Training Health Service Psychologists for International Engagement: Perspectives for Training Programs
As psychologists continue to engage the growing diversity within the United States and around the world, there is an imperative need for psychological services that are specific to cultural needs and integrate relevant sociohistorical and community factors. Currently, ethnocentrism in psychological interventions, research, and graduate training limit psychologists’ international engagement and perpetuate a focus on U.S. psychology. For graduate programs in health service psychology (i.e., clinical, school, and counseling psychology), there is a dearth of literature on their methods of preparation of health service professionals engaging in psychological work outside of the U.S. However, graduate training programs have opportunities to intervene on the field’s colonialism by preparing professionals to effectively engage internationally. Addressing ethnocentrism in training is a critical next step for the field of health service psychology.
This dissertation is comprised of two distinct chapters that are conceptually related. In the first chapter, I review health service psychology’s current international engagement. As psychologists engage outside of the United States, the field of psychology and the training community must critically examine the applicability of psychological interventions, research, and graduate education to international contexts. I propose six recommendations for training programs to deconstruct colonialism and enhance preparation of graduates for competent work outside of the U.S.
In the second chapter, I report an original, empirical study, using qualitative descriptive methodology, which critically examines how U.S. training prepares graduates to work internationally. Through semi-structured interviews, I explored internationally based psychologists’ reflections on their training experiences and preparation for their current roles in teaching, practice, research, consultation and policy, and psychological infrastructure. Data analysis utilized consensual qualitative research methodology (CQR). Results provided valuable information regarding psychologists’ professional roles outside of the U.S., factors contributing to their vocational experiences, country-specific mental health attitudes, values, and practices, the impact of U.S.-centric psychology in the country of location, lessons taken from their graduate training, and recommendations for international work. Findings provided recommendations to the training community to incorporate more of an international focus and enhance preparation of students for work outside of the U.S.