Technical Standards: Serving a Diverse Public

Obtaining a Ph.D. from the Clinical Psychology Program requires demonstration of competence across various knowledge and skill domains. Doctoral students must acquire substantial competence in the discipline of clinical psychology as specified by our two clinical psychology accreditation bodies and must be able to relate appropriately to clients, fellow graduate students, faculty and staff members, and other health care professionals.

An array of cognitive, behavioral, affective, interpersonal, and communication abilities are required to perform these functions competently. These skills and functions are not only essential to the successful completion of the Clinical Psychology Doctoral Program, but they are also necessary to ensure the health and safety of clients, fellow graduate students, faculty and staff members, and other health care professionals.

In our APA/PCSAS-accredited program, we are committed to a training process that ensures that doctoral students develop the knowledge, skills, competency, and attitudes to work effectively with members of the university community and public who embody intersecting identities, attitudes, beliefs, and values. When doctoral students’ attitudes, beliefs, or values create tensions that negatively impact the training process or their ability to effectively treat members of the public, the program faculty and supervisors are committed to a developmentally appropriate training approach that is designed to support the acquisition of professional competence.

For some trainees, integrating personal beliefs or values with professional competence in working with all clients may require additional training and support. Ultimately though, to complete our program successfully, all doctoral students in clinical psychology must be able to work with any client placed in their care in a beneficial manner. Professional competencies are determined by the profession for the benefit and protection of the public; consequently, students do not have the option to avoid working with particular client populations or refuse to develop professional competencies because of conflicts with their attitudes, beliefs, or values. These standards do not imply that trainees must continue working with clients who are harmful, triggering, or present safety concerns to the trainee. Furthermore, these standards recognize that some clients may not be appropriate for treatment within the Psychological Services Center or program-affiliated practicum sites. 

Adapted from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill