History and Background of the Clinical Program

By Charlie Rickard

Paul Siegel was the major force behind the initiation of our clinical program. Frank Shaw was recruited in to direct the program, a process well underway before his untimely death in 1961. Ray Fowler, who had followed Margaret Qualye as director of the Psychological Clinic, assumed responsibility also for the fledgling clinical program. Clinical faculty, recruited in the mid 60’s, included Mike Dinoff, Howard Miller and myself (Charlie). When Earl Brown, who was chair left the department, Ray was made chair in 1965. In 1966, Ray appointed Mike as director of the Psychological Clinic and me as coordinator of the Clinical Training Program, positions both held throughout those early years, and beyond.

From the start, excellent relations existed among our faculty. Both experimental and clinical members served on all PhD committees. All students took a substantial core of basic experimental content and methodology. The clinical program required an additional core which included diagnostics, psychotherapy/behavior change, and practicum experiences, all supervised by our own clinical faculty. The program was framed in the scientist-practitioner model and the search for new, replicable knowledge was valued.

Practicum supervision took place predominately in the Department’s Psychological Clinic. Ray had developed the clinic into a well-staffed, viable training faculty; Mike expanded it in positive directions still visible today. He insisted upon a model clinic that would prepare students for internship and beyond. Lars Peterson, working at the VA Hospital, and Al Peyman at Bryce were among the community psychologists who provided experiences and financial support concurrent with Departmental training. John McKee and C. J. Rosencrans, prominent Alabama psychologists, provided friendship and wise council as our program developed.

In those days there was a severe shortage of clinical psychologists to meet developing mental-health needs in various communities. Clinical faculty members consulted widely around the state, and students participated in what amounted to an intensive tutoring experience. These consultations, in a number of cases, resulted in the development of community mental-health clinics. Howard Miller was prominent in the employment of students for those trips, a number of whom were minority students he had helped to recruit. The take-along-a-student on supervisory field trips became an excellent training strategy. The ultimate student experience was the Court-Mandated Alabama Prison Classification Project, organized and directed by Ray. For the clinical faculty and students who participated in this project see Siegel (1995, p. 13; Fowler article, 2006). Prior to that project, the Department had started the nation’s first PhD program in the training of psychologists to work in prisons and legal settings. The three core faculty members were Ray, Stan Brodsky and Carl Clements.

Early on, the clinical program emphasized the development of specialties embedded in the general program. Ray, with considerable vision and energy, obtained grants carrying stipends that made possible specialty programs in clinical mental retardation, alcoholism and law/psychology. Mike Dinoff, a clinician, and Al Baumeister, an experimental psychologist, obtained a training grant that allowed students such as Rex Forehand, Don Gordon and Tom Mulhern to get a PhD. in clinical psychology with specialization in mental retardation. The first two programs were eventually dropped as funding faded, but the psychology/law specialty, under the inspired direction of Stan Brodsky, remains an important clinical program. Faculty recruited for specialty programs included Wes Libb, Bill Jansen, Annette Brodsky, Chuck Owens, Carl Clements and Stan Brodsky.

The child-clinical specialty from its inception drew a large number of Ph.D. applicants. Camp Ponderosa, a 7-week summer program for emotionally disturbed children, served as a major training experience. The University of Alabama’s residential and community treatment program for children, known as Brewer-Porch, in large part grew out of the Ponderosa program. The first Director, Wes Libb, and its later Director, Bob Lyman, were former Ponderosa counselors, as were Carl Clements, Andy Lattel and dozens of other students.

During that first decade of the Clinical Program, some forty students received clinical Ph.D. degrees. They were participants in a new program searching for effective training strategies. For example, we experimented with intermingling clinical and experimental cores, not a common practice in those days. The students did well in both programs and expressed appreciation for an early clinical emersion. Available feedback indicates that these early graduates have performed admirably as academicians, institutional psychologists, as private practitioners and in other psychology-related positions. Many thanks, you pioneers.