PsyD Clinical Training
Clinical training is central to the practitioner-scholar (PsyD) model for educating clinical psychologists. Azusa Pacific University’s program is committed to assisting students in developing the essential knowledge base, attitudes, and therapeutic skills necessary to function as a clinical psychologist.
Quality clinical training provides practitioners with experiences that ensure depth and breadth of clinical interventions, diversity of clients, the opportunity to develop therapeutic competencies that integrate their theoretical course work with direct client experience, and the development of the seven core competencies in professional psychology.
Clinical training at the doctoral level involves three years of practicum and a full-time, yearlong internship (a limited number of two-year, half-time internships are available in some settings with approval of the director of clinical training). Students entering the PsyD program with existing clinical training or licensure must still complete the program's clinical training sequence.
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.
Concurrent with their supervised practicum, students participate in an on-campus course that provides a forum for the review of the clinical practicum experience.
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 PsyD program be entirely separate from any practice under such existing license or registration. For purposes of predoctoral training in 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 under any circumstances 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 PsyD 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.
During the clinical practicum component of the PsyD program, the student completes a minimum of 1,500 hours of clinical training, including supervision, direct client contact, and an assessment practicum completed over the course of the PsyD program. These hours of clinical training occur in addition to any master's-level training hours.
Students entering the PsyD program with an accredited master’s degree in psychology or a closely related field are likely to have earned hours of supervised clinical placement, including hours of direct client contact, supervision, and other supervised activities. Such training provides a foundation for clinical training at the doctoral level, but is not a substitute for the PsyD training sequence.
Clinical Training Coursework
The clinical training sequence begins in the first year of the PsyD program and continues through the fourth year, in preparation for the predoctoral internship. The director of clinical training (practicum) oversees placement of PsyD students in excellent practicum sites across Southern California based on the student’s clinical interests. Students are required to demonstrate their accomplishment of the competency by passing comprehensive exams, successfully completing the coursework and clinical training sequence, and completing a dissertation.
The PsyD program requires a predoctoral internship in a one-year, full-time or two-year, half-time (1,800 hours minimum) setting.
Students are encouraged to complete the clinical dissertation prior to the internship, which allows the student to focus on the internship as the capstone of the clinical training sequence.
The director of clinical training (internship) meets with prospective interns each June to discuss the internship application process. A series of workshops is held to help prepare students for the application process. During the summer before they apply to internship, students are encouraged to review the APPIC Directory for options that fit their training needs. Upon receiving approval from the DCT, students may begin the application process for obtaining a predoctoral internship.
All students are strongly encouraged to apply for APA-accredited or APPIC-recognized internship sites. The department understands that some students may be unable to relocate, due to family and occupational responsibilities, and therefore may also choose to apply to CAPIC sites as well. All internship sites must meet APPIC standards.
Quality Assurance in Clinical Placements
The director of clinical training and the Clinical Training Committee (CTC) have an ongoing responsibility to ensure that the PsyD 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 Laws and Regulations Governing the Practice of Psychology in the State of California. 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 PsyD at APU is consistent with the APA ethical and professional standards and training guidelines.
The clinical training goals and objectives are integrated into the clinical practicum sequence and coordinated with the clinical courses in the PsyD 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, mini-competency exams, supervisor evaluations, integration paper, Clinical Competency Exam, intern acceptance and level, and licensure acquisition.
Formative Informal Evaluation
Informal evaluation consists of feedback given to students by their field placement supervisor, on-campus clinical supervisor, and supervision groups. Although primarily verbal and situational, this evaluative form is of great importance due to its immediacy to clinical interventions and the issues arising during the students’ clinical placements.
Summative Formal Evaluation
Formal 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 CTC may require students to complete remediation assignments in order 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. These mini-competency exams 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 prior to beginning internship training, each student must pass a Clinical Competency Exam (CCE). The CCE consists of a sequential evaluation process involving the submission of: a videotaped psychotherapy session with an actor provided by the department, a written psychological assessment report, and a written case conceptualization. In addition to these clinical materials, the student submits his or her clinical portfolio (including supervisor evaluations, verification of practicum hours, list of completed assessments, and curriculum vitae) to a two-member faculty committee. The committee then examines the student on submitted materials, in addition to administering an oral exam consisting of clinical vignettes that address such issues as treatment planning, diversity issues, interpretation of psychological testing, legal and ethical issues, and crisis management. The purpose of the exam is to ensure that the student has developed the clinical competencies and requisite skills to proceed to internship. Successful completion of all sections of the CCE is required before any student is approved to apply to an internship.
Note: This information is current for the 2021-22 academic year; however, all stated academic information is subject to change. Please refer to the current Academic Catalog for more information.