Clinical Psychology Program

About Us

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 coursework typically requires three years to complete.  However, it may take six or more years to complete all training in the program (e.g., clinical practicum, masters and dissertation research).

The Faculty 

The program has nine core clinical faculty in Clinical Psychology with graduate student admitting privileges:

    • Abramson
    • Ammerman (starting Fall 2024)
    • Curtin
    • Davidson
    • Howell (starting Fall 2024)
    • Gooding
    • Li
    • Pollak
    • Walsh

The clinical program has an additional six affiliated faculty from other areas in Psychology and other departments with graduate student admitting privileges:

    • Grupe (Center for Healthy Minds)
    • Koenigs (Department of Psychiatry)
    • Plante (Department of Psychiatry)
    • Rosenkranz (Department of Psychiatry, Center for Healthy Minds)

Dr. Linnea Burk  serves as one of the two Co-Directors of Clinical Training and is the Director of the Psychology Research and Training Clinic.  In these roles, she does not admit graduate students. Dr. Chris Gioia serves as the Assistant Director of the Psychology Research and Training Clinic and the Off-site Practicum Coordinator.  In these roles, he does not admit graduate students.

All of the Clinical training is overseen by the Directors of Clinical Training (Li and Burk), the Clinical Area Group Chair (Walsh), and the core/associated Clinical faculty.

Our Research

The interests of and methods utilized by the clinical faculty vary widely but all share the common goal of understanding the causes of psychopathology through the use of innovative, cutting-edge, and multidisciplinary methods. Our program also offers excellent clinical training and opportunities for students to integrate their applied clinical and research activities. 

Clinical Training

Students begin their clinical practicum in the Psychology Department Research and Training Clinic (PRTC) during the second semester of their second year in the context of their coursework: Introduction to Conducting Psychotherapy (807). 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 during their third year in the program, 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.