The Counseling Psychology program prepares students to work with adolescents and adults in a variety of settings including community counseling agencies, hospitals, schools and many other types of agencies. Selecting a practicum or internship site that corresponds with the setting in which you would like to work after graduation will give you experience in a particular setting.
Counseling psychologists encourage individuals to better understand themselves and their behavior, to develop an increased repertoire of adaptive coping skills and to more effectively approach life problems in light of this understanding and skill development. Life crises such as those that normally occur in the aging process – developing an identity, mid-life reevaluation, retirement and grief or loss – are of concern to the counseling psychologist.
Counseling psychologists also help individuals make vocational-educational decisions, take productive action in marriage or family systems and assist individuals with health-related crises. Within such roles, they may teach communication and other interpersonal skills, time and stress management, parenting, as well as help with normal developmental processes. Problems such as these are the primary province of counseling psychology although counseling psychologists may also work with issues involving atypical or disordered development.
Focusing on developmental issues or those involving atypical development, counseling psychologists may target individuals, families, groups, systems or organizations. They may do remedial work with individuals or groups in crisis, or work in a developmental, preventative role by providing information and training to prevent crises or more serious mental health problems. In these roles, they often function as educators.
Counseling psychologists may also function as researchers in agencies, organizations or academic settings. They may evaluate current practices and programs, develop and test new interventions or study the characteristics of the populations they serve. They may also do basic research on human development, behavior change or related issues. Consequently, doctoral students develop research skills that will enable them to contribute original research to the profession as well as to evaluate individual and program effectiveness.
Preparing for the Future
It should be noted that the Denver-Boulder-Colorado Springs metropolitan area is heavily subscribed with mental health professionals. Individuals who are accepted in the doctoral program should not necessarily expect to find employment in these geographical areas after graduation. Students should also be aware that faculty members believe that in light of managed care and other related events, the practice of psychology is changing.
We believe that within the next 5-10 years, the opportunities for private practitioners will decline and that doctoral-level psychologists should prepare themselves for positions that include research, supervision, program development and evaluation, and teaching. These positions will involve leadership and communication skills. The Counseling Psychology program at the University of Denver is committed to help students develop such skills.