The Institute for the Psychological Sciences: An Integrative Catholic Approach to Clinical Training

By Scrofani, Philip; Nordling, William | Journal of Psychology and Christianity, Summer 2011 | Go to article overview

The Institute for the Psychological Sciences: An Integrative Catholic Approach to Clinical Training


Scrofani, Philip, Nordling, William, Journal of Psychology and Christianity


The Institute for the Psychological Sciences (IPS) is a free standing school of professional psychology dedicated to the clinical formation of students in a manner consistent with the Catholic understanding of the person, marriage and family, as well as being equally consistent with the science of psychology. The Psy.D. program at the IPS utilizes a modified version of the traditional "Practitioner Scholar" training model but integrates a Catholic anthropology for answering such questions as: 1) What is the nature of the person and of psychological problems? 2) What is the nature and goals of psychotherapy? 3) What is the role of the therapist and client in psychotherapy? and 4) What is the appropriate formative approach to training Catholic mental health professionals? Under such a training paradigm, significant attention is given to areas either not traditionally examined or which are only now emerging in secular psychology, including: An emphasis on human flourishing, the importance of spirituality, utilizing a Catholic personality theory, tailoring therapy to benefit the vocational state of the client, dialogue and consistency between secular professional ethics/standards and Christian ethics, and the integrating of one's professional life and life as a Christian.

The Institute for the Psychological Sciences (IPS) is a free standing professional school in clinical psychology located in Arlington, Virginia, several minutes from Washington, DC. It was established by its founder, Dr. Gladys Sweeney in 1999.

Our Basic Philosophy of Clinical Education

The following excerpt from our Mission Statement captures the essence of who we are:

The Institute for the Psychological Sciences, an institute of higher education offering Master's and Doctoral degrees, affiliated with the Legionaries of Christ, is dedicated to the renewal of the Christian intellectual tradition and the development of a psychology consistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church and in constructive dialogue with the modern world.

The Institute seeks to provide an effective academic and educational environment that supports the integration of the psychological sciences with the Catholic understanding of the person through teaching and learning

Please address correspondence regarding this article to Philip Scrofani, Ph.D, ABPP, 5440 Flint Tavern Place, Burke, Virginia 22015; pscrofani @ ipsciences.edu.

both knowledge and necessary clinical skills and assists students intellectually and professionally as they prepare themselves to respond to their calling as mental health professionals.

Integral to the Institute's mission is the development of Catholic approaches to psychology within the broader professional community, both nationally and internationally.

We are in spirit closely identified with the work and mission of many of the existing Protestant Christian programs which seek an integrative approach to training mental health professionals. Our identity as a Catholic institution is central to our mission and so we seek to be in conformity with Pope John Paul IFs Apostolic Constitution Ex Corde Ecclesiae (John Paul II, 1990) concerning Catholic colleges and universities.

Program Model and Objectives

The IPS offers three degree programs: the M.S. in Clinical Psychology, the Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology, and the M.S. in General Psychology. In this article we will exclusively focus on the education and training process for the Psy.D. program.

The Psy.D. training process is designed to be completed in five years. Graduation criteria include completion of 122 credit hours of coursework which can be completed in 4 years of fulltime study. In addition to coursework students must complete M.S. comprehensive examinations (and receive an M.S. degree), third and fourth year externship placements, Psy.D. comprehensive examinations, a pre-doctoral internship approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) or the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers (APPIC), and a dissertation. …

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