Program Objectives

The primary objective of this program is to prepare doctoral-level professional psychologists to develop, provide, supervise and evaluate high quality mental health services for citizens of rural and other under-served communities. Through coursework, extensive field training and research experience, our goal is to prepare highly skilled generalists in professional psychology who are sensitive to the psychological and health-related issues confronting this area and are prepared to serve the communities in this region. The program will lead to the Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) degree; this degree is recognized nationwide as reflecting a program with a primarily applied, professional focus. Graduates typically work in applied, service-oriented positions where they work directly with clients, as well as supervise and train other professionals. All prospective students should be aware that successful progress through the program will require a major commitment, including enrollment for coursework during each summer of their time in the program; see also the description of Residency Requirements on the PsyD Admissions page.

Psy.D. Program Model

The philosophy of the program follows a practitioner-scholar model of education and training; consequently, graduates of the program are trained as practitioners of clinical psychology as an empirically informed field. Education and training within the program emphasize the importance of critical inquiry at all levels of clinical practice, including treatment planning for individual clients, assessment of program outcomes, and the design and execution of rigorous research. The program is dedicated to educating students for professional practice careers; therefore, the Psy.D. degree is offered. The program faculty has set forth several pertinent goals and objectives to be obtained by students during their time in the program. These goals and objectives are founded on the core competencies of clinical education and training stated by the American Psychological Association Commission on Accreditation (CoA).

The program exposes students to the following primary clinical orientations: integrative behavioral, cognitive behavioral, and psychodynamic. In the context of this exposure, we encourage each student to develop an orientation that is best suited to his, her, or their style and situation. We endeavor to support students in their development, whether they prefer to remain eclectic or choose to invest in a particular theoretical orientation. The fact that the faculty represents a variety of orientations fits well with this model. Although the perspectives of clinical faculty vary, they share a common mission to provide education and training that is solidly grounded empirically. We also emphasize that multiple systemic and individual factors must be considered in developing a cooperative relationship between client and therapist that will ultimately lead to more positive life experiences for the client. There is a sharp focus on the impacts of community and culture from a biopsychosocial model of influence on human development. As such, the generalist orientation of the program serves as a model to students that the field of clinical psychology is as diverse as the human population it serves.

Program Goals and Objectives

Profession-Wide Competencies
1. The primary goal of the program is to provide high quality graduate education and training in clinical psychology with an emphasis on the role of empirical knowledge as it pertains to clinical practice. As such, students will develop the specific competencies that are the foundation of the education and training model.

Objective 1.1: Relationship/Communication/Interpersonal competence: Students are expected to develop the ability to form and maintain productive partnerships with a wide range of individuals, including colleagues, communities, organizations, supervisors, supervisees, faculty, and those receiving professional services. Students should be able to produce and comprehend oral, nonverbal, and written communications that are informative and well-integrated. They should be able to demonstrate a thorough grasp of professional language and concepts. They should exhibit effective interpersonal skills and the ability to manage conflict and difficult communication well.

Objective 1.2: Assessment competence: Students are expected to develop competency in clinical assessment as evidenced by understanding empirical literature and gain knowledge of the science of measurement, basic psychometric theory, and interpretation skills. In addition, students should be able to demonstrate the use of sound assessment methodologies including collecting relevant data using multiple sources and methods based on goal(s) and referral question(s). Students will also learn and address how relevant diversity characteristics of the service recipient should also be taken into account. Students will be able to interpret assessment results based on current research and professional standards and guidelines. This will inform case conceptualization, classification, and recommendations. Students will learn to guard against decision-making biases and distinguish the aspects of the assessment that are subjective versus objective. This competence should allow the student to describe their patient as a fully functioning person, to plan a course of intervention, and to assess intervention outcomes. Students will also demonstrate the ability to communicate orally and in written documents the findings and implications of the assessment in an accurate and effective manner that is sensitive and appropriate to a range of audiences.

Objective 1.3: Intervention competence: Students are expected to demonstrate their ability to maintain effective relationships with recipients of psychological services. Students will demonstrate the ability to develop evidence-based treatment plans that align with service delivery goals. Interventions are expected to be informed by current scientific literature, assessment findings, diversity characteristics, and contextual variables. Also, students will demonstrate the ability to modify evidenced-based treatments when appropriate, based on continuous evaluation of intervention effectiveness.

Objective 1.4: Research and evaluation competence: Students must demonstrate the substantially independent ability to conceptualize an appropriate, logical research question, frame it in terms of an operational definition, and develop a sound method for addressing the question to formulate research or other scholarly activities (e.g. critical literature reviews, dissertation, efficacy studies, clinical case studies, theoretical papers, program evaluation projects, program development projects, or doctoral research projects). This ability should result in research or scholarly activity that is of sufficient quality and rigor to have the potential to contribute to the scientific, psychological, or professional knowledge base. Students must be able to execute the plan and analyze the quantitative and/or qualitative data in a rigorous and systematic manner and be able to conduct research or other scholarly activities. In addition, students should be able to critically evaluate and disseminate research or other scholarly activity via professional publication and presentation at the local, regional, or national level.

Objective 1.5: Consultation, Interprofessional/Interdisciplinary, and Education competence: Students are expected to demonstrate competence with respect to Interdisciplinary/Interprofessional Consultation and Treatment. They will articulate the roles of a psychologist on an interdisciplinary care team in multiple settings, with specific emphasis on rural primary care settings. This includes distinguishing consultation from direct intervention. They will demonstrate an understanding of primary, secondary, and tertiary models of prevention/intervention as part of an interprofessional team. Students will demonstrate an understanding of the unique roles that other professionals play in these settings with respect to both behavioral and physical health care practices. Students will express an understanding of different service delivery models (e.g., co-located, integrated, etc). and how roles differ in each model and how these models may function differently with respect to different populations (e.g., rural/urban; income-limited/unstably housed, geriatric, psychiatric). Finally, students will articulate an understanding of the challenges and solutions to integrating multiple legal and ethical guidelines across disciplines so all professional concerns are addressed for the good of the patient.

Objective 1.6: Management and Supervision competence: Students will become knowledgeable in the areas of organization and supervision of psychological services, including supervision models and practices. Students will demonstrate this knowledge in their ability to provide formal and informal supervision to less experienced students.

Objective 1.7: Legal and Ethical competence: Students are expected conduct themselves in an ethical manner in all professional activities. To do so, they will have knowledge of and act in accordance with: 1) the current version of the APA Code of Ethics; 2) relevant laws, regulations, rules, and policies governing health service psychology at all levels (organizational, local, state, regional, and federal); and 3) relevant professional standardized and guidelines. Students should be able to recognize ethical dilemmas as they arise and apply ethical decision-making processes in order to resolve the dilemmas.

Objective 1.8: Individual and Cultural Diversity competence: Students will understand the significant impact cultural differences have on clinical practice and be able to articulate those impacts in reference to specific clinical cases. This includes an understanding of how the student’s own personal/cultural history, attitudes, and biases may affect how they understand and interact with people different from themselves. Students will be able to identify cultural differences in an academic sense through knowledge of the current theoretical and empirical knowledge base as it relates to addressing diversity. This includes integrating awareness and knowledge of individual and cultural differences in the conduct of professional roles and activities (e.g., research, services, and other professional activities). Students should also be able to demonstrate this knowledge base by articulating and applying an approach to working effectively with diverse individuals and groups. This includes engaging in program planning and service delivery that conveys that the differences are appreciated. Students should also be able to apply a framework for working effectively with areas of individual and cultural diversity not previously encountered over the course of their careers which includes the ability to work effectively with individuals whose group membership, demographic characteristics, or worldviews create conflict with their own.

Objective 1.9: Professional Values, Attitudes, and Behaviors competence: Through their behavior, students will reflect the values and attitudes of the field of psychology. This includes integrity, honestly, deportment, professional identity, accountability, punctuality, reliability, lifelong learning, and concern for the welfare and safety of others. Their development of a professional identity will begin to emerge and they will use resources, such as supervision and literature, to continue their professional development. They will engage in self-reflection regarding their personal and professional functioning, including activities to maintain and improve their performance, well-being, and effectiveness. As they progress through the program, students will demonstrate a greater degree of independence in increasingly complex professional situations. Students will conduct themselves in a professional manner, including attire, across different settings. They will also actively seek and demonstrate openness and responsiveness to feedback and supervision. Students will recognize and work to resolve situations that challenge the adherence to professional values and attitudes.

Objective 1.10: Advocacy competence: The definition of professional advocacy is speaking or acting on behalf of an individual or group to uphold their rights or explain their point of view. In other words, it involves supporting a collective, impactful voice for those who are lacking in power in the larger structure.  Competence in advocacy involves the development of skills to advocate at the individual, group, community, national and international level and is often in service to social justice and improving public policy. Because the mission of the Psy.D. program rests heavily on advocacy, all students will be required to demonstrate the knowledge, skills and attitudes that reflect competence in the practice of advocacy and the principles of social justice. Students will demonstrate through words and actions their understanding of the centrality of advocacy and the role it plays in individual clinical practice as well as its importance in the broader field of psychological science.  They will demonstrate their currency of knowledge with areas of social justice and advocacy practice that are related to their professional goals and intentions.  Students will also demonstrate an understanding of the role played by basic, applied and social action research in promoting social justice through advocacy.  Students will actively engage in all levels of advocacy during their time in the program and will be able to effectively articulate their role and the process of engagement as well as the outcome of each activity.  Students will be expected to understand and explain their use of  models of engagement (e.g., individual, systemic, family, legal) for advocacy in their approach to modifying and utilizing the processes as the situation demands. Finally, students will integrate being a Citizen Psychologist into their professional identity and will begin the process of lifelong advocacy for the public good.

Discipline Specific Knowledge
2. The second goal is to ensure that the clinical training of students is thoroughly grounded in the broad scientific areas of psychology, and their integration, often referred to as Discipline Specific Knowledge.

Objective 2.1: Students will demonstrate knowledge in the following broad areas of scientific psychology: biological aspects of behavior; cognitive and affective aspects of behavior; social aspects of behavior; history and systems of psychology; psychological measurement; research methodology; and techniques of data analysis

Objective 2.2: Students will demonstrate knowledge in the following scientific, methodological, and theoretical areas of psychology: individual differences in behavior, human development, dysfunctional behavior and analysis, and professional standards of ethics.

Program Specific Competencies

3. Rural areas, underserved populations, and those who have been marginalized are characterized by unique needs that are not often met by service delivery models and therapeutic modalities developed primarily in urban settings. Therefore, a third goal is to promote an understanding regarding the impact of being part of a rural, underserved, and/or marginalized culture has on clinical practice.

Objective 3.1: Students will develop an understanding of the diverse forces at work with rural, underserved, and/or populations that have been marginalized that can and do impact various aspects of human development and community functioning.

Objective 3.2: Students will be able to articulate alternative service delivery models that may improve access and use of behavioral health services for those who are rural, underserved, and/or populations that have been marginalized.