Multicultural Psychology Certificate

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Certificate Program Faculty

  • Zonya Johnson, PhD, Lead Faculty
  • Theopia Jackson, PhD
  • Alan Vaughan PhD
  • Marie DiCowden, PhD
  • Louis Hoffman, PhD
  • Joy Meeker, PhD

Program Description

We live in an increasingly multicultural environment, both in the United States and in the larger global community.  Appreciating the complex and fascinating cultural variables at play in human interactions is critical for effective communication between individuals with differing worldviews.  We are immersed in our own culture, and tend to be unaware of our values and their impact on others until challenged to understand alternative perspectives.  Studying multicultural psychology allows us to make a commitment to understanding the wide variation in cultural values, histories, worldviews, and expectations, so that we are not left to interpret the behavior of others exclusively through the prism of our own culture.

This Certificate will help professionals develop a multicultural perspective that is fully appreciative of the cultural diversity that exists within a pluralistic society.  The coursework for this certificate is grounded in a global perspective.  It is informed by the humanistic stance that has been nurtured at Saybrook and by an emphasis upon change and social justice.  Broadening our perspective can dramatically affect our interactions with others and improve our ability to be effective educators, therapists, counselors, business people, or health care providers.  This certificate can enhance one’s ability to develop effective assessment tools, training programs, clinical and community interventions, and government policy.

What You'll Learn

To aid in developing this perspective, students learn about their own and other cultural perspectives.  These perspectives include race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, class, spirituality, and religion.  None of us can become fully knowledgeable of the myriad ethnocultural groups we might encounter; however, the certificate courses will help students learn how to develop knowledge of unfamiliar groups and how one’s values affect this learning process.   Cultural awareness includes an in depth exploration of the student's own cultural background, laying a solid foundation for the further development of a multicultural perspective.

The Multicultural Psychology Certificate allows students to go beyond the basic level of knowledge and delve deeper into the complex study of culture, ethnicity, social justice, gender, race, health disparities, and socioeconomic issues and their relationship to clinical work and psychology in general.  The certificate attracts students from within the university but it will also be useful for a diverse group of people in our larger community including educators, community organizers, administrators, lawyers, health care providers, psychotherapists, and others who serve the public.

Structure of the Multicultural Psychology Certificate

The Certificate is a 16-credit program for non-matriculating students, which includes five 3-credit courses and a 1-credit Integrative Paper.  Matriculating Saybrook students have the option of integrating the 15-credit Certificate program into their existing studies, and need not complete the Integrative Paper.

All Certificate students take PSY 6010 Multicultural Psychology as their first Certificate course.  The remaining four courses are chosen by the student from the other course offerings within the certificate.  Not all Certificate courses are offered each semester; students will work closely with their mentor at the beginning of the program to chart out a plan which accommodates student interests and semester schedules. 

1. Core Course:

PSY 6010 Multicultural Psychology
This course examines multiculturalism in clinical psychology.  Its goal is to enhance pluralistic thinking and to develop an increased awareness of multiple ethnocultural perspectives.  We will examine the relationship between ethnocultural values and assessment, therapeutic modalities, as well as theory and research in psychology.  This course will provide tools for students to explore their own ethnocultural values and how those values may impact their work.  Students will also begin a more detailed study of selected ethnocultural groups with whom they are most likely to have professional contact.  The impact of culture upon the interpersonal relationship, the manifestations of privilege and power, claims of universality in theory as well as ethnocentrism, racism, sexism, and homophobia will also be addressed.  In addition, the course will provide students an opportunity to look at the manifestation of ethnocultural values within societal institutions.  Course format will include lecture, required readings, written assignments, and experiential exercises.

2. Four Elective Certificate Courses – see listing below

3. Integrative Final Paper (optional for matriculating Saybrook students)
PSY 8950 Certificate Integrative Seminar
The cornerstone assignment of the certificate program is a final paper or project which integrates deep self-reflection and the knowledge and skills gained from the five courses in the context of each student’s individual interests.  This assignment also gives students an opportunity to assess their strengths, identify further learning needs, and develop a specific plan for continuing their personal and professional development in the area of diversity and multicultural psychology.

Courses Offered in the Multicultural Psychology Certificate include

CSIH 4530 Psychology, Religion, and Spirituality in their Cultural Contexts

This course provides an overview of the ways that religion and spirituality interact with psychology with special attention to the cultural context. Topics include an exploration of various models for how religion and spirituality can relate to science and, in particular, psychology. Various models for psychology of religion and spirituality are considered, as well as models for integrating religion and spirituality with psychology.

CSIH 3215 The African Diaspora: African American Cultural History and Psychology

This course introduces students to the African Diaspora from the perspective of the African American experience. The focus of this course is on the definition and historiography of the African Diaspora and greater comprehension of the cultural history and psychology of persons with African ancestry through the lens of the African American psychology. Selected texts for the course have been written by African, African-Caribbean and African-American scholars. The methodological approach to the study of the African Diaspora is interdisciplinary and draws to the foreground historiography, depth psychology, economics of capitalism, law, mythology, religion, art history and anthropology with a goal of construction of an ancestral ethno-cultural narrative of the African Diaspora against the background of world cultural history. The course content and approach should open and cultivate, through critical thinking, a worldview and means to deconstruct, analyze, comprehend, and reconstruct complex sets of human relations in the African Diaspora from global, regional, national and personal perspectives. It should allow us to see how the archetype of culture is actualized within institutions, living micro-systems and psychodynamics of the Diaspora. The specific focus of this course is on African American cultural history and psychology from origins in Africa, the Middle Passage, bondage, psychological and civil reconstruction, the civil rights movement; Pan–Africanism and Negritude in America, Europe, the Caribbean and Africa; Affirmative action, African American family life, demographics, health/ mental health, illness, spirituality, and optimal development.

TSC 6520 Gender and Society

This course reviews theoretical insights regarding gender from disciplines including gender studies, sociology, psychology, and international relations to consider the significance of gender as a category of social analysis. Particular attention will be given to how gender structures personal identities, families, work contexts as well as institutions such as public education and the military. Additionally, students will consider how developing a critical understanding of gender can help them in their role as change agents within their relationships, communities, workplaces, and in broader society.

TSC 6620 Psychology of Disability, Rehabilitation, and Empowerment

This course is designed to introduce the student to: (1) an understanding of how the community-at-large conceptualizes the role of persons with disabilities due to illness, trauma, and environmental impact (malnutrition, wars, etc.) and how that has transformed over the years given disability rights advocacy and legislation, particularly in the United States; (2) issues in treating the individual with disabilities and the differences and similarities in working with other individuals in treatment; and (3) voices of persons with disabilities and their narratives.

TSC 6570 Race, Class, and Gender in American Society

This course applies concepts of race, class, gender, and the intersection of the three to phenomena ranging from mental health system, public education, community development, global economics, the environment, and the corporate culture.  The course allows students the flexibility to learn about race, class, and gender as they apply to areas of their personal and professional interests.  Students may choose to expand their research and writing beyond the topic covered in the course.  Ongoing throughout the course is personal reflection on how race, class, and gender impact each of our lives.

Multicultural Psychology Certificate courses currently in development include:

Multiculturalism and Social Justice

Humanistic psychology admirably shifted the field of psychology to fully appreciate the holistic lived experiences of the person and implications for practice (e.g., fostering self-actualization, transformation, etc.). However, the field of multiculturalism has posited a richness of evidence for the importance of context, understanding the self within the multiplicity and complexity of culture, as well as an expansive conceptualization of self. A critical review and exploration of the intersection and/or divergence of these two fields is intended for this course to afford the scholar-practitioner the basic tools to become a more effective agent of change.  In this course, students will engage the multiculturalism literature as it pertains to social justice and change at all levels, including within clinical practice and at the organizational and global levels.  Students will also explore the adaptability of Western theories across/within diverse peoples and settings and deepen their understanding of basic concepts and theories, centralized around self-awareness, regarding knowledge and skills acquisition, and interventions across diverse settings.

Health Disparities in American Health Care

This will be an advanced course that will critically consider the growing literature and evidence pertaining to health disparities in American healthcare systems.  Students should have some familiarity with field of health psychology and/or multiculturalism. Working from a medical or health care home model and biopsychosocialculturalspiritual conceptualization, clinical and health psychologists are strategically poised to effect change within complex medical and healthcare setting that will improve care for underrepresented and impoverished populations. There will be specific attention to the intersection with systemic oppression, cultural/historical trauma, multigenerational and complex trauma and implications for care.  The course builds upon health psychology, multiculturalism, humanistic, and social justice perspectives of health and healing that can inform cultural competencies in healthcare. Students will acquire increased knowledge and skills in clinical conceptualization, assessment, and treatment planning, as well as organizational change processes.