The hallmark of PCOM's training program in clinical psychology is that fieldwork occurs once the student has demonstrated a mastery of core competencies in assessment and scientific foundations of psychology. In addition, students gain knowledge, skills and attitudes that are essential to the concepts and practice of cognitive-behavioral therapy, a cornerstone of the doctoral training program at PCOM. The learning in the first two years of the program is through didactic courses that cover topics basic to scientific psychology and to the clinical practice of psychology.
Use of standardized patient exercises (STEPPS program) provides a means for providing formative feedback on the integration of didactic and clinical skills each year prior to formal practicum experiences. The concurrence of field components and seminar experiences in the third and fourth years enables the student to integrate knowledge of theory and research with practicum experience. Since doctoral students enter the program from a wide variety of backgrounds in terms of training and clinical experience, the specific objectives are individualized to ensure that the practicum will expand and/or deepen the students' clinical psychology skills and socialize them to the mores and culture of doctoral-level professional psychology.
As a central part of the Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology, each student is expected to acquire a broad range of supervised clinical experiences in the form of practicum and an internship. Practicum training is an organized, sequential series of supervised experiences of increasing complexity that are designed to ensure that over the course of their doctoral training, students are exposed to diverse roles, populations, settings, and types of interventions that prepare them for internship training, and ultimately, meeting the requirements for licensure.
Students participate in doctoral practicum training during the third and fourth years of the program. Students on practicum are required to complete a minimum of 16 hours per week (20-24 or more hours a week are expected by most practicum sites), for 50 weeks during the Summer, Fall, Winter, and Spring terms, for a minimum yearly total of 800 hours. The practicum experience provides students with the formative opportunities to acquire and refine many of the skills of the professional psychologist.
The doctoral practicum provides students with supervised experience in a range of different settings and work with diverse patient populations, including children, adolescents, adults, and older adults. It is vital that each student's training encompasses diversity on a variety of levels, including setting, population, presenting problems, and level or type of intervention. Settings may include hospitals, integrated health care settings, mental health clinics, forensic settings, residential treatment centers, counseling centers, and group practices. Populations may be diverse by virtue of age, gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, physical disability, socio-economic status, or diagnostic category. Levels of intervention range from the individual, to the couple or family, and to the group or system.
Affiliation with training sites is specifically tied to the program's overall and interrelated goals: training students within the Vail practitioner-scholar model; training students to provide clinical services based upon empirically-supported strategies; training practitioner-scholars who are capable of becoming an integral part of the interdisciplinary health care team; and, providing sufficient exposure to individually and culturally diverse clients. The practicum site must share a basic commitment to excellence in the training of psychologists and in the provision of psychological services, must have the commitment to training of psychology students in empirically-supported procedures, including cognitive behavioral interventions, and the means to work jointly with the Program in meeting these goals.
Each term of doctoral practicum is supported by a concurrent practicum seminar that focuses in-depth on a specific theme that is related to the core competencies of Health Service Psychology. The practicum seminars run concurrent to each term of practicum training, and further serve to provide didactic training and group supervision to integrate experiences in the field with academic training with feedback. Each Practicum Seminar is designed to highlight one of the professional competencies, within a planned developmental sequence, so that concentrated learning and experience is integrated into the student's identity as a developing psychologist.
The internship provides the clinical psychology doctoral student with an intensive, supervised work experience to develop, practice, and integrate new clinical skills. It represents the culmination of the doctoral experience, the last practical training step before becoming a professional psychologist. The hours requirement for the internship typically varies from 1750 hours to 2000 hours and is customarily completed in one full-time year, depending on the site.
Internship may not be completed in less than one year, as per the requirements of the American Psychological Association, the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers (APPIC), and the National Register of Health Service Providers. Students are required to apply to internships that are active members of APPIC and that are APA accredited. For more information on the APPIC internship application process, go to www.appic.org. For outcomes data on our match rates in the APPIC internship match, please go to our APA Program Summary and Outcomes Data page.
The PCOM Center for Brief Therapy is a member of the Association of Postdoctoral and Psychology Internship Centers (APPIC) and uses the National Matching Service program to select interns in the annual Match. The program received initial accreditation for the maximum of seven years by the Commission on Accreditation of the American Psychological Association in August 2014. The next accreditation site visit will be held in 2021.
For general information about APA accreditation or specific information about the accreditation status of the internship at the PCOM Center for Brief Therapy, please contact:
Office of Program Consultation & Accreditation
American Psychological Association
750 First Street, NE
Washington, DC 20002-4242
Click here for more information about the APA accredited internship at PCOM's Center for Brief Therapy.