Professional Competency Areas

Scientific foundation courses cover the breadth of psychology and provide a basis for the scientific, methodological, and theoretical foundations of professional practice. First-year scientific foundation courses expose students to the basic domains of biological, cognitive, affective, and social aspects of behavior; professional standards and ethics; dysfunctions and psychopathology; psychological measurement; and research methodology. During the second year students study broader theoretical perspectives on personality, learning, emotion and cognition; and development over the life span. Third-year coursework emphasizes a systems perspective in the study of the history of psychology, schools of psychology, and paradigms within the field.

Relationship competency is addressed through coursework that helps individuals gain the skills needed to establish and maintain a constructive therapeutic alliance with clients. First-year courses introduce students to foundation skills of therapy, clinical interviewing techniques, and the role of self-awareness in the ethical practice of psychology. In addition, students are exposed to the impact of diversity in establishing and maintaining a meaningful therapeutic alliance. The ability to develop rapport with clients during assessment is also addressed in several first-year courses. During their second and third years of study, students learn to refine and apply relationship skills through practicum experiences in various clinical settings. Coursework in life-span development addresses important contextual variables associated with life stage in helping students develop the capacity for empathy with clients. The clinical internship during the fourth year provides students with an integrative experience that allows them to develop more sophisticated and elaborate relationship skills.

Assessment competency is developed through coursework that provides a multimethod and multitheoretical framework for describing, evaluating, and predicting various aspects of client functioning. First-year courses expose students to basic skill training in the areas of personality assessment, cognitive assessment (intelligence and achievement), assessment interviewing, comprehensive evaluation (integration of skills and synthesis in report writing), the impact of diversity on the assessment process, and the ethical use of assessment procedures. Second-year coursework addresses the broader scientific principles of learning theory and personality theory in the assessment process, and the role of life-stage in assessment of the client. Third-year courses address assessment within the context of various broad-based systems such as families, programs, and organizations. Practicum experiences during the second and third year provide opportunities for students to further refine and apply their assessment skills at clinical sites. Specialized assessment techniques and instruments are also covered in a variety of intervention and concentration area courses that span the doctoral curriculum. The clinical internship during the fourth year provides students with an integrative experience that allows them to develop more sophisticated and elaborate assessment skills.



Intervention competency is fostered through courses that train students to utilize various therapeutic methods to promote, restore, sustain, and enhance client functioning. Students are exposed to the psychotherapy research literature and taught empirically supported treatments, as well as preventive strategies to maintain positive mental health and a sense of well-being in clients. First-year coursework focuses on basic listening skills, cognitive, and cognitive-behavioral approaches to treatment. Students also learn about various intervention approaches for different types of psychopathology and about ethical guidelines for intervention in their first year courses. In addition, students are exposed to a number of diversity issues and social/cultural influences that can affect the appropriate delivery of intervention services. During the second year, students are exposed to learning and behavioral approaches, brief therapy and crisis intervention, and psychodynamic approaches to treatment. Third-year courses emphasize a broader family systems perspective, as well as interventions that may be part of the supervisory, consultative, or managerial relationship. Practicum experiences during the second and third year provide opportunities for students to further refine and apply their intervention skills at clinical sites. Specialized intervention methods and approaches are also covered in various electives and concentration area courses during the third year of the doctoral program. The clinical internship during the fourth year provides students with an integrative experience that allows them to develop more sophisticated and elaborate intervention skills.

Research and Evaluation competency is addressed through coursework that emphasizes psychological science as an organized and systematic approach to studying psychological phenomena. This includes approaches to problem identification, methods of collecting data and observations, procedures for organizing and analyzing information, and the process of interpreting and communicating findings. The primary emphasis of courses in this area is to train students as local clinical scientists who can formulate logical questions and critically evaluate data related to clinical practice. The intent is to teach students to be scientific practitioners and wise consumers of research, rather than to focus on the skills they need to become academic researchers. During the first year students are exposed to basic coursework in statistics and research methods, psychological measurement, and ethical issues in research and evaluation. During the second year students begin to learn about the application of scientific research procedures by starting the dissertation process, and through practicum experiences where they are challenged to begin to function as local clinical scientists. Third-year courses address research and evaluation within the broader contexts of organizations and systems. Students are introduced to the principles and methods of quality assurance, continuing quality improvement, and program evaluation, as well as historical and philosophical paradigms that influence the practice of scientific inquiry. The culmination of the doctoral dissertation also provides an integrative experience in this area for students. In addition, research and evaluation issues are addressed in several of the advanced elective and concentration area courses. During the fourth year, students gain advanced experience on their internship functioning as local clinical scientists where they apply critical inquiry as part of clinical practice.

Consultation and Education competency is developed through coursework and experiences that provide training in the use of planned collaborative relationships with others (consulting) and the directed facilitation and growth of knowledge, skills, and attitudes in others (education). First-year coursework teaches students effective interpersonal skills and important ethical considerations, which are the foundation of effective consultation and education. Students are also asked to attend and evaluate continuing education activities, to begin making class presentations where they are provided with feedback, and to learn the effective use of psychoeducational approaches during their first year. During their second year, students are exposed to coursework that deals with the broader framework of learning theories and the learning process, as well as developmental considerations that influence efforts at change. Students also begin practicum during their second year and are required to attend weekly class meetings where they gain practice being educators (making case presentations) and consultants (helping case presenters with referral questions). Third-year coursework includes formal instruction in consultation theory and methods, as well as the application of consultation within more general systems (couples, families, organizations). Students continue their practicum training at a more advanced level, and gain additional experience as educators by attending and participating in formal presentations made to the faculty and student body. In addition, students have numerous opportunities to participate in various consultation (working with testing companies, mental health centers, community organizations) and education (presentations to groups and screening sessions on depression, eating disorders, stress management) activities through the School's Psychological Services Center. The clinical internship during the fourth year provides students with an integrative experience that allows them to develop more sophisticated and elaborate consultation and education skills.

Management and Supervision competency is developed through coursework and experiences that provide training in procedures used to direct, organize, or control services provided by others (management) and to guide, instruct, and enhance the competence of others (supervision). First-year coursework teaches students effective interpersonal skills, sensitivity to diversity issues, important ethical considerations, and legal and professional standards that are basic requisites of effective management and supervision. During their second year, students are exposed to coursework that deals with broader personality and motivational considerations that may influence management and supervision. Students also begin practicum during their second year and are required to attend weekly class meetings where they discuss issues related to supervision (including openness and receptivity to supervision), case management, and management in service delivery systems. Third-year coursework includes formal instruction in management and supervision theory and methods. Students continue their practicum training at a more advanced level during their third year, and gain additional experience working with supervisory and managerial issues. In addition, students have numerous opportunities to participate in the management of research programs being conducted in the Psychological Services Center and gain experience in directed clinical supervision through the Center. The clinical internship during the fourth year provides students with an integrative experience that allows them to develop more sophisticated and elaborate supervisory and managerial skills.