To work professionally in counseling psychology at the master’s or doctoral level, you will need a strong background in the practice of counseling and psychotherapy, as well as a knowledge of the scientific foundations of psychology in order to evaluate and think critically about your practice.
Our program helps you develop the skills to understand and/or conduct research that contributes to the knowledge and practice of counseling psychology. You will also develop the skills to intervene effectively with clients representing a broad range of demographic and cultural characteristics and counseling needs, so that you are prepared to work with the diversity of people who will need psychological services and counseling in the 21st century.
The master’s and doctoral programs include work in counseling theories and techniques, research, career and group counseling, program development and evaluation, fieldwork and practicum, as well as other areas relevant to particular degree programs. Because most programs lead to licensure, there are a number of required courses, but students may pursue individual interests through electives.
At Morgridge, you will work with faculty in small classes. You will join faculty on research projects and develop specialized skills in aspects of adolescent and adult development, health psychology, professional ethics, applications of psychology to business, multicultural issues or group dynamics. Students develop skills in counseling and research that lead to work with diverse populations in a variety of work settings.
Because practice is an important part of learning, our program provides you with InContext experiences so you can apply what you are learning to real-world settings and issues. Examples of InContext learning experiences our students have participated in include:
- Organize and run adolescent groups at community outreach centers
- Join faculty on research projects and develop specialized skills in aspects of adolescent and adult development, health psychology, professional ethics, and applications of psychology to group and business dynamics
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.