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PsyD in Clinical Psychology Experience Areas, San Diego


Emphasis and Experience Areas Overview

Clinical Health Emphasis

The clinical health emphasis gives students the academic, research, and clinical training necessary to prepare students for work within the field of health psychology. Both coursework and practicum placements help students in acquiring knowledge and skills necessary for functioning as an allied health provider in an interdisciplinary medical setting. Curriculum will emphasize teaching empirically-based theories, research, and interventions, including but not limited to: psychological factors that affect physical health outcomes; assessment in medical populations; health behavior change theories, adherence and motivation; and coping with physical disease. The program integrates the life-span perspective throughout the coursework and examines age, cohort, gender, insurance status, and ethnic/cultural factors on health.

Family/Child Psychology Emphasis

This emphasis is designed for students who are interested in developing proficiency in evaluation, treatment and research with children and families. Courses cover the entire life span from infancy through old age and are presented from various theoretical viewpoints, including family-systems, psychodynamic, cognitive-behavioral and lifespan development.

The program supports the study of ethnic and cultural issues as they affect the individual and the family. Faculty research interests include family violence, child abuse and neglect, adolescent development, childhood social competence and peer relationships, early childhood psychopathology, aging, child resiliency, divorce, child custody, step families, and process and outcomes of family interventions.

Forensic Psychology Emphasis

This emphasis focuses on the relationship and interdependency of law, social science, and clinical practice. It provides the basic foundation for post-graduate training for a career in forensic clinical psychology. The emphasis requires the completion of an introductory course in forensics, which acquaints the student with the nature of the legal system and the varied roles of psychologists within it. This introduction also includes training in the basics of testimony – the preparation of a defensible report; the appropriate presentation of one’s qualifications; the persuasive presentation of psychological science to a judge, jury, or within an amicus brief; and the increased ability to withstand cross-examination. Additional courses address psychological assessment, violence, antisocial behavior, and other clinical topics. Students also have the option of taking an organizational psychology advanced seminar addressing conflict management or dispute resolution.

Integrative Psychology Emphasis

This emphasis area exposes students to the basic principles of Integrative Psychology. An integrative, systems approach to health and healing brings multiple ways of knowing into psychological practice, encouraging practitioners to attend not only to cognitive behaviors, but also to cultural and spiritual concerns.

In many ways, integrative psychology refocuses attention on traditional healing practices that are concerned with the complex ways in which social context, body, mind, and emotions continually interact and influence well-being. Integrative psychology includes the study of spirituality, consciousness, imagery, somatic practices, expressive arts, human ecology, postmodern cultural psychologies, and the application of all these in clinical settings. At the same time, the field values mainstream psychological models and emphasizes research based on systems theory and integrated methodologies.

Since a psychologist’s own perceptions profoundly influence outcomes, the courses and credits included in this emphasis area are intended to ensure that professionals-in-training refine their values along with their skills and that they work to achieve educated intentionality and mindfulness in all phases of clinical work. This emphasis addresses a shortage of qualified psychologists with experience in the holistic balancing of health, suffering and death issues, psychospiritual counseling, and conflicting belief systems viewed in their cultural contexts. An integrative approach trains psychologists to provide pathways rather than simply treat symptoms.

Multicultural and International Emphasis

The Alliant approach to multiculturalism incorporates diversity in many respects, including race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, national origin and international status, age, social class, religion, and disability. Central to traditional clinical psychology is the examination of factors known to be relevant to mental health/mental illness as western society defines them. The goal of this emphasis area is to go beyond the traditional western, majority cultural viewpoint so that students might have the basic preparation to focus on cultural and international encounters in professional psychology. Whereas traditional psychology focuses primarily on individual psychological activity, multicultural psychology is based on the view that cultural and societal level influences on the individual can be best understood by incorporating societal systemic variables and cultural contexts. The emphasis provides students with opportunities to prepare for clinical licensure, research, teaching, and consulting in the area of cultural diversity.

Psychodynamic Emphasis

This emphasis provides students with a coherent practical and theoretical framework to practice general psychology in a variety of settings with children and adults. The psychodynamic emphasis curriculum gives students exposure to coursework and supervision integrating object relations, self-psychology, developmental psychology, existential psychology, and cognitive, science-based approaches to unconscious processes. Coursework and supervision prepare students for further professional development and specialization beyond the doctorate.

Military & Veteran Psychology Experience Area

The Military & Veteran Psychology Experience Area is designed to provide students with an understanding of military and veteran culture. This emphasis area will familiarize students with evidence-based interventions and resources available to clinicians treating veterans, military personnel, and their families.


Emphasis and Experience Areas Requirements

The following courses are required for the emphasis areas in addition to a dissertation in the area and at least one practicum experience in the area.

Clinical Health Emphasis


  • Dissertation is expected to have a clinical health focus.


  • At least 2 health practicum placements, or 1 practicum and internship (one placement need to 30% supervised service delivery in specialty and second needs to be <50% of supervised service delivery in specialty).
  • Family Systems Theory
  • Health Psychology Intervention: Research and Practice Addressing Health Disparities
  • Clinical Psychophysiology and Biofeedback or;
  • Integrative Psychology Elective
  • Theory and Practice of Psychotherapy: Individual
  • Introduction to Behavioral Medicine/Health Service Psychology

Family/Child Psychology Emphasis

It is required that students take at least one year of professional training placement in a setting that emphasizes interactions with children and families. Dissertations addressing family/child issues are also required and are common at the San Diego campus. In addition, students are expected to take one Clinical Consultation course in a group emphasizing family or child issues.

  • Theory and Practice of Psychotherapy: Child
  • Family Psychotherapy
  • Family Therapy/Ethnic Families
  • Developmental Psychopathology

Forensic Psychology Emphasis

Students are expected to address an issue in forensic psychology in their dissertation. They are also encouraged, but not required, to procure forensic training in their practicum or internship. It is expected that dissertations for students pursuing this emphasis will focus on a topic related to forensic psychology. Students are also expected to take one Clinical Consultation course focusing on forensic issues.

  • Introduction to Clinical Forensic Psychology

Two electives from the following:

  • Psychology and Family Law
  • Family Violence: Child Abuse 
  • Interpartner and Spousal Abuse

Other approved elective in forensics.

Integrative Psychology Emphasis

Candidates are expected to participate in Center for Integrative Psychology colloquia, workshops, and social events. Candidates will conduct dissertation research from an integrative perspective.

  • Introduction to Integrative Psychology
  • Theories of Personality, Pathology and Psychotherapy: Existential
  • Advanced Seminar: Integrative Psychotherapies
  • Theory and Practice of Psychotherapy: Individual

One additional 3-unit elective in Integrative Psychology (available electives subject to change):

  • Integrative Psychology Elective
  • Cross-Cultural: East-West Psychologies, Holocaust, Ritual and Healing, or Psychology of Religions
  • Ecology/Psychology
  • Transpersonal Psychology
  • Jung and the Shadow
  • Creativity Theory and Practice
  • Advanced Seminar: Hypnotherapy, Humanistic Psychology, or Integrative Psychology

Multicultural and International Emphasis

Students in this emphasis take coursework in these broadly defined multicultural and international areas and complete a dissertation relevant to some aspect of multicultural or international psychology. They must also arrange for at least one of their practicum/internship professional training placements in a setting serving a culturally diverse population. The large majority of our training sites serve such populations. Students are expected to take one of the Clinical Consultation courses in a section emphasizing diversity issues.

  • Multicultural Competency Development

One multicultural practice course (required of all PsyD students), such as:

  • Cultural Seminar 
  • Clinical Elective: LGBT Couples and Family
  • Family Therapy/Ethnic Families

One additional multicultural elective either from the list above, or from other courses such as:

  • Spanish for the Psychologist
  • Psychology of Ethnic Diversity
  • Clinical Elective: Foundations of LGBT Mental Health
  • Clinical Elective: Advanced Issues in Lesbian Psychology
  • Clinical Elective: Advanced Study of Transgender Issues

Psychodynamic Emphasis

Students in this emphasis area are required to complete at least three courses among the psychodynamic offerings, complete at least a one year practicum with psychodynamic supervision, complete a dissertation in an area pertinent to psychodynamic theory, research or application, and enroll in one PSY8551 Clinical Consultation section incorporating a psychodynamic emphasis.

  • Theories of Personality, Pathology and Psychotherapy: Psychoanalytic
  • Theory and Practice of Psychotherapy: Individual

One 3-unit psychodynamic elective, such as:

  • Clinical Elective: Advanced Psychodynamic Interventions
  • Clinical Elective: Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy with Adolescents
  • Clinical Elective: Attachment and Gender
  • Advanced Seminar: Theoretical Psychodynamic Issues
  • Advanced Seminar: Object Relations