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Clinical Psychology

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Message from the Program Director 

The 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 horizons.

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.

Thanks.


JosÚ Pons Madera, Ph.D.
Professor
Director of Psychology Programs
 


Accreditation Status
 

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


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