Diversity: A Core Value of our Program

Respect for diversity – in mindset and practice – is a core value of Fairleigh Dickinson University and of the PhD Program in Clinical Psychology.  FDU functions as a community predicated on mutual respect, faithful integrity, and genuine appreciation of one another.  A founding, and continually evolving, principle of FDU is our commitment to access and opportunity for diverse populations.  We not only believe that access to high-quality learning is a social justice obligation, but also that diversity enriches the learning environment and clinical expertise for the entire community.  Our university demonstrates this commitment in the comparable and analogous diversity in the faculty, administration, and staff. (See also University Mission/.)

We actively strive to recruit and retain diverse members of our community. In the PhD Program in Clinical Psychology, students are selected from a pool of academically qualified applicants who can contribute to the diversity of the student body. Students enrolled in the program come from a variety of ethnic, cultural, individual and experiential backgrounds. Applications are encouraged from those identifying with cultural and/or individual areas of diversity, including (but not limited to) age, disability, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, language, national origin, race, religion, culture, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status.  We also offer students informal discussion and professional mentorship opportunities with professors who may share their experiences of diversity.

We recognize that diversity is neither a unidimensional nor static construct, and thus focus on an understanding of contextually evoked intersectionality in identity. In this, we align with the current American Psychological Association’s policy on Multicultural Guidelines:  An Ecological Approach to Context, Identity, and Intersectionality, 2017. We thoughtfully infuse diversity considerations in all our coursework, from the science to practice of clinical psychology.

In addition, we include a capstone course in the third year of the program to that consolidates this learning in an integrated, intensive study of the topic (PSYC7120 Diversity Issues in Clinical Psychology). Topics in this course span multiple domains of professional activities for clinical psychologists including assessment, therapy, teaching, and research.  Class assignments reflect three key components to developing diversity competency in the field: awareness, knowledge, and skill.  Rather than focus on discrete diverse populations – an approach that belies our respect for the interactive forces of identity – the class takes a trans-theoretical approach.  All diversity-related practice guidelines from the American Psychological Association are read and discussed.

Diversity Themes

Themes covered in Diversity Issues in Clinical Psychology include:

  • The APA Code of Ethics and Diversity
  • Definitional and Conceptual Frameworks of Diversity
  • Identity Construction
  • Self-Identities in Conflict
  • Life Transitions in Identity
  • Stereotypes, Stigma, and Prejudice: Clinical Considerations
  • Reducing Discrimination and Promoting Diversity and Social Justice
  • Social Constructs of Psychopathology:  DSM Past, Present, and Future
  • Cross-Cultural Transmission of Mental Illness
  • Empirically Supported Treatments, Evidence Based Practice, and Cultural Competence
  • Therapist and Patient Identities:  Challenging Assumptions
  • Diversity Issues in Clinical Research
  • Culture and Psychological Science:  Implications for Psychotherapy
  • Global Mental Health:  Research and Practice