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Technology and Mental Health Concentration

Launch Your Career in Tech and Mental Health with an MS in Psychology Degree

MS in Psychology Admissions Deadlines Apply by August 4, 2023 Learn More
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The Technology and Mental Health concentration, within the PAU Master of Psychology degree, explores the important role technology plays in today’s society, the effects of technology on mental health, and the complexity of the interaction between technology and human behavior.

Students in this concentration pair traditional training in graduate psychological science with cutting-edge courses on the impact of technology on child and adolescent development, the efficacy of online psychological interventions in healthcare, the Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning for product design, and user experience design in the digital world.


 

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Highlights

  • Utilizing technology to enhance mental health is an emerging area of study and PAU is at the forefront of this burgeoning field.
  • Students will learn to identify the impact of technology on mental health, which digital tools contribute to mental health, and how to develop these digital tools.
  • Courses are delivered live in a Zoom-based classroom.
  • Students may participate in an optional 3-month internship with the Palo Alto VA's Mobile App Team doing UX research.  
future trends in mental health care

Careers in Technology and Mental Health

PAU's Technology and Mental Health Concentration prepares students for technology-related employment in the fields of:

  • Education and Research
  • Media
  • Healthcare
  • Forensics
  • Non-Profits and Government Agencies
  • Business and Human Resources
  • Mental Health Start-up Companies
  • User Experience (UX) Design and Research

Students who graduate with this concentration become experts in the application of technology, such as smartphone apps, virtual reality, and video games, to enhance mental health in various industries. 


Graduates will understand the current trends in mental health and wellness, the changing demands of the technology workforce, the expansion of the mental health and technology venture and corporate sector, and the ways in which an understanding of psychology can benefit those who want to work in technology. 

The MS in Psychology is not a clinical degree and is not license-eligible. 

Recommended Course Sequence


Fall

  • MTHD509 Research Methods and Statistics I

  • PSYS501 Child & Adolescent Development

  • PSYS507 Adult Development & Aging

Winter

  • ASMT500 Psychopathology & Psychodiagnosis I

  • STAT510 Research Methods and Statistics II

Spring

  • STAT511 Research Methods and Statistics III

  • ASMT501 Psychopathology & Psychodiagnosis II

  • PSYS540 Technology and Mental Health for Children and Adolescents: Screen Time, Digital Interventions, and Teletherapy

Summer

  • PSYS511 Social & Personality Psychology

  • PSYS541 Evidence-based Internet Interventions to Reduce Health Disparities

Fall

  • CLIN500 Ethics in Clinical Psychology

  • PSYS543 Mental Health and Design in the Digital World (User Experience)

Winter

  • PSYS502 Cognitive Bases of Behavior

  • PSYS504 Affective Bases of Behavior

  • PSYS542 Using Evidence-Based Principles of Multimedia Learning for Product Design

 

Course Descriptions and Student Learning Outcomes

Technology and Mental Health for Children and Adolescents: Screen Time, Digital Interventions, and TeletherapyToggle Accordion

PSYS 540 Technology and Mental Health for Children and Adolescents: 1.5 units

With the rise of new technologies our society is being transformed and children and adolescents will be affected both positively and negatively by these technologies. Clinicians working with children and adolescents often advise parents on what to do with their children's technology use (e.g., screen time, cyberbullying, video games, etc). Developing a science-based view of the impact of the new Information and Communication Technologies on the children and adolescents development could help clinicians provide better recommendations for parents.

Additionally, technologies can be specifically designed to treat and prevent mental health disorders in children and adolescents. Even more, Behavioral Intervention Technologies (BITs) may have the capacity to expand delivery models and/or increase the outcomes of therapy. BITs are defined as mobile and electronic interventions that incorporate a variety of technologies, such as mobile phones, the Internet, and virtual reality, in order to assist users in altering behaviors and cognitions related to mental and physical health wellness (Mohr, Schueller, Montague, Burns, Rashidi, 2014).

Emphasis will be placed on treatments designed to be effective with the most commonly occurring pediatric and adolescent health conditions and mental disorders. New professionals trained for the future of mental health care will require to be familiarized with the evidence for and utilization of BITs such as virtual reality, artificial intelligence, Internet interventions, mobile health, wearables, etc.

 Course Learning Outcomes

  • Understand the attitudes towards technology present in youth, parents and mental health professionals

  • Develop a critical view of the impact of the new Information and Communication Technologies on the children and adolescents development.

  • Understand the impact that new technologies have on youth development, including recommendations that clinicians can give parents on how to deal with technologies.

Describe the main Behavioral Intervention Technologies (BITs) with empirical support for children and adolescents, including apps, websites, and videogames. 

Evidence-based Digital Internet Interventions to Reduce Health DisparitiesToggle Accordion

PSYS 541 Evidence-based Digital Interventions to Reduce Health Disparities: 1.5 units 

The course will focus on how to blend psychology and technology to help the greatest number of people possible worldwide. Mental Health professionals in the 21st Century will increasingly use digital tools to enhance the effectiveness of their interventions and to expand their reach to serve those currently underserved, including those who do not speak English. These tools have the potential to reduce health disparities and reach diverse populations.

We will examine the growing number of online psychological interventions for health (Websites, mobile applications, and other digital tools) that have been shown to be effective in formal outcome studies. Therefore, the course will be particularly useful to students interested in working in tech and health companies.

 Course Learning Outcomes

  • Differentiate between the concept of consumable vs. non-consumable interventions

  • Identify characteristics of internet evidence-based interventions

  • Understand the ethical and legal issues in the practice of psychology, with a focus on the use of technology

  • Demonstrate how to evaluate the relevance of published studies for diverse populations

Using Evidence-Based Principles of Multimedia Learning for Product DesignToggle Accordion

PSYS 542 Principles of Multimedia Learning for Product Design: 1.5 units

Designing effective digital products such as educational videos and interactive educational modules requires an understanding about how people learn. This course introduces students to the Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning (CTML), a theory about how people learn and process information. Students will also be introduced to evidence-based principles that can be used as a framework when designing multimedia content.

We will examine the evidence about the effectiveness of the principles of multimedia learning, design/create two digital products and evaluate existing digital products. The core part of the course will focus on the CTML and principles of multimedia learning, however, there will be a brief introduction to other design frameworks such as Backward Design and ADDIE model (Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, Evaluation). Students will also receive a brief introduction to UX Design.

 Course Learning Outcomes

  • Demonstrate foundational knowledge of the Cognitive Theory of Multimedia (CTML) Learning and Principles of Multimedia Learning.

  • Apply the CTML and Principles of Multimedia Learning as a framework to design two digital educational products, a video and an online interactive module.

  • Students will use the CTML and Principles of Multimedia Learning as a framework to evaluate existing educational videos.

  • Students will annotate bibliographies based on Principles of Multimedia Learning research publications to further expand their knowledge of these principles.

  • Students will demonstrate understanding of additional design theories that they could further explore after the course has ended.

Mental Health and Design in the Digital World (User Experience)Toggle Accordion

PSYS 543 Mental Health and Design in the Digital World (User Experience): 3 units

This course is designed to introduce students to concepts, considerations, and research at the intersection of mental health and digital product design.  It intends to help encourage critical thinking about mental health and design in the digital world, drawing on theories and concepts from clinical psychology, social psychology, and associated disciplines.

It will also provide an introduction to skills and strategies necessary for user-centered design of digital mental health products, including user experience interviews, survey design and qualitative data analysis.

 Course Learning Outcomes

  • Students will be able to describe different UX/UI approaches, and best practices with respect to design research and implementation strategies.

  • Students will create effective UX surveys and interviews to gather quantitative and qualitative data about product design.

  • Students will build or enhance skills related to interview and focus group approach, style and pacing.

  • Students will apply data analysis techniques specific to design research and evaluation.