Graduate Training in Clinical Psychology
Program Mission and Goals
The mission of the Clark University Clinical Psychology Program is to train scientist-practitioners as socially engaged clinical scholars. In keeping with the motto of Clark University to “Challenge Convention and Change Our World,” the Clinical Program aims to train scholars who will be actively engaged in the world and use their work to improve the quality of the world in which we live and the lives of the people in our communities. Thus, the Clark University Clinical Psychology Program adheres to the Scientist-Practitioner model in which our students are trained to be skilled scientists and clinicians who can integrate the science of psychology with its professional practice.
We train scientist-practitioners who think critically about the assumptions underlying their work, the theory guiding it, and the evidence supporting it. This process includes the careful identification and definition of a particular issue or problem, the conceptualization of the problem from one of multiple theoretical viewpoints, and the specification of how to choose appropriate research or clinical interventions in order to approach the problem. This particular emphasis enables our graduates to skillfully use their clinical and research training, and to actively contribute to the creation of new models of intervention and inquiry.
This educational philosophy and training model is consistent with the mission of the larger Psychology Department and University as a whole. The Department emphasizes theoretically-guided research training that orients knowledge and inquiry to how it can be put to use. This use-based approach is connected to Clark University’s long-standing tradition of innovative and transformative research that addresses important social issues through the integration of theoretical, basic, and applied scholarship.
Given this educational philosophy and adherence to the Scientist-Practitioner training model, the Clinical Program emphasizes strong training in both research methods and clinical practice. Moreover, the integration of science and practice is built deeply into the core of the program. We aspire to train graduates who can function as competent scientists and competent clinicians, and who understand the mutually supportive relationship that psychological practice and psychological science have with each other.
In keeping with the Scientist-Practitioner model, the Clinical Training Program at Clark has three broad goals:
Goal #1: To produce competent scientists whose work is theoretically driven, and who are able to critically evaluate the role of assumption, theory, and evidence.
Goal #2: To produce competent clinicians whose work is theoretically driven, who are able to critically evaluate the role of assumption, theory, and evidence.
Goal #3: To produce competent professionals whose clinical work is informed by psychological science, and whose research and scholarship is informed by clinically-based knowledge.
Overview of Training
To achieve our goals, we provide training in research methods, clinical practice, and their integration. This training is sequential, cumulative, and graded in complexity and occurs through a variety of integrated and coherent educational experiences in the class, laboratory, and practicum settings.
In order to produce competent scientists, the Clinical Program provides training in a range of research methods and statistical approaches, the conduct of independent, empirical research that is theoretically driven, and a range of general professional research skills. This training occurs through both close mentoring and coursework. The core clinical faculty are all active in research, and all clinical graduate students are expected to join in this activity with their primary mentor. Moreover, we mentor students in the development of independent, theoretically-driven research. This research is supported programmatically through coursework, the first- and second-year independent research projects, the research portfolio system, and the dissertation. Overall, the research training builds cumulatively from foundational and more heavily mentored experiences (e.g., introductory courses, first- and second-year research) to the more independent activities (e.g., completion of research portfolio and dissertation research).
In order to produce competent clinicians, the Clinical Program provides training in the basic principles and processes of psychological assessment, evidence-based psychotherapy, and an array of general professional skills. This training occurs in coursework and clinical practica and is provided by both core clinical faculty and affiliated faculty. As with the research training, the clinical training is sequential and cumulative. During their first three years in the program, students receive close supervision and broad-based training from core clinical faculty in adult and child assessment (Years 01 and 02), individual therapy (Year 02), and couples therapy (Year 03). In addition, during their third and fourth years, students participate in off-site clinical practica and externships where they receive more focused training in particular areas of interest. The final stage of the student’s clinical is the completion of an APA-approved clinical internship.
Because of the importance the Clinical Program places on the integration of science and practice, this emphasis is interwoven throughout the research and clinical training activities, including in coursework, clinical placements, and research.
A guiding principle of the Clinical Psychology Program (and the Psychology Department in general) is that the graduate experience be relatively flexible to permit a program of study tailored to the individual’s interests. The formal requirements are minimized to maximize time for developing a close working relationship with faculty, and for establishing one’s own scholarly specialty and research program. Moreover, the program of study is sequential and cumulative, building on foundations set in the early years.
While our training model is relatively simple, there are a number of rules and requirements developed to ensure that (1) students receive the top-quality training; (2) training conforms to the guidelines of the department, university, and American Psychological Association (APA); and (3) students satisfactorily complete coursework and required experiences in a timely fashion.
The clinical psychology program is accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA). For more information, contact the APA Committee on Accreditation at 750 First St., NE, Washington, DC 2002-4242 or 202.336.5979. For further information, contact the Director of Clinical Training,
Dr. Abbie Goldberg.