The Making of Practitioner - Scholars

The Career Crusaders talk to Argosy University.

Posted Apr 22, 2016

Courtesy of Argosy University
Source: Courtesy of Argosy University

Many of America’s health problems have a strong behavioral component, says Robert Barrett, Ph.D., dean of the College of Clinical Psychology at Argosy University. ­At Argosy University, all students are trained to be practitioner-scholars in professional psychology, and many are especially interested in integrating psychology and general healthcare.

What are the goals of the typical student choosing to study at Argosy University?

The main goal of a typical student in each of our 10 American Psychological Association–accredited clinical psychology programs is to become a licensed clinical psychologist. Our students are interested in becoming practicing clinicians in the field of clinical psychology. Within this broad goal, students typically are drawn to specific areas of practice—for example, forensic psychology, health psychology, working with children and families—that align with our faculty’s experience and expertise. However, students in graduate school, and even after graduation, may shift or broaden their area of interest. One of the benefits of providing a solid foundation in the competencies associated with health service psychologist is that the knowledge and skills learned prepare students for a variety of roles.

What distinguishes the Argosy approach to education

Each of the 10 programs in the College of Clinical Psychology is independently accredited by the American Psychological Association. Each program has a unique approach to curriculum, clinical training, and the experience and qualifications of the faculty. Across all of the programs there is a strong emphasis on students attaining the competencies identified in the field for the practice of psychology. The programs emphasize distinguished faculty who are models of the practitioner-scholar approach to training (clinicians with strong scholarship backgrounds). Students and faculty work closely together, and classes are optimally sized for students to learn the knowledge, skills, and attitudes required to function effectively as a psychologist.

What do you consider the most distinctive feature of a graduate education at Argosy University?

All of our clinical psychology programs have a strong reputation in the field for producing well-trained students who are successful in obtaining quality practicums and internships and who go on to assume leadership positions in various areas of clinical practice. Their success reflects the programs’ emphasis on providing education and training in all of the profession’s competencies. Across all of the programs, there is a strong emphasis on making sure students are able to effectively deliver services to diverse populations of individuals in need. To be culturally competent they need to be both self-aware of the impact of their cultural identity as well as aware of how to effectively work with diverse groups.

Where do you draw students from? 

The clinical psychology programs at Argosy attract students both locally and nationally. Our students represent a wide spectrum of diversity. Many students graduate from undergraduate programs and move directly to the doctoral level, while others obtained masters degrees and worked in the field for a period of time before enrolling in the doctoral program.

You train students to be “practitioner-scholars.” What goes into their training?

Students are trained to be both practitioners and scholars. There is a focus on providing intensive training in the classroom and in the field on the evidence-based methods of conducting assessments, providing therapy, and functioning as an effective supervisor and consultant. However, students are trained not just in terms of practice, they have a year of formal course work in research and statistics, and woven throughout the curriculum are primary source journal readings. Although most of our students will not work as full-time researchers, we strongly believe that they need to have the skills to critically evaluate both existing and future research so as to inform their practice. There is an emphasis on being aware of the evidence bases for clinical work as well as on the need to measure the effectiveness of interventions.

And what distinguishes the work that practitioner-scholars do after they are licensed? 

Our graduates, as practitioner-scholar–trained psychologists, operate in a variety of settings after they are licensed.* What unifies them are well-developed clinical skills, a deep understanding of how to effectively and ethically deliver clinical services to diverse populations, and a solid foundation in the science of psychology such that they are able to critically examine the literature to inform their practice.

What kinds of clinical training do students get in the program?

The clinical programs at Argosy are five-year Psy.D. degree programs. Students are placed in practicum sites during their second and third year, and many complete an advanced practicum during their fourth year. During their practicum experience, students receive supervised training in both inpatient and outpatient settings. These include psychiatric hospitals, residential treatment programs, community mental health centers, and university and college counseling centers as well as neuropsychology and forensic settings. Students in the fifth year of the program participate in internships all over the country.

Can students specialize in a particular area of psychology?

In psychology and the current accreditation standards, specialization (such as neuropsychology, forensic psychology) is considered post-doctoral training. At the doctoral level, consistent with APA accreditation, students at the Argosy clinical programs are trained broadly in the competencies that underlie health service psychology. However, the doctoral programs do offer a variety of concentrations, whereby students focus their electives in a particular specialty area as well as complete their dissertation project (Clinical Research Project) in that area. Many of the students also receive some of their practicum training within the specialty area.

Across the 10 programs, the concentrations vary, and they reflect the expertise and experience of the particular program’s faculty. Concentrations may include such areas as forensic, neuropsychology, health, diversity, and child and family. An example is the Washington, D.C., program, where I was the chair. Among the faculty there are two board-certified forensic psychologists who have active forensic practices and who present and publish in different areas of forensic psychology. There are two additional faculty who are actively involved in other areas of forensic psychology. The concentration of faculty expertise allows us to offer interested students the unique opportunity to expand beyond their broad and general competencies in professional psychology.

Is there a typical or most popular program of study?

All of our students share the same competency-based course of study that broadly trains them to function as practitioner-scholars in professional psychology. However, our students, like many in the field, are interested in the integration of psychology and general healthcare. There is strong evidence that many of this nation’s health problems have a strong behavioral component, and with the advent of the Affordable Healthcare Act, there is an increased effort by the APA and other organizations to integrate psychology with more traditional healthcare. We have seen a parallel increase in interest in our students, with many taking electives in this area and campus-based interest groups doing very well.

What kinds of positions are available to graduates? Can you provide a verbal snapshot of alumni accomplishments?

Graduates from the various clinical psychology programs at Argosy University obtain positions in a wide variety of settings and professional organizations. Our graduates work in hospitals, Veterans Administration centers, military facilities, courts and correctional facilities, outpatient mental health programs, university and college counseling centers, and private practice. Many of our graduates also assume leadership roles in local, state, and national psychological organizations. Several serve on state licensing boards. Many of our graduates also obtain post-doctoral training in areas such as forensic psychology and neuropsychology and work in healthcare settings and with children and adolescents. Graduates from our programs have also obtained teaching positions in colleges, universities, and doctoral-level psychology programs.

* Argosy University does not guarantee third-party certification/licensure. Outside agencies control the requirements for taking and passing certification/licensing exams and are subject to change without notice to Argosy University.

The Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology Program at Argosy University, Atlanta, Chicago, Hawaii, Orange County, Phoenix, San Francisco Bay Area, Schaumburg, Tampa, Twin Cities and Washington DC is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of the American Psychological Association (APA). Questions related to the program’s accredited status should be directed to the Commission on Accreditation: Office of Program Consultation and Accreditation, American Psychological Association, 750 1st Street, NE, Washington DC 20002 Phone: (202) 336-5979 / E-mail: / Web:

Argosy University is accredited by the Senior College and University Commission of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (985 Atlantic Ave., Suite 100, Alameda, CA 94501, Programs, credential levels, technology, and scheduling options are subject to change. Credentials and experience levels vary by faculty and instructors. Administrative office: Argosy University, 333 City Boulevard West, Suite 1810, Orange, CA 92868 © 2016 Argosy University. Our email address is

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