CP Undergraduate Education

Counseling Psychology Undergraduate Education STG

Franco Dispenza, Ph.D.
Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA

Rosemary Phelps, Ph.D.
University of Georgia, Athens, GA

Dr. Andy Horne, a past Division 17 President (2012-2013 term) as one of his presidential initiatives established a special interest group to look further into undergraduate education for the SCP, and appointed Franco Dispenza and Rosemary Phelps to co-chair this interest group.

Counseling psychology has as strong tradition of training and educating doctoral level students, and recently there has been some discussion of undergraduate programming within the discipline of counseling psychology.  In January 2012, the Executive Board of the Society of Counseling Psychology (SCP) held their midyear meeting in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  During a joint retreat with the Executive Board and the Leadership Academy, several goals, initiatives, and interests were generated by the members in attendance.  Undergraduate education in counseling psychology was identified as one such initiative needing further exploration and evaluation for the SCP.


Dispenza (2012) proceeded with this initiative, and conducted a two phase evaluation on the potential value of undergraduate education related to counseling psychology (please feel free to contact Franco Dispenza at FDispenza1@gsu.edu for a copy of this report).  The first phase consisted of an online review of program materials and informal interviews with academicians who currently work in departments that offer undergraduate courses and/or programs related to counseling psychology.  The second phase of the evaluation consisted of an online survey that was distributed to members of the SCP, asking about their thoughts, beliefs, and opinions about undergraduate program related to counseling psychology. The results from both phases of the evaluation revealed that there is a considerable variability and diversity with regards to the development of undergraduate programming.  Respondents from both phases of the evaluation believed that undergraduate programming could help increase the visibility of counseling psychology, and that the SCP should invest some time in examining its potential to be expanded in academic settings.  In addition, opinions across both phases revealed that academics believed that undergraduate students would be interested in such programming, and be well equipped to apply to graduate school or enter the field of human services.  Dispenza (2012) reported that more investigation in the area of undergraduate education was needed.