The Counseling Psychology Doctoral Program at the University of Iowa has been accredited by the American Psychological Association since 1980 (APA Committee on Accreditation, 750 1st Street N.E., Washington, D.C. 20002-4242. Phone 202/336-5000). Our primary aim is to train students in both the science and practice of counseling psychology. Because we are a doctoral program, no masters degree is offered.

The program has a long history of faculty and student achievement. Our faculty members are committed to excellence in teaching, research, and service, and they are among the national leaders in the field of counseling psychology. Our students have gone on to a variety of positions nationwide. They are contributing to many areas of the field.

The College of Education is also rich in history with a wealth of achievements. This section will provide beneficial information concerning (a) the College of Education, (b) the Department of Psychological and Quantitative Foundations, and (c) the Counseling Psychology Program. We hope that this information will be useful to you and that you will contact us for additional information

Definition of Counseling Psychology

Counseling psychology, as an applied psychological specialty, has historical roots in vocational guidance, the mental hygiene movement, and early efforts to facilitate emotional adjustment. A definition of counseling psychology, adopted by the Executive Committee of Division 17 (the Division of Counseling Psychology of the American Psychological Association) in 1983, is as follows:


Counseling Psychology is a general practice and health service provider specialty in professional psychology. It focuses on personal and interpersonal functioning across the life span and on emotional, social, vocational, educational, health-related, development, and organizational concerns. Counseling psychology centers on typical or normal developmental issues as well as atypical or normal development as it applies to human experience from individual, family, group, systems and organizational perspectives. Counseling psychologists help people with physical, emotional, and mental disorders improve well-being, alleviate distress and maladjustment, and resolve crises. In addition, practitioners in this professional specialty provide assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of psychopathology.

It has been our experience, that many entering students are unclear about the differences between counseling psychology and other subfields of psychology, namely clinical psychology. It is important to point out that there are certainly more similarities than differences between the two subfields. However, some aspects that are unique to Counseling Psychology include the importance placed on the client's environment and experiences throughout their lifespan, a strong commitment to multiculturalism in teaching, research, and practice, a focus on vocation in teaching, research and in practice, and an emphasis on identifying and developing personal and social resources and helping clients make more effective use of them (aka a strengths-based approach).

With regard to careers that can be obtained by those graduating with a degree in counseling psychology, there are, again, few differences between clinical and counseling psychology. Counseling psychology graduates currently occupy positions in teaching, research, practice, administration, etc. Many occupy positions in university counseling centers and independent practice. For a listing of those positions held by graduates of our Counseling Psychology program please consult the Initial Job Placements section.

Program Overview

The Counseling Psychology Program at The University of Iowa was granted full accreditation by the American Psychological Association in the spring of 1983 (APA Committee on Accreditation, 750 1st Street, N.D., Washington, D.C. 20002-4242. (202) 336-5000). It is a doctoral program; no master's degree is offered. The program's primary goal is to train students to achieve competency in providing a wide range of psychological services and in conducting research on a variety of psychological issues. To achieve this goal, the curriculum has been developed to integrate psychological theory, professional development, and research training. The program strives to produce counseling psychologists who promote psychology as both a profession and a science and who apply acquired skills to the advancement of the human condition. Given our belief that the profession of psychology is constantly changing to meet human needs, our faculty and students represent the provision of traditional counseling approaches as well as a variety of innovative services.

Commitment to Multiculturalism

The Counseling Psychology Program is highly committed to a multicultural education environment. Many faculty and students conduct research on current multicultural issues. Further, our program offers a required multicultural counseling course, an advanced multicultural counseling seminar, multiple electives concerning issues of multiculturalism, and finally multicultural issues are integrated throughout most of our courses. It is our hope that such an emphasis will better prepare our students to meet the needs of our culturally diverse society.

For explicit information on culturally diverse programming, support and additional services in the Iowa City area, please consult the "University of Iowa and Surrounding Community" portion of the Diversity Highlights page within the University Counseling Services website.

Initial Job Placements

Upon graduation, our students obtain positions as faculty members, health service providers, private practitioners, counseling center staff members, and consultants. The following list represents the initial job placement locations of our graduates over the past years:

  • Postdoctoral fellowship
  • University/college faculty member
  • University/college counseling centers
  • Medical school faculty member
  • VA Medical Centers
  • Hospitals
  • Community mental health centers
  • Private practice
  • Consultation business (e.g., IBM)
  • Other (Armed Forces, nonprofit organizations)

Background Checks

Prospective students need to be aware that doctoral students in the counseling psychology program are regularly placed into various practicum settings.  In some of these settings, such as the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics or when working with children, criminal background checks are required, and a fee is assessed to the student for the background check. If a positive result is determined on a criminal background check, the program must refer the case to a College of Education committee for a final determination of suitability for practicum placement.


In accordance to the American Psychological Association (APA, 2002) ethics code 7.04 (Student Disclosure of Personal Information) and 7.05 (Mandatory Individual or Group Therapy), our counseling psychology program is making prospective students aware of the following:

Prospective students need to be aware that doctoral students in the counseling psychology program are enrolled in some courses that may necessitate the disclosure of some personal information as part of the process of the class.  For instance, in supervision or a psychotherapy course, students may be asked to discuss personal issues relevant to the student’s learning of a particular concept or process of therapy.

We certainly support and encourage all students to have personal experiences in therapy as a client.  Although we do not mandate therapy for all students in our program, in certain instances, some students may be encouraged to pursue personal therapy and counseling.  Typically, students are encouraged to seek out therapy and counseling if (a) they are experiencing personal concerns significant enough to impact their academic performance; (b) they are experiencing personal concerns significant enough to impair their clinical responsibilities; (c) they are interested in the personal growth and the experience of therapy.

However, in some other instances, if the faculty deems it necessary, students may be mandated to seek counseling and therapy if the personal issue or concern is significantly impairing their academic and counseling responsibilities.  In these instances, the student will work closely with their advisor and the faculty to find appropriate accommodations.