Clinical Forensic Psychology PsyD - Los Angeles
A Practitioner-Scholar Model
The California School of Forensic Studies Clinical Forensic Psychology PsyD program employs a practitioner-scholar model of education to support students to acquire core clinical competencies, with a particular emphasis on students who have an interest in pursuing forensic post-doctoral training, practice in forensic settings -- such as in correctional facilities or forensic mental health hospitals -- and/or pursuing private practice conducting forensic assessment or mandated treatment.
Clinical Forensic Psychology Program Foundations
The Clinical Forensic Psychology program supports the development of competency in foundational clinical areas, including professionalism, reflective practice/self-assessment/self-care, scientific knowledge and practice, relationships, individual and cultural diversity awareness, ethical legal standards, interdisciplinary systems, assessment, intervention, supervision and advocacy. The program also supports the development of fundamental competencies appropriate to the practice of clinical psychology in forensic-specific contexts, with an emphasis on specialty ethical guidelines, forensic assessment and mandated intervention/treatment.
Clinical Forensic Psychology Program Structure and Components
The program requirements for the PsyD in Clinical Forensic Psychology are sequential, cumulative, and graded in complexity, and offer integrated, progressive coursework, research and experiential opportunities that support gradual development in 11 core clinical areas: professionalism, reflective practice/self-assessment/self care, scientific knowledge and practice, relationships, individual and cultural diversity, ethical legal standards, interdisciplinary systems, assessment, intervention, supervision and advocacy.
The first two years of the program provide students with foundational coursework in core clinical areas, including ethics, assessment (e.g., cognitive and intellectual, personality, projective), treatment (e.g., psychotherapy, cognitive and behavioral therapy, group therapy) and research (i.e., statistics, research design). Students are provided opportunities to apply the knowledge gained during their coursework through the first, second, and third year practica. Practicum placements are 10 to 20 hour weekly training commitments at one of CSFS’s 20 Los Angeles-based community training partners, which include adult and youth correctional facilities, department of mental health agencies, and community organizations. Through these experiences, students are introduced to the role of clinical psychologists, exposed to a wide range of differing populations and mental health issues and are provided with direct experience in clinical interviewing, cognitive and personality assessment, as well as evidenced-informed and based treatment interventions.
Course work in the third year of study builds upon the foundational knowledge gained during years one and two. During the third year, coursework focuses upon multiculturalism, substance abuse, psychological consultation and commitment to the scientific foundations of professional practice. Students also study advanced issues in forensic practice, such as the use of forensic assessment instruments and the provision of mandated treatment.
Many students choose the first or second year as a time to fulfill the 30 hours of individual psychotherapy required by the program. This requirement provides students with additional exposure to the application of psychological principles in practice and also furthers the development of self-reflection, a skill that is particularly important to the practice of clinical psychology in forensic settings.
Dissertation proposal development begins during the second year. The dissertation provides students with the opportunity to apply their conceptual and research knowledge to the investigation of a clinical forensic psychology interest area. With the guidance and support of a faculty member who serves as the student’s dissertation chairperson, as well as the dissertation committee composed of one additional member, the student is guided in the completion of his/her dissertation prior to a degree being awarded.
At the conclusion of the first and second years, students must pass comprehensive examinations which assess knowledge and understanding of core concepts such as ethics, assessment, intervention, research design and statistics and the theoretical foundations of psychology. Competency exams also expose students to the content and type of examination associated with the Examination for Professional Practice of Psychology (EPPP) and attaining licensure.
The program culminates in a 2,000-hour internship in students’ fourth year of study that focuses upon clinical intervention, psychological assessment, professional development and lifelong learning, multicultural issues, professional ethics and standards, supervision and consultation and advocacy. During this experience, students work with increasing independence to apply the knowledge and skills gained during the preceding years, supporting future success as independent professional psychologists.