Psy.D. Program Focus Areas

The Wright Institute provides a broad and general clinical psychology education while also offering training in specific focus areas rooted in science and discipline-specific knowledge (DSK) of the profession. Each focus area requires the completion of relevant electives, practicum, and dissertation research. Completion of a focus area increases expertise in specific areas of practice and DSK, and will be noted on students' transcripts.

The Wright Institute currently offers the following focus areas:

  • Psychodynamic: Psychotherapy Theories & Techniques
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: Psychotherapy Theories & Techniques
  • Child Assessment Focus Area
  • Neuropsychological Assessment Focus Area

To complete a focus area, a student must complete:

  • 5 focus area electives chosen from a menu that is specific to the focus area
  • 1 practicum (second year or above) relevant to the knowledge and practice of the focus area
  • Dissertation topic relevant to focus area

Psychodynamic Focus Area

The Psychodynamic focus area provides rigorous training in psychoanalytic theory and practice, which has a long and distinguished history among psychotherapeutic approaches and remains to this day one of the major models of intervention. It's the treatment of choice for many different disorders and presentations, a claim that has in recent years been supported by a significant body of empirical research. Since first opening its doors, the Wright Institute has offered exemplary psychodynamic training and continues this legacy by advancing this focus area. Examples of theories covered include object relations, self psychology, contemporary relational, intersubjectvity, and control mastery.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Focus Area

The Cognitive Behavioral Therapy focus area provides comprehensive training in contemporary, evidence based, cognitive behavioral approaches for working with diverse clients with a wide range of presenting problems. Research supporting the efficacy and effectiveness of CBT is robust. Clinicians who develop a proficiency in this area are well equipped to help their patients decrease their symptoms and improve their quality of life, and there is a strong job market for clinicians who have trained and specialized in CBT. Examples of CBT modalities covered include acceptance and commitment therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, schema based CBT, and mindfulness based CBT.

Child Assessment Focus Area

The Child Assessment focus area provides in-depth training in administering, scoring, and interpreting cognitive and behavioral assessments for children and adolescents. Proficiency is obtained in writing cohesive reports that integrate behavioral observations, interviews, and assessments. Providing accurate assessment for children is a fundamental and needed skill when providing appropriate care for complex health needs and children's overall well-being. Developmental and sociocultural understanding of children and their families is emphasized. Examples of courses in this area include child assessment, cognitive behavioral therapy child intervention, and psychodynamic child intervention.

Neuropsychological Assessment Focus Area

The Neuropsychological Assessment focus area offers advanced training in neuropsychological screening and evaluation for patients. Proficiency in this area will equip you with the skills to assess and interpret the relationship between the function of the nervous system, cognition, emotion and behavior and to apply this knowledge to individualized patient interventions. Examples of courses covered in this area include neuropsychological assessment and neuropsychology for clinicians.


"I was ready to work locally, one-on-one with people in need. I knew I was a 'people person,' but I also knew I needed the breadth and depth of clinical and didactic training and theory offered at the Wright Institute. I have received excellent supervision and support in my case conference and professional development seminar to complement my clinical work in a behavioral health hospital, adult outpatient clinic, and elementary school with at-risk children. I couldn't have asked for a better experience rounded out by learning from insightful, experienced professors and supervisors, as well as collaborative, enthusiastic, intellectual classmates from a wide range of backgrounds."

Dr. Shannon Dubach, Class of '10

"The Wright is a warm community in which diversity of thought, expression, and aptitude are embraced. Students and faculty share a commitment to relieve human suffering and an awe for human experience. It is rare to find a community at once so welcoming and challenging. The Wright Institute helped me develop a strong foundation in clinical psychology and the confidence to apply this knowledge in innovative ways."

Dr. Kelly McCoy, Class of '08