Counseling psychology as a psychological specialty facilitates personal and interpersonal functioning across the lifespan with a focus on emotional, social, vocational, educational, health-related, developmental, and organizational concerns. Through the integration of theory, research, and practice and with a sensitivity to multicultural issues, this specialty encompasses a broad range of practices that help people improve their well-being, alleviate distress and maladjustment, resolve crises, and increase their ability to live more highly functioning lives. Counseling psychology is unique in its attention to both normal developmental issues and to problems associated with physical, emotional, and mental disorders.

Populations served by counseling psychologists include people of all ages and cultural backgrounds. Examples include late adolescents or adults with career/educational concerns and children or adults facing severe personal difficulties. Counseling psychologists also consult with organizations seeking to enhance their effectiveness or the well-being of their members.

Counseling psychologists adhere to the standards and ethics established by the American Psychological Association. Clicking this link will take you to the APA site where the ethical principles of psychologists and code of conduct may be reviewed.


The WVU program follows a training approach that L. T. Hoshmand and D. E. Polkinghorne in 1992 called the “Practitioner-Scholar Model.” They stated that “psychological science as a human practice and psychological practice as a human science inform each other.”

The basics of this training model in professional psychology were proposed at the historic Vail Conference held in 1973 in Vail, Colorado. Although the proceedings of the Vail Conference may be seen as the exegesis of the doctorate in psychology, it can also serve as a model for balancing clinical training with scholarly activity. With that perspective we assert that our program is consistent a practitioner-scholar approach to doctoral training in professional psychology.

The counseling psychology program offers graduate education and training designed to produce professionally competent psychologists who can facilitate improved personal and interpersonal functioning across the lifespan. Graduates typically meet the requirements for licensure in all United States jurisdictions. The program is listed by the National Register of Health Services Providers in Psychology as a “designated program.” See: National Register of Health Service Psychologists. Scroll down and click the link for West Virginia.

The first International Counseling Psychology Conference, held in Chicago in March 2008, set a new direction for the profession—looking beyond the confines of North America to arenas of service that make points of contact with social, humanitarian, and cultural movements around the globe. The challenge of preparing counseling psychologists to engage in this emerging planetary paradigm provides exciting and challenging implications for training, clinical skills, and personal development.

Read the core values of Counseling Psychology reflected in this philosophy on the website of APA Division 17, The Society of Counseling Psychology: