Clinical

Welcome to our webpage! We are eager to tell you about our program. Our clinical science program has been continuously accredited by the American Psychological Association since March 2, 1948. In February 2014, we were accepted into the Academy of Psychological Clinical Science, denoting our program officially as a clinical science program. Our program is designed to educate and train clinical scientists who conduct clinically relevant research that will further the etiological understanding of mental health disorders and inform their treatment and prevention.

Core Program Principles and Values

Our program is founded on three core principles of clinical science:

  • Understanding developmental psychopathology across the lifespan informed by an understanding of normal development and behavior. 
  • Designing and conducting cutting-edge empirical research to inform knowledge, assessment, and treatment of developmental psychopathology.
  • Utilizing multiple levels of analysis across disciplines (e.g., molecular genetics, family influences, cognitive neuroscience) to develop comprehensive models of developmental psychopathology.

As we embody and pursue these principles, we hold ethical practice and attention to diversity as core values that cut across our foundational principles and program philosophy. 

We strongly emphasize ethical approaches to clinical science throughout our program. We have a clinical science course devoted to this important value and practice, and all faculty, supervisors, and students are expected to adhere to ethical practice standards (e.g., APA Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct; Institutional Review Board standards) in all areas of clinical science. We also place a high value on diversity and multi-cultural competence in our program milieu and in our curriculum, including one dedicated course, our colloquia series, and in our research and clinical training. Finally, we are committed to training students in evidence-based assessment and treatment for children and adults across multiple theoretical clinical approaches including CBT, third-wave CBT, and relational psychodynamic.

We have a Diversity Committee that is charged with ensuring the highest attention to diversity issues in our program by organizing speakers and workshops to promote multi-cultural competence and working with other program committees (e.g., Admissions Committee) to ensure that our value of diversity is represented across our program activities.

Core Scientific Areas

Consistent with our program principles and values, we have recruited highly productive faculty and students who exemplify these core principles and cluster within a limited, yet inter-related, set of scientific domains: individual differences in social context, social and biological bases of behavior, and treatment development, dissemination, & implementation across settings. Emblematic of our focus on multi-level analysis, all of our faculty cut across at least two of these domains and also integrate the ecological context of behavior into their work.

Examples of these diversity and contextual variables include socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, gender, traumatic events, family violence, and high-risk neighborhoods. Most of our faculty study populations across several developmental stages and have very active research programs that are significantly contributing to knowledge generation in clinical science. 

Importantly, all of our faculty members place a high value on multi-disciplinary, research collaborations. Each faculty member collaborates with other faculty who are not clinical scientists. These collaborations include faculty in other areas of psychology (e.g., cognitive, social/personality) and from other disciplines, including neuroscience, genetics, epidemiology, human resources and labor relations, and psychiatry. Many clinical science faculty members have developed collaborations with scientists from other universities including the University of Michigan, Florida State University, Virginia Commonwealth University, Wayne State University, University of Virginia, Pennsylvania State University, University of Minnesota, University of Iowa, University of Maryland, Harvard University, Purdue University, and SUNY Stony Brook. Indeed, we have several current and pending grants with sub-contracts to many of these universities. Thus, cross-science and cross-disciplinary collaborations flourish in our program both through cultural attitudes towards multi-disciplinary work and through initiatives taken by our clinical science faculty.

Individual Differences in Social Context

A core research focus in our clinical science program is on individual differences in biological, environmental, and personological factors that underlie and explain clinically relevant variation in human behavior. Researchers in this area apply quantitative modeling (e.g., factor analysis, latent class analysis, structural equation modeling, multilevel modeling, item response theory, dynamical systems analysis) coupled with multi-method assessments (e.g., behavioral observation/coding systems, biological assays, neurophysiological instruments, questionnaires, standardized interviews) to understand the implications of individual differences in personality, demography, cognition, and emotion for psychopathology, socioemotional resilience to stress, harassment, coping, and treatment response, among other outcomes. Additional specific emphases include the analysis of individual differences in biological and developmental processes, both on their own and in response to environmental and social contexts (e.g., genotype by social context interactions), stability and change in individual differences, and person-centered approaches to classifying individuals.

This focus provides a bridge to the Social/Personality Program, which includes a number of international leaders in the area of basic personality science who regularly collaborate with faculty and students from the clinical science program. An individual differences framework also informs coursework and clinical training in the form of training emphases on diversity issues and quantitative methods. 

For more information on research within the individual differences domain, please see the clinical science faculty web pages of NiCole Buchanan, Alex Burt, Brooke Ingersoll, and Jason Moser.

Social and Biological Bases of Behavior

Several clinical science faculty conduct research focusing on the extent to which social, psychological, relational, environmental, genetic, and neurobiological factors contribute to the development, maintenance, and course of behavior. Faculty in this research area use diverse and innovative study methods (e.g., observational, interview, psychophysiology, animal models, behavior genetic and epigenetic approaches, neuroendocrine challenges, cognitive neuroscience tools) to disentangle biological, psychological, and environmental processes in the manifestation of behavior across the lifespan and across the spectrum of pathology from normal to abnormal. A strong emphasis is placed on understanding how the transactions between biological and psychosocial processes and environmental, and contextual risk factors predict dysfunction. 

The social and biological bases research focus provides key bridges to several other programs within MSU’s Psychology Department, including the Behavioral Neuroscience Program, the Cognition & Cognitive Neuroscience Program, as well as the Ecological/Community Program. These programs include a number of international leaders who regularly collaborate with faculty and students from the clinical science program. An integrative, social and biological bases framework also informs coursework and training related to both research and clinical work, as we emphasize students’ understanding of the biopsychosocial model and the ways in which diverse risk factors interact and coalesce in the manifestation of behavior across development and the spectrum of pathology. 

For more information on research within the social and biological bases of behavior domain, please see the clinical science faculty web pages of G. Anne Bogat, NiCole BuchananS. Alexandra Burt, Brooke Ingersoll,  Kelly Klump, Alytia Levendosky, Jason Moser, and Katharine Thakkar.

Treatment development, Dissemination, & Implementation Across Settings

Several of our faculty members conduct research on interventions, including treatment process and outcome research, the development of novel interventions, as well as the dissemination and implementation of evidence-based practices across service settings.

Our work in this area spans the translational science spectrum from clinical research, yielding knowledge about treatment process and efficacy and effectiveness, through implementation research, yielding knowledge about adoption, implementation, and sustainment of evidence-based practices in community settings.  In much of this research, faculty members emphasize gathering community stakeholder perspectives to ensure that this work is meeting community needs, fitting with community services and settings, and is feasible for families and providers to utilize.   The ultimate goal of this work is to improve individual and public health, by increasing access to effective psychosocial interventions and reducing mental and behavioral health disparities.

In this work, we emphasize students’ understanding of rigorous qualitative, quantitative, and mixed method designs and a range of treatment research designs (e.g., single case experimental designs, quasi-experimental designs, and randomized controlled trials).

Faculty members have key collaborations with faculty across several of MSU’s psychology programs, the College of Education, the College of Human Medicine, and links with MSU’s RAIND initiative.  In addition, our faculty members have ongoing collaborations with researchers at a number of other universities. For more information on research within the treatment research and dissemination and implementation domains, please see the clinical science faculty web pages of Brooke Ingersoll, Amy Drahota, and Alytia Levendosky.

Clinical Faculty