The Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) is a professional doctoral degree intended to prepare graduates for practice in psychology. Earning the degree was originally completed through one of two established training models for clinical psychology. However, Psy.D. programs are no longer limited to Clinical Psychology as several universities and professional schools have begun to award professional doctorates in Business Psychology, Organizational Development, Forensic Psychology, Counseling Psychology, and School Psychology.
The degree is usually abbreviated as Psy.D. in the United States and Canada and also D.Psy. or D.Ps. in Canada. In the United Kingdom and Ireland, it is often abbreviated as D.Clin.Psych, Clin.Psy.D., or Psych.D. In Australia, it is often abbreviated as D.Psych.
The practice of clinical psychology is based on an understanding of the scientific method and behavioral science. The focus of the Doctor of Psychology training model is on the application of this knowledge for direct clinical intervention. This includes the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness, as well as cognitive and emotional impairments in which psychological approaches may be of use.
Doctor of Psychology programs take four to seven years to complete. Students in these programs receive a broad and general education in scientific psychology and evidence-based treatment. Course work includes: Biological bases of behavior; cognitive-affective bases of behavior; social-cultural bases of behavior; lifespan development; assessment and diagnosis; treatment and intervention; research methods and statistics; and ethical and professional standards. Specialized training (e.g., neuropsychology, forensic psychology, psychodynamic psychology) is also available in some programs.
Students in Doctor of Psychology programs receive extensive clinical training through placements in various settings (e.g., community mental health centers, hospitals, college counseling centers). These placements provide direct patient contact that is supervised by a licensed psychologist. Clinical training culminates in a 1,750-2,000 hour (1-year full-time or 2-year half-time) supervised internship.
In order to complete the Psy.D. degree, students typically must demonstrate several competencies: 1) knowledge mastery through passing comprehensive exams, and 2) clinical skill through successful completion of a pre-doctoral internship, and 3) scholarship through a doctoral research project.
Regional accreditation is available to doctoral programs in clinical psychology.