Program Philosophy, Objectives, and Training Model
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Program Philosophy, Objectives, and Training Model

Training Model

The University of Hartford PsyD Program identifies itself as a "Practitioner/Scholar" program, and is philosophically and pragmatically aligned with the model developed and articulated over the past 20 years by the National Council of Schools and Programs of Professional Psychology (NCSPP). The NCSPP model, its history and its implications have been summarized and presented by Peterson, Peterson, Abrams and Stricker (1997).

Program Goals and Objectives

The primary, overarching mission of this program is to prepare students for effective functioning in the multiple roles which we believe that doctoral level practicing psychologists will need to fill in these rapidly changing times. Our aim is to prepare competent, compassionate, and self-aware clinical psychologists who are skilled in the delivery of direct services, effective in consultation to human service agencies, knowledgeable about current empirical and theoretical developments, able to integrate scientific knowledge with clinical practice, capable of designing and critically evaluating clinical services, culturally competent and able to assume leadership positions in clinical settings.

Our training model places primary emphasis on preparing students as professionals in clinical and community settings, and in both the private and public sectors. Fostering competence in assessment of behavior, personality and intellectual functioning, and competence in intervention and consultation skills with a variety of clients and client systems ranging from the individual to couples, groups and families, and from a variety of theoretical perspectives, are areas of emphasis at the current time. The program is also designed to facilitate the process of professional socialization by integrating supervised clinical experience with ethical issues, professional concerns, and inter-personal relations.

Another goal of the PsyD program is to prepare students for life-long learning. One part of that goal involves the ability and inclination to ask meaningful questions that relate to the clinical work they do. Throughout, the practitioner training aspect of the program is informed by scholarly thinking and complemented by the development of the ability to evaluate critically the efficacy of one's clinical work, the impact of clinical programs on target populations, the validity of various assessment tools, and the contemporary clinical literature in general. The program includes didactic instruction and practical experience in applied research issues, and encourages students to consider themselves as "local clinical scientists" --practitioners who ".....engage the challenge of the human condition directly, starting with the needs of each client, and bringing the best available theoretical conceptions, useful available research, along with individual and collective professional experience to bear in studying and improving the functional condition of the client,” (Peterson et al. 1997, p. 376). The PsyD dissertation provides a capstone experience in the development of doctoral level competence in applied scholarship.

The program also attempts to foster self-awareness and use-of-self as a professional in its training and supervision. Increased awareness of self and the ability to use that awareness in work with clients are important aspects of both professional psychology and continued professional and personal growth. Students receive frequent feedback on their performance and are encouraged to utilize such feedback in a non-defensive and productive manner. The ability to accept and utilize feedback is critical to professional success and to further development beyond the program.

Community involvement is another value of the program. The program encourages an understanding and appreciation of the need for involvement in the community, particularly with underserved populations. To this end, the program is continuously exploring possible research and training relationships with programs and agencies serving the Hispanic, African American, Asian-American and other local ethnic communities and has developed a community-focused set of elective pre-practicum experiences for first year students. Students are also expected to maintain membership and active participation, together with faculty, in national and local professional organizations.

Affirmative Diversity: A related aspect of our program’s mission is a commitment to affirmative diversity, defined as upholding the fundamental value of human differences and the belief that positive acceptance of and respect for individual and cultural differences or diversity acts to enhance and increase the quality of both educational and interpersonal experience. Affirmative diversity is expanded to include differences based on race, ethnicity, gender, socio-economic status, religion, sexual orientation, age, physical challenge, and psychiatric and learning difficulties. In addition, we value equal access to opportunity and the prevention of marginality. In pursuit of affirmative diversity the program strives to:

  • Support and encourage a student body that is socially and politically aware, informed, and alerted to issues of social fairness and the value of positive acceptance of individual differences -- and committed to serving underserved populations within the community at large.
  • Support and encourage faculty members who share and model awareness of and commitment to these values.
  • Provide an overall enriching educative experience to both students and faculty in a culturally diverse environment which offers coursework and practicum experiences with a focus on the socio/cultural understanding of mental health issues and exposure to culturally diverse professional role models in clinical, supervisory, practitioner, and teaching role
  • Provide education and training that will result in basic competence in at least seven areas of diversity: gender, physical status, spirituality/religion, sexual orientation, race/ethnicity, class, and age. Competence in addressing these areas will also include an analysis and understanding of power and oppression.
  • Provide support for existing students from diverse backgrounds through academic, financial, emotional, social support, and networking and services.
  • Recognize the need for psychologists from diverse backgrounds as service providers, supervisors and teachers of Clinical Psychology, mentors, and role models particularly in light of the changing national demographics pertaining to people from diverse backgrounds.
  • Recognize the need for delivery of culturally competent professional mental health services.
  • Maintain policies and action plans fostering recruitment, support, and retention of students from diverse backgrounds.
  • Maintain policies fostering recruitment, support, and retention of faculty (core, affiliate and adjunct) from diverse backgrounds.

Learning Outcomes for the PsyD in Clinical Psychology

  • Students will achieve an understanding of the fundamental areas of psychology, including cognitive and affective aspects of behavior, social aspects of behavior, history and systems of psychology, and individual differences.
  • Students will achieve an understanding of the scientific, methodological, and statistical methods of psychological inquiry.
  • Students will achieve competence in the assessment of personality, psychopathology, and cognitive functioning.
  • Students will achieve competence in the delivery of psychological interventions.
  • Students will achieve an understanding of issues of diversity and individual differences and appreciate the importance of these issues in their clinical work.
  • Students will become familiar with the Ethical Principles for Psychologists (2002) and apply them competently in their professional work.
  • Students will acquire the ability to work with diverse professionals and diverse clients.
  • Students will develop beginning abilities to work at an organizational or systems level.
  • Students will develop the ability to utilize feedback in a productive manner.
  • Students will become members of professional societies that provide opportunities for continued learning.
  • Students will participate in educational opportunities beyond required classes.