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To register for our annual AISP Convention, please visit the Convention Registration Page.

The Need For Native American Psychologists

There are approximately 2,000,000 individuals in the United States considered to be Native American. There are currently 511 federally recognized native entities and 365 Native American, state-recognized American Indian Tribes. Approximately 40% of Native Americans live on tribally-held lands, while 60% live away from tribally-held lands, primarily in urban areas.

The American Indian population in the United States is seriously underserved in the areas of mental health and education. School dropout, learning problems, family disruption, alcohol/substance abuse, depression, and suicide are generally considered to be at seriously high levels in this population. Culturally acquired styles of learning and behavior are often at odds with methods of instruction and classroom management in anglo-oriented schools. The problem of education and mental health service delivery to Native Americans is complicated by a substantial shortage of Native American psychologists, particularly in tribal reservation areas.

For example, Zin and Halsell (1988) found that only 12 American Indian students were enrolled in the 201 school psychology training programs in the U.S. that were surveyed. There are only about 100 Native American psychologists currently in the United States. The U.S. General Accounting Office and Office of Technology Assessment have also reported that there are serious shortages of qualified personnel to provide education and mental health services to American Indian children and youth.

The American Indian Support Project

The American Indian Support Project (AISP) at USU was launched in 1986 as an effort to impact the shortage of Native American mental health professionals and school psychologists. The Psychology Department at USU remains committed to training American Indian graduate students. There are many indications of the commitment that the USU Psychology Department has to training American Indians, such as:

  • A full time American Indian faculty member is on staff to recruit American Indian students, provide support for students, and to teach the multicultural course work.
  • American Indian students can be accepted on a provisional basis, allowing them to prove that they can handle the rigorous course work.
  • A full time American Indian Support Project graduate assistant is available for tutoring and for student support. Other tutors are used as needed.
  • The Psychology Department actively pursues stable USU financial support for American Indian psychology graduate students. The AISP staff also assists students in acquiring sufficient funds from outside sources to adequately support themselves and their families.

To register for our annual AISP Convention, please visit the Convention Registration Page.