Newly accredited program will open doors for graduates
The clinical psychology doctoral program at UBC’s Okanagan campus has earned a four-year accreditation from the Canadian Psychological Association of Canada (CPA)—the highest psychology body in the country. It is a significant and impressive accomplishment for such a young program, and one that will greatly benefit students.
CPA accreditation means the program is recognized as having the most rigorous and consistent level of training, and produces the highest-level graduates. It also means that graduates are ahead of the game when it comes to securing internships and, later, professional licences.
“Accreditation is like a stamp of approval from the larger psychological community that says a particular program meets important standards for professional psychology training,” explains Lesley Lutes, director of the program. “Also, graduating from an accredited program facilitates the licensure process, and many employers will only hire individuals who have graduated from accredited doctoral and internship programs.”
Similar to medical students, in order to complete their final year of training, clinical psychology students must also carry out an internship, in this case through the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers (APPIC). Over the past year, the CPA established a new rule that makes it impossible for students to apply for such internships unless they are part of an accredited program or have a site visit approved by CPA. Thus, the accreditation for the clinical psychology program on the Okanagan campus comes just in time for students.
“Thankfully, we were able to get our site visit approved this past summer with our site visit this past fall, so our students will be able to continue securing APPIC-match internships,” said Lutes.
Getting through the accreditation was no easy task. Led by Lutes, and involving a number of faculty from the Psychology department, the application process was extensive, rigorous and demanding.
“We had to start from scratch and build from the ground up when the program was launched here on the Okanagan Campus in 2013,” says Lutes. “We had to establish our mission, goals, objectives, competencies, policies and procedures. We had to develop over 20 new graduate courses, establish an in-house clinic, partner with several government and interior health agencies in order to develop external practice placements, build a core faculty with excellent adjunct and clinical faculty to develop the courses and clinical training—all in order to allow us to meet the CPA’s high standards.”
After four years of work, Lutes and her team were ready to submit their self study this past June—a massive 737-page document detailing every aspect of the program. The document was well received by the CPA panel, and just eight weeks later the program was allowed to the next important step—a site visit, which would tell the CPA if the program was as good in person as it appeared to be on paper. In November of 2017, three site visitors spent two days on campus, reviewing the program down to its minutiae.
“They reviewed absolutely everything—every student file, every student dissertation, every Masters thesis, every general and clinical comprehensive exam, and every student feedback survey and evaluation. In addition to every student and faculty member, they talked to Dr. Buszard, Dr. Tettey, Dr. Mathieson, Dr. Grant, essentially every single person connected with this program, and could see the incredible amount of support we had from our administration,” says Lutes.
The end result was a somewhat uncharacteristically quick approval for accreditation after only 10 months of starting the process, and it was granted for four years—quite an achievement for a first-time application, given that accreditations can be granted for anywhere between one and seven years.
“We had been told this process would take about one and a half years to achieve – so we were thrilled that we were able to achieve this milestone in such a short amount of time,” says Lutes. “And I’m thrilled that we got four years right out of the gate. I think that the accreditation panel and site visitors felt that our program is incredibly solid and very consistent in producing high-quality students, despite being as young as we are.”
The clinical psychology doctoral program at UBC’s Okanagan campus was accredited as of November 17, 2017. The next site visit for the clinical program will be in 2022. Learn more about the program.