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PsyD arrives

Mount Saint Mary’s University launches a new doctor of psychology program to help address a shortage of mental healthcare services.

October 1, 2018

LOS ANGELES (Oct. 1, 2018) — California is home to approximately 15 million Latinx residents, including 4.9 million in Los Angeles County. Unfortunately, the American Psychological Association and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services both report a shortage of mental healthcare services for Latinx populations.

That gap in care has motivated Mount Saint Mary’s University to create a new doctor of psychology in clinical health psychology (PsyD), featuring two unique emphases: Latinx Mental Health and Diverse Populations. Each of these specializations will help train future clinicians and psychologists to be both professionally and culturally competent, in order to best serve the needs of a multitude of diverse populations.

Mount Saint Mary's new doctor of psychology in clinical health psychology (PsyD) will be based at the University's historic Doheny Campus in downtown L.A.
Mount Saint Mary's new doctor of psychology in clinical health psychology (PsyD) will be based at the University's historic Doheny Campus in downtown L.A.

The Mount’s new PsyD graduate program is now accepting applicants for its initial cohort, which will begin in the fall of 2019. Prospective students can register for upcoming information sessions on Oct. 10, Nov. 14 and Dec. 12. These on-campus visits enable prospective students to meet faculty and staff, view campus resources, and learn more about the program and admission process.

About the program
Designed to prepare students who wish to become professional, practitioner-scholar clinicians and licensed psychologists, the program’s emphases will train future clinicians and psychologists to work in a variety of settings, including underserved communities, mental health agencies, schools and private practice. Spanish-language competency will be required for students in the Latinx Mental Health emphasis, which was so named since the Latinx term is inclusive of race, ethnic and gender identities.  

“Multiculturalism is complex and with our two emphases we aim to train future psychologists to appropriately navigate this complexity to provide the best treatment to their clients and patients,” said Julie Jackson, PsyD, assistant professor of psychology and director of clinical training for the PsyD program. 

Other points of distinction for Mount Saint Mary’s PsyD program:

  • An emphasis on the Mount’s longstanding social justice tradition, established by the University’s founding Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet.
  • Practicums on social justice, assessment, clinical and advanced placement.
  • Designation as a post-baccalaureate degree, meaning applicants only need a bachelor’s degree to apply to the program.
  • A full-time day program structure that will take five years to complete, including a fifth year that will take place off-campus at a full-time, paid internship.

“It is our hope that students pursuing their doctoral studies with us will contribute to society in meaningful ways to advance the tradition of social justice here at the Mount, established by our founding sisters,” Jackson said.

Responding to the need
Before creating the PsyD program, Mount Saint Mary’s conducted extensive research to establish just how much of a need exists for this type of doctorate program. In short, the need is extensive.

Across California, job prospects are strong for all clinical psychologists. That's because, statewide and nationally, gaps in care are increasing demand for clinical psychologists in schools, hospitals, mental health centers and social service agencies. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, clinical psychologists with a doctoral degree and postdoctoral work experience will have access to the best job opportunities. Specifically, the American Psychological Association and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services report a shortage of mental healthcare services for Latinx/Hispanic populations.

Other findings revealed:

  • That 64 percent of Latinx individuals lack needed mental health support, according to a 2016 Harvard University study.
  • Disparity in care, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is due to “structural barriers to care, including language and socioeconomic factors.” The American Psychological Association notes that “ethnic minority populations cite difficulty accessing care” as a primary reason for not seeking treatment.
  • A 2014 study jointly published by the University of Texas and the University of Houston found that “Latino individuals who prefer to communicate in Spanish lack linguistically and culturally proficient mental health professionals.”
  • And in 2018, the American Psychological Association noted the need to “expand the number of psychologists working with underserved populations.”

A strong foundation
The clinical health psychology PsyD will become the 11th graduate program offered at Mount Saint Mary’s University, and the second doctorate degree (following the Mount’s doctor of physical therapy). It builds on the strength of Mount Saint Mary’s long-established Psychology Department, which includes multiple bachelor’s and master’s degrees in psychology, applied psychology, general counseling psychology, and a marriage and family therapy (MFT) master’s available in both English and Spanish.

The PsyD program in clinical health psychology has been developed over the past two years. The effort was led by Greg Travis, PhD, professor of psychology and PsyD program director, and Jocelyn Chong, PhD, Title V project director and director of the University’s Professional and Academic Resource Center. 

The program’s creation was made possible by funding from a grant the University received from the U.S. Department of Education’s Promoting Postbaccalaureate Opportunities for Hispanic Americans (PPOHA) Title V grant. The grant covered the development of the PsyD program, including setting up partnerships, student resources, handbooks, training, course syllabi and more. The program has already been approved by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC), and follows guidelines set by the American Psychological Association. Mount Saint Mary's University is a WASC-accredited institution. 

To learn more, visit https://www.msmu.edu/graduate-programs/clinical-health-psychology-psyd/.

About Mount Saint Mary’s University
Mount Saint Mary’s is the only women’s university in Los Angeles and one of the most diverse in the nation. The University is known nationally for its research on gender equity, its innovative health and science programs, and its commitment to community service. As a leading liberal arts institution, Mount Saint Mary’s provides year-round, flexible and online programs at the undergraduate and graduate level. Weekend, evening and graduate programs are offered to both women and men. Mount alums are engaged, active, global citizens who use their knowledge and skills to better themselves, their communities and the world. msmu.edu

About MSMU’s Graduate Division
Learn more about the Mount’s nationally recognized graduate programs at msmu.edu/graduate. Sign up to learn more about our graduate programs: Check out our calendar of 2018-2019 information sessions