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PhD, Counseling Psychology

Program History, Philosophy and Goals

The doctoral program in Counseling Psychology at New York University is offered through the Department of Applied Psychology in the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development.

In 1971 the program was registered with the New York State Department of Education for the professional preparation of psychologists. Since that time Graduates of the Counseling Psychology Program have been considered fully qualified psychologists with specialized training in counseling and eligible for licensure by the State. Since 1981 the program has been fully approved by the American Psychological Association, Commission on Accreditation, 750 First Street, NE, Washington DC, 20002-4242 (202-336-5979). Finally, in 1989 the Department of Counselor Education and the Department of Educational Psychology were merged into the current Department of Applied Psychology.

The major philosophical principles underlying the doctoral program in Counseling Psychology at New York University are:

  1. a focus on a developmental understanding of clients;
  2. a commitment to a health model of intervention;
  3. an appreciation of the gendered, cultural, class, and institutional context of people's lives as these affect both clients and counselors.

We consider these principles as central to our definition of Counseling Psychology.

More specifically, the goals of our program are to educate counseling psychologists who:

  • are knowledgeable regarding current theory, research, and practice in psychology;
  • have a personally integrated theory of counseling;
  • are committed to life-long learning;
  • have attained the knowledge and skills to work effectively with clients from diverse backgrounds particularly in an urban setting;
  • are able to do self-directed research;
  • have a personally relevant identity as a psychologist and as a counseling psychologist;
  • are prepared to function as multi-faceted and multi-skilled professionals in a wide range of roles as professional psychologists;
  • have grown and developed as human beings in our program with a stronger and clearer sense of self and others;
  • have developed the sensitivity and ability to uphold the highest standards of ethical behavior across all domains of professional practice.

Program Design

The program follows the basic pattern of a scientist-practitioner model for the preparation of professional psychologists. Thus, the program is designed to provide opportunities for students to develop as scientists and as practitioners. Concomitantly, attention is given to the continuing growth and development of the students as human beings. There are four components to our program:

  1. coursework,
  2. preparation of candidacy papers and oral exam,
  3. one-year full-time (or equivalent) internship, and
  4. the successful completion and defense of a dissertation.

Internship and dissertation requirements are completed at the end of the program, with increasing numbers of students preferring to complete some or all or the dissertation requirements prior to the completion of the internship.

Across all four of these components, attention is given to the integration of practice, theory, and research. For example, students study counseling process in counseling theory courses at the PhD level while they also engage in counseling practice in the counseling psychology core practicum requirements. They are expected to draw upon their knowledge of theory and research in the development of their practice skills and competencies while at the same time, we expect that their experience in counseling will enable them to understand and critique counseling theories from both an intellectual and experiential foundation. Sequencing of theory and practicum courses in the counseling psychology core is done by advisement in response to the needs and backgrounds of specific students.

The University and the Program are committed to a policy of equal treatment and opportunity in every aspect of its relations with its faculty, students and staff members, without regard to sex, sexual orientation, marital or parental status, race, color, religion, national origin, age, or physical disabilities.

Program Governance

The Counseling Psychology Doctoral program (CNPS) committee is composed of full-time faculty in the program who make a primary commitment to this doctoral program and CNPS student representatives. This committee, chaired by the Program Director, is responsible for the administration of the program and addresses program curriculum and student evaluation, development of policy regarding the program and any other considerations relating to the program. All policy emanating from the committee must be formally approved at a program meeting.


For completion of the doctorate, 69-72 points beyond the bachelor's degree are required. Additionally, as part of undergraduate or other graduate work, 18 credits in psychology including a course in statistics are prerequisites to the PhD program. In the Counseling Psychology required curriculum (53-56 credits), students complete work in counseling theory and process, cross-cultural counseling, group counseling, abnormal psychology, psychological measurement, program seminar, seminar in counseling theory, clinical assessment, statistics and research design, and practica in individual counseling, clinical intake and diagnosis, and counselor training and supervision. Students also must take two counseling psychology specialty electives (6 credits); and statistics and research design electives (10 credits).

Students also must complete departmental and state licensure course requirements covering measurement, history and systems, principles of learning, personality, developmental psychology, social psychology, and the biological basis of behavior (21 credits). In addition to course requirements, students must pass a comprehensive examination to be admitted to candidacy, complete a full-year full-time internship, have an approved dissertation proposal and dissertation, and pass a final oral examination of the dissertation.

Student Self-Disclosure

Standard 7.04 of the APA Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct (2002) states that:

Psychologists do not require students or supervisees to disclose personal information in course- or program-related activities, either orally or in writing, regarding sexual history, history of abuse and neglect, psychological treatment, and relationships with parents, peers, and spouses or significant others except if (1) the program or training facility has clearly identified this requirement in its admissions and program materials or (2) the information is necessary to evaluate or obtain assistance for students whose personal problems could reasonably be judged to be preventing them from performing their training- or professionally related activities in a competent manner or posing a threat to the students or others.

In compliance with Standard 7.04, NYU Counseling Psychology would like to inform prospective and current PhD students of our approach and expectations with respect to self-disclosure of personal information in the course of the doctoral training.

A major goal of our program for our graduates is to demonstrate core professional identity as a counseling psychologist in science, practice, teaching, supervision, and other roles. Core values of counseling psychology includes understanding contextual and cultural influences, holding a strength-based, social justice approach, understanding self and others as being shaped by cultural diversity, and demonstrating capacity to engage in reflective practice. We believe that self-awareness of attitudes, values, and beliefs toward diverse others and the ability to continually reflect on one's own personal and interpersonal dynamics are critical to the development of effective professional skills and identity.

Towards this aim, students will be asked to engage in a process of personal exploration with their supervisors and trainers in their clinical practicum, externship, and/or internship settings. Some courses also require completing assignments that involve self-disclosure and self-reflection about personal history and cultural identities.

American Psychological Association (2002). Ethical principles of psychologists and code of conduct. American Psychologist, 57, 1060-1073.