Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology

Program Description

The doctoral program in Clinical Psychology at the University of Detroit Mercy follows the scientist-practitioner model of clinical training, which includes the integration of science and practice. Consistent with the model suggested at the National Conference on Scientist- Practitioner Education and Training (January, 1990), the program emphasizes the development of interlocking skills in scientific methodology and professional practice.

The program functions to train students to provide psychological services to the community based on sound ethical standards and on a thorough and current understanding of psychological principles as tested by research. Additionally, the program provides students with training in the development and execution of scientific research. Through a sequential, gradual, and cumulative set of training experiences, the program strives to provide broad and general preparation for the practice of Clinical Psychology.

In training, emphasis is placed on the inter-relationships among theory, research, and clinical practice.
Effective and ethical clinical practice is viewed as practice conducted based on a scientific base of knowledge, informed by research. Clinical practice and observation are seen as providing an important guide to scholarly inquiry and hypothesis generation. The curriculum is designed to give students simultaneous exposure to theory, research and practice. Opportunities are presented throughout the curriculum to allow students to participate in ongoing research projects, both theoretical and applied, as well as opportunities for substantive clinical contact.

The content of the courses and their sequence provides students with in-depth knowledge of psychology and its application to ethical clinical practice resting upon a broad-based theoretical perspective with significant emphasis on the psychoanalytic viewpoint, including both classical and contemporary approaches. This viewpoint provides a thorough understanding of the human person that includes both conscious and unconscious processes, personality and motivational factors, and relational dynamics, which then serves as a basis for psychotherapeutic interventions. There is a growing body of theoretical and empirical literature directed at the examination of various aspects of psychoanalytic theory, which has contributed to a better understanding of the DSM-IV Axis II personality disorders in particular, and to the development of more effective treatment models. An example of a meta-analysis of the effectiveness of psychodynamic therapy can be found in Shelder, J. (2010). The Efficacy of Psychodynamic Psychotherapy. American Psychologist, 63 (2), 98-109.

There is also a growing interest in both personality issues and unconscious processes in other areas of psychology, such as social, cognitive, and developmental psychology. The theoretical focus of the program provides a model for learning other theoretical perspectives in the field, as well as a foundation for applied learning. The curriculum is also designed to fulfill another essential goal: namely, that students be exposed to a variety of problems, populations, issues, and techniques of assessment and intervention. These serve as a basis for further development, professional growth, and innovation as students’ interests and the demands of their professional situations dictate.

It is expected that our graduates will make contributions to the local community and to the wider society
through their clinical work and through their scholarly contributions to the evolving body of scientific and
professional knowledge that serves as the basis of their practice. We hope to train professionals who are
committed to a lifetime of learning, pertaining both to professional issues and to major questions of human existence. Our graduates are employed in a variety of settings including independent practice, clinical and administrative positions in community mental health centers and social agencies, hospital practice, forensic work, research positions, and higher education. They also occupy positions of leadership in professional organizations and are involved in a broad range of professional activities.

The overall long-range goals of the program emanate from our training model and are directed toward the
training of professional clinical psychologists who demonstrate and practice:

1. professional competence and adaptability
2. ethical standards and sensitivity to social justice issues
3. scholarly contributions to the field of psychology
4. service to the community

The long-range goals of the program are operationally defined through the identification of their related
objectives and competencies. The successful completion of specific activities ensures that the goals of the
training model will be achieved by all students.

Program emphasis may be divided into course work, practice, research, and scholarship. The courses in the curriculum are designed by content and sequence to fulfill several goals. One goal is to acquire a firm foundation in psychology. A second goal is to acquire breadth and depth of knowledge in clinical skills. Clinical experiences are designed not only to afford opportunities to learn skills in clinical settings but also to integrate skills and the theories shaping and guiding those skills. Scholarship is demonstrated throughout course work in the form of examinations and student papers. In addition, students, within the context of a comprehensive examination, will be asked to demonstrate their ability to understand, integrate, and communicate their knowledge of psychology in general and clinical psychology in particular. The dissertation, which may be experimental or clinically empirical, is an opportunity to show how students can contribute new knowledge within the field.

We accept applications from students with either a baccalaureate or a master’s as a terminal degree, who have completed as a minimum the prerequisite courses (on either the undergraduate or graduate level) listed below:

a) One term: Statistics
b) One term: Theories of Personality
c) One term: Abnormal Psychology
d) One term: Developmental Psychology
e) Two laboratory courses, for example:

  • Physiological Psychology (strongly recommended)
  • Perception
  • Experimental Psychology (strongly recommended