Clinical Graduate Training In Psychology

Clinical graduate training has undergone many changes during the past 50 years. The American Psychological Association (APA) responded to an increased need for psychological services after World War II by developing a model curriculum for the training of psychologists. In 1948, the APA granted accreditation to 35 doctoral programs. In 1949, the Boulder Conference promulgated a scientist-practitioner model for instruction. Although many institutions continue to adhere to this model, the 1973 Vail Conference proffered a scholar-practitioner approach that ultimately led to the granting of the Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) degree. This model emphasized practice-related skills with less focus on the production of research. U.S.-trained doctoral-level applied psychologists may have the Ph.D., Psy.D., or Ed.D., and all complete a 12-month applied internship as an integral component of their education. Many new graduates elect to complete postdoctoral training to specialize or enhance skills.

New Mexico became the first state to pass legislation that grants psychologists the authority to prescribe psy-chotropic medication. As psychopharmacology becomes an aspect of psychological expertise, the type of graduate training psychologists undergo may significantly change. It is possible that an increased emphasis on the biological aspects of behavior and psychopharmacology may occur.

This may lead some departments to require natural science prerequisites for admission. However, if training to prescribe is limited to postdoctoral education, there may be little change in the graduate curriculum. The course work heavily emphasizing psychopharmacology would, in that model, take place only within specialty training after completion of the graduate degree.

The APA guidelines for professional psychology programs (APA, 1996) focus on student competencies. This requires doctoral programs and internship centers to determine the skills they want their trainees to demonstrate and to develop evaluative methodologies.

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