Doctoral Programs in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Jan 22, 2021

You likely won't find a doctoral program specifically in clinical mental health counseling, though you can find doctoral degree programs in clinical psychology. These programs train students to operate as counselors in a clinical setting.

Overview of Clinical Psychology Doctoral Coursework

An essential requirement of any student enrolled in a doctoral program in clinical psychology is to expand their knowledge of what constitutes psychological theory and practice. Core coursework also asks students to learn how to think critically in the psychology field and to produce scholarly writings. Students in these programs may find that their universities host unique classes, but there are some program requirements that are common among all schools. Here are a few classes you can expect to take.


Psychologists and counselors must keep into consideration the ethical consequences of their decisions. Ethics courses in psychology teach students about their obligations under typical practice conditions, such as the need to provide full consent to study subjects and to properly report results. Students also learn about professional boundaries and limitations when interacting with patients.


Part of a student's coursework hours may include a series of internships. Schools may require that students spend up to three years working in an approved clinical setting over the course of their program. These internships allow students to work under supervision and prepare them for employment in these settings after graduation.


Psychopathology courses teach students about the theories and research surrounding psychological disorders. Students learn how these disorders are identified and diagnosed. These courses are also designed to inform students about the details involved in assessment methods and the treatment of identified disorders.

Research Methods

Students at the graduate level have to know how to perform rigorous research. Courses in research theory and research design help students understand how to develop research projects that are methodologically sound. Students come to know more about quantitative and qualitative research. They also explore mixed-method research design as well as the processes involved in data collection.

Doctoral Dissertation

The end goal of a doctoral program is for students to complete their doctoral dissertation. This is an in-depth process that requires research, the writing of the dissertation, and a defense of the dissertation in front of a dissertation committee. Students are typically able to complete course hours that are put toward the research and writing of their dissertation.

Clinical Psychology Doctoral Program Admissions Requirements

Typically, entrance into a doctoral program will require that you submit your undergraduate or graduate transcripts. You will have to show that you maintained a GPA of between 3.0 and 4.0 during your studies. In addition to your transcripts, schools typically require that you submit your GRE scores. Schools don't usually publish their minimum GRE scores, but they sometimes publish the percentile range of students who are applying to their program. Finally, students are expected to submit both their personal statement and letters of recommendation.

Students entering a doctoral program in counseling psychology can generally look forward to taking courses on topics ranging from research essentials to in-depth examinations of psychological disorders. Applicants should also look for internship opportunities, which can prepare them for work in a clinical setting.

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