Program Emphases

The Radford University PsyD Program in Counseling Psychology is closing and no longer accepting students. The Program has been granted “Accredited, Inactive” status by the American Psychological Association’s Commission on Accreditation.

The Radford Psy.D. Program has 4 major emphases

  • Rural Practice
  • Cultural Diversity
  • Social Justice
  • Evidence-Based Practice in Psychology

Each of the sections below briefly describes the focus area

Rural practice

The primary distinction of the Counseling Psychology Psy.D. Program at Radford is the rural mental health focus. A significant amount of data indicates that a large percentage of the U.S. and Canadian population lives in rural areas but there are few professional psychologists available to provide services. Although professional counselors and social workers, and other health professionals, can and do provide important services to those residing in rural areas, psychologists have unique skills to complement those of other providers. Our goal with the Radford program is to train students who can work with people across the lifespan and present with a broad spectrum of issues and severity of psychological conditions; who can provide counseling, assessment, and educational services to individuals, couples, families, and groups in a variety of settings; and who can collaborate with other professionals in their community and region. And all these efforts must be done while taking into account the cultural aspects of the person as well as the culture of the rural area in which the psychologist practices. Thus, in addition to a large number of practice-oriented courses and experiences, we also have a series of four courses related to working in rural areas and we will infuse rural issues into all core courses. Further, students are encouraged to take advantage of the significant resources available on campus related to rural issues, including the Appalachian Regional Studies Center ( and experts at the Library

The APA has made a compelling case that there is a need for psychologists such as those who will graduate from Radford:

The APA has identified rural health as a priority and has developed an APA Committee on Rural Health (CRH), which resides in the Practice Directorate. The objective of CRH is to ensure that the behavioral healthcare needs of rural and frontier Americans are met. Through the establishment of CRH, the APA has committed resources to addressing the behavioral healthcare needs of individuals residing in rural and frontier areas. (quoted from

In almost all rural and frontier areas, health care practitioners, services and infrastructure are in short supply. The population is small and is disproportionately older. These areas have low household incomes, relatively high unemployment rates and high poverty rates. Unfortunately, they also have a high proportion of the population that lacks health insurance or has inadequate coverage. Providing behavioral health care services to rural residents is further complicated by the presence of stigma. (quoted from


Counseling Psychology programs in general tend to emphasize diversity and cultural considerations, and we are no different. All members of the Psy.D. faculty are committed to a multicultural perspective, broadly defined. Just as rural issues are infused into the core courses, discussion of cultural considerations also is included in courses. Because the faculty believe that size of community is a cultural issue, there is overlap between the rural focus and the inclusion of diversity

The commitment to diversity is evident in the Program’s mission statement, integration of multicultural issues into courses, applied practice, sequence of four required courses on rural issues, an additional required course on Multicultural Counseling, faculty membership in professional organizations, and the diversity within the faculty. Faculty also have developed collaborative relationships with others on campus and in the community, such as the Center for Gender Studies, the Appalachian Regional Studies Center, Radford University Safe Zones, and the Women’s Resource Center of the New River Valley

Because of the faculty’s respect for diversity, the faculty endorsed an adapted version of the Council of Counseling Psychology Training Programs’ Counseling Psychology Model Training Values Statement Addressing Diversity (see the Program Documents page). Students (and faculty) are expected to adhere to the statement. In addition, students (and faculty) are expected to adhere to the APA Ethics Code as well as the various guidelines that APA has passed regarding working with members of diverse populations

· American Psychological Association. (2010). Ethical principles of psychologists and code of conduct (2002, Amended June 1, 2010). Available at

· American Psychological Association. (2003). Guidelines on multicultural education, training, research, practice, and organizational change for psychologists. American Psychologist, 58, 377-402

· American Psychological Association. (2004). Guidelines for psychological practice with older adults. American Psychologist, 59, 236-260

· American Psychological Association. (2007). Guidelines for psychological practice with girls and women. American Psychologist, 62, 949-979

· American Psychological Association. (2011). Guidelines for assessment of and intervention with persons with disabilities. Available at page not found

· American Psychological Association. (2011). Guidelines for psychological practice with lesbian, gay, and bisexual clients. Available at


A natural outgrowth of this emphasis on diversity is the program’s focus on social justice. We purposefully integrate social justice material and discussions into coursework and offer practicum placements that allow for social justice opportunities (when possible). This means that students in the Program will attend to issues of privilege, oppression, equity, and equality as they affect the lives of clients and others in the community, region, state, country, and world, across settings and systems. The goal is to sensitize students, and faculty, to injustice and oppression, helping us all to understand the factors that contribute to human suffering, and enabling us to develop skills to intervene at a variety of levels in order to promote human welfare and rights. The faculty members see social justice as inherently related to equity and equality and therefore attend to the distribution and access to power and economic / other resources as well as work toward the reduction of various forms of stigma

A definition that brings together these different aspects follows (from the website of the University of California, Berkeley’s Social Justice Symposium,; see also the Social Justice Training Institute,, for a similar definition)

Social Justice is a process, not an outcome, which (1) seeks fair (re)distribution of resources, opportunities, and responsibilities; (2) challenges the roots of oppression and injustice; (3) empowers all people to exercise self-determination and realize their full potential; (4) and builds social solidarity and community capacity for collaborative action.

One of the ways that we are putting our emphasis on social justice into action is the arrangement we established with the Community Health Clinic of the New River Valley (CHCNRV), which serves as a training site for our first year cohort. The CHCNRV is a Federally Qualified Health Center which provides care for people who have no insurance and cannot afford to pay for services.

Another way we have “walked the talk” is through the inclusion of a social justice experiences in the summer of practicum. For example, students developed a summer lunch delivery program for children who qualified for free lunches during the school year but who could not get to the school over the summer.


The APA has a policy statement on evidence-based practice, which states that “research, clinical expertise, and patient characteristics are all supported as relevant to good outcomes” (p. 271). The definition of evidence-based practice in psychology is defined in the policy statement as “the integration of best available research with clinical expertise in the context of patient characteristics, culture, and preferences (American Psychological Association Presidential Task Force on Evidence-Based Practice, 2006, p. 284; see also for the full statement). The program faculty members subscribe to this definition and believe that it is consistent with our beliefs about how best to help clients. Therefore, discussion of evidence-based practice (according to the definition above) occurs in courses and discussions of service provision.