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Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology

Meet some of our current students!

Taylor Allen

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Hometown: Tampa, FL
I chose the Counseling Psychology program at WVU because I want to enhance my competency in working with clients in a therapeutic setting and continue developing my skills as a researcher. The Counseling Psychology program at WVU does a great job at integrating hands-on training and research. In addition, my interview for this program allowed me to see how welcoming faculty and students are in this program and I am excited to begin the Counseling Psychology program at WVU this fall. My career goals include counseling adults and children with anxiety disorders and eating disorders in an outpatient setting, while establishing my own private practice. I would also like to work with athletes suffering from eating disorders.My research interests include: (1) Examining how the coach-athlete relationship affects various aspects of an athlete’s life; (2) Examining how athletes and non-athletes may differ regarding body image and weight-related attitudes/behaviors; and (3) Examining the interpersonal and environmental factors that may be associated with unhealthy weight loss behaviors in athletes and non-athletes.

Mary Burkhart Polk

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Hometown: Hallowell, ME
I was first drawn to the Counseling Psychology program at WVU when I learned of the flexibility given to students in regards to their research interests. I was excited to learn that students are not required to "match" with a specific faculty member and the program follows a cohort model. I also appreciated the first year in the program being focused on course work and ensuring the cohort is ready to start practicums. Upon meeting the faculty and students in the program, I immediately felt welcomed. Everyone I met was prepared to help answer any questions I had and provide any information they thought I may need. My career goals include running my own private practice specializing in providing holistic care, as well as training therapy dogs for use in the private practice and community. I also hope to create outreach programs designed provide enriched learning experiences and counseling to undeserved populations, specifically local schools. My current research interests include the effects of acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) on levels of discrimination and openness to diversity. I am also interested in the growing research on animal assisted therapy. Specifically the use of therapy dogs with children diagnosed with a learning disability.  

Tyler Collie

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Hometown: Parkersburg, WV
West Virginia University has always been home to me. I grew up singing the fight song to my little brother (who is now an incoming freshman at WVU!) I knew this program was right for me from the moment I met the students who were already admitted. I found that the faculty, staff, and students honored my experience and welcomed me on my journey to making a difference in West Virginia. Something that I have learned about careers is that you are allowed to change them! Right now I foresee myself working with the adolescent and young adult population of West Virginia. I am extremely interested in college access and mental health issues concerning collegiate students. Eventually I would love to be able to make a systemic difference in the way universities approach and treat mental health concerns of their students. I am currently interested in researching factors contributing to resiliency and success in college for first generation college students in West Virginia.

Ben Darling

Ben Darling
Hometown: Suttons Bay, MI
I chose the counseling psychology program at WVU because of my experiences at interview day. Faculty, staff, and students welcomed applicants wholeheartedly and exemplified the supportive and friendly environment in our department. Students then went above and beyond to answer questions and to share their experiences in the program, making themselves available by phone and email in the weeks to follow. It was these early relationships that made me feel immediately connected to WVU. Another factor in my decision was the opportunity to live in Morgantown and join the WVU campus community. As an outdoor recreation enthusiast and avid sports fan, I have the opportunity to explore Wild and Wonderful West Virginia and sing Country Roads following a victory with 65,000 of my fellow Mountaineers. WVU is the perfect place for me to learn, and have fun doing it. My career goals include working as a staff psychologist at a university counselor center. I aspire to work with college students and student-athletes in the areas of psychological assessment and cognitive enhancement. My research interests include the psychometric quality of standardized measures of ADHD in adult populations. The aim of my dissertation is to validate an assessment of attentional functioning and to provide empirical support for a neurocognitive model of attention.

Connor Fais

Connor Fais
Hometown: Dublin, OH
I chose the counseling psychology program at West Virginia University for a variety of reasons. However, the program’s commitment to their students, and the importance the program places on the values of counseling psychology (e.g., strengths-based, developmental, and multicultural approaches) serve as major reasons for attending. Furthermore, the program offered a balanced approach to both research and practice. The curriculum and faculty have helped me to better understand myself, both personally, and as a future counseling psychologist. Finally, the program has also aided me in the development of my theoretical orientation as a therapist, which serves as an integral part of my career identity. My career goals include working as a supervising psychologist and executive director for a non-profit mental health services organization. My research interests include examining levels of hope, along with parent-child relationship quality, and their potential association with youth trauma symptom severity.

Sandra Fanning

Hometown: Philadelphia, PA
I had heard a lot of good things about the program from my advisor of my masters program, (a WVU Counseling Psychology alum), and was encouraged to apply. After meeting with the current students of the program, I found them to be welcoming and helpful; especially during the interview process. They were open and honest about the experiences and how they compared to their expectations before beginning the program. Additionally, the faculty’s commitment to tailoring my time in the program to fit my career and academic needs made choosing WVU one of the easiest decisions I’ve made concerning my career. Ultimately, I would like to teach. But before making my way to academia, I would like to work in a community-based setting helping underserved populations. I also hope to use research to help inform my practice and develop culturally appropriate modalities of treatment. I have found that it was much easier for me to learn new information from professors who were genuinely interested in the information they were teaching and had contributed to the area in some fashion. I hope to use my passion to shift the negative views of mental health often expressed by minorities while also inspiring future students. My research interests include: the effects of racism, gender discrimination, anxiety and stress management, cross-cultural psychology, intersections in identity, and trauma.

Craig Foster

Craig Foster
Hometown: Thomason, GA
I chose the WVU Counseling Psychology program because I felt the faculty provided the individual attention I desired. The program at WVU allows students to pursue their own interests and encourages students to think critically about issues facing the field of psychology. My goal immediately after internship is to work at a large university in the Southeast, enabling me to work with individuals who are at an important time in their development. Long term, I would like to join a private practice which will allow me have a diverse schedule through both assessment and therapy. My main research interest is non-pharmacological treatments for ADHD based on growing concerns surrounding stimulant abuse. I hope to continue this line of research after I graduate and incorporate it in my own practice as a professional.

Melissa Foster

Melissa Foster
Hometown: Virginia Beach, VA
I chose WVU because I felt the program would provide me with comprehensive training both inside and outside the classroom. I also appreciated the warm and welcoming atmosphere when I interviewed. Upon graduation, I would like to become a licensed psychologist in a college counseling center. I would also like to volunteer with the Red Cross to provide support for first responders during times of crisis. My research interests include Military psychology and college student counseling.

Courtney Hull

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Hometown: Terra Haute, IN
I chose the Counseling Psychology program at WVU for many reasons. The program offered training opportunities and experiences that aligned with my career goals. Additionally, the students made me feel at home. The program had a collaborative, supportive atmosphere, which was something that I valued when looking for a doctoral program.  My career goal is to work as a psychologist in a correctional setting. I also hope to be involved in advocacy, and community outreach work during my career. My research interests include correctional officer perceptions of offenders with mental illness, the intersection of crime, poverty, and education, and dementia caregiver issues.

Alex Kinder

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Hometown: Uncasville, CT
I chose the Counseling Psychology program at WVU because of the cohort model. It really fosters a community atmosphere and everyone, fellow students and faculty, are incredibly supportive. My career goals are twofold. I would like to be a clinician at a college counseling center and be an adjunct professor for a psychology department as well. I am interested in researching collegiate athletes, psychological resilience and have just recently developed an interest in career counseling and career development.

Chelsea Latorre

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Hometown: Tujunga, CA
One of the reasons I chose WVU's counseling psychology program was because of the environment that was created throughout the application and interview process. Being from California, I knew West Virginia was going to be a long way from home, but the program was definitely worth applying for. At the interviews, the faculty made me feel very comfortable, the students made me feel welcome, and the department as a whole made me feel as if I belonged there. This sense of community hasn't dissipated since I began the program in 2015, and the supportive environment continues to foster growth, curiosity, and achievement in the students. After obtaining my degree, I plan to be employed at a university counseling center providing individual and group counseling to college students while also growing the outreach programming for the clinical resources on campus. I have interest in opening a private practice later in my career that focuses on a holistic sense of wellness, providing counseling services, psychiatric services, physical therapy and massage, and alternative healing programs. I am interested in researching the relationship between mindfulness and self-compassion, specifically in regard to their effect on self-efficacy and perceived competence in counseling psychology trainees. I am passionate about strength-based models and enjoy incorporating mindfulness approaches in my clinical work.

Sarah Milam

Sarah Milam
Hometown: Annapolis, MD
I chose the Counseling Psychology Doctoral Program at WVU because of the warm and inviting atmosphere fostered by the faculty and students in the program. I was excited by the programs of research being conducted here and was impressed by the varied and unique practicum opportunities offered in this area including the ability to work with rural populations, children, adults, college students, and at hospitals, universities, community centers, and VAs. In addition, as an avid lover of the outdoors I was drawn by West Virginia's numerous offerings of outdoor pursuits such as hiking, skiing, whitewater rafting and paddling, and more. I hope to pursue a position conducting research and teaching at as a tenure-track faculty member at a university. I am also interested in pursuing a position at a college or university counseling center.  My research interests include multiculturalism, diversity, social justice, and positive psychological principals such as post-traumatic growth and forgiveness.

Jonathan Nauser

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Hometown: Poplar Bluff, MO
I chose the Counseling Psychology program at WVU because it presented the best opportunity for me to not only broaden my education, but also expand into different settings in which my skills and knowledge would be put to use. The program allowed myself to further develop my practical experience and also encouraged the development of my research skills to benefit the field and my future therapeutic practice. My career goals include practicing in a general hospital for the treatment of presenting pathology. Other career goals would be practicing the assessment of clients for presenting clinical pathology under the the federal government. My research interests currently include the contributing factors to drug relapse as well as methods to prevent relapse by measuring self compassion and self efficacy.

Olivia Scott

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Hometown: Falls Church, VA
Many factors informed my decision to attend West Virginia University for my Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology. Location and finances were considerations, but what truly solidified my choice was my experience on interview day. The department seemed to create the optimal holding environment for the personal and professional development of its students. As a current fourth year, I can say that I have not been disappointed. I have felt the perfect balance of support and independence within the program. But most importantly, I have received the necessary empowerment to excel as a psychologist.

Tim Swiger

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Hometown: Glenville, WV
I chose Counseling Psychology at West Virginia University because of their dedication to researching provider competencies and curriculum development aimed at serving the Veteran population. Although accreditation and reputability of the faculty were key elements in my selection process, their focus on social justice and multiculturalism were significant contributing factors for me attending school in the mountain state. As a native West Virginian and Veteran of the United States Marine Corps, the importance of culture among both populations are important strengths and challenges for mental health providers, and West Virginia University does an outstanding job of illuminating and addressing the needs of both. Finally, the counseling psychology program's match rate with American Psychological Association approved sites is impeccable in recent years, with many students matching within Veteran Health Administration facilities. I sought a program that would train me to become a culturally competent psychologist in my home state, that knew what I needed, and ensured that I was as good a match for them as they were for me, I found West Virginia University. My career goal is to become a staff psychologist with the Department of Veteran Affairs. My research interest include moral injury and combat trauma.