Training Model and Goals

The program adheres to the scientist-practitioner model of training. In this model, science and practice are truly integrated rather than simply parallel processes.

Consistent with the definition of Health Service Psychology (HSP) in the American Psychological Association Standards of Accreditation, we seek to prepare students for careers in HSP by offering clinical training where such training emphasizes:

  • The integration of theory, science, and practice;
  • A training approach that is sequential, cumulative, and graded in complexity;
  • Preparation of socially responsible professionals who demonstrate respect for individual and cultural differences in their contributions to the science and practice of psychology;
  • Eligibility for licensure as a doctoral level psychologist;
  • Preparation of clinical psychologists who have the appropriate theoretical background skills, and experience to function as professionals in a research, academic, and/or clinical capacity.

Specifically, the five general aims of the University of South Dakota clinical psychology Ph.D. program are to produce Ph.D.s in clinical psychology who:

  1. have a broad knowledge of scientific psychology;
  2. have knowledge of and adhere to the ethical standards of the profession, and who demonstrate appropriate professional conduct;
  3. are sensitive to cultural and individual differences and who demonstrate flexibility and social responsibility in the application of psychological principles and techniques to a wide variety of populations and across a range of settings;
  4. have specialized knowledge and experiences with (a) assessment, (b) clinical intervention, (c) supervision, and (d) consultation; and
  5. effectively communicate their knowledge of psychology within and outside of the discipline, and understands the role of the psychologist as advocate for socially responsible policy.

For a complete listing of the objectives and competences associated with each of these goals, as well as related outcome measures and evaluation benchmarks, please refer to Appendix A of the Graduate Handbook.

Clinical and Research Training

The clinical program offers a broad exposure to a range of clinical and research training experiences involving a variety of settings and populations.

We incorporate an evidence-based approach to our clinical training. The theoretical orientation of the majority of clinical faculty and practicum supervisors is cognitive-behavioral. Other theoretical orientations represented among our supervisors include behavioral, developmental/systems and psychodynamic (such as interpersonal; object relations).

Our clinical faculty maintain active research programs involving laboratory-based research, survey studies and/or community-based, field research. You are exposed to a diversity of research methodologies, including traditional quantitative methods as well as community based participatory research, qualitative methods and program evaluation. You have the opportunity to work under the mentorship of clinical faculty whose research interests include the following:

  • Rural community psychology
  • Cross-cultural/individual differences, with a particular focus on Native American mental health
  • Disaster mental health and psychological first aid
  • Trauma
  • Ethics
  • Substance abuse
  • Mindfulness-based treatments 

Typical Sequence of Courses