Our Model

WSPP’s Program Model

Early clinical psychologists received their training in psychology departments of universities. The foremost goal of these programs was to teach students to conduct and publish research, with training in the clinical skills of assessment and psychotherapy of secondary importance. This training philosophy, called the scientist-practitioner approach, was endorsed at a 1949 conference of the American Psychological Association (APA) held in Boulder, CO, and is also called the Boulder Model.

As graduates of Boulder Model programs began their careers, it became apparent that very few of them actually engaged in the research and publication for which they had been trained, with most assuming clinical positions in private practice, hospital, and outpatient mental health settings. A movement began to change the nature of graduate training to reflect more accurately the intended professional goals of most applicants to clinical psychology doctoral programs, with clinical skills primary and research productivity secondary. This approach, called the practitioner-scientist approach, was endorsed at an APA conference held in Vail, CO, and is also known as the Vail Model.

With the endorsement of the Vail Model came an impetus to create schools of professional psychology, similar to law and medical schools, in which graduate training would provide considerable clinical experience and be taught by practicing clinical psychologists. Faculty, then, in addition to the more formal instructor role, would serve as mentors and professional role models for students of the successful practicing clinical psychologist. WSPP has adopted this model and remains committed to training in the Vail Model with practicing clinical psychologists as instructors and role models.