What is Clinical Science?

When choosing a clinical psychology graduate program, it is important to understand the model that is central to the program. PCSAS-accredited programs adhere to a clinical science model. In the field of psychology, the clinical science model is a systematic, evidence-based approach to understanding and addressing mental health and behavioral issues. It places a strong emphasis on scientific research, empirical evidence, and the application of scientific principles into clinical practice. Clinical scientists are actively involved in the advancement of knowledge and/or the wide dissemination of that knowledge. Some key defining features of clinical science include:

Integration of Science and Practice: The clinical science model encourages the integration of scientific knowledge into clinical practice so that research informs clinical practice and clinical practice informs research. Clinical scientists aim to bridge the gap between research findings and practical applications in mental health care.

Scientific Training: Clinical psychology programs that follow the clinical science model prioritize scientific training for their students. This includes teaching research methods and critical scientific thinking.

Evidence-Based Practice: The clinical science model promotes the use of evidence-based practices in clinical settings. This means that treatments and interventions are based on scientific research demonstrating their effectiveness.

Empirical Research: Clinical scientist training includes creating and using empirical research to investigate the nature, causes, and treatment of mental health problems. Regardless of the ultimate career pathway chosen, the work of clinical scientists should reflect the rigorous research training they have received.

Commitment to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Social Justice (DEIJ): PCSAS accreditation requires that programs demonstrate a commitment to the integration of diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice into all aspects of the program. The specific mechanisms by which programs demonstrate this commitment may vary, but it is expected that the values of DEIJ are incorporated into the scholarly content of instruction and program requirements; recruitment and retention of faculty and students; client populations; and the inclusiveness of the climate and student well-being within the program.

Translational Research: Clinical science often involves translational research, which focuses on incorporating basic scientific discoveries into practical clinical applications. Translational research helps bring the latest scientific advancements to clinical settings.

Biopsychosocial Perspective: Clinical science takes a holistic view of mental health. This perspective considers biological, psychological, and social factors that contribute to mental and behavioral problems and recognizes the complex interplay of these factors.

Advancing the Field: Clinical scientists contribute to the advancement of psychology as a discipline by expanding our understanding of mental health and improving the effectiveness of interventions.