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Clinical psychology grads ranked 8th in nation

Graduates of the University's Ph.D. program in clinical psychology ranked eighth out of 183 clinical programs at universities across the country in scores obtained on an important national standard test for those pursuing careers in the field, according to a recent study.

UConn graduates who took the EPPP licensing exam (the Examination for the Professional Practice of Psychology) scored just ahead of Yale, according to an article published recently in the American Psychological Society Observer. The EPPP is a 180-item multiple choice exam that is administered nationally. The study looked at a seven-year period, 1988 through 1995.

"This attests to the really thorough, strong theoretical and empirical foundation that our students have when they leave this program," says George Allen, a professor of psychology who heads the clinical division.

The clinical division is one of six in the psychology department. Admission is highly competitive, says Allen, noting that about eight students a year are selected from a pool of 300-400 applicants.

"It is extremely competitive and you really get top-notch students that way. We're looking for students with a strong sense of social commitment and research skills and expertise that fall in line with research interests of the faculty," he says.

The clinical program balances research and clinical skills, Allen says. "We will take people who we think will have good clinical skills and will be able to provide clinical kinds of services and who will also be able to produce knowledge as scientists." The average completion time for the Ph.D. program is about five and a half years.

The division, which has eight faculty members, emphasizes public sector involvement with underserved populations and clinical work with children.

The curriculum integrates scientific theory and empirical knowledge with clinical activities. Students work with faculty conducting research for their master's and doctoral degrees and train as therapists at the Psychological Services Clinic, a training clinic in the psychology building. Students who work in the clinic are intensively supervised by more advanced students and faculty, says Allen.

In their fourth or fifth year, students may take an internship, a block of experience away from the university where they work as psychologists in a setting such as a hospital or community mental health clinic. Many students are offered positions at the sites where they were interns, Allen says.

Graduates of the program have gone on to work at major universities including Rutgers, the University of Kansas and George Washington University. A former student is the accreditation officer of the American Psychological Association, another is the chief psychologist for the Social Security Administration.

Allen says he is particularly proud that graduates tend to move to public sector activities. "That is consistent with our training orientation and, within these facilities, our students gravitate toward positions as educators," Allen notes.

Allen says the program has been restructured over the past five years to give students a greater orientation toward work in public service, because that's where "the future for psychologists is going to be."

Sherry Fisher