Doctor of Psychology in Counseling Psychology
The Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) degree enables students to qualify for professional licensure as a psychologist in Washington State. Graduates are equipped to be culturally competent therapists, diagnosticians, and evaluators. In addition, the PsyD Program prepares emerging psychologists for research or teaching at the college or university level.
Virtual Information Session
Join us for a PsyD information session:
Northwest University’s doctoral program in Counseling Psychology is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of the American Psychological Association (APA)*, effective 10/28/18.
Making a Place in the World
Auston Ellis found himself with little direction following his undergraduate degree. After being recruited to work with young children suffering trauma, he learned what true happiness looks like in the face of life’s obstacles. His subsequent pursuit of pediatric psychology at NU’s PsyD program has spanned many life milestones—marriage, a medical diagnosis, and the birth of his son. Throughout, PsyD professors encouraged him to find his unique style as an emerging psychologist, within a professional community that has become family. “My cohort and professors have walked every step of the way with me and will always hold a special place in my heart.”
The mission of the Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) program is to prepare students as counseling psychologists equipped to serve others’ needs in a globally relevant and socially conscious manner. Using the practitioner-scholar model, this applied program trains students to be skilled practitioners who engage in evidence-based and theory-informed practice. With a unique focus on service to the global community, a commitment to social justice, and a Christian worldview, we strive to equip our graduates to serve others with compassion and excellence.
The three aims of the PsyD program are as follows:
- To produce graduates who have obtained the necessary skills and abilities needed for providing professional psychological and counseling services.
- To develop scholars with the ability to critically analyze scientific research and to conduct psychological research.
- To develop graduates with knowledge of the fundamental theories and scientific foundations of psychology.
The PsyD Program is designed to help students meet the competencies essential for achieving its three aims. At the completion of the program, the successful PsyD doctoral student will be equipped professionally in the following ways:
- Demonstrate the substantially independent ability to formulate research or other scholarly activities (e.g., critical literature reviews, dissertation, efficacy studies, clinical case studies, theoretical papers, program development and/or evaluation projects) of sufficient quality and rigor to have the potential to contribute to the scientific, psychological, or professional knowledge base.
- Conduct research or other scholarly activities.
- Critically evaluate and disseminate research or other scholarly activity via professional publication and presentation at the local (including Northwest University), regional, or national level.
- Ethical and legal standards
- Be knowledgeable of and act in accordance with each of the following:
- The current APA Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct;
- Relevant laws, regulations, rules, and policies governing health service psychology at the organizational, local, state, regional, and federal levels; and,
- Relevant professional standards and guidelines.
- Recognize ethical dilemmas as they arise and apply ethical decision-making processes in order to resolve the dilemmas.
- Conduct self in an ethical manner in all professional activities.
- Be knowledgeable of and act in accordance with each of the following:
- Individual and cultural diversity
- Demonstrate an understanding of how their own personal/cultural history, attitudes, and biases may affect how they understand and interact with people different from themselves.
- Display knowledge of the current theoretical and empirical knowledge base as it relates to addressing diversity in all professional activities including research, training, supervision/consultation, and service.
- Show the ability to integrate awareness and knowledge of individual and cultural differences in the conduct of professional roles (e.g,. research, services, and other professional activities), including (a) the ability to apply a framework for working effectively with areas of individual and cultural diversity not previously encountered, and (b) the ability to work effectively with individuals whose group membership, demographic characteristics, or worldviews create conflict with their own.
- Demonstrate the requisite knowledge base, ability to articulate an approach to working effectively with diverse individuals and groups, and apply this approach effectively in their professional work.
- Professional values and attitudes
- Behave in ways that reflect the values and attitudes of psychology, including integrity, deportment, professional identity, accountability, lifelong learning, and concern for the welfare of others.
- Engage in (a) self-reflection regarding one’s personal and professional functioning, and (b) activities to maintain and improve performance, well-being, and professional effectiveness.
- Actively seek and demonstrate openness and responsiveness to feedback and supervision.
- Respond professionally in increasingly complex situations with a greater degree of independence as they progress across levels of training.
- Communication and interpersonal skills
- Develop and maintain effective relationships with a wide range of individuals, including colleagues, communities, organizations, supervisors, supervisees, and those receiving professional services.
- Produce and comprehend oral, nonverbal and written communications that are informative and well-integrated, demonstrating a thorough grasp of professional language and concepts.
- Demonstrate effective interpersonal skills and the ability to manage difficult communication well.
- Demonstrate current knowledge of diagnostic classification systems, functional and dysfunctional behaviors, including consideration of client strengths and psychopathology.
- Demonstrate understanding of human behavior within its context (e.g., family, social, societal and cultural).
- Demonstrate the ability to apply knowledge of functional and dysfunctional behaviors including context to the assessment and/or diagnostic process.
- Select and apply assessment methods that draw from the best available empirical literature and that reflect the science of measurement and psychometrics, collecting relevant data using multiple sources and methods appropriate to the identified goals and questions of the assessment, as well as relevant diversity characteristics of the service recipient.
- Interpret assessment results, following current research and professional standards and guidelines, to inform case conceptualization, classification, and recommendations, while guarding against decision-making biases, distinguishing the aspects of assessment that are subjective from those that are objective.
- Communicate orally and in written documents the findings and implications of the assessment in an accurate and effective manner sensitive to a range of audiences.
- Establish and maintain effective relationships with recipients of psychological services.
- Develop evidence-based intervention plans specific to the service delivery goals.
- Implement interventions informed by the current scientific literature, assessment findings, diversity characteristics, and contextual variables.
- Demonstrate the ability to apply the relevant research literature to clinical decision making.
- Modify and adapt evidence-based approaches effectively when a clear evidence-base is lacking.
- Evaluate intervention effectiveness, and adapt intervention goals and methods consistent with ongoing evaluation.
- Demonstrate knowledge of supervision models and practices.
- Apply this knowledge in simulated practice with psychology trainees or other health trainees or professionals.
- Consultation and interprofessional/interdisciplinary skills
- Demonstrate knowledge and respect for the roles and perspectives of other professions.
- Demonstrate knowledge of consultation models and practices.
Dr. Nikki Johnson, an Assistant Professor at Northwest University explains the pillars of our PsyD and MA degrees in counseling, and why they are different and unique from other programs.
Why Choose Our Doctoral Program?
Licensable Degree for the State of Washington
Graduate knowing that you can become a fully licensed psychologist. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the median annual wage for psychologists was $101,790 in 2019, (source).
Integrate Faith with Learning
Our programs are taught within the framework of a Christian worldview. Psy.D. students also take one theology course titled “Faith Integration with Psychology” to encourage them to think deeply about their own beliefs about the nature of humans in light of contemporary issues in the field of psychology.
Our professors draw from their academic studies and real-world professional experiences to provide students with the tools and skills they’ll need to be successful in counseling and psychology.
Learn to Treat the Whole Person
We teach you how to engage your clientele from a holistic approach: biologically, psychologically, spiritually, and culturally. The result is even greater effectiveness as a counselor or psychologist.
Accredited at the Highest Level
The APA Commission on Accreditation is recognized by both the secretary of the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, as the national accrediting authority for professional education and training in psychology, (source).
Our regionally accredited university status represents the highest level accreditation offered by the Department of Education.
Local and Global Immersion Experiences
You will deepen your skills and understanding by participating in local and international immersion experiences. These experiences will not only equip you for your career, they have also proven to be life-changing.
Learn Within a Diverse Cohort
Learn with other students who share your interests and your goals. It’s a supportive environment of peers who will encourage you, challenge you, and become a fundamental part of your professional network once you graduate.
The PsyD program at Northwest University provided a safe place for me to learn and grow and gain a strong foundation of doctorate-level knowledge to later become licensed and specialize in the areas I am most passionate about.
–Dr. Renee St. Jacques
- 119 semester hours of coursework
- 10 hours of individual psychotherapy (out-of-pocket expense)—Year One
- Cultural Immersion Experience—Year One
A hallmark of the PsyD program is its required international cultural immersion experience in the second year. Psychologists care for people from diverse cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. The PsyD curriculum prepares students through study, clinical experience, and interaction with culture specialists to work in diverse global contexts. In addition, students are required to participate in a 10-14 day cultural immersion experience. Sites may vary from year to year, and include such places as India, Turkey, China, El Salvador, or Uganda.
- Qualifying Examination—Year Three
- Doctoral Dissertation: There are options for a focused dissertation that is comprised primarily of one of the following:
- Quantitative research;
- Qualitative research;
The process will include a dissertation proposal, proposal defense, and dissertation defense to the respective dissertation committee. It is also required that the student formulate and deliver a presentation of the dissertation (e.g., publication, speaking engagement, formal report to a clinic or other agency).
As participants in the larger academy, we seek to contribute to psychological science through our scholarship and, in turn, build knowledge that has impact on the world and society. Our faculty have built a policy about this research which can be found on the PsyD Clinical Training and Research page.
- Doctoral Practicum experience which satisfies all program and state requirements.
- Advanced Practicum or Pre-internship experience which satisfies all program and state requirements.
- Internship experience which satisfies all program and state requirements.
- All requirements as noted in the Clinical Training Sequence section of the PsyD Student Handbook.