Training Model: A Scholar-Practitioner Program
The Clinical Psychology PhD program offers a well-integrated model of education and training in which research and theory clearly inform clinical practice and in which observations made in the clinical arena inform research questions. The curriculum is a well-balanced articulation of the competencies required for productive scholarship and multiculturally sensitive, evidence-based, professional practice.
Multicultually relevant knowledge and skills are highly valued by the San Diego clinical faculty and are infused throughout the curriculum. In addition, all clinical PhD students take a required course in multicultural competency development followed by one advanced, multicultural elective. Our selection of clinical practicum and internship agencies afford excellent opportunities for our students to develop multiculturally competent assessment and treatment skills. Similarly, the diverse community provides excellent opportunities for multicultural applied research, and many students take advantage of this opportunity for their dissertation.
Students learn applied professional skills through formal coursework and through clinical training experiences supervised by faculty and professionals in the community. Each student is assigned a professional training advisor who, along with the student’s core faculty advisor, helps the student to formulate an individualized plan for practicum and internship training designed to insure (a) that training experiences are consistent with the student’s growing skill levels and professional goals and (b) that the student is exposed to a breadth of training experiences with a variety of clinical populations and professional role models.
Clinical practica are taken in the second (800 hours) and third (1000 hours) years of the program after students have mastered the prerequisite knowledge and skills that provide the foundations on which to build clinical competencies. In addition to obtaining training and supervised practice at a minimum of two distinct practicum placement sites, practicum students enroll concurrently in campus-based clinical consultation groups offered by core and senior adjunct faculty. These groups augment the supervision received at the agencies, insure integration of classroom and clinical knowledge, support evidence based practice, and allow faculty to directly assess the development of students’ clinical competencies.
The internship is the more extensive training experience for advanced students. All San Diego clinical psychology PhD program students are required to apply for a full-time, APA accredited clinical internship that is taken in the fifth year of the program.
Students select their practicum placements from more than 80 agencies. Most of these facilities are within a 25-mile radius of the campus, but some are as far as 80 miles away for the benefit of advanced students who live in Orange County. These agencies have over 350 professional training positions. The Professional Training Office coordinates these experiences and provides continuous oversight to insure that students receive high quality clinical training experiences.
The knowledge and skills necessary to conduct independent clinical research are introduced during the first year of the program and built upon in the years that follow. Students select a core faculty member under whose direction the student participates in a first year Research Practicum experience. Students learn to design their own studies in the second year and simultaneously begin their enrollment in the dissertation research course sequence that continues through the completion of the dissertation. Students must complete their dissertation proposals prior to applying for the internship training experience.