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Ph.D. in Psychology – Clinical Psychology


West Virginia University’s doctoral training program in Health Service (Clinical) Psychology has been accredited continuously by the American Psychological Association since 1966. In 2020, the program was re-accredited for ten years, with the next site visit scheduled to occur in 2030. The program includes faculty with a lifespan focus, as well as faculty who specialize in clinical issues among children/adolescents/pediatrics, adults, or older adults.

For any questions regarding accreditation of this or any other program, contact the

Office of Program Consultation and Accreditation of the American Psychological Association
750 First Street, NE 
Washington, DC 20002

Phone number:  202-336-5979

Student admissions, outcomes and other data

Model of Training

The clinical psychology program is based on the scientist-practitioner or “Boulder” model of training in which the clinician is trained as both researcher and practitioner (Raimy, 1950). Consistent with the consensus statement issued by the National Conference on Scientist-Practitioner Education and Training for the Professional Practice of Psychology (Belar & Perry, 1992), our graduates are “uniquely educated and trained to generate and integrate scientific and professional knowledge, attitudes, and skills so as to further psychological science, the professional practice of psychology, and human welfare,” and, as such, are “capable of functioning as an investigator and as a practitioner, and may function as either or both, consistent with the highest standards of psychology” (p. 72).

The accredited program at West Virginia University prepares students for entering the profession of health service (clinical) psychology. Given the myriad of different and changing requirements across jurisdictions, we cannot assure that graduates of the program will meet course requirements for licensure in all states, territories, or other entities.


  • Belar, C. D., & Perry, N. W. (1992). National Conference on Scientist-Practitioner Education and Training for the Professional Practice of Psychology. American Psychologist, 47, 71-75.
  • Raimy, V. C. (1950). Training in clinical psychology. New York: Prentice-Hall.

Aims and Competencies

The overall aims and competencies of the clinical psychology program are to train clinical psychologists with the following characteristics:

Aim #1:  Graduates are scientist-practitioners whose professional work is solidly grounded in contemporary behavioral theory.

Competencies for Aim #1:

A. They base their research on empirical questions informed by the clinical problems they encounter, clinical services they provide and the clinical settings where they work. 

B. They value evidence-based practice and approach their clinical/applied activity scientifically. 

C. They conceptualize issues and problems from a behavioral perspective in which a functional assessment is critical.

Aim #2:  Graduates are well-socialized, ethical and professional psychologists.

Competencies for Aim #2:

A. They possess professional values and ethics as evidenced in behavior and comportment that reflects accountability, integrity and identification as professional psychologists. 

B. They possess awareness, sensitivity and skills in working with diverse individuals, groups and communities who represent various cultural and personal backgrounds and characteristics defined broadly.

C. They conduct their work in an ethical fashion, in a manner that takes into account the rights and needs of the individuals with whom they are directly involved and other members of society. 

D. They are aware of their personal and professional competencies and engage in appropriate self-care.

E. They relate effectively and meaningfully with individuals, groups and communities. 

F.  They are prepared to recognize and work productively with cultural and individual factors in research, practice, consultation, and education, appreciating that conflicts and tensions may arise from the intersectionality of multiple social and other environmental contexts that affect individuals and groups.

Aim #3:  Graduates engage in the evidence-based practice of psychology.

  Competencies for Aim #3:

A. They assess and diagnose a variety of problems while providing services to a broad range of clients, groups, and/or organizations.

B. They design interventions to alleviate suffering and promote health and well-being of individuals, groups and/or organizations using the best available evidence.

C. They are able to provide expert guidance or professional assistance in response to consultation requests.

Aim #4:  Graduates value, conduct and critically evaluate research that advance our understanding of and ability to influence human behavior.

Competencies for Aim #4:

A. They value the role of science in society, data-based theory and evidence-based practice (treatment, assessment, education, training, prevention, etc.). They are skeptical of assertions that are not supported with credible data and theories that are not well-founded in basic research. 

B. They understand the body of scientific knowledge comprising the field of psychology, including research methods, techniques of data collection and analysis, development across the life span and biological, cognitive, affective and social bases of behavior.

C. They generate research and discover new information that advances the science of psychology and contribute routinely to the literature in the discipline of psychology (or allied disciplines).

Aim #5:  Graduates instruct and supervise others in areas pertinent to the foundations and principles of psychology.

Competencies for Aim #5:

A. They provide instruction, disseminate knowledge and evaluate acquisition of knowledge and skill in professional psychology.

B. They train and supervise direct clinical service staff.

Aim #6:  Graduates interact constructively with professionals from other disciplines to administer or direct organizations, programs or agencies.

Competencies for Aim #6:

A. They understand the functions and roles of related disciplines and interact with these colleagues to conduct research, direct educational programs or provide services to others in applied settings.

B. They manage the delivery of services, administer or direct organizations, programs or agencies and function as leaders in their professional communities.

C. They advocate and promote productive changes at individual, institutional and/or systems levels.

Degree Requirements

A description of program requirements can be found in the graduate catalog.

Students must complete a one-year full-time APA-accredited internship (to be completed in year five or six for those entering with a bachelor’s degree or in year four or five for those entering with a master’s degree and approved thesis).

Faculty Research Interests – Clinical Child area of emphasis

  • Elisa Krackow, PhD – Child/developmental psychology; eyewitness memory and suggestibility; false memories; forensic interviewing; jurors' perceptions
    • Seeking a student for the Fall 2024 ad missions cycle
  • Michelle Roley-Roberts, PhD – Clinical child and adolescent psychology, intersection of culture and childhood trauma, suicide risk
    • Seeking a student for the Fall 2024 admissions cycle
  • Janelle Heddings, Ph.D (Department of Behavioral Medicine, Pediatrics) –  Adjustment to chronic illness or injury, adherence, chronic pain, somatic symptom disorders. Lab website:

Faculty Research Interests – Adults

  • Kevin Larkin, PhD – Clinical health psychology; applied psychophysiology
    • Seeking a student for the Fall 2024 admissions cycle
  • Shari Steinman, PhD  – Anxiety disorders; obsessive-compulsive disorder; perinatal mental health
    • Seeking a student for the Fall 2024 admissions cycle

Faculty Research Interests – Geropsychology

  • Barry Edelstein, PhD – Geropsychology; decision making in older adults
    • Not accepting new students
  • Amy Fiske, PhD  – Geropsychology; depression and suicide in older adults
    • Seeking a student for the Fall 2024 admissions cycle
Note that Daniel McNeil and Cheryl McNeil are now emeritus professors in the Department of Psychology.  They continue to supervise the research of their doctoral students to completion, but are no longer accepting new students to work with them.
Guidelines and Policies 

Statement of Personal Integrity

The profession of clinical psychology adheres to the current ethical principles of psychologists, as stated by the American Psychological Association (July, 2003) and the legal codes regulating the profession within each state. In undergoing training to become a clinical psychologist, all trainees must also adhere to these ethical principles and legal codes. At various practicum locations during training, during application for clinical internship and upon review for licensure and health provider panels after graduation, clinical psychologists undergo scrutiny regarding their personal background (background checks) and issues of personal integrity. The following questions represent the types of questions asked:

  • Has disciplinary action, in writing, of any sort ever been taken against you by a supervisor, educational or training institution, health care institution, professional association or licensing/certification board? Are there any complaints currently pending against you before any of the above bodies?
  • Has there ever been a decision in a civil suit rendered against you relative to your professional work, or is any such action pending?
  • Have you ever been suspended, terminated or asked to resign by a training program, practicum site or employer?
  • Have you ever been convicted of an offense against the law (including DUI) other than a minor traffic violation?
  • Have you ever been convicted of a felony?

If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, you may encounter difficulties receiving an offer of admission to our graduate program, securing clinical practicum positions during training, obtaining an approved clinical internship or becoming a licensed psychologist. As such, a person who answered “yes” to any of these questions should strongly consider whether the time and effort involved in seeking and obtaining a graduate degree in clinical psychology is in his or her best interest.

Comprehensive Evaluation Policy

Faculty, training staff, supervisors and administrators of the clinical psychology area of study at West Virginia University have a professional, ethical and potentially legal obligation to: (a) establish criteria and methods through which aspects of competence other than, and in addition to, a student-trainee’s knowledge or skills may be assessed (including, but not limited to, emotional stability and well being, interpersonal skills, professional development and personal fitness for practice) and (b) ensure insofar as possible that the student-trainees who complete our program are competent to manage future relationships (e.g., client, collegial, professional, public, scholarly, supervisory, teaching) in an effective and appropriate manner. Because of this commitment and within the parameters of our administrative authority, our faculty, training staff, supervisors and administrators strive not to advance, recommend or graduate students or trainees with demonstrable problems (e.g., cognitive, emotional, psychological, interpersonal, technical and ethical) that may interfere with professional competence to other programs, the profession, employers or the public at large.

As such, within a developmental framework and with due regard for the inherent power difference between students and faculty, students and trainees should know that the faculty, training staff, and supervisors of this Program will evaluate their competence in areas other than, and in addition to, coursework, seminars, scholarship, preliminary examinations, or related program requirements. These evaluative areas include, but are not limited to, demonstration of sufficient (a) interpersonal and professional competence (e.g. the ways in which student-trainees relate to clients, peers, faculty, allied professionals, the public and individuals from diverse backgrounds or histories); (b) self-awareness, self-reflection and self-evaluation (e.g. knowledge of the content and potential impact of one’s own beliefs and values on clients, peers, faculty, allied professionals, the public and individuals from diverse backgrounds or histories); (c) openness to processes of supervision (e.g. the ability and willingness to explore issues that either interfere with the appropriate provision of care or impede professional development or functioning); and (d) resolution of issues or problems that interfere with professional development or functioning in a satisfactory manner (e.g. by responding constructively to feedback from supervisors or program faculty, successful completion of remediation plans or participating in personal therapy to resolve issues or problems).

This policy is applicable to settings and contexts in which evaluation would appropriately occur (e.g., coursework, practica, supervision) rather than settings and contexts unrelated to the formal process of education and training (e.g. non-academic, social contexts). However, irrespective of setting or context, when a student-trainees conduct clearly and demonstrably (a) impacts the performance, development, or functioning of the student-trainee, (b) raises questions of an ethical nature, (c) represents a risk to public safety or (d) damages the representation of psychology to the profession or public, appropriate representatives of our program may review such conduct within the context of the program's evaluation processes.

Adapted from the Comprehensive Evaluation of Student-Trainee Competence in Professional Psychology Programs statement developed by the Student Competence Task Force of the Council of Chairs of Training Councils (CCTC).