Program Overview and Description

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Our Mission

The mission of the Program is to train psychologists who can use psychological theory and methods of empirical inquiry with sophistication. Program objectives are to graduate new generations of professionals who (a) possess specialized and expert knowledge about multiple areas of normal and abnormal psychological functioning, (b) can create and implement innovative psychological strategies and procedures that will help to promote human welfare, (c) can evaluate the efficacy of such innovative approaches, (d) hold self-critical and self-corrective attitudes toward all their scientific and clinical endeavors, and (e) will promote scientific and professional excellence.

The Program is organized to provide a thorough grounding in major methods of empirical inquiry. Scientific method is considered the cornerstone upon which clinical knowledge is advanced and clinical skills are developed. Research requirements are not regarded as hurdles to be surmounted in areas apart from the real-life dilemmas encountered by practitioners. Rather, the Program attempts to stimulate interest in research related to complex clinical and social problems. Similarly, contemporary clinical skills are taught within the context of relevant theory and empirical data.

The Program aims to establish basic competence in academic, research, and clinical pursuits, with individual student interests being critical determinants of future professional development. Our history indicates that about 80% of our graduates work in public sector settings. In these contexts, they have proven equally capable of conducting full-time research, teaching, carrying full time clinical duties, or combining these activities. Many of our graduates who work in clinical settings gravitate toward broadly-defined educational, administrative, and training responsibilities. Our ultimate goal is to train psychologists who bring self-critical, thoughtful sophistication to positions of leadership.

Six to nine new students are admitted to the clinical psychology Program each year. The Program encourages diversity in ethnicity, race, gender, physical challenge, and sexual and gender identity. At any given time, there are between 40 and 50 students in the Program, which can be completed in five years of full-time study plus a year of internship. The Program does not accept students on a part-time basis. The course of study requires a research M.A. thesis or its equivalent, a research doctoral dissertation, a written general examination, and a one-year block internship. Students who enter the Program with an M.A. that did not require a research thesis will be expected to meet an equivalent research requirement.

Implementing An Integrative Training Philosophy

In both clinical and research areas, our model of professional training is integrative, eclectic, and graduated so as to move students toward professional interdependence over time. With regard to clinical training, first-year students learn basic processes associated with normal and abnormal development and they observe psychotherapy sessions within the vertical team format. Second- and third-year practicum students obtain intensive supervision following live and videotaped observation. Fourth year students in clerkship settings are relied upon to provide verbal reports that are veridical with their actual clinical activities. Throughout, students are exposed to multiple theoretical orientations and intervention techniques, with the goal of enabling them to select and synthesize the most appropriate approaches for each client.

Acquisition of research competencies is facilitated through guided completion of a research master’s thesis and doctoral dissertation and participation on research teams. The purpose of the M.A. thesis is to help stimulate interest in investigating important clinical phenomena. It is our belief that formal pre-doctoral research experience is necessary to produce psychologists who continue research activities after graduation. Therefore, all candidates admitted with a B.A. or equivalent degrees are expected to earn an M.A. degree, which requires submission of a satisfactory thesis and an oral defense. We expect that students will complete a master’s thesis before going on internship and before the Ph.D. prospectus can be approved.

A second major integrative aspect of research training involves participation on vertical research teams. Each clinical faculty member leads such a team, which is composed of students from the first through the fifth year. Each research group meets weekly for two hours. This vertical arrangement permits students to follow several studies from their inception, through revision of plans, data collection, and interpretation of results. We have found that participation on research teams helps dispel fears about conducting research and provides practical knowledge of research procedures.

Students who are not working on an M.A. or Ph.D. study with a faculty member are free to be participants in different research teams so that they may sample the ideas, interests, and enthusiasms of multiple clinical faculty. Even though we use a mentor-model in selecting students, our students are free to engage in masters and doctoral study with any faculty member who is willing to serve as major advisor.