The Department of Psychology was started in 1988 to offer Educational Psychology units to the Bachelor of Education students in the School of Education and the Nursing Science students in the School of Health Sciences.
In 1999, the Department of Psychology developed the Bachelor of Psychology degree in counseling in response to a growing need and demand for Counseling Psychologists. Traditional African structures and systems that long provided the needed psychological, emotional and spiritual support have been eroded by modernism, urbanization and individualism occasioning the need for the role of counselors, clinical psychologists, social and community psychologists, lecturers and researchers to name a few. This Bachelor of Counseling Psychology programme offered by the Department of Psychology was the first professional programme in psychology in Kenya.
The Counseling Psychology programme combines both theory and practice. Students are well grounded with theoretical background of psychology and its application. This application includes rehabilitation of prisoners, helping recovering addicts, mitigating against trauma, helping recovering mentally ill patients, peace building and helping victims of domestic violence. The graduates of the Counseling Psychology Programme are highly marketable in organizations and institutions including hospitals, Armed forces and Non Governmental Organizations. The programme also prepares students for graduate programmes in Sociology, Communication, Developmental Studies, Management and Clinical Psychology.
Psychology as a discipline is versatile and can combine with other disciplines, hence it is offered in the Faculty of Arts as a Major or a Minor specialization. Many students taking other disciplines such as Sociology, Political Science, Economics, Languages, History, Literature and Philosophy have enjoyed various units as core or electives in psychology. The programme not only emphasizes the personal growth of individual students but also encourages community outreach programmes both by the faculty and the students. In this regard, the department hosts a vibrant Psychology Club in which students are actively involved.
Since psychology as a discipline is new in Africa, the Department of Psychology has had an impact in popularizing the study, practice and consumption of psychology in Kenya. The Department is well linked with organizations that support health and growth of ethical practice of psychology, for example, Mathari Hospital, Kenyatta National Hospital, NACADA, Nairobi Women’s Hospital and the Kenya Counsellors and Psychologists Association. External links with the Department include Birmingham Southern College at Alabama (USA), the School of Psychology at the University of Queensland, Australia and the University of Vanderbilt, Nashville (USA).
The department of psychology continues to service the Faculty of Education B.Ed programmes, and the M.Ed programme in Measurement and Evaluation. The Department also teaches psychology units in the Faculty of Agriculture, School of Nursing Sciences, School of Engineering and Architecture, School of Economics and the School of Journalism and Mass Communication.
Since the demand for specialized psychologists in Kenya, Africa and the world is on the rise in all sectors, the Department of Psychology has introduced Masters and PhD programmes in a wide range of specializations. These programmes include Counseling Psychology, Special Needs Education, Industrial Psychology, Forensic Psychology, Social Psychology and Community Psychology.
FORMER HEADS DEPARTMENT OF PSYCHOLOGY
1. Dr. Ernest Shivutse 1988 – 1993
2. Dr. Don Balmer 1993 – 1997
3. Prof. Priscilla W. Kariuki 1997 – 2003
4. Mr. Josiah J.W. Oketch-Oboth 2003 – 2005
5. Prof. Priscilla W. Kariuki 2005 - 2014