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PhD in Clinical Psychology Emphasis Areas, Los Angeles

Explore new ideas and expand your practice with experience and emphasis areas.


Emphasis Areas Overview

Clinical Health Psychology Emphasis (CHP)

Clinical health psychology combines the fields of clinical psychology, behavioral medicine, public health, social psychology, disease prevention, and health promotion into an applied discipline that investigates underlying mechanisms that connect the mind and body and explain the dynamic interaction between our physical and mental health. Clinical health psychologists integrate biomedical, psychological, social and spiritual modalities to detect and treat psychological distress, foster behavior change, increase adjustment to acute and chronic illnesses, reduce health and health care disparities, and to promote psychological growth and wellness. As a student in the clinical health psychology (CHP) emphasis, you’ll gain a foundation of theoretical knowledge and skills necessary to serve a number of professional roles across various community-based, medical and behavioral health care settings.

In addition to developing the diagnostic, assessment and treatment skills required of all clinical psychologists, you’ll learn practical techniques in the areas of cognitive-behavioral, existential, and community-based interventions. Faculty have expertise in and enjoy mentoring students in areas such as neuropsychological theory and assessment, child/pediatric psychology, LGBT health, women’s health, body image issues and disordered eating, health and racial disparities, substance abuse treatment and addictions, HIV/AIDS, biofeedback, chronic pain/pain management, loss, grief and bereavement, and resiliency, strength and wellness. Within and beyond these areas of focus, you’ll learn about the sociocultural, demographic, political, and economic forces that underlie health and health-care disparities, and influence risk-taking and health-promoting behaviors and practices within diverse and often underserved communities.

Training in the areas of behavioral medicine and health psychology prepare you to explore a variety of opportunities in the rapidly evolving health care system. Early career positions for CHP graduates have ranged from entering post-doctoral fellowships in various behavioral medicine settings to serving as members of interdisciplinary teams of health-care professionals to working in private practice and community mental health settings using a biopsychosocial framework.

Regardless of professional role, graduates from our emphasis area remain dedicated to promoting the mind-body health of children, adolescents, adults, families, and communities within a multicultural and international context.

Health Faculty Coordinator: Dr. Lisa Christensen

Family/Child and Couple Emphasis (FACE)

The goal in this emphasis is to introduce you to the theory, research, and clinical practice of family and couple psychology. This is accomplished through coursework in which you’ll learn about families, couples, adults, and children from diverse backgrounds. Your skills will be developed in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of relationship systems.

The program includes four family systems courses; the family systems theory and assessment course will prepare you for an advanced FACE family systems intervention.

In addition to choosing two electives of any type, as a FACE student, you’ll also have opportunity to select two electives from the following offerings: group psychotherapy; sex, intimacy and relationship problems; couple therapy; clinical interventions with children and families; child assessment; family violence and sexual abuse; and therapy with alternative families.

Faculty are experts in areas such as couple-based treatments for PTSD; Bowen family systems theory; family-based treatments for veterans and active military service persons; cross-cultural couple and family assessment; therapy process and outcomes for interracial, interfaith, and same sex couples; the person-of-the therapist training model; differentiation-based therapy models; sibling violence and sexual abuse; treatment for families of children with chronic and/or terminal illness; and treatment of marital infidelity. Early career positions for FACE graduates have ranged from post-doctoral fellowships in children’s hospitals, full time positions at private practice and community mental health settings, to working with individuals and couples in a college counseling clinic.

FACE Faculty CoordinatorDr. Susan Regas

Multicultural Community-Clinical Psychology Emphasis (MCCP)

This emphasis area was established at the Los Angeles campus in 1990. A synthesis of the previous ethnic minority mental health and community clinical proficiencies, MCCP reflects the state-of-the-art in training philosophy, curriculum, and applied experiences relevant to training clinical psychologists with special competence in multicultural and community psychology. The year-long, intercultural processes/human diversity course required of clinical psychology students in all emphasis areas, provides basic competence in multicultural issues. The emphasis area provides the additional opportunity for you to develop (1) more advanced conceptual and intervention skills relevant to psychotherapy with culturally-diverse populations; (2) competence beyond individual psychopathology that includes conceptualization and intervention with community-level distress and social problems; (3) an understanding of sociopolitical and sociocultural influences on psychological functioning and well-being; (4) skills to develop programs and activities focused on the prevention of psychopathology and social problems; and (5) knowledge of community psychology theory and practice.

The mission of the training is to nurture the development of clinical psychologists who will work to understand, prevent, and reduce psychological and community distress, as well as enhance the psychological well-being of historically underserved, stigmatized, and oppressed groups. In doing this, special attention is paid to the cultural and sociopolitical context of the individuals, families, and communities we serve. Faculty members in the emphasis area are committed to fostering a climate of inclusion, respect for differences, and a sense of community both within and outside of CSPP. Ultimately, faculty members strive to empower individuals and communities and to facilitate personal and social healing.

Multi-Interest Option (MIO, Non-Emphasis)

The multi-interest option (MIO) is designed for students who do not choose to enter one of the three above-mentioned emphasis areas. The option offers you flexibility in your choice of elective courses and topics for your clinical dissertation and other scholarly and field training interests. The faculty and students affiliated with the multi-interest option offer colloquia and social gatherings that, like those sponsored by the emphasis areas, are open to all members of the Los Angeles campus community. MIO has sponsored presentations that promote awareness of diverse roles in professional psychology by enlisting alumni to discuss their career trajectory, offering an introduction to grant writing, and hosting a panel discussion on professional consultation as a professional activity. The MIO faculty members seek to encourage your scholarly and professional growth in a wide range of interest areas

MCCP Faculty Coordinator: Dr. Danielle Gissinger