Clinical Psychology Research Training
The Faculty Adviser
One of the most critical aspects of any program is working with a faculty adviser. Each student selects an adviser upon admission to the program and usually continues to work closely with that adviser for their four or five years in the program. However, as mentioned earlier, we are a community, with shared concern for students' needs and it is sometimes suggested that one change advisers as research interests and professional goals change. Each faculty adviser maintains an active research program or lab. Working in the lab teaches research skills, allows junior students to be supervised by senior students and provides exposure to many aspects of professional life. Of special importance is learning about data analysis, writing up research for publication and attending professional conferences. Students are thought of as "junior colleagues" and the successful mentoring relationship is typically one involving much collaboration.
Students are expected to be active in research from their first year onward. Each lab and advisor has a slightly different way of encouraging such activities. Some advisors incorporate students rapidly into their own research programs while others encourage students to explore areas of personal interest.
The most formal training occurs during the conduct of one's master's thesis and doctoral dissertation. A wide variety of research projects are undertaken in our program, from basic lab research, to lab analog studies, to treatment outcome studies. Generally, a formal experiment is the most frequent research methodology; quasi-experimental designs, correlational and survey methods – among other approaches – may also be appropriate for investigating many problems. In any case, students are expected to be part of various kinds of research including, where appropriate, single case studies, literature reviews and meta-analyses, and program evaluation.
We have various support facilities for research including extensive lab space and equipment, collaborative networks with local mental health agencies, excellent computer facilities and consultation. Funding for research projects is arranged within each lab. Many clinical faculty also have active grant-funded projects with state, federal and private grants providing equipment, travel costs and other assets. Many labs also encourage students to write grant proposals of their own (e.g., NRSA and/or NSF fellowships). A number of recent dissertations have been funded by student-initiated grants.
No research project is complete until the findings have been published in a scientific journal and presented at a professional conference. Students are strongly invited to engage in this aspect of scholarship and nearly all students leave our program with a solid record of such accomplishments.
Although our program does not have specialty "tracks," we do have some particularly strong research areas:
A strength of the clinical program is the expertise of the faculty in various aspects of adult psychopathology and interventions. Meredith Coles studies the etiology, maintenance and treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder and social phobia. Brandon Gibb studies cognitive, genetic and environmental risk factors for depression. Mark Lenzenweger is an experimental psychopathologist with interests in two major areas: schizotypy/schizophrenia as well as severe personality disorders. Steven Lynn examines the impact of traumatic events and the effects of hypnosis, cognitive therapy, dissociation and brief interventions. Greg Strauss studies the etiology, assessment, and treatment of negative symptoms of schizophrenia, as well as factors that predict conversion to a psychotic disorder in clinically high-risk youth. The work of these faculty members is enhanced by the collaborative efforts of various colleagues such as Matthew Johnson (developmental course of marriage), Celia Klin (cognitive processes, reading comprehension), Albrecht Inhoff (eyetracking) and Ralph Miller (information processing in animals).
Our program continues to be known for its strength in research and training in child psychology. Raymond Romanczyk and Jennifer Gillis are the directors of the Institute for Child Development, which comprises both the Children's Unit for Treatment and Evaluation (C.U.T.E.) and the Children's Unit for Learning Disabilities (C.U.L.D.). Emphasizing a strong clinical-behavioral and systems approach, the institute serves as a research and clinical training resource for students, as well as a setting for assessment practicum. Children served range from those with severe developmental disorders such as autism and developmental disabilities to those with poor attention skills or behavioral problems in school. For over 20 years, the units have been involved with virtually every school district in a 50-mile radius, providing graduate students with real-world experience across all domains of service provision.
Meredith Coles is director of the Binghamton Anxiety Clinic, a research and training clinic devoted to obsessive compulsive disorder and social phobia in both children and adults. The clinic provides graduate students with training in empirically based assessment of anxiety and cognitive-behavioral treatment of anxiety. Research on factors that contribute to childhood anxiety is also studied in the clinic. Finally, Coles and her students are actively engaged in research spanning development from childhood to adulthood, seeking to elucidate psychosocial vulnerabilities to obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Alice Friedman is the director of the Louis Marx, Jr. Center for Children and Families. The center facilitates the conduct of treatment outcome studies of children with behavioral problems and medical illness and their families.
Brandon Gibb is director of the Mood Disorders Institute, which focuses on understanding the development of depression in children, adolescents and adults. Collaboration is fostered among non-clinical psychology faculty with strong developmental research expertise, including Peter Gerhardstein (infant visual perception) and faculty from other departments on campus.
Marriage and Family
Our program also has a strong focus on marriage, families, and intimate relationships. Christina Balderrama-Durbin (arriving in Fall 2015), Matthew D. Johnson, and Richard Mattson study diverse facets of intimate relationships in an effort to better understand the etiology, assessment, prevention, and treatment of intimate relationship discord, For details about Johnson's lab, see the Marriage and Family Studies Laboratory website. The research on marriage and family processes dovetails nicely with research on developmental clinical psychology, including the work of Jennifer Gillis Mattson and Ray Romanczyk (behavioral treatment of autism). In addition, Mattson has collaborations with Nicole Cameron (behavioral neuroscience) and Frank Middleton (behavioral genetics at Upstate Medical University).
A psychobiologist by training, Peter Donovick's specialization in human neuropsychology has enabled many students to select courses and training experiences that prepare them for internships and careers in clinical neuropsychology research and practice. Although Donovick is the clinical faculty member who conducts teaching, research and assessment in this area, students specializing in neuropsychology also take courses and conduct research with collaborating neuroscience faculty including Lisa Savage (psychopharmacology and behavior) and Maria-Teresa Romero (neuroplasticity, biological rhythms). Practicum experience in neuropsychology is attained in the United Health Services neurotrauma unit and the department's Psychological Clinic.
In keeping with the goal of integrating science and practice, we do not see clinical skill development as separate from the activities listed above. However, the translation of knowledge into effective clinical procedures does require intensive supervised experience with different types of clinical problems and the ability to function in a variety of mental-health settings. Such experiences also teach sensitivity to clients' needs; the ability to communicate with patients, caregivers and professionals from other disciplines; as well as the confidence with one's skills as a psychologist to be able to develop new techniques and strategies.
Direct, supervised experience with clinical problems occurs in two contexts: the Psychological Clinic, which is a training and research mental-health outpatient clinic conducted by the Department of Psychology; and the community practicum, a consortium of local mental-health agencies.