004). Training counseling psychologists as social justice agents: Feminist and multicultural principles in action. The Counseling Psychologist, 32, 793–837. doi:10.1177/0011000004268802
3Davis, D. E., DeBlaere, C., Owen, J., Hook, J. N., Rivera, D. P., Choe, E., . . . Placeres, V. (2018). The multicultural orientation framework: A narrative review. Psychotherapy, 55, 89-100. doi:10.1037/pst0000160
4For example:
  • Cole, E. R. (2009). Intersectionality and research in psychology. American Psychologist, 64, 170-180. doi:10.1037/a0014564
  • Moradi, B., & Grzanka, P. R. (2017). Using intersectionality responsibly: Toward critical epistemology, structural analysis, and social justice activism. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 64, 500-513. doi:10.1037/cou0000203

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