College of Liberal Arts


Psychology (M.A) - Clinical Psychology

Clinical Psychology Program Information

MISSION STATEMENT
To provide students with the knowledge and skills needed to provide ethical and culturally sensitive clinical services, to conduct/consume research, and to pursue further graduate study

The clinical psychology track of the Master of Arts in Psychology provides hands-on training and firsthand experience in assessment, diagnosis, treatment, and applied research. The program is ideally suited to meet the needs of individuals who want to:

  • Learn about evidence-based practices in psychology (EBPP)
  • Work as master's level psychometricians, behavioral specialists, or licensed clinical professional counselors
  • Pursue further graduate study in clinical psychology
  • Serve as research interviewers/clinicians/project managers on applied research studies

Consistent with this mission, the clinical psychology training program is committed to providing:

  • A training curriculum that is up-to-date and informed by science
  • Comprehensive training in the three components of EBPP
  • A solid grounding in clinical and research ethics
  • Opportunities to apply and practice research and clinical skills under the direct supervision of a program faculty member
  • Opportunities to further develop research and/or clinical skills through practical experiences in community settings

What are Evidence-Based Practices in Psychology (EBPP)?

Evidence-based practices in psychology are often inappropriately equated with empirically supported-treatments (EST). While ESTs are a component of EBPP, evidence-based practices in psychology are much more than ESTs. According to the American Psychological Association Policy Statement on Evidence-Based Practice in Psychology (August, 2005; http://www.apa.org/practice/ebpstatement.pdf), "Evidence-based practice in psychology (EBPP) is the integration of the best available research with clinical expertise in the context of patient characteristics, culture, and preferences." In brief, the EBPP model applies the scientific method to clinical practice. For example, a clinician might first assess a client using semi-structured interviews and validated measures so that she or he may generate hypotheses about the factors that cause and maintain the client's problems. The clinician will then search the relevant research literature to determine what, if any, approaches have been shown to effectively address his or her client's problem, taking into consideration the client's characteristics and personal preferences. The clinician will involve the client in clinical decision-making by informing him/her of the options regarding treatment, including costs and benefits of different approaches, as well as jointly establishing measurable goals. Finally, the clinician will use validated measures to monitor the client's progress in treatment and will consider alternate approaches if the selected approach is not effective.

Why are EBPP Important?

The EBPP movement developed out of evidence-based medicine (Sackett et al., 2000). Recently, the APA Presidential Task Force on Evidence-Based Practice released a report entitled Evidence-based practice in psychology (August, 2005; http://www.apa.org/practice/ebpstatement.pdf), outlining its policy on EBPP. EBPP are important for all clinical psychologists, regardless of whether they plan to pursue a research or clinical career.

Individuals wishing to pursue a clinical career will become consumers of the research literature and will apply the components of evidence-based practices; that is, they will use evidence to help guide clinical decision-making. In addition, EBPP will help clinicians to be successful in a changing field. In particular, there is a movement in the field of applied psychology toward greater accountability in practice and use of brief, empirically supported, treatment approaches which is driven, in part, by third party payers. EBPP promotes accountability by encouraging the use of validated measures to diagnose clients and monitor their progress in treatment as well as the use of empirically supported treatment approaches, when available. By selecting approaches that have been shown to be effective for treating specific problems, as well as focusing treatment on specific concrete and measurable goals, the use of EBPP may also help to shorten the time needed to produce symptom resolution. Finally, by using validated measures and regularly assessing client outcome, clinicians are able to identify more quickly whether or not the treatment they are implementing is working, which will permit adjustments in treatment if needed.

Individuals wishing to pursue a research career in clinical psychology will contribute to the research literature; that is, they will help to build the evidence-base for use in treatment planning. Clinical researchers develop and validate measures for diagnosing clients and assessing change. They also develop and evaluate treatment approaches for addressing specific problem areas (i.e., empirically supported treatments). Finally, they conduct research that elucidates the process and mechanism of change in therapy, examines the impact of client characteristics and beliefs on therapy outcome, and details the course of recovery from specific disorders.

Goals of the Clinical Psychology Program

As indicated by our mission statement, the goals of the clinical psychology program are threefold:

  1. To enhance competitiveness of students seeking admission to doctoral programs
  2. To train clinicians who are knowledgeable and able to apply and integrate the three main components of evidence-based practices in psychology (EBPP)
  3. To prepare students to work as ethical professionals (e.g., as clinicians, behavioral specialists, or research project managers) at the masters level
  4. To ensure that students adhere to the highest ethical standards when conducting research and clinical practice
Consistent with these goals, the program curriculum provides comprehensive and hands-on training in assessment, diagnosis, state-of-the-art and empirically-supported treatment, as well as research methods and statistics. Courses in psychotherapy and behavior change prepare students to do intake interviews and case conceptualizations and to provide evidence-based individual therapy. Advanced seminars in legal, ethical and professional issues in psychology, assessment, and child psychopathology prepare students for the required nine-month field placement. Opportunities are also available for students to work on research projects under the direct supervision of a faculty member. In addition to completing a research thesis, students may also have the opportunity, depending on the faculty member, to assist in developing research conference presentations and manuscripts for publication.

What's New about the Program?

In addition to an emphasis on EBPP, other changes have also been made to the program curriculum. Over the past several years, there has been an increasing demand for specialized training in childhood emotional and developmental disorders. In response to that demand, we have modified our Intelligence testing course to focus on children and now require students to take a course on child psychopathology, which focuses on DSM disorders first evident in childhood.  Students are also encouraged to take a child psychotherapy course which is regularly offered during the summer.  Students will also have the opportunity to gain field experience working with children in association with their second year practicum and internship coursework.
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Sources:

APA Presidential Task Force on Evidence-Based Practice (August, 2005). Evidence-based practice in psychology. http://www.apa.org/practice/ebpstatement.pdf.

Sackett, D. L., Straus, S. E., Richardson, W. S., Rosenberg, W., & Haynes, R. B. (2000). Evidence based medicine: How to practice and teach EBM (2nd ed.). London:
Churchill Livingstone.


 

 

 

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