Major Areas of Study

In addition to general clinical psychology training, students develop a major area of study as part of their program of studies. The major area of study 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 major areas of study available in the department:

  • Clinical Child/Pediatric Psychology
  • Clinical Health Psychology
  • Neuropsychology, Neurorehabilitation, and Clinical Neuroscience
  • Emotion Neuroscience and Psychopathology

Clinical Child/Pediatric Psychology

Area Head – Dr. David Janicke:

The clinical child/pediatric psychology major area of study is designed for students who have strong clinical and/or research interests in working with children and adolescents. In addition to the child-related courses taken by all clinical psychology students, those choosing this area take a range of other courses designed to help them develop a greater degree of expertise in working with child populations and within child service networks. This experience includes didactic coursework in the area of developmental psychology, specialized child treatment methods, and advanced practicum experiences in the child area. Electives such as independent research in clinical child/pediatric psychology and seminars in pediatric psychology, advanced child psychotherapy, and advanced developmental psychology are offered to provide more in depth knowledge related to specific issues or techniques. A variety of advanced practica experiences are available. Examples include, working with special child populations (such as children with cystic fibrosis, inflammatory bowel disease, craniofacial anomalies, or HIV/AIDS) within various interdisciplinary clinic settings,  participating in an inpatient consultation service, evaluating youngsters suspected of ADHD, or working in our behavioral pediatrics clinic addressing issues related to feeding aversion, elimination disorders and pain management. Affiliations of faculty are sufficiently flexible to allow for placements to suit the student’s interests or training needs. It is expected that students completing this specialization will develop an appreciation of the research literature in the clinical child or pediatric area and will possess specialty skills that enable them to function as competent practitioners in the child area upon graduation.

Clinical Health Psychology

Area Head – Dr. Glenn Ashkanazi:

The goal of concentrated study in clinical health psychology is to provide the student with an understanding of the relationships among psychosocial factors, physical illness, and health. This goal is accomplished through an integrated program of coursework, research training, and clinical experience. Didactic instruction is offered through the department as well as through other academic units of the Health Science Center and the University. Students typically enroll in a 2 semester core seminar in health psychology/medical psychology and select from other appropriate courses. Students have access to diverse clinical populations throughout the Health Science Center. Current areas of research include: chronic pain, smoking cessation, treatment of obesity, psychosocial oncology, and psychological evaluations for organ transplantation and donation (e.g., heart, liver, bone marrow, etc.). Clinical experience is obtained through an advanced practicum in which students work with inpatient and outpatient medical populations. Students are trained in inpatient consultation/liaison and outpatient assessment and treatment. Training in health psychology/medical psychology is also supplemented by a series of conferences, rounds, seminars, workshops, and colloquia. At the end of training students are expected to be able to function independently in health care settings, to interact effectively with a variety of health professionals in solving clinical problems and to conduct research which contributes to the understanding of psychological aspects of illness and health.

Neuropsychology, Neurorehabilitation, and Clinical Neuroscience

Area Head – Dr. Catherine Price:

The NNCN major area of study provides the student an opportunity to develop skills in neurobehavioral research and clinical assessment of higher cortical function and dysfunction in children and adults. Advanced graduate students select from a variety of courses in neuropsychological assessment of adults and children, human higher brain function, neuroanatomy, physiological psychology, cognitive psychology, forensic neuropsychology, subcortical functions, and seminars on selected advanced topics. In the required practicum, the student obtains advanced clinical experience in the assessment and rehabilitation of higher cortical dysfunction. Rehabilitation experiences are available during the latter part of the student’s training once a firm grounding in neuropsychology and treatment concepts has been achieved. These practica are conducted in the Psychology Clinic or in collaboration with affiliate faculty in neurology, speech pathology, or VAMC psychology.

The student specializing in neuropsychology can also choose from an extensive network of seminars and meetings including weekly Neuropsychology Brown Bag Seminars, Neurology Grand Rounds, the weekly neuropathology conference, weekly pediatric neuroncology conference or regular meetings of the Center for Neurobiological Sciences. Students in neuropsychology become affiliate members of the Center for Neuropsychological Studies, a University center comprised of faculty from the departments of Clinical and Health Psychology, Neurology, Neuroscience, Psychiatry, Neurosurgery, and other disciplines whose main purpose is to further the study of brain-behavior relationships at the laboratory and clinical level. Through this vehicle students gain interdisciplinary exposure to problems, concepts, and techniques in neuropsychology and behavioral neurology.

Students concentrating in neuropsychology are expected upon graduation to be skilled in the clinical assessment and treatment of brain disorders, and to be capable of asking empirically testable research questions of relevance to brain function and dysfunction.  Area faculty have active research programs in the neuropsychology of emotion, neuropsychology of epilepsy, memory and aging, language and functional MR imaging, working memory in psychopathology, attention and memory disorders in pediatric brain tumors, LD, ADHD, and minor head trauma. In addition, students in this area of concentration conduct research studies related to such neuropathological conditions as dementia, Parkinson’s Disease, head trauma, intractable seizures, HIV-related CNS changes, neurodevelopmental disorders, stroke, metabolic disease, neurological effects of cancer treatment and language disorders arising from brain disease. Research and clinical study in a rehabilitative setting (Shands Rehabilitation Hospital; Veterans’ Administration) is also available.

Emotion Neuroscience and Psychopathology

Area Head – Dr. Peter Lang:

The ENP major area of study will provide the student with training in two related areas: 1) The basic science of emotion, as affects are expressed in language, overt action and physiology, with emphasis on the investigation of mediating neural structures and circuits in the human brain. This involves in-depth training in the major current research technologies, including methods in cognitive/computer science, psychophysiology, and brain imaging. 2) Applications of emotion science in experimental psychopathology, clinical evaluation, and treatment, with a current emphasis on the anxiety disorders. The plan of study includes didactic training in adult psychopathology, practicum training in assessment and differential diagnosis (using interview, test, and psychophysiological tools) and in cognitive and behavioral methods of treatment. A goal of this area is to train first-class researchers in experimental psychopathology who have a strong clinical skills foundation and a high level of technological expertise.

Beginning in 2003, we are also admitting students with a specific interest in delivering psychological services to underserved populations, and are offering didactic, research, and clinical training in Rural Behavioral Health. Although not yet a formal area of concentration, students can get substantial exposure to underserved populations within an interdisciplinary framework.