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Course Descriptions

Expand your perspective. 

The psychology department offers a broad scope of courses that reflect the expertise of our faculty and which fulfill the distinct needs and interests of our students. Customize your course of study to prepare for a career in clinical psychology or academic research. 

Courses include, but are not limited to the following:

Graduate Psychology Core Courses

6311. Phenomenological Foundations of Psychology. An introduction to seminal texts in the field of phenomenological psychology, including both philosophical and psychological literature. Typically one author from the philosophical category is selected for close study (Husserl, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty, or Levinas) and supplementary readings in psychological applications of phenomenology are then woven into the syllabus in any particular semester. A course subtitle indicates on the transcript the particular focus of the class. (Repeatable)

6333. Foundations of Qualitative Research. A conceptual introduction to the philosophic foundations, appropriate domains, strengths and limitations of qualitative research as distinct from quantitative research. Introduction to multiple methodologies within qualitative research including phenomenology and others such as grounded theory, narrative analysis discursive analysis among others. Students will read primary sources in qualitative research theory and practice and learn to develop, propose, evaluate and carry out and effectively present qualitative research.

7331. Historical Foundations of Depth Psychology. The psychodynamic tradition in Psychology is examined by careful reading of original sources, including Freud’s case histories, lectures and theoretical works (including his "Project" and "Metapsychology Papers"), along with the writings of those who further developed and commented upon his work, such as Karen Horney, Harry Stack Sullivan, Erich Fromm, Erik Erikson and Bruno Bettelheim. Primary sources in psychoanalysis are supplemented with texts such as Henri Ellenberger’s The Discovery of the Unconscious or more sophisticated philosophical treatments of Freud, such as those of Politzer, MerleauPonty, Ricoeur, or Lacan.

5322. Lifespan Development. This course will critically examine contemporary understandings of psychological development as physical, cognitive, and social development and endeavor to place human development within the context of human possibility. It seeks to provide the student with a foundation in primary and secondary source material that presents human development in terms of the questions: what is development? What about us ‘develops’? Is this development continuous or discontinuous? What about us remains the same throughout life and what changes? What is the meaning of our deaths in the context of our development? It seeks to strike a balance between in-depth treatment of various “stages” and a broad-based lifespan approach.

Pre-Practicum Courses

5323. Professional Practice Ethics I. This course provides an in-depth knowledge of the relevant professional codes of ethics and their application to practice. Students will gain experience in thinking through ethical dilemmas in clinical practice through exercises and readings on the topic.  Legal aspects of practice, the role of diversity, and the role identity of clinicians will also be discussed.

6321. Introduction to Counseling Techniques. An introduction to the core therapeutic techniques and skills which are the foundations of counseling. These include intentional therapeutic interviewing skills, clinical observation, reflection, empathic listening, and empathic confrontation. Completion of this course is required for the pre-practicum sequence.

6355. Psychopathology. A critical analysis of the classificatory systems of mental illness, including the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental disorders, is conducted as well as an examination of the philosophical roots of the construct abnormality. Current empirical evidence and hypotheses regarding etiology of mental illness and the treatment of psychopathological behavior are reviewed. Psychopharmacological approaches that correspond to DSM diagnoses are also discussed.  

6324. Theories of Counseling. Major theoretical approaches to the practice of counseling and psychotherapy are examined. The course places special emphasis on the key assumptions of various applied theories, the role of clinical assessment, the stages of therapy, the role of the therapeutic relationship and the goals and strategies to effect therapeutic change including the application of evidence based practice to psychotherapy.


Additional LPC Required Areas

7321. Cognitive Assessment. Introduction to test construction and design as well as to administration and scoring of various tools of cognitive assessment (including intelligence tests, the Bender Gestalt Test). At the discretion of the instructor, students may also be introduced to the MMPI, 16PF and other psychometric inventories in personality assessment.

7322. Psychodynamic Assessment. This course introduces the student to several psychodynamic approaches to assessment. In contrast to the categorical nosological and atheoretical approach of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – Fifth Edition, psychodynamic approaches to diagnosis and assessment offer grounding in theory. Correspondingly, through instruction and practice regarding assessment methods, students will learn how a psychodynamic assessment points to certain directions for the treatment.

7366. Rorschach Administration and Interpretation. This course centers on the Rorschach, but also familiarizes the student with Murray’s Thematic Apperception Test as well as with techniques of historical interest, such as the Szondi Test. Exner’s “comprehensive system” provides the backbone for clinical training with the Rorschach. Students are required to read original texts from Hermann Rorschach as well as from the later developers of the Rorschach, including Klopfer, Piotrowski, Beck, Hertz, Schafer, Rappaport, Weiner and Exner. Schafer’s psychoanalytic application is contrasted with Exner’s more recent adaptation of the Rorschach to the interests of cognitive-behavioral assessment. Questions of reliability and validity of projective techniques are considered throughout the course.

6330. Principles of Therapeutic Practice. Building on the foundation of PSY 6321, this course serves as an advanced course in individual counseling, deepening students' knowledge and ability to facilitate a therapeutic encounter via techniques and a therapeutic relationship.  It will include a focus on case formulation (using transcripts of therapy sessions and students' own casework) and furthering students’ understandings of client-centered and psychodynamic theory and practice. Prerequisite PSY 6321.

6325. Principles of Group Counseling. This course provides an overview of the basic theory and practice of group psychotherapy. As such, students will explore topics including group development, group dynamics, group leadership, and mechanisms of therapeutic change. Furthermore, students will learn basic and advanced group psychotherapy methods and skills. Several different approaches to conducting group psychotherapy will be reviewed, with special emphases on existential, humanistic, and psychodynamic approaches to group psychotherapy. Students will participate in an experiential psychotherapy group, providing them with insight into group process as both a facilitator and a participant.

7340. Lifestyle and Career Development. Career development theories; current career trends, concerns, and programs/interventions for diverse client populations; career counseling strategies, tools, and resources; facilitation of client awareness, choice, and action with respect to career-related issues; integration of career counseling with mental health and addictions treatment. Emphasis is on developing a broad view of career as lifestyle, the mutual impact of career and cultures, and the practical application of theory and information in a professional counseling context.

5337. Cultural Psychology and Multicultural Studies. Study of psychological phenomena as embodied in institutions, social practices and artifacts; a consideration of hermeneutics and social constructionism as approaches to the social world, with emphasis on the embodiment of human existence in both the perceptual appearance of the world and in shaping the world through human action. The multiple universes defined by gender, race, class, nationality and social geography are brought into dialogue with contemporary professional practice.

6338. Social Psychology. Study of the individual’s experience of the social world, including such topics as person perception, social cognition, attribution, conformity, obedience, interpersonal attraction, group psychology and other themes in contemporary social psychology (including social constructionism). Emphasis on the embodiment of existence in both the perceptual appearance of the world and in shaping of the world through human action.

7311. Existential and Psychodynamic Approaches to Psychopathology. This course provides a foundation in some of the prominent existential as well as psychodynamic approaches to psychopathology by reading theoretical as well as clinical case material from primary and secondary sources. Similarities to and differences from psychopathology as presented in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manuals of Mental Disorders are discussed and critically evaluated.  

6326. Addictions Counseling. This course provides a foundation in different ways of theoretically conceptualizing addiction psychopathologies as well as working clinically with individuals with addictions.  The latter includes discussion of individual and group treatment as well as in different levels of care (e.g., residential, halfway house, intensive outpatient, etc.). Although the existential-phenomenological and psychodynamic theories are emphasized as reflecting ways to understand the human person suffering from an addiction, other theoretical traditions such as motivational interviewing and 12-step approaches are also considered. Prerequisite, PSY 6321.

5373. Professional Practice Ethics II. This course familiarizes students with the current Rules and Regulations of the Texas State Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors. Correspondingly, this course focuses on recommended practices for records management, Texas family law and its relevance for practice, and other legal and business methods appropriate to clinical practice. Prerequisite PSY 5323.


6340. Marriage and Family Therapy. Grounded in considering human subjectivity from an existential-phenomenological standpoint, students will learn the history of marriage and family therapy alongside the major types of approaches to working with couples and families. This includes an application of family systems theory to the study of family dynamics with a focus on structural, strategic, and systems perspectives. The course will emphasize similarities and differences between marriage and family therapy and individual therapy as students gain a background in both the theory and clinical techniques of marriage and family therapy. Prerequisite, PSY 6321.

6345. Trauma and Crisis Intervention: Theories, Response Models, and Techniques. Grounded in considering human subjectivity from an existential-phenomenological standpoint, this course provides an introduction to the theories associated with trauma and crisis. Students will develop a foundation for assessing and treating post-traumatic reactions in adults along with an overview of trauma responses in children. This includes an examination of the psychosocial factors associated with trauma response as well as the cognitive, affective, and behavioral sequelae associated with trauma. Practice trends in post-trauma therapy will be reviewed as well as skills and techniques utilized in crisis intervention including assessment and triage, and safety and security concerns.  Self-care strategies to prevent compassion fatigue among those who treat trauma will also be addressed. Prerequisite, PSY 6321.

5311. Humanistic Theories of Personality. Introduction to the writings of pioneers in humanistic psychology such as Carl Rogers, Abraham Maslow, Rollo May, Gordon Allport, George Kelly, Fritz Perls, Ken Wilber and other kindred thinkers like Alfred Adler, Karen Horney, Erich Fromm and Viktor Frankl. Primary sources such as these, who have developed implications for counseling and psychotherapy from their examination of the nature of the person “as a whole,” are the foundation for the course.

5339. Psychology and Religion. A study of various topics, such as the relationships between modern psychology and religion; the place of religious life in psychological health and illness; psychology as secularized religion.

5345. Motivation and Emotion. The dynamic and purposive character of action. Dynamic theories of personality; conceptions from philosophical tradition, e.g., faculty psychology, studies of the will, the passions.

6322. Seminar: Issues in Clinical Psychology. Primary source readings in Freud, Jaspers, Rorschach, Murray, Allport, Rogers, Sullivan, Leary as well as the DSM-IV Guidebook provide the basis for this seminar. Descriptive versus explanatory approaches to psychopathology are considered along with the current trend towards evidence-based practice. Psychodynamic and humanistic traditions are distinguished from their psychometric counterpart. The standard psychiatric nomenclature of the DSM-IV is presented along with its implications for the professional treatment of psychological “illness.” Toward the end of the semester students examine critiques of existing systems of diagnostic classification and the psychopharmaceutical treatment of mental illness (Szasz, Laing, Keen).

6331. History and Systems in Psychology. Seminar that will consider fundamental texts of the pre-modern and modern periods, or that will trace the history of significant ideas in the history of Western thinking pertaining to the “soul” or psychological life. The approach of this course informed in part by recent trends in historiography.

6335. Mixed Methods Research. Casting a critical eye to the notion of approach with regard to quantitative and qualitative research, this course takes up an exploration of the boundaries and domains of qualitative and quantitative research methods. Special attention is paid to the role of approach in the assessment of the validity of both quantitative and qualitative research. By defining the domains, assumptions, guiding questions and knowledge claims of quantitative and qualitative research, students learn to propose, design and carry out mixed methods research that embraces the strengths and acknowledges the limitations of each approach and effectively present its results.

6336. Advanced Quantitative Research. To further enhance students’ familiarity with quantitative research methodology and to facilitate higher levels of integration between quantitative and qualitative research, this course exposes students to advanced statistical designs including logistic regression, mediation and moderation effects, multivariate and factorial models and structural equation modeling. Students will become adept at reviewing literature using these advanced statistical techniques and in designing and carrying out research using these models.

6351. Directed Readings. A tutorial course arranged between the professor and the student. Prerequisite: written permission of the Program Director and the Graduate Dean.

6354. Health Psychology. Study of the relationships between health and illness, on the one hand and behavior, attitudes, ways of life, on the other. An exploration of the psychological concomitants of health and disease, as well as conventional and non-conventional forms of treatment for disease. The phenomenology of embodiment and of disease as a mode of existence is integral to the course. Other topics include the examination of the social and political meanings of our views of health and illness. The social construction of health and illness concepts, the limits of medicine and of medicalization, the arts of living, suffering and dying are discussed.

6V77, 6V78, 6V79. Special Studies. This course, conducted in a regular class setting, provides an opportunity to examine a special topic, problem, or work within the discipline. Content is determined by the Program Director in consultation with the faculty.

7179. Professional Writing. This course represents an opportunity for students to develop a manuscript for professional presentation or publication , with the guidance of a faculty mentor.

7312. Hermeneutic Foundations of Psychological Research. Introduction to seminal texts in hermeneutics (Dilthey, Heidegger, Gadamer, Palmer) and in psychological applications of hermeneutic principles.

7355. Embodiment and Sexuality. The Cartesian framework of Modern thought is presented through the writings of Sigmund Freud, who considered himself a "pioneer on the frontier between the psychic and the somatic." Sartre’s dialectical phenomenology is then utilized to provide an alternative to the dualism of mind and body inherent in Western psychological traditions. Merleau-Ponty’s "ontology of the flesh," informed by the later Husserl, provides a foundation for a reformulation of the problem of the body in Modern thought. Supplementary readings are drawn from Lacan, Beauvoir, Lingis, as well as feminist and postfeminist writers.

Practicum Courses

5V57. Supervised Practicum. In a meaningful, structured placement, and in a setting in which psychology is practiced or applied, with appropriate, approved supervision and developed with the approval of the practicum coordinator, students obtain the 300 required supervised hours of clinical practice (including a minimum of 150 direct client service hours) at a rate of one credit hour per 50 documented supervised hours. Students should follow guidelines for Practicum in the Graduate Program's Practicum Handbook. Prerequisite: approval by department in consultation with agency. (Pass/No-Pass)

6157.  Group Consultation for Practicum. This course is intended as a complement to the practicum training students are in the process of undergoing.  In it, students receive and provide group consultation to their clinical work.  This will involve increasing students’ ability to conceptualize and implement clinical work from our program’s main theoretical perspectives—humanistic and psychodynamic—which are often underrepresented in practica placements. Students will have opportunities to address ethical issues in the therapy process as well as their own development as clinicians in a supportive group environment. Students take turns presenting current clinical cases to the group.