The mission of the Clinical Psychology doctoral program at The New School for Social Research is to train scientist-practitioners who:
- Are competent in clinical practice, including diagnostic assessment, case formulation, and intervention
- Are engaged in contributing to scholarship in all its forms
- Are grounded in the broader field of scientific psychology and can integrate scientific knowledge with clinical research and practice
- Can communicate about psychology effectively with a wide range of individuals
- Are respectful of the influence of context, culture, development, and individual differences
- Act ethically throughout their professional conduct
While introducing students to full range of evidence-based practice, we provide a foundation in psychodynamic theory and practice, whose core tenets we identify as 1) recognition of the importance of context and development for psychological trajectories; 2) acknowledgment of intrapsychic influences on behavior which may lay outside awareness; 3) appreciation of the fact that individuals attempt to manage difficult emotions through complex means; and 4) respect for the impact of relational factors on the amelioration of distress, including the therapist’s and client’s reactions to each other. It is expected that graduates will implement these skills in a variety of settings.
Consistent with The New School for Social Research’s institutional goals, we value progressive social thought, critical analysis, pluralism, diversity, and interdisciplinary dialogue and recognize the importance of pursuing and maintaining integration between scholarship and real-world concerns.
Approach to Training
Our overall ethos is a realistic take on the challenges to the scientist-practitioner model: Researchers sometimes fail to take into account the realities of clinical practice, and as surveys indicate, many practitioners are not interested in research findings. An important goal is thus to train students to think critically about the causes of the researcher-practitioner gap and to explore ways of reducing it. We attempt to create an atmosphere in which a critical spirit will flourish. Ongoing questioning and dialogue are encouraged, formally and informally, not only in classes and seminars but also at guest lectures, case conferences, research conferences, and various faculty and student meetings.
The program achieves mission through three primary modes of educational experiences: coursework, clinical placements, and research mentorship.
Coursework: Students in the MA program undertake broad, foundational, and graduate-level study of psychological science, in the areas of affective, biological, cognitive, social, and developmental psychology, as well as research methods and statistics. As they move into the doctoral program, they integrate their acquired basic science learning into clinical skills coursework.
Clinical Placements and Supervision: In clinical placements, doctoral students participate in didactics on up-to-date clinical research, which their supervisors then help them incorporate into their interventions. An important element of the integration of science and practice is the clinical experience in the Safran Center for Psychological Services, in which students employ evidence-based interventions and actively participate in psychotherapy process and outcomes research.
Research Mentorship: Students are guided by mentors in their research labs in generating research that integrates the theoretical and clinical implications of their proposed research and its subsequent findings.
For full details of the program curriculum, as well as all policies and procedures, please see the Psychology department handbook.
Psychodynamic Roots: Many of our basic clinical skills courses have a broad-based psychodynamic emphasis. Others have a cognitive-behavioral emphasis. Students are also exposed to other therapeutic orientations, such as humanistic and existential approaches. They are encouraged to approach clinical practice with an open and inquiring mind and avoid a doctrinaire outlook.
In its clinical training, the program is pluralistic, with an emphasis on psychoanalytically informed practice. The psychoanalytic legacy of our program can be traced back to 1926, when Sándor Ferenczi, one of Freud's closest colleagues, taught a course at The New School. Other psychoanalytic pioneers who have taught at The New School include Alfred Adler, Ernst Kris, Karen Horney, and Erich Fromm. Our psychoanalytic legacy can also be traced to the World War II–era origins of The New School for Social Research, of which a number of founding faculty members were interested in the synthesis of social and political thought, psychoanalysis, and the humanities.
Critical Thinking: Critical inquiry and debate are encouraged, and students seek out training experiences in a range of different orientations during externship placements. Students are exposed to diverse orientations and taught to examine similarities, differences, and points of complementarity between them. They are taught to think critically about the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches and to explore different approaches to integrating both interventions and theories from different perspectives (e.g., technical eclecticism, theoretical integration, common factors approaches, assimilative integration).
Integration of Science and Practice: In accordance with the scientist-practitioner model of training for clinical psychology, we are committed to teaching our students to integrate research and practice in a meaningful way. We teach them to view the activities of conducting research and engaging in clinical practice as mutually enhancing—that is, to understand that clinical practice generates important questions and insights that can have a significant influence on the conceptualization and execution of research and that both research findings and the process of conducting research can have an important impact on clinical practice.
Consistent with the National Conference on Scientist-Practitioner Education and Training for the Professional Practice of Psychology, the emphasis in our training model is on the integration of science and practice in all activities a clinical psychologist undertakes. From this perspective, the hallmark of the scientist-practitioner model is not publishing in scientific journals but rather bringing the integrative perspective of the scientific-practitioner model to all professional activities.
Many of our graduates choose to work in clinical settings, and when they do, we expect them to approach their work with the critical sensibility that is the hallmark of science; to value and seek out up-to-date information, including expertise in both clinical techniques and empirical findings regarding assessment, psychopathology, and therapeutic methods; and to evaluate this information critically. When they do research, we expect them to be attuned to real-world clinical concerns and to use their clinical experience to generate meaningful hypotheses.
We also believe it is important for students to be aware from the outset that the practice of clinical psychology often falls short of the ideals of the scientist-practitioner model, and that there is an increasing recognition in the field of a gap between researchers and clinicians. Researchers sometimes fail to take into account the realities of clinical practice, and, as surveys indicate, many practitioners are not interested in research findings. An important goal is thus to train students to think critically about the causes of the researcher-practitioner gap and to explore ways of reducing it. We attempt to create an atmosphere in which a critical spirit will flourish. Ongoing questioning and dialogue are encouraged, formally and informally, not only in class and seminar rooms but also at guest lectures, case conferences, research conferences, and various faculty and student meetings.