California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

    PsyD Program received accreditation honors

    Over the summer, California Lutheran University’s PsyD Program in Clinical Psychology was awarded seven years of accreditation by the American Psychological Association’s Commission on Accreditation.   The accreditation was made possible by Director of the PsyD Program, Mindy Puopolo, who has a PsyD in Clinical Pyschology, Director of Clinical Training, Ryan Sharma, who has a PsyD in Clinical Pyschology and Dean. Rick Holigrocki, who has a PhD in Clinical Pyschology.

    The PsyD, or Doctor of Psychology, is an alternative to the PhD. It specifically prepares students for careers as licensed doctoral-level clinical psychologists.

    Sharma played a central role in the accreditation process for Cal Lutheran, and said the process was vigorous but crucial to the credibility of the program.

    “APA accreditation shows that we can meet the standards and guidelines of the profession. It’s the highest level of recognition we could get as a program. Any school can create a program and teach it any way that they want, but it takes a lot of skill to produce something of high quality and have it recognized by an external body,” Sharma said.

    Puopolo is responsible for the development of the program and is on sabbatical for the semester.  Sharma said, “Without her it wouldn’t have been possible. She built the program in a very smart way.”

    Sharma said the program started around 5 years ago. The process for accreditation began in Sept. 2014 with a 1428 page self-study, which was written by Sharma. The self-study was then submitted to the APA, which then looked over the study and decided if the campus is worthy of a cite visit. When given a cite visit, which is a process of around two days, APA evaulated every detail of the program and faculty. Sharma said all involved payed crucial roles in the process.

    “It’s pretty rare for new programs to get a site visit right away, but we were awarded a site visit on the first submission. We were incredibly happy with that,”  Sharma said.

    “Cal Lutheran was awarded accreditation rather quickly is because they developed the program with APA in mind,” Sharma said.

    Sharma is familiar with the accreditation process from his work with previous universities, and played a central role in the process for Cal Lutheran. He said APA accreditation not only gives students greater opportunities for learning, but also gives students greater recognition among future employers.

    According to Sharma, Psychology, particularly APA, is moving the field towards competency-based education. Instead of basing a student’s preparedness on their grades, students are taught and tested through a set of professional competencies expected in the profession. These include self-reflection, ability to intervene, relationship skills, and much more.

    Dr. Sharma said this system of education is superior because it prepares the students with the qualities needed in the professional setting.

    Amy Johansson is currently a third year student in the PsyD program at Cal Lutheran and is enjoying the changes to the program.

    “I’ve overall been very satisfied with the program. We get excellent training,” Johansson said.

    According to Johansson said that specifically APA accreditation is helping us in the internship process.

    “It opens up a lot of doors. Also if you want to work at specific locations, like the government you have a greater chance of being hired to that job,” Johansson said.

    She said initially there was some adjustment to the new program.

    “We went through a lot of changes when we were going through APA accreditation it changes units and classes but that’s very minor. The education has always been excellent in the program,”  Johannsson said.

    According to Johansson, she likes certain aspects of the program that work for her.

    “The program is very research focused, which is what I really like about it. It gives you a chance to do a dissertation and find the area that you are interested in,” Johannsson said.

    Rainer Diriwaechter, who has a PhD in Pschology, and is an undergraduate Psychology professor at Cal Lutheran said that although they are separate from the Graduate program, it can give an example of what undergraduates need to achieve to make the next step to graduate school.

    “They get to hear, as undergraduates, what the APA program is looking for,” Dr. Diriwaechter said.

    Sharma said although accreditation was a long process, the PysD program is extremely pleased.

    Mary Callaway
    Senior Writer
    Published September 23rd, 2015