The general objectives of the clinical MA/PhD program are to provide intensive coverage of the knowledge base of psychopathology, assessment, and therapy; the acquisition of clinical skills in assessment, therapy, and ethics; and coverage of the broad field of psychology through courses in experimental design and statistics and the nonclinical areas of psychology.
To accomplish these objectives, the plan of study includes a series of clinical and nonclinical courses and practica supervised by professional psychologists in university and community agencies.
For two years, students carry out clinical work under the direct supervision of department clinical faculty. As they progress through the program, students are given opportunities to specialize in their area(s) of interest. For example, students can plan their courses and practicum and internship placements to meet the Clinical Neuropsychology Synarchy’s criteria for an area of emphasis in clinical neuropsychology. Similarly, courses and clinical training opportunities are available for students who wish to specialize in child clinical psychology.
To satisfy accreditation requirements, graduate students in clinical psychology take a required curriculum that is designed to provide them with a breadth of knowledge in the science and practice of clinical psychology. The clinical program is a carefully integrated combination of training in science-based knowledge, ethics, and clinical skills.
The courses are designed to build upon one another and must be taken as a unit; they may not be taken in isolation. All practical courses involve direct contact with clients or confidential client information. Faculty supervisors of these clinical courses are legally and ethically responsible for the work of the students under their supervision. For these reasons, courses involving diagnosis, assessment, treatment, and clinical ethics are restricted to those students who are enrolled in the complete clinical training program.
The MA program requires full-time resident study and should be completed within two years.
- PSYC 537 – Ethics & Professional Issues in Clinical Psychology
- PSYC 541 – Introduction to Psychotherapy
- PSYC 542 – Cognitive/Behavioural Interventions
- PSYC 530 – Assessment: Critical Survey
- PSYC 531 – Assessment: Clinical Applications
- PSYC 560 – Clinical Research Design
- PSYC 534 – Clinical Practicum
- PSYC 545 – Advanced Statistics
- 3 credits of PSYC courses outside the Clinical area
- Thesis (18 credits)
In addition, students are required to attend the Case Conference / Professional Issues Seminar in both years of the MA program. Please note, certain students may be required to complete additional courses or other undertakings because of deficiencies in their preparatory background; these requirements are specified by the program in coordination with the Graduate Student Progress Committee in writing during the first term of the student’s residence in the program.
Note: Students completing the MA program must apply for acceptance into the PhD program; acceptance depends upon the quality of the master’s-level work.
Full academic year residency is required for PhD students until the attainment of candidacy.
- 3 credits of advanced assessment (e.g,. Child Assessment, Neuropsychological Assessment)
- 3 credits of psychopathology (e.g., Psychopathology of the Child, Psychopathology of the Adult)
- 3 credits of advanced intervention (e.g., Dialectical Behaviour Therapy, Treatment of Child Disorders, Motivational Interviewing)
- 3 credits of statistics
- PSYC 534 – Clinical Psychology Practicum
- 3 to 6 credits of PSYC courses outside the Clinical area
- Community-based practica sufficient to achieve program objectives and reflect readiness for internship (minimum 450 hours)
- Comprehensive examination
- CPA- or APA-accredited internship
In addition, all students and faculty are expected to attend the monthly Clinical Lunch speaker series (September to April). This series is designed to bring faculty and students together in a casual setting to promote a sense of community and shared learning. The topics are varied; past events in this series have focused on psychopathology or interventions with adults or children.
Students are also required to demonstrate satisfactory knowledge of historical foundations of psychology and one of the advanced clinical courses (assessment, psychopathology, or intervention) must focus on children (i.e., PSYC 532 Child Assessment, PSYC 536 Psychopathology of the Child, or PSYC 556 Treatment of Child Disorders).
To accomplish the general objectives of the program, the plan of MA and PhD study includes a series of clinical and non-clinical courses and practica supervised by professional psychologists in university and community agencies.
In the first year, students gain basic clinical knowledge and skills to prepare them for practica in subsequent years. In the second and third academic years, students carry out clinical work under the direct supervision of departmental clinical faculty. In subsequent years of the PhD program, students engage in advanced practica in community settings to prepare them for internship and beyond.
As students progress through the program, they engage in ongoing assessment of their developing competencies reflecting broad and general training in clinical psychology as well specialization in the student’s area(s) of interest. In order to acquire sufficient breadth, all students must meet program requirements. In consultation with their faculty advisor, students may also plan additional experiences to supplement development of relevant competencies.
The UBC Psychology Clinic serves many of the Clinical Program’s training and research needs. The Clinic operates throughout the year, providing assessment and psychotherapy services to members of the community. Several practicum teams function within the Clinic, allowing students to gain experience with diverse treatment issues and modalities of intervention. The Clinic also supports interaction with members of the professional community, hosting a variety of speakers and promoting clinical workshops.
The Clinic provides training in cognitive-behavioral, interpersonal, motivational, and psychodynamic therapy to treat addictive and impulse control disorders, anxiety disorders, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, behaviour problems of childhood (e.g., bedwetting, school refusal), eating disorders, interpersonal problems, mood disorders, oppositional defiant disorder, perfectionism and other personality-related maladjustment, psychophysiological disorders (e.g., headache, hypertension), and somatoform disorders. Training in neuropsychological assessment and rehabilitation may also be available in the Clinic.
In our program and training clinic, we are committed to training that ensures that graduate students develop the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to work effectively with members of the public who embody a variety of demographics, attitudes, beliefs, and values. Consistent with this principle, policy in the UBC training program does not allow discrimination on the basis of age, gender, gender identity, race, ethnicity, culture, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability, or socioeconomic status in the services provided. Thus, students should expect to be assigned clients that may differ from them on these variables and present challenges for them at some point in training.
When graduate 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 clinical supervisors are committed to a developmental training approach that is designed to support the acquisition of broad professional competence in working with clients/patients from diverse populations. Because students will have to navigate these sorts of clinical situations in their future careers, the program has a responsibility to prepare students to do so in a safe and ethical manner.
For some trainees, integrating personal beliefs or values with professional competence in working with all clients/patients may require additional time and faculty support. Ultimately though, to complete our program successfully, all graduate students must be able to work, within the limits of their competence, with any client placed in their care in a safe and ethical manner consistent with the protections afforded by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. 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.
Students follow a programmatic sequence of clinical training of increasing complexity:
- In the first year, students prepare to begin clinical training by taking Introduction to Psychotherapy, the two Assessment courses, and and the course in Ethical and Professional Issues in Clinical Psychology. Formal supervised clinical practicum begins in the second year. Students are required to take Clinical Psychology Practicum (PSYC534) in both Years 2 and 3.
- A community-based practicum experience (minimum 450 hour placement) is required of all students. This practicum takes place in a community agency. It can be done as a full-time experience during the summer after Years 2 or 3 or as a part-time experience during the 3rd or 4th year of graduate studies. Practicum plans are developed in conjunction with the student’s faculty advisor and are submitted in writing for approval by the Clinical faculty.
- Students subsequently identify additional practicum training to augment their clinical skills in preparation for internship. As with the required practicum, plans for these elective training opportunities must be developed in conjunction with the student’s faculty advisor and are submitted in writing for approval by the Clinical faculty. Practica that are not approved in advance by the clinical program will not be certified as training hours toward readiness for internship and are not covered by the university’s liability insurance that covers required practicum training in pursuit of a degree.
- A year-long internship in a CPA- or APA-accredited setting must be completed prior to awarding of the PhD. Students must be approved by the clinical program as ready for internship before they are eligible to apply. Prior to applying, students must complete all required courses, the history and life span requirements. their comprehensive exams, dissertation proposal, and must have all dissertation data collected. Students must also demonstrate broad-based competencies in relation to program objectives for clinical, professional, and scientific knowledge and skills.
All students in the clinical psychology program are required to demonstrate substantial understanding of the historical and scientific foundations of psychology. This material is presented in most courses, particularly those didactic courses that satisfy breadth requirements for clinical students.
Students who entered the clinical program in 2007 or later must demonstrate a graduate level understanding of historical and scientific foundations of general psychology by preparing a 2-3 page book report on at least one book on this topic (see suggested titles below).
Another option that may be used to demonstrate such knowledge is to take either PSYC 500 or PSYC 312, the upper-level undergraduate course UBC offers on this topic (or an equivalent course from another university). This requirement may be completed at any time before applying to internship. Students who choose the book report option should select a book that covers the breadth of scientific psychology, its history of thought and development, including its research methods and applications. Examples of books that would be appropriate include:
- Benjafeld, J. (2010). A history of psychology (3rd Ed.). New York, NY: Oxford.
- Benjamin, L.T. (2006). A brief history of modern psychology. Malden, MA: Blackwell.
- Brock, A. C. (Ed.). (2006). Internationalizing the history of psychology (pp. 1-15). New York: New York University Press.
- Goodwin, C.J. (2014). A history of modern psychology (5th Ed.). New York, NY: Wiley.
- Hergenhahn, B.R. (2008). An introduction to the history of psychology (6th Ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
- Leahey, T.H. (2012). History of psychology (7 Ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.
- O’Boyle, C. (2020). History of psychology: A cultural perspective. Routledge.
- Schultz, D.P., & Schultz, S.E. (2007). A history of modern psychology (9th Ed.). Fort Worth, TX: Wadsworth.
To promote the development of skills in self-directed learning in psychology, students are expected to fulfill this requirement in a relatively independent manner. That being said, students must obtain advance approval from their research advisor regarding the book they will use for this requirement. The research advisor is also responsible for assessing the quality of the book report on a pass/fail basis.
The faculty’s expectation is that the book report will concisely review major themes presented in the book and make connections between material presented in the book and the science of clinical psychology. For example, students may highlight historical foundations of major theoretical approaches underpinning their own clinical training thus far or outline the historical foundations of theories, methods, or research questions examined in their own laboratories.
Students who have previously taken a senior undergraduate course on historical and scientific foundations of general psychology may apply to the clinical program for exemption from this requirement. Application for exemption includes a letter requesting the exemption, a hard copy of the undergraduate transcript showing the course, and a copy of the course syllabus. The course must be similar in breadth and rigor to PSYC 500, and the student must have achieved a mark of at least 80% in the course.
The Clinical program employs an apprenticeship approach to research training. Each student is selected for his/her compatibility of research interests with a faculty member. The major theoretical perspectives represented in faculty interests are behavioural, cognitive, social learning, interpersonal and psychophysiological. The student will work closely with that particular faculty member throughout his or her graduate program on faculty and/or student research projects.
The system is designed to expose students to clinical research early in their graduate training and to equip them with the necessary research skills for conducting the Master’s thesis and developing a program of research. The M.A. thesis should be completed by the spring of the second year. All research conducted at UBC must be approved by the UBC Behavioural Research Ethics Board.
In addition to the apprenticeship training, a firm academic background in clinical research design and methodology will be made available in first year coursework including Clinical Research Design and Advanced Statistics. Students orally present the results of their first research efforts (typically the MA thesis) at a departmental mini-conference (known as PsychFest), which usually occurs during the first week of May. It is quite possible that students’ research interests may change through the course of their graduate training. If students would like to switch research advisors or become involved in additional research with other faculty members, they should discuss this with all parties concerned.
Students are also encouraged to explore the possibility of collaboration with faculty in other areas of the Department who may have interests that overlap with the students’ areas of interest. To provide a sense of research in the clinical program, below are some examples of titles of recent graduates’ dissertation titles:
- How parent and child Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder symptoms predict parenting behaviours in mothers and fathers: Self-Report and observational measures
- Coping, information preferences, and treatment choice in men newly diagnosed with prostate cancer
- Mechanisms that underlie cultural disparities in women’s sexual desire: The role of sex guilt and its treatment
- Characteristics of the Posttraumatic Stress Disorder traumatic stressor: A study of rural and northern first responders
- From affect to action: Daily emotions and non-suicidal self-injury
- Metacognition and cravings during smoking cessation
- The modulatory role of selective attention on P50 sensory gating and event related beta activity in schizophrenia
- Perfectionism, social exclusion, and anorexia nervosa symptoms
- Better safe than sorry? An examination of safety behaviour reduction interventions in social anxiety disorder
Practica & Internships
Students will be assigned to a practicum team (PSYC 534) during their second and third years in the program. Each team usually consists of approximately two students who are supervised by a clinical faculty member, and students typically begin to see clients early in the course of the first practicum. Students are assigned to a new team for the second year of practicum.
The aim is to provide students with a broad range of therapy experience (e.g., children, adults) to establish a foundation of clinical skills from which they can proceed with community-based practica and internship. Clinical Case Conferences also provide students with the opportunity to prepare and deliver case presentations concerning their ongoing clinical caseload.
Students are required to do a community-based practicum full-time during the summer after the 2nd or 3rd year of the program or part-time during the 4th academic year. This practicum consists of a placement lasting at least 450 hours (three months or part-time equivalent) in an agency where the student is supervised by registered PhD psychologists.
The sites of the practica vary from year to year as placement is dependent on funding, the availability of supervisors and student interests. Examples of recent local practicum sites include:
- BC Centre for Sexual Medicine
- BC Children’s Hospital
- BC OSI Clinic
- Back in Motion Rehabilitation Centre
- BC Forensic Hospital
- Burnaby General Hospital (neuropsychology)
- Burnaby Mental Health & Substance Abuse
- DBT Centre of Vancouver
- G.F. Strong Rehab Centre (neuropsychology)
- Royal Columbian Hospital (clinical research – psychosis treatment)
- Maples Adolescent Treatment Centre
- Maple Ridge Mental Health Center
- Ministry of Child and Family Development
- North Shore Stress & Anxiety Clinic
- UBC Hospital (severe mental illness)
- Vancouver CBT Centre
- Vancouver General Hospital (concurrent disorders unit)
- Vancouver General Hospital (neuropsychology)
- Vancouver Psychotherapy Centre
- Royal Columbian Hospital (neuropsychology)
Some students have chosen to go away for a summer practicum at sites such as Summit Psychology Group in Nelson, BC, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, or the Summer Treatment Program at Florida International University.
In addition to the required practicum, students typically engage in other community-based practica to round out their clinical skills in preparation for internship.
Faculty advisors, in conjunction with the Clinic Director (who serves as a liaison between our program and the community-based practicum sites), make recommendations for practicum sites that fit the program’s goals and training standards as well as the student’s goals and developmental training needs. Students must obtain written approval for practicum placements well in advance of when they would like to begin the practicum. Most sites have a competitive process for selecting trainees and cannot accommodate late applications.
For both the required practicum and elective practica, students are advised to begin checking into the availability of practica for the upcoming summer in October or November. A Practicum/Internship night is held each year to facilitate an exchange of information between students and local agencies, and potential practicum students are strongly encouraged to attend.
One of the requirements for the Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology is a year-long residency at a health or mental health agency accredited by the Canadian Psychological Association or the American Psychological Association. Students must be approved by the clinical program as ready for residency before they are eligible to apply.
In addition to completing all required courses, the history of psychology requirement, and all data collection for their dissertation, students must also demonstrate broad-based competencies in relation to program objectives for clinical, professional, and scientific knowledge and skills. Students who are using archival data, which are by definition already collected before the student accesses them, must demonstrate to the clinical program’s satisfaction that the data are sufficient for conducting the dissertation research as consistent with the approved dissertation proposal prior to applying for residency.
All students must apply to CPA- or APA-accredited residency programs. If students do not match the first year that they apply for residency, in subsequent application rounds they must continue to apply to accredited residencies. However, they also may seek approval from the Clinical Programme to apply to residencies that are not accredited. In seeking this area approval prior to applying, the student must provide documentation clearly outlining how the non-accredited residency adheres to the standards of an accredited residency program. These standards are available on the CPA’s website and can be used as a template to document how the residency fulfills these standards (i.e., is equivalent to an accredited residency).
Students in our program have recently been placed in the following residency programs:
- Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, ON
- Edmonton Consortium Clinical Psychology Residency, Edmonton, AB
- Vancouver Coastal Health, Vancouver, BC
- St. Joseph’s Healthcare, Hamilton ON
- Stonybrook University Consortium, NY, USA
- Alberta Children’s Hospital, Calgary, AB
- Royal Ottawa Healthcare Group, Ottawa, ON
- Fraser Health Authority, New Westminster, BC
- Boston Children’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA
- Waterloo Region Psychology Consortium, Waterloo, ON
On average, our recent graduates have authored or co-authored 3.0 publications since graduating.
The table below shows data on our students’ success in obtaining internships. Data are listed with reference to the year students matched for internship and began attendance. Note that our students are required to attend an APA- or CPA-accredited internship in order to meet degree requirements.
|Applicants for 2nd (or +) Time
|Withdrew from APPIC Match
|Matched to Half-Time Internship
|Matched to Full-Time Internship
|CPA or APA Accredited Internship
|Accredited Match as % Applicants
|APPIC, Non-Accredited Internship
|Internship Outside of Province
|Internship Outside of Canada
|Mean Practicum Hours (on AAPI)
|Mean Internship Stipend