Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology
Program Director: Stephen R. Boggs, Ph.D., ABPP
The department of Clinical and Health Psychology is an academic and professional unit in the College of Public Health and Health Professions at the Health Science Center on the University of Florida campus in Gainesville. The doctoral program in clinical psychology has been accredited by the American Psychological Association since 1953 and adheres to the Scientist-Practitioner Model of education and training. The Clinical Psychology Doctoral program is unique in the country in that it is housed in an independent department of Clinical and Health Psychology in a major academic health science setting along with an APA accredited internship. These features foster program strengths in research, teaching and professional training in health care psychology.
“The scientist-practitioner model produces a psychologist who is uniquely educated and trained to generate and integrate scientific and professional knowledge, attitudes, and skills so as to further psychological science, the professional practice of psychology, and human welfare. The graduate of this training model is capable of functioning as an investigator and as a practitioner, and may function as either or both, consistent with the highest standards in psychology. The scientist-practitioner model is ideal for psychologists who utilize scientific methods in the conduct of professional practice.” (National Conference on the Education and Training of Scientist-Practitioners for the Professional Practice of Psychology).
To accommodate the broad range of career trajectories possible within Scientist-Practitioner education and training, the program offers a Scientist-Practitioner Emphasis and a Clinical Researcher Emphasis. The Scientist-Practitioner Emphasis allows the student to obtain broad clinical, academic, and research training that readies them for careers anywhere along the science-practice continuum. The student obtains focused research mentorship in a faculty member’s laboratory and obtains broad training in clinical assessment and intervention both in and outside of their designated area of concentration. The Clinical Researcher Emphasis is designed to provide the interested student with more intensive mentor-based training for purposes of preparing for a research career. The Clinical Researcher Emphasis is designed for students who are clearly focused on a research career and therefore want an increased opportunity to perform mentored empirical work. This emphasis focuses on the acquisition of research skills, training in scientific methods and technologies to better understand behavior problems, psychopathology and psychological adjustment to illness and wellness, and to develop empirically validated assessment and treatment procedures. The primary goal of the Clinical Researcher emphasis is to train psychologists for academic settings and other employment venues in which research productivity and innovation is a major job expectancy. In comparison to the scientist-practitioner emphasis, more time is dedicated to research (less time is spent in supervised practicum with the general faculty), and advanced clinical training is focused on patient populations and methods in the student’s area of research interest. The Clinical Researcher emphasis follows a “mentorship” model in which the faculty mentor is the student’s overall guide and supervisor, and the student’s primary research training is accomplished in his/her laboratory. Students can elect the Clinical Researcher emphasis in the first or second year of study, based on their commitment to a clinical research career and the agreement of a faculty mentor. Students can apply for admission consideration to the Scientist-Practitioner emphasis, the Clinical Researcher emphasis, or both (see Application Procedures).
The Doctoral Program provides the student with training in the concepts, tools, roles, and functions of the clinical psychologist. The overall goals of the graduate program are to prepare the student to:
(1) investigate meaningful, empirically testable questions in the quest for understanding a behavioral process, a patient’s problem, or a professional issue;
(2) function as a professional psychologist;
(3) practice competently in the applied areas of psychological assessment/diagnosis, intervention/therapy, and consultation; and
(4) contribute to the advancement of psychological knowledge through research or other creative scholarly activity.
Through a combination of general and specialized experiences in the classroom, laboratory, and clinic students develop knowledge and skills as scientist-practitioners. Attitudes are developed toward the practice of psychology and toward related professions which enable effective personal interaction and participation in the interdisciplinary approach to problems of research and practice. As students progress in the program, they develop professional identity through acceptance of increased responsibility for professional decisions, through the execution of significant research projects, and through their contributions to the understanding of psychological problems and processes.
The University of Florida Health Science Center is a complex of six colleges on the University of Florida campus. The colleges include Medicine, Nursing, Health Professions, Pharmacy, Dentistry, and Veterinary Medicine. The building complex consists of the 1,668 bed Shands Hospital at the University of Florida, a wide variety of outpatient clinics, a teaching/academic core, and the extensive support services for patient care, research, and communications that are part of a modern university health science center. The Department of Clinical and Health Psychology operates its own Psychology Clinic, which handles diverse requests for inpatient and outpatient psychological services from Health Science Center departments and area health care professionals. The Psychology Clinic is the major setting for the formal clinical practica required of all doctoral students.
The Department is located within the College of Public Health and Health Professions, which offers degree programs in Public Health as well as a variety of health professions disciplines (communicative disorders, occupational therapy, physical therapy). Students interested in obtaining education and training in Public Health can obtain a Certificate in Public Health or can obtain both a Ph.D. and a Master’s of Public Health (MPH) degree while enrolled in the program. Separate admission to the Public Health Program is required. Interested students should visit the Public Health website at http://www.mph.ufl.edu/ for more information.
Across the street from the Health Science Center, and connected to it via an underground tunnel, is the 268 bed Gainesville Veterans’ Administration Medical Center (VAMC), a nationally recognized center for health care treatment of veterans and their families. A full continuum of community based training, emphasizing rural health care, is also available through departmental collaborations across local county public health units, the North Florida/South Georgia VA Community Based Outpatient Clinic and rural hospitals. The participating county public health units (Levy and Dixie County) serve as primary care locations for medical care and community disease prevention programming. Hospital based training is also available at Shands at Lake Shore Hospital which provides emergency, secondary and limited tertiary care to residents of Columbia County and five other rural counties in North Central Florida.
The Department of Clinical and Health Psychology is recognized within the Health Science Center as a primary resource for academic and clinical expertise regarding biopsychosocial aspects of health and illness. Interests of the faculty are broad, with a majority actively engaged in the specialized areas of clinical health psychology, clinical neuropsychology, clinical child/pediatric psychology, and emotion neuroscience/psychopathology. There are ongoing collaborative arrangements with numerous departments and programs including Cardiology, Oncology, Neurology, Pediatrics, Psychology, Communicative Disorders, Psychiatry, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Dentistry, Neurosurgery, Endocrinology, Surgery, Exercise and Sport Science, Physical Therapy, and Anesthesiology. Department faculty hold joint or courtesy appointments in many of these academic departments, and are represented on the faculties of such university centers as the Center for Neuropsychological Studies, the University of Florida McKnight Brain Institute, the Movement Disorders Center, the Brooks Center for Rehabilitation Research, and the University of Florida Interdisciplinary ADHD Program. Several Centers are located within the Department or College, including the Center for the Study of Emotion and Attention, Center for Research in Psychophysiology, Center for Pediatric Psychology and Family Studies, Center for Telehealth and Healthcare Communication, Center for Pain Research and Behavioral Health, and the National Rural Behavioral Health Center. In the 2005-2006 academic year, departmental core faculty published 79 refereed papers and 11 book chapters, made over 100 presentations at national or international meetings, and had $9.2 million in grant expenditures.
On the national level departmental faculty are active in the American Psychological Association and other professional societies such as the Association for the Advancement of Behavior Therapy, the American Board of Professional Psychology, Society for Behavioral Medicine, Society for Pediatric Psychology, International Neuropsychological Society, Society for Psychophysiological Research, and International Association for the Study of Pain. Faculty members also regularly serve on the editorial boards of scientific journals, including the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, Health Psychology, Educational and Psychological Measurement, The Clinical Neuropsychologist, Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, Psychophysiology, and the Journal of Clinical Psychology in Medical Settings.
Faculty are equally active at the regional, state and local levels through participation and leadership roles in the Southeastern Psychological Association, Florida Psychological Association and other organizations. Graduate students have also played significant roles in professional organizations (e.g., President and Board Members of the American Psychological Association of Graduate Students [APAGS], Student President, Florida Psychological Association) and have been recipients of a number of research awards from the American Psychological Association, the American Psychological Foundation, the Florida Psychological Association, the International Neuropsychological Society, the Society of Pediatric Psychology, and the American Pain Society. The Department itself was a co-sponsor of two major national conferences regarding education and training in psychology: The National Conference on Internship Training in Psychology (1987) and The National Conference on the Education and Training of Scientist-Practitioners for the Professional Practice of Psychology (1990). The Department originated the National Conference on Child Health Psychology, now sponsored by APA Division 54, which was last held in 2006 in Gainesville.
The Department’s location within the Health Science Center affords it immediate access to the kinds of resources found only in an academic health science center. The primary resource is a large and active teaching faculty which supports the programs of the center’s six colleges that attract talented students of health care from throughout the United States and beyond. Opportunities are virtually limitless for exposure to faculty and graduate students in other disciplines, including public health, medicine, nursing, pharmacy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and dentistry.
In 2003, the Department moved along with the rest of the Departments in the College of Public Health and Health Professions to the new Health Professions, Nursing, and Pharmacy Building, located immediately north of the Health Science Center’s Communicore Building, which houses the Health Science Center Library and many classrooms supporting education within the HSC’s colleges. The HPNP building has integrated classroom facilities, state-of-the-art wireless technology, and access to the HP network, supporting computing needs for the department’s research and clinical missions.
The Department has access to diverse patient populations. Students obtain direct experience with a wide variety of psychological and medical problems in children and adults. The Shands Teaching Hospital is equipped with state-of-the-art diagnostic and treatment tools, and the student frequently has the opportunity to work with a team of health care professionals in pursuing a diagnosis or implementing a treatment program.
Just as important as patient care services are the resources that support the academic and research aspects of the Health Science Center’s programs. The Health Science Center is equipped with an excellent library that contains a broad collection of books and journals relevant to basic and applied psychological research. Many journals and other materials are available electronically to registered students through the UF Library websites. The campus contains nine additional specialized libraries and one general resource library. The BioMedical Media Services located within the Health Science Center, contains facilities for photography, graphics, slides, videotape, and other media useful in the preparation of research reports. The Department occupies 23 thousand square feet of teaching, clinical and research space. The Department is particularly strong in instrumentation and methodology for cognitive and psychophysiological studies.
The Department of Psychology building is located nearby. The Psychology Department is responsible for the undergraduate teaching curriculum in psychology along with the graduate programs in cognition and perception, experimental analysis of behavior, developmental, social/personality, psychobiology and counseling psychology. Many undergraduate Psychology majors work with Departmental faculty on senior theses and directed research projects, and many enroll as research assistants in Departmental projects. A number of faculty hold joint appointments in both departments.
Placement After Graduation
During the past five years, the Department has graduated an average of 10-14 students per year. These professionals are now employed in diverse academic, human service, governmental, mental health, and administrative positions. Alumni surveys indicate that approximately 40% of graduates have academic or teaching appointments, 16% institutional practice, 38% group or solo practice, and 6% are in other diverse positions such as administration, consulting, etc. In the past 5 years over 90% of students secured their first or second internship choice and all have received at least one offer of employment after degree requirements have been completed.
The Ph.D. program in clinical psychology is designed to enable students to master broad areas of knowledge and skills in psychology and clinical psychology, and to educate and train individuals who will contribute to such knowledge through research. The program consists of a general psychology core curriculum, a clinical psychology core, required research projects, a sequence of required clinical practica, a series of advanced elective courses, an area of concentration, and an APA-accredited internship in clinical psychology. The program is designed as a five-year intensive program of study, practice, and research. The program offers its established Scientist-Practitioner Emphasis, along with a limited number of slots in a new Clinical Science Emphasis. The program requirements for the Scientist-Practitioner Emphasis and the Clinical Researcher Emphasis overlap somewhat, but differ in the balance between clinical and research training.
During the first year students devote most of their time to core courses in foundations of psychology; research design; statistics; clinical science (e.g., psychopathology, assessment, intervention), and professional issues/ethics. Along with didactic classroom work, students are exposed to the research interests and activities of faculty, and attend research groups as well as department conferences. During this first year the student chooses a research mentor and completes the First Year Project research requirement, which eventually becomes the basis for the student’s M.S. Thesis.
In addition to research to complete the master’s degree, the focus of the second year is the required clinical practica sequence. During these formal practica, students spend one day a week obtaining training in a variety of assessment, consultation, and intervention activities with both adults and children under the direct supervision of department faculty. Four 3-month rotations have emphasis in clinical health psychology, clinical neuropsychology, clinical child/pediatric psychology and primary care. The Master’s thesis is usually defended during the spring semester in front of a faculty committee. The student is also encouraged to develop interest areas which serve to satisfy the area of concentration requirement and electives for the doctorate. It is a particularly important year since the student is expected to take a more active role in structuring his/her own learning experiences, and to form a doctoral supervisory committee.
During the third year students continue with coursework, research, intensified development of the area of concentration, and the completion of the required practica. All students continue to conduct ongoing therapy under faculty supervision. Elective practica are taken as well. Opportunities exist for working with patients of various age groups in both inpatient and outpatient settings. In the third year, the student satisfies requirements for doctoral candidacy, including a faculty review, doctoral qualifying examination and successful defense of a dissertation proposal.
During the early part of the fourth year students make application for internship. Application deadlines are early November and December with a national selection date in February. The student consults with faculty, with the doctoral committee and the Program Director so that the most appropriate applications are made. The dissertation should be completed before leaving for internship. In this year the student rounds out his/her doctoral program through further specialized practica, seminars and research involvement, while making certain that all requirements are met prior to leaving for internship.
This year is the 12-month full-time clinical internship in an APA accredited program. This internship is required of all clinical psychologists and is the capstone of professional training in the doctoral program. The doctoral degree is awarded after successful completion of all program requirements.
Core required courses include study in the broad discipline of psychology, research and design, statistics, and courses in core clinical psychology including psychopathology, assessment and intervention. Selection of a number of elective courses is also required, e.g., marital therapy, family therapy, pediatric psychology, advanced psychotherapy.
First Year Research Project
Research training is initially provided via a project that must be completed and presented by the middle of the fourth semester of matriculation. During the first semester, the student selects a research mentor from among the core program faculty and develops a project that can be substantially completed within the year. This is then developed into a master’s thesis which is defended before a department committee in the Spring semester of the 2nd year. After completion, the student is required to continue to engage in research throughout the program. The doctoral supervisory committee is constituted no later than the end of the second year.
Core clinical practica are conducted under the supervision of program faculty. During core practica, students receive supervised assessment, consultation and intervention training with both children and adults having a wide variety of concerns ranging from problems of significant psychopathology to marital and family problems, and problems in coping with medical illnesses. After completion of the core practica, students are required to continue to obtain supervised intervention training throughout their tenure in the program, and may elect a number of available advanced practicum placements.
Admission to doctoral candidacy requires the approval of the student’s supervisory committee, the department chair, and the Dean of the Graduate School. Approval must be based on the (1) academic record of the student, (2) the supervisory committee opinion of the student’s overall potential for doctoral work, (3) an approved dissertation topic, and, (4) a qualifying exam, written and oral. The qualifying examination is conducted by the student’s doctoral supervisory committee.
Doctoral Committee and Dissertation
The dissertation is an independent and original research project which is conducted by the student with the approval and ongoing consultation of the doctoral committee. The dissertation must make an original contribution to existing psychological knowledge. The student formulates a question and a method for studying the question in collaboration with the committee. A formal proposal is then submitted to the committee. After approval the study is conducted, the data are analyzed, and the student submits a formal written dissertation to the committee and to the Graduate School for editing. The dissertation is then defended before the committee and other interested persons. The approved dissertation is then submitted to the Graduate School for acceptance prior to the deadline for graduation. The Department strongly encourages students to submit their dissertation research for publication.
A final program requirement is the satisfactory completion of an APA-accredited internship in clinical psychology. The Department continually updates information on available internship training centers from the sites themselves and from literature and handbooks furnished by the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers (APPIC). Students consult this information and discuss their internship choices with faculty, their committee, and the Program Director prior to making formal application.
Areas of Concentration
In addition to general clinical psychology training, students develop an area of concentration as part of their program of studies. The area of concentration can be very individualized. It may be within the department, or in another of the graduate school departments. Given faculty specialty areas and program resources, there are currently four formal areas of concentration available in the department:
- Clinical Child/Pediatric Psychology
- Clinical Health Psychology
- Neuropsychology, Neurorehabilitation, and Clinical Neuroscience
- Emotion Neuroscience and Psychopathology
Operations and Outcomes Data
The Doctoral Program in Clinical and Health Psychology is a member of the Council of University Directors of Clinical Psychology (CUDCP). The member programs of CUDCP support the provision of fuller disclosure about operations and outcomes of our educational endeavors. Data regarding admissions, internship placements, and graduation are collected and presented over a “rolling” three-year period. Operation and outcomes data are currently available and are updated regularly.