Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) in Clinical Psychology
APU’s Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) in Clinical Psychology is a professional doctorate that identifies as a practitioner-scholar program. The curriculum provides the courses and training necessary to meet the educational requirements in the state of California for licensure as a psychologist.
The Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology program educates, prepares, and trains students to become practitioner-scholars in clinical psychology with professional competencies in relationship, research, assessment, intervention, diversity, consultation, supervision, integration of faith/spirituality and practice, and systems thinking (family psychology).
The Psy.D. program at Azusa Pacific University has developed a unifying goal to guide the mission of the program: Cultivate culturally competent practitioner-scholars who are equipped to serve a wide range of clients with a special emphasis in systems thinking, diversity, and the integration of faith/spirituality and practice.
APU’s Psy.D. program utilizes a competency-based training model consistent with the 2009 revision of the APA Commission on Accreditation’s Guidelines and Principles for Accreditation of Programs in Professional Psychology. The National Council of Schools and Programs of Professional Psychology (NCSPP) has identified seven core objectives/competencies:
The Seven Core Objectives/Competencies of the Psy.D. Program1
The curriculum for the Psy.D. program is competency based. Such a curriculum recognizes that it is essential to identify core competency areas in psychology as the primary organizing principle for a professional degree. Successful degree completion requires the achievement of the competencies necessary to function well in the field of psychology. The curriculum reflects concern for the development of seven core competencies in psychology: research and evaluation, relationship, assessment, intervention, diversity, consultation and education, and management and supervision. The seven professional competency areas are defined briefly:
Objective 1: Develop the capacity to maintain a constructive working alliance with clients. Relationship is informed by psychological knowledge of self and others. In the development of the relationship objective/competencies, special attention should be given to the diversity of persons encountered in clinical practice. Curriculum design includes education and training in attitudes essential for the development of the relationship competency, such as intellectual curiosity and flexibility, open-mindedness, belief in the capacity to change, appreciation of individual and cultural diversity, personal integrity and honesty, and a value of self-awareness. Experiential learning with self-reflection, direct observation, and feedback by peers and experts is essential in the development of the relationship objective/competencies.
- Competency/student learning objective 1a: Ability to form therapeutic relationships with client
- Competency/student learning objective 1b: Ability to demonstrate empathy, genuineness, and nonpossessive warmth
- Competency/student learning objective 1c: Ability to maintain appropriate boundaries and awareness of countertransference
Objective 2: Acquire the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary to conduct effective psychological assessments. Assessment is an ongoing, interactive, and inclusive process that serves to describe, conceptualize, and predict relevant aspects of a client. Assessment is a fundamental process that is interwoven with all other aspects of professional practice. As currently defined, assessment involves a comprehensive approach addressing a wide range of client functions. Assessment takes into account sociocultural context and focuses not only on limitations and dysfunctions but also on competencies, strengths, and effectiveness. Assessment increasingly addresses the relationship between the individual and his or her systemic context. The assessment curriculum is not limited to courses but involves a pattern of experiences covering general principles as well as specific techniques. Supervised skill training is an essential component of the assessment curriculum.
- Competency/student learning objective 2a: Knowledge of standardized psychological tests
- Competency/student learning outcome 2b: Knowledge of legal and ethical principles and guidelines involved in assessment and knowledge of potential courses of action
- Competency/student learning outcome 2c: Ability to write an integrated report and give feedback
Objective 3: Acquire the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary to conduct effective psychotherapy. Intervention involves activities that promote, restore, sustain, or enhance positive functioning and a sense of well-being in clients through preventive, developmental, or remedial services. The intervention competency is based on the knowledge of theories of individual and systemic change, theories of intervention, methods of evaluation, quality assurance, professional ethical principles, and standards of practice. Effective training for intervention includes knowledge of a broad diversity of clients and teaching materials, practicum client populations, teachers, and supervisors. Service systems reflect diversity. The issues of power and authority are particularly relevant to this competency.
- Competency/student learning outcome 3a: Knowledge of theory and its application in personality, psychopathology, change processes, and the interaction and influences of social, environmental, cultural, and physiological factors
- Competency/student learning outcome 3b: Awareness of and compliance with legal requirements of practice (e.g., mandated reporting, confidentiality rules) and the APA Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct
- Competency/student learning outcome 3c: Ability to use diagnostic nomenclature in diagnosis and formulation of treatment plans
- Competency/student learning outcome 3d: Ability to relate to clients of different ethnic, racial, cultural, religious, or sexual orientations from him/herself
- Competency/student learning outcome 3e: Understanding of the therapeutic process within a given theoretical orientation
- Competency/student learning outcome 3f: Flexibility in the use of intervention techniques appropriate to needs of client
Objective 4: Demonstrate the ability to critically evaluate research and conduct research in applied settings. Research and evaluation comprise a systematic mode of inquiry involving problem identification and the acquisition, organization, and interpretation of information pertaining to psychological phenomena. Psychologists have learned to think critically and engage in rigorous, careful, and disciplined scientific inquiry. Education and training in the epistemological foundations of research, the design and use of qualitative and quantitative methods, the analysis of data, the application of research conclusions, and sensitivity to philosophical and ethical concerns is needed for psychologists to develop in this area.
- Competency/student learning objective 4a: Ability to critically evaluate clinical research
- Competency/student learning objective 4b: Evaluate, conduct, and use clinical research in compliance with ethics guidelines
Objective 5: Provide psychological services that integrate a deep understanding of individual and cultural differences and issues of power, privilege, and oppression. Diversity refers to an affirmation of the richness of human differences, ideas, and beliefs. An inclusive definition of diversity includes but is not limited to age, color, disability and health, ethnicity, gender, language, national origin, race, religion/spirituality, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status, as well as the intersection of these multiple identities and multiple statuses. Exploration of power differentials, power dynamics, and privilege is at the core of understanding diversity issues and their impact on social structures and institutionalized forms of discrimination. Training of psychologists includes opportunities to develop understanding, respect, and value for cultural and individual differences. A strong commitment to the development of knowledge, skills, and attitudes that support high regard for human diversity is integrated throughout the professional psychology training program and its organizational culture.
- Competency/student learning outcome 5a: Knowledge of theory and its application of the following concepts: multiple identities; power, oppression and privilege; and individual and cultural differences
- Competency/student learning outcome 5b: Provide culturally competent services, and understand and implement ethical issues pertinent to individual and cultural differences
- Competency/student learning outcome 5c: Knowledge and awareness of self with respect to personal cultural identity and impact of this on clinical practice
Objective 6: Demonstrate the knowledge and abilities necessary to engage in consultation and education services. Consultation is a planned, collaborative interaction that is an explicit intervention process based on principles and procedures found within psychology and related disciplines in which the professional psychologist does not have direct control of the actual change process. Education is the directed facilitation by the professional psychologist for the growth of knowledge, skills, and attitudes in the learner. Students are required to complete experiential tasks in consultation and education as part of their coursework or internship.
- Competency/student learning outcome 6a: Knowledge of evidence-based theories, models, and interventions related to consultation and education
- Competency/student learning outcome 6b: Ability to develop consultative and educational relationships
Objective 7: Acquire the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary to engage in management and supervision. Management consists of those activities that direct, organize, or control the services of psychologists and others as offered or rendered to the public. Supervision is a form of management blended with teaching in the context of relationship directed toward the enhancement of competence in the supervisee. This competency is informed by the knowledge of professional ethics and standards, theories of individual and systemic functioning and change, dysfunctional behavior and psychopathology, cultural bases of behavior, theoretical models of supervision, and awareness of diversity. Self-management processes and structures are provided for students. Demonstrated competence in supervision includes the development of receptivity to supervision and the acquisition of skills in providing supervision.
Adapted from Bent, R. (1992). The professional core competency areas. In R.L. Peterson, et al. (Eds.) The Core Curriculum in Professional Psychology (pp. 77-81). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Psy.D. Program’s Special Emphases
In addition to the seven core objectives/competencies developed by NCSPP, the Psy.D. program at APU has identified three areas of special emphasis:
- Systems Thinking (Family Psychology)
- Integration of Faith/Spirituality and Practice
The Psy.D. program has a strong commitment to individual and cultural diversity and is committed to creating an inclusive and positive environment for diverse students and faculty, and the development of competency in serving diverse populations. Diversity competence is interwoven throughout every course; additionally, there are specific courses that focus on developing diversity competency. In addition to coursework, the Psy.D. program sponsors a student-run diversity committee that is focused on addressing diversity issues in the program through forums, guest speakers, and trainings.
Systems Thinking: The Discipline of Family Psychology
Based on systems theory, the discipline of family psychology recognizes the dynamic interaction between persons and environments without detracting from an awareness of individual, intrapsychic issues. The Psy.D. program’s emphasis in family psychology incorporates numerous elements from several disciplines within psychology (e.g., clinical psychology, developmental psychology, personality theory, environmental psychology, neuropsychology, psychobiology, and social psychology). All the disciplines are related by the theoretical understanding of the dynamic, reciprocal relationship between these factors as they impact human behavior. This theoretical foundation undergirds the program courses at APU. In courses that have traditionally had an individual focus, systemic aspects relevant to the content area are incorporated. The Psy.D. program strives to equip students to think systemically and apply systemic analysis to clinical situations.
Integration of Faith/Spirituality and Practice: Interdisciplinary Integration
Azusa Pacific University has a strong Christian heritage and commitment to integrating evangelical Christian thought into university programs. The Psy.D. expresses this heritage and commitment through an emphasis on the integration of psychology with ethics, theology, and spiritual formation. Students are encouraged to explore the role and importance of moral and spiritual identity formation in the process of psychotherapy. The Psy.D. program also has a strong commitment to open enrollment. As such, individuals from any religious or nonreligious tradition may be admitted to the Psy.D. program. However, it is important for prospective students to recognize that coursework and training are structured using Christian values and principles. Students are asked to learn and thoughtfully interact with the content of courses, as well as to reflect on their own beliefs and values as they relate to preparation for professional practice. In addition to providing students with an interdisciplinary framework from which to understand psychological theory and practice, the emphasis also facilitates and enhances the development of competency with respect to addressing religious and spiritual diversity in clinical practice.
APU graduate admission and program acceptance requirements must be met before an application is complete (see the Graduate Admission to the University section of this catalog). Learn more about program-specific application requirements.
The application deadline is January 15. Students who apply prior to this date will be given priority consideration for admission.
Interview Process, Acceptance, and Deposit
Upon invitation, Psy.D. applicants complete an interview with at least one member of the Psy.D. faculty. The purpose of the interview is to determine the applicant’s potential for success in the Psy.D. program. Applicants who are accepted into the Psy.D. program are notified after the interview process. Upon notification of admission, applicants must confirm intent to attend in writing to the department by April 15. A $500 deposit is also required by April 15. Please note that 100 percent of the deposit is applied toward tuition.
Psy.D. Doctoral Assistantships
Funds are allocated to provide four teaching-research assistantships (TRAs) for each academic cohort. Students may apply for the assistantship during the first year of their Psy.D. program. TRAs receive 25 percent tuition remission plus an annual stipend of $3,125. TRAs must provide 8 hours of service per week in the Department of Clinical Psychology during September through June of the academic year. The department chair (or designee) determines the roles and responsibilities of the TRAs. Preference is given to applicants who evidence strong academic credentials (high GPA and GRE scores, in particular) and financial need. Cultural knowledge and language skills that facilitate the provision of psychological services in an underserved community and commitment to provide psychological services in an underserved community following graduation are also taken into consideration. Applications for the assistantships and criteria for evaluation of applications are available in the department.
TRAs will be reviewed annually and must meet minimum standards to continue the assistantship. This review is intended to guarantee that persons awarded an assistantship will continue to evidence the qualities that led to their original selection. Minimum standards for continuation include maintaining good standing throughout all aspects of the program, including maintenance of a 3.5 GPA, sufficient progress on dissertation, positive evaluations from clinical training sites, willingness to receive constructive criticism regarding performance of tasks, demonstrated remediation of performance deficits that have been formally identified to the student by the directors of the Psy.D. program and M.A. program, department chair, and/or the designated supervisor, and continued ability to be available on a schedule that meets the needs of the department.
Any student who has been awarded an assistantship and who has received tuition remission is responsible to repay the amount equal to the tuition remission if the student withdraws from the Psy.D. program prior to graduation. Such students may work with Student Financial Services to arrange a repayment plan for the loan balance. The annual stipend is exempt from this repayment requirement (it is considered remuneration for service).
The Psy.D. curriculum is designed to meet the requirements of the APA for professional education in psychology. Courses stress the importance of critical thinking in the discipline of psychology, and the curriculum provides a breadth of knowledge regarding scientific psychology. Since this is a professional degree, clinical education and application of scientific knowledge to clinical domains are stressed throughout the curriculum, as well as in the clinical practicum experience. Cultural and individual diversity perspectives are woven into courses across the curriculum. In addition, all of the courses incorporate a systemic perspective on psychology. The coursework also includes interdisciplinary courses that integrate ethics, theology, and psychology—issues relevant to Christian faith—where appropriate.
The Psy.D. curriculum is composed of 125 units of required courses plus 8 units of elective courses for a total of 133 units. Psy.D. students may apply for a Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology en route to the Psy.D., after completing 57 units in the Psy.D. and attendance at a child abuse workshop. Note: The Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology is a nonlicensable degree.
Certain courses or mandatory seminars may be scheduled for Saturdays. Attendance at these courses or seminars is required to fulfill degree requirements.
|PPSY 700B||Moral Identity Formation and Psychotherapy||3|
|PPSY 700D||Introduction to Clinical Practice: Basic Skills||3|
|PPSY 700E||Advanced Developmental Psychology I: Infancy through Adolescence||2|
|PPSY 700F||Diversity I: Multiculturally Responsive Attitudes and Knowledge||3|
|PPSY 700G||Christian Spiritual Formation and Psychotherapy||3|
|PPSY 700H||Assessment I||3|
|PPSY 700I||Systems II: Family Therapy||3|
|PPSY 700J||Introduction to Clinical Skills: Advanced Skills||3|
|PPSY 700K||Interdisciplinary Integration and Psychotherapy||3|
|PPSY 701||Introduction to Clinical Practicum and Professional Practice||2|
|PPSY 702||Legal and Ethical Competence for Psychologists||3|
|PPSY 703||Psychological Theories: Psychoanalytic/Psychodynamic||2|
|PPSY 704||Psychological Theories: Cognitive and Behavioral||2|
|PPSY 705||Psychological Theories: Group||2|
|PPSY 706||Psychological Theories: Postmodern||2|
|PPSY 711||Psychology and Systems Theory||3|
|PPSY 714||Assessment III: Cognitive Assessment||4|
|PPSY 716||Family Psychology||3|
|PPSY 718||History and Systems of Psychology||3|
|PPSY 719||Social Psychology||2|
|PPSY 720||Clinical Consultation (One unit course taken seven times)||1|
|PPSY 722||Research Design I||3|
|PPSY 723||Research Design II||3|
|PPSY 724||Systems IV: Couples Theory and Therapy||3|
|PPSY 731||Dissertation Development||1|
|PPSY 732||Child and Adolescent Psychology||3|
|PPSY 736||Social Ethics and Psychotherapy||3|
|PPSY 740||Consultation in Clinical Psychology||2|
|PPSY 742||Diversity II: Historical and Current Causes of Systemic Differences and Oppression||3|
|PPSY 743||Diversity IV: Global Psychology [Proposed]||3|
|PPSY 744||Supervision in Clinical Psychology||2|
|PPSY 745||Dissertation I||1|
|PPSY 746||Dissertation II||1|
|PPSY 747||Dissertation III||1|
|PPSY 748||Dissertation IV||1|
|PPSY 749||Health Psychology [Proposed]||2|
|PPSY 752||Predoctoral Internship (required to take 3 times)||0|
|PPSY 753||Moral and Spiritual Identity Formation in the Family||3|
|PPSY 755||Dissertation V||1|
|PPSY 756||Dissertation VI||1|
|PPSY 774||Assessment II: Personality||3|
|PPSY 775||Assessment IV: Integrated Report Writing||3|
|PPSY 779||Advanced Developmental Psychology II: Early Adulthood through Late Adulthood||2|
|PPSY 788||Diversity III: Diversity Responsiveness in Clinical Practice [Proposed]||3|
|Clinical Intervention Courses||4|
|Choose two of the following:|
|Clinical Interventions: Psychodynamic|
|Clinical Interventions: CBT [Proposed]|
|Clinical Interventions: Group|
|Clinical Interventions: Postmodern|
|Elective Courses 1||8|
|Choose four of the following:|
|Interpersonal Theory and Psychotherapy|
|Family Forensic Concentration|
|Introduction to Forensic Psychology|
|Family Forensic Psychology I|
|Family Forensic Psychology II|
|Consultation II: Systemic and Organizational Context|
|Consultation III: Leadership and Organizational Assessment|
|Consultation IV: Interventional Strategies|
|Psychodynamic Systems Concentration|
|Psychodynamic Systems of Psychotherapy I|
|Psychodynamic Systems of Psychotherapy II|
|Psychodynamic Systems of Psychotherapy III|
|Dissertation Courses 2||0|
|Dissertation Continuation (Required if students have not defended their dissertation by the time they complete Dissertation I-VI courses)|
|Dissertation Continuation [Proposed] (Required if students have not defended their dissertation by the time they complete Dissertation I-VI courses)|
|Dissertation Continuation [Proposed] (Required if students have not defended their dissertation by the time they complete Dissertation I-VI courses)|
All students must take 8 units of electives. Students may choose to take electives grouped in the listed concentrations.
PPSY 787, 796, and 797 are required if a student has not successfully defended their dissertation by the beginning of their fourth year in the program (and after having enrolled in Dissertation I-VI during their first three years in the program). Continuous enrollment is required from that point until the student has successfully defended their dissertation.
See below for more information regarding the five-year academic plan versus the six-year academic plan.
Academic Probation and Disqualification
Students must maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 throughout the period of their enrollment. Students will be placed on academic probation if a cumulative 3.0 grade-point average is not maintained, or when they obtain a grade below a B- in their coursework. Students may be disqualified from further graduate work if a cumulative 3.0 GPA is not maintained or if they obtain a total of two grades below a B- in their coursework.
Students are required to take four elective courses in residency. Students may take miscellaneous electives in psychotherapy, integration, or assessment; other courses related to clinical psychology; or they may complete one of the elective concentrations described below.
Psychodynamic Systems of Psychotherapy Concentration
The psychodynamic systems of psychotherapy elective concentration provides an opportunity for students to learn a comprehensive model of personality, psychopathology, and psychotherapy that reflects the systemic epistemology of the doctoral program. This course sequence provides a historical overview of major psychodynamic systems of theory and therapy (from origins to the present). Each course focuses on key theorists, theoretical constructs, conceptualization and treatment planning, supporting research, and clinical demonstration and application. Students seeking a Certificate of Proficiency in Psychodynamic Systems of Psychotherapy must complete the three-course sequence of electives and a yearlong clinical practicum placement where students are permitted to provide psychodynamic psychotherapy to clients:
|PPSY 763||Psychodynamic Systems of Psychotherapy I||2|
|PPSY 764||Psychodynamic Systems of Psychotherapy II||2|
|PPSY 765||Psychodynamic Systems of Psychotherapy III||2|
For more information, contact Theresa Clement Tisdale, Ph.D., at email@example.com.
Family Forensic Psychology Concentration
The family forensic psychology elective concentration provides an opportunity for students to pursue more-focused training in the specialty area of forensic psychology. This concentration strives to prepare graduate students for competitive forensic psychology internships and postdoctoral training experiences. While completion of the certificate program does not guarantee placement in supervised training sites, it enhances the student’s educational foundation in preparation for advanced training in forensic psychology. Students seeking the Certificate of Proficiency in Family Forensic Psychology must complete the four-course sequence of electives:
|PPSY 770||Introduction to Forensic Psychology||2|
|PPSY 771||Forensic Assessment||2|
|PPSY 772||Family Forensic Psychology I||2|
|PPSY 773||Family Forensic Psychology II||2|
For more information, contact Marjorie Graham-Howard, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Clinical Psychology, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Consulting Psychology Concentration
The consulting psychology elective concentration provides an opportunity for students to pursue an interest in organizational and consulting psychology. Students gain critical and fundamental knowledge in the consultation competencies necessary for the scholar-practitioner who chooses to work in assessment and interventional venues within organizations. Completion of this concentration adds significantly to the student’s overall educational experience and depth of understanding systemic and organizational contexts. This concentration emphasizes the knowledge and competencies that increase the student’s scope of practice within the field as a scholar-practitioner. Students seeking a Certificate of Proficiency in Consulting Psychology must complete the four-course sequence, which includes the required course PPSY 740 Consultation in Clinical Psychology and the three elective courses, PPSY 766, 767, and 768.
|PPSY 766||Consultation II: Systemic and Organizational Context||2|
|PPSY 767||Consultation III: Leadership and Organizational Assessment||2|
|PPSY 768||Consultation IV: Interventional Strategies||2|
For more information, contact Marv Erisman, Ph.D., at email@example.com.
Computer and Email Access Required
Students are required to own or have ready access to a computer during their tenure in the Psy.D. program, and required to maintain and utilize a student email address. Students are also responsible for the information sent to them by the program or department via email, and for responding to email in a consistent and timely manner.
In addition to the advisement by the program director and the directors of clinical training, each student selects a dissertation committee chair during his or her first year in the program who also serves as the student’s academic advisor.
Progress Review and Annual Evaluation
Department faculty review the progress of all students in the Psy.D. program each semester in order to encourage professional development and successful completion of the program. Since personal characteristics are important to competency in clinical psychology, students are evaluated regularly on categories determined to be professional standards in the field of clinical psychology. The evaluation form, noting the dimensions for evaluation, is provided to students upon entrance to the program (or earlier by request). Student behavior that does not reflect the professional standards in the field of clinical psychology will be documented on the evaluations form and the student will receive a written notice; furthermore, the Psy.D. student will be required to meet with their faculty advisor, the program director, and/or the Clinical Training Committee to determine a personal development plan. Students who fail to improve according to their development plan may be dismissed from the program. Students who receive more than one written notice during a semester may be dismissed from the program. Students who receive more than three written notices while in the program may be dismissed from the program.
An annual student progress evaluation is conducted in July, following the summer term. All aspects of student progress in the program are reviewed and a letter is sent to students informing them of the results of the review, noting strengths or completion of particular requirements and areas for improvement or remediation needed in order to remain current in the program.
The program evaluates multiple domains of student training beyond that of academic success. Other areas of evaluation that are expected competencies of professional psychologists include intrapersonal, interpersonal, and professional development and functioning as articulated in the Comprehensive Evaluation of Student-Trainee Competence in Professional Psychology Programs, produced by the Student Competence Task Force of the Council of Chairs of Training Councils (CCTC). In addition to policies outlined in the catalog, other sources of program policy include the clinical training manual, the program manual, and the dissertation manual.
Student Grievance and Due Process Procedures
Students’ rights to due process are clearly outlined in the Academic Policies and Procedures section of this catalog. Additional information may be found in the program manual and the clinical training manual.
Five- and Six-Year Academic Plans and Time to Degree Completion
Participation in the full-time plan requires attending classes during the day or evening at least two days per week, plus occasional Saturday courses (usually four Saturdays in a year). An additional 15-20 hours per week minimum for practicum is required throughout the program.
Participation in the reduced-load-per-semester, six-year plan requires attending classes during the day or evening at least two days per week plus occasional Saturday courses (usually four Saturdays in a year). An additional 15-20 hours per week minimum for practicum is required in the first three years of the program or more, depending upon student progress.
Time to Degree Completion
Psy.D. students are permitted 8 years from the date of initial enrollment to complete all requirements. Extensions beyond the 8-year limit may be granted for students experiencing unusual circumstances, at the discretion of the department with approval from the dean of the School of Behavioral and Applied Sciences.
Other Degree Requirements for the Psy.D. program
Clinical training is central to the practitioner-scholar (Psy.D.) model for educating clinical psychologists. Azusa Pacific’s program is committed to assisting students in developing the essential knowledge base, attitudes, and therapeutic skills necessary to function as clinical psychologists. In their clinical placements, students gain experience in a variety of clinical settings including inpatient/residential, child, outpatient, brief/managed care, and settings utilizing psychological assessment. Supervision is provided by the field placement sites as well as psychologists on the APU faculty. Students entering the program with existing clinical training or licensure must still complete the program’s clinical training sequence. Clinical training involves three years of practicum and a full-time, yearlong predoctoral internship (a limited number of two-year, half-time internships are available in some settings).
Practicum training is taken along with coursework as a means of enriching the academic experience, and is designed to provide the student with exposure to assessment and clinical treatment. A minimum of 1,500 practicum hours are required. Some students may elect to obtain an additional year of practicum experience in their fifth year and complete their internship during a sixth year. Concurrent with their supervised external practicum, students are required to participate in a 1-unit clinical consultation course (PPSY 720) that provides input from faculty on the student’s clinical and professional development. Students are also required to document their practicum hours using the program Time2Track.
The predoctoral internship is required at the end of the program when coursework and the 1,500 hours (three years) of practicum experience are complete. Internship provides the student with a more in-depth training experience. A minimum of 1,800 hours are required for internship training, though some sites may require 2,000 hours. It is highly recommended that the internship be APA/APPIC-approved, but alternative internships are provided by CAPIC. All placements must be an APA-, APPIC-, or CAPIC-approved site; this is a state law for California licensure. Permission to not seek an APA/APPIC internship must be requested from the director of clinical training and/or the Clinical Training Committee.
For those students who are licensed or registered in mental health professions other than psychology, the Department of Clinical Psychology requires that all practicum training in the Psy.D. program be entirely separate from any practice under such existing license or registration. For purposes of clinical training in professional psychology, all students are to be identified exclusively as psychology trainees, psychology students, or psychology interns. Practicum students are not allowed to make known in any manner any other status they may hold in other mental health professions. Practicum hours from training in psychology may not be “double counted” toward training required for other mental health professions. If a student conducts a clinical practice or performs mental health services under an existing nonpsychology mental health license while he or she is a student in the Psy.D. program, the Department of Clinical Psychology officially recommends that these students consider the impact of their education and training in psychology on such practice and that they seek supervision for any services that may be deemed to be part of the profession of psychology.
To facilitate the identification of students with the profession of psychology, all students are required to join the American Psychological Association as student members upon acceptance into the program. APA membership provides many benefits, including subscriptions to the Monitor on Psychology and American Psychologist. Students are also required to maintain liability insurance while in the program.
Clinical Training Manual
Every fall semester, a clinical training manual is released to students, who are responsible for understanding its contents and being aware of any changes required by the department.
Quality Assurance in Clinical Placements
The director of clinical training (DCT) and the Clinical Training Committee have an ongoing responsibility to ensure that the program’s clinical training standards meet all state licensing and APA requirements. All clinical training is intended to be consistent with the requirements stated in the California Board of Psychology Laws and Regulations. Modifications in state law shall be reflected in program changes to ensure training consistent with the current practice of psychology. Additionally, the clinical training required by the Psy.D. program is consistent with APA ethical and professional standards and training guidelines.
Evaluation of Clinical Training
The clinical training goals and objectives are integrated into the clinical practicum sequence and coordinated with the clinical courses in the program. Outcomes in the clinical sequence are measured throughout the program and include regular presentations of audio- or videotaped work of students, classroom demonstrations and role plays, assessment reports presented in class, minicompetency exams, supervisor evaluations, integration paper, Clinical Competency Exam, intern acceptance and level, and licensure acquisition.
Formative evaluation consists of feedback given to students by their clinical supervisors, the directors of clinical training and program director, and the faculty. Although primarily verbal and situational, this kind of evaluation is of great importance due to its immediacy to clinical interventions and the issues arising during the students’ clinical placements.
Summative evaluation occurs at the end of each semester of clinical placement. Students are evaluated by their field site supervisor as well as by all faculty members. The site supervisor evaluation is discussed with students prior to its being sent to the DCT and becoming part of the students’ clinical files. Students receiving inadequate evaluations are placed on probation, counseled by their faculty advisor, and, should their clinical performance fail to meet expected standards, dismissed from the program. The Clinical Training Committee (CTC) may require students to complete remediation assignments to meet competency standards. As noted above, students are evaluated at the end of each semester for the achievement of competency in key clinical areas. This helps prepare the student for the Clinical Competency Exam, a cumulative evaluation of readiness for the predoctoral internship.
Students also evaluate their site experience and site supervisor at the end of each semester. These evaluations are submitted to the DCT and are used to ensure the quality of placement sites and on-campus supervision groups.
Clinical Competency Examination
As a final evaluation measure, each student must pass a Clinical Competency Exam (CCE) after completing required coursework and clinical training.
For the CCE, a student submits a sample of his or her clinical work (case presentation, psychological assessment, and a videotape of a psychotherapy session), along with his or her clinical portfolio (including supervisor evaluation, verification of practicum hours, list of assessments performed, curriculum vita, and conference presentations or published works), to a two-member faculty committee. In addition, the student must respond to case vignettes illustrating various clinical issues. The purpose of this exam is to ensure that the student has developed the clinical competencies and requisite skills to begin an internship. Therefore, successful completion of the exam is required before applying to internship.
The Psy.D. program requires the successful proposing, conducting, and defending of a dissertation. Further details are provided in the Psy.D. Dissertation Handbook. Students are required to take the following courses as part of the dissertation process: PPSY 722 Research Design I; PPSY 723 Research Design II; PPSY 731 Dissertation Development, and six 1-unit dissertation courses (PPSY 745, PPSY 746, PPSY 747, PPSY 748, PPSY 755, PPSY 756). If, upon completion of these dissertation courses, a student has not yet defended their dissertation, they must enroll in a dissertation continuation course every semester until they successfully defend their dissertation and submit it to the APU Libraries for binding and publication.
Students are required to consult the APU Doctoral Programs Handbook for Style and Format Requirements for the year of their dissertation defense to determine specific deadlines for May graduation.
Minimum Levels of Acceptable Achievement (MLAs)
In order to successfully complete the Psy.D. program, the following minimum levels of acceptable achievement are required:
- Obtaining a grade of B- or better in all coursework (see academic probation policy for process if a grade below a B- is obtained in any class)
- Completing a minimum of three years of clinical practicum (see clinical training manual for details) and obtaining an overall score of 3 or better on summative supervision evaluations (see clinical training manual for process if the overall score on summative evaluations is below a 3)
- Successfully passing Parts I-IV of the Clinical Competency Exam (CCE)
- Successfully proposing a dissertation (see dissertation manual for process if the dissertation is not successfully proposed)
- Successfully defending a dissertation and submitting it for binding and publication through APU Libraries (see dissertation manual for process if the dissertation is not successfully defended)
- Completing a minimum of 1,800 hours of a predoctoral internship (see clinical training manual for further details)
Personal Psychotherapy Required
All Psy.D. students must complete 30 hours of psychotherapy with a licensed psychologist of their choice. Additional individual psychotherapy may be recommended or required by the program as part of the degree requirements if deemed necessary by department faculty.
The doctoral degree is posted after the student has met all program requirements, including verification of the following:
- Completion of all required coursework (prior to commencing internship)
- Passing of Clinical Competency Exam
- Successful dissertation defense
- Submission of dissertation for binding
- Verification of completion of personal psychotherapy hours (see above)
- Verification of completion of the predoctoral internship
Note: Doctoral degree posting dates conform to those published in the Graduate and Professional Catalog.
Academic Psychology Licensure
The APU Psy.D. program fulfills the graduate education requirements in the state of California for licensure as a psychologist. Students seeking licensure in California may obtain information regarding requirements by contacting:
California Board of Psychology
1625 N. Market Blvd., Ste. N-215
Sacramento, CA 95834
Students seeking licensure in another state should contact the appropriate examining board in that state.