Chair: Theopia Jackson, Ph.D., LP
Associate Chair: Vanessa Brown, PsyD, LP
Saybrook’s online clinical psychology program is specifically focused on the knowledge, experience, and practical skills you will need to enter professional practice. Like the M.A./Ph.D. in Psychology degree programs, the Clinical Psychology degree program is grounded in existential, humanistic, and transpersonal psychology; seeking to apply such principles in all areas for clinical practice and research. More specifically, rooted in humanistic psychology, Saybrook’s clinical program studies human experience in deeply subjective, historical, contextual, cross-cultural, and spiritual contexts. Each program is designed to promote health and wholeness as practitioners who are positioned to effect positive change through service and leadership in their chosen clinical field.
Our Clinical Psychology degree program is committed to a developmental approach in understanding individuals within their broader social and cultural context, and with a full appreciation of the inseparable nature of spirit, body, and mind. Your study will include core psychology courses online, creative use of technology in increasing clinical skills, hands-on training at residential conferences, and close consultation from faculty who are active and experienced in the field, licensed clinical practitioners. At the doctoral level, the foundations include the highest level of scholarship and research skills integral to a PhD degree. An additional uniqueness while completing your degree requirement is the ability for our students to take courses across the university, as well as acquiring a specialization in either:
- Advanced Assessment Specialization* (AAS)
- Consciousness, Spirituality, and Integrative Health (CSIH)
- Complex Trauma and the Healing Process (CTHP)
- Creativity Studies (CS)
- Existential and Humanistic Psychology (EHP)
- Jungian Studies (JS)
- Psychophysiology (PH)
(*open to CP students only)
Saybrook tracks the employment of graduates in and out of the counseling profession, which is defined by the US Department of Labor’s Standard Occupational Classification codes 19-3031 (Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists) and 25-1066 (Psychology Teachers, Postsecondary), and 11-9199 (Managers, All Other).
Program Learning Outcomes (PLO)
By the end of the program, within the scholar-practitioner model students will be able to…
PLO 1: Evaluate and apply relevant psychological theories, scientific knowledge, and psychological assessments to their strength-based holistic conceptualization of persons within context (i.e., individual, collective, community, systems, etc….).
PLO 2: Develop a therapeutic relationship that facilitates transformative change through evidence-based, practice-based, and community-defined practices, empathy, congruence, humility, and authenticity.
PLO 3: Critically consume, analyze, contribute to and disseminate psychological research in an applied, academic, and/or community-informed manner.
PLO 4: Demonstrate professionalism through an evolving self-reflection of their strengths, biases, and areas for growth in humanistic practice and scholarship.
PLO 5: Effectively integrate and apply the Amerian Psychological Association (APA) ethical standards, relevant laws, regulations, and policies governing the research, teaching, and practice of clinical psychology.
PLO 6: Develop advocacy and accountability for diversity, equity, inclusion, social justice, and anti-racism in the field of clinical psychology in a knowledgeable and self-reflective manner.
In order to become a licensed psychologist, candidates must complete the degree, program, and/or coursework required by their chosen state. States also have licensing requirements beyond a program’s graduation requirements which may, depending on the state, include post-doctoral supervised experience, continuing education credits, examination(s), background check, and application for license.
For information on where Saybrook University meets, does not meet, or has not determined if the program meets licensure eligibility requirements for the state in which you wish to be licensed, please visit: https://www.saybrook.edu/admissions/professional-licensure-and-certification-disclosures/
The PhD in Clinical Psychology hybrid online program is aligned with the degree and pre-doctoral supervised professional experience requirements of the California Board of Psychology for registration and examination eligibility as a Licensed Psychologist (sections 1386 and 1387 of the California Code of Regulations). The program also offers students the opportunity to complete California Board of Psychology licensure-required coursework as specified in sections 1382, 1382.3, 1382.4, 1382.5, and 1382.6 of the California Code of Regulations.
Candidates for licensure in California must pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) examination and the California Psychology Law and Ethics examination (CPLEE) and complete any remaining licensure-required coursework specified in sections 1382, 1382.3, 1382.4, 1382.5, and 1382.6 of the California Code of Regulations. Additional post-doctoral supervised experience is required in adherence to section 1387 of the California Code of Regulations. All candidates are also required to complete the application process, which includes fees and a background check. For further information about licensure in California, please visit the Board of Psychology.
There is more information on Professional Licensure and Certification Disclosures webpage: https://www.saybrook.edu/admissions/professional-licensure-and-certification-disclosures/
Hybrid Online Learning Model
The PhD Clinical Psychology degree program combines online learning with periodic virtual meetings and required in-person residential learning experiences.
Residential Orientation (RO)
All new students in the Clinical Psychology PhD program begin their studies with our one-time, two-day Residential Orientation. Residential Orientations are held two days ahead of the Residential Learning Experience at the start of the fall and spring semesters in California.
Residential Learning Experience (RLE)
Clinical psychology students participate in two five-day long required educational Saybrook Residential Learning Experiences (RLE) per year (one at the beginning of the fall semester and one at the beginning of the spring semester) for the duration of the program. Students are required to attend these instructional conferences throughout their degree matriculation in order to further clinical skill acquisition and professional development, as well as to ensure that they acquire ample residential hours required by states for eligibility for licensure. Students will be enrolled in a clinical skill and professional development course that requires them to attend several educational offerings during the RLE, as well as those online courses that have a required residential learning component. RLE activities are components of credit bearing courses.
If a student must miss an RLE due to a documented medical emergency or other approved reason, the student needs to notify the Department Chair prior to the missed RLE. Students will be expected to make up the missed RLE, which is to be pre-approved by the Department Chair. Failure to meet the RLE requirement may delay graduation.
In addition to the twice-yearly RLEs, the Clinical Psychology degree program offers an intensive educational mid-term residential learning experience (PSY 8000) held in Washington state. Attendance is required for Washington state students in order to comply with state expectations of more in-person instructional activities beyond the twice-yearly Saybrook Residential Learning Experience (RLE). Students will be enrolled in a clinical skill and professional development course that requires them to attend several educational offerings during the RLE, as well as those online courses that have a required residential learning component. This mid-term RLE is optional for all other Clinical Psychology degree students and can be utilized as a substitution for a start of the term RLE. (see the Department Chair).
Academic Credit for RO and RLE
No academic credit is given for attendance at the Mid-Term Residential Learning Experience, Residential Orientation or Residential Learning Experience however, they satisfy degree requirements. RLE activities are components of courses that students are registered for that term. Students who attend a seminar at an RC and wish to study the topic further may, with the permission of the seminar instructor and the Department Chair, register for an independent study course (ALL 8100) following the RLE and receive 1 academic credit upon completion. Each course is individually designed and negotiated with the seminar instructor. Not all RLE workshops, courses, and seminars are eligible for the follow-up independent study credit.
RLE Approved Absence Policy
If a student must miss an RLE due to extenuating circumstances that include but are not limited to documented medical hardship or family emergency, attendance at an RLE must be made up at a later date. In such cases, the student needs to notify the Department Chair and Associate Chair prior to the missed RLE for approval, refer to the Student Refund Policy for additional information.
RLE Substitution Process
If students would like to substitute attendance at a professional conference for attendance at one of the RLEs, they need to identify a faculty member who will sponsor them in this request. The conference must be at least five days, in accordance with Saybrook’s Residential Learning Experience. Students must complete the “Authorization Request to Substitute for Residential Conference” form and submit it for approval no less than 30 days before the RLE to be substituted.
Following the conference, students must complete the “Confirmation of Attendance at Substitute Conference” form and send it to their faculty sponsor. After review and approval, the faculty sponsor will then forward it to the Department Chair or Associate Chair, who will complete the recording process. Tangible documentation of attendance for the entire event is required, along with a copy of the completed Authorization Request signed by the supervising faculty member and any other required academic work or learning product required by the supervising faculty member.
Transfer credits based on equivalent graduate courses taken at another regionally accredited institution in the same or similar discipline where the student received a grade of B or better may be transferred and will reduce the number of course credits required to be completed at Saybrook. Allowable transfer credits must be suitable for transfer to the intended degree as determined by the Department Chair or Associate Chair. Transfer course credits do not affect or replace specific program requirements, or the minimum number of credits required for the degree. Transfer credits from an institution that uses the quarter system will be converted to semester credits. Transfer credits appear on the Saybrook transcript as a single block of credits, not as specific course titles. While matriculated at Saybrook University, students may not receive academic credit or credits for coursework to apply to their Saybrook degree in process from another institution.
Students entering the program with an MA or MS degree, or prior graduate work may be eligible to transfer up to 15 credits applied toward electives. Previous graduate coursework must have been completed within the past 5 years. Additionally, up to 15 credits of prior Saybrook non-degree graded certificate coursework, or up to 9 credits of Saybrook non-degree graded coursework will be considered for application toward degree matriculation. Courses will be reviewed for applicability to the degree. Consult the Institutional Transfer Credit Guidelines for additional policy on transfer credit.
Students should be sure to review their Transfer Credit Evaluation once it has been sent to them by the Registrar’s Office and should contact the Registrar if they have questions. Students have the option to request removal of any transferred credits prior to the end of their second semester at Saybrook University. We recommend that students check with their Department Chair prior to requesting credit be removed. Once removed, the update is permanent and transfer credits may not be reinstated.
In addition to transfer credits, PhD Clinical Psychology degree students who completed certain graduate courses within the past five years at a regionally accredited institution with a grade of B or better are eligible to petition for course equivalency. If the prior courses are determined to be equivalent to courses required at Saybrook University, students will not have to take these courses again and will be eligible to take other courses as a replacement for those credits. The equivalency policy does not increase transfer credit; it only permits students to take different courses instead of repeating courses already completed elsewhere.
The following courses are eligible for equivalency assessment:
- History and Systems of Psychology
- Cognition and Affect in Human Behavior
- Biological Bases of Behavior
- Developmental Psychology
- Social Psychology
Students must demonstrate course equivalency with course syllabi from previous graduate institution. No other courses will be considered for equivalency review. No more than 5 courses for a total of 15 semester credits will be granted for course equivalency. The request for course equivalency must be completed during the student’s first semester at Saybrook. No review and no equivalency credits will be given under this policy after the first semester has ended.
*Students should review state licensure requirements to determine whether multiple transcripts are accepted. Non-Saybrook courses will not be listed on the transcript.
Graduate Colloquium and Faculty Mentors
The Graduate Colloquium (GC) is designed as a ‘virtual classroom’ in order to support the student throughout their studies, with specific attention to fostering a community of learners, sharing opportunities for professional presentations and conference attendance in the field, and socializing the student to the diverse roles a clinical psychologist. The colloquium affords students opportunities to work directly with their Faculty Mentors, Academic Advisors, and with student Peer Leads, as well as the Director and Associate Director of Clinical Training (DCT/ADCT). As a degree requirement, students are expected to participate in a GC (PSY 7500 A, B, C, D) throughout matriculation.
Clinical practicum is the first supervised practical training experience in the sequence of professional training in psychology conducted in settings providing professional psychological services. The practicum promotes the integration of academic knowledge with practical clinical experience, and prepares the student for future training, particularly for the pre-doctoral internship that follows. During practicum, students apply and extend the knowledge, skills, and attitudes learned in the program’s didactic and classroom-based experiential components to develop increasingly sophisticated clinical skills and levels of understanding. The practicum assists students in integrating academic knowledge with applied experience in settings providing professional psychological services, contributes to the development of competence in the basic skills of professional psychological practice, and enhances the effective use of training experiences. Saybrook does not have an on-site practicum program. Support for the process of selecting, applying for, and completing the practicum is offered by the Director of Clinical Training (DCT) through the RC workshops, Graduate Colloquium course, and individual meetings. The clinical training experience requires a minimum of 600 clinical hours to be completed over two semesters. Students must be enrolled in the clinical practicum course PSY 8145A or PSY 8145B for their practicum hours to count towards the degree requirement. Students can consult the Clinical Training Handbook for additional details.
The internship is an intermediate to advanced supervised clinical experience that follows the completion of the practicum and specific coursework. Internship is the hallmark of the clinical psychology training, and it is an essential component of our Clinical Psychology Program in which students integrate academic knowledge with practical clinical skills and integrate humanistic principles and perspectives into their practice. Saybrook does not have an on-site internship program. Students locate appropriate internships and supervision in their geographic area, working in conjunction with Saybrook’s Director of Clinical Training. While adhering to state specific licensure requirements, students choose to work in settings conducting individual and group psychotherapy, on multidisciplinary hospital-based teams, in community mental health, or in schools and college counseling centers. The clinical internship experience requires a minimum of 1500 clinical hours of training over a 12-24 month (full or part time, respectively) period. Students are required to register for Internship during each semester they are completing clinical hours.
The Comprehensive Exam (PSY 4000 ) is an academic credit bearing course and includes a written and multiple choice exam that affords the student the opportunity to demonstrate skills and knowledge related to clinical conceptualization, theory, research, and ethics, as well as competency in practice and cultural sensitivity. Students are eligible for enrollment upon satisfactory completion of all core degree required courses, including clinical practicum hours (PSY 8145A & B). In the course, students will be coached in building upon their collective learning experiences across curriculum, Residential Learning Experiences, professional events, and clinical practicum and internship experiences in preparation for the exam. Students will take the exam in the middle of the term and are required to pass the Comprehensive Exam in order to advance to candidacy. See the course description for more details.
Clinical Psychology Student Development Assessment Process (SDAP)
Policy on Student Progression within the Clinical Psychology Program
This policy addresses satisfactory student progression in the Clinical Psychology (CP) program. The CP faculty are committed to approaching student assessment and evaluation from a strengths-based perspective with the goal of promoting growth, fostering professional development, and facilitating successful progression within the program. This policy is deemed necessary to both support the professional development of students and to address any concerns that compromise the achievement of professional standards required for the practice of clinical psychology. In the humanistic tradition of Saybrook University, this policy incorporates collaboration and due process among students, faculty, and leadership administration.
This policy is guided by the specific principles and standards outlined in the Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct (APA, 2017). The American Psychological Association (APA), empirical literature, and many state regulatory bodies use the term impairment to describe graduate student behaviors that compromise a student’s ability to meet training competencies (APA, Committee on Accreditation, 2005; APA, Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct, 2017; Barnett & Hillard, 2001; Lamb et al., 1987; Schwartz-Mette, 2009; Wolf et al., 2014). Such impairment may cause harm, or have the potential to cause harm, to current and future clients. The concept of problems of professional competence have been suggested to replace the term impairment, as it conceptualizes the problem as separate from the personhood of the student (Forrest et al., 2008). The CP faculty have collectively decided that the term problems of competence is better aligned with Saybrook University’s humanistic tradition. Problems of competence specifically encompasses concerns within the following domains: academic performance, ethical conduct, clinical readiness/performance, and/or professionalism (described in greater detail in Section III). Thus, the term problems of competence will be utilized throughout the remainder of this policy. It is the goal of the faculty and administration to proactively discuss any concerns regarding problems of competence in order to partner with students to facilitate their growth and development. The CP faculty serve as gatekeepers of the professional practice of psychology, and the CP department accepts the ethical responsibility of monitoring and managing problems of competence when the need arises (Schwartz-Mette, 2009).
Clinical Psychology Degree Expectation of Students.
The expectations for CP students as clinicians-in-training fall under three broad competencies categories:
- Demonstrated knowledge of and adherence to professional standards,
- Demonstrated application of professional skills, and
- Effective functioning through self-management and balance of personal experiences and professional demands.
In addition to adherence to Saybrook University policies and procedures, clinical students are expected to:
- Demonstrate professionalism in adherence to the American Psychological Association (APA) Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct, Specialty Guidelines, and other relevant professional of psychologists.
- Abide by any laws and regulation governing the practice of psychology, including any local, state, or federal regulations about the practice of psychology. More specifically, students are expected to integrate/adopt proper professional standards or best practices into their personal and professional development as clinicians-in-training.
It is the responsibility of the clinical psychology degree faculty, in collaboration with Saybrook faculty and staff, to expose clinical psychology students to the knowledge, guidelines and standards that are necessary to effectively socialize them into the field of psychology. Thereby supporting and monitoring the professional development of the student body.
Personal Functioning. It is the responsibility of any psychology professional, including to balance their personal functioning and effectiveness. This is most pertinent for CP students during degree matriculation and clinical training. Conceivably, physical, emotional, and/or educational problems may adversely impact the students’ clinical skills/knowledge acquisition, professional performance, and academic progression. These challenges may include yet not limited to the following:
- Problematic academic performance and matriculation,
- Poor psychological adjustment and/or inappropriate emotional regulation,
- Significant inappropriate self-care and stress management,
- Lack of capacity for self-directed professional development,
- Ineffective use of and response to supervision, and/or
- Violation of APA Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct, Saybrook Student Code of Conduct, and/or other local, state, federal regulatory bodies.
II. Student Development Assessment Process (SDAP)
The SDAP is a method of facilitating and promoting professional development among student trainees. Specifically, the SDAP is a standardized approach to providing feedback to students about their development as clinicians-in-training. Students will be asked to actively engage in self-reflection regarding their strengths, areas for growth, and professional goals during the SDAP. As part of the process, students will complete a self-assessment form. Faculty will partner with students by also assessing their development in the following areas: academic performance, ethical conduct, clinical readiness/performance, and professionalism. The student’s formal academic record, narrative evaluations, clinical evaluations (if applicable), previous coursework, written correspondence, and other formal documents will be reviewed in order to assess the student’s progression in the program. It is the program’s goal that students participate in the SDAP review at the following time points:
1. Beginning of their third semester
2. Completion of PSY8145A Clinical Practicum
3. Concurrent with PSY4000 Comprehensive Exam
In order to engage in professional growth, it is crucial that students receive and integrate constructive feedback from faculty, clinical supervisors, and administration. As part of their development, students should demonstrate the following:
- Openness to receive feedback
- Awareness of the impact of their behavior on others
- Ability to integrate feedback
- Acceptance of personal responsibility and agency
- Ability to express their point of view respectfully
- Ability to exercise professional and ethical judgment in decision-making
Although the expectation is that a student will complete the review at the identified points in the program, a student may be required to participate in a SDAP review upon request from the program depending on academic performance, ethical conduct, clinical readiness/performance, and/or professional concerns.
Student Review Committee (SRC)
The SRC is comprised of the Associate Chair, the Director of Clinical Training (DCT) and/or Associate Director of Clinical Training (ADCT), and at least two core faculty members. Membership in the SRC is part of the shared governance responsibility of the CP faculty. If a member of the SRC cannot attend a scheduled meeting, another core faculty member from the CP department may temporarily fulfill the role. If the SRC schedules a meeting with a student, the SRC strives to have all committee members present, but may move forward with a meeting with only two members..
- Students will engage in SDAP through the Tevera platform.
- Students will complete the self-assessment form in Tevera. If a student does not complete the self-assessment form by the submission date, their progress will be evaluated without the form by the SRC. It is to the student’s benefit to complete the form so that they have a voice in the process. If a student does not complete the form, the SRC may note concerns with lack of engagement.
- Once students submit their forms, the SRC will review the following: Student self-assessment forms; the formal academic record/transcript; narrative evaluations; clinical evaluations (if applicable); previous coursework; written correspondence; and other formal documents.
- The SRC will convene to provide formal evaluation. The SRC will then notify each student and let them know if they demonstrate 1) satisfactory progress, 2) satisfactory progress with minor areas noted for growth; or 2) problems of competence (see Section III).
- Students who demonstrate satisfactory progress will be notified that they have successfully completed the review and that they are in good standing.
- If the SRC determines that a student has demonstrated problems of competence, the SRC will meet with the student for further discussion. The intention of this meeting is to promote growth and development for any identified concerns. The SRC will notify the student of a need for further review and will provide formal feedback to the student upon completion of the review (as outlined in Section V).
III. Definitions of Problems of Competence
A student may have problems of competence in one or more of the following domains: academic performance, ethical conduct, clinical readiness/performance, and/or professionalism. Any personal issues that impact performance in the above-mentioned domains are within the purview of the program. The SRC’s judgment regarding suitability for program progression includes, yet is not limited to, the above-mentioned domains. In addition to this program policy, students are expected to be adherent to all university-wide policies (e.g., Student Code of Conduct; Student Academic Progress). Please note that this policy is independent from other university-wide policies, yet such policies can be engaged concurrently. Please see the catalog for a full review of Saybrook University policies.
A student may exhibit problems of competence within the domain of academic performance if one or more of the following have occurred. This list is not exhaustive and the SRC retains the right to determine if there are significant concerns regarding academic performance.
- Failed course(s)
- Failed coursework across multiple courses or within a single course
- Failed milestone(s) (e.g., dissertation orals and/or final defense; comprehensive exam)
- Significant deviations in progressing within the CP program plan (e.g., enrolling for courses outside of CP program plan that significantly delays program completion)
- Low student engagement (e.g., not participating regularly in discussion boards)
- Timeliness concerns regarding submitted coursework and/or repeated submissions not in alignment with the CP department’s late policy
- Incomplete attendance at a Residential Learning Experience (e.g., arriving late and/or departing early from the RLE without permission; arriving late and/or departing early from lectures during the conference)
- Plagiarism and/or significant difficulties with authentic writing as outlined in Saybrook University’s Policy on Academic Honesty (Plagiarism) and Authorship (e.g., copying someone’s work; sabotaging someone’s work; not paraphrasing sufficiently in one’s own words; taking credit for others’ ideas; copying and pasting from other sources; improper or lack of use of APA in-text citations and references; etc.)
- Self-plagiarism (e.g., submitting coursework from a previous course without instructor pre-approval)
- Enrollment in the CP program for more than 8+ years may also trigger a review as it’s important that the degree reflects recent knowledge and advances in the field.
- Failure to meet academic standards/expectations as outlined in a remediation plan
A student may exhibit problems of competence within the domain of ethical conduct if one or more of the following have occurred. This list is not exhaustive and the SRC retains the right to determine if there are significant concerns regarding
- Violation of any of the enforceable standards outlined in the APA ethics code during performance of academic, clinical, and/or professional tasks
- Inappropriate ethical decision-making methods or outcomes (e.g., not seeking consultation for an ethical dilemma; not recognizing an ethical dilemma when it occurs)
- Behavior that is in violation of applicable state or federal law(s)
A student may exhibit problems of competence within the domain of clinical readiness/performance if one or more of the following have occurred. This list is not exhaustive and the SRC retains the right to determine if there are significant concerns regarding clinical performance.
- Dismissal from a practicum or internship training site
- ‘Deficient’ ratings from a clinical supervisor (e.g., receiving lower than a “3” on the Student Performance Evaluation form)
- Providing clinical services without proper licensure, supervision, and/or informed consent
- Formal concerns reported by the Director of Clinical Training (DCT)
- Difficulties establishing rapport with clients
- Concerns with readiness to provide clinical services
- Practicing significantly outside of one’s area of competence
- Providing treatments that are known to cause harm (e.g., conversion therapy)
- Engaging in a romantic and/or sexual relationship with a client or former client
- Violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA)
- Violations of client confidentiality (e.g., failure to de-identify client identifying information for presentations; inappropriate social media use regarding client material; gossiping about clients)
- Causing harm to a client (e.g., emotional harm, physical harm, or negligence that resulted in harm)
- Failing to comply as a mandated reporter (e.g., state laws regarding child abuse, abuse of a vulnerable adult, etc.)
- Sub-standard clinical documentation (e.g., incomplete, inadequate, fraudulent, or delayed)
- Inappropriate or excessive personal self-disclosures
- Difficulties in either behavioral or emotional self-regulation that the faculty deem could adversely impact clinical care
- Misrepresentation of credential(s)
- Failure to notify clients of role as a student in training
- Failure to meet clinical standards/expectations as outlined in a remediation plan
A student may exhibit problems of competence within the domain of professionalism if one or more of the following have occurred. This list is not exhaustive and the SRC retains the right to determine if there are significant concerns regarding professionalism.
- Inability or unwillingness to incorporate feedback
- Difficulties regarding interpersonal communication, such as:
- Use of insults
- Repeated conflict with peers, faculty, staff and/or leadership administration
- Poor or hostile communication
- Difficulties working as part of a team
- Threats of retaliation
- Threats of violence
- Demonstrations of hate speech, prejudice, and/or bigotry
- Disrespectful written correspondence and/or phone etiquette
- Demonstration of harmful personal biases
- Inability or unwillingness to engage in self-reflection and/or acknowledge personal responsibility
- Inappropriate professional dress or attire
- Inappropriate and/or unprofessional behavior at a Residential Learning Experience (RLE). This may include, but is not limited to, the following:
- Hostile communication
- Bizarre or inappropriate behavior
- Attending lectures under the influence of substances and/or in a compromised state (e.g., alcohol, illicit drugs, prescribed drugs, etc.)
- Disrespect toward hotel staff, catering staff, and/or Saybrook University community members (e.g., students, faculty, employees, administration, University guests, invited speakers, significant others also in attendance, etc.)
- Violations of Saybrook University’s Student Code of Conduct and/or Title IX
- Failure to meet professionalism standards/expectations as outlined in a remediation plan
IV. Identification of Students with Problems of Competence
It is important to identify students with potential problems of competence as early as possible in order to protect the public (ie., clients and future clients), as well as to facilitate student success. The Department Chair should be first notified of potential problems of competence, and the Department Chair may then request a SDAP review if indicated. The identification can happen via multiple channels and at any time:
- The SRC may identify potential problems of competence during the SDAP review
- A student may self-disclose or self-identify potential problems of competence
- A student may observe potential problems of competence in a peer
- A faculty member may observe and report potential problems of competence in a student
- A clinical supervisor may observe and report potential problems of competence in a student
- A staff person may observe and report potential problems of competence in a student
- Failed coursework, failed milestones, and/or unsatisfactory progression may trigger a formal review
V. Procedures for Addressing Problems of Competence
A student’s program progression can be reviewed by the SRC at any time. There are two routes in which the SRC may evaluate a student’s progression in the program: 1) as part of the standardized SDAP review; and 2) when specifically referred by a faculty member
The SRC will meet at least once per semester and at the SRC Chair’s discretion. The SRC will review SDAP materials after students have completed their self-assessment forms, and a representative of the committee will meet with any students recommended for a remediation plan. Faculty Referral forms will be reviewed concurrently with Student Self-Assessment Forms. The SRC committee will meet during the semester to assess student remediation plans.
The SRC first recommends that minor issues regarding problems of competence be resolved in an informal manner when appropriate. This may involve peer-to-peer discussions, feedback from a faculty member, feedback from the Department Chair, Associate Chair, etc. The CP faculty assume their role in providing initial feedback and mentorship when a concern first arises. In such instances in which a student, faculty member, and/or staff member is unsure if informal resolution is indicated, that individual may seek consultation from the Department Chair or Associate Chair. Major concerns and repeated patterns of behavior should be brought to the SRC for formal review. If an individual does not feel comfortable seeking informal resolution and/or it would be inappropriate to do so, they should consult with the Department Chair or Associate Chair for guidance. Faculty should only refer students to the SRC after they have already provided feedback regarding a concern and the student has had an opportunity to demonstrate growth. If the concern remains and suggests a potential pattern, it would then be appropriate to refer the student to the SRC so that the SRC can support the student in their development. It is the responsibility of the faculty on record to inform the student of the referral ahead of time.
Formal Review Procedures
Step 1: The SRC is notified that there is a concern regarding a student with potential problems of professional competence. It is assumed that there may be ongoing communication between the Department Chair, faculty, the Director of Clinical Training, staff, clinical supervisors, and the Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs regarding any issues that may impact student performance. Saybrook University leadership administration, faculty, and employees understand that there may be clinical issues and concerns that the CP department is uniquely positioned to evaluate.
Step 2: Members of the SRC will begin an information-gathering phase in which they may consult the formal academic record, narrative evaluations, clinical evaluations (if applicable), previous coursework, written correspondence, and other formal documents. The timeframe to accomplish this task will vary on each unique scenario, yet it is the SRC’s goal to complete the information-gathering phase within 30 days. This timeframe, however, depends on the unique circumstances of each referral (e.g., information-gathering may take longer if there are significant delays receiving a report from a clinical supervisor, etc.). The SRC, or a representative of the SRC, will meet with the student so that the student can voice their perspective and inform the process.
Step 3: The SRC will convene to discuss the concern and categorize it as pertaining to one of the following levels:
Level 1: Minor Issues Involving Lack of Progression and/or Lack of Competency
- This level includes less serious issues that can potentially be resolved in the course of one semester.
- Examples may include, but are not limited to: A one-time offense regarding authentic writing; clinical evaluation with only one or two areas evaluated as below “clearly adequate”; a single instance of interpersonal conflict that reflects poor communication skills; consultation with faculty
- The SRC will provide formal feedback in a letter highlighting a targeted area of growth.
Level 2: Moderate Issues Involving Lack of Progression and/or Repeated Limited Competency and/or Lack of Competency
- This level includes more serious issues that require careful planning and collaboration on the part of the faculty and student to address the problem.
- Examples may include, but are not limited to: Repeated instances of difficulties with authentic writing; repeated hostile communication and/or interpersonal conflict with a single individual; difficulty establishing therapeutic rapport
- The SRC will recommend a remediation plan if indicated
Level 3: Serious Problems of Lack of Progress or Lack of Competency
- This level includes much more serious issues that are threats to program completion and/or the professional practice of clinical psychology. Level III concerns may result in dismissal from the CP program.
- Examples may include; but are not limited to: Severe academic dishonesty; serious ethical violations; harm to clients; multiple failed courses; unresponsiveness to a previously constructed remediation plan; repeated hostile communication and/or interpersonal conflict among multiple Saybrook University community members; dismissal from a clinical training site.
- The SRC informs the Clinical Psychology Department Chair immediately and will recommend a remediation plan if indicated; in severe cases, the SRC may recommend dismissal from the program if indicated.
Step 4: For Level I, the SRC will provide a letter highlighting targeted areas for growth. If the student later struggles to integrate the SRC’s feedback in future semesters, the concerns may be elevated to Level II or Level III at any future review. For Levels II and III, the SRC will notify the student in-writing (by email) of the noted concerns, schedule a required meeting to provide formal feedback, and then request a written response from the student (to be received within 48 hours after the time of the meeting). The SRC will request that the student meet with them within 10 business days following the meeting request. This will be a required meeting, and it is in the student’s best interest to attend (e.g., to have a voice in the process; receive valuable feedback related to development and progression in the program). If a student does not reply to the email and/or does not attend the meeting, the SRC will move forward in the process with the information that they have already obtained. A student’s lack of participation will not halt the SDAP review process. During the feedback meeting, the student may not bring anyone else to the meeting. They may not bring an attorney to represent them. During the feedback meeting, the SRC will provide the purpose of the meeting and present the formal feedback. This may include any concerns related to problems of competence (academic performance, ethical conduct, clinical readiness/performance, and/or professionalism), as well as expectations regarding competencies, performance, and benchmarks.
Step 5: After meeting with the student, the SRC will then send a formal letter to the Department Chair with the committee’s disposition. The disposition may include one of the following:
- Formal feedback: The feedback provided to the student is deemed sufficient by the SRC. The student is seen in good standing, and the formal feedback has been documented. Any future concerns may put the student at greater risk for a remediation plan and/or dismissal from the program.
- Remediation plan: The SRC has determined that a remediation plan should be implemented with clear objectives and a timeframe. The SRC will work collaboratively with the student to co-create a remediation plan. (See Section VI below).
- Dismissal: The SRC has determined that dismissal from the program is the most appropriate response. (See Section VI below).
Step 6: A representative of the SRC will notify the student of the committee’s disposition. If the student is considered to be in good standing, the process will conclude, and the student will be notified by email. If the SRC’s disposition is a remediation plan or dismissal, the SRC will invite the student to a scheduled meeting to discuss the disposition. (See Section VI for further details).
The privilege of working with clients can be withdrawn at any time and is at the discretion of the SRC given the unique circumstances of each situation. Regarding timeframes, it is the SRC’s goal to review, assess, and provide recommendations in an efficient manner. Given the unique context of each situation, some reviews may necessitate a longer timeframe. In general, the SRC’s goal is to complete a review within the scope of 30 days. This timeframe may be extended given scheduled breaks in the academic calendar, summer session, personal circumstances (e.g., family emergency), and/or the obtainment of new or relevant information that would require further review.
VI. Remediation Plans and Dismissal
If the SRC determines a remediation plan is necessary, a meeting will be scheduled with the student to collaboratively create a remediation plan that will help to facilitate the student’s development. The goal of the meeting will be to create a plan that will help the student meet the required areas for growth. The SRC will ultimately decide on the final required components of a remediation exam. If a student disagrees with any of the components of a remediation exam, they may appeal to the Department Chair. In such cases, the Department Chair will have final say over the required components of the remediation plan. The student will be encouraged to engage in the remediation process and work collaboratively with the SRC.
A remediation plan may include but is not limited to additional coursework; adjustment of academic workload; enrollment in a writing course; essays; written apologies; suggested participation in individual therapy; group growth work experiences; self-structured behavior change; and new learning experiences. Any monetary costs to fulfill the remediation plan’s objectives (e.g., enrollment in a workshop or course) will be at the student’s expense. The student will have the opportunity to make comments on the remediation plan voicing their perspective. All relevant parties will be asked to sign the document to acknowledge the shared agreement. If a student does not sign the remediation plan and wishes to appeal against the decision, the student must follow the appeal procedures. If an appeal is unsuccessful and it is deemed that the remediation plan is indicated and the student decides not to sign the remediation plan, the SRC will re-convene. In such instances, the SRC may decide that a dismissal decision is indicated if a student is unwilling to participate in a plan to further their growth when there are problems of professional competence.
The SRC will determine if a remediation plan has been successfully completed based on the unique timeframe included in the plan and required tasks for each student. If the SRC determines that the remediation plan has been satisfactorily completed, the student and Department Chair will be notified that the student is considered in good standing. If a remediation plan has not been successfully completed, the SRC will work with the student to identify obstacles. If there is forward progression and high student engagement, the SRC may recommend further remediation (e.g., additional timeframe; additional requirements). If there is not forward progression, the SRC may recommend dismissal from the program to the Department Chair. The SRC may have up to 90 business days past the remediation plan’s end date to evaluate if all objectives were satisfactorily completed. The end date of the remediation plan may need to be adjusted if the student withdraws from a course, if a student requests an incomplete, or if any adjusted deadlines take place during the summer session when faculty are on leave. In such instances, the remediation plans will be reviewed at the beginning of the following semester. In general, the SRC does not meet over the summer session.
The dismissal of a student is a serious matter and, in general, denotes unresolved issues related to inadequate academic progression and/or problems of competence. Students may be dismissed for any of the reasons outlined in Section III. The reasons listed below are examples of what may reflect grounds for dismissal from the program:
- Receipt of three grades of “No Credit” or letter grades of “C” or below in a single semester or same course or cumulatively
- Failure to meet the minimum cumulative GPA requirement of 3.00 for three consecutive semesters
- Pattern of unethical or unprofessional behavior (see Saybrook Student Code of Conduct, CP Student Handbook, APA Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct, and relevant state and federal guidelines)
- Persistent (2+ terms) unsatisfactory performance in the clinical practicum and/or internship courses
In some instances, serious and urgent concerns may be grounds for immediate dismissal from the program. Grounds for immediate dismissal may include, but are not limited to: Inappropriate, discriminatory, and/or prejudiced speech; violence or threats of violence; egregious violations of the APA ethics code; violations of federal and/or state laws; dismissal from a clinical training site; repeated difficulties with plagiarism and/or authentic writing; discriminatory or offensive language or behavior; misrepresentation of academic or professional credential(s) before, during, or after the program application process. Repeated offenses at Level II or III (as described in Step 3) could result in immediate dismissal. If immediate dismissal is indicated, the Department Chair will notify the student in writing that they have been dismissed from the program, effective immediately. The student may appeal an immediate dismissal decision, as outlined in Section VII.
The SRC has the right to make a final determination about the reasons for dismissal. If the SRC determines that dismissal from the CP program is advised, the SRC will send a formal letter to the Department Chair within 10 business days of completing their review. When evaluating the decision to dismiss a student from the program, the faculty may seek professional consultation both within the university and in some instances outside the university to determine the most appropriate course(s) of action (in accordance with FERPA and other relevant laws). The College Dean and the Vice President for Academic Affairs may also be notified of the decision.
If a student is dismissed from the program or voluntarily chooses to withdraw from the program, SRC dispositions will be considered in the student’s application decision. Readmittance to the program is not guaranteed.
Notification of Disposition Decisions
All notifications will be sent via email utilizing Saybrook University email addresses. The Department Chair will be notified in writing regarding disposition decisions within 10 business days of completion of the SDAP review for students with Level II and Level III concerns. The Department Chair will also notify the College Dean and VPAA of any remediation or dismissal decisions. If the SRC’s disposition determines that the student is in good standing, the student will be notified in writing. If the SRC’s disposition is either remediation or dismissal, the student will be invited to attend a required meeting in which they will be officially notified of the SRC’s disposition decision. The disposition meeting should occur within 10 business days of having completed the SDAP review. If a student does not reply to the meeting invitation or does not attend the meeting, the SRC will then convene to discuss next steps, which may include elevating the concern to a Level III concern and/or determining a more appropriate disposition (e.g., moving from a remediation decision to a dismissal decision). Following the meeting, the student will also be provided with written notification of the decision by email. If the student does not attend the required meeting, they will be provided with the decision in writing by email. An official copy of the decision will also be copied to the Registrar’s Office and Student Affairs’ Office in order to be placed in the student’s record.
VII. Appeals Procedure
Students who disagree with a remediation plan and/or dismissal decision may submit a formal written appeal. Reasons for appeal are limited to include: a procedural violation of policy; an argument currently available that was unavailable at the time of the SDAP review; new evidence.
There are three levels of appeal:
Level 1 (Department Chair): A student should submit their formal written appeal to the Department Chair within 10 business days of their disposition notification. In the written appeal, the student should clearly provide a rationale for their reason to appeal. The Department Chair has 10 business days to consider the appeal and provide a formal response to the student.
Level 2 (College Dean): If the student would like to appeal the determination made by the Department Chair, they may file an appeal with the College Dean for secondary review within 10 business days of receiving the Department Chair’s decision. The College Dean has 10 business days to consider the appeal and provide a formal response to the student.
Level 3 (Vice President for Academic Affairs): If the student would like to appeal the determination made by the College Dean, they may file an appeal with the Vice President for Academic Affairs for review within 10 business days of receiving the College Dean’s decision. The Vice President for Academic Affairs has 10 business days to consider the appeal and provide a formal response to the student. The decision of the Vice President for Academic Affairs is final.
Note: If there is a successful appeal at any of the levels, then the SRC will re-convene to determine appropriate action (e.g., a dismissal decision that has been successfully appealed may then justify a remediation plan to address concerns; a remediation decision that was successfully appealed may require adjustments to the remediation plan).
This policy applies to all current and future CP students. This policy was created with the dual focus of 1) promoting the professional development of CP students, and 2) protecting the public (i.e., current and future clients of clinicians-in-training). This policy was largely based on the recommendations of Wolf, Green, Nochajski, and Host (2014). The CP department believes that this policy will ultimately support CP students and the integrity of the CP program.
American Psychological Association. (2017). Ethical principles of psychologists and code of conduct (2002, Amended June 1, 2010 and January 1, 2017). Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/ethics/code/index.aspx
American Psychological Association, Committee on Accreditation. (2005, July). Guidelines and principles. Washington, DC: Author.
Barnett, J. E., & Hillard, D. (2001). Psychologist distress and impairment: The availability, nature, and use of colleague assistance programs for psychologists. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 32, 205-210.
Forrest, L., Elman, N., & Miller, D. S. S. (2008). Psychology trainees with competence problems: From individual to ecological conceptualizations. Training & Education in Professional Psychology Journal: Practice & Research, 2(4), 183-192. doi:10.1037/1931-39126.96.36.199
Lamb, D.H., Presser, N.R., Pfost, K.S., Baum, M.C., Jackson, V.R., & Jarvis, P.A. (1987). Confronting professional impairment during the internship: Identification, due process, and remediation. Professional Psychology: Research & Practice, 18, 597-603.
Schwartz-Mette, R.A. (2009). Challenges in addressing graduate student impairment in academic professional psychology programs. Ethics & Behavior, 19, 91-102.
Wolf, M.R., Green, S.A., Nochajski, T.H., & Kost, K.A. (2014). Graduate student impairment: The impact on counselor training programs. Journal for International Counselor Education, 6, 61-74.
Degree Completion Time
The degree completion time for a full-time student following the default course sequence will average 5 years, including completion of the clinical practicum and internship. Any breaks in enrollment may impact completion time.
It is imperative that clinical psychology students are successful in balancing the demands of graduate education with other personal/professional demands as it serves as an indicator for readiness for clinical practicum and internship training. More specifically, securing clinical training placement is inherently competitive. Therefore, it is quite probable that CP students’ application for training may be adversely impacted with course grades of No Credit or less than B-. Students with multiple and/or consecutive course failures throughout the program may be placed on program probation, with the establishment of a remediation plan, and/or face dismissal from the Clinical Psychology Program (see the Student Professional Development Assessment Process above). Subsequently, CP students are expected to satisfy any No Credit or less than B course within the next term where the course if offered and adherence to prerequisites for subsequent courses.
Clinical psychology (CP) students are expected to maintain an average of nine credits per semester.
- Students can self-enroll in nine to twelve credits.
- Consultation with and approval from the Program Chair is required to enroll in less than nine or more than twelve credits per semester.
When clinical psychology (CP) students withdraw from a course or receive a grade of “NC” or a letter grade of “C” or below, they are expected to reenroll in that course in the following semester in which the course is offered (summer term optional). Subsequent withdraws and/or failures may warrant remediation and/or dismissal for a lack of academic progression.
The dismissal of a student is a serious matter and, in general, denotes unresolved issues related to inadequate academic progression and/or professional impairment. Students may be dismissed for:
- Receipt of three grades of “No Credit” or letter grades of “C” or below in a single semester or same course or cumulatively,
- Failure to meet the minimum cumulative GPA requirement of 3.00 for three consecutive semesters,
- Pattern of unethical or unprofessional behavior (see Saybrook Student Code of Conduct, CP Student Handbook, APA Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct, or state guidelines),
- Persistent (2+ terms) unsatisfactory performance in the clinical practicum and/or internship courses, and/or
- Significant impairment (cognitive, behavioral, emotional) that adversely impacts training and/or the welfare of clients (e.g., dismissed from training sites)