Date of Award

Spring 2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)


Graduate Department of Clinical Psychology

First Advisor

Kathleen Gathercoal, PhD

Second Advisor

Mary Petersen, PhD

Third Advisor

Robin Henderson, PhD


Compared to other allied health fields, psychology continuously lags behind in representation on the state, national, and local level. The percentage of advocacy involvement by psychologists is very low compared with other professions. There is a great need for all psychologists to become advocates. Unfortunately, there has been limited research into the reasons why few psychologists actually engage in this process. The purpose of this study was to explore the differences in state psychological membership and primary place of practice among Oregon psychologists and students with regard to participation in mental health legislation and to identify barriers and motivations to participation. Graduate students from 3 National Council of Schools of Professional Psychology and a randomly chosen group of psychologists who are listed as American Psychological Association members were asked to participate in an email survey. This study’s findings suggest that place of practice or involvement in a state psychological association may not be as relevant to advocacy behavior as one might expect. By far, most respondents indicated personal values as being their biggest motivator for involvement in advocacy. Lack of time continues to be an enormous barrier for many respondents. The findings in this study suggest there is a continued need to stress the importance of understanding advocacy behavior as a means to increasing advocacy participation. Greater awareness of advocacy opportunities and issues can be achieved through an advocacy curriculum imbedded in graduate programs or through mandated legislative advocacy training days.