Training Philosophy

The mission of the PhD program in Clinical Psychology is to develop leaders in the research and practice of clinical psychology. In particular, the program’s training philosophy incorporates several core tenets:

Scientist-Practitioner Model

In emphasizing the integration of science and practice, the program adheres to a training approach consistent with the scientist-practitioner model established at the Boulder Conference in 1949. Consistent with this model, the program:

  • Emphasizes training in evidence-based approaches to psychological assessment and intervention. Our approach to clinical training is guided by the principle that clinical psychologists have a responsibility to provide services based on the best available knowledge while also using their clinical judgment to consider client characteristics and preferences. Students are taught to apply a scientific approach throughout the clinical decision-making process, from assessment and case conceptualization to treatment planning and evaluating clinical efficacy.

  • Provides students with grounding in the research process and skills needed to develop, critically evaluate, synthesize, and apply scientific knowledge. Our approach to research training aims to prepare students to conduct original and meaningful research to address a range of clinical issues, problems, and populations. Students are encouraged to prepare and submit their research findings for presentation and publication throughout their time in the program.  

  • Prepares students to work in a variety of settings, including academic/research settings, hospitals, schools, community mental health agencies, forensic settings, and independent practice.

  • Prepares students to be ethical and professional in their clinical, research, and teaching activities.

Focus on Children, Adolescents, and Families

While the program provides students with foundational doctoral-level training in clinical psychology, it is one of the few with a focus on children, adolescents, and families running throughout its core curriculum. The program trains students to develop scientific knowledge, as well as apply it in delivering psychological services with, children and adolescents experiencing a variety of psychological difficulties. Through their coursework, field experiences, and research training, students learn about the unique psychological needs of children and adolescents, as well as developmental considerations in psychopathology, assessment, and treatment, including the role of family and social contexts in psychological adjustment. 

Areas of Emphasis

The program offer students the opportunity for specialized training in one of two areas of health service psychology: school psychology or forensic psychology. The school psychology emphasis focuses on evidence-based services in school-based settings, particularly as they relate to psychoeducational assessment and intervention for children and adolescents. Students receive training in assessment of learning disabilities, functional behavioral assessment, and consultation with teachers, among other areas. The forensic psychology emphasis focuses on forensic mental health assessment and evidence-based interventions for individuals whose lives intersect with the legal system, with a particular focus on children and adolescents. Students learn about issues related to child abuse and neglect, juvenile justice, divorce/custody, and interpersonal/intimate partner violence, as well as receive training in conducting psychological evaluations for the courts. 

Mentorship and Interdisciplinary Research

The program utilizes a mentor model of training. Each student has a faculty mentor (identiifed at the time of admission) with shared interests. Faculty mentors are expected to model the integration of science and practice and form collaborative relationships with their students, involving them in their research programs and opportunities for presentation and publications while promoting their development as goal-oriented, productive, and well-rounded clinical psychologists.

In addition, the program is comprised of faculty members with diverse and interdisciplinary research interests across a variety of areas which intersect with clinical psychology, including biological, cognitive, developmental, health, and social psychology. We encourage our prospective students to consider any of our core or affiliated faculty members as prospective mentors, and our students are free to pursue thesis and dissertation projects related to any of the areas in which our faculty currently work. 

Respect for Diversity

The program is committed to promoting awareness, respect, and sensitivity in regard to diversity in age, culture, disability, ethnicity, gender, national origin, race, religion, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and other individual differences. Consistent with these efforts, faculty and students in the program strive to provide an open and supportive learning environment for all individuals. In addition, students are encouraged throughout the curriculum to understand and appreciate the importance of cultural and individual differences in the theory, research, and practice of clinical psychology. In their clinical training, students have opportunities to work with clients from a wide range of backgrounds. In their research training, students consider issues of diversity throughout the research process, from study design to interpretation of results. Students also have opportunities for training with a number of program faculty who have clinical and research interests in multicultural psychology and social justice issues. In fostering these opportunities, the program hopes to create leaders who value inclusion and advocate for attention to issues of diversity both within and outside their academic and professional communities.