Piquing Interest in Clinical Psychology

Document Type

News Article

Publication Date


Campus Unit

University of North Dakota


Education can prepare individuals for careers but it can also be used to help address cultural, health, political and any other myriad range of issues in our world. One such set of issues in our state and region was identified nearly 20 years ago. Since that time, the Department of Psychology has educated scores of professionals to help solve it.

It was identified that future clinicians are in great need in order to address four recognized problem areas:

  1. Too few mental health professionals in Native American communities.
  2. Too few Native American mental health professionals.
  3. Substandard availability of quality mental health services in Native American communities within the immediate five-state area.
  4. Insufficient cross-cultural training in mainstream psychology.

INPSYDE, or Indians into Psychology Doctoral Education Program, (established in 1992 through ND Senate Bill 2412) is for Native American students interested in pursuing a doctoral degree in clinical psychology. The program offers many academic benefits including research experience, mentorship, clerical resources, and financial assistance for presenting research.

Undergraduates and graduates benefit from the resources of the INPSYDE program; graduate students are eligible for a full academic graduate scholarship. The program and department offer clinical placements for graduate students that aim to build and maintain an affiliation between tribal colleges, reservation schools, Indian Health Services (IHS) units, and UND to ensure students receive the necessary guidance and exposure to pursue careers in psychology as a culturally competent clinician.

To interest future generations of college students to Clinical Psychology, INPSYDE holds an annual summer camp for Native American high school students. “Getting a college experience by living in residence halls and taking courses on campus is important. Our main goal of the camp is to hopefully peak their interest in psychology enough to pursue it as a career,” said Samantha Chase, a graduate student who works with the department. INPSYDE was started as a result of Dr. McDonald pursuing grants from IHS in 1994. Since then, the program has held its summer camps every year with a generally high percentage of students returning year to year.

Students from the Psychology department in their third or fourth year of graduate school work as teachers and counselors to help these Native American students. Since some of the staff graduate each year, there are always new faces to welcome and interact with the campers. That variety can keep students interested and acts an incentive to come back year after year.

Another incentive is the recreational activity. The camp activities include actual camping, waterparks, attending pow-wows, rock wall climbing, baseball games, and picnics.

UND Psychology department faculty is also on hand to share their experiences or to guide students. Chase sees their perspectives as field professionals as an honest look into the career path and it gets students familiar with the faculty they may have as instructors if they choose to attend UND.

“Research is one of the prime aspects of being a successful psychologist,” said Chase. “People generally don’t think of research when they think of psychologists, but we try and make these students understand that research is a major factor in clinical psychology and its level of importance in clinical work. We try to give them a realistic view of what clinical psychology is and what is included in the training.”

The annual two-week summer camp recently concluded for 2011 and proved to be a success. “One of the great features is that you (Native American students) can return even the summer of your graduation year,” said Chase. The program looks to offer official college credit to the high school students starting next year, giving them added perks and using the “foot in the door” technique to increase their likelihood of pursuing college.

The Department of Psychology currently dedicates two slots each year to Native American graduate students, so the INPSYDE camp can be looked at as an intuitive feeder program to fill in those two spots. The ideal goal is to have students attend the camp and later complete a Ph.D. in clinical psychology at UND. There are three students who have or are in the process of finishing their degrees at UND that previously attended our summer camp.

To enroll in INPSYDE camp, participants need to be Native American high school students, preferably junior or senior status. Applications are due each year on May 1. Those interested in The Graduate School program, must formally apply for admission.