Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology

Letter from the Training Director

Micki Friedlander, Ph.D.
Director of Doctoral Training

While our Information for Applicants provides a good sketch of who we are and what we do, I'd like to highlight some aspects of the doctoral program that are, in my opinion, exceptional.

First, all our faculty are committed to training in both clinical work and scholarship.  With respect to clinical training, not only do we personally supervise students' first practica (in vivo and on video), but several of us are practicing psychologists ourselves -- therapists in private practice and consultants to community agencies.  Thus, we bring not only expertise but also an understanding of the health care system to our work with students.  With respect to scholarship, we are active researchers, nationally and internationally recognized.  Typically, research assistantships are offered to all of our incoming doctoral students, and the mentorship that takes place in these research teams is invaluable.  First-year students collaborate on projects with more advanced students, and many present their work at conferences and publish studies in well-respected journals.  Students who are interested in pursuing academic careers find that the faculty encourage and support their independent research efforts, and University funding is available for graduate student research. Completed dissertation topics can be seen here.

Second, we've been successful, I think, in creating a friendly, warm, cohesive atmosphere in the program.  Our class sizes are small and interactive.  The faculty are attuned to students; individual needs, and we are committed to providing a welcoming atmosphere for students of all nationalities, ethnicities, cultures, ages, and lifestyles.  We have adopted the 2009 Training Values Statement Addressing Diversity that was developed by the Council of Counseling psychology Training Programs, the Association of Counseling Center Training Agencies, and the Society of Counseling Psychology (APA).  Here is the link to this statement, which will give you a good idea of our values as a training program and as a profession: CCPTP Values

Third, we've devised a doctoral program that is sensitive to students' professional  development.  Our coursework is developmental, progressing from basic skills (e.g., in assessment, research design and statistics, counseling theory and practice, and career development) to more advanced, integrative work in seminars.  On the practical side, we begin with pre-practicum (for first-year students who enter the program without master's degrees), which is an experiential, interviewing skills course.  Second-year students see clients at the Psychological Services Center, our training clinic (shared with the clinical psychology program), which serves the community. The Center provides individual, couple, group, and family therapy, career services, and psychodiagnostic assessments.  Third- and fourth-year students continue their practica at college and university counseling centers, community agencies, and hospitals (Veterans' Administration, a state psychiatric center, rehab and general hospitals), supervised by adjunct faculty who are licensed psychologists.

Fourth, we have an excellent track record of funding doctoral students.  Since ours is a full-time program, we aim to fund all students throughout their time with us.  Although we can't guarantee funding beyond the current year (since we are a state school that depends on the NY state budget), almost all PhD students who request funding receive research, teaching, or clinical assistantships.  Typically, first-year students have research assistantships, second-year students have research or teaching assistantships (they teach our undergraduate courses in career and life planning, cultural diversity and social justice, intro to counseling psych, sport psychology) or work in the Career Services Center, the Honors College, or Middle Earth (the University's peer counseling center).  Third-year students tend to have clinical assistantships at the Psych Services Center or in the community (at a local college counseling center or a neuropsychological rehabilitation clinic), and more advanced students can have supervisory assistantships (supervising master's students who are on practicum).

Fifth, in 2010 we were selected to host the Student Affiliate Section (SAS) of the Society for Counseling Psychology (Division 17 of the American Psychological Association) for a term of three years, from August, 2010 to August, 2013. This is a tremendous honor, and our program was chosen over several others that applied. Hosting SAS gives our students (and our program) increased national recognition, and students who direct SAS have a chance to network with professionals and faculty across the country and influence the development and direction of future counseling psychologists. (The opportunity is there for all who are interested to get involved in SAS.) A major aspect of UAlbany’s SAS agenda will be to increase the social justice agenda of our field. We expect that students who join our community in the next few years will benefit from this amazing opportunity to become involved professionally on a national level. To encourage student involvement, the program will pay the first year of dues for incoming doctoral students to be members of SAS (membership includes the quarterly Division 17 journal, The Counseling Psychologist). To learn more about SAS, visit the SAS website.

Sixth, a unique and exciting aspect of our program is our international connections.  We have colleagues in Portugal who hosted the faculty and 15 doc students for a counseling psychology conference in 2008, and we anticipate returning to the University of Coimbra for a second conference, possibly in Fall, 2012.  We also have an ongoing opportunity for students to study couple and family therapy in Spain.  We have developed an exchange program with the Universidad de La Coruña, in Galicia, northwestern Spain (on the Atlantic coast!) Our students can take part in their Postgraduate Course in Family Interventions, which involves practicum and seminars taught by professors from Europe and the U.S.  The program also offers opportunity for research collaboration on family therapy effectiveness with faculty in La Coruña and Salamanca. 

Seventh, we have a specialization opportunity in health disparities, a 12-credit graduate certificate program that we co-sponsor with the schools of Public Health and Social Welfare.  Students can take 4 courses in our program, public health and/or social welfare and receive this credential, which can be important for practice, leadership positions, and scholarship in minority mental health. 

Eighth, we are continually involved in evaluating and improving our program.  Students are encouraged to be active in the Doctoral Student Association, in planning and running our annual Diversity Conference (which is planned, organized, and run by doctoral students), in the Program Evaluation Committee, and in various other ad hoc Departmental and University committees.  Many of our students use the leadership skills they develop in these activities in their later professional pursuits.

Ninth, our graduates are quite successful in obtaining APA-accredited internships, post-docs, and eventually getting licensed as psychologists (in many different states) and finding diverse kinds of employment.  The majority of our grads work in clinical settings (community agencies, hospitals, counseling centers), but a large proportion are employed full- or part-time in academic institutions.  Please see Letters from Doctoral Alumni which will give you an idea of the myriad post-grad employment situations of some of our PhDs.

Finally, we know how to have fun! For example, in Fall, 2000 and again in 2005 and 2010, we hosted alumni/ae reunions to celebrate our 20, 25 and 30 years of (full) APA accreditation and the many accomplishments of our grads, who now number around 220.  (See photos of the reunions here.)

I welcome all inquiries about our program. My phone number is (518) 442-5049. My e-mail address is

Micki Friedlander, PhD
Director of Doctoral Training