Objectives for Our Training
The overarching aim of the program is to prepare students as Clinical-Community Scientists who can function effectively in a variety of settings, including research and professional practice settings. The core objectives of our training program are the following:
- Students acquire and demonstrate the knowledge of theory and research related to the fields of Clinical and Community Psychology
- Students demonstrate ability to conduct themselves professionally and ethically
- Students demonstrate the ability to consume, conduct, and communicate research to a variety of audiences
- Students demonstrate the ability to use evidence-based assessment and intervention strategies in applied settings
- Students demonstrate understanding and value of cultural
In addition, there are several areas of conceptual understanding that are important goals for the integration of Clinical and Community Science in our program:
- A systems perspective that integrates individual and environmental factors. We encourage a systems viewpoint based on understanding individual factors, environmental factors, and their interaction. Examining person-environment fit is an important component of a systems perspective and is part of the philosophical roots of the Community Psychology approach. We teach students to consider multiple levels of analysis in understanding clinical disorders and people’s broader well being. Multiple levels include the individual-level, the small group-level such as family systems, and the large group-level such as institutions and communities. Understanding how this multi-level analysis can be used to plan psychological work is a unique feature of our program.
- Considering multiple points of intervention. Students in our program are taught to consider multiple stages of intervention, including prevention models, treatment models, health promotion, and maintenance-oriented intervention.
- Empirical demonstration using the strongest available data. A guiding principle of our training is that theoretically grounded and empirically guided intervention work is essential to our field. Researchers should be encouraged to consider the external validity of their research and the potential impact (effect size, clinical significance) that the variables they study have on people’s well being. Psychologists conducting intervention work, regardless of the setting, need to demonstrate the effectiveness of their work at either individual or group levels. This approach to intervention work requires understanding major models for the causes of human behavior, how to translate specific models into interventions, measurement issues (psychometrics), and scientific evaluation work (research methods, statistics, program evaluation).
Our program can be used to develop a variety of unique areas of expertise in the field of Psychology; however, currently there are two major dimensions to our program: (a) Children, Adolescents, and Families and (b) Social and Cultural Aspects of Health. Faculty members often contribute to more than one area through their teaching and research. Students' interests also often intersect with both of these areas. Both of these areas are included in our department’s strategic hiring plan for new hires over the next three years.
- Children, adolescents, and families. This facet of our program encompasses both developmental psychopathology and health promotion among youths and family. Thus, students learn about the developmental course of adaptive and maladaptive behavior as children mature into young adults, and the family and larger scale systems that impact this development. Students learn about factors that enhance well being, the precursors of psychological problems, and sources of resiliency. This area of work recognizes the goal of early intervention to prevent or reverse the precursors of psychological problems before the problem becomes more resistant to change. Although a range of biological, psychological, and social factors are important for child development, family and community systems are considered potent areas for intervention through mechanisms such as parenting skills, school environment, and organizational policies.
- Social and cultural aspects of health. This facet of our program develops the student’s understanding of health issues in relation to issues of race/ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, and other dimensions of diversity. The area emphasizes factors that create health disparities (including both individual and system-level challenges), the coping techniques that have helped some to remain resilient in the face of stress, and ways of reducing health disparities and promoting health at the individual, family, and community levels. We have a particular focus on the experiences of African Americans in relation to health issues, in part because of the history and current ethnic make-up of South Carolina.