Assessing the Unique Needs and Interests of Graduate Students in Clinical Psychology

Assessing the Unique Needs and Interest of Graduate Students in Clinical Psychology

Derek Giannone, B.A.
Section 10 Secretary

As the Graduate Student and Early Career Psychologist section of the APA’s Society of Clinical Psychology – Division 12, a main goal amongst many is to address the unique needs and interests of graduate students and early career psychologist members of Division 12 that are entering the profession. The Division has recently made it a priority to focus on assessing the needs of their members, and we have decided to follow suit by distributing two surveys assessing the unique needs and interests of both graduate students and early career psychologists. We feel that gathering this information is extremely important in maintaining the usefulness and importance of our section, and are excited to know more about our population so that we may strengthen existing initiatives and develop new initiatives that accurately target these needs and interests. We have recently completed our graduate student survey and wanted to take the opportunity to summarize and reflect upon our findings with our members through this blog.

Basic Characteristics of the Sample

To give a better idea of the sample gathered, provided are some basic characteristics of the graduate student survey respondents (N = 32; Female = 83.3%, Male = 17.7%).

  • Respondents listed their self-defined race/ethnicity as:
    • White or Caucasian (n = 18, 60%)
    • Black of African-American (n = 7, 23.3%)
    • Asian (n = 2, 6.7%)
    • Multi-racial/ethnic (n = 2, 3.3%)
    • Other (n = 2, 6.7%; White Latina, White North African)
  • Graduate students mainly came from Clinical Psychology Psy.D. or Ph.D. programs:
    • Clinical Psychology (Ph.D.) – 22 (73.3%)
    • Clinical Psychology (Psy.D.) – 7 (23.3%)
  • While most reported being in their 4th year of graduate studies (n = 11, 36.7%), students ranged from 1st year to 7th year of graduate studies (M = 3.83, SD = 1.464).
  • A large share of respondents listing membership in Section 10 (N = 21; 70%) have only held membership for 1 year or less (n = 12, 57.1%).
    • Of the respondents who were Section 10 members, most reported learning about Section 10 through the Society of Clinical Psychology – Division 12 (n = 17, 81%).

Evaluation of Section 10 Initiatives

In the hopes of evaluating our current programs and resources, the survey asked current graduate student members of Section 10 (n = 21) to rate how helpful our various programs have been on a 5-point Likert ranging from “Not Helpful at All” to “Very Helpful”. They responded as follows:

  1. Listserv Announcements (M = 4.52, SD = 1.401)
  2. Monthly Newsletter (M = 4.26, SD = 1.790)
  3. Monthly Blog (M = 4.21, SD = 751)
  4. Mentorship Program (M = 3.63, SD = 2.033)
  5. Monthly Podcast (M = 3.42, SD = 1.953)

Topics of Interest to Graduate Students

All respondents, regardless of membership in Section 10, were asked to rate their interest in different topics on a 5-point Likert ranging from “Not Helpful at All” to “Very Helpful, which can give us a good indication of future directions for various programs. The top 10 most interesting topics to graduate student respondents were:

  1. Postdoctoral Planning (M = 4.22, SD = .892)
  2. Research and Travel Awards (M = 4.22, SD = 086)
  3. Becoming a Clinician (M = 4.19, SD = 145)
  4. Publishing in Academic Journals (M = 4.11, SD = 050)
  5. Workshops and Webinars (M = 4.00, SD = .961)
  6. Mastering the Internship Process (M = 4.00, SD = 301)
  7. Supervisee to Supervisor Transition (M = 3.67, SD = 109)
  8. Managing Student Loans and Debt (M = 3.63, SD = 334)
  9. Finding an Academic/Clinical Balance (M = 3.59, SD = .931)
  10. Diversity in Psychology (M = 3.56, SD = 086)


So now that we have this basic information laid out for us, the question is how do we interpret this information and utilize those interpretations to project our organization into the future in such a way that we can accommodate graduate students in the best way possible? Some basic questions and thoughts:

Recruitment and Diversity

  • Given that our organization and networks seem to consist of more Ph.D. students than Psy.D. students, is there more we can do to reach out to Psy.D. students and programs to advocate for the importance of participation in professional organizations such as ours?
  • As most members appear to be in their later years of graduate studies, should we make efforts to reach out to graduate students in the earlier years of their programs?
  • To what extent do the demographics collected (i.e. sex, race/ethnicity) represent the common graduate student population? If it does not, should we work to place an emphasis on diversity in our organization?

Evaluation of Programs and Topics of Interest

  • Our periodical information-based internet mediums appear to be the most helpful to graduate students (i.e. listserv, newsletter, blog), and should continue to be highlighted to new members joining and prospective members considering membership.
  • For the resources that were rated as less helpful, possibly troubleshooting formats and inquiring with members about how to make them more helpful to them would be appropriate?
  • The topics of interest questions provide us a valuable road-map with which we can use to tailor current and future programs/resources.
  • In terms of the monthly blog, this provides us with a good pool of topics to draw from that our members might find helpful.
  • For example, most students find post-doctoral planning very applicable and interesting, but did not find the monthly podcast as helpful as other resources. Moving forward, it might be a good idea for topics discussed on the podcast to conform to what our members say they are most interested in such as post-doctoral planning or becoming a clinician.

A special thanks to everyone who participated in the survey. If you have any thoughts or questions regarding the survey or the summary, please feel free to contact us at

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