We Need to Teach the Teachers: Training for the Future of Psychology – An Integrated Primary Care Curriculum.

IMG_0454It’s almost impossible these days to discuss psychological clinical work in the United States without also discussing how it fits into an integrated health care model. Luckily, the Div. 38 (Health Psychology) Clinical Services Counsel (CSC) is on the job. In the dark corridors of the Toronto Convention Centre, a few psychologists presented their proposed primary care curriculum to a clutch of students, faculty and clinicians.

They described a critical problem in psychological training programs: Students need to learn how to work in integrated health care, but we don’t have anyone to teach them — at least not on the mass scale necessary to train a generation of clinicians for a rapidly changing health care model. Most faculty in psychological training programs do not have experience or training in this type of treatment.

Essentially, we need to teach the teachers to teach the future of psychology.

How do we do this? Shanda Wells PsyD, described a curriculum the CSC is developing. It includes a plethora of materials that have been produced to help graduate faculty to teach integrated health care psychology — “beautiful Powerpoints, like you have never seen before,” plus handouts, pictures/models, videos, and even pre/post tests that have been produced by the committee to help develop teachers in graduate schools. She emphasized and repeated one point: “The materials are free and flexible”


She and her colleagues showed a few of the videos, which featured high-quality cinematography and great use of diverse actors in real world settings. One video shows a psychologist in a “doctor’s office” talking to a man about behavior interventions for sleep. The video feels real and the acting is solid. It doesn’t feel like a generic psychology training video made in the 1980s. It feels current and relevant.

It feels like something students will respond to.

Nancy Ruddy, PhD, spoke of  the importance of setting expectations for the future of psychology for both students and faculty. The days are gone of “solo practice where you sit alone in a room with a box of Kleenex and a lamp,” she said. She described the importance of seeing ourselves as a component of treatment in holistic health care as opposed to islands off by ourselves.

In addition, committee members plan to make themselves available for consultation about the curriculum. They described the importance of allowing an “ongoing discussion” around this type of training experience. And they said they are excited to see how these materials get used in training settings and want to hear feedback on how they can improve them.


The materials will be available for mass consumption soon. For more information, contact the Div. 38 (Health Psychology) Clinical Services Counsel (CSC).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s