Meet Tatyana: Counseling psychology


"I feel like as a student body, we have been very supportive in terms of building community and creating a village for each other."

  • Why are you interested in counseling psychology?

    I always knew that I wanted to work with people, and I think when I was an undergrad in trying to figure out the difference between counseling psychology and clinical psychology, just who I am authentically as a person, I felt like counseling psychology as a field  and in a profession fit me more clinical.

    Sometimes I feel like I can focus too much on psychopathology of people, and I'm interested in working with folks of color so that can be harmful in terms of promoting stigma. So counseling psychology felt more authentic to me. It's more focus on like race and other issues of diversity and social justice, racial healing, things like that. All things that are important to me personally and professionally. 

  • How were you able to join the doctoral program after undergrad?

    The school that I came from is called Xavier University of Louisiana. It's a private HBCU in New Orleans, and it's the only, like Catholic HBCU. But while I was there, I was enrolled in this program called the Ronald E McNair Program. It's basically geared towards helping black and brown folks get into Ph.D. programs. So that's how I was able to go right from undergrad into a Ph.D. program because my university and that program in particular really helped to prepare me in terms of the research aspect. 

  • What student organizations are you involved with?

    I would say the main one is the Black Graduate Student Association. It was an association that split off from the Graduate Students of Color Association because the black students felt like their concerns weren't really being met within the larger organization. And that organization ended up dying once the people who were running it graduated and there was nobody there to pick up the torch. So my best friend who I met in the program, Devin Willis, she, myself and some other black graduate students restarted Black Grad Student Association two years ago. And we've been able to do like a lot with that organization with campus and the community. We've put on several different events and things like that. So I have served as the vice president of that organization for the past two years.

    I've also served as a secretary for the counseling psychology registered student organization. So that's the one that's specific to the program at Western, and they've had a lot of success as well. It's received a social justice award from APA and other groups.

  • What funding have you received?

    One that I got through Western, it's really through the State of Michigan, but it's filtered through the Graduate College. It's the King-Chavez-Parks Fellowship. So it's in honor of those folks legacy in terms of their passionate commitment to teaching and education. So that is really geared towards helping people transition from graduate school into either a career in academia or service. So service could be like being a Dean, provost, working career services trial program, things like that. And that's something that is very important to me because in terms of like how I identify as a counselor psychologist, I would say I'm like a healer and an educator, so that fellowship fulfills that passion for me. 

    My second fellowship is through the American Psychological Association. So that's their Interdisciplinary Minority Fellowship Program. So in terms of being a healer, that fulfills that passion because the service piece in that fellowship is geared towards helping folks in various like mental health professions work with and be able to provide culturally competent and sensitive care to folks of color.

  • Why WMU?

    I can only speak specifically to my experience. So being a black woman coming from the South, I have a particular set of identities, lived experiences and socialization about myself, other people and the world. Coming from a historically black university where I'm used to the entire student body looking like me, that's a unique way of being socialized into academia. And one thing that I have appreciated about the program at Western is that I found a home in that even though the council psychology program is within a predominantly white department at a predominately white institution, at least when I got here, the majority of the faculty were black and our student population was black and brown folks. So I was able to find community as I was learning how to think more critically about the ways that I've been socialized and being inducted into the profession.

    I feel like as a student body, we have been very supportive in terms of building community and creating a village for each other and being supportive because it is hard getting a PhD. And all of us have so many different things that we're passionate about and communities that we're fighting for, and it can be really tiring, painful, exhausting work. But there is also space for joy, resilience and resistance. But it's a hard thing to balance as a graduate student, especially if you're not a graduate student like me, who I took a more traditional path. But there are people who have families and children and people that depend on them. And again, speaking in my personal experience, I feel like I've gotten what I've needed out of being in the counseling psychology program.

    So for that reason, I would encourage people to come out and to form their own opinions about different departments, because every department has things that they can work on, just like every university has things that they can work on. But that would be a reason that I would encourage someone to come here and form their own opinion because I've been able to find myself here.

Counseling psychology at WMU

Western Michigan University's doctoral program in counseling psychology began in 1978 and is currently based on a scientist-practitioner model.

The Counseling Psychology Doctoral program resides in the College of Education and Human Development in the Department of Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology. The program's philosophy holds that theory, research and practice are interdependent and complementary. The curriculum and practical experiences are designed to ensure professional competency in all three dimensions and to facilitate their integration. The counseling psychology program’s student admissions, outcomes and other data are provided to help potential doctoral students make an informed decision. Program graduates are typically employed in a variety of settings including academic departments, university counseling centers, community mental health agencies, hospitals and independent practices.

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