M.S. Psychology: Course Descriptions

PSY 520 Marriage and Family Systems Theory (Marriage and Family Studies Elective)

This course introduces students to the historical and theoretical bases for the practice of marriage, couple, and family counseling. Special attention is given to an overview of foundational systems-oriented theories (Bowenian, Strategic, Structural, etc.), and the impact of issues such as gender, culture, and ethnicity on the family system. Students will examine their own assumptions about families and begin to develop increased congruence between their assumptions, philosophical/theological presuppositions, and the various theoretical perspectives on family development, functioning, interaction and intervention. (3 credit hrs)

PSY 525 Human Sexuality (Marriage and Family Studies Elective)

This course introduces students to the relationship between mental health and human sexuality and the role of the helping professional.  Students are introduced to a foundational model of addressing sexual issues in counseling, basics of sexual biology and psychology, sexual development, sexual dysfunction, and informed by a Catholic-Christian vision of the person. Additionally, this course explores therapist values, attitudes, and beliefs about sexuality and sexual behavior and promotes practitioner self-awareness and self-reflection about the intersection of the personal and professional in counseling clients for sexuality related issues. Students will utilize case conceptualization to demonstrate their understanding of the physiological, psychological, and social-cultural variables of human sexuality in diverse clinical situations and to evaluate and assess possible therapeutic interventions. (3 credit hrs)

PSY 540 Addictions Counseling (Human Services Elective)

Addictions Counseling introduces students to an overview of the challenges associated with addiction and its widespread impact on individuals, families and communities. This course is designed to address the various dynamics, models, etiologies, diagnoses, psychopathologies, and recovery strategies related to addiction counseling. Students will identify the empirically supported assessment and treatment interventions shown to be effective for individuals, families, groups, and diverse populations, as well as be familiar with the emerging issues in the field based upon current research to include exploration of co-occurring and trauma-related disorders. (3 credit hrs)

PSY 545 Group Counseling and Group Work (Human Services elective)

Group Counseling and Group Work introduces students to a range of theoretical and experiential group counseling structures and strategies involving group development, group processes, and group dynamics in clinical settings. An in-depth exploration is focused on group formation including recruiting, screening and selecting group members. A focus on group developmental theories, group member roles and behaviors, leadership styles, types of groups and professional standards for group leaders prepares students for advanced work in group counseling interventions. Students are required to engage in diverse, culturally relevant direct group experiences defined within a small group activity approved by the instructor of the course and to document at least 10 clock hours of group work during this course. (3 credit hrs)

PSY 550 – Helping People Flourish: A Catholic-Christian Approach to Psychology (Core Course)

In this course, students explore the richness of understanding behaviors, emotions, and thoughts through the study of psychology—informed by philosophy and theology—to aid self and others in flourishing. Students engage in exercises in reflection and practical application using resources that are present throughout their graduate study of psychology, and work toward building a foundation for academic and professional success as scholar-practitioners and agents of positive change. Students also learn to integrate a Catholic Christian vision of the person with best practices in psychological theory, research, and intervention. This holistic view affirms the person as possessing intrinsic dignity, as free and able to make responsible choices, relational and connected to others and society, and as seeking psychological well-being, moral character, and spiritual growth. Finally, students assess the benefits of the graduate study of psychology for their personal and professional goals through creating a professional development plan. The course concludes with a two day mandatory online residency to deepen students’ understanding of these foundational concepts together as a virtual learning community. (3 credit hrs)

PSY 555 – Relationship and Intervention Skills Theory and Application (Human Services Elective)

The focus of this course is on developing the competencies (knowledge, attitudes, and skills) necessary for becoming an effective helping professional.   These competency areas include interviewing skills, skills for building and maintaining helping relationships with clients, case conceptualization, intervention planning, case management, and group facilitation skills. Students will also consider interpersonal skills such as de-escalation, negotiation, and crisis intervention. Knowledge of ethical principles and models of decision making, related to the helping professions are covered. Students also learn to identify and consider diversity issues in the context of providing services as a helping professional.

PSY 560 – Human Growth and Development Across the Lifespan (Core Course)

Students in this course explore the biological, psychological, and social factors of human growth and development through the lifespan from conception through aging and end of life. Students examine basic processes and theories, and evaluate the developmental milestones that occur across the lifespan. Topics covered include emotional, cognitive, interpersonal, moral, and spiritual development. This course presents a special focus on flourishing across the lifespan and the application of developmental insights to practical issues that arise within the helping professions.

PSY 565 – Developmental Psychopathology — Risk and Resilience (Core Course)

Developmental Psychopathology — Risk and Resilience introduces students to the concept of developmental psychopathology along the continuum of stress, distress, and disorder with focus on behavioral, experiential, and relational manifestations of mental health. This course reinforces the comparative distinctions between normative and psychopathological developmental pathways from infancy through adolescence. The current edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is introduced as a method for categorizing symptoms and for classifying psychopathology. A variety of perspectives on psychopathology are presented to form an integrative and systemic context for diagnostic considerations. Emphasis is placed on understanding cultural, biological, social, and spiritual / religious domains, along with the factors of risk and human resilience in the development of psychiatric disorders. Students will be able to develop an understanding of clients through this comprehensive model of psychopathology. (3 credit hrs)

PHT 508 – The Catholic-Christian Vision of Flourishing: Vocations and Virtues (Core Course)

The vision of human flourishing that one adopts is crucial for understanding and concretely addressing human problems. This course develops the Catholic-Christian vision of personal and interpersonal flourishing in terms of vocations and virtues, and human and spiritual resources. First, students explore three levels of vocation and their discernment: (1) a call to goodness and holiness; (2) a call to being single, married, ordained or religious (consecrated); and (3) a call to work and to service to one’s neighbors. Emphasis is placed on courtship and on marriage, which is understood as a natural and divine institution that serves to support and protect individuals, families, and society. Second, students explore the rich teaching on achieving personal growth and freedom through building up their practical reasoning, moral character, and spiritual life of faith, hope, and charity, which have an impact on everyday life, the helping professions, and vocational commitments. Students examine how Catholic-Christian practices can be sources of relationship, support, growth, healing, and flourishing. Lastly, the course will identify psychological theory, evidence, and interventions that support this vision of human flourishing, a life of virtue, and committed vocations.

PHT 533 Flourishing in Relationships (Marriage and Family Studies Elective)

Flourishing in Relationships introduces students to the nature and discernment of vocational states of being single, married, ordained, or religious (consecrated).  Emphasis is placed on courtship and on marriage, which is understood as a natural and divine institution that serves to support and protect individuals, families, and society.  Students will examine the continuity and development of Catholic-Christian teaching on marriage and family in a historical, bio-psycho-social-cultural, philosophical, and theological context. Students will analyze several issues that are especially pertinent to clinical mental health counseling, including not only disorders and difficulties related to singleness, romance, marriage, and family life, but also supporting strengths and practices. (3 credit hrs)

PSY 570 – Statistical Analysis for Psychology and the Social Sciences (Core Course)

Statistical Analysis for Psychology and the Social Sciences introduces the student to foundational concepts of statistics such as scales of measurements, descriptive statistics, hypothesis testing, and basic univariate inferential statistics.  Students learn to perform basic statistical analyses choosing the appropriate analysis for a given research question using statistical software. Finally, students approach the study of statistics from a practical problem-solving and intelligent, critical consumer of research literature perspective in order to be scientifically minded when selecting appropriate assessment instruments, and programs and interventions. 

PSY 575 – Social Psychology, Groups, and Diversity (Core Course)

In this course, students use the lens of social psychology and human diversity to examine both social perceptions/thoughts and social behavior—phenomena that pertain to the individual in society. Students explore the topics of forming impressions, stereotyping, social influence, attitude development and change, bias and discrimination, antisocial and pro-social behaviors, affiliation and attraction, and sex role behaviors, and consider how knowledge of these topics can be used to promote positive social change. The course also emphasizes how the various types of diversity impact the helping professional and interventions chosen to assist clients.  Areas of diversity include but are not limited to: culture, ethnicity, religion, socioeconomic status, gender, age, and those who are differently enabled.

PSY 585 Research Methodology and Design, Evidence-based Practice, and Program Evaluation (Core Course)

This course introduces students to quantitative and qualitative research methodology and design as well as basic concepts of psychometrics.  Concepts are applied  to being an evidence-based practitioner and being a critical evaluator of programs and services. In examining these topics, this course focuses on reading current research with a critical eye as well as designing and planning research studies that can evaluate effectiveness of programs and interventions. Finally, students consider ethical and fair yet thorough approaches to research design, program evaluation, and outcome research. Such skills promote increased effectiveness and efficiency in a variety of settings. (3 credit hours)

PSY 590 – Leading People, Programs, and Organizations  (Leadership Elective)

This course covers two key areas: (1) leading teams, programs, and organizations and (2) the psychology of organizational leadership. Students examine the core competencies that leaders need to address the challenges they face to make a greater difference in the communities they serve. A broad range of skills and approaches are discussed: autonomy, supporting work environments, human dignity in the workplace, leading with empathy, Tuckman stages of group formation, relationship between performance and pressure as well as the supervision of staff and volunteers. Finally, students learn the framework, theories, and processes of program planning and execution and analyze approaches to assess organizational needs and how to address those effectively. (3 credits)

PSY 595 – Transformational and Servant Leadership (Leadership Elective)

 In this course  the student analyzes the principles and the evidence base of transformational leadership from a Catholic Christian perspective. Students (1) appraise the value of transformational leadership for accomplishing an organizational mission and handling stressful situations; (2) develop authenticity and role modeling skills required to be a transformational leader; (3) evaluate the importance of being a role model and a servant leader; (4) analyze various motivational strategies for working with individuals and groups; and (5) demonstrate their understanding of the importance of lifelong learning by identifying specific goals for professional involvement and service beyond the completion of their studies at the University. (3 credit hours)

PSY 615 Applied Leadership Skills (Leadership Elective)

In this course students appraise tenets of self leadership by examining personal biases, using critical self reflection, and evaluating self-regulatory behaviors affirming the fundamental goodness and innate dignity of the person. Students learn interpersonal skills relevant to a variety of leadership settings. Students analyze ethical principles and models of decision making related to the self, group, and organizational leadership. Students identify diversity issues especially relevant to leadership settings. The course emphasizes the value of leading with humility, authenticity, and self-sacrificial behaviors to promote flourishing in others. (3 credit hrs)