Clinical Training

Here at Cal Lutheran, the academic coursework is only one portion of the much larger, more comprehensive training that students receive. While the curriculum provides an exemplary foundation of current and relevant research-based knowledge in the field of psychology, it will in part serve as the base from which growing clinicians will draw when working with clients struggling with a wide range of problems. Thus, the program focuses on integrating the research in clinical psychology with practical, hands-on experience.

The clinical training portion of the program involves three major components:

1. Internal Practicum

We are fortunate to have two fully-operational training clinics that serve the community with low-cost psychological and counseling services. The clinics typically provide 11,000-12,000 sessions annually for children, adolescents, adults, couples, and families from a wide range of backgrounds.

The clinic facilities are fully equipped with state-of-the-art video recording equipment, record-keeping software, and computerized client outcome assessments, all of which contribute to a high-quality initial training experience.

Students also have the option of participating in one of three training tracks through the training clinics:

  1. Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) Program

    Funded from a grant from Verizon Foundation, the California Lutheran University IPV Intervention Program provides mental health services for survivors of intimate partner violence. Graduate students receive expert training in the assessment of interpersonal violence.

  2. Dialectical Behavior Therapy

    Dialectical Behavior Therapy was developed at the University of Washington by Marsha M. Linehan, Ph.D. DBT was originally developed to treat interpersonal chaos, intense emotional swings, impulsiveness, confusion about the self (identity), and suicidal behavior. DBT is based on a bio-social theory that states that problems develop from the interaction of biological factors (physiological makeup) and environmental factors (learning history), which together create difficulty managing emotions. The CLU-DBT training program was developed as part of a federally funded grant awarded to Dr. Linehan supporting research examining the dissemination and implementation of DBT training at the graduate level. Doctoral students at CLU complete core courses in behavioral methods, suicide assessment and crisis management, and DBT.

  3. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
    Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a third-wave behavioral therapy that has robust empirical evidence for showing efficacy with a wide range of psychological problems.  The therapy is based on Relational Frame Theory, which is a behavioral account of how language functions to keep people stuck in problematic cycles of self-defeating behavior.  As a truly experiential therapy, ACT employs mindfulness, acceptance, and behavioral freedom so that clients can direct their lives in accordance with their values. 

2. External Practicum

External Practicum Placement

Students advance from the internal practicum experience to providing psychological services in the broader community with some of our many community partners. In this phase, students work alongside professionals in the field engaging in clinical and professional activities. We have formed partnerships with many agencies to provide these opportunities including community mental health centers, county clinics, hospitals or medical centers, residential treatment centers, substance abuse clinics, correctional facilities, and college counseling centers. Our students have not only delivered psychological services in these settings but have also participated in research, program development, outreach, and consultation. Indeed, the broad range of experiences available in external practicum provides students with the opportunity to find and pursue their own areas of professional or clinical interest.

The Impact Our Students are Having on Our Community

Total Practicum Hours

3. Internship

As part of the program, students must complete a one-year, full-time (or two-year, part-time) internship prior to graduation. Internships provide the opportunity to enter fully into the role of a clinical therapist in the community, working as part of a team with the mission of serving those struggling with psychological pain. As interns, students will find their identity as colleagues in a larger community of helping professionals and begin to see more clearly their emerging role as a psychologist-in-training.

Students in the Psy.D. program may place in internship nationally or through the state-wide matching process.