Program Background & Philosophy

Program Background

Forest was established in 1979 as an institution of higher learning in the field of clinical psychology. From the beginning, its purpose was to provide an alternative to traditional PhD programs for individuals desiring an education preparing them to serve primarily as direct providers of mental health services rather than as researchers or academicians. The PsyD degree was chosen because it is a practitioner-oriented degree; clinical psychology was selected because, as reflected in the following description, its approach and goals are suited to Forest’s purpose.


The field of Clinical Psychology integrates science, theory and practice to understand, predict and alleviate maladjustment, disability and discomfort as well as to promote human adaptation, adjustment and personal development. Clinical psychology focuses on the intellectual, emotional, biological, psychological, social and behavioral aspects of human functioning across the life span, in varying cultures, and at all socioeconomic levels. (Society of Clinical Psychology, n.d., ¶ 1)


Design of the PsyD program at Forest reflects the commitment of administration and faculty to developing competent entry-level practitioner-scholars and their belief that, to become highly effective clinical psychologists, students must first acquire a strong foundation in the core areas of psychological science. Consequently, the PsyD program is based on a generalist educational philosophy, which presumes that competency as a generalist is a prerequisite for entry-level evidence-based practice and the future development of expertise as a specialist. The roles and educational philosophy will ensure our graduates are prepared to take full advantage of these opportunities to enhance quality of life in their communities. Forest's mission statement is compatible with a generalist philosophy toward clinical training, emphasizing integration of science in practice and the need to be responsive to developing opportunities in the profession.

Program Philosophy

The overarching philosophy of the PsyD program is to integrate the discipline and practice of clinical psychology with an empirically informed competency-based practitioner-scholar model. The program provides experiences in academic and clinical learning environments designed for graduates that are responsive to the diverse and changing needs of the human community.