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Program Aims and Competencies

The Midwestern University Clinical Psychology Program's central purpose is to train prospective students using a Practitioner-Scholar model of training through an academic curriculum designed to integrate disciple-specific knowledge in psychology and theory with the practice and delivery of evidenced-based psychological interventions, diagnostics, assessments, and scholarship. Training and educating within the program emphasizes the application of psychological knowledge and skills and the integration between science and practice in a manner that is respectful and appreciative of diversity and contextual factors

Program Aim: To provide broad and general training in clinical psychology that is empirically-based and diversity-informed to be able to practice as health service psychologists who deliver psychological services in intervention and assessment in a manner consistent with accepted ethical and legal practices; account for appropriate diversity and contextual factors in application; and incorporate scientific and evidentiary knowledge in practice using accepted professional wide competencies and discipline specific knowledge.

Program Competencies: The Program assesses student competency using a portfolio-based system (the Comprehensive Assessment Method in Psychology [CAMP]) to evaluate work samples throughout the Program for demonstrations of competency. The Comprehensive Assessment Method in Psychology (CAMP) serves as the Program's focal point for information regarding its effectiveness in training students on the nine Health Service Psychology Profession-wide Competencies outlined in the Standards of Accreditation for Health Service psychology approved by the American Psychological Association in 2015. These areas include:

  1. Research

  2. Ethical and legal standards

  3. Individual and cultural diversity

  4. Professional values, attitudes, and behaviors

  5. Communication and interpersonal skills

  6. Assessment

  7. Intervention

  8. Supervision

  9. Consultation and interprofessional/interdisciplinary skills

The profession-wide competencies demonstrate functional abilities and skills essential to the professional practice of health service psychology. CAMP was developed to evaluate competency through portfolios of student work samples, such as literature reviews, intervention tapes, and testing reports. Many of the CAMP assignments are included in course requirements and are therefore reflected in course grades. Course grades provide a general measure of developmental progress, knowledge, and skills, while CAMP assignments provide assessment of student achievement of competency. In addition to gauging how students are progressing along Program competencies, the CAMP system provides a concrete method for students to assess and monitor their own unique strengths and weaknesses as they progress in a sequential, and increasingly complex manner through the curriculum.

The profession-wide competencies are predicated on the acquisition of discipline specific knowledge that serves as the foundation for the identity and orientation to health service psychology. These core areas of knowledge base and foundation are acquired through the Program's curriculum and include: History and Systems of Psychology, Basic Content Areas (Affective, Biological, Cognitive, Developmental, and Social Aspects of Behavior), and Research Methods, Statistical Analysis, and Psychometrics.

The foundational courses expose students to knowledge through learning experiences with primary source materials, critical thinking and communication at an advanced level, and integration of discipline-specific knowledge with practice. Diversity and culture as well as scientific and evidence bases of psychology are incorporated throughout the foundational classes through primary source articles and class activities. The student's knowledge is assessed by course grades as well as a capstone project or specific class assignment for each area identified above.

The Program views self-reflection as a critical element in adopting a commitment to life-long learning and interest in scholarly activity. The developmental nature of competency achievement in a cumulative progression from basic- to intermediate-level tasks allows students first to acquire knowledge and skills in distinct areas of competency, followed by opportunities to demonstrate competency through integration and application of knowledge and skills on more complex tasks required within the profession.

Clinical Training Opportunities

The Clinical Psychology Program at Midwestern University (Glendale Campus) provides applied training opportunities for its students to integrate theoretical and evidenced-based knowledge with clinical skills. This is achieved through three types of training experience: (1) Clerkship (an observational learning experience), (2) Practicum, and (3) Doctoral Internship. Each of these training components serves to systematically develop, refine, and integrate knowledge, skills, and professional attitudes necessary to practice within the field of professional psychology. These experiences are designed to be developmental; become increasingly more complex and require more sophisticated and integrated knowledge, skills and attitudes as students progress through each level of training.

The program provides a broad and general training in psychology. The program utilizes field placements that provide valuable and meaningful opportunities to learn and grow in the field of health service psychology, and is consistent with a practitioner-scholar model of training. Practicum placements range broadly and reflect the breadth of settings that offer psychological services in Arizona and the Phoenix area. Sites range from the largest community based mental health service provider in the state of Arizona (Southwest Behavioral Health Services), the Arizona State Hospital, Arizona Department of Juvenile Corrections (ADJC), to Beljan Psychological Services (Pediatric Neuropsychology), Banner Boswell Medical Center (neuropsychology research hospital), and S.T.A.R. Academy (school based setting for emotionally and behaviorally challenged children).

The Program constantly seeks out new field placement opportunities for its students to work with diverse treatment populations and supervisors in terms of race, religion, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, disability, age, sexual orientation. Approved sites provide sufficient opportunities for students to acquire, refine, and integrate their skills, while training with qualified professionals who mentor in an environment conducive to learning. Practicum sites are evaluated on their overall quality and adherence to the practitioner-scholar model of training. The DCT utilizes student feedback from evaluations of sites at year-end and informal discussions of their clinical experiences to determine which sites to retain for the next year's cohort, which sites to discontinue, and which types of sites to add to enhance clinical training experiences for students.

Field placement training sites vary in the clinical opportunities they provide to students. Some sites may have more opportunities in assessment and others in intervention. Regardless of what site a student is placed, there is valuable opportunity to learn and grow professionally and develop clinical skills consistent with profession-wide competency areas. Through two required practicum experiences and clerkship experience, students can expect to be exposed to experiential training in many of the following tasks:

Upon completion of a practicum, students should be able to use information from a variety of sources to: (1) provide a diagnosis and recommendations supported by specific and relevant data, (2) formulate a case summary that is theoretically consistent and well organized, (3) write a professional psychological report, (4) conceptualize a case and develop, implement, direct, and manage a comprehensive treatment plan, and (5) use appropriate empirical methods (quantitative or qualitative) to evaluate the outcome of their interventions. Practicum is designed to assist students in gaining the experience necessary for development in the nine profession-wide competency areas of the program, however it is the student's responsibility to demonstrate achievement of these competencies through both successful completion of field placement experiences and work samples within the CAMP system.

Clerkship

Students benefit from early exposure to clinical and professional roles. Students participate in an observational learning field training experience called clerkship beginning in the winter quarter of their first year, after successfully completing an Introduction to Clerkship course in Fall quarter of the first year.  Clerkship students shadow, interact, assist and collaborate with health and mental health professionals in a clinical setting during their first year in the program. This introduction to clinical practice provides opportunities to observe the delivery of healthcare services with clients in a variety of settings. Clerkships are located in traditional mental health settings and broader healthcare settings.

Practicum

Practicum is a clinical training experience in which second and third year students are placed in a health care delivery system at a Program approved field placement site. Students learn to deliver psychological services under the supervision of a licensed psychologist in a variety of setting with diverse clinical populations. This 12-month field experience is coupled with an on-campus seminar course to process and reflect on clinical training experiences, and to integrate science and theory with their applied experiences.

Internship

Successful completion of the doctoral internship experience is an essential Program requirement toward degree attainment. The doctoral internship typically requires a one-year, full-time (or two-year half-time) clinical training placement in which doctoral candidates engage in clinical activities under supervision of qualified professionals. Internships are part of a national process where qualified students apply to internship sites throughout the country. The Program strongly advises students only to apply to APA accredited sites unless there are specific circumstances in which the student's professional goals align with a site that is not APA accredited but an APPIC member site.