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Commitment to Diversity and Multiculturalism

The Psy.D. program is committed to promoting a welcoming and inclusive environment where students and faculty are aware of and demonstrate respect for cultural and individual differences. The program actively seeks to create and sustain a rich cultural environment, whereby diversity perspectives, research, and educational opportunities are cultivated, continually re-evaluated, and enhanced. To ensure continual growth, it is necessary that the Psy.D. program cultivate resources that support and give voice to diverse faculty and students as a means of appreciating and infusing their cultural needs and perspectives into the fabric of the program. In keeping with this goal, the Psy.D. program demonstrates its commitment to multicultural growth through mentorship, collaboration, assessment, and service.

Mentorship. In light of the cultural, social, and personal challenges associated with relocating and adapting to a new geographic and academic environment, the Psy.D. program has identified mentoring as an interpersonal resource to help incoming students and faculty acclimate, invest, and find prosperity at Georgia Southern University. Our mentoring programs use a mix of formal and informal approaches to help connect newly enrolled students and incoming faculty to interpersonal resources that serve to ease adjustment into the unique cultural, social, and academic challenges associated with relocation and acclimation.

Collaborative Experiences. Both faculty and students are offered unique opportunities to collaborate with one another and other professionals at Georgia Southern University. Commonly, faculty will invite students to collaboratively create and conduct research that promotes an appreciation for cultural processes underlying stigmatization, prejudice, and identity development. We offer students and faculty opportunities to become involved with research teams focused on ethnic identity and resilience development, religion and spirituality, stigma, gender and gender roles (e.g., masculinity), LGBT issues, and the promotion of wellness in rural communities. Another avenue of collaboration is through the Rural Health Research Institute (RHRI), which is an independent entity on campus affiliated with the Psychology Department and the College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences. The RHRI, an NIH Center of Excellence, engages in interdisciplinary, cross-college research and outreach focused on rural health issues. RHRI activities include faculty mentoring programs, faculty and student seed research funding, and active research and outreach programs that have engaged several psychology faculty and students in collaborative work. For more information on specific research, please click here.

Diversity in the Curriculum. The science and practice of multicultural and diversity theories and skills are covered comprehensively throughout the Psy.D. curriculum. Cultural processes and issues are integrated into the majority of the basic science and clinical courses within the curriculum. Two core courses (PSYC 9320 and PSYC 9330) have been designed to examine and evaluate cultural needs, identities, and processes relevant to underserved ethnic, cultural, and rural communities. Diversity Issues in Psychology (PSYC 9320) covers various empirically validated theories, concepts, and perspectives associated with cultural appreciation and development. Students are instructed on best practices associated with the selection and implementation of culturally sensitive assessment procedures, working conceptualizations, and treatment plans. Culturally sensitive approaches to therapy are explored and practiced as a means of honoring a client’s worldview, incorporating a client’s healing traditions into the process of therapy, and restoring a client’s sense of dignity. Rural Mental Health (PSYC 9330) presents students with an in-depth exploration of the primary methods of service-delivery, challenges, and advancements in promoting wellness within rural communities. In keeping with this goal, students obtain a thorough review of the current state of rural mental health, unique barriers to working in rural areas, ethical and professional considerations, and research-driven recommendations for working with specific populations in rural communities. Advocacy efforts directed at the individual, small, and large organizational levels are explored and prepared to promote positive social change and wellness among rural residents.

Practicum Experiences. In their clinical training, students are required to engage in three one year practicum rotations. To ensure that students receive exposure to diverse populations, the Psy.D. program actively recruits and continually re-evaluates designated practicum sites on their access to diverse populations, resources available to meet the needs of diverse populations, and ability of their clinical supervisors to develop multicultural competencies within our students. Considering the importance of cultural and individual differences in selecting assessment batteries, developing accurate working conceptualizations of patient/client difficulties, and formulating sensitive treatment plans, students are asked to address how multicultural and diversity issues are relevant to their clinical practice through case reviews in their Practicum courses. Case reviews are designed to foster competence in working from an integrative and culturally sensitive framework, which is a necessary facet of service delivery in rural and underserved communities.

External Symposia on Diversity. All students are required to participate in symposia and professional development trainings outside of classroom and practicum assignments. Students participate in mandatory trainings the week before classes begin in the fall and spring. Before each Fall semester, trainings address risk assessment, HIPPA/ethics training, and maintaining cultural competence while performing service-oriented duties as a doctoral student. Before each Spring semester, training addresses other areas of professional development (e.g., CV development, licensure, establishing a private practice). In addition to these trainings, students must attend two diversity events each academic year. This requirement is designed to provide students with opportunities to enhance their multicultural competency in areas where they may lack experience and/or find personally challenging. These events may be on campus (e.g., diversity events hosted through the Multicultural Student Center, training through the RHRI, SAFE space training through the Counseling and Career Development Center) or off campus (e.g., CE workshops, conference attendance). Following each event, students submit reflection papers that focus on the impact of attending the event on their professional development, with emphasis on ways they can incorporate what they learned into future practice and/or research endeavors. Although students can choose other diversity events, a link to some examples can be found here.

Diversity Assessment Committee. In an effort to give voice to and appreciate the cultural needs and interests of diverse faculty and students, the Psy.D. program created the Diversity Assessment Committee (DAC). Although the DAC serves many functions within the program, the general mission is to create and maintain a community climate that is welcoming, inclusive, and appreciative of diversity-related issues, interests, and traditions. The DAC is a collaborative team comprised of elected graduate students and faculty/staff who promote social justice within the Psy.D. program and Georgia Southern’s psychological community as a whole. As a part of the DAC, culturally diverse faculty and students have opportunities to process issues associated with diversity, evaluate and address students’ experiences and concerns related to diversity training, identify and develop unique diversity training opportunities for both faculty and students, and collaborate with the Director of Clinical Training to enhance program policies and procedures.

The Psy.D. program is committed to fostering both knowledge of and appreciation for the science and practice of multiculturalism. This commitment is evidenced throughout the curriculum, faculty’s scholarly interests, required training and practicum experiences, and department sponsored opportunities that advance students’ awareness, knowledge, and skill in working with culturally diverse and underserved populations. The program’s emphasis on cultural and individual differences and commitment to the promotion of social justice is consistent with the American Psychological Association’s Ethical Principles and Code of Conduct as well as the Guidelines on Multicultural Education, Training, Research, Practice, and Organizational Change for Psychologists. The program’s adopted model of multicultural training is expected to facilitate the development of competencies that enrich the effectiveness by which our students work with culturally diverse individuals.

Last updated: 7/19/2021