Professional Development in Clinical Psychology: Lifelong Learning in Research and Practice

Professional Development in Clinical Psychology: Lifelong Learning in Research and Practice

Micere S. Oden, M.S.
Doctoral Candidate, Clinical Psychology Ph.D. Program
School of Psychology
Walden University

Engaging in the continuous pursuit of knowledge is critical for graduate students and career psychologists to adapt to the changing landscape of professional psychology. Professional development involves understanding the latest approaches, ethical concerns, research findings, and trends in psychological science influencing the integration of research and practice. According to Sperry, Carlson, Sauerheber, and Sperry (2015), the current state of psychology has resulted in clinicians facing increased professional and clinical demands required from regulatory and statutory interests for maintaining skills and licensure. For example, the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB) announced beginning August 1, 2014 and after, the DSM-5 will be incorporated into the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) which evaluates candidates for licensure and certification (Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards, 2016). Additionally, our changing society requires psychologists to engage in continued education to advance new ways of thinking about behavioral health. This article will discuss important areas of professional development in clinical psychology in the domains of research, clinical training, diversity, and provide recommendations of venues for professional development.

Participating in continuing education may help graduate students and early career psychologists (ECPs) to generate ideas for a research problem which has the potential to make an original contribution to the discipline of clinical psychology. The American Psychological Association (APA) offers various resources to advance knowledge of research and practice conducted by experts in the field of psychology. Workshops offered monthly by the Clinician’s Corner, a program of the APA Office of Continuing Education in Psychology (CEP) features leading practitioners and scholars working in key areas of professional practice (American Psychological Association, 2016). All workshops include continuing education (CE) credits and participants can choose to attend in person at the APA building (750 First St. NE, Washington, D.C.), or via live webcast (American Psychological Association, 2016). The URL for the Clinician’s Corner is:

An additional source of professional development offered by the APA is Speaking of Psychology which is an audio podcast series discussing the latest psychological research being conducted by researchers (American Psychological Association, 2016). The URL for Speaking of Psychology is: The American Psychological Association (APA) website offers a wide range of continuing education options to support increasing requirements in the field.

Clinical training in the context of practicum and internship provides varied opportunities for graduate students to further develop as practitioners. Continued education benefits clinical psychology trainees in the process of demonstrating competence in case conceptualization, intervention, and skills training in the application of theoretical orientations in clinical practice under supervision. Reading selected publications concerning clinical training and supervision provides the knowledge necessary to enhance clinical competence for practicum students and interns. A renowned book published by experts in the discipline of supervision, Carol A. Falender, Ph.D and Edward P. Shafranske, Ph.D, ABPP entitled Getting the Most Out of Clinical Training and Supervision: A Guide for Practicum Students and Interns (2012) is a useful resource for trainees at various levels of experience. Participating in professional development during clinical training ultimately assists in understanding the development, implementation, and testing of evidence-based interventions for children, adolescents, and adults of specific populations.

Professional development enrichment in multicultural psychology informs graduate students and early career psychologists (ECPs) of the latest research in the psychology field concentrating on culturally sensitive psychotherapy for clients of diverse backgrounds. Continuing education offers an understanding of how intersectionality, which is the interconnectedness of the social identities among individuals, is crucial in the case conceptualization of clients. Reading peer-reviewed journals and participating in conferences, trainings, and workshops offers educational experiences to analyze and evaluate the behavioral health concerns of diverse populations. The APA Annual Convention and regional psychological associations hold conferences that provide opportunities for scholars to present research and network with professionals and colleagues.

Acquiring knowledge beyond required graduate coursework and field experience requirements is beneficial, and imperative, for growth as a scholar and practitioner. A vast array of high quality opportunities for continuing education in clinical psychology are available through traditional learning modalities and online including certifications, trainings, and webinars. Maintaining a commitment to professional development in clinical psychology paves the foundation for lifelong learning to support the application of theory to practice. Finally, including professional development on your curriculum vitae (CV) has the potential to make you stand out as a candidate for the practicum, internship, or prospective employment.


American Psychological Association. (2016). Clinician’s corner. Retrieved from

American Psychological Association. (2016). Speaking of psychology. Retrieved from

Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (2016). A message from ASPPB about the DSM. Retrieved from

Falender, C. A., & Shafranske, E. P. (2012). Getting the most out of clinical training and supervision: A guide for practicum students and interns. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Sperry, L., Carlson, J., Sauerheber, J. D., & Sperry, J. (Eds.). (2015). Psychopathology and psychotherapy: DSM-5 diagnosis, case conceptualization, and treatment. (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.