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Pacifica Graduate Institute PsyD in Counseling Psychology
Pacifica Graduate Institute

PsyD in Counseling Psychology

4 Years


Full time

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PsyD in Clinical Psychology

Classes begin early October

The Psy.D. Program’s mission is to prepare clinical psychologists who bring depth psychological approaches to working with diverse communities as well as community mental health values into depth psychology work.

Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology

What is the Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology?

The Psy.D. degree program embraces a practitioner-scholar model where the emphasis is on the practical application of theoretical material to specific settings in which psychologists work. Those with Psy.D. degrees most often work in community-based agency settings, in private practice, in integrative health care settings, organizational settings, health service, and as faculty in professional psychology programs. A Psy.D. education stresses self-reflective practice along with interpersonal skills and the capacity to engage with others in interprofessional frameworks. Clinical skills, projective and objective assessment, and treatment are the main application areas in addition to theory and research. Both foundational and functional knowledge are focused on. At Pacifica Graduate Institute, in addition to providing the broad and general educational context that is required in the field of psychology, depth psychology is honored for its long life of clinical effectiveness, its relational focus, and its value on expanded understandings of developmental complexity, self-organization, and individual and collective consciousness.

What is Depth Psychology?

Depth psychological approaches are among the oldest forms of psychotherapy in the world and there is a current resurgence of interest in and validation for depth psychology, particularly in the context of interpersonal neurobiology, with practitioner/researchers such as Allan Schore, Ph.D. and others making contributions. Clinical psychologists, such as Jonathan Shedler, Ph.D., are now also bringing research, that validates depth psychological approaches, to light. For example, see Dr. Shedler’s article on The Efficacy of Psychodynamic Psychotherapy (in PDF).

The Psy.D. Program Distinct Training

Although the program is relatively new, it is rooted in the clinical psychology program offered by Pacifica since the late 1980s. Thus, the program bridges the rich history of teaching depth psychology with the contemporary world of clinical psychology. This practical integration emphasizes depth psychological perspectives within current areas of psychological studies such as relational approaches and attachment; evidence-based practices; integrative assessment; interpersonal neurobiology and biopsychosocial approaches to integrative health care; self-reflective practices; community-based practice approaches; and mental health public policy.

The curriculum reflects a commitment to bringing compassionate and socially responsible scholarship and values to the important questions posed by applied clinical psychology, including emphases on the unconscious determinants of behavior. The program offers courses that provide foundational knowledge in psychology as well as those that focus on depth psychological treatments, community mental health, diversity, and indigenous perspectives in psychology. Mindfulness and Imaginal, somatic, ecological and contemplative considerations of psychological work are included in the program as well.


  • Prepare to practice in a variety of community and health service settings with a solid foundation in the skills of clinical psychology, grounded in the principles of depth psychology.
  • Integrate broad, general knowledge of clinical psychology, including core clinical skill sets, with personal experience of the unconscious and relational factors that motivate individual and collective behavior.
  • Explore depth psychological perspectives such as relational approaches and attachment; evidence-based practices, including brief psychodynamic approaches; integrative assessment; interpersonal neurobiology and biopsychosocial approaches to integrative health care; community-based practice approaches; and public policy related to mental health.

“When I was a student and later a tenure-track faculty at a large state university, I thought that my inner life and my professional life had to be divided. When I found Pacifica and our program, I was delighted to work in a place where we can openly integrate depth psychological principles in all aspects of our lives and work. It is this integration that I believe inspires us to be a community of students, faculty, and staff that share a commitment to tending the Soul in and of the World.”
-Oksana Yakushko, Program Chair

Program FAQs

What is distinct about the Psy.D. program and doctoral education in clinical psychology at Pacifica?

This program is rooted in the clinical psychology program offered by Pacifica since the late 1980s. Thus, the program bridges the rich history of teaching depth psychology with the contemporary world of clinical psychology. This practical integration emphasizes depth psychological perspectives within current areas of psychological studies such as relational approaches and attachment; evidence-based practices; integrative assessment; interpersonal neurobiology and biopsychosocial approaches to integrative health care; community-based practice approaches; and mental health public policy.

Following a practitioner-scholar model of training, this program represents Pacifica’s commitment to grounding the principles of depth psychology in clinical practice within community settings. The Psy.D. program’s mission is to prepare clinical (health service) psychologists to apply foundationally as well as depth psychological knowledge and skills within diverse inter-professional practice settings. It is designed to produce clinical psychologists who are skilled in a broad range of clinical work, including psychotherapy, assessment, supervision, and consultation, as well as integrative approaches to health, informed and enriched by depth psychological perspectives. Pacifica trains students to achieve a successful integration of broad and general knowledge in clinical psychology, including core clinical skills, with personal experience of the unconscious and relational factors, which motivate individual and collective behavior.

Does receiving a Psy.D. from Pacifica’s clinical psychology program meet the qualification needed to be licensed as a Clinical Psychologist in California?

Our curriculum is designed to lead to licensure as a clinical psychologist (based on educational requirements for psychologists in the State of California). In order to receive the California Clinical Psychologist’s license, students must also have met the post-doctoral clinical services hours and examination requirements of the State. As part of receiving the degree from our program, students are required to complete pre-doctoral internship hours that meet requirements of the California Board of Psychology. The eligibility requirements for the formal internship programs in California are set by varied organizations, including the California Psychology Internship Council (CAPIC) which governs many clinical sites that embrace depth psychological treatment modalities. Pacifica is a graduate school member of CAPIC, and students will be guided through the formal process of application to all such sites. Following receipt of their degree from Pacifica, students must follow state’s requirements, which include post-doctoral supervised clinical hours and passing scores on the national and state exams (EPPP and CPLEE). Applicants and students are responsible for following and adhering to the licensure requirements of other states or countries, in which they wish to reside and practice, which may differ from California requirements.

How long is the Psy.D. program?

Students attend classes in the Psy.D. program for four years during fall, winter, and spring quarters. Each year, classes are held on campus during nine, four (4)-day sessions (three per quarter). There is no on-campus summer quarter. Students complete their dissertations within years three and four, along with coursework. There is an eight-year time limit for completion of the degree program. Please see the graph below for a visual overview of the Psy.D. program.

What is the general format of classes?

The classes are a combination of lecture and discussion formats and generally, occur on Pacifica’s Lambert Road campus. While faculty present lecture material, time is set aside for discussions and question and answer periods. Some of the classes include presentations by experts, experiential activities (e.g., rituals, somatic exercises), as well as time for processing the information as a group. The cohort system at Pacifica encourages a process of in-depth collaborative learning that integrates the multiple personal and cultural contexts affecting learning and guiding discussions.

How much work is required outside of class?

Class assignments consist of readings, posted reflections/discussions, exams, papers or projects. For every hour in class, at least three hours of academic work outside of class is expected. This time may include reading, reflections, research, and writing. Graduate study, in general, requires twenty (20) hours of study per week with an additional approximate 15 to 20 hours of practice per week in the second, third, and fourth years. The 1,500 internship hours are undertaken after the fourth year of study when the dissertation is complete and comprehensive exams have been passed.

Experiential clinical training at off-campus clinical training sites is an essential part of the doctoral program. Students complete a minimum of 1,000 hours of practicum, 1,500 hours of internship, and 60 hours of personal therapy. The Director of Clinical Training works collaboratively with students so that they apply to placements in their first academic year and begin practice in the beginning of their second year of academic study. Students receive supervision and are given feedback at off-site locations as well as during campus coursework.

Once students complete their coursework and practica and pass a comprehensive exam, students enter off-campus internships where they are also given supervision and feedback. Internships are completed in a multidisciplinary setting offering a variety of training experiences. Students are eligible to apply for internships in their fourth year if they have met all of the program requirements and established internship readiness. Once accepted at an internship site, they may begin internship upon completion of coursework and practica. Training at culturally diverse sites is encouraged. There are variations among state boards of psychology in regard to licensure eligibility based on accreditation distinctions for doctoral programs. The doctoral program at Pacifica Graduate Institute is structured to meet California state board of psychology guidelines.

When do students have an opportunity to meet with faculty?

Each teaching faculty member holds office hours during the time that students are on campus as well as during specified hours during the week. These office hours schedules and sign-up sheets are made available during each learning session. In addition, there is ongoing and consistent communication between faculty members and students between residential sessions. Students are also assigned a core faculty advisor who connects with them regarding varied aspects of their academic and professional development. During the spring quarter, faculty advisors assess the progress that each student makes in the program as part of the student’s annual evaluations.

What is the Psy.D. Dissertation at Pacifica?

Doctoral programs in any field require a final doctoral project that reflects the scholarly nature of such an advanced degree. In our practitioner-scholar, Psy.D. Clinical Psychology Program, this project involves a completion of the Psy.D. Dissertation. Although it has similarities to dissertations in other academic disciplines or to dissertations in a clinical Ph.D. program, Pacifica’s Psy.D. Dissertation distinctly reflects the nature of our curriculum.

  • The dissertation’s focus is on a clinically relevant topic
  • The study must make a contribution to clinical work
  • Dissertation privileges clinical psychology scholarly literature in its literature review
  • These studies are typically more succinct, offering more singular focus on its topic
  • The dissertation, if utilizing participants, may serve as a pilot study (i.e., include fewer participants)
  • Psy.D. Dissertation may reflect students’ clinical practice experiences or goals

Another aspect that makes the Psy.D. Dissertation a distinct experience is when it occurs during training. To acknowledge our practitioner-scholar focus as well as encourage an active integration of practice and science, Psy.D. Dissertation writing is embedded within the four years of coursework. We offer several courses that specifically address dissertation development and writing (including supporting and mentoring students while they work on their dissertations). We also have an active process of advising, which includes regular meetings with dissertation chairs as well as research coordinators. It is structured so that the dissertation is completed upon conclusion of the four years of coursework.

At Pacifica, we affirm students’ own interests by inviting students’ passions as well as responsiveness to the needs of the world to inform their development of ideas. We also encourage an active integration of depth psychological lens and perspectives in their dissertation writing, which may include their attention to their dreams, inner reveries, imagination, or empathic relational responsiveness to human suffering.

As is the case for all dissertations, the Psy.D. Dissertation process at Pacifica is intense and intensive. It is also clinically relevant and draws on depth psychological clinical as well as research approaches. Lastly, we view the dissertation, as other parts of our training, as a meaningful and transformative journey, one that not only seeks to contribute to improving the lives of people or communities but also encouraging soulful growth for students themselves.

Where does a student complete the 2,500-hour practicum/internship requirement?

Students in the doctoral clinical program are required to accrue a total of 2,500 hours of approved and supervised clinical experience. These hours are obtained in two “tiers” of training: Practicum (1000 hours required) and internship (1,500 hours required). Both levels of training are obtained at off-campus locations such as, but not limited to clinics, hospitals, treatment centers, or other agencies, in which psychologists provide services. Practicum training is a lower level of training with more intensive and directive supervision and is obtained during the second, third, and fourth years of classes at Pacifica. The Clinical Training Handbook outlines the requirements for beginning clinical training. During the coursework on campus, the students participate in Thursday evening practicum seminars designed to ground their clinical training experience in small-group discussions, case conferences, and intensive supervision by faculty. In contrast to practicum training, internship training is a higher level of training with more independence and responsibility and is undertaken after the student has completed all of the coursework and passed the comprehensive exams. The internship, in contrast to the practicum, is a summative and capstone training experience, in which the skills and the knowledge obtained through the coursework and the practicum experiences are exercised. All of the training activities described here are coordinated and supported by Pacifica’s Training Office, including the Training Coordinator and the Director of Clinical Training.

Can a student use past personal therapy hours to satisfy the 60-hour personal therapy requirement?

The personal therapy requirement is an integral part of the program, essential for the development of clinicians who utilize themselves as an instrument of healing others. In addition, personal self-awareness is essential to other processes of being a student including conducting research studies with human participants or engaging in clinical and scholarly dialogues in the field that expand psychological knowledge. Therefore, a minimum of 60 hours of personal therapy must be completed while a student is enrolled in the program. These hours may be completed in individual, group, couple, or family settings.

Graduation Requirements

Degree Requirements For Graduation

  1. Students must complete a total of 116 quarter units to fulfill the unit requirement for graduation. A total of 107 academic units and a total of 9 pre-doctoral internship units.
  2. A minimum grade of “B” is required in each completed course.
  3. A cumulative grade point average of 3.0 must be maintained.
  4. Students must meet attendance requirements as articulated in the Student Handbook. Students can only miss four classes throughout the academic year, and no more than 1/3 of total class hours.
  5. Students must submit and defend a dissertation accepted by the faculty.
  6. Students are required to complete a minimum 1,000 hours of practicum.
  7. Students are required to complete 1,500 hours of internship.
  8. Students are required to complete 60 hours of personal therapy.
  9. Students must successfully pass the Comprehensive Examination at the end of the third year.
  10. Students must comply with all the policies and procedures articulated in the Student, Dissertation, and Clinical Handbooks.

Clinical Training

A minimum of 1,000 hours of practicum and 1,500 hours of internship are required. Students will be placed in practicum by the Director of Clinical Training. Students must obtain Internship through a competitive application process. It is recommended that internships be completed in a multidisciplinary setting offering a variety of training experiences. The choice of a culturally diverse site is encouraged. For a full description of all clinical training requirements consult the current edition of the Clinical Training Handbook.

Faculty Mentorship

Each Student is assigned a Faculty Advisor for mentorship throughout the program. Faculty Advisors meet regularly with their student advisees to monitor their academic performance, discuss research interests, oversee clinical development, assist with dissertation progress, and provide personal and professional support. During the Dissertation phase of training, students’ Dissertation committee Chair is assigned to serve as their Faculty Advisor in order to help students actively integrate their academic, clinical, and dissertation aspects of their learning.

Preparation For Clinical Psychology Licensure

This curriculum may not meet all the requirements of each state for licensure in clinical psychology. Students seeking licensure in California will acquire regional accredited doctoral training qualifying them to pursue licensure as a clinical psychologist in California; however because requirements do change, students are responsible for remaining aware of current licensure regulations. Other students may need to meet additional licensure requirements in their home states and are likewise responsible for knowing their applicable state licensure requirements.

About the School


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