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Postdoctoral Fellowship Program in Health Service Psychology


The Emory University School of Medicine Postdoctoral Residency Training Program in Health Service Psychology is based in the Departments of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Pediatrics, and the Division of Neurosciences & Rehabilitation Medicine (Division of Neuropsychology and Behavioral Health). The program has been in existence since 1979. The program is a member of the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers (APPIC). The residency prepares trainees for Health Service Psychology practice at an advanced level of competence in a substantive traditional area of practice (clinical psychology) or in a specialty practice area (clinical neuropsychology).  The competencies that are the focus of the residency include professionalism, communication and interpersonal skills, individual and cultural diversity, ethical and legal standards, integration of science and practice, assessment, intervention, consultation and interprofessional/interdisciplinary skills, research/evaluation, and supervision.

The Residency Program includes positions at a university affiliated public health system in downtown Atlanta (Grady Health System); the Division of Child, Adolescent, and Young Adult Programs in the Emory Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences;  Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA); the Marcus Autism Center; and the Emory Center for Rehabilitation Medicine. All psychologists are faculty members in the medical school and are noted in the attached compendium. In addition, various physicians contribute to the residency as conference leaders, presenters, and supervisors, and are listed in the attached compendium. The experiences of the postdoctoral residency training are determined largely by the particular setting(s) in which the resident is involved.  The strength of this academic health sciences center postdoctoral residency lies in the diversity of opportunities available, the priority placed on teaching and training, and the rich clinical-research environment. 

The Residency Program strives to provide exemplary postdoctoral training consistent with a scientist-practitioner model. The training is designed to be developmental and contextual in nature, and is centered on the individual needs and goals of each postdoctoral resident. While our expertise is in developing professional psychologists for leadership roles that combine clinical service, research, and education, our ultimate commitment is to helping our residents define, articulate, and progress towards their own chosen career path. Consistent with our individual focus, our program offers training in specific areas of emphasis. The faculty associated with the training program, as well as the administration of the relevant departments and programs, highly value postdoctoral education and training, as it is consistent with the Emory University School of Medicine’s emphasis on training leaders who demonstrate outstanding ability in service, scholarship, and education/training.

All positions include time for direct service (assessment, intervention, consultation and interprofessional/interdisciplinary skills), research/evaluation, the conduct of supervision, and professional development activities. The training program offers the opportunity to work in a professional and scientific community and to establish a more integrated professional identity.  Throughout all aspects of the program, an emphasis is placed on professionalism, communication and interpersonal skills, individual and cultural diversity, ethical and legal standards, and integration of science and practice. See Our Commitment to Diversity on our website, which underscores our community’s values with regard to individual and cultural diversity ( An emphasis is placed in all positions on developing competence in working with diverse and underserved populations.

There are a range of theoretical orientations represented in the academic health sciences center, including behavioral, biological, cognitive-behavioral, developmental, existential/humanistic, family systems, integrative, interpersonal, neurobiological, and psychodynamic.  Supervisory orientations differ depending on the service setting.  Intensive supervision, based upon service and research responsibilities and the resident's developmental needs, is a major component of the training program. Clinical supervision may include, but is not limited to the following: intensive review of case material; co-therapy; live supervision; readings; discussions of the integration of theory, research, and practice; and explorations of the self of the therapist. Postdoctoral residents are invited to share personal reactions and to engage in a process of self-examination. Research supervision may include, but is not limited to the following: research team meetings, discussions of research findings, manuscript preparation, and grant preparation. All residents receive a minimum of two hours per week, with most residents receiving four to six hours per week of supervision. While supervisory discussions are not confidential, supervisors exercise the utmost respect with regard to the sharing of these discussions with other training faculty/supervisors only when needed to support training, quality patient care or research, or to protect the public. 

Research/evaluation opportunities, either independently or in collaboration with existing projects, also constitutes an integral component of many of the postdoctoral experiences.  The amount of time available for research depends on the particular residency position, with all residents allotted a minimum of four hours per week for scholarly endeavors.  Primary areas of research focus include assessment and treatment of individuals with severe psychopathology; child/adolescent and adult psychopathology (e.g., depression, suicide, schizophrenia, substance use and its impact on mothers and children, fetal alcohol syndrome); autism and other developmental disabilities; child and family therapy; family violence (child abuse and neglect; intimate partner violence); epilepsy; traumatic brain injury; neurological disorders including stroke and rehabilitation outcome, pediatric and health psychology assessment and intervention. 

Residents are required to attend a weekly seminar that focuses half of the year on supervision and the other half of the year on professional and career development. This latter half of the year includes discussion of revising one’s Curriculum Vitae for the job market, hearing from psychologists who have selected a broad array of career paths, learning about negotiation for new jobs, exploring work-life balance challenges, understanding the importance of board certification, and exploring complex ethical challenges.

In addition, residents in this seminar have collaborated on research projects related to postdoctoral training. Residents also must attend at least one additional seminar (live supervision family therapy seminar, forensics seminar, neuropsychology seminar). They also may be required to attend site specific seminars and may elect to attend more seminars. Postdoctoral residents are expected to attend 10 grand rounds per year of their choosing, and may do so in any department in the academic health sciences center or university.

Postdoctoral residents also participate in a job mentorship program, which has been extremely successful since its inception over a decade ago. The goal of this program is to assign each resident to two job mentors, psychologists engaged in the career path of interest to the resident in whatever community the resident hopes to settles. Residents meet with these mentors monthly, and receive guidance throughout their job searches and help with networking. To further aid residents in their professional networking endeavors, all residents are expected to be a member of at least one local, regional, or national professional psychology organization. In prior years, residents have obtained jobs in diverse settings and have assumed myriad responsibilities. Common employment settings have included, but are not limited to, academic health sciences centers, academic psychology departments (undergraduate and graduate), medical facilities and practices, community mental health centers, forensic facilities, consulting practices, and private practice. Upon completion of the residency, residents have assumed positions that involve administration, teaching, supervision, and direct service.

Postdoctoral residents complete a postdoctoral residency contract in collaboration with their supervisors at the beginning of the training year. This contract outlines the direct service (assessment, intervention, consultation and interprofessional/interdisciplinary skills), research/evaluation, and the conduct of supervision. In addition, the contract outlines the supervision they will receive, and the seminars and Grand Rounds they will attend. This contract serves as the basis for the two formal evaluations that are conducted at mid-year (6 months after the start of the residency) and year-end. Also at these two evaluation periods, the residents have the opportunity to evaluate their supervisors. At the end of the year, they also provide formal feedback on the postdoctoral residency seminar and their overall experience as postdoctoral residents. In addition to these two formal evaluation periods, informal and verbal feedback is ongoing. At the beginning of the training year, all postdoctoral residents are provided with Due Process Guidelines, which describe the process that will be followed if either the program has concerns about the trainee’s performance or if the trainee has concerns about any aspect of the training program. These guidelines include all steps of the grievance procedure leading to termination if the grievance is against the trainee, including written notification, remediation plan, probation, termination, and appeal. Similarly, steps are outlined for trainee’s filing of complaints.

The postdoctoral Residency Program is typically a one-year full-time experience, with exceptions made for personal reasons (e.g., birth of a child, family leave). However, both the residency position in the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine and the Neuropsychology position at CHOA are two-year full-time experiences, consistent with the guidelines set forth by the Association of Postdoctoral Programs in Clinical Neuropsychology (APPCN). By the completion of the residency, all residents have the requisite 1500 hours, supervision, and direct service experiences needed for licensure in the State of Georgia, as well as all other jurisdictions that fall within the rubric of the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards. All residents are expected to sit for the written part of the national licensure examination (EPPP) during the first six months of the residency year, unless they have already done so. The neuropsychology resident typically takes the EPPP during the second year of the residency.

The Emory University School of Medicine Postdoctoral Residency Program is a member of the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers (APPIC). The two-year, neuropsychology positions in the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine and the CHOA Pediatric Neuropsychology Division of Neurosciences have been reviewed and approved for affiliation with APPCN.