Being a Student in This Clinical Psychology Program

The traditional academic advising arrangement in most departments of higher education has its roots in a medieval university structure that was based on an apprentice model. Within this traditional arrangement, students were selected by individual faculty who had total authority to guide (and to evaluate) the educational activities (and products) of their charges. The remnants of this system may be found in our admissions procedures and in the advising committee structure that exists within this and other graduate departments, as described in the Graduate School Catalog and the Policies and Rules for Graduate Study in Psychological Sciences.

Over time, and in particular disciplines, individual faculty relinquished some of their autonomy to develop programs of study, or more standardized sequences of activities (e.g., courses, evaluative procedures, etc.). In making these covenants, faculty members agree to follow common collective procedures and expect that their students will do the same. Decisions about procedures and policies as well as evaluation and dispositions about students rest with Program faculty as a whole. Program directors are faculty peers who are selected to administer policies and to execute specific actions as determined by the faculty and program, department, and university guidelines.

As a result of these decisions, this Program functions as a community; an aggregation of people who agree to abide by certain rules and to comport themselves in specific ways. The community is more than the sum of its individual members; it has a history and an ethos. For example, one strong historical ethic within the Program is that “good mentoring will produce good mentors.” This orientation can be discerned in the atmosphere of respect and cooperation that is evident among faculty and the mutually caring interactions that exist between faculty and students. It is reflected in the careful preparation that faculty bring to their teaching and research activities, efforts to ensure parity of financial support resources for students within class years, the expectation of the faculty that, in future years, you will involve yourself in helping less advanced students, and in numerous other ways.

Being a member of this Program means that your actions (and ours) have potential consequences that extend beyond each individual’s personal decisions. At the bottom line, what you do, and how you do it, has implications for our relationships with other programs within the Department, members of the local community, psychologists at affiliated institutions (e.g., clerkship sites, internship sites), and other allied health professionals. These groups may represent rapidly changing populations (e.g., undergraduate students that you teach) or constituencies with which we have long- standing relationships (e.g., the professional associations of which we are members). The many manifestations and nuances of being a member of this community will evolve as you progress through the Program. Some more obvious examples will appear in later portions of this manual.

At the beginning, however, you should at all times consider the possible impact of your actions upon those of us with whom you are connected. At the foundation of our work together, the faculty assumes that you will exercise good judgment regarding your conduct; good judgment is not something that we should have to teach explicitly and would prefer to leave to your individual discretion. We ask that you engage in thoughtful reflection about the consequences of your actions (e.g. mode of dress, extra-curricular activities, social networking choices, professional undertakings, etc.) and consultation with your advisors, as necessary. Thoughtful reflection about your activities is an important goal, not only in professional situations, but also in contexts where you will be observed and evaluated by members of the public.

The Program as a Scientist-Practitioner Community

Our Program represents a small community of faculty and students who have voluntarily relinquished some of their autonomy in order to pursue shared ideals. This community is embedded within larger constituencies, such as the Department of Psychological Sciences, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the University of Connecticut, and surrounding communities. Our learning community has several rich and long-standing traditions, all of which have been aimed at creating an intentional learning climate that will promote the maximal development of your personal and professional talents and potential. Some of our more salient traditions are:

  1. Faculty and students embrace the Ethical Principles of Psychologists (American Psychological Association, 2003, 2010, 2017) in our professional activities. We use the ideals and standards embodied in this document as a means of guiding our interactions and working out differences. All faculty are extremely well versed with the Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct. A copy of this document is included in your orientation materials. You also can find the older version of the Ethical Principles in the American Psychologist, 1992, 47, 1597-1611 and the 2003 update in the American Psychologist, 2002, 57,1060-1074 or via the APA website: http://www.apa.org/ethics/. You should become familiar with the Ethical Principles and use the code to guide your professional endeavors.
  2. Faculty treat one another and students in a dignified, collegial manner that respects our commonalities, our diversities and our uniqueness. We do our best to be fair and impartial in evaluating one another and in our efforts to allocate resources (including financial aid). The Program does not discriminate against students on any basis and encourages diversity in ethnicity, race, gender, physical challenge, and sexual and gender identity. We expect that you will honor the diversity you experience while here and that you will refrain from any activities that suggest hostility toward or harassment of others on the basis of sexuality, sexual identity, gender, gender identity, race, ethnicity, religion, culture, political ideology, physical abilities, or psychological infirmity.
  3. The Clinical Program is firmly committed to the integration of science and practice. Our program centers on a commitment to scholarship and empirical inquiry and emphasizes the significant role played by theoretical and empirical knowledge in understanding complex human behavior. The faculty share the belief that scientific methodology represents the essential underpinnings of all activities engaged in by professional practitioners. The integration of science and practice includes the recognition that the “lived experiences” of clients, research participants, researchers, and practitioners, as well as the contextual demands and social conditions of those experiences both inform and are informed by the same scientific principles. We believe the special value of training that integrates science and practice is that our students are able to use their clinical sensitivity and skills in research, clinical, administrative, teaching, and supervisory positions, and also to critically and thoughtfully evaluate their professional efforts through methods of empirical inquiry and self-reflection.
  4. Governance of the Program is shared between faculty and students. Although the faculty remain ultimately responsible for all aspects of Program functioning, student input is continually sought about most decisions, except those that involve personnel issues. The Program Head and the Director of Clinical Training meet regularly with each of the classes. Students complete an annual survey about their training experience and the results of that are discussed in an all program meeting each spring. Those discussions have led to significant modifications in the program. The Director of Clinical Training is responsible for implementing policies set by the faculty in response to changing needs and student feedback.
  5. Faculty attempt to deal with problems that students may manifest, with compassion and fairness. We expect that you will make mistakes and we are inclined to view these as learning experiences, unless we come to believe that other dynamics are at work. We expect you to be honest with us in sharing personal information that affects your professional performance. We expect that you will learn from your mistakes and not repeat them.
  6. Faculty consult actively with one another about making professional commitments. Both faculty and students are encouraged to take appropriate risks in developing new professional skills, with the consultation of our peers and experienced mentors. We negotiate our commitments with one another and we continually renegotiate them as we face changing life circumstances. We avoid being avoidant or “hiding out” and we expect that you will do the same.
  7. We tend to maintain welcoming contacts with our students long after they have completed the Program. We encourage you to stay in touch with us, to share successes, life obstacles, and your perceptions about the quality of your graduate training. As part of our accreditation process, we are expected to provide certain information about graduates of our program (such as licensure status, professional accomplishments) and to periodically conduct surveys of former students. We welcome feedback from you so that we can continually evaluate and improve our program.

Program Philosophy and Goals

The Program aims to establish basic competence in academic, research, and clinical pursuits, with your individual interests being critical determinants of your own future professional development. The curriculum is organized to provide a thorough grounding in major methods of empirical inquiry. The scientific method is considered the cornerstone upon which clinical knowledge is advanced and clinical skills are developed. The Program attempts to stimulate interest in research related to complex clinical and social problems and to teach contemporary clinical skills within contexts of relevant theory and empirical data.

The mission of the Program is to train you to use psychological theory and methods of empirical inquiry with sophistication. Upon graduation, we expect that you will demonstrate:

  • a thorough understanding of the knowledge base in clinical psychology and an appreciation of current issues in the field
  • the ability to generate independent research, evaluate and critique empirical work and contribute to the empirical literature relevant to the content and practice of Psychology
  • the ability to use a variety of empirically supported techniques in the areas of assessment and intervention and to assess the efficacy of those efforts
  • the ability to create and implement innovative psychological strategies and procedures that will help to promote human welfare, and evaluate the efficacy of those strategies
  • a recognition of the interdependence of science and practice and an ability to integrate the two perspectives
  • an understanding and appreciation of cultural and individual diversity and the ability to approach clinical work, research and training from a stance of cultural humility; and
  • the ability to hold self-critical and self-corrective attitudes informed by ethical principles and professional standards toward all of your scientific and clinical endeavors.

The course sequence integrates theory, research, and practical clinical skills beginning in the first semester and permits maximum flexibility for you to pursue specialized areas of interest within the constraints of (a) fulfilling requirements set by the American Psychological Association as part of its accreditation, (b) providing exposure to multiple aspects of diversity, and (c) ensuring that every student obtains enough clinical experiences to be competitive for internships. Most internship sites require a minimum of 700 clinical hours; many of our students, especially those who complete the neuropsychology concentration, accrue about 1,000 hours.

The present curriculum is consistent with the discipline specific knowledge and profession wide competencies outlined by the American Psychological Association, Committee on Accreditation.