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Clinical Requirements

revised 05/06
I. Criteria for Satisfactory Progress

  1. Methodology: Every student in the Clinical Psychology Area Group is required to receive at least a B grade in each of the three required methodology courses. The courses permitted to satisfy the methodology requirement are 610 and two other courses selected from the Department's list of approved courses.

  2. Professional: The Clinical Psychology Area Group requires that students demonstrate that they comprehend and adhere to the principles of professional conduct as contained in the APA publications, General Guidelines for Providers of Psychological Services, the Ethical Principles of Psychologists, and the Casebook on Ethical Principles of Psychologists. These principles pertain to their conduct as students, teachers, therapists, and researchers. The student's adherence to these criteria will be determined at student progress reviews and on an ad hoc basis by clinical faculty and staff.

  3. Clinical Research Seminar/Symposium: All clinical psychology graduate students must take one credit of a clinical research seminar/symposium each semester for a minimum of six semesters. This requires registering for one credit of Psychology 704 per semester.

  4. Ph.D. Minor Agreement: The purpose of the minor is to add breadth to a Ph.D. major. The minor program must be approved by your major professor and area group chairperson at the time of certification for the preliminary examination (the form to obtain approval is available from the Psychology Graduate Admissions secretary, Rm. 410). Students can choose Option A or Option B.

    Option A: Requires a minimum of 10 credits in a single department/major field of study other than the student's major department. Selection of this option requires the approval of the minor department.

    Option B: Requires a minimum of 10 credits in one or more departments and can include course work in the major department. Within Psychology courses that count toward the minor requirement must be taken outside the student's major area group. Courses used to meet the Core Course Requirement and the Seminar/Elective Requirement may also be used toward fulfilling the minor requirement. Methodology courses beyond the three required may also count.

  5. Advising: A strong student-faculty mentor relationship is the cornerstone of our clinical program. However, the student may benefit from perspectives or information from other faculty as well. To promote such input the student must form and consult with a "clinical advising committee."

    The purpose of the advising committee is to assist students in (a) setting appropriate goals, (b) anticipating and successfully completing program requirements, (c) integrating research and clinical training experiences, (d) considering career options and other professional issues, and (e) evaluating their progress toward their professional goals. It is expected that the committees will address all of these issues during the advising sessions.

    All graduate students are expected to select a three-member advising committee that would include their major professor, a member of the Clinic staff (Michael Sweetnam or Lea Aschkenase), and a third member of their choosing. In addition, all committees must have at least one faculty member who is a core clinical faculty. (Core clinical faculty are clinical area group faculty members whose tenure home is the Department of Psychology.) Prior to the meeting, students are expected to prepare a 1-2 page document that summarizes their accomplishments for the past year and their goals for the coming year. In addition, students should provide committee members with an updated CV prior to each meeting.

    Students should request a meeting of their committee whenever they seek additional perspectives on their performance, goals, or other career or academic issues. At the very least, students must convene a meeting of their advising committee prior to the first semester of their fourth year in residence in the graduate training program.
  • Other: Requirements for the first year project, grades, course work and program and research are the same as those listed in the Guidelines: Graduate Program in Psychology.

    II. Other Requirements
    (Source: Clinical Area Group)

    1. Core Courses. The clinical core courses comprise Psychology 740 (Psychopathology I: Assessment, etiology and treatment), 741 (Psychopathology II: Assessment, etiology and treatment), 801 (Introduction to Clinical Assessment), and 806 (Principles of Psychotherapy Research). Psychology 740 and 741 are repeatable courses and each should be taken four times. Psychology 801 and 806 are each to be taken only once. In addition to taking a total of ten clinical core courses, students are to take two nonclinical core courses (those are courses offered by members of nonclinical area groups). The timeframe for completing core courses is as follows: (1) Students must complete two core courses by the end of their first year, and, (2) students must have completed all clinical core courses by the end of their second year. Students must complete the two nonclinical core courses prior to their certification. The grade requirement for core courses is stated in the Guidelines.

    2. Psychology (Practicum): Clinical psychology graduate students are required to complete a minimum of 400 hours of practicum experience, of which at least 150 hours are in direct service experience and at least 75 hours are in formally scheduled supervision. Clinical students taking a full practicum load should register for three credits of Psychology 805 each semester. Clinical students' first practicum experience is a "pre-practicum" that is taken during the second semester of their second year. Clinical students are required to complete an eight-week clerkship experience that generally is taken during the summer between the third and fourth year of graduate work. It has been the policy of the Clinical Area Group to use funds from the Dr. Ramona Messerschmidt Scholarship Fund in Clinical Psychology to provide students with a $3,000 stipend during this summer. With the consent of their advisors, students may supplement this award amount through other employment.

      In order to complete the practicum requirement satisfactorily, students must be judged by clinical faculty and staff to have met standards of clinical competence.

      The Clinical Area Group has enacted the following policy concerning elective practicum: After six semesters of practicum, students who have not prepared a satisfactory dissertation proposal will not register for additional elective practicum until they have met this requirement. Typically, students will have taken six semesters of practicum after their fifth year of graduate study.

      Exceptions: A partial exception will be made for any student who, at the time the rule is invoked for the student, is carrying a client or group that, in the opinion of the student, the therapy supervisor, and the Clinic Director, ought not to be terminated. In such cases, the student may register for one credit of practicum in order to complete the therapy of that client or group. The student may not, however, take additional cases until s/he has met the research requirements. The Clinical Area Group will consider on a case-by-case basis granting exceptions for those students who have been delayed in completing the above research requirements because of an unusually large involvement in research other than that of the thesis or dissertation.

    3. Clerkship: Each student will complete a 160-hour clerkship in the summer between the third and fourth year of graduate school. The clerkship experience will occur at a preapproved clinical site other than the Psychology Research and Training Clinic and is designed to expose students to diverse clinical populations and the practice of clinical psychology in an applied setting. Students will be evaluated by a designated supervisor at the clerkship site.

    4. Seminars: Clinical graduate students are required to take one seminar/elective course.

    5. Assessment Course: All clinical students must take Psychology 910, Psychometric Methods. This course may count toward satisfaction of the seminar/elective requirement.

    6. Distribution Requirement: Each student in clinical psychology shall take at least one graduate level course in each of the following four areas:
      --biological bases of behavior (e.g., physiological psychology, comparative psychology, neuropsychology, sensation, psychopharmacology);
      --cognitive-affective bases of behavior (e.g., learning, memory, perception, cognition, thinking, motivation, emotion);
      --social bases of behavior (e.g., social psychology; cultural, ethnic, and group processes; sex roles; organizational and systems theory); and
      --individual behavior (e.g., personality theory, human development, individual differences, abnormal psychology).

      The Clinical Area Group will pass on whether or not a given set of courses satisfies the requirement. To avoid possible disappointment, the students should forward the proposed list of courses to the Area Group in advance of taking them.

    7. Preliminary Examination:

      1. General Preliminary Examination.

      1. Goals. The Preliminary Exam is intended to assess more than simple knowledge of a body of theory and empirical results. It is an opportunity for students to demonstrate their scientific identity. The best answers will contain elements of synthetic thought, derivation of predictions, novel links between bodies of knowledge, proposal of critical tests, etc. It is difficult to assign a comprehensive set of readings that adequately prepares a student for such an exam. However, demonstrating knowledge of theory and empirical results in clinical psychology is still one goal of the Preliminary Exam. The Clinical Area Group recommends that at minimum, clinical graduate students regularly read articles from the following sources in order to prepare for the general preliminary examination: (a) assigned materials from the most recent offering of each core course, which are collated in the attached list for the convenience of both exam-takers and exam-graders; (b) contemporary literature (defined roughly as the past three years) in principal clinical journals, such as the Journal of Abnormal Psychology, Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, and Archives of General Psychiatry, as well as clinically relevant papers in other top-tier journals. Many advances in clinical psychology come from influences from disciplines beyond psychology, and some of these influences are covered in the core courses. Students should be familiar with important "outside" influences on their particular fields of studies. It is vital to note, however, that the preliminary exam assesses more than just breadth and depth of knowledge. Students must demonstrate that they can synthesize such knowledge, evaluate it critically, use it to develop novel hypotheses, experiments, or insights, and can marshal such knowledge effectively to argue or advance a point-of-view.

      2. Format. The general preliminary examination will consist of three, take home questions. Students will have two days to answer each question. The questions will not be available until 10:00 a.m. of each two-day period. The three, two-day periods will occur within consecutive weeks (e.g., Monday-Tuesday, Thursday-Friday, Monday-Tuesday). In each two-day period, students select one of the two or more questions provided and answers are limited to 3,000 words (i.e., 10-12 double spaced pages) per question. Answers are due by 5:00 p.m. of the second day. With regard to question topics, they will not be limited to any particular content domain (e.g., graduate core courses) and may relate to any topic relevant to clinical psychology. To assist students in preparing for the exam, the clinical area group will devote a brownbag meeting each spring semester to discussing faculty and student ideas about what constitutes good questions and answers.

      3. Time frame: Clinical Clinical students must take the general preliminary examination prior to the start of the Fall Semester of their fourth year in residency.

      4. Outcome. Consistent with our goals for the exam, the general preliminary examination will be evaluated according to several criteria, including quality of writing, breadth of knowledge, and level of creativity. Quality of writing includes such factors as approach to the problem (e.g., Did the student understand the question and address his or her answer to the pertinent issues?), logic and organization of the answer (e.g., Did the student state his/her position clearly and develop an orderly and persuasive defense of his/her position?), and general readability of the answer. In assessing breadth of knowledge, attention will be paid to the accuracy and specificity of the information provided, the depth of understanding demonstrated, and the student's overall perspective on the question. Creativity is difficult to define but involves the ability to work with ideas in a manner that yields new insights, perspectives, concepts, or theories. Examples of this ability may be manifest in thoughtful critique, identification of critical issues, suggestions for new approaches to old problems, and research strategies for furthering knowledge.

        If a student fails the major preliminary examination, the student may retake it only if the student's major professor and the clinical psychology area group grant permission to take the examination a second time. If a student fails the preliminary examination a second time, permission for a third and final attempt must be based on unusual circumstances and must be approved by the major professor, the major area group, and the department. Having failed the examination, if a student does not obtain permission to attempt the preliminary examination a second or third time, the student will be dropped from the graduate program at the end of the semester in which the examination is failed.

      5. Feedback: Faculty will discuss all answers to every exam question in a meeting of the clinical psychology area group. Whenever possible, an attempt will be made to provide students with "pass/fail" feedback within three weeks of the exam. Although the major professor will take the primary responsibility for providing his or her student with detailed, constructive feedback, a student may wish to seek additional feedback from any or all other members of the area group.

      2. Specialty Preliminary Examination.The general preliminary examination assesses broad-based knowledge of major issues in the field. The specialized component assesses expertise within a subspecialty area via one of two methods

      1. Short answer option: First, a student may compile a list of readings in consultation with his/her major professor. The reading list will be used as the basis of a four-hour exam (three hours of testing) constructed and evaluated by the specialty preliminary examination committee on an ad hoc basis. This exam must be taken within a two-week period just prior to the spring semester of the student's fourth year or during the two-week period just prior to the fall semester of the student's fifth year. This time frame may be adjusted if a student must retake the general preliminary examination. Evaluation of the specialty preliminary examination will be performed by the same three-person committee (comprising at least two clinical area group members) responsible for the preparation of the specialty preliminary examination. The student should choose members of this committee in consultation with his or her major professor. Consequences for failing to pass the specialty preliminary examination are the same as those for failure to pass the general examination.
      Instead of the short answer option, the student may choose to pursue the review paper option.

      1. Review Paper Option. If this option is selected by the student, the student would have sole responsibility for outlining, conceptualizing, and writing the review paper. Discussions with faculty on broadly related topics would be permitted but faculty would do no writing and provide no feedback to the student during its completion. The student should write the paper on his or her own, and no faculty member would read or comment on the content of the paper prior to its submission to the faculty for evaluation. While the student must write the paper on his or her own, the student must have the paper topic approved by his or her specialty preliminary examination committee prior to undertaking the paper. The composition of the committee is the same as for the short answer option and members will be selected in the same manner. In the interest of time, the topic approval process can be conducted by email and does not require a face-to-face meeting. Typically, the student must hand-in the paper at the end of the first (Autumn) semester of their fourth year in the program; i.e., at the end of the first semester after they have taken their general preliminary examination. If a student has to retake the general prelim, or must rewrite selected questions, he or she would have to complete the specialty paper during the semester that follows his or her successful completion of the general prelim. The student would turn-in the paper on the last day of classes of the semester in which he or she takes the prelim. While there are no set length limits for the review paper, the Clinical Area Group strongly encourages students to prepare a paper that is between 32 – 38 pages (APA style). No limits are placed on the number of references, references pages, figures or tables. Papers that are unnecessarily long and discursive will be marked down.

        At this point the committee may: approve the paper, approve the paper with minor revision, postpone a decision, or reject the paper. The option of postponing the decision permits the committee to ensure that a student performs additional work on a basically acceptable manuscript prior to formal acceptance of a revision by the end of the fall semester of the student's fifth year. Upon submission of a revised paper, the committee may: approve the paper, approve the paper with minor revisions, or reject the paper. If the resubmitted paper is rejected, the student has failed in two attempts to pass his/her specialized preliminary examination; consequences will be the same as for two failures to pass the regular specialized preliminary examination.

      2. Consequences for not taking the preliminary examination by targeted date. Should a student fail to take a preliminary examination by the deadlines listed above the student will be judged to have failed the preliminary examination and the consequences for failure will be the same as those for failure based upon poor performance. Only rare exceptions to this policy will be made and those exceptions will be based upon extraordinary circumstances: e.g., grave, documented illness

    8. Internship: A one-year internship is required of all Clinical area students.

    9. Transfer: Students within the University of Wisconsin Psychology Department transferring from a non-clinical to a clinical major must have exhibited good research progress and have at least an AB average in the six clinical core courses. . Moreover, such students must have identified a Clinical Area Group member who wishes to sponsor them as their supervisee.

    10. Dissertation Guidelines: In general, there are no limitations on the sorts of research topics, research designs, or analytic strategies that may be used in dissertation research. Dissertation research, however, does require that students collect their own research data, either from subjects or from archival records. Publications such as scholarly journals are not considered archival data bases for the purpose of dissertation data generation. A review of data from journal articles may be used in literature reviews or meta-analyses and may often be valuable and may be publishable in their own right but serve, for dissertation purpose, primarily for the preparation of a dissertation introduction. The dissertation demands the collection of data beyond that gathered, analyzed and presented by previous researchers.

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