The PsyD program of the University of Denver is housed in the Graduate School of Professional Psychology (GSPP). GSPP’s mission is to provide an innovative educational environment that promotes the application of psychological theory, knowledge, skills, and attitudes/values to professional practice. The mission of the PsyD program is to train competent doctoral level practitioner/scholars who have foundational interpersonal and scientific skills, and have a functional mastery of psychological assessment and intervention, and can apply this knowledge and skill in a wide range of settings, with a variety of populations.
Goals and Competencies
As we have sought excellence in clinical training around this mission, we have found that the BEA Benchmark document has provided a framework for articulating our training model. In particular, we seek to train students who have a broad foundation in the basic relational and scientific tenets of psychology, and who can combine these foundational tenets in the functional practice of professional psychology. Our first goal is to train psychologists who contribute to the common good by having significant expertise in interpersonal awareness and skill. This commitment to knowledge of self and other is seen in the Relationship, Self-reflective practice, and Individual and Cultural Difference competencies. Our second goal, we seek to train psychologists who are solidly grounded in the scientific, ethical, and professional foundations and standards in psychology. This knowledge and skill can be seen in the Scientific-Mindedness, Ethical/Legal Issues, and Professionalism Competencies. Third, we seek to train practitioner/scholars who are competent in assessment and intervention, regardless of where they apply these skills. This goal incorporates both the functional Assessment and Intervention competencies.
Since September 1976, the University of Denver Graduate School of Professional Psychology (GSPP) has offered a Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) in clinical psychology. The PsyD program has been continuously accredited by the American Psychological Association since 1979, and has a strong foundation in the practitioner/scholar model of training (also known as the Vail model). Since its inception, the program has provided four key training experiences in the PsyD program that are consistent with a practitioner-scholar model. These training areas include: Academic coursework, in house clinical work, community-based clinical work, and departmental mentorship. Historically, our program has emphasized the importance of clinical training, and we continue to value the dynamic, active interplay between clinical work and scholarship. Students are expected to seek scientific and scholarly knowledge through courseworkand outside reading, which is then applied through their in-house clinical work and their community clinical work. Both of these clinical experiences give hands-on application of the academic work, and in a circular manner, the clinical work creates deeper and richer scholarly understanding. At the same time, these academic and clinical experiences are integrated through the student’s involvement in a variety of mentorship activities, which then culminate in the student’s doctoral paper project. While these four areas are all addressed throughout the student’s time in the program, the training is designed to be sequential, cumulative, and graded in complexity, so that specific training experiences vary by year in the program.
The PsyD Program at GSPP is committed to providing broad based training that provides students the basis for general practice, with an adequate foundation to pursue specialty training. As such, we cover the following broad and general areas of psychological study through our 135 credit program. The curriculum includes required and elective coursework in the following areas:
We provide a four course theory sequence that is supplemented with a fifth elective. These courses address both the history and scientific foundation of each area of psychology. We also require a separate course in the History and Systems of Psychology.
- Psychoanalytic Models
- Behavioral/Contextual Models
- Cognitive Bases of Behavior Models
- Systems Models
- History and Systems of Psychology
- Humanistic-Existential Theory and Therapy (elective)
Research methodology and data analysis
The research and data analysis area begins with two statistics courses that review the fundamentals of descriptive and inferential statistics for evaluating clinically relevant questions. The quantitative research design course focuses on how to critique and integrate the empirical psychology literature with critical concern for issues such as design plans, artifacts, and applicability to clinical work. This reviews theory and techniques for assessing both ongoing processes and outcome effectiveness of psychological programs. A second methodology course deals with understanding, evaluating, and conducting qualitative research. Finally, the third methodology provides theories and techniques of program evaluation.
- Statistics for the Clinician I & II
- Quantitative Research Methods
- Qualitative Research Methods
- Program Evaluation Techniques
The assessment begins with two courses theory courses that lay the foundation for the assessment practice courses. The first course is designed to explore issues and problems involved in clinical inference as well as to teach the process itself. The second course focuses on validity, reliability, and standardization issues in psychological testing and the statistical properties of commonly used tests. These are followed by an assessment sequence provides students the background and skill necessary to administer, score, interpret, and integrate results from a wide range of cognitive and personality measures.
- Clinical Inference
- Issues in Measurement
- Cognitive Assessment
- Introduction to the Rorschach
- Self Report Assessment
- Integrated Personality Assessment
- Electives include: Advanced Personality Assessment, Advanced Rorschach Analysis, Therapeutic Assessment, and Pediatric Neuropsychological Assessment.
The Developmental sequence consists of three courses that consider the phases of human development from infancy through adulthood, including the relevance of personality theories and research. Attention is given to issues of culture and gender. Guest panels, community resources, videotapes, and small discussion groups are incorporated. Child observations are included in the early phases, and a life review interview is required in the final course.
- Infancy and Early Childhood
- Adolescence and Young Adulthood
- Late Adulthood
Social Bases is a two-quarter sequence. The first course reviews both theories and techniques of understanding and utilizing group dynamics. The second focuses on the implications of social psychology/social cognition for the practicing clinician.
- Group Interventions and Dynamics
- Social Psychology
Biological Bases of Behavior
The Biological Bases of Behavior area is covered with a two course required sequence, and two electives are provided. These with courses designed to familiarize students with the principles, terminology, and research findings in this area.
- Physiological Psychology
- Clinical Neuropsychology
- Electives: Psychopharmacology, Health Psychology
Ethical Issues in Psychology
The Ethical Issues in Psychology course offers in-depth consideration of ethical standards applicable to the science and practice of psychology. Ethical issues are also covered in each of our professional seminar courses.
- Ethical Issues in Psychology
Individual and Cultural Diversity
Individual and cultural diversity are addressed throughout the curriculum, as well as in our four-quarter multicultural sequence.
- Racial/ethnic identity development
- Social Psychology of Racism and Oppression
- Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Issues
- Culturally Competent Psychotherapy
diagnosis and psychopathology
Most of the intervention electives address issues of diagnosis and psychopathology. We also offer a specific diagnosis class, and an elective in adult psychopathology.
- Diagnosis and Classification
- Adult Psychopathology I, II, & III
supervision and consultation
Students are expected to address issues of supervision and consultation in advanced seminars, and the foundations for consultation theory are addressed in the Systems Models class. In addition, there is a required course in supervision and in 2010 we offered an elective course in consultation that will be required in 2011. Advanced students can also elect to do a supervision practicum.
- Business Issues in Psychology
- Supervision Practicum
Effective Therapeutic Interventions
Students can take a wide range of clinical courses that build on the scientific foundations presented in the required courses, and allow students to explore intervention techniques and means of tracking and assessing their effectiveness. These courses are taught from a variety of theoretical perspectives and focus on several different clinical populations and problems.
- Assessment and Treatment of Children
- Assessment and Treatment of Adolescents
- Couples Therapy
- Family Therapy
- Behavioral analytic principles 1 & II
- Behavioral Analytic Case Formulations
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- Intersubjective Theory and Practice
- All professional seminars also address effective therapeutic interventions.
Students receive training in lifelong learning and scholarship through the Professional Issues class.
In addition to and concurrent with course work during each year at the school, students receive clinical training through our in-house clinic (PPC) and a community field placement. The Professional Seminar course provides the academic bridge to the clinical experiences.
- Professional Seminar—Varied Topics is a 4-quarter seminar (two hours per quarter), several versions of which are offered every year. All new students must enroll in one of the seminars during their first year in the program. Enrollment in Professional Seminar is for three years (12 quarters). The seminars consist of practical training in assessment and intervention. Topics have included assessments (beginning and advanced), therapy (beginning, advanced, individual, behavioral, cognitive, child, family), behavioral medicine, and forensic applications.
All students become staff members of the Professional Psychology Center (PPC) and are expected to work with clients in the center each year prior to the internship year. The center is an integral part of the school and includes interview, play therapy, and group therapy rooms as well as necessary supplies and equipment. One-way-vision mirrors, audio taping, videotaping, and digital recording facilitate ongoing supervision of clinical work. Clients of diverse ethnic, racial, social, religious, and individual backgrounds and life styles are seen by students for assessment and intervention. Referrals come from private and public sources throughout the community. Approximately 200 clients receive services each week.
PPC client cases are supervised by faculty members, seminar co-leaders, and individual community professionals, many of whom are GSPP alumni. New students are required to attend a series of orientation meetings before starting work in the PPC. The content of the orientation includes the history of clinical psychology, PPC policies and procedures, GSPP policies, and ethical standards for psychologists. Students carry no less than two PPC therapy cases at all times and are expected to adhere to the Ethical Principles of Psychologists published by the American Psychological Association.
Each year prior to the internship year, students are also required to be in a Community Field Placement for a minimum of eight hours per week. In these placements, students are involved in supervised professional experiences in mental health centers, schools, college counseling centers, the justice system, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, private practices, residential treatment homes, and businesses in the Denver metropolitan area. There is a wide choice of placements, and available paid placements are often filled by second- and third-year students.
Within the general field placement requirement, students are required to work a minimum of 40 contact hours with clients from at least one culturally diverse group, such as a racial/ethnic minority or people of a gay, lesbian, or bisexual orientation. Opportunities for such experience are available in a variety of the community field placement settings. The 40 contact hours are a total to be achieved during the time a student is enrolled in the program.
Specialty Focus Tool
Each student is expected to choose a specialty area in which to increase depth of theoretical knowledge and skills. The specific specialty course will be chosen by the student in conjunction with the academic advisor (at the end of the first year) in order to meet the students needs and interests and to make a coherent program. The specialty area should consist of 15 quarter hours of course work (excluding core courses but including, where applicable, specialized professional seminar registration) in GSPP or other departments of the University and can include courses transferred for credit. Examples of a specialty focus tool are adult or child assessment and therapy, behavior therapy, family therapy, forensic psychology, geropsychology, group treatment, behavioral medicine, dynamic psychotherapy, school psychology, and treatment of women.
Clinical Competency Exam
Students will be expected to take the clinical competency exam the summer before they apply for internship. The exam is comprised of three sections: Clinical vignettes, clinical case conceptualization, and clinical intervention strategies. Students use a case that they have seen in the PPC as the basis for the second and third sections of the exam. Successful completion of the exam is required for internship readiness.
The doctoral paper requirement requires student to make an original contribution to psychological scholarship. Students may choose to do a qualitative or quantitative research project, or can choose other forms of scholarship, such as developing a case study or treatment protocol. Doctoral papers should be publication quality, and students are encouraged to submit their papers for publication.
GSPP requires a clinical internship in which students pull together theory and practice in a one-year, in-depth experience. The requirement is met after completion of all course and practical work. The internship is a vital component of the educational program and is never waived. A student applies for an internship a year before it begins. Our students have been accepted for quality internships in a wide variety of clinical and geographical settings. Students are encouraged to seek internships around the country and have been successful in doing so. For those students who desire an internship in Colorado, the GSPP offers an exclusive consortium of APA accredited internship sites. Students who fail all or part of the internship are subject to dismissal from the school. For information about our internship placement rates and sites where interns are placed, please click here.
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Students at the GSPP receive faculty mentorship through a variety of sources including advising, clinical supervision, scholarly supervision, and encouraging professional memberships. Faculty members support and guide students to develop professional relationships in the school and in the community. Faculty members also encourage students to participate in our continuing education offerings and other professional opportunities.
Courses in other departments and schools of the University are available to GSPP students. Graduate courses in education, history, international studies, law, mass communication, social work, psychology, and sociology are described in the appropriate bulletins. Courses in other colleges, schools, and departments of the University give GSPP students wide exposure to historical and current areas of knowledge relevant to the education of the professional psychologist.