Professional Clinical Training
The development of a student’s professional knowledge, skills and attitudes is a process that starts during the doctoral program and continues through the individual’s professional career. At the pre-doctoral stage, students’ professional development occurs within the context of both formal coursework and professional clinical training experiences supervised by faculty and professionals in the field.
Supervised professional training experiences in psychology doctoral training are called “practicum (plural: practica)” during the first three years (these occur concurrently while students are taking their course work). Further, students engage in supervised professional training experiences called “internships” during the fourth and fifth (if taken half-time) years.
Our program has several field training experts who work closely with students throughout the placement process for practicum and internship sites in order to assist students in securing placement sites in the field that allow them a diverse set of clinical training and experiences and that help them to meet their training goals. Students are eligible to begin their professional clinical training in their second year of the program as part of the school-based mental health program run through our on-site Psychological Services Center. The goals of this experience are:
- Introduce students to the role of the professional psychologist
- Provide students with exposure to problems and populations served through community mental health services
- Provide didactic training that supports the attainment of foundational knowledge related to core competencies necessary to the practice of professional psychology
- Introduce students to evidenced-informed and evidenced-based practices
In their third and fourth years of the program, students complete at least 800 hours of practicum training each year in a variety of community settings such as:
- medical centers
- inpatient mental health facilities
- university counseling centers
- child therapy and psychological testing clinics
- drug and alcohol treatment programs
- residential or day programs
- community mental health centers
- outpatient clinics
Our staff in the Office of Professional Training have longstanding relationships with dozens of sites within the Los Angeles and surrounding metro areas in southern California, allowing students to find sites that meet their training needs. Further, each site has been interviewed and visited by our staff to ensure quality of training. As students enter these sites, they assume a greater degree of clinical responsibility for assessment and intervention each year while being closely supervised at a level appropriate to the students’ training and abilities.
In addition to outstanding opportunities in the field, students may choose to accrue clinical experiences right on campus.
- Our Psychological Services Center is one of the practicum options for students interested in community mental health.
- We also offer specialized training in pediatric neurodevelopmental assessment through our on campus Neurodevelopment Assessment Clinic.
Students typically receive a minimum of 1900 hours of clinical training prior to internship. Students are encouraged to pursue a full-time internship in their fourth year. The internship is a culminating experience that integrates the student’s academic and clinical experiences and prepares them for their professional role as a psychologist. As an alternative, students can pursue a half-time internship in the fourth and fifth years. The Family/child and Couple Emphasis area (FACE) on the Los Angeles campus also offers a half time internship experience through the Ronald McDonald House.
Vivian Tamkin, PhD
Office of Professional Training Liaison for Practicum
Timothy Gunn, PsyD
Office of Professional Training Liaison for Internship
In the Clinical Psychology PhD Program in Los Angeles, designing, implementing and evaluating research are core skills that are taught to make our students thrive in their respective professional communities. Beginning in their first year of the program, students choose their own topic of scholarship for a research practicum course sequence. This practicum allows them to be mentored in a small group (usually 6-8) of students that are assigned to one faculty member based on common content and/or methodological interests.
Working with their faculty and student-colleagues, students learn the basic parts to designing and evaluating their own research project, including presenting at a school-wide poster session and sharing their results with various communities through local and national presentations. In the beginning of their third year, students undergo a year-long class in conducting research in applied settings in which they learn skills necessary for research consultation and program evaluation, crucial skills that allow them to aid mental health systems serving diverse cultural and professional communities.
Also during their third year, students apply skills they have learned in research methods and design to develop their dissertation with the help of a faculty dissertation chairperson. These projects involve faculty expertise in areas such as (but not limited to): cultural diversity, health, family dynamics, sibling relationships, child maltreatment, group psychotherapy, pediatric neuropsychology, gender identity, women’s issues, neurodevelopmental conditions, ecopsychology, and community psychology, intimacy and sex, cultural resilience, acculturation. The development of the dissertation is usually a two-year project, providing the knowledge and skills to conduct independent, ethical, and culturally competent psychological research independently upon graduation.
As a result of collaborative work together, students and faculty have presented their scholarship at a number of professional conferences, including the meetings and annual conventions of the following professional associations:
- American Psychological Association
- Western Psychological Association
- National Multicultural Conference and Summit
- Los Angeles County Psychological Association
- United Nations Commission on the Status of Women Conference
- Association of Women in Psychology
- National Conference of Child and Adolescent Psychology
- American Psychology-Law Society Conference
- Annual Conference of the Southwestern Social Science Association
- International Conference on Violence, Abuse, and Trauma
- International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies
- International Society for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect
- Asian American Psychological Association
- National Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect, Office on Child Abuse and Neglect
- International Family Therapy Association
- American Group Psychotherapy Association
- International Congress of Psychology
- National Summit on Interpersonal Violence & Abuse Across the Lifespan
- American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy
- Chadwick Center Conference on Responding to Child Maltreatment
- Boston College Diversity Challenge
- Supporting the Emotional Needs of the Gifted National Conference
- New England Conference for the Gifted and Talented