Program FAQs: Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology with Emphasis in Depth Psychology

What is distinct about doctoral education in clinical psychology at Pacifica?

Oksana Yakushko, Program Chair, explains how Pacifica's Clinical Psychology programs educate students' minds, hearts, and souls.

Pacifica Graduate Institute has a 40-year long history of providing training in depth psychology within a human science model, and remains one of the few institutions in the world to offer degrees that bring together education in clinical psychology together with rich traditions of depth psychology, which draw from such fields as humanities, mythology, philosophy, cultural studies, and human sciences. In addition, Pacifica’s education emphasizes the dynamic contemporary visions of understanding human experience, which include somatic, spiritually-grounded, indigenous, multicultural, neuropsychological, and community-based approaches.

Does receiving a Ph.D. from Pacifica’s clinical psychology program meet the qualification needed to be licensed as a Clinical Psychologist in California?

Our curriculum is designed to lead to licensure as a clinical psychologist (based on educational requirements for psychologists in the State of California). In order to receive the California Clinical Psychologist's license, students must also have met the post-doctoral clinical services hours and examination requirements of the State. As part of receiving the degree from our program, students are required to complete pre-doctoral internship hours that meet requirements of the California Board of Psychology. The eligibility requirements for the formal internship programs in California are set by varied organizations, including the California Psychology Internship Council (CAPIC) which governs many clinical sites that embrace depth psychological treatment modalities.  Pacifica is a graduate school member of CAPIC, and students will be guided through the formal process of application to all such sites. Following receipt of their degree from Pacifica, students must follow state’s requirements, which include post-doctoral supervised clinical hours and passing scores on the national and state exams (EPPP and CPLEE). Applicants and students are responsible for following and adhering to the licensure requirements of other states or countries, in which they wish to reside and practice, which may differ from California requirements.

How long is the Ph.D. program?

Students attend classes in the Ph.D. program for three years on a year-round basis (including summers). Each year classes are held during nine, four (4)-day sessions. One seven-day summer week occurs during the summer quarter. Students complete their dissertations following the three years of coursework. There is an eight-year time limit for completion of the degree program. Please see the graph below for a visual overview of the Ph.D. program.

Clinical Ph.D. Program Overview

What is the general format of classes?

The classes are a combination of lecture and discussion formats and occur on Pacifica campus.  While faculty present lecture material, time is set aside for discussions and question and answer periods. Some of the classes include presentations by experts, experiential activities (e.g., rituals, somatic exercises), as well as time for processing the information as a group. The cohort system at Pacifica encourages a process of in-depth collaborative learning that integrates the multiple personal and cultural contexts affecting learning and guiding discussions.

How much work is required outside of class?

Class assignments consist of readings, posted reflections/discussions, exams, papers or projects.  For every hour in class, at least three hours of academic work outside of class is expected.  This time may include reading, reflections, research, and writing.  Graduate study in general requires twenty (20) hours of study per week with an additional approximate 15 to 20 hours of practica per week in the second and thirds years. Dissertation and internship are undertaken after coursework is completed and comprehensive exams are passed.

Experiential clinical training at off campus clinical training sites is an essential part of the doctoral program. Students complete a minimum of 1,000 hours of practicum, 1,500 hours of internship, and 60 hours of personal therapy. The Director of Clinical Training works collaboratively with students to place them in practica in the beginning of their second year of academic study. Students receive supervision and are given feedback at off-site locations as well as during campus coursework.

Once students complete their coursework and practica and pass a comprehensive exam, students enter off-campus internships where they are also given supervision and feedback. Internships are completed in a multidisciplinary setting offering a variety of training experiences. To obtain pre-doctoral internships, students often compete in a state-wide or nation-wide competitive application process. However, state of California allows clinical training under a licensed psychologist as a psychological assistant to complete pre-doctoral internship hours required by the state of California toward psychology licensure. Training at culturally diverse sites is encouraged.

When do students have an opportunity to meet with faculty?

Each teaching faculty member holds office hours during the time that students are on campus as well as during specified hours during the week.  These office hours schedules and sign-up sheets are made available during each learning session. Students are also assigned a core faculty advisor who connects with them regarding varied aspects of their academic and professional development. At the beginning of spring quarter, faculty advisors assess the progress that each student makes in the program as part of the student’s annual evaluations.

Where does a student complete the 2,500-hour practicum/internship requirement?

Students in the doctoral clinical program are required to accrue a total of 2,500 hours of approved and supervised clinical experience.  These hours are obtained in two "tiers" of training:  practicum (1000 hours required) and internship (1,500 hours required).  Both levels of training are obtained at off-campus locations such as group private practices, clinics, hospitals, treatment centers, or other agencies, in which psychologists provide services.  Practicum training is a lower level of training with more intensive and directive supervision, and is obtained during the second and third years of classes at Pacifica.  The Clinical Training Handbook outlines the requirements for beginning clinical training. During the coursework on campus, the students participate in Thursday evening practicum seminars designed to ground their clinical training experience in small-group discussions, case conferences, and intensive supervision by faculty. In contrast to practicum training, internship training is a higher level of training with more independence and responsibility, and is undertaken after the student has completed all of the coursework and passed the comprehensive exams.  The internship, in contrast to the practicum, is a summative and capstone training experience, in which the skills and the knowledge obtained through the coursework and the practicum experiences are exercised.  All of the training activities described here are coordinated and supported by Pacifica's Training Office, including the Training Coordinator and the Director of Clinical Training.

Can a student use past personal therapy hours to satisfy the 60-hour personal therapy requirement?

The personal therapy requirement is an integral part of the program, essential for the development of clinicians who utilize themselves as an instrument of healing of others.  In addition, personal self-awareness is essential to other processes of being a student including conducting research studies with human participants or engaging in clinical and scholarly dialogues in the field that expand psychological knowledge. Therefore, the minimum of 60 hours of personal therapy must be completed while a student is enrolled in the program.  These hours may be completed in individual, group, couple or family settings.

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