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Certificate Q&A

Prospective Student Q&A’s: John F. Kennedy University Certificate in Nutritional Psychology

The following contains answers to questions about the JFKU Certificate in Nutritional Psychology. Please direct all further administrative questions to conted@fku.edu, and content question to the certificate authors (ephilu@nutritional-psychology.org or amandhull@nutritional-psychology.org).

Certificate Background

While completing the certificate does not qualify you to practice nutrition interventions, it will provide you with foundational knowledge needed to understand the intersection between nutrition and mental health. Nutrition is increasingly recognized as a contributor to mental health. The authors believe that all mental health professionals can benefit from understanding the basic principles of nutritional psychology. This knowledge will help expand case conceptualization, provide new referral sources, and increase awareness of the dynamic interplay between nutrition and an individual’s internal experience.

Current psychological and psychotherapeutic models tend to view mental illness as a combination of environmental, psychological, biological and relational maladjustments. With the recent advances of neuropsychology, the use of MRIs, CT scans and pharmacological interventions, the brain and digestive system have more than ever become important players in explaining why some people struggle with psychological difficulties.

The certificate in Nutritional Psychology can provide you with the ability to:

  • Increase your understanding of how nutrient and dietary intake affect mood and behavior
  • Increase your working knowledge of research in Nutritional Psychology
  • Incorporate NP educational tools into your practice
  • Develop and present educational lectures or workshops
  • Work in conjunction with dieticians, nutritionists, physicians, or integrative medicine professionals to heighten their awareness in this area.


Question: How can I integrate Nutritional Psychology principals and concepts ethically and legally into my practice?

Answer: The third course in the Nutritional Psychology certificate program entitled “Integrating Nutritional Psychology into Practice” provides an understanding of how to ethically and legally apply Nutritional Psychology concepts and principles into practice.

Typically, mental health professionals can provide nutrition education, but only licensed nutritionists, dietitians, physicians and other specifically licensed providers can provide nutrition intervention. You can use many of the nutritional psychology tools to help clients understand the connection between food and mood and promote behavioral change – but you may not prescribe specific diets, supplements, and nutritional interventions or recommendations. Instead, you would refer to a nutritionist and work in collaboration with this provider. It is essential to check with your state licensing board to determine which nutritional psychology approaches are within your scope of practice.

Question: Does the JFKU Certificate in Nutritional Psychology give me a license to practice Nutritional Psychology?

Answer: No. There is currently no specialty license for Nutritional Psychology. The Certificate in Nutritional Psychology at JFKU is a private certificate which states that you have received 32 hours of accredited education in the area of Nutritional Psychology. All professionals incorporating Nutritional Psychology principles into their practice should take the Integrating Nutritional Psychology into Practice course (the third course in the Nutritional Psychology certificate) in order to better understand scope of practice issues. Additionally, it is always a best practice to check with your state licensing board to determine which nutritional psychology practices are within your scope.

Question: How best do I integrate the knowledge I learn from the program and apply it towards a career in Nutrition and Psychology?

Answer: The main purpose of the certificate program, other than the objectives listed above, is to provide a new framework for therapists and mental health professionals to conceptualize how nutritional and dietary intake can play a role in client emotional, behavioral and mood outcomes.

Question: Where can I get a degree in Nutritional Psychology?

Answer: Currently, there is no institution (that we are aware of) that has a dedicated degree in ‘Nutritional Psychology’. Options for being involved in this area would likely include:

1) Getting a degree that allows you to obtain a license to provide interventions. For example: dietetics, nutritionist, chiropractor, naturopath, physician etc.

2) If you are interested in the research side of things, you could pursue a Ph.D. at a university and department that would allow you to do research in this content area.

3) For those who already have an undergraduate degree and/or their professional training (e.g., marriage and family therapist, psychologist, etc.), and want to take the next step in incorporating nutritional psychology education into their practice, the JFKU certificate can be that step.

4) For those who already have an undergraduate degree and/or their professional training and wish to be licensed and practice clinical nutrition interventions with their clients, an example of a program that has a path to licensure (a CNS) in many states (~13 states) is:


Or, Bastyr University has a masters of science in nutrition and clinical health psychology:http://bastyr.edu/academics/nutrition/masters/ms-nutrition-clinical-psychology

Question: Is the JFKU Certificate in Nutritional Psychology accredited?

Answer:Yes -the Certificate in Nutritional Psychology is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) for psychologists, by the California Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS) for MFT’s, LCSWs, LPCCs & LEPs and by the California Board of Registered Nursing for RNs.

Question: How many courses are in the certificate and how much does it cost?

Answer: There are 7 courses in the certificate program (32 hours of instruction) ranging from $75-135 each depending on length of the course. Courses range from 3 to 5 hours in length. Completing all 7 courses to receive the certificate will cost approximately $850, plus an administrative fee of $35 for the certificate processing. Here are the courses and their length (in course hours):

1. Introduction to Nutritional Psychology (5)

2. Nutritional Psychology Tools: Assessment & Macronutrient Remediation (5)

3. Integrating Nutritional Psychology into Clinical Practice (4)

4. The Effects of Nutrition on Clinical Disorders (5)

5. Sugar & Emotion (5)

6. The Stress-Mood Axis (5)

7. The Gut-Brain Axis (3)

Question: Can I take the course individually, or do I have to take the whole program?

Answer: You can take the courses either individually, or all together to complete the certificate.

Question: What can a licensed Nutritionist or Dietician do with a certificate in Nutritional Psychology?

Answer: Registered dieticians and nutritionists already have the expertise needed to provide specific and in-depth nutritional interventions for their clients. The certificate in Nutritional Psychology from JFKU will provide them with further education in the specific area of nutritional psychology.

Question: What happens after I complete the certificate?

Answer: Upon successful completion of the certificate courses, please e-mail conted@jfku.edu requesting program verification. Your official certificate will be mailed in 6-8 weeks. We will confirm receipt of your request for verification, and should any items be missing (a course or program enrollment), you will be promptly notified.

Question: How long will it take to complete the program?

Answer: 32 hours of course content is divided across 7 classes. Each course has a time completion window of 90 days. This is a self-paced program; completion will depend on how you move through the program. Students have completed the program in as little as six months, a vast majority of students take one year to complete the program, as many are working mental health professionals.

Question: Do I need to have a degree or be a professional to take the JFKU courses in Nutritional Psychology?

Answer: No. Anyone can take the courses for personal benefit, professional development, or continuing education.

Question: When can I enroll in the Nutritional Psychology courses/certificate?

Answer: You can enroll at any time.


1. Personal communication from Dr. Sandra Zecevic, a Clinical Psychologist who has completed the JFKU certificate.

Incorporating Nutritional
Psych Education

If you have incorporated Nutritional Psych education into your work, please let us know!