The Doctor of Psychology degree is designed to be a professional degree similar to the doctoral degrees provided in medicine, law, pharmacy, physical therapy, and dentistry. The Psy.D. is considered the degree of choice for persons interested in becoming a practitioner-scholar when pursuing a career in clinical psychology. The program emphasis is on the development of essential diagnostic, therapeutic, and consultative skills for the practice of clinical psychology.
The program of study follows the recommendations of the American Psychological Association (APA) for broad and general education and training for Health Service Psychologists. Students are educated and trained in the current body of knowledge in the following discipline-specific domains: the history and systems of psychology; affective aspects of behavior; biological aspects of behavior; cognitive aspects of behavior; developmental aspects of behavior; social aspects of behavior; and an advanced integration of these areas. Knowledge of research and quantitative methods is also necessary, including research methods, quantitative methods of data analysis, and psychometric theory.
The program centers on the development of appropriate competencies reflected in the American Psychological Association (APA) Standards of Accreditation (SoA; APA, 2015). There are nine required profession-wide competencies. The program has key points in the curriculum targeted to assess progress in attaining these competencies. These include competencies in Research, Ethics and Legal Standards, Individual and Cultural Diversity, Professional Values, Attitudes and Behavior, Communication and Interpersonal Skills, Assessment, Intervention, Supervision, and Consultation and Interprofessional/Interdisciplinary Skills.
Research Competency: The research competency rests on the student's understanding of research, research methods, and techniques of data collection and analysis. Students will also understand the reciprocal relationship between science and clinical practice. Students are expected to be able to use this knowledge to critically evaluate and solve novel problems, to independently formulate research or other scholarly activity of sufficient quality and rigor to potentially contribute to the scientific or professional knowledge base, and to disseminate such research or scholarly activity via professional publications and presentations at the local, regional or national level.
Ethics and Legal Standards Competency: This competency includes having a working knowledge of ethical, legal and professional standards and guidelines at the organizational, local, state, and federal level. Students are expected to act in accordance with those standards and guidelines and conduct themselves in an ethical manner in all professional activities. This competency also includes the ability to recognize ethical dilemmas when they arise and to apply ethical decision making in order to resolve those dilemmas.
Individual and Cultural Diversity Competency: This competency stresses that students will develop the ability to conduct all of their professional activities with sensitivity to human diversity and will demonstrate an ability to work effectively with diverse individuals and groups. Students must demonstrate knowledge, awareness, sensitivity and skills when working with diverse individuals and communities who embody a variety of cultural and personal backgrounds and characteristics. As such, students must demonstrate an understanding of their own personal/cultural history, attitudes and biases that may affect their understanding and interaction with others, have knowledge of the current theoretical and empirical knowledge base related to addressing diversity in professional activities, and show the ability to integrate this awareness and knowledge of individual and cultural differences in the conduct of their professional roles.
Professional Values, Attitudes and Behavior Competency: This competency is evidenced by the ability to demonstrate an adherence to the professional values, attitudes and behaviors that define the profession of psychology. This includes honesty, integrity and personal responsibility, as well as concern for the welfare of others. It includes one's professional identity as well as deportment in interactions with clients and with others, including peers, supervisors, faculty, and other professionals. Students are expected to demonstrate openness and responsiveness to feedback and supervision. Professionalism also includes the capacity for self-reflection, self-care and an appreciation of lifelong learning.
Communication and Interpersonal Skills Competency: Communication and Interpersonal Skills are foundational competencies for health service psychology. This competency requires a demonstration of the ability to relate effectively and meaningfully with a wide range of individuals, groups and communities. This includes the ability to form and maintain productive and respectful relationships with clients, peers, supervisors, and other professionals. This competency also entails the ability to produce and comprehend nonverbal, oral and written communication and to have a thorough grasp of professional language and concepts. Students are expected to demonstrate effective interpersonal skills and to be able to manage difficult communication or conflict.
Assessment Competency: The assessment competency involves the evidence-based assessment and diagnosis of problems, capabilities and issues associated with individuals, groups, or organizations. It includes knowledge of principles of measurement and psychometrics. This competency also requires the knowledge and skills necessary for effective selection, administration, scoring and interpretation of assessment measures appropriate to the specific purpose or goals of the assessment and the individual being assessed. The assessment competency also requires an ability to synthesize multiple sources of data to develop appropriate diagnoses, conceptualizations and treatment plans and to communicate that information in an effective oral and written manner to a range of audiences.
Intervention Competency: The intervention competency requires students to demonstrate the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to conduct evidence-based interventions with individuals, families, groups and other systems. This competency encompasses the ability to establish and maintain effective therapeutic relationships, develop case formulations and implement treatment plans using relevant theory and research for effective clinical decision making. It includes the ability to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of chosen intervention approaches and to appropriately revise treatment strategies as necessary and appropriate.
Supervision Competency: The supervision competency requires students to be able to demonstrate a knowledge of supervision models and practices. This includes having knowledge of how trainees and clinicians develop into skilled professionals, knowledge of the procedures and processes of effective supervision, and knowledge of how to effectively evaluate those skills in others.
Consultation and Interprofessional/Interdisciplinary Competency: The consultation and interprofessional/interdisciplinary competency requires students to demonstrate knowledge of consultation models and practices, and to demonstrate respect for the roles and perspectives of other professions. It involves the ability to function in interdisciplinary contexts, and interact collaboratively with professionals in other disciplines in order to seek or share knowledge, address problems, promote effective professional activities and enhance outcomes.