Cultivating Student Leadership in Professional Psychology

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Abstract

Professional psychology involves comprehensive training incorporating coursework, clinical experience, research, teaching, and professional development. One critical but often overlooked part of professional development is leadership experience. Developing leadership skills is likely to enhance psychology students’ training and professional competence and serve to strengthen the profession as a whole. In this article, we discuss the concept of leadership with a particular focus on the role of leadership and its need in psychology. We also highlight important issues in student leadership, such as professional mentoring and multicultural diversity. We then offer recommendations to enhance student leadership development in professional psychology, including illustrative examples of how these recommendations can take place across graduate, internship, and postdoctoral settings and how leadership outcomes may be measured. Finally, we employ a case study to illustrate our recommendations in the context of a professional organization. Recommendations are broad in scope and may also be utilized to foster student leadership in the context of other psychology subdisciplines (e.g., experimental training programs). Our position is informed by the belief that it is important to conceptualize psychology students as developing leaders for the next generation of socially responsible, service-oriented psychologists.

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