Answering the Call to Service

The Career Crusaders talks to Teresa Chapa at Alliant University

Posted Jun 02, 2017

Courtesy of California School of Professional Psychology at Alliant University
Source: Courtesy of California School of Professional Psychology at Alliant University

Since 1969, the California School of Professional Psychology at Alliant University has trained thousands of psychologists, providing the rigorous education, hands-on experience, mentoring, and specialization that’s their key to professional success. Driven by a deep desire to help others, Alliant students are ready to serve and lead from “day one” after they graduate in a wide variety of settings. To learn more about the program, we spoke to Teresa Chapa, Ph.D., Dean of the California School of Professional Psychology.  

What are the goals of a typical student choosing to study at your University?

What we've consistently heard from our California School of Professional Psychology (CSPP) at Alliant University students is they feel they have a calling to service. They believe that advanced degrees and expertise are meaningless unless they are used as an instrument for public benefit and the greater good. That is why our students collectively contribute over 1.2 million hours of community service every year, and it is also why Alliant is the first standalone university to become a certified benefit corporation.

Education is the great equalizer and one of the most powerful tools at our disposal, but it is only when education is paired with purpose that we bear witness to its true power. At CSPP, we pride ourselves on preparing the next generation with the tools they need to translate their education into public benefit, service to their communities, and to make a lasting impact through one of society's most vital helping professions.

What distinguishes your university's approach to education?

Alliant is a professional practice university. We prepare our students to not only know, but to do. We emphasize hands-on training that helps our students turn their experience into expertise and their expertise into leadership. We prepare CSPP students to become culturally competent providers of the highest quality mental health care. And, we ensure that our faculty are training each student to join the ranks as leaders in their field.

Scholars and thought leaders like Carl Rogers, Victor Frankl, Abraham Maslow, Rollo May, Igor Ansoff, Jay Haley, Paul Hersey, and Virginia Satir aren't just people our students learn about; they're people our students learn from. Our current faculty is comprised of experts in the field who continue to practice their profession and can keep their classrooms on the cutting edge of an ever-evolving science and industry.

How do you prepare students to be professionals/practitioners? What goes into their training?

At CSPP Alliant, hands-on training is the cornerstone of our programs, and it begins on day one. Our Clinical Psychology Doctorate Programs are accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA) and our on-campus Marriage and Family Therapy Master's and Doctoral Programs are COAMFTE-accredited, both of which carry extensive field training requirements. Internships and practica are paired with scholarship, creating a balance of theory and practice. Our students work with children, families, service members, governments, prisons, corporations, and non-profits alike. They bring their classroom experience to bear in the field and bring their field experience back into the classroom It is their extensive training that sets our programs apart and arms our students with the tools they need to make a lasting impact in their communities and across the globe.

What distinguishes the professional work that your graduates do after they are licensed?

The California School of Professional Psychology was one of the nation's first free-standing schools of professional psychology. Our emphasis on professional practice means that when our students graduate, they go on to continue work they've already been doing for years at CSPP. They may transition from their practica and internships to full-time roles, but the service they are providing to their patients, clients, and communities remains.

Because our students are so thoroughly prepared for practice from the moment they take their first step off of the commencement stage, they often go straight into field, and some return to the field after having come to CSPP to further their career. Many of our clinical students go on to start their own practice, our business psychology students often start consultancies, and we have even had the pleasure of having some of our alumni join our University as faculty.

Can students specialize in a particular area of psychology?

Yes. We offer on-campus and online graduate programs in Business Psychology such as Organizational Psychology, Organizational Development, Organizational Behavior, and Leadership; Marriage and Family Therapy; Clinical Counseling; Psychopharmocology; and APA- accredited doctoral programs in Clinical Psychology with highly specialized emphasis training such as Ecosystemic Child Psychology, Clinical Forensic Psychology, Multicultural Community Psychology, Family/Child and Couple Psychology, Trauma and Stress Psychology, Clinical Health Psychology, Psychodynamic Psychology, and Integrated Care.

Our business psychology emphasis areas include Strategic Human Resource Management, Executive Coaching, Organizational Change, and Sustainability. We also offer graduate certificate programs in Chemical Dependency/Substance Use and Abuse, Gerontology, and LGBT Human Services and Mental Health.

Can you provide a verbal snapshot of alumni accomplishments?

Our alumni network extends around the globe and, at nearly 50,000, includes leaders in virtually every corner of the industry. Because our faculty train their students to become both their colleagues as leaders in the field and the next generation of thought leaders, our alumni have gone on to become vital pioneers in their communities. Alumni like Travis Bradberry, author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0; Davina Kotulsi, LGBT advocate; Mark Blankenship, Executive Vice President of Jack in the Box and leading voice for corporate diversity and inclusion; and Lac Su, author, advocate, and public commentator, continue to use their education as a tool for societal change and lasting impact. Alliant's institutional vision is an inclusive world empowered by Alliant alumni, and the impact our alumni have on their communities is bringing us ever closer to realizing that vision.

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Courtesy of California School of Professional Psychology at Alliant University
Source: Courtesy of California School of Professional Psychology at Alliant University