Research interest: an existential theory of addiction

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7+ Year Member
Jun 3, 2015
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Hi all,

I recently graduated with my BA in psychology and am now preparing to apply to clinical psych grad programs.

During my undergrad I worked with a professor in an independent study course. In that course I began to develope an existential theory of addiction.

For me, it would be ideal to write my dissertation based on the theory. However, I realize that I am naive.

The university I have my heart set on is Duquesne.

I suppose I'm just wondering how realistic it is to expect to find a PhD program that would allow me to research addiction from an existential perspective. I also wonder what other schools besides
Duquesne Might be viable options for me.

Any sort of feedback would be appreciated. Though I realize I've left things a bit vague.

I'll fill in a few more details. I'd like to go to an apa accredited university. And ofcourse, it would be ideal if tuition remission was offered. Somewhere that is equal emphasis or more practice oriented.


7+ Year Member
Mar 24, 2014
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Sounds like an interesting topic to me. I think that you might have difficulty finding a good fit for your research interests if it is too narrow and many programs will be wanting a more quantitative approach. Which might not be an issue because usually, at the beginning of grad school, the most difficult part sometimes is taking our broad ideas and whittling them down to something that can be studied. The dissertation could also be used as a means to test one or two of the hypotheses that the theory generates. If you find evidence to support your theory, then it will make it easier to get more research done when you are getting paid.

Some of my own dissertation research was looking at 12 step groups from a phenomenological perspective and existential issues were one of the themes that arose. For the recovering addicts, they framed it as very much a life or death choice. Don't know if that relates at all but I do know that there is always more research to be done.


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Apr 2, 2013
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The only qualitative guy at Fordham is Fred Wertz, so I wouldn't say the overall program is open to humanistic or existential stuff. Wertz is great for this stuff though.

West Georgia has different tracks for the record, for Masters: thesis, academic, clinical (but the clinical is very informal and self-driven, basically you independently take the classes that are required to sit for the LPC). The PhD program is purely academic, although it's certainly qualitatively oriented. But not good for clinical and not APA accredited (they aren't interested in that kind of program).

There's actually an Existential Psych class being taught next semester in the Masters program, from Duquesne alum Eric Dodson. I've also taken a class in existential-phenomenology from another Duquesne guy Chris Aanstoos (we have a lot of Duquesne folks). If you're interested in pursuing a Masters before your PhD (what I'm doing), sounds like you may wanna check it out. It's not a bad springboard for getting into Duquesne, if you aren't accepted straight from undergrad. The program is a mixture of humanistic-existential/phenomenological, critical, and transpersonal. Tuition is low here and you can get remission+stipend if you're a graduate assistant (I am).

Seattle U is another seemingly good Masters program with this orientation, but it's a crazy expensive private school. Dallas has good faculty, not as expensive as Seattle maybe? Sonoma in California is the only other public university humanistic program outside of West Georgia, so they're gonna be relatively affordable too. Point Park in Pittsburgh is humanistic-existential and has a focus on community clinical. The two main guys there are Duquesne alumni and they're cool people, I met them at the Division 32 conference recently. But yeah these are all Masters programs. There aren't many (if any) other APA accredited PhD programs where this stuff is widely embraced, like Duquesne. Point Park is trying to set up a Psy.D but who knows when it'll happen, how much it'll cost, and how long it will take them to get APA accredited (I do believe they intend to try).

Btw are you familiar with TMT? It's an existentially based research method:
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