Psy.D. Clinical Psychology Program (CPP) was
conceived and designed between 1997 and 1998 at a
time when Professional Psychology was increasingly
incorporating the biopsychosocial orientation.
Hence, the PsyD program incorporates this
orientation consistent with the perspectives that
has informed the discipline during the 21st century.
The American Psychological Association’s (APA)
Guidelines and Principles for accreditation and the
National Council of Schools of Professional
Psychology’s (NCSPP) competency training model
provided direction to the new curriculum leading to
its implementation in 1999. Systems-based thinking
and the newer approaches to Evidence-based Practice
were infused into the new program creating a broad
and unique Biopsychosocial/Systemic approach to
training in Clinical Psychology. In implementing the
new curriculum, courses in Neuroscience were created
in tandem with laboratory experiences similar to
those offered by the institution’s Liaison Committee
on Medical Education (LCME) accredited medical
program. Incorporating Standardized Patient (SP)
activities further enriched the clinical training
component of the program. Students began their
clinical training with Standardized Patients and
received individual supervision from program faculty
on their interviewing, diagnostic and intervention
skills. SP’s were incorporated at the formative
level in various courses including family and
individual therapy, health psychology and geriatric
psychology. These in-vivo teaching techniques
allowed students to see how experienced clinicians
conduct therapy sessions.
By the year 2000, the CPP became one of the first
programs in the nation to offer a required
Psychoneuroimmunology course to its students.
Likewise, the first cohort of students was offered
elective courses in Health Psychology,
Neuropsychological Assessment, Neurocognitive
rehabilitation, and Psycho Oncology. By the time the
first cohort of students reached their internship
year, they had learned and mastered numerous
contemporary evidence-based therapeutic modalities
and techniques including Cognitive Therapy and
Cognitive Behavior Therapy. The program’s emphasis
on systems thinking and interventions is reflected
through the sequence of courses that include Family
Therapy, Advanced Family Therapy and Narrative and
Post Modern Therapy.
This approach to Clinical Psychology earned the
program much respect from local and national
authorities including the accrediting bodies. Five
years after accepting its first class, APA granted
the program accreditation for three years. In 2007,
APA granted a full seven-year accreditation, thus
recognizing the program’s success in implementing
its Practitioner/Scholar model based upon the
Biopsychosocial/ Systemic approach.
The growth of the Ponce School of Medicine and
Health Sciences (PSM-HS) Psychology Program has
continued over the years. A Professional Certificate
in Family and Couples therapy was developed,
receiving its first class during the 2007-2008
academic year. Students from the CPP are now able to
complete a dual degree in Family and Couples
Therapy, expanding their professional and scholastic
The CPP was, until 2008, the only program in Puerto
Rico that provided its Clinical Psychology students
the opportunity to engage in neuroscience research.
Many of its students have engaged in the extensive
test normalization projects conducted by program’s
faculty during the past decade. Others have had an
active role in HIV–related psychosocial and Health
Psychology research projects. These research
opportunities, generated by faculty and students,
led to numerous publications and presentations
co-authored by students, adding to the strong
scientific tradition and prestige of our program.
Over the years, students interested in pursuing more
advanced training in scientific professional
psychology were attracted to the program. In
response to this demand and to the Program’s Vision,
Mission and Goals, a Ph.D. Clinical Psychology
curriculum was developed by 2006. The research
experience gained from the PsyD Program and the
research projects developed with PsyD students
served as the starting point for the new Ph.D.
program. In 2008, the Council on Higher Education of
Puerto Rico authorized the institution to offer the
Ph.D. Clinical Psychology Program. The new program
is enhancing the research-oriented culture of the
Psychology Programs, attracting external funds to
support scholastic activities and providing training
in the Scientist-Practitioner tradition of
Professional Psychology. The new program submitted
its APA accreditation self-study and received its
site visit on March 2013. A final decision is
expected by early September of 2013.
In 2001, a mental health clinic, the Center for
Psychological Services (CPS), was created in order
to support the training component of the program.
Since then, various clinical research and service
programs have been instituted in order to expand the
diversity of the clinical population available to
students for their training and learning. At the
clinic, program faculty supervises research projects
with persons presenting borderline personality
disorders and with relatives of patients with
psychotic disorders. Students may also learn about
the use of Primary Care Psychology models to address
the health needs of People Living with HIV/AIDS.
An APPIC-member pre-doctoral Internship program
operates at CPS. The internship recently won an APA
financial award to cover its APA accreditation
expenses. The internship accreditation self-study
will be submitted during the 2014 academic year.
The PsyD program is benefiting from the academic,
research and clinical endeavors created and operated
during the past fifteen years. Most importantly, the
student outcomes (presented in our Web Page) provide
evidence that the program’s theoretical approach and
clinical training systems have been successful.
We invite you to visit our web page and to evaluate
the program’s offerings and resources as well as the
faculty’s scientific and professional
qualifications. Feel free to contact us with any
question. Your concerns are important to us from the
pre-admissions phase, throughout your professional
formative years, and beyond.
JosÚ Pons Madera, Ph.D.
Director of Psychology Programs
The Clinical Psychology program of PSM was granted
re-accreditation by the American Psychological Association in the Spring of 2007.
Next visit will be on 2014. The program adheres to all quality standards of the Committee on Accreditation of the American Psychological Association as published in the Guidelines and Principles for Accreditation of Programs in Professional Psychology. Additional information about the program┤s accreditation status may be obtained from the Office of Program Consultation and Accreditation, American Psychological Association, 750 First Street, NE, Washington, DC 20002-4242. Phone: 202-336-5979 TDD/TTY: 202-336-6123. Fax: 202-336-5978