Clinical-Community Psychology At BGSU


What is Clinical-Community Psychology?

Jamie is picnicking near a swiftly running stream.  As Jamie takes a bite of a sandwich, she notices a man in the water, flailing his arms and calling for help.  Jamie jumps in and saves the man, placing him safely on shore.  The man is grateful.  About 10 minutes later, Jamie notices a woman in the water calling for help.  Jamie jumps in the water again, saves this second person, and pulls her safely to shore. Wet and exhausted, Jamie returns to finish her lunch.  After Jamie saves a third desperate person from the water, she decides to travel upstream to see why so many people are in trouble.  After walking about a half of a mile, Jamie sees that the bridge across the stream is badly in need of repair.  It is the only bridge for miles, but people who cross it are in danger of drowning.  Jamie must decide whether her time is best spent pulling people from the stream or gathering others in the community to help fix the bridge.

Clinical-community psychology is a lot like the story of Jamie.  Individual approaches, such as psychotherapy, can be a tremendously beneficial form of helping.  Yet, clinical-community psychology works to identify ways that social systems, such as families, organizations, and communities, can impact individual health and well-being. The focus of clinical-community psychology is helping to change social systems or create social settings to promote well-being or prevent problems.  Instead of focusing on what people can’t do, a community approach identifies and promotes individuals’ strengths.  Clinical-community psychologists often work with individuals or groups who lack power to help them create and access resources in society.

Clinical-Community Concentration at BGSU

Students at BGSU can choose the clinical-community psychology concentration and specialize in a systems approach to helping and social change.  Graduate students in other areas of clinical psychology often decide to take clinical-community courses and placement to increase their abilities to assess and intervene at a systems level in their work and/or participate in research.

Our program provides a sound education in the theory and methods of psychology. We recognize the need for training clinical psychologists to perform in a range of professional roles.  In addition to completing departmental requirements, students are expected to obtain knowledge in clinical practice and research methods and to develop expertise in an area of specialization appropriate to their career interests.

Students who specialize in clinical-community psychology must complete all of the standard requirements for receiving a Ph.D. in Psychology at Bowling Green State University.  Students complete basic coursework and receive supervised training in clinical and community interventions.  Students are involved in a variety of research groups facilitated by faculty that provide experience in conducting basic and applied research.  Students are required to complete two independent research projects, a Master’s thesis and Doctoral dissertation, and have the option to complete additional independent research projects.  In the third and fourth years of training, students complete 20 hour per week placements in various clinical settings to enhance their clinical and community skills.

community garden 

Basic Courses:

Students specializing in clinical-community psychology take advanced coursework in theory, assessment and intervention that reflect community psychology principles and techniques.  Examples of graduate courses and seminars typically offered for the clinical-community concentration include  Community Psychology, Social Systems Assessment , and Feminist Psychology and Diversity.

Community Psychology is an introduction to the social values, concepts and methods most strongly associated with community psychology.  Through primary readings and discussions, students become familiar with theories of empowerment, social ecology, social advocacy and social action used to guide the work of clinical-community psychologists.  Intervention techniques appropriate to work with families, organizations, and community groups on a variety of social problems are discussed.  Students are encouraged to apply material to a community group or social issue of their concern.

Social Systems Assessment focuses on the values, strategies, and techniques available to clinical-community psychologists to assess and evaluate social systems.  Students become familiar with traditional community needs assessment, and classical approaches to program evaluation and community consultation.  Equal emphasis is given to empowerment evaluation techniques, and action research strategies as students are confronted with the challenges and rewards of assessing various types of social systems.  Attention is given to the role of the evaluator in the process of community consultation and collaboration.  Within the context of the course, students conduct projects using social systems assessment techniques to address a community issue or concern.

Feminist and Diversity Psychology examines the intersections of community psychology, feminist psychology, and the psychology of masculinity.  The course focuses on the contemporary roles of women and men in the United States and social systems that perpetuate power, privilege, and social inequality within the context of gender. The advanced team practicum is a collaborative learning environment where instructor and students share responsibility for structural and process elements of the learning experience.  Particular attention is given to research and action activities involved in the pursuit of social justice and the analysis and application of concepts to specific social systems as they relate to gender. 

Advanced Teams:

In addition to coursework, Clinical-Community Advanced Team practica provide structured opportunities for graduate students to engage in community research and action.  Clinical-Community Advanced Teams are 16 week practica that take a community perspective to social problems.  The Team usually consists of  graduate students and the focus of the team is shaped by the interests of team members and differs each time it is taught.  Clinical-Community Advanced Teams offer a “learning laboratory” approach that allows students to decide on an interest area, learn systems entry and collaboration skills, and work with various community stake holders to achieve mutual goals aimed at facilitating social change. On a number of occasions, projects started in the context of a Clinical-Community Team have gone on to become grant-funded research projects, graduate student placements in the community, or intervention programs that are taken over by community mental health agencies.

Below are the two most recent examples of Clinical-Community Advanced Team projects to give a flavor for practicum experiences.  

Continuing Bonds: Adults’ Experiences Coping with the Loss of a Close Friend

Grief and bereavement reactions are traditionally considered a “family affair” in the United States with relatively few channels for friends to express their sense of loss (Smith, 1996). The present qualitative study examines narrative accounts of adults who have experienced the death of a close friend. The study focuses on adults’ participation in traditional and digital memorials and “memory keeping” activities, the nature of support from family and friends, and ways that adults make meaning of the loss of a friend. A qualitative research methodology was purposefully selected to give voice to the experiences of these adults and to situate their narratives in a larger literature on adaptive coping.

Speaking from Experience

Graduate students on the team used personal accounts as a means of promoting education and advocacy and reducing stigma about serious mental illness. These graduate students created Speaking from Experience, a speakers’ group of individuals who personally experience a mental illness or who have a family member who does. Speakers give structured presentations about their experiences with mental illness in undergraduate psychology classes. Speakers present myths and facts about mental illness, personal stories about their experiences information about mental health advocacy, and take questions from the audience. The goal of Speaking from Experience is to allow undergraduates to interact with people with mental illness and their supporters who are coping, suffering, and triumphing.

clinical community lighthouse2 

Placement Opportunities:

Clinical-community students are typically placed at two of the following sites during their third and fourth years in the program. Each site provides the opportunity to apply techniques and values from both clinical and community psychology.

Psychosocial Rehabilitation Clubhouse

Community psychology has strong ties to clubhouses. Borrowing from psychosocial rehabilitation principles, clubhouses present an alternative to the traditional mental health model. They are organized to support people living with mental illness and provide access to friends and family, employment, education, and other services for recovery. Participants are known as members, not clients or patients, and members ideally engage in every aspect of the clubhouse operation.

The Connection Center (Bowling Green, OH): Clinical-community students traditionally serve as the Community Advocate intern at the Connection Center, a PSR clubhouse, for one of their placement opportunities. Interns have the opportunity to learn about the lived experience of mental illness and to engage in action by creating a project that utilizes values and techniques of community psychology. Click here for examples of past projects.

Community Mental Health Centers:

Community psychology has a traditional commitment to individuals and families living with mental illness and a historical interest in community mental health centers.

Harbor: A comprehensive behavioral healthcare agency that provides mental health and substance abuse treatment. Interns have the opportunity to work with mental health consumers by providing individual mental health therapy, group therapy, conducting intake assessments, and doing psychological testing. Website.

Unison Behavioral Health Group (Toledo, OH): A behavioral healthcare agency that provides mental health and substance treatment for children, families, and adults. Interns can work with a variety of populations, including individuals living with psychiatric disabilities or wider systemic-level issues such as poverty and discrimination. Website.  

University Counseling Center

Counseling psychology and counseling centers have a traditional commitment to humanist, client-centered perspectives, as well as a strong commitment to human diversity and ethics, values that are shared by community psychology.

BGSU Counseling Center (Bowling Green, OH): Clinical-community students have the opportunity to intern at the BGSU Counseling Center, an on-campus organization that strives to promote the wellbeing of all students. The Counseling Center has a strong commitment to creating a safe, supportive, and affirming climate for individuals of all backgrounds. Trainees are given the opportunity to engage in regular diversity trainings meant to inform their clinical work with students from different races or ethnicities, students with disabilities, international students, students who identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community, and students with other marginalized or oppressed identities. Trainees also have the opportunity to provide interventions and programming at the community level on issues related to mental health and well-being for a variety of student groups, faculty, and staff on campus. Website.

counseling center couch on track field 

Updated: 04/24/2022 10:43PM