NIU’s Clinical Psychology Program is committed to train our students to be prepared to work with individuals from diverse backgrounds including differences based on age, gender, gender identity, race, ethnicity, culture, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability, language and socioeconomic status. There are multiple components to the program that provide students with relevant knowledge of and experience with, the role of cultural and individual diversity in the science and practice of professional psychology. The program has a thoughtful and coherent approach to training students to be cultural competent, as described below.
- Early in their training (in Year 1 or 2), students are required to complete PSYC 649 (Ethics and Professional Issues in Psychology). A major component of this course is devoted to exposing students to didactic content related to major theories and principles within multiculturalism (e.g., ethnic and racial identity models, development of multicultural competencies). In addition, students are given formal exercises and instruction in beginning the ongoing process of cultural self-awareness, awareness of their stereotypic attitudes and biases and exposing themselves to other cultural groups.
- In addition to this course, as part of the PSYC 690 requirement, students complete two personally-designed exercises each semester (until their dissertation is proposed) to increase cultural self-awareness and exposure to individuals and content less familiar/comfortable to them. For one of these two activities they submit a self-reflection assignment of how this experience helped in their professional development.
- Students are also introduced to diversity issues specific to different areas of psychology in multiple courses in the required curriculum (e.g., how to conduct culturally sensitive research is discussed in the first year research methods course, PSYC 671D; how contextual issues related to culture and economic resources may influence development are discussed in Developmental Psychopathology, PSYC 645).
- Issues relevant to diversity and multiculturalism are also addressed in clinical training. The Psychological Service Center (PSC), our in-house training clinic, serves clients from both the NIU and local community and gives our graduate students many opportunities to work with clients from diverse backgrounds. About 25% of the clients coming to the PSC are from minority backgrounds. Thus, issues regarding diversity and its relation to the science and practice of clinical psychology, including the importance of self-knowledge, are discussed in supervision.
- Near the end of their training (typically during Year 4), students participate in a professional issues seminar, PSYC 672E, Multicultural Diversity, Supervision and Consultation, with content targeted to a more advanced professional developmental level. Students at this level are expected to have made progress in their cultural self-awareness and stereotypic attitudes and biases and to have greater facility in the “personal work” required to change perceptions of out-groups.
- Informal discussion related to diversity issues arise in many research lab meetings and at our regular brown bag series.