Program Philosophy and Training Model

Doctoral education in professional psychology begins with a foundation of scientific knowledge and moves through a sequential and cumulative progression of training experiences that culminate in the development of specific competencies necessary for practice in school and clinical psychology. To assist you with acquiring these competencies, our program has been arranged to provide a developmentally sound combination of courses and training experiences. The coursework moves sequentially with each level building upon the knowledge and skill development from previous levels. Some courses are didactic in nature, drawing heavily on lectures and demonstrations; others are hands-on laboratory and clinical experiences. Together, they will provide you with the knowledge and skills you need to progress on to internship and ultimately entry-level practice as a psychologist.

The Psy.D. Program in Combined School and Clinical Psychology, housed in the Department of Doctoral Studies in Psychology, within Nathan Weiss Graduate College of Kean University is an American Psychology Association (APA) accredited program. This comprehensive graduate program has adopted a practitioner-scholar training model and has been designed to educate and train students to function as effective independent psychologists in a variety of roles across a wide range of settings, client types, and clinical and educational issues. Our overriding philosophy is that the education and training of professional psychologists is a developmental process. As such, we strive to sequentially and systematically teach students those core competencies required for effective practice, to think critically, to utilize empirical research to guide and inform practice, to make ethical and discriminating judgments and decisions, to appreciate and respect human diversity and to value learning and scholarship as a lifelong activity.

In our program, we conceptualize scientific inquiry as a systematic approach to generating, accumulating, and evaluating a body of empirical research, analyzing and understanding clinical situations, and as a methodology for the development of professional critical thinking. As such, scientific inquiry is seen as the foundation for systematic and empirically grounded (i.e. data-based) clinical decision-making.  Students develop the capacity to continually evaluate the evolving scientific and theoretical literature and thus inform professional practice in an empirical manner, think systematically and critically about case material, and generate original scholarly work that advances the profession of psychology.  Students are therefore encouraged to become outcome oriented, to continuously consider evolving data, to weigh systematic evidence from a variety of sources, and to seek empirical validation for their psychological assessments, consultations and interventions. In addition, these skills and abilities serve as the foundation for self-reflective lifelong learning and development as professional school and clinical psychologists. From the first semester of the program through the time students begin internship they are part of faculty-led research teams. Each core faculty has his or her own research team, which engages in systematic empirical study of relevant topics in the field of school and clinical psychology.

Necessary for the integration of theory, scientific inquiry and professional practice is the practicum sequence which is fully integrated into our curriculum plan, beginning in the first year of study with pre-practica experiences and sequentially continuing over the next three levels of our Program. The pre-practica experience begins during the fall, spring, and summer semesters of the first year with students gaining experience in the administration, scoring and interpretation of a variety of psychological and psychoeducational assessments at the Kean University Psychological Services (Training Clinic). The pre-practicum experience also includes closely supervised experiences conducting psychological and psychoeducational assessments of training clinic patients. The practicum sequence, including both external placements (externships) and an ongoing Training Clinic caseload, provides students with supervised clinical experiences that build upon their coursework to develop and refine professional competencies. The integration of health-care services between Kean University’s Psychology Training Clinic, Student Counseling Center, and Communication Disorders Center allows students to develop an appreciation of, and experience in, an integrated multidisciplinary health care delivery system. The practica also provide students with clinical material to enhance their critical thinking regarding the application of theory, research, ethics, and issues of human diversity presented in courses and seminars. Supervision provided during practica, including close faculty supervision of all Training Clinic activities, is a critical factor in the development of clinical skills, provides additional practitioner-scientist models, and begins the development of students’ own consultation and supervisory skills. In combination with on-site supervision, the program-based professional seminar allows the student to continue development of case conceptualization, ethical awareness, sensitivity to issues of diversity and professional communication skills. The capstone of our clinical training is the Internship, which is a one-year full time or two-year part time experience.

Program Goals

Mission:

The preparation of school and clinical psychologists capable of the ethical delivery of effective evidence-based assessment/diagnostic and therapeutic/intervention services across a variety of settings, in a variety of professional roles, and to diverse client populations in need of such services. 
 
Contained within this mission are specific goals to specific programmatic objectives:
 
Goal 1: To prepare practitioners of school and clinical psychology who can contribute to and apply the scientific body of knowledge that serves as the foundation of practice in school and clinical psychology. 
 
Goal 2: The preparation of practitioners of school and clinical psychology who demonstrate competency in evidenced based clinical skills essential for effective practice across settings and populations. 
 
Goal 3: The preparation of practitioners of school and clinical psychology who demonstrate understanding of and competency in the impact and importance of issues of cultural and individual diversity on professional settings. 
 
Goal 4: The preparation of practitioners of school and clinical psychology who demonstrate understanding of, and competency in, emerging and expanded roles for the professional psychologist in a wide range of multidisciplinary systems. 
 
Goal 5. The preparation of practitioners of school and clinical psychology to demonstrate professional standards and ethics, and to view the professional practice of school and clinical psychology as requiring life-long learning.