Bryant University launches doctoral clinical psychology program

By Danielle Ray
June 1st, 2024

Bryant University is addressing the shortage of health providers with the launch of a doctoral program in clinical psychology.

“There had been a lack of behavioral health providers, particularly psychologists, providing services to the community in Rhode Island for quite some time. The pandemic just exacerbated that problem,” said Joseph J. Trunzo, Ph.D., associate director of Bryant’s School of Health & Behavioral Sciences.

“We saw an opportunity to make a difference in the community and to the profession, so we enthusiastically moved forward with the program,” Trunzo said.

The five-year Psy.D. program differs significantly from Ph.D. programs in psychology. The program at Bryant focuses on preparing students to go directly into jobs in the field and see patients, not researching in the academic world.

“Aside from helping to meet the needs of the community, Bryant has had a strong undergraduate psychology program for over two decades,” Trunzo said, citing the development of the School of Health Behavioral Sciences as well as the success of its physician assistant graduate program.

“It seemed like the right time to offer another high quality clinical graduate program,” Trunzo said of the timing.

Trunzo has been a practicing psychologist in the state and a faculty member at Bryant for more than 20 years, seven of those as chair of the university psychology department.

“I saw an opportunity for those two worlds to work together beyond just what I provide in the classroom and in my practice,” he said of his current role, where he is responsible for overseeing all the graduate and undergraduate programming.

Christina Tortolani Ph.D., has been hired as program director. The program has earned NECHE accreditation.

“I look forward to doing everything I can to help this program train the highest quality psychologists we possibly can moving forward,” Trunzo said.

He added that the new clinical psychology doctoral program would provide a strong general training in the science and practice of clinical psychology, “with a bit more emphasis on the clinical training, as Psy.D. programs are designed to do.”

Students will have the opportunity to pursue a more specialized experience with concentrations offered in child and adolescent psychology as well as health psychology/behavioral medicine.

Trunzo answered a question about the importance of the program by noting people are struggling with their mental health more than ever, particularly children.

“A new doctoral program in clinical psychology will provide an opportunity for a greater number of people to gain high quality training in behavioral healthcare,” Trunzo said.

He said the program would be small, accepting only approximately 15 students per cohort to ensure quality supervision and training.

“Psychologists play a unique role in the healthcare system and have the potential to alleviate suffering in so many ways. Having more well-trained psychologists providing high quality care can only help,” Trunzo said.

He said that so far, interest in the doctoral program has been “really fantastic.”

“We have been getting calls from prospective students, various media outlets, and psychologists in the community who want to help with the program in various ways,” Trunzo said.

“I think everyone recognizes the need for behavioral health care is at an all-time high and they see that this program will help meet those needs.”

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