The University of San Francisco: School of Nursing

Course Descriptions

The curriculum is built upon the foundation of psychology as a science and offers comprehensive exposure to evidence-based assessment and treatment as well as research with an emphasis on clinical application and sensitivity to multicultural context and individual differences. Academic courses form the centerpiece of doctoral education and are taught by faculty who are experts in their respective field. Unique to the program are course sequences such as the Clinical Skills Intensive, in which students meet in small groups with faculty and develop clinical skills by applying theory and research to ongoing cases.

Year 1: Fall Semester

PSYD 702: History and Systems of Psychology (2 units)

In this course students will examine the impact of philosophical thought on the field of clinical psychology and survey the major events and developments in the history of the field, emphasizing the contributions of underrepresented and diverse scholars and theorists. 

PSYD 703: Culture and Mental Health (3 units)

The course will on three major issues: 1) the role of culture in the development of psychological health and psychopathology; 2) variations across cultures in defining and understanding mental health and behavior; and 3) the importance of sociopolitical and cultural context in constructing ways to prevent and/or ameliorate psychological problems. Emphasis is placed on underserved populations in the United States and implications for mental health policy and intervention strategies.

PSYD 704: Human Development (3 units)

This course examines theory and research as they contribute to an understanding of human development of diverse populations. An overview of the individual differences and biological, cultural, socioeconomic, and environmental factors that influence growth and development across the lifespan will be provided.

PSYD 710: Advanced Psychopathology I: Children and Adolescents (3 units)

In this first course in a two-semester sequence focusing on psychopathology across the life span students will survey the epidemiology, etiology and diagnostic criteria for child and adolescent psychological disorders. Students will examine biological, familial, and sociocultural factors involved in child and adolescent psychopathology as they occur developmentally. Students will critically examine the DSM system of diagnosis and learn to apply it thoughtfully in their clinical and empirical work. 

PSDY 705: Practicum IA (1 unit)

In this Year 1 Fieldwork course students are oriented to the practice of professional psychology. The focus is on the interviewing skills for joining with the client, understanding and respecting cultural and other contextual aspects, rapport building, and assessment, treatment planning, and referral needs. Competence in triage, awareness of appropriate treatment, provision of informed consent, and ability to recommend alternatives constitute the essence of this experience. Students meet weekly for two hours with a licensed psychologist in secondary supervision away from the clinical site to provide a broad professional perspective as part of their socialization into the profession. Emphasis is on empirically supported intervention procedures. 

Year 1: Spring Semester

PSYD 712: Research Design and Methodology (3 units)

In this first course, focusing on research design and methodology, students will examine the scientific methods needed to critically analyze published research, develop scientifically sound studies and program evaluations, and apply findings to clinical settings. The goal is for students to become critical local scientists, and to evaluate the utility and validity of empirical studies. This course is designed to provide a broad introduction to issues of research methods and design in the social sciences. 

Students will learn a spectrum of methods available for research in the clinical domain, ranging from basic to applied, including experimental, quasi experimental, and single subject designs as well as strategies used in evaluating the effectiveness of intervention programs in a variety of mental health settings. Quantitative and qualitative data analytic techniques, as applied to research evaluation and design, will be examined, and special attention will be given to culturally sensitive approaches to community engagement and dissemination of results. Ethical considerations and best practices for working with diverse populations will be integrated throughout the course.

The focus will be on knowing when to use various research designs, what they produce, and how to conduct program improvement and evaluation projects and interpret results. The emphasis of this introduction course is on breadth rather than depth, on familiarity and critical engagement with concepts.

PSYD 713: Biological Psychology (2 units)

In this course brain structure and functioning will be surveyed. The course included discussion of the general aspects of human physiology and the mechanisms involved in behavioral functioning. The influence of the brain and neurotransmitters on behaviors, thoughts and feelings, sensation and perception, and the interaction of biological processes with emotions and cognitions will be examined.

PSYD 714: Community Psychology and Community Mental Health (2 units)

In this course students will critically examine socioeconomic and sociopolitical structures that influence health disparities and will focus on individual, group, and social determinants of disproportionate rates of mental and physical disorders among underserved communities. Emphasis will be on specific disorders and groups typically targeted by nonprofit and government agencies.

PSYD 711: Advanced Psychopathology II: Adults (3 units)

In this second course in a two-semester sequence focusing on psychopathology across the life span students will survey the epidemiology, etiology and diagnostic criteria for disorders that typically manifest themselves during adulthood. Students will examine theories of personality, biological, familial, and sociocultural factors involved in adult psychopathology. Students will critically examine the DSM system of diagnosis and learn to apply it thoughtfully in their clinical and empirical work. 

PSYD 715: Practicum IB (1 unit)

In this Year 1 Fieldwork course students are oriented to the practice of professional psychology. The focus is on the interviewing skills for joining with the client, understanding and respecting cultural and other contextual aspects, rapport building, and assessment, treatment planning, and referral needs. Competence in triage, awareness of appropriate treatment, provision of informed consent, and ability to recommend alternatives constitute the essence of this experience. Students meet weekly for two hours with a licensed psychologist in secondary supervision away from the clinical site to provide a broad professional perspective as part of their socialization into the profession. Emphasis is on empirically supported treatment intervention.

Year 1: Summer Semester

PSYD 721: Statistics for the Social Sciences (3 units)

This is the second course in a two-semester sequence. This course will focus on basic statistical literacy relative to the field of psychology and emphasize applied data analysis and interpretation of empirical research. Students will learn the primary data analysis methods and techniques which include descriptive statistics, chi-square, ANOVA, bivariate and multiple regression analysis, correlational analysis and non-parametric statistical tests, among others commonly used in behavioral health research. The course prepares students to conduct both basic and applied research. Research measurement techniques, choice of appropriate statistical tests, and data interpretation skills will also be addressed. Throughout the course culturally sensitive interpretation and dissemination of results will be emphasized.

PSYD 722: Professional Ethics, Laws, and Standards (2 units)

This course features the roles and responsibilities of psychologists according to the laws and ethical principles governing all modalities of practice, including consultation, teaching, psychotherapy, psycho education, research, and supervision. Particular emphasis will be given to the APA Guidelines and Principles, family law, and statutes covering mental health practice for psychologists in California, and legal mandates pertaining to behavioral health services involving children and adults. Specific focus will be on the ethical and legal implications of practice in diverse communities.

Year 2: Fall Semester

PSYD 726: Cognitive and Affective Bases of Behavior (3 units)

This course will cover the major theories of learning and cognition, with particular emphasis on their impact on assessment and treatment in current clinical practice. Content will include instrumental (operant) and classical (respondent) conditioning and social learning theory, as well as theories of cognition, memory, and problem solving. Multicultural factors associated with learning theories and procedures will be integrated throughout the course. 

PSYD 727: Behavioral Health Applications in Diverse Settings (3 units)

This course presents several theoretical frameworks that examine how health behaviors are developed, influenced, and changed via attitudes within a social and cultural context. Specifically, classic and contemporary theories of attitudes and attitude change, and compliance-gaining strategies and their relationship with changing health behaviors and culture will be covered. Special attention will be given to the understanding and application of these factors to underserved populations and addressing health disparities in behavioral health settings.

PSYD 725: Evidence Based Practice I: Humanistic, Psychodynamic, Interpersonal Psychotherapy (3 units)

Students will review the clinical and research literature on relationship-based approaches to treatment of mental health problems. Major theories and approaches in the humanistic, psychodynamic, and interpersonal traditions of psychological treatment will be examined, as well as the empirical support for such interventions. Cultural factors and application of these interventions with diverse communities will be examined.

PSYD 729: Practicum 2A (1 unit)

Fieldwork in Year 2 builds upon the first year in practicum and extends exposure and training to include more complex treatment planning and intervention. Severe, chronic disorders, diverse settings and cultural considerations, specialized areas of assessment and intervention, and collaboration with allied professionals are integrated into training objectives. Students are involved in community agencies and clinics with multi-problem clients. Diverse skills, including brief psychotherapy, psycho-education, case management, and advocacy are emphasized in 3 hours per week of group supervision. 

Year 2: Spring Semester

Advanced Group Therapy and Techniques (2 units)

This course provides a comprehensive study of the major approaches and interventions used in group psychotherapy. Students will also learn the dynamics of group process including the types, stages, and group formation.

PSYD 730: Evidence Based Practice II: Behavioral and Cognitive Psychotherapy (3 units)

Students will review the clinical and research literature on behavioral and cognitive approaches to treatment of mental health problems. Major theories and approaches in the behavioral, cognitive, and cognitive-behavioral traditions of psychological treatment will be examined, as well as the empirical support for such interventions. Cultural factors and application of these interventions with diverse communities will be examined. 

Personality Assessment (2 units)

Students learn the administration, scoring, and interpretation of objective and projective tests that assess the personality and the social/emotional functioning of children, adolescents, and adults. Emphasis is placed on the integration of cognitive, intellectual, and personality test data in presenting a comprehensive and culturally congruent assessment of individuals.

Psychometric Theory and Intellectual Assessment (3 units)

Examines the theoretical background, rationale and validity of the major contemporary tests of intellectual ability and development of skills in the administration of major instruments of intellectual assessment. Emphasis is given to the professional and ethical responsibilities associated with application of assessment to diverse populations.

PSYD 740: Practicum 2B (1 unit)

Fieldwork in Year 2 builds upon the first year in practicum and extends exposure and training to include more complex treatment planning and empirically supported interventions. Severe, chronic disorders, diverse settings and cultural considerations, specialized areas of assessment and intervention, and collaboration with allied professionals are integrated into training objectives. Students are involved in community agencies and clinics with multi-problem clients. Diverse skills, including brief psychotherapy, psycho-education, case management, and advocacy are emphasized in 3 hours per week of group supervision. 

Year 2: Summer Semester

PSYD 735: Evidence Based Practice III: Couples and Families (3 units)

Students will review the clinical and research literature on marital, family, and group treatment of mental health problems. Major theories and approaches in these traditions of psychological treatment will be examined, as well as the empirical support for such interventions. Cultural factors and application of these interventions with diverse communities will be examined for each theory.

Qualifying Exam: Guided Study and Test-taking Strategies (1 unit)

The Qualifying Exam, given at the end of the Summer of Year 2, assesses students' breadth of knowledge across the courses offered in the first two years of the program (Foundations of Clinical Psychology, and Psychological Assessment and Theories of Change) by means of a written exam and oral defense of the exam. Students must pass the qualifying exam before beginning work on their Professional Project in Year 3. This course provides guidance and test taking strategies to help students succeed at passing the exam.

Year 3: Fall Semester

Evidence Based Practice IV: Groups

This course provides a comprehensive study of the major approaches and interventions used in group psychotherapy. Students will also learn the dynamics of group process including the types, stages, and group formation.

Neuropsychological Screening and Assessment (3 units)

Students will be introduced to standard approaches to screening and assessment of neuropsychological functioning in children, adolescents, and adults. Content will include development, administration, and interpretative methods used in assessment and review of results. Emphasis is given to the professional and ethical responsibilities associated with assessment of diverse populations. 

Professional Project: Proposal Development (1 unit)

In this first course of a five-semester sequence, students meet in a weekly seminar to formulate and develop their Professional Project Proposal. Discussion of background clinical and research literature, needs of diverse communities and individuals, design of interventions and evaluation methods, and approaches to data analysis and interpretation are reviewed and articulated orally and in writing.

PSYD 750: Practicum 3A (2 units)

As students have become increasingly socialized into the profession, a clearer understanding of their role as psychologists begins to emerge in this practicum experience. Placements continue in community clinics and medical facilities, with a focus on working as part of multidisciplinary teams. Skills in collaboration, prevention, and intervention with specific bio psychosocial conditions, and flexibility in adapting to crises and unforeseen occurrences in behavioral health are emphasized in 3 hours per week of group supervision. 

Year 3: Spring Semester

Psychopharmacology (2 units)

Students will gain current scientific knowledge of psychopharmacology and its application to clinical problems commonly seen in a variety of settings. The course explores advanced concepts in neuroscience, pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics, and the clinical management of target psychiatric symptoms related to psychopharmacologic treatment of various psychiatric disorders. Special emphasis will be placed on identifying the need for medication and referring for evaluation and treatment. 

Consultation and Inter-professional Collaboration (3 units)

Students will explore the role of the consultation process in various behavioral health settings in which the psychologist functions. Emphasis will be on the structure of different professional settings, as well as collaboration with the various professionals who work there, such as nurses, physicians, social workers, and occupational therapists, and other allied health professionals. Students will learn how to assess, enter, and function in multiple settings.

Professional Project: Proposal Preparation and Defense (1 unit)

In this second course of a five-semester sequence, students meet in a weekly seminar to finalize and write their Professional Project Proposal. A scholarly critical review of the clinical and research literature, an analysis of the needs of diverse communities and individuals, and the proposed design of intervention and evaluation methods, data analysis and interpretation are presented in the written Proposal, which is submitted to the student's Professional Project Faculty Committee. Students orally defend their Proposal at the end of the session. 

PSYD 760: Practicum 3B (3 units)

As students have become increasingly socialized into the profession, a clearer understanding of their role as psychologists begins to emerge in this practicum experience. Placements continue in community clinics and medical facilities, with a focus on working as part of multidisciplinary teams. Skills in collaboration, prevention, and intervention with specific bio psychosocial conditions, and flexibility in adapting to crises and unforeseen occurrences in behavioral health are emphasized in 3 hours per week of group supervision.

Year 3: Summer Semester

Professional Project: Data Collection (1 unit)

In this third course of a five-semester sequence, students work individually under the supervision of their Professional Project Faculty Committee Chair to obtain approval from the Institutional Review Board for the Protection of Human Subjects for their Project. Once approved, students implement their Project intervention and data collection efforts.

Scientific and Professional Ethics and Standards II (2 units)

Following the beginning seminar in this area, students have been presented with complex ethical and legal dilemmas in their practicum and classroom experiences, and related inter-professionally with behavioral health providers at all levels. This seminar is designed to address common issues faced by students and professionals in the field and to apply critical thinking skills to cases encountered by students and adjudicated by licensing boards, ethics committees, and in the courts.

Year 4: Fall Semester

Theory and Practice of Clinical Supervision (2 units)

This course will explore various principles, theories, and approaches of individual and group supervision in psychological practice. Students will have the opportunity to apply this knowledge towards their work with first year PsyD students in conjunction with a licensed psychologist. 

Professional Project: Data Analysis and Writing (1 unit)

In this fourth course of a five-semester sequence, students work individually under the supervision of their Professional Project Faculty Committee Chair to complete data collection and conduct data analysis and drafting of the results, implications, and recommendations of their Project.

PSYD 770: Practicum 4A (3 units)

The final pre-doctoral fieldwork experience integrates and consolidates the first three years into a comprehensive approach to practice, and allows the student to integrate their personal worldview and background into preparation for successfully obtaining and completing an internship. Specific strategies for applying to APA internships and methods for flexibility in allowing for work-life and professional balance are stressed, in 3 hours per week of group supervision.

Elective (2 units)

 

Year 4: Spring Semester

 

Assessment and Treatment of Substance Abuse and Dependence (2 units)

This course focuses on the detection, evaluation and treatment of trauma and substance abuse in a sociocultural context. It includes the historical and contemporary perspectives on trauma and on alcohol and drug abuse, basic principles of diagnosis and assessment, and prevention and intervention strategies with diverse populations. Sociopolitical and cultural aspects of work in this area is emphasized.

Professional Project: Preparation and Defense (1 unit)

In this fifth course of a five-semester sequence, students work individually under the supervision of their Professional Project Chair to finalize their Project in a manuscript to be presented to their Committee. Students orally defend their Professional Project at the end of the session. 

PSYD 780: Practicum 4B (3 units)

The final pre-doctoral fieldwork experience integrates and consolidates the first three years into a comprehensive approach to practice, and allows the student to integrate their personal worldview and background into preparation for successfully obtaining and completing an internship. Specific strategies for applying to APA internships and methods for flexibility in allowing for work-life and professional balance are stressed, in 3 hours per week of group supervision.

Elective (2 units)

 

Year 5: July 1st through June 30th

 

Full-Time Clinical Internship at another institution (1 USF unit in Fall Semester, 1 USF unit in Spring Semester)

ELECTIVES

Assessment of Children and Adolescents (2 units)

Students will be introduced to objective and projective approaches to clinical assessment and evaluation of children and adolescents. Empirically supported tools used in clinics, schools, and private practice settings with diverse populations will be reviewed. Opportunities for practice in administration, interpretation, and report writing are included in the course.

Advanced Neuropsychological Assessment (2 units)

Students will be introduced to the underlying theory and administration of major neuropsychological screening tools and assessment instruments. Opportunities for practice in administration, interpretation, and report writing are included in the course.

Treatment with Forensic Populations (2 units)

Students will be provided with psychological, legal, historical, and practical concepts and methods used in forensic assessments to provide expert witness testimony in a variety of psycho-legal settings and cases. A discussion of sociopolitical factors associated with psycho-legal processes will also be discussed. The traditional roles of Psychologist and Psychiatrist in the judicial system, the assessment of competency to stand trial and issues of criminal responsibility will be analyzed during this course. Patients’ rights, confidentiality, duty to warn, and patient-doctor privileges will also be examined in this course.

Child and Family Treatment (2 units)

Students will examine the clinical and research literature on mental health treatment of children, adolescents, and families and be introduced to major approaches to working with diverse youth and their families.

Indigenous Healing Practices (2 units)

Students will learn about a wide variety of cultural healing and spirituality practices and develop strategies to aid in recognizing the role of these practices in health and illness. 

Gender, Sex, Sexuality and Health (2 units)

Students will be provided with a frame of reference to understand the intersection of gender, sex, sexuality and health throughout the developmental continuum. Social constructions regarding gender norms will be critiqued from a multicultural lens along with their impact on health and health seeking behaviors. Students will also be provided with class discussions around issues related to topics such as rape and sexual abuse, transgender concerns in health, sexual dysfunction, same sex relationships and behavior, and sexual negotiation and health concerns. The psychotherapeutic implications of these issues will be addressed throughout the course.

Aging and Older Adults (2 units)

Students will explore cognitive, emotional, physical, and social theories of aging. Consultation and interventions in the context of normative aging will be discussed as it relates to retirement counseling, coping with experiences of loss, death and dying, coping with diminished physical, psychological and social functioning, as well as the impact of aging on selfhood. Students will also examine the most frequently encountered clinical syndrome in older age including cortical and sub-cortical dementia, depression and pseudo dementia and various organic syndromes of different etiologies. The different treatment options available to the elderly will be reviewed.

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