Psychologists Focus on Diversity in Programs, Policies, and Practices

Founded in 1976, the National Council of Schools and Programs in Professional Psychology (NCSPP) is an organization composed of delegates from programs and schools of professional psychology who aim to advance the development of graduate training in professional psychology. NCSPP hosts an annual conference for delegates from professional psychology programs across the country. In January, the Wright Institute was well-represented at the 2018 Midwinter Conference:

Alicia del Prado, PhD, Full-Time Faculty member in the Clinical Psychology program, is a member of the NCSPP Conference Planning Committee, and has also served on other committees within the organization in the past.

Gilbert Newman, PhD, Dean and Director of Clinical Training at the Wright Institute, led an all-day American Psychological Association (APA) Commission on Accreditation Site Visitor Workshop at this year’s conference.

Veronique Thompson, PhD, Full-Time Faculty member in the Clinical Psychology program, serves as the NCSPP Liaison to Student Delegates for the NCSPP.

Mary Clarke, PhD, Full-Time Faculty member in the Counseling Psychology program, co-led a presentation entitled “Marginalization: How Experiential Learning Can Further Harm Non-Dominant Participants” along with two Wright Institute Adjunct Faculty members, Torrey Wilson, PhD and Penelope Asay, PhD.

“This was a great opportunity to connect with other psychologists who are working to improve social justice and advocacy within our field,” Dr. Clarke said. “Our presentation was well-attended, and it was clear that everyone in the room really was interested in how to improve the classroom experiences for all students in all classes, not just courses that specifically tackle issues of diversity. That left me feeling inspired and glad we did this presentation. We’re hoping to continue working on this topic and possibly do some related research.”

The theme of this year’s conference was Diversity Actualization: Manifesting Diversity in Programs, Policies, and Practices for Community Well-being. “The NCSPP has a longstanding history of diversity competencies and is known as a pioneer and leader in diversity training,” Dr. del Prado explained. “For this year’s conference, we focused on defining diversity broadly to incorporate the wide range of cultural identities that we all have.”

This year’s conference sessions also focused on moving from discussion to action and implementation. Dr. del Pardo notes, “each presentation shared something deliverable that delegates can implement in their programs. We’re focusing on action and implementation.” For example, spirituality and religiosity have historically been difficult for psychologists to address, so the committee made sure that conference presenters would feature concrete ideas for how to improve this competency within a largely secular community.

Former NCSPP President and current Wright Institute Adjunct Faculty member, Dr. Torrey Wilson, began a tradition in 2011: a Day of Service on the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day holiday which falls during the conference each year.

This year, conference attendees marked the Day of Service by volunteering with Opportunity Village, a non-profit organization serving adults with intellectual and related disabilities, with the goal of enhancing their lives and and those of their families.

“We coordinate the service project so we can give back to the community that’s hosting us, and it ends up being one of the highlights of the conference every year,” says Dr. del Prado.

Another memorable aspect of the event was the keynote address by Dr. Kevin Nadal, President of the Asian American Psychological Association and friend of the Wright Institute. “Dr. Nadal emphasized the importance of being a psychologist-activist,” Dr. del Prado explained. “That was a key take away from the conference: activism is very much in alignment with the ethics code.”

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