ph.d. graduate program

ph.d. in clinical psychology

overview

The APA-accredited1 Clinical Training Program in the Department of Psychology at the University of Utah follows the principles of a clinical science2 model, which calls for rigorous training in the application of scientific principles to both the research and applied aspects of clinical psychology. We are committed to providing students with high-quality training in empirical research and in clinical work that is well-grounded in science. In order to accomplish these goals, the program draws upon the interests and versatility of the clinical faculty as well as the faculty in other areas of our highly collaborative department, in addition to many excellent training sites both on and off campus.

Students who thrive in our program tend to be those who have a substantial interest in research and intend for research to be a significant part of their future careers. Our program provides students with exposure to a broad range of evidence-based theoretical approaches. Students also have considerable flexibility in individualizing their course of study, and they may opt to cross areas within the department. Within this flexible framework, however, students are expected to select their electives, clinical settings, and research topics in such a way as to develop a "core professional identity." In addition to the core training in adult psychopathology, students may choose to follow the curriculum guidelines of one of areas of specialization: Clinical Child and Family, Clinical Health/Behavioral Medicine, and Clinical Neuropsychology; as well as the interest group in Human Sexuality.

faculty w/ clinical psychology focus

James F. Alexander
Brian Baucom
Katherine J.W. Baucom
Craig J. Bryan
Sheila Crowell
Matthew Euler
Michael Himle
David M. Huebner
Patricia K. Kerig
Timothy W. Smith
Donald S. Strassberg
Yana Suchy
Paula G. Williams

1APA - Committee on Accreditation

750 First Street, NE
Washington D.C. 20002-4242
(202) 336-5979

2Clinical Science Model

As defined by the Academy of Psychological Clinical Science, the term "Clinical Science" refers to a training model that emphasizes the application of knowledge directed at the promotion of adaptive functioning in ways that are consistent with scientific evidence. In this regard, our program maintains a commitment to empirically-based approaches to investigating the validity of hypotheses regarding human functioning and interventions and to advancing knowledge by the use of the scientific method in whatever endeavors we are engaged in, whether research, teaching, or clinical work . As McFall (1991) has written: "Scientists are not necessarily academics, and persons working in applied settings are not necessarily nonscientists. Well-trained clinical scientists might function in any number of contexts—from the laboratory, to the clinic, to the administrator's office. What is important is not the setting, but how the individual functions within the setting," and thus the best graduate education in clinical psychology focuses on "training all students to think and function as scientists in every aspect and setting of their professional lives."

Clinical Specialty Tracks

The Clinical Child and Family (CCF) Program

The Child Clinical and Family Program at the University of Utah emphasizes an integration of clinical and developmental theory and research. The general goals of the CCF program are to train students to develop competence and expertise in the following areas:
  1. Theories underlying clinical research and practice with children, adolescents and families
  2. Specific methodological issues relevant to conducting psychological research with children, adolescents, and families
  3. General clinical skills (diagnostic skills, assessment skills, alliance building skills, intervention skills) necessary for working effectively with specific populations of children and adolescents
  4. Interpersonal skills necessary for working with systems (family, school, community) relevant to the development of children and adolescents
  5. Cultural diversity training relevant to (a) providing appropriate clinical services to and (b) conducting culturally sensitive clinical research with youth and their families.
  6. The unique professional and ethical issues involved on working with youth and families.
Like the other clinical specialty programs, the CCF program emphasizes a cross-disciplinary approach, encouraging students to develop interests in other areas of psychology, including cognitive, social, developmental, and neuroscience. Furthermore, CCF students have the opportunity to receive clinical training in adult psychopathology, adult psychotherapy, neuropsychology, and health psychology. Students also have the option (not required) to participate in the Joint Clinical Developmental Program. For this program, students fulfill the requirements for both a Clinical degree and a Developmental degree in psychology, which may be especially of interest to students interested in lifespan development and clinical psychology.

The Clinical Health and Behavioral Medicine Program

The Health Psychology and Behavioral Medicine Specialization is intended to train psychologists who are experts in theory, research, and the application of health psychology. Students learn basic psychological theory and research, and learn how to integrate this with current biomedical knowledge in order to work effectively in medical settings. Clinical students pursuing this specialization gain training and experience consulting with health care professionals, working as part of an interdisciplinary treatment team, and assessing and conducting psychological interventions with a variety of medical patients.

Clinical students who pursue this specialization complete all requirements of our APA-approved clinical training program, conduct research with health psychology faculty throughout their time in the program, and take a set of health psychology courses as part of their electives. Clinical students are required to take a Behavioral Medicine Practicum and to complete their pre-doctoral clinical internship in a setting that provides additional training in clinical health psychology.

The Clinical Neuropsychology Program

Clinical neuropsychology is a formally recognized specialty area under the umbrella of clinical psychology. Clinical neuropsychologists are individuals who, in addition to being trained in general clinical psychology, are also trained in theoretical, empirical, and practical aspects of brain-behavior relationships. Most clinical neuropsychologists work in medical centers, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, or private practice, as well as medical schools or universities. Typical neuropsychologists spend at least some portion of their work week evaluating cognitive and emotional functioning of patients suffering from various types of brain dysfunction. Additionally, many clinical neuropsychologist also devote some portion of their time to patient treatment, such as conducting psychotherapy with brain-injured patients and their families, or developing cognitive rehabilitation programs. Finally, the majority of clinical neuropsychologists, whether employed primarily in clinical or academic settings, engage in research activities aimed at the advancement of our understanding of brain-behavior relationships, as well as the advancement of neuropsychological assessment techniques.

The Clinical Neuropsychology Training Program housed within the Psychology Department at the University of Utah is carefully designed to provide excellent training that is in accordance with the principles and guidelines set forth by the Houston Conference on Specialty Education and Training in Clinical Neuropsychology. These guidelines express the philosophy that core psychology and clinical competencies are crucial building blocks of successful neuropsychology training. For more information about the clinical neuropsychology program, click here.  For more information about the program faculty, click here.