Endorsing the Vail Model, WSPP was established in 1978 by a group of psychologists in southeastern Wisconsin under the leadership of Raymond J. McCall, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology at Marquette University. Drawing broad support from the local psychological community who welcomed a practitioner-oriented training program, this grass roots effort led to WSPP’s admitting its first class in 1980.
An important feature of WSPP’s program is that we are a non-profit institution. This means that all the resources we accrue get channeled back into the program, not into the hands of an individual owner. Non-profit status allows us the freedom to pursue training opportunities for our students that also serve the needs of individuals in the community who are in need of psychological help but are unable to afford it. Using community service as a vehicle to teach clinical skills is a hallmark of our training approach.
WSPP’s Program Model
Early clinical psychologists received their training in psychology departments of universities. The foremost goal of these programs was to teach students to conduct and publish research, with training in the clinical skills of assessment and psychotherapy of secondary importance. This training philosophy, called the scientist-practitioner approach, was endorsed at a 1949 conference of the American Psychological Association (APA) held in Boulder, CO, and is also called the Boulder Model.
As graduates of Boulder Model programs began their careers, it became apparent that very few of them actually engaged in the research and publication for which they had been trained, with most assuming clinical positions in private practice, hospital, and outpatient mental health settings. A movement began to change the nature of graduate training to reflect more accurately the intended professional goals of most applicants to clinical psychology doctoral programs, with clinical skills primary and research productivity secondary. This approach, called the practitioner-scientist approach, was endorsed at an APA conference held in Vail, CO, and is also known as the Vail Model.
With the endorsement of the Vail Model came an impetus to create schools of professional psychology, similar to law and medical schools, in which graduate training would provide considerable clinical experience and be taught by practicing clinical psychologists. Faculty, then, in addition to the more formal instructor role, would serve as mentors and professional role models for students of the successful practicing clinical psychologist.
WSPP’s doctoral program in clinical psychology is accredited by the American Psychological Association. WSPP is regionally accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, Higher Learning Commission
30 North LaSalle Street, Suite 2400
Chicago, IL 60602-2504
Designated by the National Register
WSPP is listed as a Designated School by the Joint Designation Committee of the National Register of Health Service Psychologists and the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards.