Diversity is a capstone of the philosophy and training model of the program, as the privilege to integrate faith and practice is contingent upon psychology’s valuing of religious differences. It is vital that all aspects of individual and cultural diversity (whether racial, ethnic, age, socioeconomic, or disability, among others) are similarly valued and encouraged. Diversity discussions are infused in program training through the seminars and collaborative work in the community with Caring Communities Initiatives. Information about Caring Communities can be found here.

The program strives to integrate the question, “What is the role of cultural and individual diversity in [current topic of psychological phenomena and / or professional practice]?” in all aspects of training. As interns present cases, they are challenged to explore diversity aspects intertwined with clinical issues. Oppressive societal factors affecting mental health are explored, as is the need for social justice and advocating for those who have not had the opportunity to be heard.

A Diversity Module highlights and supports an integrative focus on diversity in the program. This module includes fairly intense self-assessment with regard to matters of cultural identity, including issues of privilege. Interns complete and discuss readings related to the assessment of diversity in treatment, as well as ways to utilize individuals’ unique cultural strengths. Additionally, interns participate in outside trainings that promote diversity applications, such as a poverty simulation sponsored by ACCESS (All County Churches Emergency Support System) and an intensive two-day seminar exploring racial diversity at the Institute for Healing Racism.

Interns also have the opportunity to serve populations in the inner city of Grand Rapids through a five-year grant (of $500,000) offered through the Pine Rest Foundation. Interns experience a consultative role in providing psycho-educational programming and consults to organizational staff, students and families in the community.

The internship program also works in tandem with Pine Rest’s Human Resources division and the Advocates for a Diverse Community Committee. This collaboration helps extend the organizational mission: to express the healing ministry of Jesus Christ by providing behavioral health care with professional excellence, Christian integrity, and compassion. Pine Rest specifically determines to respect the distinctive quality of each individual, and to encourage each person’s unique contribution through living the mission of diversity.