Philosophy, Aims and Competencies

TWU School Psychology Doctoral Program

School Year 2016-17

The School Psychology Doctoral Program at Texas Woman’s University embraces a scientist-practitioner model of training in which practice, theory, and research are integrated. A balanced emphasis is placed on developing work-place competencies necessary for functioning in various applied practice settings, such as school systems, mental health and child guidance centers, medical centers and hospitals, independent clinical practice, and in academic or research positions in institutions of higher education. The American Psychological Association (APA) defines Health Service Psychology as the integration of psychological science and practice in order to facilitate human development and functioning. Health Service Psychologists are prepared to work in diverse settings. The Texas Woman’s University School Psychology Doctoral Program prepares health service psychologists in the practice area of school psychology.

Our program strives to provide broad and general training in the science and practice of school psychology within the broader definition of health service psychology. The theoretical philosophy of the program is grounded in an integration of the biopsychosocial perspective in combination with the application of a data-based problem-solving approach. The biopsychosocial perspective posits that biological, psychological, and social factors play a significant role in an individual’s functioning. The biological system emphasizes genetics, diseases, anatomical and structural components of the individual. The psychological system incorporates developmental factors, personality and motivation of the individual. The social system includes cultural background, environmental, and familial influences. This comprehensive perspective encompasses and integrates the variety of systems that are influential in the lives of children and posits that each component system affects and is affected by all other systems.

The biopsychosocial perspective is complemented by a data-based problem solving framework for the practice of school psychology. Problem solving methods are consistent with the experimental tradition in psychology where the problem is defined, directly measured, interventions are designed based on the measurement data, and progress on the intervention is monitored and revisions occur as needed. Additionally, problem solving is viewed as a collaborative process involving the child, family, and professionals representing various education and community institutions. TWU’s School Psychology Doctoral Program assumes that the functions of a school psychologist involve problem solving whether service or research oriented, and that problem solving will be most effective when approached from a data-based framework supported by a biopsychosocial perspective. The broad overall aim of this program is to produce school psychologists who can employ scientific knowledge and methods of problem solving in the delivery of direct or indirect services to children, families, schools, and communities. It is our intent to produce competent, skillful, ethical school psychologists who integrate the principles of scientific inquiry into service delivery functions with respect for diversity and individual differences.

In order to achieve these broad philosophical goals and translate them into marketable, workplacepractitioner skills, the School Psychology doctoral program has been designed to be sequential, with foundational skills developed first; cumulative, with skills building upon previously learned skills and knowledge; and increasingly complex, wherein knowledge must be integrated and applied. The program has been designed to prepare students with entry level skills required for internship and to provide the foundation for post-doctoral experiences to further their skills. Thus, all students take a core set of courses covering the foundations of psychology, then specialized coursework in the field of school psychology with experiential activities in practice oriented settings, culminating in the capstone experiences of dissertation and internship.

Programs accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA) are required to provide a general knowledge base in the discipline of psychology regardless of their specialty practice area. Disciplinespecific knowledge serves as the cornerstone for the establishment of professional identity and orientation as a health service psychologist and school psychologist. There are two categories of discipline specific knowledge: basic content areas in scientific psychology that form the foundation of the field, and research and quantitative methods needed to integrate knowledge, science, and practice. In the first category, are courses that cover basic psychological content including the history and science of psychology, affective aspects of behavior, biological aspects of behavior, cognitive aspects of behavior, developmental aspects of behavior and social aspects of behavior. Students in all APA accredited programs are expected to be able to integrate multiple basic discipline-specific content areas. The second category of discipline specific knowledge includes the foundations of research, quantitative methods, and psychometrics. Students in the School Psychology Doctoral Program develop discipline specific knowledge via core coursework (PSY 6103 Cognition and Emotion, PSY 6113 Psychological Tests and Measurement, PSY 6383 Cross Cultural Psychology, PSY 6133 Advanced Behavioral Neuroscience, PSY 6613 Advanced Developmental Psychology, PSY 6633 Philosophical and Historical Foundations of Psychology, PSY 6774 Foundations of Social Psychology and Personality; PSY 6833 Ethics in Psychology, PSY 5304 Advanced Psychological Statistics I, PSY 5353 Research Design, PSY 6204 Advanced Psychological Statistics II, PSY 6961 Research Team). Additionally, students have substantial opportunity to demonstrate graduate level knowledge and integration in their research and practice coursework, and via the doctoral written and oral comprehensive process. Beyond specific knowledge within the discipline of psychology, programs that are accredited by APA must also demonstrate that students have developed and can apply specific skills and competencies in the practice of psychology, regardless of substantive practice area, type of degree, or level of training. These are considered to be profession-wide competencies and they provide broad and general preparation for entry level independent practice and licensure.

In order to accomplish our training responsibilities of discipline specific knowledge and profession wide competency within the field of health service psychology and the domain of school psychology, the School Psychology Doctoral Program has established the following aims and competencies:

Discipline Specific Knowledge (Foundational Knowledge and Integration)

AIM: To prepare entry level school psychologists who will have a solid understanding of broad psychological principles and the scientific knowledge base of psychology, who will understand the profession of health service psychology and the professional practice of school psychology, and will seek learning experiences throughout their career.

Competency 1: Students will acquire and demonstrate knowledge of social, emotional, biological, cognitive, and developmental aspects of behavior, be able to critically evaluate relevant literature, and be able apply that knowledge to practice with diverse populations.

Competency 2: Students will acquire an understanding of the evolution and key issues in the practice of health service psychology and more specifically in the practice of school psychology (history, roles and function).

Profession Wide Competencies

I. Research

AIM: To prepare entry level school psychologists to be scientist-practitioners so that they can apply research to practice and independently contribute to the knowledge base and field of school psychology through research.

Competency 1: Students will display knowledge of research design, methodology and statistical analysis as related to the design, implementation, and evaluation of psychological or educational research.

Competency 2: Students will demonstrate the ability to critically analyze and evaluate psychological and educational research literature.

Competency 3: Students will propose, design and conduct original research under supervision.

Competency 4: Students will develop skills in explaining and presenting research findings, and will disseminate their research to the profession at local, State, regional or national levels in order to contribute to the scientific community.

II. Ethical and Legal Standards

AIM: To prepare entry level school psychologists who are knowledgeable of professional, ethical and legal standards applicable to health service psychology in general and school psychology more specifically, and who practice with integrity, honesty, and high ethical standards.

Competency 1: Students will understand and be able to apply the APA Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct, as well as the NASP Principles for Professional Ethics.

Competency 2: Students will display knowledge of relevant laws, regulations, rules, and policies governing health service psychology and school psychology at the local, state, regional and federal levels.

III. Individual and Cultural Diversity

AIM: To prepare entry level school psychologists with the knowledge, sensitivity, awareness and skills needed to deliver high quality services to diverse populations.

Competency 1: Students will develop an awareness of their own personal/cultural history, attitudes and biases and exhibit awareness, sensitivity, and skills needed to work professionally with diverse individuals, groups, and communities.

Competency 2: Students will demonstrate the ability to integrate awareness and knowledge of individual and cultural differences, and articulate an approach to working effectively with diverse individuals and groups, within their professional roles and delivery of school psychological services.

IV. Professional Values and Attitudes

AIM: To facilitate the development of well trained professionals who present an identity as a psychologist and as a school psychologist, as evidenced by a strong commitment to ethical behavior and competent service delivery with an understanding and appreciation for working with individuals from diverse populations and backgrounds.

Competency 1: Students will build and consolidate their professional identity as a psychologist with an understanding of health service psychology and the specialty of school psychology as well as show a commitment to lifelong learning and professional growth.

Competency 2: Students will demonstrate professional conduct and behave in ways that show respect for the dignity, diversity, and welfare of others.

Competency 3: Students work toward self-awareness and the ability to engage is self-reflective practice.

V. Communication and Interpersonal Skills

AIM: To produce entry-level school psychologists who possess the ability to relate effectively and professionally with others, to form collaborative working relationships, and who can communicate complex information clearly.

Competency 1: Students are expected to develop and maintain effective collaborative relationships with colleagues, supervisors, other professionals, and the children and families receiving professional services.

Competency 2: Students will demonstrate effective written and oral communication skills related to the practice of school psychology.

Competency 3 Students will demonstrate appropriate culturally competent professional behavior and social competence in their practice of psychology.

VI. Assessment

AIM: To produce entry level school psychologists who are able to select and apply assessment methods that draw from the empirical literature and that reflect the science of measurement and psychometrics; and who are able to collect relevant data using multiple sources and methods to define problem areas, strengths, and needs of diverse clients.

Competency 1: Students will develop and demonstrate assessment skills using empirically validated cognitive and academic achievement measures that meet the needs of diverse populations.

Competency 2: Students will develop and demonstrate skills in the assessment of personality, adaptive behavior, social-emotional functioning and behavior using empirically validated methods to meet the needs of diverse populations.

Competency 3: Students will develop and demonstrate skills in pediatric neuropsychological assessment using a brain-based understanding of human development and empirically validated methods to meet the needs of diverse populations.

Competency 4: Students will demonstrate the ability to use interviews, observation (school, home, testing environments), inspection of records and developmental history, and evaluate results when identifying problem areas, strengths, and needs of diverse clients.

Competency 5: Students will be able to effectively interpret, using theoretical knowledge and brain behavior relationships, a variety of cognitive, achievement, social, emotional, behavioral, personality and neuropsychological assessments.

Competency 6: Students will demonstrate the ability to write psychological reports, interpret psychological results, make inferences about assessment data, differentially diagnose, and develop recommendations based on psychological data.

VII. Intervention

AIM: To prepare entry level school psychologists who are able to apply empirical and problem solving based approaches to intervention for individuals, groups, and systems; who can select and apply intervention techniques and methods that are evidenced-based; and who are able to apply multiple methods to address the diverse needs of individuals, families, and systems.

Competency 1: Students will develop and demonstrate skills in the delivery and evaluation of evidence based counseling interventions for social-emotional and psychopathological issues appropriate to diverse populations.

Competency 2: Students will develop and demonstrate competency in the delivery and evaluation of evidenced based consultative interventions for academic, social-emotional, behavioral and other issues, appropriate to diverse populations.

Competency 3: Students will develop and demonstrate competency in the delivery and evaluation of evidenced based direct interventions for academic, behavioral, and social emotional issues relevant to diverse populations.

Competency 4: Students will develop knowledge and familiarity with crisis interventions utilized in educational settings and systems.

VIII. Supervision

AIM: To prepare entry-level school psychologists with an understanding of their professional growth through their experiences as supervisees, as well as gain the necessary knowledge and skills needed to be able to provide clinical supervision for the mental health providers they will be given responsibility to manage throughout their career.

Competency 1: Students will exhibit knowledge of models, theories, modalities and research on supervision, knowledge of professional/supervisee development and knowledge of ethics and legal issues specific to supervision.

Competency 2: Students will exhibit the ability to set appropriate boundaries and seek consultation when professional issues are outside the boundaries of competence.

Competency 3: Students will demonstrate the ability to receive, and use evaluative feedback from supervisor to improve performance and skills.

Competency 4: Students know and apply effective supervision strategies to direct and indirect services in accordance with their own developmental level to promote supervisees’ effective practices.

IX. Consultation and Interprofessional/Interdisciplinary Skills

AIM: To prepare entry level school psychologists who demonstrate knowledge and skills related to collaboration and consultation with families and professionals, within and across settings, and who can work with individuals from a multitude of diverse backgrounds.

Competency 1: Students will apply appropriate consultation models and strategies to facilitate direct and indirect services and professional development.

Competency 2: Students can effectively collaborate with staff, families, and other service providers to develop, implement, and evaluate evidence-based services at the individual, group, and system levels.