Areas of Specialization

Ph.D. Clinical Psychology
Areas of Specialization

Within the Clinical Program, students can develop expertise in the following areas: 

Clinical Health Psychology

In our APA and PCSAS accredited doctoral program at the University of Arizona, we offer a Major Area of Study in Clinical Health Psychology, based on the APA Guidelines: A Taxonomy for Education and Training in Professional Psychology Health Service Specialties and Subspecialties and the Council of Specialties in Professional Psychology. Furthermore, we are recognized as a Member Program by the Council of Clinical Health Psychology Training Programs and an accredited Behavioral Sleep Medicine Training Program.

Our program’s Major Area of Study in Clinical Health Psychology includes comprehensive didactic, research, and clinical training. Students who complete a Major Area of Study in Clinical Health Psychology engage in at least:

  • Two didactic courses (including Psych 587: Foundations of Health Psychology, Psych 588: Behavioral Medicine Interventions)
  • One health psychology research project
  • Two supervised clinical practica in Clinical Health Psychology (accompanied by at least one semester in a practica seminar; Psych 694H)

Didactic courses in health psychology include:

  • Psych 587: Foundations of Health Psychology
  • Psych 588: Behavioral Medicine Interventions

Research supervisors have domain-specific expertise in cardiovascular medicine, oncology, behavioral sleep medicine, psychophysiology, health disparities, and other relevant areas. Examples of current topics of investigation within the department include:

  • Social relationships and health
  • The assessment and treatment of insomnia
  • Psychosocial oncology mechanisms and interventions

We offer broad-based clinical training in Clinical Health Psychology as part of practica offerings in our university’s Behavioral Health Clinic, Counseling and Psychological Services, and Clinical and Sport Psychology Services.

We also offer Areas of Focus in psychosocial oncology and behavioral sleep medicine as part of our advanced practica that include exposure to multidisciplinary specialty clinical settings. 

Clinical Neuropsychology

In our APA and PCSAS accredited doctoral program at the University of Arizona, we adhere to the Houston Conference Guidelines and offer a Major Area of Study in Clinical Neuropsychology, according to the Taxonomy for Education and Training in Clinical Neuropsychology.

Our Clinical Neuropsychology Major Area of Study emphasizes understanding basic mechanisms in neuropsychological disorders and developing, evaluating, and disseminating new approaches to assessment and treatment. Our training is designed to ensure that our students receive broad exposure to and develop advanced skills in the following:

  1. neuropsychological theory and research methods, particularly those drawing upon current developments in cognitive psychology (e.g., modern models of executive functioning) and cognitive neuroscience (e.g., neuroimaging techniques), and
  2. broad-based skills in general clinical psychology, particularly those related to assessment and intervention across the adult lifespan.

We encourage students to develop additional specialized research and clinical expertise (e.g., gerontology, psychophysiology, psychometric development, neuroimaging, etc.) that will make them more broadly competent and competitive in the job market.

Completing our Major Area of Study in Clinical Neuropsychology involves completing a three-course sequence, two or more supervised practica in clinical neuropsychology, and research involving neuropsychology theory, methods, and/or clinical populations.

Our three-course sequence in Clinical Neuropsychology is guided by the Clinical Scientist training model, but also adheres to the Houston Conference Guidelines for neuropsychology training and the American Board of Professional Psychology’s (ABPP) expectations for certification eligibility in clinical neuropsychology. Specifically, we cover the foundations of brain-behavior relationships (Houston Conference Guidelines) and the eight core knowledge areas of neuropsychology (ABPP) through a three-course sequence blending science and practice.

This course sequence consists of:

  • PSYC 504a Human Brain and Behavior Relationships
  • PSYC 504b Clinical Neuropsychology Practice: Evaluation of the Older Adult
  • PSYC 694d Clinical Neuropsychology Practicum

A sampling of additional course offerings:

  • PSYC 502 Human Neuroanatomy
  • PSYC 528 Cognitive Neuroscience
  • PSYC         Psychophysiology

Research supervisors have domain-specific expertise in assessment, intervention, neuroscience methods (both lesion and neuroimaging approaches), and cognitive psychology. Examples of current topics of investigation with the department include:

  • Exercise and the aging brain
  • Precision assessment of cognitive and brain aging
  • Imaging memory in the brain
  • Effects of natural and simulated brain lesions on cognition
  • Cardiovascular health and the brain
  • Naturalistic assessment of brain health
  • Social interaction, cognition, and aging

Students in our program receive broad-based training in Clinical Neuropsychology, including interviewing, standardized neuropsychological testing, feedback, report writing, and interdisciplinary collaboration. Currently, practica placements include Banner Alzheimer’s Institute, several private practices in Tucson, and our Behavioral Health Clinic.

Psychophysiology

Psychophysiological measures provide a convenient bridge between different levels of analysis of behavior and psychopathology, ranging from reductionistic biological to macro-level social interpretations of behavior. Our Clinical Psychology Program offers the opportunity to develop special expertise in the use of psychophysiological measures in the investigation of psychopathology, emotion, and interpersonal interactions.

  • Assessing emotion in the context of psychiatric and neurological disorders;
  • Assessing memory in psychiatric disorders;
  • Assessing deception and malingering;
  • Examining autonomic nervous system response following social loss experiences, and
  • Identifying factors that may index risk for psychopathology, particularly depression.

Intervention Science

The department has ongoing engagements in clinical intervention research at multiple stages, including basic research to identify intervention targets, efficacy trials, and efforts focused on implementation science and sustainability. Researchers in the program have developed academic-community partnerships to widen the scope and applicability of psychological intervention research. These partnerships are crucial elements of stakeholder involvement in research and provide the foundation for intervention science that address health disparities and other community needs.

Graduate students interested in gaining specialized training in intervention science can:

  • Take coursework focused on intervention design, clinical psychological science, clinical health psychology interventions, and neuropsychology interventions.
  • Tailor their program of research to focus on intervention science through collaboration and mentorship from the many intervention scientists within the department.
  • Engage in opportunities for specialized training in the delivery of evidence-based cognitive-behavioral interventions, which–through the reciprocal relationship of research and clinical practice–can inform and enhance intervention science.

  • Randomized controlled trial (RCT) testing the effectiveness of Internet Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBTi) compared to and combined with hypnotics (Taylor)
  • RCT comparing in-person and telehealth CBTi in recently hospitalized patients (Taylor)
  • RCT comparing Telehealth CBTi vs. Telehealth CBTi plus Internet of Things vs. sleep hygiene control (Taylor)
  • Effectiveness study of a massed CBTi and nightmares combined with Written Exposure Therapy for firefighters (Taylor)
  • CBTi on neuroimaging, neuropsychological and neurodegeneration biomarkers in in middle-aged adults (Taylor)
  • RCT of transcranial ultrasound for major depression (Allen)
  • Treatment development of a protocol for transcranial ultrasound for Major Depressive Disorder (Allen)
  • RCT of Psilocybin as an intervention for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (Allen)
  • Feasibility study of an Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)-based, patient-centered intervention to address psychosocial distress, including stigma, among individuals with lung cancer (Hamann)
  • Implementation science investigation of community-focused patient navigation for medically underserved individuals with cancer (Hamann)
  • Effectiveness intervention focused on a collaborative depression management intervention among individuals diagnosed with cancer
  • Research on mechanisms contributing to the development and maintenance of grief symptomatology such as the contribution of HRV and catecholamine levels to influence outcomes of grief interventions (O'Connor)
  • RCT of mindfulness and prolonged muscle relaxation interventions for widow/ers (O'Connor)
  • Investigations of virtual reality support groups for widow/ers (O'Connor)