Clinical Training Program

Program Philosophy

The clinical training program, nested in the Department, is intended to provide preparation for research/academic careers in Clinical Psychology, Psychopathology or Personality. Clinical training (in assessment, diagnosis and psychotherapy) is seen as an integral part of the education of highly qualified, creative clinical scientists. Nevertheless, the principal goal of Penn clinical students is to become expert psychologists, not simply expert clinicians, and the program is designed to support that goal. A recent analysis of the programs for training clinical psychology faculty determined Penn to be the third-ranked program in this regard in the years 1968-1997 (Ilardi & Roberts, Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 2002). Moreover, our core clinical psychology faculty ranked first in a recent analysis of the eminence of faculty members at 157 university-based, APA-accredited clinical psychology programs (Matson et al., Research in Developmental Disabilities, 2005). Our program is a member of the Academy of Psychological Clinical Science (http://acadpsychclinicalscience.org/index.php), a coalition of doctoral training programs that emphasize the scientific basis of clinical psychology and is accredited by the Psychological Clinical Science Accreditation System (www.pcsas.org). Our membership in the Academy indicates our commitment to empirical research as the basis of theory, assessment, and intervention, and our PCSAS accreditation attests to our success in training clinical scientists. The program is also accredited by the American Psychological Association. Information on our program's APA status may be confirmed by contacting the Commission on Accreditation, American Psychological Association, 750 First Street, NE, Washington, DC 20002-4242, telephone: 202-336-5979, e-mail: apaaccred@apa.org, website: www.apa.org/ed/accreditation. 

Since the clinical training program is fully integrated into the Department, clinical students have the opportunity to take courses in Cognitive Neuroscience, Behavioral Neuroscience, Human Memory, Decision Making, Social Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Language and Perception. The core of knowledge gained in these areas is expected to give clinical students a solid foundation of basic psychological science and research methodology from which to launch their clinical training and research. Click here to link to our general graduate program homepage, which includes application information, program requirements and so on. Graduate Program Homepage

Consistent with Penn's basic scientific orientation, the clinical training opportunities at Penn focus on empirically supported treatments. Practicum opportunities are heavily weighted towards cognitive-behavioral interventions. Experience with a variety of patient populations, diagnostic groups, and clinical supervisors helps the graduate students hone their own research questions, generate new hypotheses, and maximize the ecological validity and generalizability of their research. While practical clinical training can be gratifying in its own right, the clinical scientist model implies that research and clinical work are inextricably entwined, each in the service of the other. Thus, Penn graduates are not expected to pursue careers purely in the practice of clinical psychology. Anyone committed to such a career track would be well advised to apply elsewhere.

As Ph.D. level clinical psychologists, Penn graduates can be expected to advance the frontiers of basic science and to contribute to our understanding of the etiology, prevention, and treatment of psychopathology, and to the advancement of well-being. In addition, the Penn education prepares its graduates to participate in the development and validation of new, effective treatment and prevention programs. It is the combination of basic scientific knowledge, excellence in research, clinical acumen, and experience that prepares individuals for careers of such scope and impact.

Specific goals of the program include the following:

Goal #1:  To train clinical scientists whose research is informed by clinical practice and a broad knowledge of psychology, such that they integrate theory, research and practice.

Objective 1A.  Students will acquire breadth of knowledge in psychological science, theory and history.

Objective 1B.  Students will acquire knowledge of the substantive field of clinical psychology.

Objective 1C.  Students will develop competence in evaluating, designing, carrying out, and disseminating ethical empirical research relevant to clinical psychology, including research on the efficacy and effectiveness of interventions.

Objective 1D.  Students will acquire knowledge of individual differences and issues of diversity as pertinent to clinical science.

Objective 1E.  Students will adopt the orientation that their education in science and practice must be life-long and involve the study of emerging findings.

 

Goal #2:  To train clinicians whose practice is guided by clinical science and who have the knowledge and skills requisite for clinical internship.  In the following, we will describe the level of performance a student should achieve prior to the predoctoral internship as entry-level skills.

Objective 2A.  Students will develop entry-level skills in evidence-based psychological assessment and diagnostic interviewing.

Objective 2B.  Students will develop knowledge of and entry-level competence in empirically supported psychological interventions.

Objective 2C.  Students will engage in ethical practice and carry out their responsibilities professionally.

Objective 2D.  Students will have exposure to the clinical psychologist's roles as consultant and supervisor.