Yorkville University Launches First-of-its-Kind New Doctor of Counselling and Psychotherapy Degree


July 24, 2020

Yorkville University now offers a Doctor of Counselling and Psychotherapy degree – ­the first, and only, one of its kind in Canada.

The newly launched doctoral degree program, which will be delivered entirely online, will begin accepting its first cohort of students in September 2020.

“This program is one of only a few in North America. Not only is Yorkville the leader in this area of study, we are preparing counsellors and psychotherapists to be leaders in the field,” said Dr. Peter Hall, Yorkville University’s Campus Provost and Vice President Academic (New Brunswick).

Peter Hall, PhD RP LCT ACS CCC
Campus Provost & Vice President Academic (NB)

“Our Doctor of Counselling and Psychotherapy students, faculty, and graduates will also be leaders in helping to shape the Canadian identity of counselling and psychotherapy.”

The 60-credit professional doctoral program, which will be primarily course-based, is designed to equip students with the knowledge and skills required to help define counselling and psychotherapy as a profession distinct from other health and helping professions.

In order to maintain a level of learning and interaction appropriate for studies at the doctoral level, Yorkville University will cap each starting cohort of the newly launched Doctor of Counselling and Psychotherapy program at just 16 students.

Characterized by Yorkville University President Dr. Rick Davey as “practitioner-oriented degree,” the Doctor of Counselling and Psychotherapy’s course work builds research and leadership skills, preparing graduates to assume leadership positions in the counselling and psychotherapy profession.

“It’s really focused on individuals who are currently counsellors and psychotherapists who want to continue the development of their skills and expertise in terms of their own practices, in terms of supervision, and in terms of leadership in the profession,” Davey explained.

Dr. Kevin Alderson, who recently won the prestigious Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association (CCPA) Counselling Book Award, played an instrumental role in the Doctor of Counselling and Psychotherapy program’s development as its Acting Director.

Commissioned by Yorkville to spearhead the program shortly after retiring from the University of Calgary in 2018, Alderson was in the process of writing his tenth book – Addictions Counseling Today: Substances and Addictive Behaviors – when he got the call.

Dr. Kevin Alderson, Acting Director of Yorkville University’s Doctor of Counselling and Psychotherapy program

“Revising the program and putting it together in a way that could distinguish it from Psychology and Counselling Psychology, in particular – I knew that was going to be the biggest fight,” said Alderson, a licensed Counselling and Clinical Psychologist.

“It took a little maneuvering and a lot of thinking, but we had a committee that became a think tank.”

One of the most “ingenious” ideas to come out of that brain trust was the elimination of practicums from the Doctor of Counselling and Psychotherapy’s list of graduation requirements, Alderson said.

“It’s an idea that makes this program something that people can take anywhere in the world. We found another way around it, so it doesn’t matter where you are, you’re not going to create greater load for that city, because practicum placements are always in such short supply,” he said.

Instead, the program culminates in an Applied Scholarship Project, wherein students bear on problems of practice in counselling and psychotherapy and model the best advanced practices.

The Applied Scholarship Project course, which spans the duration of the Doctor of Counselling and Psychotherapy program, serves several functions. It includes:

  • Ongoing development and integration of personal theory into practice;
  • Regular development and discussion of each student’s Personal Practice Portfolio;
  • Regular contact with and advisement from the students’ core faculty member;
  • Preparatory steps for the Applied Scholarship Project (ASP);
  • Preliminary drafts of all components of the ASP; and
  • Final defence of the ASP

For graduates of Yorkville University’s Master of Arts in Counselling Psychology (MACP), the introduction of the Doctor of Counselling and Psychotherapy opens a whole new door to continuing their studies at a doctoral level, said Dr. John Crossley, Yorkville’s Vice President of Academic Services.

“Many of our graduates want to pursue doctoral education so they can broaden their practice, move into leadership positions in the profession, or teach,” he said.

Before the launch of Yorkville’s Doctor of Counselling and Psychotherapy degree, those graduates had to apply to existing doctoral programs – most of which admit only a few students each year, require students to complete residency, practicum, and internship requirements, and do not focused on counselling and psychotherapy, Crossley added.

“With our new Doctor of Counselling and Psychotherapy program, our MACP graduates have access to a program that not only focuses on their area of practice – counselling – but that is also offered via the fully online method of delivery with which they are familiar,” he explained.

“It also incorporates the development of counselling skills into courses, without the need for practicum placements or internships.” 

Dr. Rick Davey, President of Yorkville University

According to Davey, the fact that the program is delivered entirely online only further demonstrates Yorkville University’s commitment to “accessible, rigorous and flexible” programming for students who are seeking professional advancement through higher education, yet might not otherwise be able to attend university.

“So, if you’re ready to achieve even more, now is the time to contact Yorkville University,” Davey said.

“We’re ready to answer your questions and to support you through the application process.”

For more information about Yorkville University’s new Doctor of Counselling and Psychotherapy, watch this information session.