Usage in the United States
The degree was recognized by the Vail Conference on models of training in clinical psychology in 1973. At this conference, it was recognised that psychology had grown to a degree warranting training persons exclusively in the professional practice of psychology. While both the Ph.D. and Psy.D. models of training include basic science and a practical skills component, there are clear differences in relative emphases on the role of research versus clinical activity and competency. Psychologists who have obtained Psy.D. degrees are typically trained less in research and more in clinical work, whereas Ph.D. psychologists receive more training in research and less in clinical work. Graduates of both training models are eligible for licensure in all states. This is much like medicine where both the M.D. (allopathic) and D.O (osteopathic) are deemed acceptable training for professional practice.
The Psy.D. degree may be awarded in clinical, counseling, or school psychology. Additionally, many trainees in clinical or counseling psychology choose to focus on a subspecialty such as child psychology, forensic psychology, and industrial and organizational psychology.
Usage outside of the United States
In other countries, clinical psychology training has frequently been a separate qualification (e.g., Dip.Clin.Psych.) studied concurrently with a higher research degree (i.e., a masters or Ph.D.). Some universities, however, are replacing their traditional masters and diploma program with a Psy.D or D.Psych. The research component is less than a Ph.D., but greater than a masters. Thus, students considering teaching rather than practice will tend to opt for traditional Ph.D. based programs. The Doctor of Psychology program confers additional status and the title of "doctor."
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