Program Aims and Training Goals

The primary aim of the program is to train knowledgeable and highly competent school psychologists, capable of functioning as scientist-practitioners in a variety of environments, including academic institutions, diverse public schools, and independent practice.  Our students learn to use psychological theories and research to (a) assess the psychological and educational assets and needs of children, (b) assist in the design and implementation of supportive systems in a child’s ecology, and (c) make recommendations for educational and psychological services when appropriate.  We assert that the promotion of academic, behavioral, and social competence in all children is crucial in preventing and intervening in learning and other developmental difficulties and school failure. 

Training Goals

Through a comprehensive sequence of coursework, students acquire a broad knowledge base in the areas of cognitive, social, affective, developmental, and biological aspects of behavior.  They also acquire specific knowledge about cultural and individual diversity.  Students also become highly knowledgeable about measurement, statistics and research methodology.  Taken together, knowledge in these areas form the intellectual bases for professional training.  From there, students develop profession wide competencies in the following areas through participation in a carefully crafted series of practicum and internship experiences.   

1. Research

Students engage with research and formulate their own areas of inquiry.  They conduct their own independent research with the ultimate goal of contributing to the scientific literature.  Pre-dissertation research requirements include one conceptual paper and one empirical paper, both of which must be approved by two faculty members.

In a professional capacity, students are able to apply research literature to the development of evidence-based interventions.  They are able to select evidence-based, appropriate interventions that are modified as needed for relevant communities.  They engage in effective screening, intervention, and evaluation activities in order to understand individual, classroom, and/or school/district level needs.  They understand how to use data to develop, monitor, and modify interventions.

2.  Ethical and legal standards

Students are knowledgeable about the ethical codes of professional associations (APA, NASP, CASP) as well as federal and state (California) laws and regulations.  They engage in practice that is in keeping with these ethical codes.  They also understand issues of confidentiality, risk management, requirements for documentation, and necessary disclosures. 

3.  Individual and cultural diversity

Students are knowledgeable about issues of diversity and socio-cultural influences.  They show an awareness of diversity factors including strengths related to membership in cultural or subcultural groups, and are able to recognize when presenting symptoms may reflect cultural variables and not psychopathology, and articulate the impact on the client of immigration, racism, the sociopolitical system, and other sociohistorical forces. They demonstrate cultural sensitivity in their interactions, respect for those of different backgrounds, and awareness of their own biases.  They recommend and implement treatments that are sensitive to each client’s cultural/world view and demonstrate an understanding of barriers that may prevent the use of mental health services within different cultures and subcultures. 

4.  Professional values, attitudes and behaviors 

Students engage in practice that reflects professional competencies including, but not limited to, reliability; timeliness; organization, an ability to meet deadlines; appropriate dress and demeanor with clients, parents, and staff; initiative and leadership; and sensitivity to personal and professional boundaries.

5.  Communications and interpersonal skills

Students demonstrate the ability to interact effectively in a work setting.  This capacity includes being prepared, punctual, non-defensive, motivated to seek help, helpful, and committed to following through on supervisor recommendations and commitments to colleagues.  They also demonstrate the ability to communicate in an inclusive manner, with clarity and sensitivity across multiple recipient communities.  Students also take the initiative to facilitate collaboration among multidisciplinary members of treatment teams/IEP teams, including psychiatrists, case managers, parents, and teachers.

6.  Assessment 

Students acquire assessment skills for the purpose of evaluating and diagnosing individual student difficulties and disabilities, and then developing intervention and individualized education plans and special education programs. They become proficient in the selection of appropriate diagnostic instruments.  They are able to competently administer and score instruments, interpret the findings correctly, and formulate appropriate recommendations for treatment and intervention.  They write comprehensive written reports that are well organized, clear, and accurate.  Students also learn about assessment at the classroom/group and school level for the purpose of evaluating programs and improving the overall effectiveness of educational services.

7.  Intervention

Students engage in practice that is theoretically and empirically grounded and includes making accurate diagnoses and developing and implementing evidence-based interventions effectively.  Students effectively monitor students’ progress in counseling or other interventions and ensure they are sensitive to the unique needs of the student and setting.  They acquire intervention and counseling skills to help address a variety of needs - academic, behavioral, and socio-emotional.  Finally, students learn to handle the termination of services professionally and therapeutically.

8.  Supervision

Students learn about different models of supervision and the key components of effective supervision. 

9.  Consultation and Interprofessional/interdisciplinary skills

Students acquire the skills necessary to work with others to develop jointly produced and mutually acceptable interventions. They engage in collaborative interactions and reciprocal exchanges with others who are responsible for delivering students’ educational programs - teachers, principals, multidisciplinary teams, and families.  They learn to ask meaningful and focused questions, use observations and student data effectively in consultation, and facilitate opportunities for joint reflection.