Schools and Programs
Oklahoma State University
The American Indians into Psychology program, which is based in the department of psychology at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, has a 6-week long Summer Enrichment Program for American Indian psychology students who are interested in graduate study in psychology. Students participate in research projects and shadow psychologists, social workers, and other professionals who provide direct services to Indian people. Students also attend weekly seminars on topics relevant to American Indian psychology.
John Chaney, PhD (Mvskoke Creek)
Director, American Indians into Psychology
University of Montana
A two-week long summer program is available for up to 10 undergraduate American Indian students who are interested in a career in clinical psychology. Students attend research and clinical presentations given by American Indian graduate students in clinical psychology. Activities are organized around such topics as depression, suicide, and fetal alcohol syndrome. Emphasis is placed on preparing for the Graduate Record Examination and developing a successful application to graduate school. Graduate programs in psychology differ greatly, so Gyda Swaney, Flathead, PhD, Director of the INPSYCH program says, “We try to help students become good consumers of education. We ask them, ‘What are your goals? Do your goals match with the program you’re applying to?’ Without a good match students aren’t going to succeed. Swaney says that all of the INPSYCH summer programs are different, so students can benefit from attending more than one summer program.
As part of a Bridges to Baccalaureate Program, every summer two tribal college students work with Swaney in her lab.
Mentoring is a key source of support for undergraduate and graduate psychology students in the INPSYCH program. Swaney says, “Our research lab follows the mentorship model. Native undergraduate students, Native graduate students, and I, a Native faculty member, work together on projects. Outside of the lab we also meet together. We also travel together to events such as the meeting of the Society of Indian Psychologists.”
As of the summer of 2007, four American Indian students have earned their PhDs in clinical psychology: Darren Calhoun, Shoshone and Arapahoe; Billie Joe Kipp, Blackfeet; Annie Belcourt-Dittloff, Blackfeet; and Jera Stewart, Flathead. Dr. Stewart is currently in a post-doctoral program in neuropsychology. Upon completing the program, she might be the first Native neuropsychologist. Five other American Indian graduate students at the University of Montana will soon earn PhDs.
Gyda Swaney, PhD (Flathead)
Director, INPSYCH Program
University of North Dakota
Established in 1992, the primary goals of Indians into Psychology Doctoral Education (INPSYDE) at the University of North Dakota are to increase the number of American Indians with doctoral degrees in psychology and enhance the cross-cultural understandings and competencies of all psychology students regarding mental health care for Indian people.
The two-week long INPSYDE Summer Institute is an enrichment program for American Indian junior and senior high school students who are considering a career in psychology or a related discipline. The program focuses on helping students learn to build a strong academic foundation in psychology and related sciences. Students live in a dormitory at UND under the supervision of counselors.
The Psychology Department at UND currently dedicates two slots each year to incoming Native American graduate students. The INPSYDE provides academic assistance, career preparation and social and cultural support to both undergraduate and graduate students. Financial assistance is given when possible. Some services are provided through cooperative agreements with other American Indian support programs at UND. UND’s psychology department dedicates two slots each year to incoming Native American graduates students.
Clinical placements are available in American Indian communities: the Circle of Life School at White Earth, Minnesota; the school system in Belcourt, North Dakota, and the Little Voices Group Home in Sisseton, South Dakota.
Doug McDonald, PhD, the director of INPSYDE, reports that to date, 14 INPSYDE students have earned their PhDs and more than 25 INPSYDE students have earned MAs. The graduates are all working with Native communities. Several of them are back on their home reservations. Most graduates are with the Indian Health Service (IHS), the primary funding source for the program.
Doug McDonald, PhD (Oglala Lakota Nation)
Director, Indians Into Psychology Doctoral Education (INPSYDE)
In an interview for Health Workforce News, Dr. McDonald discusses INPSYDE, the great need for Native psychologists, and other issues.
Utah State University
The American Indian Support Project (AISP) based in the psychology department at Utah State University was established in 1986 to address the shortage of American Indian mental health professionals and school psychologists. The psychology department has remained committed to graduating American Indian students with the master's degree in school psychology and the PhD in the combined psychology program (Clinical/Counseling/School).
AISP recruits and provides support for not only American Indian students but other ethnic minority students as well.
Every year students in AISP have the opportunity to meet American Indian, Alaska Native, and First Nations psychologists and psychology graduate students as they help host the annual Convention of American Indian Psychologists and Psychology Graduate Students. They can also participate in the retreat that precedes the convention as well as the annual meeting of the Society of Indian Psychologists that meets in Utah in conjunction with the convention.
From 1990 to 2009, 29 Native students have received one or more degrees. Fourteen students earned the MS degree, primarily in school psychology. Seven of the 15 students who earned PhD degrees also earned MS degrees on their way to their doctorate degree.
Carolyn Barcus, EdD (Blackfeet)
Gayle Skawennio Morse PhD (Mohawk)
Co-Directors, The American Indian Support Project