Core Experience

Psychotherapy Supervision

Practicum trainees receive one-to-one supervision of their individual, group, family, child/adolescent, and couples therapy. Supervisors are drawn from all mental health disciplines, have staff positions in Cambridge Health Alliance, and/or are on the faculty of Harvard Medical School appointed through the CHA Department of Psychiatry. Trainees in outpatient settings receive two-to-three hours per week of individual supervision for their outpatient cases and one hour per week of supervision for psychological testing. Trainees in specialty settings receive two-to-three hours of supervision for child and adolescent work, adult inpatient work, and group, family, and couples treatment. The quality of supervision and the clinical work with patients are viewed by trainees as two of the strongest parts of the training program.

Testing and Testing Supervision

In addition to psychotherapy, the program emphasizes the development of psychodiagnostic and clinical inference skills. For trainees who are placed in settings that require testing, they typically administer two-to-three test batteries per year, for which they ordinarily receive three hours of testing supervision per battery. The high ratio of supervision to testing time provides an opportunity to analyze the data in depth, and to understand the person's psychopathology and adaptive capacities. A psychological testing seminar is offered to (and is required of) students who conduct testing as part of their placement. This seminar provides theoretical perspectives as well as hands-on practice in scoring, coding, and interpreting test data.


The Director of Psychology Practicum Training and the respective Site Director advise and advocate for the trainee within the total program. Site Directors also serve as the psychology preceptor at each site who oversees the work of the trainee and makes suggestions to help tailor the program around case assignments and seminars. Trainees meet weekly with Preceptors who help coordinate the evaluations at mid-year and year-end. Trainees meet regularly with the Director of Psychology Practicum Training who also approves all evaluation documents for students in the program.

Seminars and Conferences

Each training site offers required seminars on topics relevant to their specific patient population and treatment modality. In addition, practicum trainees are required to attend a weekly Professional Development Seminar with Dr. Carolyn Conklin. This seminar addresses professional issues relevant to all graduate students in psychology, such as making use of supervision, clinical interviewing and case presentation, organizational dynamics, vicarious trauma and clinician self-care, and preparing for internship. 

Additional Seminar Options

The Cambridge Health Alliance Department of Psychiatry also has an extensive offering of elective seminars and conferences which are available to the trainee, with topics such as the treatment of severely disturbed persons from various theoretical orientations, behavioral medicine, trauma, couples and family therapy, treatment of narcissism, cross-cultural issues, and psychopharmacology. Attendance is recommended at the weekly academic Grand Rounds, which draws speakers on current clinical, theoretical, and research issues. Continuing Education courses are offered throughout the year sponsored by the Department of Psychiatry alone, or jointly with the Harvard Medical School. These optional courses include nationally recognized speakers on topics such as Psychotherapy, Substance Abuse, Suicide, Multiculturalism, and Psychopharmacology. Practicum trainees attend these conferences at a scholarship rate as trainees of Harvard Medical School and Cambridge Health Alliance.

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