Psy.D. Program Foundation Series

Foundation Series

  • Psychopathology and Psychodiagnosis
  • Advanced Psychopathology and Psychodiagnosis
  • Biological Bases of Behavior
  • Lifespan Development
  • Tests and Measurement
  • Cognition, Emotion and Personality
  • Social Psychology
  • Advanced Ethics
  • History and Systems

In this group of courses, students explore the fundamental knowledge base of clinical psychology. Principles of general psychology are integrated with important clinical practice issues. Students learn psychopathology and psychodiagnosis in two courses, exploring psychological, sociocultural, and biological perspectives on mental illness. In the first course, they learn diagnostic categories by exploring dysfunction and core conflicts, maladaptive cognitions, and organic disorders. Case materials and readings in the second course addresses disorders that manifest in acute behavioral symptoms, such as addictions, eating disorders, post-traumatic stress syndrome, and anti-social impulse disorders. The interactions among biology, environment, and experience provide the context for studying the biological bases of behavior. Students are encouraged to move among different levels of analysis, thus incorporating biopsychosocial perspectives of human behavior, motivation and experience.

The Lifespan Development course examines the changing nature of individual experience across the lifespan, and the interaction of physiological, cognitive, emotional, and sociocultural factors. In addition to studying developmental challenges, students learn about the development of human strengths and resiliency in the face of difficulty, and the way in which clinicians make use of attachment, emotional regulation, problem solving, prosocial behavior, and the benefits of culture and community.

A firm understanding of the measurement of psychological characteristics of individuals is essential to clinical psychologists. In Tests and Measurement, students learn the steps in test construction, including norms and standardization, and reliability and validity, as well as gaining an understanding of larger social issues related to testing. Scientific models of how human beings process information and understand their physical and social environments provide a solid basis for exploring cognition, emotion, and personality. Students refine their understanding of cognition by focusing on memory, perception, and consciousness. Current research on emotion and emotion regulation, and cross-cultural perspectives on cognition are covered. Personality traits, the five-factor model, and normal personality are reviewed in an historical context. Students consider the clinical applications of each topic through reading, writing and discussions.

The Social Psychology course examines the social bases of behavior by considering how individual behavior, thoughts, and feelings are influenced by the actual, imagined, and implied presence of others. Students explore the processes of social inference, social influence, and social interaction, with an emphasis on the relevance to clinical practice. Students gain a foundation in professional ethics as outlined in the Ethical Principles of the American Psychological Association. They also learn about reporting laws and licensing requirements for California psychologists. The emphasis is on the interrelationship of clinical, ethical, and legal issues.

The History and Systems of psychology are covered during the final trimester of the third year. The course focuses on the development of psychology as a natural science, and compares the competing philosophically based definitions of psychology conceived either as a natural science or a human science.