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The School of Education and Social Sciences Celebrates “Psychoversary”

Monday, June 15, 2015

When Brad Jump '13 counsels people wrestling with drug and alcohol addiction, he draws on what he learned at Robert Morris University, where he earned a bachelor's degree in psychology with a concentration in clinical psychology.

“I utilize the knowledge I had gained through my education at Robert Morris to see an everlasting change in the people I treat on a daily basis,” said Jump, an addiction counselor at Gateway Rehabilitation Center.

The psychology program at RMU, part of the School of Education and Social Sciences, is celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2015, and during that time it has grown from two students to more than 200. The psychology major now includes three concentrations – general, clinical, and sports psychology – and boasts a psychology club and a chapter of Psi Chi, an international psychology honorary society. The program hosted the Western Pennsylvania Undergraduate Psychology Conference and hosts the annual “Psych in a Box” event to promote the study of psychology to local high school students.

“Our psychology program is unique in that it includes tracks like clinical and sport psychology at the undergraduate level that are not usually seen until a student starts graduate work. The variety and high quality of our courses means that our graduates are exceptionally well-prepared for the workplace and for graduate school,” said Mary Ann Rafoth, dean of the School of Education and Social Sciences.

The sport psychology concentration exemplifies the growth of the psychology program. The concentration is aimed at students who want to pursue careers in athletic counseling, behavioral health consulting, and related fields. This concentration focuses on two aspects of athletic psychology: the development of mental skills that can help individuals and athletes reach their highest potential and working with athletes who need assistance with mental health and disorders that affect performance.

“So many students are interested in the sports industry that we want to show them how versatile the industry can be rather than solely being a college athlete. Sport psychology in general is a relatively young field but it is growing. As of right now there are only a handful of sport psychology programs across the nation and we are the only school who offers it in western Pennsylvania,” said Samantha Monda, assistant professor of psychology.

Starting in 2016, the School of Education of Social Sciences will launch a master’s degree in counseling psychology. That degree will prepare students to become a licensed professional counselor, a critical certification in Pennsylvania that allows psychologists to practice counseling and psychotherapy independently and accept third-party payments such as health insurance.

“Many of our graduates are attending counseling or counseling psychology programs at our regional competitors. As our undergraduate program has matured, the possibility of establishing a graduate program in psychology came under serious consideration,” said Rafoth.