Practicum Training

Because of the wealth of opportunities for clinical training in the Philadelphia area, Penn does not run an in-house psychological services clinic. Rather, Penn's clinical students have the opportunity to participate in practica at local hospitals, clinics and research facilities staffed and run by world-renowned clinical scientists. The Associate Director of Clinical Training helps students decide which practicum experiences best suit the student's needs and interests, and arranges for placements at the appropriate sites.

Penn's program abides by the Uniform Time Line for Practicum Applications for Greater Philadelphia Area Clinical Graduate Programs and Practicum Sites (available here) as do all of the practicum sites at which we routinely place students.

Some of these clinical opportunities include:

Assessment, Diagnosis and Consultation

During their second year, all clinical students participate in the assessment and diagnosis practicum, which is run and supervised by Dr. Melissa Hunt, the Associate Director of Clinical Training. Referrals for assessments and diagnostic consultations come from local hospitals and clinics, professionals in private practice, employee assistance programs, and the University's Student Counseling Center. Assessments cover intellectual functioning, academic achievement, neuropsychological tests, and objective personality tests. Diagnostic workups include structured and unstructured clinical interviews as well as validated symptom inventories and self-report questionnaires. Students complete approximately 8 full assessment batteries, analyze and integrate the results, and write up reports suitable for both the referring professional and the client.

Behavior Therapy

Dr. Alan Goldstein conducts a two-semester practicum each year focused on behavior therapy for anxiety disorders. Students learn not only to apply empirically supported behavioral interventions but also to use the moment-to-moment analysis of the process of therapy to identify stumbling blocks to progress. Students carry a caseload of approximately three clients at any given time. Two to three students share a 2- to 3-hour group supervision that follows Dr. Goldstein's review of videotapes of their treatment sessions. 

Cognitive Behavioral Psychotherapy

Dr. Robert DeRubeis conducts a practicum each year in which students learn to practice cognitive therapy with adult outpatients. Each student carries a caseload of between two and five patients who have been referred because of the patient's interest in cognitive therapy, or because the referrer believes cognitive therapy will benefit the patient. Most patients have difficulty with depressed mood, but they may also (or instead) have difficulties with anger, anxiety, or maladaptive eating patterns. Group supervision is held for 3 hours each week throughout the 1-year practicum. In a typical year, there are two to three students on the practicum team.

Center for the Treatment and Study of Anxiety

Under the leadership of Dr. Edna Foa, the CTSA offers students a unique opportunity to learn both the theory and practice of cognitive-behavioral treatments for anxiety disorders, including obsessive-compulsive disorder in adults and children, post-traumatic stress disorder, and social phobia. The CTSA is an important site for both practicum training and research opportunities for Penn graduate students. 

Child and Adolescent OCD, Tic, Trich and Anxiety Group (The COTTAGe)

COTTAGe is  a specialty clinic in the Department of Psychiatry for individuals with OCD, tic disorders, trichotillomania, anxiety and related disorders.  The director of the clinic is Dr. Martin Franklin, Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology in Psychiatry, who is also a member of our graduate group.  Students completing practicum training here can expect to get considerable experience with pediatric anxiety, including general cognitive-behavioral therapy, exposure and response prevention for OCD, habit reversal training and relaxation training.   

Philadelphia VA

The Philadelphia VA, which is located across the street from the Penn clinical program offices, offers a large number of rotations in evidence based assesment and intervention, including opportunities to work with chronic and severe mental illness, substance abuse, sleep problems, delivery of psychological services in primary care, pain management, geriatric care, and comorbid PTSD and TBI.  

Drexel Medical School

Drexel's Center City Clinic for Behavioral Medicine serves a diagnostically, culturally and economically diverse population, many of whom have concurrent medical problems (e.g. HIV/AIDS).  Evidence based training experiences include assessment and psychology in a behavioral medicine setting, DBT skills groups, delivery of manualized Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, weight loss, grief groups, and seeking safety groups (for trauma and substance abuse).  Under the leadership of Dr. Virginia O'Hayer, this practicum is a wonderful capstone opportunity to expand beyond core CBT skills and learn to work effectively with a complex and underserved population.

The Center for Autism Research

The mission of the Center for Autism Research is to make rapid progress in understanding the underlying causes of autism, as effective treatments for ASD will only emerge with increased understanding of the causes.  Their ultimate goal is to discover which treatments work best for which individuals, based on genetic, brain imaging, and behavioral profiles.  The this end, they evaluate hundreds of children each year through research studies at the Center.  CAR's mission also extends to training the next generation of clinical and research experts devoted to ASD.  Clinical and research fellows who complete CAR's rigorous training program have the foundation to become leaders in the field.  Practicum students have the opportunity to receive training in a wide variety of assessment tools for ASD and are expected to achieve research level reliability in their administration and scoring of extensive diagnostic and developmental evaluations Practicum students participate in team meetings, evaluate children, write comprehensive reports and provide feedback to parents and other family members.


Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

CHOP is one of the premier tertiary care pediatric hospitals in the country.  The Department of Psychology at CHOP provides specialized care for children including assessment, intervention and consultation services.  Interdisciplinary treatment teams work with acute and chronic pediatric patients including those with neurodevelopmental disorders, autism spectrum disorders, behavioral and school difficulties, enuresis and encopresis, sleep problems and disorders, Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, feeding disorders, learning disabilities, cancer and cardiac conditions, organ and stem cell transplantation, obesity, gastrointestinal disorders, sickle cell disease and traumatic injury.  Services include assessments (cognitive and developmental assessments, neuropsycholgoical evaluations, and evaluation of emotional, social and family functioning), Inteventions (child therapy, family therapy, parent education) and Consultation (with medical teams throughout the hospital and with school counselors and teachers when appropriate.)  CHOP offers a number of competitive practicum rotations that are available to Penn clinical students specializing in pediatric work.  For a comprehensive listing of opportunities see the CHOP externship website at


DuPont Nemours Children's Hospital in Delaware


DuPont Hospital for Children in Delaware is a 40 minute drive from Penn's campus.  Like CHOP, DuPont is multi-speciality, tertiary care teaching hospital and center of excellence that offers numerous externship (practica) rotations for advanced graduate students in clinical psychology who are specializing in pediatric treatment and research.  For a full listing of their current rotations, which are available on a competitive basis, see