Emphasis Areas

The SOPP offers four emphasis areas in the following areas: Adult, Child/Adolescent/Family, Health, and Forensic Psychology.  The Emphasis Areas allow students to gain additional knowledge and experience within a more focused area within clinical psychology.  The Emphasis Areas are defined by four additional coursework and, typically, specific practicum experience within that area.  Despite having these additional foci of training, the doctoral program remains a generalist program.

Adult Psychology Emphasis Area

The Adult Psychology Emphasis Area (APEA) provides expert training in the science of interpersonal relationships. Whether working with adults, the elderly, the emotionally disturbed, the mentally ill, or people dealing with ordinary life difficulties at home, in their communities, and at work, interpersonal relationships are part of the human condition.

While not losing sight of people as individuals, this emphasis area will provide the student educational and training experiences that focus on theory, research, and practice regarding interpersonal relationships: (1) in various settings (clinical, work, personal); (2) in various populations (e.g. aging; ethnic, racial and cultural minorities; men and women); and (3) with various disorders (e.g. depressive disorders, anxiety disorders). Included in the focus on relationships will be an emphasis on knowledge of self that is fundamental to establishing good interpersonal relationships with others in all contexts. The purpose of the APEA is to train intrapersonal and interpersonal relationship specialists who:

  • Have expert knowledge about adults in various settings, about various adult populations, and various mental and emotional disorders in adults.
  • Have expert knowledge about adult interpersonal relationships.
  • Have expert knowledge of the impact of the array of emotional problems and mental illnesses on important life relationships.
  • Have expert knowledge of the effect of problem interpersonal relationships on emotional and physical well being.
  • Help people have better relationships in their personal lives, in social settings, and in work settings.
  • Enhance emotional and physical well-being though relationships.
  • Practice clinical psychology in a highly ethical manner based on understanding the values and assumptions of good clinical practice.

Adult Courses:

PSY 810 Chemical and Psychological Addictions (3)
Psy. 805 Gerontology (3)
Psy. 806 Adult Psychopathology & Psychotherapy: Personality Disorders (3)


PSY 721 The Psychology of Trauma  (3)
PSY 803 Organizational Consultation
PSY 888 Couples Counseling  (3)

Director:  Tom Bergandi, Ph.D. 

Child, Adolescent and Family Emphasis Area

Spalding University’s School of Professional Psychology has evolved to meet the changing psychological needs of our times. In today’s culture, parents, school systems, and mental health services are often overwhelmed by the complex needs of children, particularly children with emotional and behavioral challenges. The Child/Adolescent/Family Emphasis Area was designed to bridge the gap between clinical child psychology programs and marital and family counseling programs, providing coursework and experiential activities focused on children, parents, extended family and siblings, in addition to larger systems such as day care centers, residential treatment facilities, schools, and hospitals. Thus, the Child/Adolescent/Family Emphasis Area was implemented to meet the challenges of our current and future society, particularly in light of its growing diversity.

CAF Courses:

Psy. 702 Family Therapy:  Theory & Intervention (3)
Psy. 718 Child Psychopathology and Treatment I (3)
Psy. 719 Child Psychopathology and Treatment II (3)


PSY 632 Developmental Disabilities (3)
PSY 721 Psychology of Trauma (3)
PSY 846 Pediatric Psychology (3)
PSY 888 Couples Counseling (3)

Director:  DeDe Wohlfarth, Psy.D.

Forensic Psychology Emphasis Area

The Forensic/Correctional Emphasis Area of the Psy.D. Program at Spalding University offers, within the curriculum of a doctoral program in general clinical psychology, training in the competencies (knowledge, skills and attitudes) essential to working with individuals involved in many of the capacities in the legal and correctional systems. The School of Professional Psychology is committed to identifying state of the art concepts, models and practices in this area, selecting high-quality and well-matched graduate students, and training them in these concepts, models and techniques to meet the needs of today’s society.

The field of psychology has been evolving to meet the changing needs of the culture. One of these changes has been in the area of interface between the legal system and professional psychology. Psychologists work in and aid the legal system in many capacities. Professional contributions provided by psychologists to the legal system may be conceptualized as falling along the complete continuum of legal procedures.

Forensic Courses:

Psy. 730 Introduction to Forensic/Correctional Psychology (3)
Psy. 740 Theories of Criminal Behavior and the Correctional Subculture (3)
Psy. 830 Juvenile Assessment & Treatment in Forensic Psychology (3)


PSY 850 Adult Assessment & Treatment in Forensic Psychology (3)

Director:  Ida Dickie, Ph.D. 

Health Psychology Emphasis Area

It is the purpose of the Health Psychology Emphasis Area (HPEA) to apply the educational, scientific, and professional contributions of psychology to the enhancement of health. This includes the creation of a “critical mass” of educators, students, and practitioners in health psychology dedicated to the development and application of biopsychosocial principles and practices in order to further the health interests of individuals and communities. The HPEA is committed to increasing knowledge, conducting and publishing clinical applied research, establishing empirically-based treatment practice, and creating training and practice opportunities for health psychologists. We will also strive to improve the health care system through teaching and performing program evaluation, organizational development policy formation, and political action.

Health Courses:

Psy. 840 Health Psychology & Behavioral Medicine (3)
Psy. 845 Advanced Clinical Health Psychology (3)
Psy. 607 Integrated Primary Care (3)


Psy. 846 Pediatric Psychology (3)
PSY 843 Health Care Systems  (3)

Director:  Nate Mitchell, Ph.D.