Clinical psychology program celebrates 50 years on campus

By LaKisha Ladson

When the idea of a graduate program in clinical psychology was conceived in 1958, it was a novel concept — a doctoral clinical psychology program housed in a medical school.

In the early years, students had to get accepted by the boards of the UT Austin program in addition to the Dallas program. Students spent their first year in Austin learning core curriculum before finishing the program in Dallas. That didn’t last long, because the program was on its own by the 1970s.

Now, more than 50 years after the idea was conceived, the program in the
UT Southwestern Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and its affiliated predoctoral internship are highly recognized, most recently awarded the maximum seven-year accreditation by the American Psychological Association Council on Accreditation.

The accreditors noted that both the Ph.D. program and its separately accredited internship in clinical psychology showed “impressive indicators of quality clinical psychology training.”

Dr. Munro Cullum, chief of psychology, said, “The success of our program derives from its situation in a world-class medical center, which affords abundant opportunities for training and close supervision by outstanding faculty who show a strong commitment to teaching and mentoring.”

The program accepts no more than 10 students each year from more than 150 applicants. The average combined verbal and quantitative GRE score of the incoming class is 1300.

“The admissions committee continues to be impressed with the high quality of applicants, very few of whom turn down an offer once it is made,” said Dr. Betsy Kennard, who recently succeeded Dr. Cullum as director of the program.

The program has a retention rate of 93 percent. Since 2004 graduates have secured postdoctoral fellowships at institutions such as Duke University, Johns Hopkins University, Stanford University, the Mayo Clinic, the Menninger Clinic and the University of California, Los Angeles.

Dr. Kennard also noted the importance of faculty support in building the program.

“We are fortunate to have had many key faculty members on this campus and others in the community who worked together to establish a solid training program, which we have been able to build on over the years,” she said.

Those key faculty members include Dr. Frank Harrison, associate dean at
UT Southwestern when the program was being created, as well as Dr. Maurice Korman and Dr. Carmen Miller Michael, both now professors emeritus who were instrumental in the development of the program.

Community support also is key, Dr. Kennard said.

“We continue to benefit from the psychologists in the community as well as our faculty, who are committed to training young psychologists,” she said.

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Dr. Cullum holds the Pam Blumenthal Distinguished Professorship in Clinical Psychology.