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Regardless of whether a student decides to pursue an academic career, a clinical career, or some combination of both, the practice of clinical psychology involves articulating current problems and issues, formulating creative solutions to those problems, and testing hypotheses by systematically gathering empirical evidence.
The clinical psychologist encounters diverse client populations and human problems. Implementation of effective services and programs requires an understanding of the complex array of biological, psychological, and socio-cultural factors affecting human behavior. Accordingly, the Virginia Consortium curriculum contains instruction in fundamental content areas of psychology.
In the Virginia Consortium, education and training in the delivery of psychological services progresses in a developmentally-graded sequence.
During the first two years of the curriculum, the coordinated sequence of clinical courses and practica are generic in content and variable in theoretical orientation. Students learn the major theoretical models, though no single theoretical model, intervention modality, or client population is pre-eminent in the basic education of students. Research training is accomplished by working closely with a research mentor and through coursework, completion of a second year project or master’s thesis, and the dissertation. Required research methods courses include analysis of variance, regression/correlational design, research fundamentals, and empirically-supported therapies. The dissertation, an empirical study, completes research training.
In the third and fourth years of the curriculum, students pursue more focused interests through elective courses, practica, and an empirical dissertation.
Clinical training is completed in a full-time internship during the fifth year of the Program. Those substantive areas include biological, social, cognitive and affective aspects of behavior, human development, psychological measurement, and individual differences and multiculturalism/diversity. Both ethics and the history and systems of psychology are taught in required courses.
The mission of the Virginia Consortium Program is to graduate clinical psychologists who are prepared to pursue clinical, research, and academic careers through the following aims:
Ethical and legal standards
Individual and cultural diversity
Professional values, attitudes, and behaviors
Communication and interpersonal skills
Consultation and interprofessional/interdisciplinary skills
In our APA-accredited program, we are committed to a training process that ensures that graduate students develop the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to work effectively with members of the public who embody intersecting demographics, attitudes, beliefs, and values. When graduate students’ attitudes, beliefs, or values create tensions that negatively impact the training process or their ability to effectively treat members of the public, the program faculty and supervisors are committed to a developmental training approach that is designed to support the acquisition of professional competence. We support graduate students in finding a belief- or value-congruent path that allows them to work in a professionally competent manner with all clients/patients.
For some trainees, integrating personal beliefs or values with professional competence in working with all clients/patients may require additional time and faculty support. Ultimately though, to complete our program successfully, all graduate students must be able to work with any client placed in their care in a beneficial and noninjurious manner. Professional competencies are determined by the profession for the benefit and protection of the public; consequently, students do not have the option to avoid working with particular client populations or refuse to develop professional competences because of conflicts with their attitudes, beliefs, or values.
Program policy statement was derived from work by the APA Board of Educational Affairs Working Group on Restrictions Affecting Diversity Training in Graduate Education (see Wise, Bieschke, Forrest, Cohen-Filipic, Hathaway, and Douce, 2015).