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Freed-Hardeman University's Doctor of Behavioral Health degree program prepares current and future healthcare providers for a transforming medical care marketplace. It is designed to produce graduates who have advanced clinical and executive leadership skills as well as business insight.
The 60-credit hour doctoral degree is offered through traditional and web-conferencing modalities and may be taken on either a part-time or full-time basis. The curriculum includes courses that provide live chat with instructors and other students, clinical rotations, real-time streaming video consultations with experts in the field and a capstone research project focused on the student’s professional career or work setting. The program is geared specifically to students who prefer an alternative to research-focused doctoral programs.
The D.B.H., one of Tennessee's first professional doctorates in behavioral health, prepares post-master's, licensed clinicians to offer advanced-integrated care in a variety of behavioral health settings. The executive leadership component will enable graduates to maximize earning potential by filling organizational and market demands.
Dr. Mike Cravens
Director, Doctor of Behavioral Health Program
Director of Graduate Admissions
Path to Admission
Consistent with other graduate programs offered at FHU, applicants for admission into the Doctor of Behavioral Health (D.B.H.) program must submit and comply with the following for consideration and acceptance:
Note: Applicants are required to be computer literate and have a computer, printer and Internet service provider with high-speed broadband Internet access. If accepted, each D.B.H. student will be required to comply with Freed-Hardeman University's Academic Computing Standards for Students.
Electronic documents should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Paper documents should be mailed to:
Office of Graduate Studies
158 East Main Street
Henderson, TN 38340
Doctoral Degree in Behavioral Health
Program Coordinator: Dr. Michael Cravens
Doctoral Capstone Project
(If needed for continuous enrollment)
A required on-campus orientation to the DBH degree. This course is a major resource of information for students’ knowledge and engagement throughout the program. Students will participate in structured activities, directed assignments, and guided dialogue. This course includes a significant writing component focusing on the development of an evidence-based scholarly literature review and project proposal for a translational research project.
An in-depth study of human suffering. Students will consider how to deal with personal suffering while helping others who suffer. Utilizing the Christian perspective, students will formulate a theology of suffering and create an integrative approach that will result in successful interventions with individuals and families who suffer.
An intense examination of human behavior. This course explorers a number of specific theories relevant to the biopsychosocial approach: part/whole analysis, psychodynamic theory, ecological/systems theory, cognitive/behavioral theory, and radical/critical theory. Since human development is a product of interaction between the individual, family, community, social institutions, and culture, the student will explore human behavior throughout the human life cycle, which will enable understanding, analyzing, and intervening in problems encountered in professional practice.
An analysis of the U.S. healthcare system. This course explores the evolutionary track of the American healthcare delivery system since 1900. Specifically, the course explores healthcare terminology, the particular settings and entities providing American healthcare (hospitals, public and private health agencies, staffing, and payers), the government’s unique role, and ways in which the multi-faceted system is financed. Finally, the course will look at how delivery is managed for special populations, including behavioral health.
Advanced study of behavioral science research methods. This course is a comprehensive review of behavioral health research methods including quantitative, qualitative and matrix methods, ethical considerations, an introduction to the Institutional Review Board, and other challenges involved in quality research design. This course builds on DBH 700 Residential: Orientation to Doctoral Study through continued development of the scholarly literature review and project proposal.
Clinical-ethical-legal issues surrounding practice. This course focuses on the philosophical, ethical, legal, and moral elements of the professional in the behavioral healthcare system. The intent of this study is to help the professional navigate through the inevitable difficult choices that arise during the administration of behavioral healthcare. Topics to be explored include various ethical decision-making models, end of life issues, policies and procedures, organizational laws and ethics, various healthcare laws, patient consent, patient rights and responsibilities, as well as employee rights and responsibilities.
Advance study of psychopathology. This course begins with an examination of current ethical, socio-cultural, and legal issues related to the classification and diagnosis of abnormal behavior. It is further designed to provide behavioral health practitioners with a deeper knowledge of the major categories of mental-emotional illness. Finally, the course will include the etiology, prevalence and incidence, signs and symptoms, and criteria of various disorders, (including advanced differential diagnosis), setting the stage for DBH 745 Evidence Based Treatment for Clinical Practice and DBH 750 Complementary and Alternative Behavioral Health Treatment Strategies.
This course will better equip the behavioral healthcare provider with a current understanding of the extensive list of psychotropic medications. This course is geared toward those practitioners who routinely deal with patients needing medication and who collaborate with medical providers prescribing those psychotropic medications. Finally, the course provides readily available resources and listings of drug information, updates, side effects, drug interactions, and counter indications.
An analysis of executive leadership. This course examines various evidence-based concepts of leadership, as well as their theories and spheres of influence for the advanced behavioral healthcare leader. The ultimate goal of this course is to strengthen one’s leadership skills in the delivery of behavioral healthcare services. Course members will create missions and visions for their area in order to deliver excellence, make evidence based decisions, and become more culturally sensitive. Students will also have the opportunity to focus on the assessment and enhancement of their executive leadership skills and future career development.
A framework for evidence based treatments. This course involves addressing common mishaps in practice, analysis of scientific findings, the seven step process of evidence based treatment protocol, case conceptualization, and best practices for the highest quality of care. This course will provide the practitioner with the advanced skills for making clinical judgments as well as understanding and integrating empirical evidence, patient preferences, and inter-professional perspectives for the best patient outcomes.
An analysis of complementary and alternative treatments. This course moves clinical practitioners beyond their prior training, yet builds on their previous knowledge, theoretical orientation, and current practice(s). It provides an in-depth study of the more contemporary treatments, the lesser-known treatments, and even some of the controversial modalities used by many of today’s healthcare providers. The course rounds out its study with reviews of complementary and alternative medicinal approaches.
A thorough study of integrated behavioral healthcare. This course will provide various models demonstrating a system of collaboration between behavioral healthcare providers and medical personnel. This course will emphasize a team model in the medical setting. Understanding and skill building in inter-professional communication, collaboration, and maintaining professional credibility, will be a major component of this course. This course includes a rotation within a medical setting.
A focus on behavioral healthcare administration. This course is designed to bridge the business knowledge gap that exists in most graduate level behavioral science programs. This course will prepare the behavioral health clinician to become a more insightful, skilled, and efficient organizational business manager within various behavioral health and medical settings.
A continuation of DBH 760 Behavioral Healthcare Administration I. This focuses on financial analysis and decision-making within modern business by providing theory, budgeting methods, risk analysis, and various other financial factors associated with business finance. Furthermore, this course focuses on understanding the various elements involved in creating a functional business plan for current practice/environment. Business plans will be submitted for evaluation using the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) analysis technique.
Advanced treatments for various addictions. Topics to be discussed include the use of opium by the ancient Sumerians to the recent epidemic of methamphetamine in the western world. There will be an emphasis on the origin of the drugs of abuse and the complex interaction between these drugs and their genetic, developmental, political, and social context in different eras. While this course will focus mainly on substance use disorders, time will also be spent on process addictions such as sexual addiction, compulsive gambling, and eating disorders. Particular attention will be given to the various treatment strategies of these addictions.
An in-depth study of behavioral health informatics. This course will identify the historical impact of, current trends in, and future possibilities of technology within behavioral health. Students will gain advanced knowledge in ethical principles related to the application of technology within behavioral health. Students will also enhance their ability to lead an organization in improving behavioral healthcare practice based upon healthcare data.
Advanced techniques of diagnosis and treatment planning. This advanced course focuses on application of knowledge and skills in the assessment/diagnosis and treatment planning process. Furthermore, this course provides an opportunity for students to make an intensive study/analysis of selected patient/client cases. Finally, this course supports students in refining their therapeutic skill set for utilizing the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and the International Classification of Diseases for integrative case conceptualization.
A thorough study of behavioral health and wellness. This rigorous course teaches the doctoral behavioral healthcare practitioner about developing leadership related to today’s most prominent health issues. These include how lifestyle choices impact health (and lives) over time, current health and wellness information, how to develop programs, and strategies and skills for creating motivation and managing change. This course will utilize insight from the other disciplines of health, biology, psychology, sociology, counseling, and theology to frame a holistic approach to healthy living over a lifetime.
First Capstone course. This is the first in a series of three mentored courses to further facilitate the scholarly Doctoral Capstone Project. This course builds on DBH 700 Residential: Orientation to Doctoral Study and DBH 720 Advanced Research Methods. The student will further focus on writing their literature review and research design. Students must gain committee approval that they have demonstrated expected progress on the Doctoral Capstone Project in this course before progressing into DBH 790B Doctoral Capstone Project I. Prerequisite: All DBH Coursework must be completed before enrolling in DBH 790A.
Second Capstone course. This is course is the second of three courses to facilitate the scholarly Capstone Project. This course requires students to implement their project into their work environment. Students must gain committee approval that they have demonstrated expected progress on the Doctoral Capstone Project in this course before progressing into DBH 790C Doctoral Capstone Project III. Prerequisite: Doctoral Capstone Project committee must approve the student to enroll in DBH 790B based upon sufficient progress being made in DBH 790A Doctoral Capstone Project I.
Third Capstone course. Students will finalize their written Doctoral Capstone Project. Upon approval by the Doctoral Capstone Project committee, students will successfully complete an oral presentation of their project before an audience of FHU Faculty, Administration, and their peers within the DBH Program of Study. After approval of the oral presentation, the student will format their Capstone Project into an Article and submit it to at least one peer-reviewed journal. Students will also submit their Capstone Project for binding and submission to the FHU Library. Prerequisite: Doctoral Capstone Project committee must approve the student to enroll in DBH 790C based upon sufficient progress being made in DBH 790B Doctoral Capstone Project II.
A continuation of the Capstone Project. This course is designed for doctoral candidates who have not successfully completed their Capstone Project within the three semesters, as outlined in the DBH program of study. The DBH student must continually register for one hour of credit for each needed term (fall, spring, summer) and continue to work closely with their doctoral committee until the Capstone Project is successfully submitted and ready for defense. Approval must be obtained from the Director or Dean before officially registering.
Syllabi are available to all current and prospective students. Contact our office at 731-989-6638 to request a copy of a syllabus.
How does a D.B.H. differ from a Ph.D. program?
The D.B.H. is a professional doctoral degree offered as an alternative to the more research-oriented Ph.D. It is sometimes described as a clinical or practice degree and is distinguished from the Ph.D. in terms of objectives and curriculum. It offers a wider range of topics than those allowed by a typical Ph.D. counselor education and supervision program. In addition, the D.B.H. is crafted around a professional doctoral model for those who wish to practice in a variety of health-care settings. It is comparable to professional clinical-practice doctorates in other health disciplines such as pharmacy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, nursing and audiology.
Who is eligible to enroll?
The D.B.H. program is open to experienced and licensed master’s level practitioners including the following:
When can I enroll?
Classes are offered Fall, Spring and Summer.
Must I enroll as a full-time student?
No. The program is designed to accommodate either a part-time or a full-time student.
Can I maintain my employment status?
The FHU D.B.H. is ideal for the working clinician.
Where will I attend class?
Classes will be offered online via web conferencing as well as face-to-face in Henderson, Memphis or Dickson.
Is financial aid available?
With no out-of-state tuition and no hidden fees, Freed-Hardeman’s graduate tuition rates are comparable to those of public institutions. Financial aid is available through veterans’ benefits as well as low-interest loans such as the Stafford and Perkins loan programs. In addition to financial aid, you may pay your account by using Tuition Management Systems (TMS). For more information on this interest-free monthly payment plan, visit their website at www.afford.com/fhu.
What is the capstone project?
Students are expected to demonstrate in-depth knowledge of an area relevant to the professional practice of behavioral health as well as the ability to think critically, integrate and evaluate research and theory, work independently and clearly communicate these ideas. The project will be presented before the behavioral science faculty and the student’s peers for review and defense. The project is presented when all other requirements for the degree have been completed satisfactorily.
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