The Clinical Psychology Program at MSU is committed to understanding and promoting mental health in an increasingly diverse society. Our faculty and students believe that an enhanced understanding of all types of diversity is critical for the development of our individual students and faculty as clinical scientists and professionals in the field. Our program subscribes to an inclusive definition of diversity which includes race, age, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, religion, disability, geographic region, and other significant reference groups.

Our commitment to diversity and multicultural training is a core value and strength of our clinical science training, as noted by the APA Accreditation Evaluators who noted that our diversity training was

“…unique to clinical programs across the nation and uncommonly dedicated to providing a multifaceted program addressing diversity concerns.” (APA Accreditation Site Team, 2007) 

Below, we highlight some of our faculty research on diversity issues and our program activities aimed at ensuring that diversity issues remain front and center as a core value of our program. Please note, however, that this list is not exhaustive, as many didactics and training activities on diversity and multicultural issues are included in our coursework and practica as well.

  • Policy Statement on Importance of Psychologists Serving a Diverse Public

    Our graduate program is committed to a training curriculum that helps graduate students develop the knowledge and skills necessary to work effectively with members of the public who represent a diverse set of demographics, attitudes, beliefs, and values. Graduate students in our training program are expected to adhere to the Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct (APA, 2010), as well as the professional standards of the Psychology Department. We respect each student’s right to maintain his/her/their worldviews, beliefs, and/or religious values [referred to henceforth as “values”]; however, these values do not supersede and cannot impede any training program goal or the profession’s ethics.

    We understand that students may occasionally have difficulty negotiating their values with those of prospective clients in conducting assessments or psychotherapy. Our program strives to create a supportive environment that takes a developmental approach to train and educate our graduate students. If problems arise regarding the interface of student values and professional ethics/training program goals, faculty will work with the student to remediate the problem and find a path that allows the student to work in a professionally competent manner with all clients.

    Our program expects graduate students to develop skills in cultural competency, so that they can provide client care to a broad segment of the public that is based on trust and respect and that does no harm. Consistent with this expectation, our program does not permit students to discriminate on the basis of age, gender, gender identity, race, ethnicity, culture, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability, or socioeconomic status during their training. In order to successfully complete our program, students must be able to work with any client in a beneficial and non-injurious manner. Students may not refuse to work with a particular client population or to develop professional competencies because of conflicts with their own attitudes, beliefs, or values. Refusal or failure to develop acceptable professional competencies will result in termination from the program.

  • Diversity Committee

    In the past few years, we have focused on issues of race, socioeconomic status, health disparities, sexual orientation, and disabilities as they relate to the training of clinical scientists and the research, treatment, and assessment of psychological disorders. Discussions of relevant articles and movies on diversity topics, invited lectures by multicultural researchers, and workshops on cultural sensitivity are used to address these topics. Some example activities over the last several years include:

    • Presentation about key diversity and social justice-related terminology and core principles, the role of psychology in social justice, costs of privilege for privileged group members, and leveraging privilege in social justice. In depth discussion about how clinical science and social justice can coexist, and relevance of social justice for clients, therapists, and researchers.
    • A group reading of four clinical vignettes followed by discussions on the ways in which race, gender, class, sexual orientation, etc. were relevant to the clinical vignettes and how these socially constructed categories might be relevant in our own clinical work. Examples include shadism/colorism in ethnic minority communities, “hair politics,” relevance of bilingual language acquisition, racial authenticity testing, cultural homelessness, psychological risks and increased risk of victimization associated with exotification of multiracial men and women, non-visible minority status and racial ambiguity, and experiences of Whites with close affiliations with ethnic minority groups.
    • A "Privilege Walk" activity to identify both obstacles and benefits one might experience and recognize how power and privilege can affect our lives even when we are not aware that they are happening.
    • Group discussions among research labs to identify ways of conducting multicultural research with existing data sets or resources within each lab.
    • Viewing and discussion of racial and social tensions in the 2004 film, Crash.
    • A health disparities lecture by the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the American Psychological Association, Dr. Norman Anderson.
    • A journal club review and critique of existing measures of socioeconomic status in the field.
    • Dialogue and group exercises on how attitudes and beliefs about social class can create barriers to effective therapy.
    • A speaker panel on barriers faced by children and adults with autism.
    • Organization and hosting of a depression screening event at a predominantly Black church.
    • A research colloquium presentation by Dr. Terri Conley (University of Michigan) exploring the nature of stereotypes about heterosexuals held by lesbian, gay, and queer-identifying individuals.
    • A workshop facilitated by Dr. Frederick Leong (MSU) on developing and using cultural formulations in clinical practice.
    • A workshop facilitated by Dr. John Lee (MSU Counseling Center) on multicultural competence in clinical work.
    • Student case presentations of their work with clients from diverse racial and economic backgrounds.
    • Guided discussions about ways to have effective and open dialogue with clients about diversity issues.
  • Research Highlights

    The Clinical Psychology Program at MSU is committed to understanding and promoting mental health in an increasingly diverse society. Our faculty and students believe that an enhanced understanding of all types of diversity is critical for the development of our individual students and faculty as clinical scientists and professionals in the field. Our program subscribes to an inclusive definition of diversity which includes race, age, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, religion, disability, geographic region, and other significant reference groups.


    NiCole T. Buchanan  researches the interplay of race, gender and victimization and how they impact the nature of harassment (e.g., racialized sexual harassment), its impact on  psychological well-being, physical health, and academic/work lives, and organizational best practices for creating healthy workplaces. Within university settings, she also studies research biases, their disparate impact on faculty of color and ways in which their research is devalued (i.e., epistemic exclusion).

    Jae Puckett studies how marginalization impacts transgender and gender diverse individuals as well as ways of coping and being resilient in the face of such challenges.


    Alytia Levendosky and Anne Bogat study intimate partner violence (IPV) and its effects on women and young children. Their interests in diversity include social class (intimate partner violence is more prominent in low-income families) and ethnic/racial differences in IPV experiences.


    Alex Burt studies the effect of gene-environment interactions on the development of child conduct problems. She has a particular interest in the interaction between genetic factors and high-risk environments such as those characterized by high-levels of poverty.


    Brooke Ingersoll studies the development, dissemination, and implementation of community-viable interventions for children with autism spectrum disorder, with a focus on underserved families. 


    Amy Drahota focuses her translational research on developing and testing interventions for individuals with autism spectrum disorder as well as helping agencies deliver evidence-based practices to individuals with autism. The goal of these research activities are to help improve quality of life and inclusion for individuals with specialized needs.


    Kelly Klump's work focuses on understanding the etiology of eating disorders, with a special focus on gender issues and the ways in which genes, hormones, and social experiences contribute to sex differences in the prevalence of eating pathology.


    Jason Moser's recent research focuses on understanding the etiology and maintenance of anxiety disorders with a special focus on sex differences in cognitive mechanisms underlying anxiety proneness.


    Katy Thakkar studies the biological mechanisms underlying the symptoms of schizophrenia and related illnesses. Given that schizophrenia is associated with poorer socioeconomic status and subjective quality of life, she is particularly interested in the relationship between basic cognitive and social processes and real-world social and occupational functioning.

  • Admissions Interview Day Diversity and Student Life Panel

    Our program hosts a Diversity and Student Life panel discussion during our Graduate Admissions Interview Day.

    Graduate students organize and facilitate the panel discussion about diversity in our clinical program, at MSU, and in the surrounding community. Applicants are encouraged to ask questions about diversity issues (e.g., “What is the climate for Asian students in this program?”, “Are there sufficient numbers of Black students to conduct my research on depression with this population?” “Are there opportunities to conduct therapy with Spanish-speaking clients in the clinic?”). The panel also addresses general questions about life in graduate school (e.g., "What is a typical day for a graduate student in this program?", "What is the work-life balance like?", "What are some fun activities to do around the East Lansing area?"). Post-interview evaluations have shown that applicants appreciated the open forum to discuss these issues and learn about the high value our program places on diversity, diversity training, and student life issues.

  • Consortium for Multicultural Psychology Research

    The clinical program is also a proud supporter of the Consortium for Multicultural Psychology Research (CMPR). CMPR’s mission is to “generate and apply psychological science to increase our understanding of multicultural issues in both domestic and international contexts.” 

    The Consortium facilitates student and faculty research activities across the department and across the globe. In addition to its vast research networks, CMPR houses several research datasets that include multiculturally relevant variables and a significant number of individuals from different cultural, racial, and ethnic groups. These data archives allow students and faculty to conduct research with populations that may otherwise be difficult to access. 

    In October 2013, the MSU Clinical Psychology Program co-sponsored CMPR’s 2013 MSU Symposium on Multicultural Psychology on the “Clinical Psychology of Ethnic Minorities”. This symposium focused on mental health disparities across people of color in the United States. Speakers included international experts in the field including Guillermo Bernal (the University of Puerto Rico), Nolan Zane (the University of California, Davis), Stanley Sue (Palo Alto University), and Laura Kohn-Wood (the University of Miami). 

    Finally, in addition to all of the CMPR events described above, the Consortium also hosts an Annual Distinguished Lecture that highlights the work of world-renowned multicultural researchers including Drs. Hazel Markus (Stanford University), James Jackson (the University of Michigan), and Stanley Sue (Palo Alto University). The Consortium also hosts an APA Advanced Training Institute that offers week-long trainings on topics such as Methodologies for Investigating Treatment Outcomes with Culturally Diverse Populations, Culture and Neuroscience, Methodological Strategies, and Genomic Research in Ethnic Minority Communities.

  • MSU Project 60/50