Training

The clinical faculty is concerned that students learn very early in the program that adequate interventions are dependent upon a thorough grounding in assessment and case-conceptualization. Accordingly, during their first year, students are required to take a course in beginning interviewing skills, along with a sequence of two semesters of more formal assessment, including intelligence testing and an assessment course stressing use of a variety of objective tests and beginning report-writing skills. A third course taken in the second year covers projective testing and more advanced integration of test results and report-writing. These courses, in conjunction with practicum work, allow for a melding of skills in assessment and clinical intervention, prior to direct clinical therapeutic contact. Students then progress into intervention and clinical practice, having received a thorough basis in clinical assessment, psychopathology, and preliminary micro-counseling skills.

Please see the Clinical Program's policy regarding expectations about student disclosure in classes.

Students obtain the bulk of their clinical training at the Clinical Psychology Center (CPC). At the beginning of their second year, students become part of a Clinical Team (CT) at the CPC. These teams are comprised of clinical graduate students of various year levels and a faculty supervisor. As students progress through the program, they assume increasing responsibility for the care of the clients they see while continuing to receive both individual and group supervision. As the CT serves as one of the primary settings for the integration of science and practice, students on the team are encouraged to develop clear case conceptualizations which lead to the application of a clearly delineated treatment plan. In addition, CT supervisors encourage the active utilization of knowledge developed through academic course work and research in understanding and assisting their clients. Finally, the CT serves as an additional forum for the discussion of ethical standards and current professional issues. The field of mental health care continues to change at a rapid pace and we believe that students should remain abreast of these issues so as to be better prepared for employment in academic, medical, or private practice settings.

Our training includes instruction and educational experience in working with diverse human backgrounds, lifestyles, and experiences. We are also training our students to be able to adapt to and contribute to a rapidly changing service-delivery environment in mental health and human service arenas. We want our students to be prepared to apply their training in psychological science to the planning and implementation of service-delivery programs, administration, and evaluation of programs, and to work comfortably and effectively within larger mental health, planning, and governmental systems. Our students should be able to evaluate and guide as well as plan programs and serve as agents of larger institutional change.

We attempt to provide students with exposure to as many faculty members as possible; students take practica from a variety of supervisors, mainly from within the program and sometimes drawn form the community, and they are thus exposed to a range of theoretical and applied points of view. A variety of schools of thought are currently represented among the faculty, including Cognitive-Behavioral, Psychodynamic, Emotion-Focused, Interpersonal and Functional Analytic psychotherapy, Family Systems.

Additional clinical training opportunities are available at a wide variety of Assistantship or Clerkship placement sites, including:

  • Assistant to the director of Clinical Psychology Center
  • Confederated Salish-Kootenai Tribes Mental Health Center in St. Ignatius
  • Confederated Salish-Kootenai Tribes Public Defender's Office in Pablo
  • Counseling and Psychological Services at the University of Montana
  • Montana State Psychiatric Hospital at Warm Springs
  • Partnership Health Care Center (a non-profit community health center offering services for low income residents)
  • Missoula County Healthy Relationships Project
  • Kalispell Regional Medical Center
  • Youth Homes
  • Student Advocacy Resource Center (SARC)
  • Teaching Assistantships for clinical assessment courses

The principles of scientific inquiry are essential not only to the advancement of clinical psychology, but also to the understanding and treatment of clients in clinical practice. Thus, the faculty of the Clinical Psychology Training Program at the University of Montana view research training to be essential in the development of the scientist-practitioner.

Students are introduced to this aspect of training within the first semester through course work in statistics (Statistics I). In the second semester, training in statistics continues (Statistics II) and a specific focus on research design and methodology is added (Research Design and Practice). Rather than these courses existing in isolation, students are encouraged to utilize the knowledge from these courses in evaluating the empirical research that underlies courses such as Advanced Psychopathology and Psychological Evaluation I and II. In doing so, the importance of the "scientist" aspect of the training program becomes readily apparent.

Concurrently, students are working with their faculty mentor to begin developing ideas for a thesis project. As many faculty members hold regular meetings with the graduate and undergraduate students as part of their ongoing research projects, this process often involves interactions with students of numerous levels of research experience. Accordingly, students have the opportunity to benefit from the experiences of their more advanced peers as well as faculty expertise.

The thesis typically serves as the students initial experience in the development, design, and execution of an empirical study. However, it is by no means the only opportunity to participate in empirical research. Students who wish to pursue additional research projects are actively encouraged to do so. Students find ample opportunities both within the context of ongoing faculty research projects as well as support from faculty in developing independent research projects. Opportunities to participate in research outside the department are also available. For example, University of Montana affiliated Rural Institute on Disabilities frequently seeks graduate students from the Psychology Department to fill their Research Assistant positions. It should also be noted that the psychology faculty look forward to, and highly value, the intellectual contributions students make to faculty laboratories and individual research projects. As a part of the mentorship model, students are expected to be active participants in the ongoing research projects being conducted in their faculty mentors lab.

The capstone of the research training experience is the dissertation. While the development of the dissertation project again occurs collaboratively with a faculty mentor, the student takes a much more central role. We expect that the student is able to develop an idea, successfully and appropriately develop a design to test the idea, and execute the study. Subsequently, we expect that the student is able to appropriately interpret and present the results in written form. As an additional goal, both the thesis and dissertation should be of sufficient importance and quality to be submitted for publication upon completion. The program is also designed so that students at this level are able to efficiently utilize their statistical and research design knowledge to be knowledgeable consumers of research.

The Clinical Psychology Program at the University of Montana is dedicated to training psychologists in the scientist-practitioner model. More specifically, we seek to train psychologists who will actively integrate science and practice throughout their careers regardless of the setting. We consider a scientific understanding of human behavior to be an essential component of the scientist-practitioner model. Thus, the scientific model and critical thinking are integrated into all of the components of the training program.

We expect that graduates of our program will be able to fulfill multiple professional roles as researchers, educators, practitioners, supervisors, and administrators. Accordingly, our training is broad and endeavors to provide experiential opportunities in many of these areas. Additionally, the program emphasizes the development of a strong professional identity in an effort to provide a framework that will help to link the varied professional roles clinical psychologists may fill during their career. We also expect that our graduates increasingly will be called upon to utilize treatment and other intervention modalities that have received empirical support. As this process is ongoing, clinical psychologists trained in the scientist-practitioner model will have the tools necessary to evaluate and incorporate the latest findings. In addition, we expect that our students will be active participants in conducting and/or utilizing findings related to the efficacy and effectiveness of psychotherapy.

The faculty of the Clinical Psychology Program at the University of Montana seek to train students through a mentorship model that encourages intensive research, clinical, and professional training with a primary advisor. In addition, we strive to provide a supportive and collaborative learning environment that fosters interaction among students, as well as frequent interaction with faculty other than the primary advisor, including faculty members in the Developmental, School Psychology, and Animal Behavior areas.