The PsyD Curriculum Conceptualization

The PsyD curriculum is comprised of a required sequence of courses, and six elective Advanced Seminars. The Advanced Seminars are taken one each semester during the third year and two each semester during the fourth year. One of the two electives in each semester in the fourth year is limited to fourth-year students. Students also take two or more weekend courses each year and may elect to take more. In line with the social vision of the Doctoral Program, the Professional Seminars and Case Conferences are the primary focal point for individually focused professional socialization in the doctoral curriculum. They consist of six to eight students drawn from the same class (typically four to five in a Case Conference) plus a faculty member.

The focus of Professional Seminars and Case Conferences takes on a developmental aspect, consistent with students' progress through the program and has five primary goals:

  • Integration of self with academic and clinical work in the context of the students' multiple roleswhat we refer to as self-in-role. This includes mastering the academic materials in each year in a way that promotes reflective professional practice. There are opportunities for informal clinical and intellectual discussions of students' professional experiences within their personal, role-related, and adult developmental issues.
  • Monitoring, facilitating, and evaluating students' clinical work. Informal and formal group consultation (secondary to the supervision which occurs on site) allows development of case presentation and conceptualization skills as well as discussions of ethical, countertransference, conceptual, and service delivery issues. Under the coordination of the director of practica, Professional Seminar and Case Conference leaders are explicitly charged with evaluating students' clinical-professional functioning by integrating information from various sources.
  • Discussion and mastery of the particular academic content associated with each year. The Professional Seminars have been designed so that the academic content is communicated in small groups, which involve the active participation of each student. In the first year, the content focuses on roles of psychologists and ethical issues; in the second year, it is case conceptualization; in the third year, the focus is on the formal written and oral presentation of cases consistent with the clinical portion of the Qualifying Examination.
  • Professional socialization in clinical psychology. Through readings, consultations, and interactions, the acquisition of the particular attitudes, viewpoints, ethics, customs, and culture of clinical psychology is both implicitly and explicitly an element of Professional Seminars and Case Conferences.
  • Interpersonal feedback and support. The Professional Seminars and Case Conferences allow the opportunity for a student to be known well by colleagues and faculty, to have a group mentoring experience, to give and receive interpersonal support and feedback (short of therapy), and to engage in informal peer learning.

The intensive, academic first year of coursework provides practice-relevant theory and research material in psychopathology, personality, basic psychotherapeutic intervention, and cultural diversity. The experiential courses on Fundamental Clinical Skills I and II are required. The first year also includes the foundational course of Tests and Measurements in Psychology which branches into two pathsto intensive courses in assessment through psychological testing and later, to the research sequence.

Exploration of the roles of psychologists and instruction in professional ethics and standards is included as part of Professional Seminars I and II: Roles and Ethical Issues. Readings and discussions address roles of psychologists and professional ethics and standards of psychologists expected in various settings and clinical activities. The APA Ethical Standards of Psychologists, as well as other related readings and professional standards, are studied. In terms of process, these Professional Seminars have a strong joining themejoining Antioch University New England, joining doctoral level clinical psychology, and joining the ranks of those in the student-trainee role. Managing the associated academic and clinical demands in the context of the inevitable economic, familial, and personal stress is another theme.

The second year begins during the summer, in which students complete the basic psychotherapeutic intervention sequence with a course on group therapy, and have the first of the social courses with Social Psychology and Social Responsibility. Then, the Cognitive Aspects of Behavior and Psychological Development courses provide core content and metapsychological perspectives for clinical psychology. Students begin the research sequence which will, during the third and fourth years, culminate in the doctoral dissertation.

Professional Seminars III and IV focus on case conceptualization and require student presentations. Taken concurrently with the initial year of practicum, these experiences focus on integrating the perspectives brought to clinical practice from the intervention and assessment sequences as well as from developmental and cognitive thinking. Students write case formulations. In addition, students' experience of and response to the research sequence along with beginning preparation for the dissertation is an important theme.

The third year starts in the summer by examining community psychology (including prevention, social class, and psychological services delivery), while simultaneously learning core biological foundations. Then, to attend both to the actual roles of psychologists and the economic and social context of services, students take the required courses in Supervision and in Public Policy, Advocacy, and Health Service Delivery along with a two-weekend course sequence on Consultation. Students begin their advanced seminar electives in conjunction with the second year of required practicum and with clinical consultation involved in Case Conferences I and II.

Students also take the Qualifying Examination during the third year. The first part is a comprehensive written exam in which the students answer a question regarding the general knowledge base of psychology derived from course material from the first five terms of the program. Students receive a question at the end of the summer term that initiates the third year. The second part is the Intervention Paper and Oral Examination. The exam is based on an intervention drawn from the student's own professional work, which integrates theory and practice. This component is taken toward the end of the spring semester of the third year.

Case Conferences I and II allow for an intensive, clinically focused learning experience including consultation about students' case presentations along with his or her responses to the work of others. In groups, typically of four or five students, Case Conferences are led by core faculty or experienced associate faculty. The three major goals of the Case Conferences are: (a) to expand and develop depth in clinical competencies; (b) to explore or develop areas of special clinical interest or proficiency; and (c) to provide the context for faculty to evaluate students' clinical breadth, depth, and competence.

The role of the Case Conference leader is to act as a consultant rather than a supervisor. The Case Conference leader (who conducts the mid-year traineeship review meeting) establishes a working collaborative relationship with the students' practicum site supervisors. The leader respects the site supervisor's role of direct supervision and assesses what is realistic to expect from the supervisor regarding the student's training. Within this role, the Case Conference leader: (a) becomes familiar with the student's clinical competencies and clinical context (practicum site and other relevant work sites); (b) works with the student to assess the areas in which the student needs to broaden or sharpen theoretical and clinical competence; (c) helps the student to develop clinical competence in problematic areas and to enhance competence in areas of proficiency; and (d) evaluates the student's overall clinical competence.

Students are given the opportunity to request the faculty Case Conference leader with whom they would most like to work, based on mutual interest in special proficiency areas and/or the faculty-student potential fit in terms of supervision or theoretical orientation. Each Case Conference leader develops a plan for case presentation which best meets the training needs of the group while also allowing for the preferred consultation approach of the faculty member. Students are expected to present their work through verbal and written presentations, along with required video and/or audio-taped segments of their clinical work.

The third year also marks the acceleration of work on the dissertation. Students meet with their dissertation chairs for five full-class periods (one credit of Doctoral Research Seminar) each semester of the third year. The goal is for a full-fledged dissertation proposal to emerge from this year's meetings of the Doctoral Research Seminar. Through an iterative cycle of concept formulation, literature review, and writing, the student's ability to refine and articulate ideas is cultivated.

After the successful completion of required coursework specified for the first three years of the program (90 credits) including two years of practicum placements, matriculated students are awarded the Master of Science degree in Clinical Psychology. Courses must be completed through the spring semester of the third year; Qualifying Examinations are not required. Students are not admitted separately for the MS, nor is the degree designed to meet master's level licensing requirements. The MS is an additional credential that makes our students more attractive for internships.

The fourth year begins with the last required course in the psychotherapeutic intervention sequence. This course examines special topics while students gain a perspective on the discipline by studying the social and historical context of psychology. This final year involves students in intensive small groups and individual work on the dissertation under the guidance and mentorship of their faculty advisor. Students also complete their four advanced seminar electives in their areas of focus. The morning elective each semester is limited to fourth-year students. Students take single-credit courses on management in the fall and organizational issues in the spring. Many also take an elective practicum.

Along with the electives, the primary focus for this year remains on the culmination of academic training moving toward the completion of the dissertation and the process of internship applicationand becoming a clinical psychologist.

Click here for the Clinical Psychology course sequence.