California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

Graduate psychology outgrows Bell House

As you drive down Pioneer Avenue, you will find the Bell House where California Lutheran University’s Department of Graduate Psychology resides. With three graduate programs total— two masters programs and one doctoral program— the house will soon see big changes.

In October, the Graduate Psychology department will become CLU’s Graduate School of Psychology. For over 30 years, the graduate psychology program at CLU has been growing and expanding.

With increasing student interest in the Counseling Psychology (MFT) program, the Clinical Psychology program and a new Doctor of Psychology program based at the CLU Oxnard campus, the department has been approved by faculty and staff to develop even more by becoming an official school.

“This is a big deal. For a long time we have just been a program floating around out there and with no representation by a dean,” said Rachel Casas, who has a doctorate degree in clinical psychology and is an assistant professor in the psychology doctoral program.

Casas works with students who are earning their Doctorate of Psychology. She currently teaches a cognitive assessment course as well as a neuropsychology course at the CLU Oxnard campus.

“We work at a great facility with state-of-the-art clinics here in Oxnard. We are, however, located in a shopping center, so sometimes it’s hard to feel the connection to the main campus. By becoming  a school and hiring a dean, we will be able to unify the grad students and feel more apart of CLU’s main campus,” Casas said.

One important part of the process of becoming school is to search and hire a dean.

Leanne Neilson, provost and vice president for academic affairs  currently oversees the Graduate and Adult programs. The new dean will oversee the Graduate School of Psychology and its programs after the change.

“It’s a very positive thing and will do a lot for our students. We need an advocate for [the] main campus and for the Oxnard campus. The dean’s job will be to help that communication between the programs and both campuses,” Casas said.

Next to the Bell House lays CLU’s Community Counseling Services. This house on campus provides counseling services to clients all throughout the Conejo Valley, giving hands on training opportunities for the graduate psychology students.

“The counseling centers are such a highlight because people love the practicum piece. We provide family therapy, individual therapy and couples therapy,” said assistant professor Jamie Banker, who has a doctorate in human development. “We are also on a sliding scale fee meaning that clients pay based on their income which is just another benefit of being a great training clinic.”

By becoming a school, these graduate psychology programs will have more opportunities for scholarships and graduate assistantships. Further funding will be provided in order to continue education programs for not just graduate students but for other licensed therapists in the community. The dean of the school will  be able to hire more full time faculty and provide additional contacts for the graduate students, their research studies and the community.

“Before, there has generally been a lot of expansion in the undergraduate programs at CLU and now we will see more growth in the graduate programs,” Banker said. “Our Psy. D. Program is looking to earn APA [American Psychology Association] accreditation and our MFT program will eventually go up for COAMFTE [the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education] accreditation. A dean plays a big role in that and will create more opportunities for clinical placements, like internships and outreach, for our clinics to continue providing therapy services to the Conejo Valley.”

“This change will attract new students and will help us to grow even more. Becoming an official school is an attractive thing to prospective graduate students,” said Administrative Assistant of Graduate Psychology Jessica Waddell.

The programs have annual goals for the amount of students they want to admit. The goal this year for the Psy. D. program was 17 students and for the MFT and Clinical programs the annual goal was 60 students.

“There is more and more activity going on in graduate psychology department,” Banker said.  “And with this growth and improvement, we are able to have our own school. We need this representative on campus and in the administration.”

Current MFT student Christiana Ortega is excited about the department’s new change.

“As a new student of psychology, I have experienced the esteemed level of service and education provided by the faculty and staff that jointly make the learning experience a pleasurable one. I am looking forward to becoming a part of the program’s expanding community and I am enthusiastic about its growth and developments ahead,” Ortega said.

Neilson will officially announce the Graduate School of Psychology during homecoming weekend.

The event begins Oct. 19th at 11:30 a.m. Alumni, current students and professors will speak.

The counseling centers will be highlighted and a video will be shown about the Psy. D. Program at the CLU Oxnard campus. Anyone affiliated with the School’s programs or interested in entering any of the programs are encouraged to attend.


Emily Behrs
Staff Writer
Published Oct. 9, 2013

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