Psy.D. Clinical Training
Clinical training is central to the practitioner (Psy.D.) 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, year-long internship (a limited number of two-year, half-time internships are available in some settings). Students entering the Psy.D. 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 Psy.D. 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 Psy.D. program, the Department of Graduate 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 Psy.D. 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 Psy.D. program. These hours of clinical training occur in addition to any master's-level training hours.
Students entering the Psy.D. 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 Psy.D. training sequence.
Clinical Training Coursework
The clinical training sequence begins in the first year of the Psy.D. program and continues through the fourth year, in preparation for the predoctoral internship. 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 Psy.D. 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 (DCT) meets with prospective interns each June to discuss the internship application process. A special vita and application workshop is held. During the summer before they apply to internship, students are encouraged to study the APPIC Directory for options that fit their training needs. Additional information about Uniform Notification Day, APPIC requirements and forms, interviewing skills, reference and cover letters, and other issues specific to internship application is provided in monthly seminars.
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.
Upon receiving approval from the DCT, students may begin the application process of obtaining a predoctoral internship.
Quality Assurance in Clinical Placements
The director of clinical training and the Clinical Training Committee (CTC) have an ongoing responsibility to ensure that the Psy.D. 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 Psy.D. 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 Psy.D. 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, each student must pass a Clinical Competency Exam. To prepare for the exam, students must complete required coursework, seminars, and clinical training. Upon completion of the seminar, students may apply to take the Clinical Competency Exam.
A student submits an example of his or her clinical work (case presentation, assessment, treatment plan, and a video or audiotape of student-client interaction including a verbatim transcript and process comments) 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 (including at least one member of the CTC).
The student presents a client case in which he or she has performed the initial assessment, case history, and mental status exam; an analysis of the client’s psychological testing if available; and a case summary, including legal and ethical issues in the case, treatment planning based upon empirically supported interventions, case management, diversity issues, and the transference and counter-transference involved in the case. The presentation must include a 50-minute video or audiotape of student interaction with the client. In addition, the student must respond to a case vignette, including the same elements noted above. Students must include a family psychology perspective in their interaction with the cases and demonstrate an ability to discuss the interdisciplinary (psychology, ethics, theology, and philosophy) dimensions of the case. The purpose of this exam is to ensure that the student has developed the requisite skills to successfully enter an internship. Successful completion of the exam is required before January 31 of the year for which the internship is sought.