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Training Goals

Our approach to training is grounded in Bronfenbrenner’s (1989, pg. 188) ecological systems theory, which holds that “[t]he ecology of human development is the scientific study of the progressive, mutual accommodation, throughout the life course, between an active, growing human being, and the changing properties of the immediate settings in which the developing person lives, as this process is affected by the relations between these settings, and by the larger contexts in which the settings are embedded.” The primary aim of our training is to prepare health service psychologists who are sensitive to the complex interplay of biological, cultural, economic, social, and psychological influences that contribute to child development and health outcomes. The educational philosophy that serves as the foundation of this training specifies that the development of profession-wide competencies must be met through student exposure to and engagement with multiple disciplines, research methodologies, and practice contexts.  

The development of profession-wide competencies is achieved through a broad curriculum of coursework, training and practicum experiences, and research activities. Practicum experiences reflect a graduated progression through increasingly integrated and independent experiences that allow for the integration of academic knowledge and practical experience. The practicum experiences during the first and second years of training are specifically coupled with academic courses in psychological and behavioral assessment, behavioral and cognitive behavioral interventions, and other evidence-based treatments. Practicum experiences during the third and fourth years are uncoupled from specific academic courses, as students move from acquiring specific clinical skills to integrating those skills to provide a full range of health services in schools, hospitals, and community settings.

Students develop a strong foundational base in discipline-specific knowledge, including history and systems of psychology; biological, social, cognitive, developmental, and affective aspects of behavior; and quantitative and qualitative research methods. The profession-wide competencies for which we prepare students to enter the field are outlined below. 

(i) Research

  • Demonstrate the substantially independent ability to formulate research or other scholarly activities (e.g., critical literature reviews, dissertation, efficacy studies, clinical case studies, theoretical papers, program evaluation projects, program development projects) that are of sufficient quality and rigor to have the potential to contribute to the scientific, psychological, or professional knowledge base. 
  • Conduct research or other scholarly activities.
  • Critically evaluate and disseminate research or other scholarly activity via professional publication and presentation at the local (including the host institution), regional, or national level.
  • Demonstrate skills in applying research within professional practice.

(ii) Ethical and legal standards

  • Be knowledgeable of and act in accordance with each of the following:
  • Recognize ethical dilemmas as they arise and apply ethical decision-making processes in order to resolve the dilemmas.
  • Conduct self in an ethical manner in all professional activities.
  • Be knowledgeable of and act in accordance with the United Nations (1989) Convention on the Rights of the Child and its intersection with APA Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct; relevant laws, regulations, rules, and policies governing health service psychology; and relevant professional standards and guidelines.
  • Advocate for child rights in partnership with key stakeholders (parents, teachers, schools, communities, policymakers).

(iii) Individual and cultural diversity

  • An understanding of how their own personal/cultural history, attitudes, and biases may affect how they understand and interact with people different from themselves.
  • Knowledge of the current theoretical and empirical knowledge base as it relates to addressing diversity in all professional activities, including practice, research, training, and service. 
  • The ability to integrate awareness and knowledge of individual and cultural differences in the conduct of professional roles (e.g., practice, research, training, service, and other professional activities).
  • This includes the ability to apply a framework for working effectively with areas of individual and cultural diversity not previously encountered over the course of their careers. Also included is the ability to work effectively with individuals whose group membership, demographic characteristics, or worldviews create conflict with their own.
    The requisite knowledge base, ability to articulate an approach to working effectively with diverse individuals and groups, and ability to apply this approach effectively in their professional work.

(iv) Professional values, attitudes, and behaviors

  • Behave in ways that reflect the values and attitudes of psychology, including integrity, deportment, professional identity, accountability, lifelong learning, and concern for the welfare of others.
  • Engage in self-reflection regarding one’s personal and professional functioning; engage in activities to maintain and improve performance, well-being, and professional effectiveness.
  • Actively seek and demonstrate openness and responsiveness to feedback and supervision.
  • Respond professionally in increasingly complex situations with a greater degree of independence as they progress across levels of training.

In addition to the professional values, attitudes, and behaviors endorsed by APA, our Program has developed five additional elements associated with this competency.

  • Demonstrate respect for each other through our words, actions, and non-verbal communication to promote individual well-being.
  • Utilize effective communication characterized by openness, transparency, and humility.
  • Commit to lifelong learning and continuously use self-reflection to acknowledge our own limitations and seek consultation and opportunities for personal/professional growth when needed. 
  • Utilize cultural humility when interacting with each other, community partners, and research participants. We do not endorse or practice tone-policing, body-shaming, gaslighting, anti-Blackness, anti-immigrant, anti-LGBTQIA++, or respectability politics within our research endeavors, clinical practice, mentor-mentee relationships, or supervisor-supervisee relationships. We acknowledge the changing face of the profession of health service psychology and the communities we serve. 
  • Strive for excellence in our clinical, research, and academic endeavors. We utilize evidence-based techniques, seek consultation from community partners, and use our work to promote social justice rather than personal prestige. 

(v) Communications and interpersonal skills

  • Develop and maintain effective relationships with a wide range of individuals, including colleagues, communities, organizations, supervisors, supervisees, and those receiving professional services.
  • Produce and comprehend oral, nonverbal, and written communications that are informative and well-integrated; demonstrate a thorough grasp of language and concepts relevant to health service psychology.
  • Demonstrate effective interpersonal skills and the ability to manage difficult communication well.

(vi) Assessment

  • Demonstrate current knowledge of diagnostic classification systems, functional and dysfunctional behaviors, including consideration of client strengths and psychopathology.
  • Demonstrate understanding of human behavior within its context (e.g., family, social, societal and cultural). 
  • Demonstrate the ability to apply the knowledge of functional and dysfunctional behaviors including context to the assessment and/or diagnostic process.
  • Select and apply assessment methods that draw from the best available empirical literature and that reflect the science of measurement and psychometrics; collect relevant data using multiple sources and methods appropriate to the identified goals and questions of the assessment as well as relevant diversity characteristics of the service recipient.
  • Interpret assessment results, following current research and health service psychological standards and guidelines, to inform case conceptualization, classification, and recommendations, while guarding against decision-making biases, distinguishing the aspects of assessment that are subjective from those that are objective.
  • Communicate orally and in written documents the findings and implications of the assessment in an accurate and effective manner sensitive to a range of audiences.

(vii) Intervention

  • Establish and maintain effective relationships with the recipients of psychological services.
  • Develop evidence-based intervention plans specific to the service delivery goals.
  • Implement interventions informed by the current scientific literature, assessment findings, diversity characteristics, and contextual variables.
  • Demonstrate the ability to apply the relevant research literature to clinical decision making.
  • Modify and adapt evidence-based approaches effectively when a clear evidence-base is lacking.
  • Evaluate intervention effectiveness and adapt intervention goals and methods consistent with best-practice progress monitoring.
  • Competently select, apply, and interpret assessment tools, including implementation fidelity monitoring, progress monitoring, and outcome assessment, to facilitate the design and evaluation of interventions.

(viii) Supervision

  • Demonstrate knowledge of supervision models and practices.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of how the supervisory process is influenced by the culture, context, and developmental level of the supervisee.

(ix) Consultation

  • Demonstrate knowledge and respect for the roles and perspectives of other professions.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of consultation models and practices.
  • Provide consultation services that are ecologically and culturally sensitive.
  • Relate effectively and meaningfully with others to carry out diverse health service psychological activities, including assessment, intervention, and research.