Clinical Training Program

Program Philosophy

The clinical training program, nested in the Department, is a clinical science program intended to provide preparation for research/academic careers in Clinical Psychology. 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 psychological scientists, not simply expert clinicians, and the program is designed to support that goal. An 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 an analysis of the eminence of faculty members at 157 university-based, APA-accredited clinical psychology programs (Matson et al., Research in Developmental Disabilities, 2005). 

We are committed to training clinical scientistis who can ease the burden of mental illness and promote well-being in society through research, treatment development, training, supervision and clinical practice.  Our training opportunities emphasize continuity and interdependence across laboratory, clinical, and community contexts.  We value a flexible and integrative approach to pedagogy that bridges the many content areas, approaches, and methodologies relevant to clinical science.  

Since the clinical training program is fully integrated into the Department, clinical students have the opportunity to take courses in Cognitive Neuroscience, Behavioral Neuroscience, Neuroendocrinology and Psychopharmacology, Human Memory, Judgement and 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, with opportunities to learn dialectical behavior behavior, acceptance and commitment therapy, and other empirically supported variants available to more advanced students as well. 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, validation and dissemination and implementation 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.

Admission to the Clinical Program

 

Ordinarily students apply for admission to the clinical program at the same time they apply for admission to the graduate program; they do so by indicating their interest in clinical training at that time. Admission to the graduate program carries the presumption of admission to the clinical program for those students who have indicated such an interest on their application unless the applicant is specifically told otherwise. In some cases, students request clinical training after they have begun the graduate program. In such cases, the Clinical Program Committee will review the request and accept the student, if the student is judged to be suitable for participation in the practica, and if there are sufficient resources available.

Accreditation

Our program is 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: https://accreditation.apa.org/.

Our program is also a member of the Academy of Psychological Clinical Science (https://www.acadpsychclinicalscience.org/), a coalition of doctoral training programs that emphasize the scientific basis of clinical psychology and is accredited by the Psychological Clinical Science Accreditation System (https://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. Questions about PCSAS accreditation can be addressed to Alan G. Kraut, Executive Director, PCSAS, by mail: 1800 Massachusetts Ave NW, Suite 402, Washington, DC 20036-1218, by phone: 301-455-8046, or via email: AKraut@PCSAS.org. The tenets and expectations of PCSAS are highly consistent with our training goals and methods, and we plan to maintain PCSAS accreditation indefinitely.  We are actively promoting efforts to ensure that, in the future, programs accredited by PCSAS are given the same access to internship and licensure opportunities as are programs accredited by APA.  Once this is achieved, it is likely that we will no longer maintain APA accreditation.