College of Health Sciences

Downers Grove, IL Campus

Degree Description

Clinical Psychology Program

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 Providers. Students are educated and trained in the current body of knowledge in the following discipline-specific domains: the biological aspects of behavior; cognitive and affective aspects of behavior; social aspects of behavior; history and systems of psychology; psychological measurement; research methodology; techniques of data analysis; individual differences; human development; dysfunctional behavior and psychopathology; professional standards and ethics; theories and methods of assessment and diagnosis; effective interventions; consultation; supervision; efficacy of interventions; issues of cultural and individual diversity; and attitudes essential for lifelong learning and scholarly inquiry.

The program centers on the development of appropriate competencies reflected in the American Psychological Association (APA) Standards of Accreditation (SoA; APA, 2015) and outlined in the APA Competency Benchmarks Document (Fouad et al, 2009). 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.

  1. Research Competency: The research competency rests on the student's understanding of research, research methods, and techniques of data collection and analysis. It includes a demonstration of respect for and understanding of the scientific foundations of psychology and professional practice. This competency includes the ability to organize, synthesize and interpret scholarly information; to critically analyze and understand the limitations of clinical and scientific inquiry, and to understand the reciprocal relationship between science and clinical practice.
  2. Ethics and Legal Standards Competency: This competency is defined by the ability to apply ethical concepts and awareness of legal issues regarding professional activities with individuals, groups, and organizations. It includes the knowledge of ethical, legal and professional standards and guidelines, and awareness and application of ethical decision making. Students must follow the professional and university codes of ethics and conduct.
  3. Individual and Cultural Diversity Competency: This competency is evidenced by awareness, sensitivity and skills in working professionally with diverse individuals, groups and communities who represent various individual and cultural backgrounds and characteristics. This includes awareness of one's own individual and cultural diversity and one's impact on others, as well as sensitivity to how others are shaped by their own experiences, culture and context.
  4. 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. Professionalism also includes the capacity for reflective practice, self-assessment, self-care and lifelong learning.
  5. Communication and Interpersonal Skills Competency: The Communication and Interpersonal Skills 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. It also entails the ability to be self-aware and understand one's own role in difficult interactions and to negotiate differences and handle conflict.
  6. Assessment Competency: The assessment competency involves the assessment and diagnosis of problems, capabilities and issues associated with individuals, groups, or organizations. It includes knowledge of principles of measurement and psychometrics, as well as the knowledge and skills necessary for effective administration, scoring and interpretation of standard assessment measures. 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 manner.
  7. Intervention Competency: The intervention competency requires students to demonstrate an ability to intervene with clients from an identified theoretical perspective. Students demonstrate knowledge, skills, and attitudes congruent with evidence-based practice. This competency encompasses the ability to develop realistic formulations for understanding psychological issues using relevant theory and research, to plan treatment, and the clinical skills to effectively implement interventions.  It includes the ability to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of chosen intervention approaches and to appropriately revise treatment strategies as necessary and appropriate. It also entails an ability to recognize the limitations of different perspectives and to adjust traditional models of intervention to effectively meet the needs of diverse populations.
  8. Supervision Competency: The supervision competency relates to having knowledge and training in the evaluation of the effectiveness of various professional activities. This includes having knowledge of the supervision literature and how clinicians develop into skilled professionals, an understanding of the purpose for and roles in supervision, as well as knowledge of the procedures and processes of effective supervision. It includes an awareness of when to seek supervision, how to use feedback productively, and how to deliver feedback effectively.  
  9. Consultation and Interprofessional/Interdisciplinary Competency: The consultation competency includes the ability to provide expert guidance or professional assistance in response to a client's needs or goals, and to communicate one's findings effectively. It involves the ability and skill needed to interact respectfully and productively with professionals in other disciplines. This includes knowledge of the shared and distinctive contributions of other professions, an understanding of how interdisciplinary collaboration contributes to enhanced outcomes, and the ability to function in interdisciplinary contexts.