Through a rigorous foundation in scientific psychology as well as broad and general training in research and clinical practice, the Clinical Psychology Ph.D. Program at Sam Houston State University provides candidates with opportunities to develop attitudes, knowledge, and skills to become effective clinical psychologists as well as researchers and scholars.
To produce graduates who have a broad knowledge of scientific psychology including its history of thought and development, research methods, and applications.
To produce graduates with the skills to conduct meaningful research that adds to the current body of knowledge in psychology.
To produce graduates who have the knowledge and skills to excel in the practice of clinical psychology.
To produce graduates who can apply clinical psychological principles in the legal arena in both research and clinical practice.
The APA accredited Clinical Psychology Ph.D. Program at Sam Houston State has much to offer to students interested in becoming clinical psychologists. This includes:
- Rigorous training in psychological research and practice
- Opportunities to conduct research in broad range of areas
- Opportunity to publish and present research in diverse venues
- Clinical training with diverse clients in a wide range of settings
- Specialized coursework and clinical training in forensic psychology
- A supportive faculty and student community
- Preparation for internship and postdoctoral fellowships
- Meaningful career opportunities upon graduation
Diversity and Inclusion
The Doctoral Program affirms the principle that clinical psychologists should be trained to offer services to diverse populations. In pursuit of this goal, students entering our training program will be required to provide services to persons whose cultural backgrounds, beliefs, religious values, or lifestyles may be different from their own. Should unanticipated conflicts arise for any student, faculty are committed to working with the student to be certain cultural competence is achieved.
Training in Clinical Psychology
The Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology applies a scientist-practitioner model to the training of the next generation of psychologists. Our curriculum—coursework, research, and practica—has been developed to ensure our Program meets the Standards of Accreditation published by the American Psychological Association. This includes classes and other training experiences that relate to the discipline-specific knowledge of psychology. These areas include:
- History and Systems of Psychology
- Affective Bases of Behavior
- Biological Bases of Behavior
- Cognitive Bases of Behavior
- Developmental Bases of Behavior
- Social Bases of Behavior
- Advanced Integrative Knowledge
- Research Methods
- Quantitative Methods
Beyond this foundational knowledge, we ensure our graduates possess the critical competencies expected of all clinicians. Consistent with the field of psychology in general, science is at the core of our knowledge and we rely on the current evidence base in our training. We expect graduates of our program to be competent with respect to the following:
- Ethical and legal standards
- Individual and cultural diversity
- Professional values and attitudes
- Communication and interpersonal skills
- Consultation and interprofessional/interdisciplinary skills
Forensic Research and Practice
The Program, with its emphasis on training clinicians to apply the principles of clinical psychology in the legal arena, adds an additional competency (i.e., Forensic Research and Practice). We are particularly proud of our training in this area, which includes coursework and experiential training. With respect to coursework, we offer the following classes:
Coursework Related to Forensic Psychology
Forensic Assessment I (PSYC 8360): This required course examines issues related to conducting assessments for the criminal courts. Students review and critique current research in forensic psychology, as well as developing case law. Emphasis is placed on constructing the written report and on the ethical issues often faced in the forensic forum. This course will include a practicum component in which students perform forensic assessments with the instructor.
Mental Health Law (PSYC 7336): In this elective course students continue to develop skills in forensic assessment with an emphasis on the civil case issues (e.g., juvenile evaluations, personal injury, and child custody). Current research in forensic psychology, as well as developing case law, are reviewed. Providing expert testimony in the courtroom will be discussed in detail, and students are required to participate as witnesses defending a case they have completed in a mock trial exercise.
Forensic Assessment II (PSYC 8361): In this elective course students continue to develop skills in forensic assessment with an emphasis on the civil case issues (e.g., juvenile evaluations, personal injury, and child custody). Current research in forensic psychology, as well as developing case law, are reviewed. Providing expert testimony in the courtroom will be discussed in detail, and students are required to participate as witnesses defending a case they have completed in a mock trial exercise.
Law and Social Psychology (PSYC 7333): This elective course applies social psychological theory and research to the legal system. Critical examination of contentious topics such as recovered memories, false confessions, eyewitness adequacy, and death qualification is undertaken through careful study of a wide variety of original sources. The influence of social class in legal settings is also considered.
Practicum Training in Forensic Psychology
As a requirement of our Forensic Assessment I course, students must conduct a forensic assessment (e.g., competency to stand trial, mental state at time of offense) under the supervision of a faculty member. Many students go on to complete several forensic assessments with adults and juveniles through our Psychological Services Center—at the clinic and in correctional facilities—before leaving for internship.
In addition to these courses, our practicum training includes the opportunity to work in various adult and juvenile settings with forensic populations, including local jails, juvenile detention, adult and juvenile probation, sex offender treatment, and state hospitals with insanity acquitees and incompetent defendants.
Research in Forensic Psychology
Many of our students have conducted thesis and dissertation research related to issues in forensic psychology. Our coursework and practicum experiences stimulates critical thought related to our field and inspired many meaningful projects. Our strong relationships with many of our practicum sites has facilitated access to forensic populations. Below is just a sampling of the many topics examined in our recent students’ research.
- Reliability and validity of forensic and risk assessment instruments
- Evaluator biases in forensic assessment
- Competency for immigration proceedings
- Factors related to sexual offender recidivism
- Suicide among adults on probation
- Malingering among offenders who are mentally retarded
- Treatment of female sexual offenders
- Expert testimony
- Neuropsychological profiles of offenders
- Forensic Assessment of Latinx defendants
- Psychiatric diagnoses and adjudicative competence abilities