Program Goals and Training Objectives

The Clinical Psychology Program is aligned with the scientist-practitioner model of training, which emphasizes the integration of science and practice in professional work.  Our students are trained as scientists who can critically evaluate and integrate information, generate hypotheses or alternative explanations that are grounded in the research literature, develop methods to evaluate those hypotheses or explanations, and communicate effectively in scholarly and lay contexts.  With support from the Program faculty, students are expected to take responsibility for and ownership of their own learning and success throughout the program. 

Professional Competences

The Clinical Psychology Program recognizes that a competent, effective clinical psychologist must demonstrate a range of skills across various domains.  These skills are fundamental and serve as the basis for all effective professional behavior in the field of clinical psychology.  We believe that a core scientific approach is manifested in both foundational and functional competencies. These competencies are (1) a prerequisite for advanced activities in clinical psychology (foundational), and (2) skills-based and demonstrated in professional domains (functional). We believe that demonstration of these collective competencies is fundamental to the effectiveness of a clinical psychologist.

core approach sample

The core scientific approach demands that students demonstrate empirically driven skepticism, logical discipline, tolerance of ambiguity, persistence, intellectual curiosity, and quantitative reasoning skills. This approach reflects skills and acumen that clinical psychologists must utilize across all professional settings.  Indeed, the core scientific approach is the bedrock of all subsequent competencies as these skills are not specific to clinical psychologists; rather, they are vital to the effectiveness of scientists generally.  This approach encompasses (1) the ability to apply current ethical and professional standards to a range of professional settings and situations; (2) an understanding of the knowledge and skills that underlie cultural humility and an ability to apply that understanding in professional situations;  (3) effective and clear written and oral communication skills; (4) the ability to integrate and synthesize information across professional domains; (5) resourcefulness and the capacity to seek out information necessary to answer relevant professional questions; and (6) the ability to engage in scholarly discourse.  This approach demands creativity, self-reflection, initiative, and an eagerness to engage, with increasing independence and in a flexible, scientifically-informed manner, with diverse ideas, people, and contexts.

Foundational competencies are the basis of the practice of psychology.  These include (1) knowledge about the biological, cognitive, affective, social, and life span developmental bases of behavior, (2) knowledge about psychological research methods and techniques of data collection, hypothesis testing, and data analysis, and (3) knowledge about psychological clinical research findings fundamental to the delivery of health care services.  Foundational competencies also include (4) the ability to conceptualize and apply this scientific knowledge across research, practice, and other domains.  Finally, these competencies include the ability to (5) use empirical evidence, theoretical frameworks, and critical reasoning to guide professional decision making (which includes evidence-based practice), and (6) demonstrate knowledge of the history of one’s field of study.

Functional competencies emphasize the functional aspects of the practice of psychology.  These include (1) the ability to engage responsibly, respectfully, and professionally with supervisors, colleagues, and clients; (2) the application of knowledge to evidence-based practice; (3) the ability to effectively use evidence-based assessment methods to answer diagnostic questions and develop case conceptualizations rooted within the empirical literature while recognizing the strengths and limitations of a chosen approach; (4) the ability to effectively implement evidence-based interventions, evaluate treatment progress with established outcome measures, and modify treatment plans with developmentally appropriate clinical skill; and (5) knowledge of the unique features as of a psychologist’s various professional roles (e.g., clinician, supervisor, supervisee, consultant, teacher) and the ability to use existing scientific literature to inform one’s decision making in these roles.  Despite the applied nature of these competencies, they reflect the knowledge base and skills used by psychologists across professional domains.  

We recognize that the acquisition of these professional competencies occurs over time and unfolds across progressive developmental stages.  Thus, it is not appropriate to assess all competencies at one time point.  Instead, these professional competencies are assessed throughout students’ training and across multiple settings, including courses, clinical practica, annual review, and the clinical internship.  When competency-related concerns accumulate, faculty will discuss remediation as well as other potential courses of action with regard to fitness for a doctoral degree.  Faculty will evaluate whether remediation is appropriate or criteria for probation/dismissal have been met as specified in the Graduate Program Handbook.