The Clinical Science faculty believes that clinical scientists should be competent clinicians if they are to develop a complete understanding of clinical phenomena and the transfer of scientific knowledge to clinical practice. We therefore emphasize the development of strong clinical skills as an essential part of training. To this end, the Director of Clinical Training (DCT) is responsible for all aspects of clinical training including practicum, externship, and internship. The DCT’s primary mission is to ensure that each student receives a variety of supervised training experiences through which the student develops a high level of competency across multiple domains of clinical skills.

Practicum training begins in the second year and continues through the student’s program of study. Students enroll in clinical practicum (PSYC 5965, 5966, 6965, 6966) each semester of their residence after the first year. For every practicum experience, the student receives a written evaluation with verbal feedback based on a set of clinical competencies that are observable, measurable, derived by experts, and can be enhanced through training and development. Practicum initially takes place at our department’s community-based clinic, the Psychological Services Center (PSC). The PSC utilizes a vertical team approach which consists of one qualified faculty supervisor, several second year students, and one or two fourth year or beyond students. First year students have the option to engage in a summer practicum experience that provides training and supervision in basic interviewing, assessment, and treatment skills. In second year practicum, the faculty supervisor and advanced students help prepare second year students to interview, assess, and treat a caseload of about three to five clients. Throughout these first two years of initial training there is an emphasis and focus on evidence-based models, techniques, and manualized protocols of assessment and treatment, primarily from a cognitive-behavioral orientation.

In the student’s third year, practicum is referred to as “Externship” and is conducted at a local, regional, or out-of-state center, facility, or agency. The purpose of Externship is to have a supervised practicum experience outside of the PSC that is complementary and/or consistent with one’s career goals. The Externship is arranged by the student in collaboration with their chosen site, and a student can have multiple externship placements throughout their third year of study and beyond. The Director is responsible and available for guidance and consultation throughout the Externship experience. A sample of recent Externship settings includes:

  • Veterans Administration Medical Center, Salem VA
  • Carilion Clinic, Roanoke VA
  • Lewis Gale Medical Center - Neuropsychology, Roanoke, VA
  • Duke University Medical Center, Durham NC
  • Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA
  • Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, Pittsburgh, PA

The student’s fourth year is typically conducted back at the PSC and usually consists of some combination of seeing clients and peer supervision. The agreed upon arrangement of activities is developed between the student and faculty supervisor in the context of student’s areas of needed experience and training. 

Over the past years, students have ranged from about 500 to 1600 total hours of supervised direct contact clinical experience gathered within our required training sequence and taking advantage of available opportunities for additional training.  Opportunities to conduct additional clinical training include working within one of the Department’s specialty clinics or centers including the Adult Assessment Clinic, Child Assessment Clinic, Child Study Center, and Autism Clinic/Center for Autism Research. Our primary goal is that students acquire a high level of competence in the basic areas of clinical practice including professional conduct, interviewing, assessment, case conceptualization, treatment and intervention, measurement of treatment effectiveness, ethics, individual and cultural diversity, consultation, and supervision necessary for an excellent internship and a career path in clinical science.

The capstone practicum experience is provided by a one-year pre-doctoral Internship at an APA-approved setting. Each student is required to complete this internship experience to earn the doctoral degree in the clinical program. Graduates of our program typically attend prestigious internships around the country. The DCT provides direction and guidance throughout the internship application process, and is responsible for the verification of the experiences, qualifications, and skills development necessary for internship. As such, it is the goal of our program, and the responsibility of the DCT, that practicum training prepares our students to match well with and be prepared for compatible internship sites and for successful careers as a clinical scientist. A sample of recent Internship settings includes:

  • Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic
  • Virginia Treatment Center for Children
  • University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Affective Neuroscience track
  • Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences, Adult track
  • UC Davis Children's Hospital - CAARE Center
  • Alpert Medical School of Brown University
  • University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities (CIDD)
  • University of Pennsylvania Dept. of Psychiatry, Child/Developmental Disabilities track
  • UCLA Semel Institute, Stress, Trauma & Resilience track