Accreditation provides assurance to students, the educational community, and the general public that the program meets the national standards for the profession of clinical psychology and employs processes for ongoing evaluation and improvement.
At its fall 2005 meeting, the Committee on Accreditation (CoA) of the American Psychological Association (APA) granted full reaccreditation to the Graduate School of Education and Psychology’s doctor of psychology (Psy.D.) program in clinical psychology. This is an important milestone for the program, which has been accredited since its first class graduated in 1990; and it culminates a two-year self-study involving alumni, students, faculty, and administration. Accreditation provides assurance to students, the educational community, and the general public that the program meets the national standards for the profession of clinical psychology and employs processes for ongoing evaluation and improvement. Three hundred and sixty-eight doctoral programs, 467 internship programs, and 40 postdoctoral programs are accredited by APA. Dr. Edward Shafranske, director of the program, commented, “We are certainly pleased with the CoA’s decision and are poised to build upon the foundation of reaccreditation to further enhance the quality of our educational program.” Shafranske added that he was particularly gratified to hear the site visitors’ conclusion that the program was in the “top tier” of clinical psychology programs in the nation.
The self-study provided a comprehensive assessment of the program’s curriculum, clinical training program, faculty, administration, students, University resources, measures of achievement, outcomes, processes for self-evaluation, public disclosure, and relationship with the accrediting body. The accreditation committee, which included GSEP dean, Dr. Margaret Weber; associate dean, Dr. Robert deMayo; faculty, Drs. Joy Asamen, Aaron Aviera, Louis Cozolino, Drew Erhardt, Susan Hall, Shelly Harrell, and Edward Shafranske (chair); program administrator, Cheryl Saunders; clinical training and professional development administrator, Jay Carson; and Student Government Association representative, Jennifer Carusone, prepared the 400+ page report and appendices. Conclusions were drawn from surveys of alumni and reviews of objective outcome data as well as from opinions obtained from student and faculty focus groups. Among its findings, the self-study demonstrated congruence between the program’s goals and objectives and its outcomes. More than 90 percent of the graduates provide direct clinical services in private practice; community mental health centers; or Veterans Administration, public, or private medical centers. Forty-seven percent of the respondents reported that 50 percent or more of their time was spent conducting psychological treatment; about 15 percent in psychological assessment; and the remaining time was dedicated to administration, consultation, and other clinical activities. Figure 1 presents alumni satisfaction with the Psy.D. program and Figure 2 presents alumni primary clinical services.
In May 2005, the site visit team, Drs. Robert Gregory (Wheaton College), David Downing (University of Indianapolis), and Kathleen Gathercoal (George Fox University), reviewed the self-study and spent two intensive days on campus interviewing alumni, students, faculty, and administrators, including president Andrew Benton, provost Darryl Tippens, and dean Margaret Weber as well as directors of clinical training at local practicum sites and internships.
The self-study also revealed areas for continued improvement. Efforts are underway to enhance the coverage of issues of diversity throughout the curriculum to ensure the development of multicultural competence and to strengthen the foundation in social and cognitive aspects of behavior. Associate dean, Dr. Robert deMayo, concluded, “We have much to be proud of here at Pepperdine and we are looking forward to the continued success of the Psy.D. program and our students and alumni.” The next accreditation review will take place in 2012.
Among the Strengths of the Program, the Visitors Noted:
- The mission statement of the University, “to strengthen lives for service, purpose, and leadership,” appears to moor the Psy.D. program and to connect faculty, students, staff, and administration within an abiding, shared, communal ethos that is clearly more than rhetorical platitude. Rather, it appears that the mission statement constitutes the individual and collectively lived experience of this community of scholars.
- The program has articulated an evocative commitment to multicultural competence and sensitivity in both narrow and broad connotations of the term. Dialogical pathways for such important discourse and processes are in place, with an understanding that more can continue to be accomplished in this important arena.
- Pepperdine follows a scholar-practitioner model with clearly specified competencies that are in the mainstream of modern professional psychology. The training model clearly acknowledges that psychological practice is based on the science of psychology, and the training is appropriately sequential, cumulative, and graded in complexity.
- Pepperdine maintains active arrangements with some of the best training sites in the Los Angeles area and places multiple students at some of these premiere sites. Perhaps even more impressive is the fact that Pepperdine operates several “in-house” training sites, which allows the program to oversee the clinical development of students, especially in the critical first year of their training.
- Faculty are seen as models for the collegial, respectful, questioning pursuit of learning, on the way to knowing, and are lauded by students as exemplars of professional scholar-practitioners.
- The students in the Psy.D. program also must be noted as an important asset of Pepperdine University. They are clearly perceived as strong emissaries of the program in relation to the professional community-at-large. Their strength communicates a great deal with respect to the quality of the program.