New Track Prepares Psychology Majors for Social Advocacy Careers

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

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Program opens door to psychology careers beyond one-on-one therapy.

A new track in Bastyr University’s Bachelor of Science with a Major in Health Psychology prepares students for careers in social advocacy, leading non-profits and helping others gain access to social services.

Launching in fall 2015, the Social Advocacy track, like the other tracks in the health psychology major, draws on Bastyr’s holistic approach to psychology. The program recognizes the connections among mental, spiritual and physical health, incorporating integrated wellness models along with traditional psychology.

What’s different about the new track is that it equips students to work in settings beyond traditional one-on-one counseling.

“There’s a need for a career path for psychology students who don’t want to counsel individuals or practice health care,” says Naomi Lester, PhD, a core faculty member in the Department of Counseling and Health Psychology. “Lots of people want to help others in a group setting, or by helping people get access to services, or through advocacy. It’s another way to tailor your bachelor’s degree to your interests.”

Students will learn to recognize factors influencing healthy development at any age. The track emphasizes connections between psychology, culture, environment, education, poverty and other social contexts. Dr. Lester expects it will be popular for students who want to continue graduate studies in social work or public health, especially in Bastyr’s new Master of Public Health program.

The track will also qualify students for a variety of careers right out of school.

“It’s a very versatile program,” says Jonathan Olson, PhD, an adjunct psychology professor who helped develop the curriculum. “You can take it in many directions.”

Graduates might work in government agencies, YMCAs, Boys & Girls Clubs or other non-profits. The program includes training in grant-writing, non-profit administration and health-intervention programming.

Through four courses, students gain extensive understanding of developmental psychology throughout the lifespan. During their two quarters of practicum training, they’ll have the option of working with senior citizens, an area of high job growth.

The University also renamed the existing tracks within the health psychology program. Learn more about all three options: