Practicum Training

Penn students begin clinical training in their second year of the program. We have two community-facing clinics within the Department of Psychology, and two more external practica that offer guaranteed placements for interested students. Collectively, these four introductory practica provide initial training in assessment and psychotherapy. 

  • All clinical students begin their practicum training in the Introductory Practicum in Assessment and Consultation, an in-house clinic run by Dr. Melissa Hunt. Adult-focused students spend a full year in this practicum, whereas child-focused students transition in the second half of the year to a pediatric assessment practicum at the Center for Autism Research under the supervision of Dr. Benjamin Yerys.
  • After successful completion of a year of assessment, adult-focused students typically spend a year in our in-house psychotherapy clinic, providing therapy to patients with depression and a range of comorbidities, including anxiety disorders, trauma-related disorders, and OCD. Child-focused students spend this year at the PATCH Clinic at Hall Mercer, where they provide psychotherapy services to pediatric anxiety and OCD patients under the supervision of Dr. Emily Becker-Haimes.   

Because of the wealth of opportunities for clinical training in the Philadelphia area, Penn does not run a large in-house psychological services clinic beyond the introductory practica described above. Rather, after completing two years of introductory practica, Penn's clinical students have the opportunity to participate in external practica (externships) at local hospitals, clinics, and research facilities staffed and run by world-renowned clinical scientists. The Associate Director of Clinical Training, Dr. Melissa Hunt, helps students decide which practicum experiences best suit their needs and interests and will inform their developing program of research. In this way, students obtain clinical training that is cumulative, graded in complexity, integrated with their didactic and research experiences, and tailored to their specific interests.

Several years ago, Dr. Hunt founded a large regional externship matching program for southern New Jersey, eastern Pennsylvania and Delaware. PENDELDOT now boasts 16 member doctoral programs and over 80 regional externship sites, including most of the major hospital systems in the Philadelphia region. All of the highly desirable training sites in the region (e.g., Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, the Philadelphia VA, the Center for the Treatment and Study of Anxiety, and many, many others) participate in the PENDELDOT match. There is a searchable directory that allows clinical students to locate the most appropriate sites based on population treated, theoretical orientation, experience level, and so on. Students using the PENDELDOT system can rest assured that sites will abide by guidelines designed to protect the interests of trainees (e.g., a uniform timeline for applications and interviews, and a coordinated match day, so that applicants need never decide on an offer prior to knowing about other potential opportunities.) Applicants to the program who are curious about the various opportunities available are encouraged to visit the PENDELDOT directory to explore the many training options.