Ashley Sovereign Psy.D.

Ashley Sovereign, Psy.D.

Program Director and Core Professor, Doctor of Psychology Program

Brother Louis Hall, BLH137    |    Campus Box: # 28
(612) 238-4557   |

Dr. Sovereign specializes in working with women, young adults, LGBTQ populations, nontraditional families, and developing clinicians. Her practice focuses on loss, relationships, and sexuality.

  • Areas of Expertise

    Gender Issues, Clinical Supervision, Existential Approaches to Psychotherapy, Consensual Qualitative Research Methodology, Qualitative Methods, Qualitative Meta-Analysis, Group Therapy, Counselor Development, Healthy Sexuality, Personal Values, Social Justice

  • Scholarly & Creative Interests

    Research interests include qualitative methods, particularly Consensual Qualitative Research methodology, and qualitative meta-analysis. Other teaching and clinical interests include existential approaches to psychotherapy, group therapy, clinical supervision, counselor development, gender issues, healthy sexuality, social justice, and personal values.

  • Courses Taught Recently at Saint Mary's

    Qualitative Research Methods; Supervision and Consultation; Vocational Assessment and Career Counseling, Dissertation Proposal Seminar; Counseling with Diverse Sexual and Gender Identities, Practicum Seminar, Proseminar.

  • Professional Organizations

    - Member, Minnesota Women in Psychology, 2010-present
    - Member, Minnesota Psychological Association, 2010-present
    - Item Writer, Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP), Research Domain, Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards, (ASPPB), 2012-2019.
    - Member, Minnesota LGBTQ+ Therapists’ Network, 2015-present.
    - Faculty Liaison, Psy.D. Program Queer Student Alliance (QSA), 2015-present
    - Member, Institutional Review Board, SMUMN School of Graduate and Professional Programs, 2016-present
    - Accreditation Site Visitor, Accreditation for Doctoral Programs in Psychology, American Psychological Association, 2016-present
    - Member, Minnesota Psychological Association (MPA) Diversity Committee, 2017-present
    - Mentor, American Psychological Association of Graduate Students LGBT+ Graduate Student Mentoring Program, 2017-present
    - Member, APA Division 5: Quantitative and Qualitative Methods, Society for Qualitative Inquiry in Psychology, 2020-present.

  • Education

    - University of St. Thomas, Psy.D. in Counseling Psychology
    - Saint Mary's University of Minnesota, M.A. in Counseling and Psychological Services
    - University of Iowa, B.A. in Theatre Arts, minor in Women's Studies. 

    Doctoral Project: Psychotherapists’ personal values: Training strategies for self-awareness. Committee: Len Jennings, Ph.D., L.P., and Melissa Pederson Mussell, Ph.D., L.P.

  • Experience

    Dr. Sovereign has been teaching at the graduate level since 2004 and is a licensed psychologist with a private psychotherapy and consultation practice specializing in loss, relationships and sexuality. Dr. Sovereign was an item writer in the research domain for the Examination for the Professional Practice of Psychology (EPPP) and is involved in ongoing collaborative research projects.


    The doctor is in: Teaching as an engaging encore. 16th Annual Doctoral Research Symposium, Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN. (2020, March).

    Amplifying the role of social justice through dimensions of academic performance and training. National Council of Schools and Programs in Professional Psychology (NCSPP) Annual Conference, San Diego, CA. (2020, January).

    Building a bridge to the professional world: Mentorship in the academic curriculum
    Seventh International Symposium on Lasallian Research | Minneapolis, MN - 2018

    Gatekeeping aspirations, ambiguities, and angst: Graduate program practices and policies
    American Psychological Association Annual Convention | San Francisco, CA - 2018

    Gatekeeper duty and doubt: Addressing problems of professional competence
    American Psychological Association Annual Convention | Denver, CO - 2016

    One innovative model for formal mentorships in a Psy.D. curriculum: The mentoring program at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota
    National Council of Schools and Programs in Professional Psychology (NCSPP) Annual Conference | Atlanta, GA - 2016

    The Minnesota counselor development and master therapist research studies: Findings from 1985 to 2015 Minnesota
    Psychological Association’s Annual Convention | Plymouth, MN - 2015

    Recent Articles:

    Psychotherapy expertise in Singapore: A qualitative investigation
    Psychotherapy Research, (18)5, 508-522 
    Jennings, L., D’Rozario, V., Goh, M., Sovereign, A., Brogger, M., & Skovholt, T. (2008)

    Abstract: Personal characteristics, developmental influences, and therapy practices of nine peer-nominated expert psychotherapists practicing in the diverse country of Singapore were identified using qualitative methods. Sixteen themes were organized within four categories: (a) personal characteristics (empathic, nonjudgmental, respectful); (b) developmental influences (experience, self-awareness, humility, self-doubt); (c) approach to practice (balance between support and challenge, flexible therapeutic stance, empowerment/strength-based approach, primacy of the therapeutic alliance, comfortable addressing spirituality, embraces working within a multicultural context); and (d) ongoing professional growth (professional development practices, benefits of teaching/training others, challenges to professional development in Singapore). Cross cultural comparisons between this study and Jennings and Skovholt’s (1999) study of Minnesota expert psychotherapists found considerable overlap of themes. Implications for research and practice of psychotherapy are offered.

    Nine Ethical Values of Master Therapists
    Journal of Mental Health Counseling: January 2005
    Len Jennings, Ashley Sovereign, Nancy Bottorff, Melissa Pederson Mussell, and Christopher Vye

    This study employed the Consensual Qualitative Research method (Hill, Thompson, & Williams, 1997) to reanalyze interview data from a previous qualitative study of the personal characteristics of master therapists (Jennings & Skovholt, 1999). Previous research has demonstrated that therapists utilize a variety of resources when making ethical decisions, including professional codes of conduct and their own values. The current study's analysis of 10 master therapists' interviews resulted in the identification of nine ethical values related to their clinical practice: (a) relational connection, (b) autonomy, (c) beneficence, (d) nonmaleficence, (e) competence, (f) humility, (g) professional growth, (h) openness to complexity and ambiguity, and (i) self-awareness. Conducting oneself ethically is a critical task of the competent therapist (American Psychological Association, 2002). Making the best ethical decisions can be extremely challenging for most therapists due to the multitude of complex ethical situations that arise in practice. The goal of this study is to examine the ethical values of therapists considered to be "the best of the best" by their professional colleagues. It is hoped that such an examination will help to illuminate the ethical values that these master therapists seem to draw upon in their work.

  • Links

    Psychology Today Bio