Iowa State University

IDL Graduate Student Training



The Identity Development Laboratory

The Identity Development Laboratory (IDL) was established in the Psychology Department of Iowa State University (ISU) using funding and physical space provided to Dr. Patrick Armstrong. The primary focus of the IDL is the assessment of counseling-related individual differences (interests, personality, values, and ability perceptions) and related measurement issues, although a wider range of research questions have been explored at various points by lab personnel.
As a functioning psychology laboratory, the IDL contributes to three primary objectives related to the training and development of graduate students in counseling psychology: First, the IDL is used to collect data. Second, it contributes to the career development of IDL-affiliated individuals (faculty, graduate and undergraduate students) through research presented in peer-reviewed publications and at academic conferences. And third, the IDL provides research-based training opportunities to both graduate and undergraduate students at ISU.

Counseling Psychology Graduate Students


Graduate students in the Ph.D. program in Counseling Psychology at ISU have a number of general responsibilities related to their professional development. Although this is not intended as an exhaustive list, graduate student responsibilities will tend to fall into one of four categories:


1.  Academic Course Work. Graduate students complete a sequence of courses that count towards completion of their M.S. and Ph.D. degrees, as listed in the student handbook, approved by the student’s Program of Study Committee and/or mandated by A.P.A. requirements.


2.  Research Activity. Graduate students will typically complete two research projects to qualify for a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology. The first is a Master’s level thesis that counts towards the completion of the M.S. program requirements. The second is a Doctoral level dissertation for their Ph.D. requirements.


3.  Clinical Training. Graduate students in the Counseling Psychology program complete a multi-year sequence of clinical training experiences to become qualified therapists. As is the case with research experiences, some of this training is done without financial compensation (i.e., as a practicum), and some of the training occurs in ‘Clinical GAs’ where the student receives funding.


4.  Personal Development and Self-Care.  Due to multiple role responsibilities and challenges being a graduate student can be stressful. Although self-care is not a formal degree requirement, students in the Counseling Psychology program are strongly encouraged to participate in personal development and self-care activities that are consistent with their personal beliefs and values.


Affiliating with the IDL


Counseling Psychology graduate students who affiliate with the IDL are expected to have Dr. Armstrong serve as their major professor. As the major professor, he will assist and supervise students in the planning and implementation of a training program that will address the four graduate student responsibilities outlined above. The duration of this arrangement is expected to be between five and six years (including internship), although for various reasons the length of this commitment may be increased or decreased to reflect the professional development needs of individual students.


Specific IDL Responsibilities


The nature of the specific work responsibilities of graduate students in the IDL is negotiated individually for each student, but is generally influenced by two factors: Level of funding and number of years of experience in the Ph.D. program. Graduate students who receive funding from the IDL are expected to make more substantial contributions to the running of the lab.


1.  Supervising and Mentoring 491s.  Undergraduate research assistants, or ‘491s’ (i.e., students enrolled in PSYCH 491), provide critical resources for IDL data collections. Managing their work activities is one of the most important role responsibilities for graduate students who are affiliated with the IDL.


2.  Organizing and Scheduling Data Collections.  The process of data collection is one of the most time and labor-intensive tasks performed at the IDL. As such, effective organization of data collections is an important role responsibility for gradate students.


3.  Assigning Research Credits.  Graduate students are responsible for assigning research credits to our participants using the department’s online registration system.


4. Preparing IRB and Survey Documents.  At the IDL we endeavor to be in compliance with ISU ethical guidelines and practices at all times. Graduate students participate in both the designing of survey materials and in the preparation of IRB documents.


5. Troubleshooting.  It is often the case that unforeseen issues and difficulties will emerge with data collections and other research activities at the IDL. Graduate students are encouraged to be active problem-solvers as part of their roles as leaders in the lab.


As students progress through the Ph.D. program other funding opportunities will emerge that provide access to an increased range of training opportunities, such as clinical positions at SCS and teaching of classes. Students are often encouraged to pursue these opportunities for professional development reasons, but in these cases students are expected to continue providing some assistance to the IDL in exchange for the support provided towards their thesis and dissertation.


For any additional questions about affiliating with the IDL as a graduate student, or for more general inquiries about the Ph.D. program in counseling psychology at ISU, please contact Dr. Armstrong at