Clinical Psychology Training Program Anniversary
Notable Accomplishments during Dr. Attkisson’s Tenure as Director
Clifford Attkisson, PhD, was director from September 1981 to November 1992 and trainee during 1968-69
1. Realigned the Programmatic Mission
The training program curriculum was realigned to achieve consistency with the scientist-practitioner model of clinical psychology training. Trainees were selected who aspired to careers as academic faculty members or full-time research scientists. Excellence in both research and clinical acumen was emphasized by faculty who guided the development of trainees who were selected for their interest in research topics that were consistent with strengths in the UCSF research portfolio. Each trainee worked with a research mentor who guided development of a research plan, provided access to research settings, and provided resources to support collaborative research.
2. Instituted a Two-year Pre- and Post-Doctoral Fellowship
To accomplish the dual focus on clinical skills attainment and immersion in research, the training program was extended to a two-year format that included an initial pre-doctoral clinical internship year followed by a full postdoctoral year. Research training and clinical education were featured in both years with time invested in research slowly expanding during the initial year and reaching a significant commitment during the post-doctoral year. The two-year approach to training slowly came to be recognized as a national model for such training and was an enormous advantage to trainee graduates in attainment of licensure and career appointment.
3. Recruited Trainees Nationally
While national in attractiveness to graduate students in clinical psychology throughout its history, during the 1980s the program leaders instituted an intensive approach to national recruitment using informational and personal outreach to clinical psychology graduate students and academic leaders at accredited graduate programs throughout the U.S. This effort produced increasingly large applicant pools, extraordinary selectivity, and appointment of consistently strong and diverse cohorts of trainees.
4. Achieved Nationally Competitive Trainee Stipends and Benefits.
Stipends were increased significantly during this era of the program’s history and the levels reached a respectable and nationally competitive level. For the first time, trainees were provided health insurance and were also, optionally, provided access to primary care and major medical health insurance through the UCSF Student Health Service.
5. Expanded Program Faculty
To implement the two-year, scientist practitioner training program, a campus-wide faculty cohort was recruited. Selected and included were psychologists whose careers exemplified the dual focus on research and clinical excellence. The expanded faculty included individuals with organized research programs, strong records of extramural funding and scientific publishing, clinical acumen, and experience in both clinical and research training.
6. Integrated Clinical Psychology Training across the UCSF Campus
The realigned training program integrated, within a single unified curriculum clinical psychology training within three distinct UCSF locations. These included The Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute, the San Francisco General Hospital Department of Psychiatry, and the UCSF Division of General Internal Medicine. The program came to emphasize a common core of seminars, standards for training, and expectations for training outcomes. In addition, the program emphasized the strengths of the cultures and clinical and research opportunities of the three locations. Throughout the two-year program, trainees also were convened in core activities that stimulated formation of a common group identity, mutual support, and opportunity to access the resources of more than one training location.
7. Established Major Focus Areas for Training in a Unified Curriculum
Distinct focus areas were established to take advantage of the unique qualities and strengths of the three geographic locations in which training was conducted. The focus areas included: minority mental health, health psychology and behavioral medicine, child and adolescent mental health, and adult assessment and psychotherapy. During this period, the faculty also developed a strong focus in neuropsychological assessment, services to individuals with AIDS, and services to individuals experiencing pain. The focus areas also served as attractors for highly qualified trainees, motivated faculty to enrich the quality of their associated clinical and research offerings, and empowered faculty to meet practice and research goals unique to their specific geographical location.
8. Achieved Nationally Competitive Trainee Stipends and Benefits
Nationally competitive trainee stipends and benefits were achieved by combining state or county resources provided by the departmental leaders within the three geographic locations with two other sources of support: (a) resources derived from extramural research funding and (b) resource pools derived from clinical revenue within the locations. This approach had the synergistic effect of grounding the program in the programmatic thrusts of the separate sites and also linking the trainees to organized research activities. Diversification of funding also allowed the program to increase the number of trainees and maintain cohort sizes that were meaningful for the context of the program.
9. Developed Research-focused Seminars and Career Development Components of Training
Research-focused seminars supplemented immersion in mentored research and provided venues for peer learning and consultation. These seminars also were designed to provide opportunities to experience divergent points of view, to give and receive constructive criticism, and to present research findings in a supportive peer context.
10. Remodeled and Improved Facilities for Trainees and Program Staff
During the years, the administrative office of the training program was remodeled on two occasions and equipped with comfortable furnishings, equipment, technology, and supplies. Trainees were provided comfortable and individualized offices to conduct their clinical activities. They were also afforded access to research resources through their mentored research activities.
11. Continued the Excellent Accreditation Record of the Training Program
The program leaders and faculty continued the excellent accreditation record of the program by successfully completing two separate rounds of self-study and site visits by the American Psychological Association.
12. Advantaged Career Outcomes for Trainees and Faculty
The outstanding trainees and faculty thrived in the context of the nurturing stimulus of the training program. The vast majority of trainees sought and attained career appointments in academic research and teaching. They continue in the field as leaders in research, education, and clinical initiatives. Their careers reflect the mission and strengths of the training program.