Advisors help guide students along their individual career paths by aiding them in developing themselves as professional psychologists. Advisors assist students in planning how to gain knowledge about programmatic or career details and offer advice once a student has researched options. Advisors may facilitate students' development toward achieving professional goals, including:
- Finding and pursuing appropriate practicum and internship opportunities.
- Considering various courses and dissertation topics.
- Developing networking skills and competencies in students' areas of interest.
- Developing interests in practice, theory, and research.
Advisors act as liaisons between faculty and students, reporting on their progress at biannual faculty meetings. In order to provide accurate information, students should inform their advisor of their workload, performance, and progress through the program (i.e., whether the student is on track, has an academic and professional plan appropriate to his/her stage in the program, and a realistic timeline for achieving his/her goals). Optimally, the advisor and advisee would meet each semester during the student's first two years at GSAPP, and as needed thereafter, to keep the advisor apprised of information relevant to this part of his/her role. In the few occasions where students' advisors are not core, visiting, or joint faculty in their own departments, students must ensure that the outside advisor provides brief updates to the chair each semester about these students' progress on the dissertation, orals, other relevant milestones, and responses to departmental communications.
At its best, the advisor/advisee relationship is a collaborative, working relationship in which both students and advisors share a common understanding of the roles and responsibilities of each member. Students are encouraged to initiate and maintain the degree of student-advisor contact they desire. It is acknowledged that faculty members vary in their specific approach to the advising process and students vary in their needs and preferences. Consequently, it is important to communicate one's needs and preferences and to provide feedback to develop mutually rewarding advisor-advisee roles.
Students are not limited to their advisors in pursuing their professional development, and many find valuable resources through practica, visiting faculty, peers ahead in the program, research projects, dissertation committees, or membership in professional organizations. In these cases, it is important to keep the advisor updated on one's progress so the advisor can provide accurate information to the rest of the faculty, as needed.
While the intention is to make good faculty-student matches, when students' interests and preferences do not sufficiently match those of their advisors, the student may search for a suitable match with another faculty member. If the new advisor agrees, then the student informs the administrative assistant who changes the department records. Once the change is finalized, the administrative assistant then notifies the Coordinator of Student Services. Finally, once a student has a dissertation chair, it is common to have less contact with one's advisor. In fact, some students may decide to have their chairs become their advisors. In such a case, the student needs to obtain the chair's agreement, and follow the aforementioned procedures to change the advisor-of-record. For the students whose dissertation chairs are not core, visiting, or joint faculty in their own departments, it is recommended that they maintain advisors in their department, so as to keep the faculty updated regarding their progress.