Selecting and Surviving a Doctoral Program in Counseling

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1 Selecting and Surviving a Doctoral Program in Counseling Strategies for Success and Completion Edited By J. Fidel Turner, Jr., Ph.D., Lead Editor Rhonda Jeter-Twilley, Ph.D. and Ljubica Malinajdovska, Ph.D., Co-Editors

2 Copyright 2010 by J. Fidel Turner, Jr., Ph.D. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reprinted, reproduced, transmitted, or utilized in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying, microfilming, and recording, or in any information retrieval system without the written permission of University Readers, Inc. First published in the United States of America in 2010 by University Readers, Inc. Trademark Notice: Product or corporate names may be trademarks or registered trademarks, and are used only for identification and explanation without intent to infringe Printed in the United States of America ISBN:

3 Dedication This book is dedicated to the memory and life of Matthew Mattie Brown, the son of Peter and Dr. Victoria Sardi-Brown (co-author). The Mattie Miracle Cancer Foundation (MMCF) foundation was created in honor of Mattie. The MMCF is a 501(c)(3) non-profit and tax exempt charitable organization dedicated to finding better treatments and a cure for Osteosarcoma and Pediatric Cancers. Please visit the website at: Thank you to our families and loved ones for their support, encouragement and prayers as we completed our doctoral studies and this book. We love you!!

4 Contents About the Authors Preface vii xiii 1. Considerations in Selecting a Doctoral Program in Counseling By Sophia A. Kosh, M.A. & Arber Winn, Jr., M.Ed The Admissions Process What Can I expect? By Ljubica Malinajdovska, Ph.D Are a Doctoral Program and Masters Program in Counseling Really Different? By Sophia A. Kosh, M.A. & Arber Winn, Jr., M.Ed The Impact of Doctoral Studies on Personal and Family Life By Rhonda Jeter-Twilley, Ph.D. & Victoria Sardi-Brown, Ph.D Mentoring Do I Really Need a Mentor? By J. Fidel Turner, Jr., Ph.D Identifying a Dissertation Topic and Research Focus By Rhonda Jeter-Twilley, Ph.D. 51

5 7. Selecting a Dissertation Chairperson and Dissertation Committee By Ljubica Malinajdovska, Ph.D Strategies for Successfully Completing the Dissertation By J. Fidel Turner, Jr., Ph.D. & Victoria Sardi-Brown, Ph.D Professional Counselor Credentials and the Counseling Doctoral Student By J. Fidel Turner, Jr., Ph.D Resources for Doctoral Counseling Students By J. Fidel Turner, Jr., Ph.D. & Victoria Sardi-Brown, Ph.D Final Thoughts and Words of Wisdom from the Book s Authors 123

6 About the Authors RHONDA JETER-TWILLEY, PH.D. Dr. Rhonda Jeter-Twilley is currently an Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Counseling at Bowie State University. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Communications and Theatre Arts with a minor in English at Taylor University. Dr. Jeter-Twilley taught for three years at the junior high and high school levels in Philadelphia. She earned a Master s degree in Family and Community Development specializing in Family Therapy at the University of Maryland-College Park in Subsequently she received her Ph.D. in Professional and Scientific Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania in Dr. Jeter-Twilley taught at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore for ten years in the Master s Program in Guidance and Counseling. Four of those years she served as the Coordinator of that program. During the academic year, she was a Visiting Assistant Professor at The George Washington University. Dr. Jeter-Twilley conducts research and has presented nationally, regionally, and locally on current topics in the counseling field. Some of her areas of expertise include: counselor supervision, relationship issues, conflict resolution, mentoring, women s issues, group process, racial socialization, racial identity, and dissertation completion. Dr. Jeter-Twilley is credentialed as a Certified Secondary School Teacher, National Certified Counselor, National Certified Psychologist, and a Licensed Certified Professional Counselor.

7 viii About the Authors SOPHIA ANNTIONETTE KOSH, M.A. COUNSELING DOCTORAL STUDENT Ms. Sophia A. Kosh is currently pursuing her third year as a doctoral student in the Counseling Psychology Program (with a concentration in Counselor Education and Supervision) at Argosy University-Washington, D.C. She received her Master of Arts in Christian Counseling from Capital Bible Seminary and her Bachelor of Science in Psychology (with a concentration in Mental Health) and a minor in Religion from High Point University. Ms. Kosh completed an internship with the National Institute of Mental Health where she worked with patients with a childhood onset of Obesessive Compulsive Disorder and Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptoccocal Infections (P.A.N.D.A.S.). She has presented at local and national conferences on the following topics: Black Women s Success and the Role of Father Involvement, Rates of Rheumatic Fever in the Families of Patients with P.A.N.D.A.S., Sydenham s chorea and Transitioning from a Master s to a Doctoral Counseling Program. Ms. Kosh is currently employed as an Adjunct Psychology Professor at Prince George s Community College as well as a Counseling Associate at Christian Counseling Associates, Inc. She is a member of the American Counseling Association, American Association of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Chi Sigma Iota National Counseling Honor Society. LJUBICA MALINAJDOVSKA, PH.D. Dr. Ljubica Malinajdovska is an assistant professor and associate Counseling department chairperson at Argosy University-Atlanta campus. She is a licensed professional counselor in the state of Georgia. She earned her doctorate in Counselor Education and Supervision, in 2006, from Kent State University. Her clinical experiences include individual, group and family therapy with severely mentally disabled individuals. She has spent two years as a clinician at a university counseling center. Dr. Malinajdovska s research and areas of interests and

8 About the Authors ix expertise include counseling immigrants, international teaching, and racial/ethnic identity development. She currently mentors and supervises LAPC s in the metropolitan Atlanta area. Dr. Malinajdovska is an invited speaker at local, regional and national counseling conferences. VICTORIA SARDI-BROWN, PH.D. Dr. Victoria Sardi-Brown obtained her Ph.D. in counseling from The George Washington University, where she is an Associate Professorial Lecturer for Counseling and Human Services. She has over 18 years of teaching experience at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Dr. Sardi-Brown helped secure a U.S. Department of Education grant to create the Graduate Certificate Programs in Counseling Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Persons within the Department of Counseling/ Human and Organizational Studies at the University, of which she is the Project Coordinator. In 2003, her efforts and dedication in creating these counseling certificate programs were recognized by American Counseling Association when she received the Courtland C. Lee Multicultural Excellence Scholarship Award. Her areas of specialization are in gerontological counseling, adult development, and organizational development. She has extensive experience presenting at local and national conferences. She has published numerous professional association newsletter articles, peer-review articles, and has two textbooks in press. She has thirteen years of clinical experience in personal and career counseling within the federal government and University settings. Dr. Sardi-Brown was appointed and served as the Co-Chair of the American Counseling Association Public Policy and Legislation Committee, is a Past President of the American Mental Health Counselors Association, and was appointed by Mayor Anthony Williams as the Chair of the DC Board of Professional Counseling, which is responsible for granting professional licenses and presiding over ethical hearings of all licensed professional counselors in the District of Columbia. Dr. Sardi-Brown is the co-founder of a non-profit organization, The Mattie Miracle Cancer

9 x About the Authors Foundation, dedicated to educational awareness, advocacy, and support of children with cancer and their families. J. FIDEL TURNER, JR., PH.D. Dr. J. Fidel Turner, Jr. received his doctorate in Counseling Education at Clark Atlanta University. He has a master s degree in Rehabilitation Counseling and undergraduate degree in Psychology from the University of South Carolina. He is currently an adjunct professor of Counseling at Bowie State University and Argosy University/ American School of Professional Psychology. He has served as a counseling faculty member at The George Washington University, Wright State University, University of South Carolina School of Medicine and as the counseling Department Chair at Argosy University-Atlanta campus and Clark Atlanta University. He has been an invited lecturer and/or a visiting professor at University of the District of Columbia, Troy State University, Central State University and Trinity University. Dr. Turner provides Employee and Career Development Services for the United States House of Representatives Office of Chief Administrative Officer. Dr. Turner is an expert on topics relative to diversity, mentoring, wellness, counseling services, disability service coordination, employee assistance programs and career development. He presents and conducts trainings in local, regional, national and international settings. Dr. Turner is credentialed as a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor, National Certified Counselor, National Certified Psychologist, Certified School Counselor and Licensed Professional Counselor. ARBER WINN, JR., M.ED. COUNSELING DOCTORAL STUDENT Mr. Arber Winn is a third year doctoral student in the Counselor Education and Supervision Program at Argosy University-Washington, DC. He received his Master of Education in Guidance and Counseling from Bowie State University. He also received his Bachelor of Science

10 About the Authors xi in Rehabilitation Services from Virginia Commonwealth University. He is a Coordinator of Student Support Services with the Art Institute of Washington, DC. He is also a Program Coordinator for a behavioral health care agency which serves adults with severe and persistent mental illness. He is a graduate teaching assistant at Bowie State University. Mr. Winn is a member of the American School Counselor Association, American Counseling Association, American Association of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Chi Sigma Iota National Counseling Honor Society. CONTRIBUTORS The authors acknowledge and thank the following students from the Bowie State University Masters Counseling program for their assistance with research for this publication: Christinia Akinbobola Tiffanie Coates Hubainata Hagan Janine Luckett Juliann Lorditch Krystal Waiters Boladale Wuraola The authors acknowledge and thank the following Doctoral students from the Argosy University Atlanta Campus Counseling program for their assistance and contributions to this publication: LaShonda Akins Onaje M. Salim The authors acknowledge and thank the following individuals for their assistance with editing and/or research for this publication: Dr. Priscilla Jeter-Iles Dr. Joanne Frederick-Jefferson

11 Preface This book is a by-product of years of discussion and reflection among the authors regarding our individual and collective experiences as doctoral students, mentors, mentees, Counselor educators, academic advisors, dissertation committee members/ chairpersons and Counseling department administrators. The authors of this book have presented at numerous local, state, regional and national Counseling conferences on the subject of Selecting and Surviving a Doctoral Program in Counseling. Our sessions have been crowded with masters Counseling students and others that were interested in advancing their careers to the doctoral level. On many occasions, many of the attendees have asked us, When is your book coming out? Confronted with this encouragement and challenge from our audiences, we moved into action to develop this useful and reader friendly guide. This book is intended to assist potential or current doctoral Counseling students or those who may be contemplating pursuing a doctoral degree in Counseling, Counseling Education, Counseling Psychology or related fields. Our major purpose in writing this book was to help students and to demystify the process of working on a doctoral degree. Many potential students have many questions and anxieties regarding selecting a university, navigating the admissions process, completing the course work and balancing work and family while completing their studies and dissertation research.

12 xiv Preface This book provides practical and useful information for any individual that is considering pursuing a doctoral degree in Counseling or a related field of study. The book begins with Chapter 1. Considerations in Selecting a Doctoral Program in Counseling which examines the typical reasons that students consider working on a doctoral degree. It will help you focus on your professional, educational, personal and career goals. It provides concrete information on types of degrees, the types of universities and program requirements. It ends by focusing on personal attributes that may facilitate your successful matriculation in a doctoral program. It also discusses the vast resources that are available at universities to assist you in completing your doctoral degree. Chapter 2. The Admissions Process What can I expect? This chapter focuses on the admission process from start to finish. It walks you through submitting the application, deadlines, academic criteria used by admission s committees, and the nonacademic standards that can be used to highlight your professional accomplishments that distinguish you from other candidates. This chapter ends by discussing the importance of letters of recommendation and preparation before, during and after the admission s interview. Chapter 3. Is a Doctoral Program and Masters Program in Counseling Really Different? When students are transitioning between levels of degree programs, it is hard for them to distinguish what makes a bachelor s degree different from a master s degree. Students have many of the same questions as they consider transitioning from a master s to a doctoral program. This chapter compares the two degree statuses and highlights the differences and the similarities so that you know what is different or unique at the next level. Chapter 4. The Impact of Doctoral Studies on Personal and Family Life. Chapter 4 discusses the myths and realities of the how a

13 Preface xv doctoral program impacts your personal and family life. Many people focus on choosing a school, preparing the application, and being admitted in the program. However, much of the success of completing a doctoral degree comes from considering its impact on your personal and family life. Chapter 5. Mentoring Do I really need a Mentor? In this chapter the importance of being in a mentoring relationship is highlighted. Ideas for finding and maintaining an effective mentor/mentee relationship are discussed. Chapter 6. Identifying a Dissertation Topic and Research Focus. This chapter, which is in a question and answer format, seeks to address some of the salient questions related to the identification of a research focus and ultimately the selection of a viable dissertation topic. Barriers and challenges to this process are discussed and possible solutions are advanced. Chapter 7. Selecting a Dissertation Chair and Dissertation Committee. This chapter emphasizes the critical nature of selecting a dissertation chair and a dissertation committee. The selection process is often overlooked and undervalued because students do not understand this aspect of the dissertation process. Concrete strategies are discussed for completing this process successfully. Chapter 8. Strategies for Successfully Completing the Dissertation. Within this chapter you will find strategies, tips, and techniques for completing your dissertation. Knowing and applying the information in this chapter will assist you in negotiating and successfully completing your dissertation. Chapter 9. Professional Counselor Credentials and the Doctoral Student. This chapter provides concrete information regarding, certification, licensure, accreditation, professional organizations and other

14 xvi Preface resources that will assist you with gaining advanced standing and the required credentials in the field of Counseling. Chapter 10. Resources for Doctoral Students. This chapter gives a plethora of resources for anyone in the beginning, middle or end of the doctoral process. The resources included in this chapter range from financial assistance resources to career development. This exhaustive resource list will provide you with many options as you complete and pursue a degree in the field of Counseling. Chapter 11. Final Thoughts and Words of Wisdom from the Authors. This unique chapter gives insight and advice from the authors who contributed to this book. This insider information will give you practical bits of wisdom that illuminate the process and will help you effectively navigate your doctoral studies, survive the doctoral process and thrive as a professional. We hope this book will provide useful information on beginning and completing your doctoral degree. We hope that our answers make a difference in your doctoral journey! Disclaimer The information provided in this book was gathered during 2009 and You may find that information relative to professional counselor licensure and certification may have changed subsequent to the publication date of this book. Please check with your state professional licensure board for the most recent licensure and certification information in your state. Universities or colleges will provide information relative to the admissions process, matriculation/graduation expectations and requirements, comprehensive exams, dissertation requirements, etc. Please review this information carefully at each individual univer-

15 Preface xvii sity or college and/or consult with the admissions staff or academic department at the respective university or college.

16 Chapter 1 Considerations in Selecting a Doctoral Program in Counseling By Sophia A. Kosh, M.A. and Arber Winn, Jr., M.Ed. So, you re considering applying to a doctoral counseling program? Wow! What an enormous decision. I can remember feeling overwhelmed, anxious, and having no sense of direction. My thoughts were there had to be a better way of acquiring the resources to help me in making this decision. Yes, there are resources and information to assist you in making an informed decision. The main purpose of doctoral training is to prepare students for a lifetime of intellectual inquiry that manifests itself in creative scholarship and research (Lovitts, 2008). This chapter will focus on things you may want to consider during the initial process. RESEARCH In the past three decades, the number of students in doctoral programs in clinical, counseling, and school psychology has doubled and is expected to impact the number of doctoral recipients (Kim, Knauss & Graham, 2008). Doctoral program attrition rates vary by institutions and disciplines (Ku et al., 2008). Current research indicates that 1

17 2 Selecting and Surviving a Doctoral Program in Counseling only forty to fifty percent of students have matriculated through a doctoral program over the past twenty years (Ku et al., 2008). A doctoral program is a rigorous professional training program that can take four to seven years to complete. Students in a doctoral program have been shown to experience feelings of insecurity, decreased self-esteem, anxiety, and high levels of stress (Ku, Lahman, Yeh & Cheng, 2008). This is all the more reason why one should be equipped to choose the program that is best for them. There are many factors which influence one s decision such as: research and clinical experience, personal motivation, work ethic, professional interests, and the financial means to matriculate (Zimak, Edwards, Johnson & Suhr, 2008). These factors influence reasons for pursuing the doctoral degree and may impact your matriculation. REASONS FOR PURSUING THE DOCTORAL DEGREE There are several reasons for pursuing a doctoral degree. They may include, but are not limited to: professional development, personal gain, financial gain, status, living up to others expectations, and/or personal development. These are considered the most common reasons for pursuing a doctoral degree. However, there are an array of other reasons that are unique to each individual. PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT In this chapter, professional development is defined as growing in one s area of expertise, refining skills, and actively pursuing more knowledge. Professional development can be attained by and for the following reasons: continuing education, increased expertise, leadership skills, job promotion, professorship, consultation, and competence in conducting research. Continuing education includes increasing your current knowledge during doctoral studies and building upon your prior knowledge. One s expertise can develop through a doctoral

18 Considerations in Selecting a Doctoral Program in Counseling 3 program. Presentations, research papers, and group classroom activities during your matriculation can help refine your leadership skills. Some employers require a doctoral degree for promotions. Although one may have the skills to perform the job functions, a doctoral degree may still be required. There are many college professors with a Master s degree at some institutions of higher learning. A doctoral degree may open the door for additional opportunities for promotion and advancement within higher education and other work settings. Many with a doctoral degree chose to become consultants in their areas of expertise. The doctoral program provides specialized training that enhances your professional development in many areas. During the development of one s dissertation you will be expected to conduct independent research in your area of expertise. Counseling doctoral programs are multi-faceted and offer many opportunities for professional development. PERSONAL GAIN Personal gain is unique to the individual regarding their expectations and aspirations for doctoral program completion. A reward of pursuing a doctoral degree can lead to a personal sense of accomplishment. A sense of accomplishment can be materialized through one s determination, motivation, confidence, perseverance, willpower, which is reflected through one s ability. Additional personal gain can include giving back to students. This can be done by being a mentor, advisor, professor, trainer, consultant/collaborator to prepare students to reach their highest potential. Finally, giving back to the community can offer a sense of personal gain. Community can encompass one s neighborhood, ethnic group, professional organizations and socio-cultural communities to name a few. Ways of giving back to one s community are pro-bono services such as: workshops, trainings, seminars, mentoring, and volunteering. In the pursuit of doctoral studies there are continuous and multiple opportunities for personal gain.

19 4 Selecting and Surviving a Doctoral Program in Counseling FINANCIAL GAIN Financial gain is a highly motivating factor. It is assumed that after receiving your doctoral degree that you would be in a higher financial bracket. It is a possibility, but not a guarantee that your salary will significantly increase after receiving a doctorate. With a doctoral degree in Counseling, there are many options for generating multiple income streams to include university teaching, consultation, private practice, adjunct teaching opportunities and employment within the private and public sector. STATUS Status is defined as a position, rank or hierarchy in relation to others (Mish, 1999). A doctoral degree can be associated with a higher level of status. Keep in mind that status does not always equate to success. Some may pursue a doctoral degree due to the status associated with being called doctor. In many work environments all employees are viewed as equals and no emphasis is placed on one s academic status and/or degree. Status can be a plus, but shouldn t be the determining factor for pursuing a doctoral degree in Counseling. LIVING UP TO OTHERS EXPECTATIONS Living up to other s expectations can be difficult. It may stem from family members, significant others, employers, community, and mentors. Even though, they may have good intentions, the question is Whose expectations are you going to live up to? The final decision is yours. CAREER STUDENT The term career student can hold positive and negative connotations. The positives include: being enthusiastic about learning, wanting

20 Considerations in Selecting a Doctoral Program in Counseling 5 to keep up with current trends, and continuing to get more training and degrees. Negatives include: avoiding putting their knowledge into practice, being afraid of reality, trying to live up to others expectations, and shying away from daily life responsibilities. Although, being a career student has positive and negative attributes, the individual should know his/her reasons or goals for pursuing a doctoral counseling degree. TYPES OF DEGREES There are three main doctoral degrees that can be pursued by those who wish to work in the Counseling and Psychology fields. The most common is the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.). This degree has a heavy research focus and can be obtained in many disciplines. The Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) focuses on preparing scholarly educators in various disciplines. The Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) is a clinical degree with a focus on applied aspects of Psychology. All three doctoral degrees typically require a dissertation or advanced independent study, are research-based, and may range from four to seven years to complete. The type of degree one elects to pursue is typically based upon one s individual needs, career interests, aspirations and choices. LEARNING STYLE AND SCHOOL PHILOSOPHY One s learning style and the school s philosophy are vital in selecting a doctoral counseling program. Assignments in a graduate program reflect the program pedagogy (Barratt, 2009). There are three different types of learning styles, which include: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. A visual learner is one that learns by watching, reading, and observing (Corey & Corey, 2006). An auditory learner grasps concepts by hearing and listening (Corey & Corey, 2006). A kinesthetic learner is one who learns by doing, interacting, and being involved (Corey & Corey, 2006). Therefore, knowing your learning style is important in choosing a doctoral counseling program that best fits your style

21 6 Selecting and Surviving a Doctoral Program in Counseling of learning. After identifying your learning style, you should choose courses that best fit your way of learning. There are different types of course offerings in a doctoral program. They include: online, classroom (face-to-face), blended (combination of online and classroom), distance (online/virtual), weekday (Monday Friday), and weekend (Friday Sunday). When choosing a doctoral counseling program one s learning style and the course offerings should be evaluated to determine the best fit. It s important to be familiar with the school s philosophy to determine if it s in sync with your own. There are two main types of learning emphasis: teacher-centered and learner/student-centered which drive the school s philosophy. A teacher-centered school can be described as the instructor maintaining full control of the classroom with little input from students, mostly lecture, and little collaboration with students. A learner-centered school can be described as the instructor focusing on the students needs and learning styles, collaborating with students, receiving student feedback, and is flexible. In conclusion, the school s philosophy can impact your matriculation and attrition in the doctoral counseling program. TYPES OF SCHOOLS Knowing what the school has to offer is crucial in identifying the type of doctoral counseling program that meets your needs. There are distinctions that make each school unique. Some include: location, school classification, size, demographics, traditional vs. non-traditional, grading system, degree offerings/credentials, requirements, rigor, history of the college/university, and accreditation. There are a broad range of locations which include: city, urban, rural, and suburban. Schools are categorized in four classifications: Ivy League, Private, State/Public, Historically Black College or University (HBCU). The choice of college or university is based upon the individual s preference. Each individual should decide if the demographic makeup of the

22 Considerations in Selecting a Doctoral Program in Counseling 7 school is an aspect to be considered before attending. Demographics may include race, sex, gender, ability, social class, and religion (McEwen, 2003). Diversity among students in a graduate program is important because students will be able to share experiences with diverse groups (McEwen, 2003). A traditional school is composed of a campus with administrative buildings, classroom buildings, dining halls, an athletic department, and usually offers a wide-range of majors. A non-traditional school can be online, virtual or may be located in a urban or suburban location. ADDITIONAL FACTORS TO CONSIDER There are two types of grading systems: traditional (letter grades of A, B, C, D, E, F) and the plus-minus system (A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C, C-, D+, D, D-, F). Other grades may include pass, fail, incomplete/q (quit), withdraw, and audit. As mentioned earlier, after selecting the type of degree/credentials you would like to pursue you should determine if that degree is offered at the school of interest. The requirements may vary from school to school; therefore, you should inquire about the specific requirements of the program. You ll find out more information about admission requirements in Chapter two. If you recall, earlier in the research section it discussed the rigor of doctoral programs. Depending on how rigorous the program, one may need to juggle multiple tasks such as school, work, family, social, and the unforeseen. It can also affect your overall wellness. The history of the school should be considered with regards to: the retention rates, graduation rates, continuous accreditation, conferring of degrees, funding, and etcetera. In reviewing the types of schools, you want to make sure that the selected program is accredited and find out who awards the accreditation. If it s not accredited you should inquire for more information. As you can see, selecting the type of school that best fits your needs and style is a multifaceted task.

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