Research Opportunities

The Clinical PsyD program in Sacramento is designed for students interested in the professional practice of clinical psychology. Recognizing that this practice must be grounded in the most current literature and research knowledge, we strive to teach students to be competent consumers of research and confident in their ability to apply this knowledge to diverse populations in diverse settings.

One of the unique aspects of the Sacramento Clinical PsyD program is the design of its dissertation sequence. The 4-semester course sequence begins in the 2nd year and is completed in the 3rd year, before students leave for internship. Utilizing a cohort model, students in the class serve as committee members, supporting each other under the supervision of the instructor, a core faculty member who serves as dissertation chair. The seminar format draws on the expertise of other students to stimulate new ideas and to offer and receive critical feedback as students progress through the dissertation process. This intensive structure has proven extremely successful in facilitating students completing the program on time.

In addition to course offerings, several faculty members lead voluntary research groups, providing opportunity for students to engage in hands on research endeavors, to present at state and national conferences, and to publish their finding. Below, please find a description of some of the current research initiatives involving students.

Assessment, Psychotherapy, and Personality Research Team
Matt Baity, PhD

Although I have a wide range of more specific research interests, the common theme of my work is a focus on improving clinical care. The two main branches of my research are focused on advancing psychological assessment (e.g., improving diagnostic accuracy, incremental validity, multimethod assessment) and factors that impact treatment outcome.

We have a number of projects looking at the reliability and validity of certain psychological assessment instruments, the diagnostic effectiveness of those instruments, and how they might be used to predict treatment response. I have recently been involved in developing program evaluation projects (both locally and nationally) in which patients are tracked over the course of their treatment on a range of variables. Many of my students have used data from these studies for their dissertations, and several have received Dissertation Grant Awards and travel money from the Society for Personality Assessment, with whom we are very active. Over the past three years, my students have a combined 13 presentations and posters at professional conferences. We are currently in the process of preparing four of these studies for journal review with active plans to develop four more; and students are first authors on all these papers.

In addition to providing students with research opportunities, I aspire to adopt a mentor role, providing professional development experiences that include discussing articles and/or methodological issues, connecting students with professionals around the country that have similar interests, bringing relevant clinical issues impacting the practice of psychology to our group discussions, and teaching new tests/scoring systems. For example, I have become heavily involved in training on the new scoring system for the Rorschach (R-PAS). In coordination with the R-PAS developers, my lab is in the planning stages of several projects that will not only provide an opportunity for students to become fully trained in the new system ahead of many others, but will allow them to be part of the normative data collection process, making professional connections outside of Alliant.

Every student has an opportunity to make a contribution in this vibrant research group, graded o their ability and desires. For a list of recent presentations, please see the tab labeled “Our Students.”

Education and Training Research Lab
Emil Rodolfa, Ph.D

Throughout my career, I have been committed to enhancing the education and training of the next generation of psychologists. From the time I was a student in my doctoral program at Texas A&M where I was beginning to learn to supervise, to the time I became the founding editor of the APA/APPIC journal, Training and Education in Professional Psychology, until today, I am fascinated by the process of professional development. It gives me great pleasure and a sense of personal and professional fulfillment to contribute to student learning and competency development.

This lab has been developed to give students a chance to examine variables that contribute to the process of doctoral education in psychology. Each year I take a small group of first year students and over their three years in the program we investigate a topic of interest to them in the broad area of psychology education and training. My first year on faculty, we investigated factors that influenced whether a student submitted their dissertation research for publication in a professional journal. The following year, a group of students worked on a study examining training and factors involved in telesupervision for doctoral interns. Last year, we examined characteristics and variables that influence the impostor syndrome in students. And this year we have just develop a questionnaire to examine the suicide training that occurs at psychology doctoral programs and internship. This current study is based on a recent law in California requiring psychologists and only psychologists to prove to the Board of Psychology that they have at least six hours of training in suicide assessment and intervention.

These research opportunities give students a chance to connect with each other, to work together with a common goal, to collaborate in developing the research protocol, to apply to the University Institution Review Board, to conduct the study, analyze the data collected, develop presentations, and write and submit papers describing the research. In addition, these projects give me a chance to get to know students, to work closely with them, to mentor, and support them. As a result, it gives me a chance to learn more about our students, to learn about their interests, to watch how they work as a member of our research team and how they commit to an additional project in the face of all the other requirements of our program.

I look forward each year to welcoming new students into my lab and helping them develop a project that they will feel excited about working on to its completion.