The Ph.D. in Psychology degree program in the Humanistic and Clinical Psychology department offers mature students a foundation of scholarship based in the tradition of existential, humanistic, and transpersonal psychology. The Ph.D. degree program offers graduate education that helps students expand their outlook beyond the confines of a discrete discipline.
Students may customize their electives in the Ph.D. program, selecting from a wide range of options to expand their horizons and meet a broad range of future professional opportunities. If students declare one of the Specializations, their academic requirements will be specific to that focus area. Please see the Requirements under each Specialization for details. The Ph.D. program in Psychology provides flexibility in individual approaches to program planning and the study of Psychology along with a range of opportunities to broaden and deepen knowledge, interests, and areas of academic and professional development. The program provides the opportunity to build upon the foundation provided by an M.A. degree, from one of Saybrook’s degree programs or elsewhere. Students follow their program plan and select general elective courses from a wide range of options, developing further areas of knowledge, skill, and expertise to expand the scope of future opportunities and endeavors in professional life. This program is not a clinical psychology program, nor is it designed to prepare students for future professional licensure. Students interested in a clinical psychology program should consider admission to the HCP Clinical Psychology degree program.
Program Learning Outcomes
Through its pedagogy grounded in Humanistic thought, Saybrook Ph.D. in Psychology Program has the following Program Goals and Program Learning Outcomes/Competencies:
Goal 1: Engage self and others in collaborative efforts to promote life-enhancing change, conscious awareness, and authentic and responsible living, individually and collectively.
1.1 Articulate and apply theoretical foundations, principles, and practices of humanistic and transpersonal traditions that promote life-enhancing change, conscious awareness, and authentic and responsible living.
1.2 Formulate and initiate integrative approaches that honor the whole-person, biopsychosocial-spiritual perspectives and go beyond disciplinary and paradigmatic boundaries.
1.3 Interpret and hold multiple ideas, perspectives, and approaches.
1.4 Examine and cultivate states of consciousness and conscious awareness (present in such practices as mindfulness, meditation, contemplation, and the like) that promote self- reflection, self-knowledge, self-realization, authentic and responsible living, and wholeness.
Goal 2: Develop scholars-practitioners who (a) use the depth and the breadth of scientific psychology, its history of thought and development, and its methodology in scholarship, practice, and education; (b) are engaged in reflective self-assessment and in reflective practice; and (c) use ethical reasoning, analytical skills, and quality assurance to contribute to the profession through scholarship, research, practice, and responsible action.
2.1 Identify and apply the central theories, research, and issues in the advancement of humanistic and transpersonal traditions in scholarship, research, practice, education, and responsible action.
2.1.1 Display breadth of inquiry and depth of analysis in humanistically and transperonally informed research, practice, and education.
2.1.2 Integrate evidence-based research literature in professional practice.
2.1.3 Analyze and critique mainstream, humanistic, and transpersonal psychologies from multiple, interdisciplinary perspectives.
2.1.4 Differentiate themselves as self-reflective scholars-practitioners as they engage in reflective practices and integrate humanistic values.
2.1.5 Generate graduate-level writing, professional publications, and professional presentations that advance the discipline, strengthen the community of scholars, and promote evidence-based knowledge and various ways of knowing.
2.3 Evaluate and use the methods of the discipline (methodology).
2.3.1 Evaluate various methods of the discipline and apply analytical skills and humanistically-informed approaches to examining, interpreting, and communicating findings.
2.3.2 Question assumptions of knowledge and examine individual and collective biases.
2.3.3 Use primary sources and evidence-based and professional literature to support assertions.
2.3.4 Utilize a variety of qualitative, as well as quantitative methods in research, scholarship, practice, and education.
2.3.5 Adhere to American Psychological Association style in academic writing.
2.3.6 Engage in systematic efforts to increase the knowledge base of psychology through original research and communicate research results accurately and effectively.
2.3.7 Use methodologies appropriate to the research questions, settings, contexts, and communities.
2.3.8 Identify and/or use qualitative and/or quantitative methods for evaluating the effectiveness of professional activities.
2.3.9 Use ethical reasoning, analytical skills, and synthesis to make independent and collaborative contributions to the field of psychology.
2.4 Consistently assess one’s own (a) strengths, limitations, motivations, attitudes, assumptions, behaviors, thought processes, and their effect on others and (b) professional competencies and limits of skills and specialized professional practice.
2.4.1 Show awareness of one’s inner emotional experiences and of biopsychosocial- spiritual experiential markers and/or considerations.
2.4.2 Develop an awareness of self as change agent and leader, through fostering inclusive, collaborative, and authentic relationships.
2.4.3 Systematically review one’s personal and professional development, competencies, and performance.
2.4.4 Attend to areas requiring further growth and display a commitment to continuous personal and professional growth and development.
2.4.5 Display an awareness of incongruence between self-assessment and other’s feedback and seeks to resolve incongruence.
2.4.6 Display understanding that knowledge goes beyond formal training and a commitment to life-long learning.
2.4.7 Display awareness of when to consider referral and a commitment to practicing within one’s competence.
2.5 Adhere to APA’s Ethics Code and Principles and ethical decision-making.
2.5.1 Adhere to APA’s Ethics Code and Principles, state and federal laws pertaining to professional practice in the field of psychology, and ethical decision-making models.
2.5.2 Integrate applicable ethical concepts in research design and in professional practice, publications, presentations, and education.
2.5.3 Display and cultivate the commitment to ethical practice as evidenced by the ability to revise judgments and change behavior in light on new evidence.
2.5.4 Practice appropriate boundary management and develop strategies to seek consultation about complex ethical and legal dilemmas.
2.6 Develop supervision, consultation, and quality improvement skills.
2.6.1 Display knowledge of purpose, roles, and goals of consultation and supervision.
2.6.2 Develop consultative skills, leadership qualities, and strategies for facilitating adaptive and sustainable organizational change, which support the intrinsic value and holistic nature of the individual and organization.
2.7 Develop a professional identity as a professional grounded in the Humanistic tradition.
2.7.1 Display and integrate knowledge of the profession (training model, core competencies, issue central to the field).
2.7.2 Work within an expanded geopolitical, temporal, and socio-environmental context, integrating core humanistic values.
2.7.3 Examine how effectiveness as a change agent or as a leader is influenced by individual development and its relationship with organizational culture and systems.
2.7.4 Experience, support, and display intra-and interpersonal authenticity and compassion.
Goal 3: Develop the attitudes and abilities essential for critical and creative thinking, for innovation, and for using scholarship to inform practice and practice to inform scholarship.
3.1 Activate intellectual curiosity and flexibility, as well as an openness to new ideas. Think beyond disciplinary boundaries and integrate diverse experiences and perspectives that result in creative solutions to contemporary issues.
3.1.1 Awaken creative potential in the midst of complexity, ambiguity, and uncertainty.
3.1.2 Generate active problem-solving, innovation, and creativity that moves beyond disciplinary and conceptual boundaries.
3.1.3 Identify, apply, and evaluate creative, interdisciplinary solutions to diverse challenges in research, practice, and education.
3.1.4 Generate creative inquiry that leads to deliberate and spontaneous creative action.
3.1.5 Design and utilize art-based inquiry and research to explore contemporary issues.
3.1.6 Explore and use self-reflection and seek feedback for the purposes of self-actualized creativity.
3.2 Critically analyze and critique psychological literature.
3.2.1 Analyze, synthesize, and evaluate scholarly literature.
3.2.2 Critically examine popularized psychological literature.
Goal 4: Develop the ability to recognize, respect, and accommodate various individual and cultural differences in all aspects of professional work.
4.1 Integrate effective communication across cultures and cultural sensitivity in working within expanded geopolitical, temporal, and socio-environmental contexts.
4.1.1 Examine how cultural diversity factors underlie theory, research, practice, and education in humanistic and transpersonal psychologies.
4.1.2 Invite, value, and integrate individual and cultural diversity issues and viewpoints into one’s scholarly work, practice, and responsible action.
4.1.3 Communicate effectively across cultures in professional, verbal and written formats, displaying and cultivate cultural sensitivity when working with and/or relating to individuals, groups, and/or organization.
4.1.4 Systematically evaluate one’s professional behavior in a culturally-sensitive manner and modify it, as appropriate to the needs of the client, in a manner that improves client/research participant outcomes and avoids harm.
4.2 Use professional guidelines in research and practice with diverse populations.
4.2.1 Initiate and support diversity in all aspects of professional work.
4.2.2 Initiate, and support consideration of developmental processes and factors in all aspects of professional work.
4.3 Recognize how one’s own perspectives can bias and limit one’s ability to work with individuals who hold other viewpoints.
4.3.1 Analyze and formulate how one’s perspectives and ethnic group values influence who one is and how one relates to other people.
Goal 5: Display self-awareness in relationships and a commitment to an empathic, compassionate dialogue that is constructivist, collaborative, authentic, and caring.
5.1 Analyze and evaluate one’s relationships and personal growth from a humanistic perspective.
5.1.1 Create a personal statement of humanistically-informed professional goals, examining how one’s personal qualities pertain to these goals.
5.1.2 Formulate one’s own and other’s spiritual connections (to life, to nature, to others, to a sense of the ultimate) and honor those spiritual connections in working with others.
5.1.3 Integrate principles of humanistic psychology into personal and professional domains.
5.1.4 Display appreciation of supportive humanistic and transpersonal qualities and strengths, such as altruism, empathy, optimism, compassion, mindfulness, acceptance, inclusiveness, and courage.
5.2 Create and cultivate an environment that promotes self-healing.
5.2.1 View the client as an agent who is able to initiate action, make choices, set goals, and chart life courses.
5.2.2 Display respect for the perceptions, feelings, experiences, values, desires, and self- healing capacity of the person.
5.2.3 Display and integrate facilitative conditions such as empathy, congruence, warmth, and acceptance, verbally and non-verbally.
5.2.4 Attend to the person as he or she defines himself or herself.
5.2.5 Display and support effective working alliance with clients.
5.2.6 Initiate appropriate disclosures regarding problematic interpersonal situations.
5.3 Contribute to a facilitative learning environment.
5.3.1 Work collaboratively to form and maintain productive and respectful relationships with clients, colleagues, supervisors, and professionals from other disciplines.
5.3.2 Contribute to classes regularly and constructively.
Hybrid Online Learning Model
The PhD Psychology degree program combines online learning with periodic in-person residential conferences.
Residential Orientation (RO)
All new students in the Ph.D. in Psychology degree program begin their studies with our one-time, two-day Residential Orientation (RO). Typically, Residential Orientations are held two days ahead of the Residential Conference at the start of the Fall and Spring semesters in California. Attendance at the entire RO is an academic requirement.
At the RO, students become familiar with the Saybrook culture and academic and support services, including online resources, and the library research services and databases. The challenges and the opportunities of distance and peer learning are also discussed during this time. At the RO, students:
- Consult with the Psychology Department Chair and the Psychology Faculty Academic Advisor to organize their degree plan and process.
- Develop a rationale for the scope and sequence of their proposed plan of study.
- Plan what consultation they will need from other faculty.
Residential Conferences (RC)
Starting with Fall 2021-2022 academic year, all Psychology students will be required to attend only Fall 5-day RC each academic year. Although you may complete most of your courses through distance learning, all our online graduate degree programs have residential requirements. Residential requirements are academic requirements, and their completion is important for your successful academic progress: they allow you to meet with faculty and co-learners in a stimulating and supportive face-to-face environment. Our RCs are an important part of your learning experience as they nurture intellectual and relational creativity, enrich the educational environment, and foster faculty and peer interactions. There are courses being launched, workshops, independent learning activities, peer learning opportunities, community events, and other hands-on experiences intended to nurture professional development, skill building, and transformative change. All students must be on-site on the registration day and remain in residence until the end of the last day of each required conference. It is imperative that students plan accordingly. Any potential exceptions must be approved by the Psychology Department Chair prior to the conference.
Doctoral-level students attend Residential Conferences until they have successfully passed Essays Orals.
No academic credit is given for attendance at the Residential Conference. Students who attend a seminar at an RC and wish to study the topic further may, with the permission of the seminar instructor and Psychology Department Chair, register for an Independent Study course (ALL 8100) following the RC and receive 1 academic credit upon completion. Each course is individually designed and negotiated with the seminar instructor. Not all RC workshops, courses, and seminars are eligible for the follow-up Independent Study credit. Students will need to review their program plans to confirm that the 1 credit Independent Study can be applied toward their degree requirements.
RC Approved Absence Policy
If a student must miss an RC due to extenuating circumstances that include but are not limited to documented medical hardship or family emergency, attendance at an RC must be made up at a later date, even if that date is when the student would normally not be required to attend RCs. In such cases, the student needs to notify the Psychology Department Chair prior to the missed conference and request an approval. Refer to the Student Refund Policy for additional information.
Residential Conference Substitution Process
If students would like to substitute attendance at a professional conference for attendance at one of the RCs, they need to identify a faculty member who will sponsor them in this request. The conference must be at least five days, in accordance with Saybrook’s Residential Conference. Students must complete the “Authorization Request to Substitute for Residential Conference” form and submit it for approval no fewer than 30 days before the RC to be substituted.
Following the conference, students must complete the “Confirmation of Attendance at Substitute Conference” form and send to their faculty sponsor. After review and approval, the faculty sponsor will then forward it to the Psychology Department Chair, who will complete the recording process. Tangible documentation of attendance for the entire event is required, along with a copy of the completed Authorization Request signed by the supervising faculty member and any other required academic work or learning product required by the supervising faculty member.
Transfer credits based on equivalent graduate courses taken at another regionally accredited institution in the same or similar discipline where the student received a grade of B or better may be transferred and will reduce the number of course credits required to be completed at Saybrook. Allowable transfer credits must be suitable for transfer to the intended degree as determined by the Psychology Department Chair. Transfer course credits do not affect the minimum number of credits required for the degree.
Transfer credit to be applied toward required electives:
- Ph.D. in Psychology - May include up to 12 transfer credits completed in the Psychology discipline, 6 of these credits may be from cognate fields, non-degree Saybrook Certificate credits, Saybrook CE credits, or other non-degree credits taken at Saybrook University within the last seven years.
Degree Completion Time
The degree completion time for a full-time student enrolled in the Ph.D. in Psychology program following the default course sequence will range from 5 - 6 years. Any breaks in enrollment and/or reduced enrollment may impact completion time.
College, Degree Program, or Specialization change
Students who wish to change their degree program focus will be reevaluated by the new Department Chair as to the appropriateness of admission to that new program of study. If admitted, those students will be held accountable to the degree program requirements as specified for the academic year in which such a change of enrollment is granted. For those wanting to change their specialization, the new Specialization Coordinator will review the student’s objectives for acceptance, and the Psychology Department Chair will review to approve the change. In all cases, where possible, current Saybrook-completed courses will be considered for application toward the new degree program and/or specialization. Students who change degree programs will have their transfer credit evaluated again by the Department Chair of the new program. Transfer credit awarded is not guaranteed to apply to the new program.
Ph.D. Research Requirement
The Ph.D. degree program in Psychology requires a sequence of research courses designed to achieve research program learning outcomes. The University research program learning outcomes coincide with program learning outcomes and are related to the skills and knowledge needed to be successful doing research for the dissertation. The research sequence begins with three foundational courses:
- RES 2100: Research Foundations and Literacy 3 credit(s)
- RES 2300: Qualitative Data Collection and Analysis 3 credit(s)
- RES 2500: Quantitative Data Collection and Statistics 3 credit(s)
The sequence continues with two advanced research courses:
- RES 3500: Research Design and Scholarly Writing 3 credit(s)
- RES 3xxx - Advanced Research Methods (Select one course, see course descriptions RES 3000-3400) 3 credit(s)
When students reach the essay stage, students may consult with their dissertation committee, Department Chair, Psychology Faculty Academic Advisor, as well as with the Director of Research about taking a research essay, RES 6900: Dissertation Preparation, in lieu of one of the program essays in order to further support student preparedness for dissertation research.
The research sequence concludes with a 2-course dissertation research sequence, which is led by a 3-member dissertation committee comprised by program and research faculty:
- RES 7000: Dissertation Proposal
- RES 7100: Dissertation
Progress from RES 7000 to RES 7100 occurs when the student’s dissertation research proposal is successfully defended orally to the student’s dissertation committee. The dissertation is also presented orally for dissertation committee approval to complete RES 7100.
Ph.D. Psychology with Specialization:
Any student enrolled in the Psychology may opt to declare one of the Specializations offered through the HCP department. Specializations are available to students at both the Master and Doctoral levels; they include:
- Consciousness, Spirituality, and Integrative Health (CSIH)
- Creativity Studies (CS)
- Existential and Humanistic Psychology (EHP)
- Psychophysiology (PH)
- Complex Trauma and the Healing Process
- Jungian Studies