Adler University in Vancouver opens door to psychology career

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      Adler University in Vancouver is proud of its commitment to social justice. This is one reason why the graduate school named after famed Austrian psychotherapist and doctor Alfred Adler was able to recruit Dr. Manal Guirguis-Younger as its program director for the Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology (Psy.D.) program in 2019.

      “There is a very strong alignment of values between the framework of Adler University and my research and values,” Guirguis-Younger says on the Adler University website. “Especially, in terms of the openness to questions of social justice and also in educating, working, and training in an environment that is sensitive to social justice.”

      Adler was an early proponent of the importance of building strong communities to improve people’s mental health.

      In a recent interview with the Straight, Guirguis-Younger talked about her extensive academic research into homelessness and addiction.

      “There are very different reasons for why people might be without a formal home,” Guirguis-Younger said.

      She encourages students to appreciate that the homeless come from all walks of life, which is why it’s important to avoid stereotyping them. Some are adolescents, others are seniors, and there are people with addictions and others with mental-health issues.

      “We have a duty of care to understand what brought a person there in order to be able to help them—and not lump people in a group,” Guirguis-Younger emphasized. “We’re training students to be prepared to work with people who are marginalized and underserviced. There’s no doubt that homeless people are among the most marginalized in our community.”

      Moreover, she said that some people have been “nomads” all their life—and that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are on the streets due to mental illness.

      “So I encourage students to always be prepared to listen to the individual stories and know how a person ended up there.”

      The Adler University Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology program trains people who aspire to become registered psychologists in B.C. The first year includes a social-justice curriculum, which involves extensive work in the field.

      In addition, students learn how to conduct assessments, practise therapeutic intervention, and develop original research for their doctoral dissertation and be able to defend it.

      “After they’ve completed all these requirements, they do a full-year internship, which is a supervised practice,” Guirguis-Younger said.

      After they’ve completed all of these requirements, they obtain a Psy.D. degree and can apply to the College of Psychologists of B.C. to be considered for registration as a psychologist.

      Guirguis-Younger noted that Adler is one of only three universities in Canada that offers an English-language scholar-practitioner model. Students must have a bachelor’s degree as a prerequisite, plus they must provide letters of reference as part of the screening process.

      “It’s focused on professional training, but they still have to do the research component,” Guirguis-Younger said.

      Students must have a bachelor’s degree as a prerequisite, plus they must provide letters of reference as part of the screening process.

      By the end of the program, students will have gained skills in psychodiagnostic assessments and psychotherapeutic intervention, as well as knowledge of psychopharmacology and neuropsychology.

      “I would think a strong feature of Adler University, which makes us unique, is our particular attention to social justice,” Guirguis-Younger said. “We actually have a very strong curriculum and a lot of time devoted in our program to this dimension. It’s a very vivid componentof our university’s vision and mission.”