Clinical Psychology Program

The Clinical Psychology Doctoral Program at the University of Wisconsin rests on two fundamental assumptions: 1) The practice of psychology will be best served by training clinical scientists who possess the knowledge, research training, theoretical sophistication, and clinical experience to increase understanding of the processes underlying mental health and mental illness, and 2) Such understanding will ultimately foster methods that promote mental health, prevent mental illness, and ameliorate psychopathology. Consistent with our programs membership in the Academy of Psychological Clinical Science, our program’s emphasis on training clinical scientists highlights our strong “commitment to empirical approaches to evaluating the validity and utility of testable hypotheses and to advancing knowledge by the scientific method” (APCS mission statement).
The principal goal of the UW-Madison Clinical Program is to train clinical psychological scientists who will: 1) generate new and significant knowledge about the factors that influence mental health and illness, 2) develop more effective methods for treating mental illness and promoting mental health, and 3) deliver evidence based, cost effective, clinical care to treat psychopathology and improve mental health.

Our program uses a mentor model for research training; applicants are admitted to the program based in part on how closely their research interests are aligned with that of the current faculty. The close working relationship between the faculty mentor and the graduate student is one of the mechanisms integrating theory and research with applied training. Students’ coursework and clinical practicum experiences comprise the other mechanisms that foster the integration of science and practice. Virtually all clinical graduate students have received financial support while in residence in the graduate program.

Throughout the program clinical graduate students complete a sequence of core courses covering the etiology and treatment of psychopathology, the theory and application of clinical assessment, clinical research methods, statistics/methodology courses, as well as other coursework in nonclinical areas both in and outside of the department (see Degree Requirements). The required curriculum may take more than five years to complete.

Our clinical program is situated in a world-class Psychology Department that includes area groups in Biology of Brain and Behavior, Cognitive and Cognitive Neuroscience, Developmental, Perception, and Social and Personality. In addition, there is an Emotion Training Program within the Department that cuts across all other area groups and is supported by an NIMH training grant. Many clinical students and faculty are involved in various aspects of the Emotion Training Program. Many clinical students avail themselves of the extensive range of opportunities available through collaborations with other units on campus including: the Waisman Center, an interdisciplinary research institute for developmental research; the Institute on Aging; the Waisman Laboratory for Brain Imaging and Behavior; the Department of Psychiatry; and other Departments in the Medical School, College of Letters and Science, and the School of Education. These collaborations support our aim to train scholars who are well-versed in modern, interdisciplinary research in psychopathology.

The interests of and methods utilized by our faculty vary widely but all share the common goal of pursuing innovative, cutting edge analyses of major forms of psychopathology. Our program also offers excellent clinical training and opportunities for students to integrate their applied clinical and research activities. Over the course of the program, graduate students develop expertise in both the assessment and treatment of psychopathology.

Students begin their clinical practicum in the Psychology Department Research and Training Clinic (PRTC) during their third year in the program. Students are trained following a generalist model and gain clinical experience working with adults, adolescents, and children from diverse backgrounds and with varied diagnoses. Following the successful completion of a full clinical year in the PRTC, students typically apply to a clinical practicum at one of several local mental health agencies or hospitals. Practicum placements may include experiences in traditional outpatient therapy, partial hospitalization / day treatment, health psychology, primary care psychology, neuropsychological assessment, inpatient psychiatric services, substance use / dependence treatment, and other specialty areas. In addition to community practicum, most students continue to provide therapy and assessment services at the PRTC throughout the remainder of their graduate careers. Finally, all clinical students complete a one-year, full-time clinical experience at an approved internship facility. Historically our students obtain internships at top training centers around the country. However, it should be emphasized that this program is a “best fit” for the student who is deeply committed to research and scholarship and less appropriate for the student planning on a primarily practice-oriented career.

Core Clinical Faculty: Professors Abramson, Curtin, Davidson, Goldsmith, Gooding, Li, Pollak
Affiliated Faculty: Professors Hyde, Koenigs, Piper

All of the Clinical training is overseen by the Director of Clinical Training (John Curtin, Ph.D.), the Clinical Area Group Chair (Diane Gooding, Ph.D.) and the Core Clinical faculty.

Postdoctoral Program in Clinical Psychology

The Clinical Training Program at the University of Wisconsin has developed a special curriculum for training postdoctoral students in exceptional cases. The purpose of this training is to enable people already holding a doctoral degree in psychology to obtain advanced clinical training in order to enhance their program of research. Applicants to this program generally will be individuals who have demonstrated exceptional aptitude for research and whose research interests dovetail with those of one or more faculty members in the clinical area group. In contrast to many post-doctoral training programs in clinical psychology, this training is not intended for individuals wishing to “retool” for a primary career as a practicing psychologist. Potential applicants should secure a sponsor chosen from the clinical faculty.

Individuals admitted to the postdoctoral program will receive a certificate of training upon satisfactory completion of the program's requirements. Persons entering the program will differ, of course, in terms of their educational background, professional experience, and career goals; of necessity, program requirements will be individually determined on the basis of such factors. However, the following training curriculum represents the minimum three-year program (not counting the internship year) which would be taken by most of the postdoctoral trainees who have a Ph.D. in an area of psychology other than clinical. Postdoctoral trainees register as special students and are evaluated every semester.

The clinical training portion of the respecialization program is as follows:

- Four clinical core courses - Psychology 740, 741, 801, 806 (740 and 741 are taken four times each during the first two years) - one additional clinical seminar
- Clinical proseminar (Psychology 704) brown bag presentations of clinically relevant research

- Foundations of Psychotherapy & Psychological Assessment (preparation for seeing clients) taken in second semester of first year.
- Practicum (intakes, psychotherapy, assessments) begins first semester of second year and continues for four semesters. The first year of practicum is completed at the Psychology Research & Training Clinic within the Department of Psychology. Subsequent practicum may be completed at the PRTC and/or community locations.

- Extensive research on a clinical problem with one of our clinical faculty serving as mentor