Training Director: Neil D. Woodward, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences


Number of Positions: 1

Salary: $28,500

Term: July 1, 2020 - June 30, 2021

National Matching Service (NMS) Number: 245420


The Psychosis track provides interns generalist training in adult clinical psychology with an emphasis on intervention, assessment, and research on psychotic disorders, particularly early-stage psychosis. The program is geared towards individuals with a background in the treatment, assessment, and research of psychotic disorders that plan on pursuing academic clinical and/or research careers.  Core training in psychotic disorders is complemented by training in adult clinical neuropsychology.  Training is conducted through the Vanderbilt Psychotic Disorders and Early Psychosis Programs.


Consistent with the overall purpose of a clinical psychology internship, the primary goal of the Psychosis Emphasis track is on the acquisition of clinical skills.  Specific training objectives of the Adult Psychiatry- Psychosis Emphasis program include:

  • Provide interns with a core knowledge base of the clinical features, treatment, neurobiology, and psychosocial factors involved in psychotic disorders;
  • Provide comprehensive training and experience in the assessment and psychotherapeutic treatment of psychotic disorders;
  • Further develop the intern’s research skills and expertise in the area of psychotic disorders;
  • Provide comprehensive training in neuropsychological assessment of adults with psychiatric and neurological disorders.

At the end of the internship, the intern should be able to function competently, autonomously, and with confidence in a variety of clinical and research settings.  

The Psychosis Emphasis intern will spend most of their time engaged in activities related to core training in psychosis and 1 day/week in adult clinical neuropsychology.  Details regarding the psychosis emphasis training and complementary neuropsychology and psychotherapy training experiences are described in detail below.

Psychosis Assessment, Treatment, and Research

Embedded within the Vanderbilt Psychotic Disorders Program and working under the supervision of clinical psychologists, the psychosis emphasis intern will be become competent in the psychotherapeutic treatment, assessment, and research of psychotic disorders.  The Psychotic Disorders Program is a multidisciplinary team comprised of clinical psychologists, psychiatrists, counsellors, and social workers who assess, treat, and study patients with a psychotic disorder.  The clinical focus of the program is on the acute stabilization of psychotic inpatients at VPH and the implementation of long-term treatment plans through outpatient services affiliated with the Department of Psychiatry.  

While interns are required to spend at least a portion of their time in engaged in each of psychotherapy, assessment, and research, the bread of training opportunities available and flexibility of the program allows interns to tailor their training to place greater emphasis on one or more specific areas.  For example, interns wishing to emphasize training in psychotherapy may spend most of their time engaged in a combination of psychotherapy settings (i.e. individual outpatient, groups, inpatient), whereas an intern more interested in assessment and research may select training experiences emphasizing these areas.


  • Outpatient psychotherapy. Individual psychotherapy places a strong emphasis on engagement skills, with a focus on cognitive-behavioral therapy for psychosis (CBTp) for symptom reduction.  Psychotherapy is recovery focused and plans for transition back to college/work as soon as symptoms are stabilized.  Depending on their prior training, interns may also participate in family therapy to address issues including communication/roles/boundaries, and development and utilization of crisis planning.  The diversity of psychotherapy training experiences offered allows the intern to tailor their training experiences to meet their specific goals.
  • Outpatient Group Therapy. The Psychosis Recovery Group serves young adults recently discharged from the inpatient setting that are experiencing psychotic symptoms including delusions, hallucinations, disorganization, cognitive deficits, and social withdrawal.  The goal of the group is to focus on recovery by identifying personal goals and tailoring the goals to highlight meaning and purpose to their young lives.  The group also provides psychoeducation, a supportive community, coping and stress management skills, anti- stigma discussions, and opportunities to share personal lived experience of psychosis.
  • Inpatient Group Psychotherapy. A voluntary inpatient unit, which opened in August 2019, provides daily therapeutic group programming for individuals requesting a high level of care. Patients present with a variety of difficulties including psychosis, depression, and anxiety, typically in the context of psychosocial stressors. The intern will conduct an inpatient psychotherapy group focused on skills building (e.g. CBT, DBT, ACT) and will have the opportunity to assess quality of care and implement quality improvement in the context of this new unit.
  • Inpatient Supportive Psychotherapy.  Supportive psychotherapy is commenced on the unit to engage and promote the therapeutic alliance which provides a strong alliance and continuity of care for the patients and families. The intern will have the opportunity to engage in individual therapy with patients daily on the unit and may then follow the patient in the clinic. The intern may also provide brief psychological screenings to assist with diagnosis.


The intern will become competent in the diagnostic and neuropsychological assessment of individuals with a psychotic disorder.  Specific training opportunities include training in the administration and interpretation of:

  • Semi-structured diagnostic interviews and clinical symptom rating scales commonly used in evaluating and tracking outcomes in individuals with psychotic disorders;
  • Clinical neuropsychological tests commonly used to assess individuals with a psychotic disorder.


As a required component of the psychosis emphasis position, the intern will be expected to become involved in on-going programs of research and complete an individual research project.  At the beginning of the internship year, the intern, working in collaboration with the intern’s primary supervisor, will select a research project that is aligned with the intern’s research interests and graduate training, and is feasible within the constraints of the internship year and resources of the program.  Interns will have access to several repositories of clinical, cognitive, and neuroimaging data collected on individuals with a psychotic disorder and healthy subjects.   A significant focus of on-going research projects is on the neurobiology, neuropsychology, and trajectory of early stage psychotic disorders.  

Adult Clinical Neuropsychology

Interns will obtain experience conducting neuropsychological evaluations of adults with a variety of psychiatric and neurological disorders.  Under direct supervision of a clinical psychologist, interns will conduct clinical interviews; administer, score, and interpret neuropsychological tests; prepare neuropsychological reports; and provide feedback to patients and families.  It is expected that interns will have some experience with the administration of neuropsychological batteries and report writing.  Referrals come from a variety of sources, including the Psychotic Disorders Program and the Vanderbilt Psychiatry Memory and Aging Clinic (VMAC).  VMAC is an outpatient clinic focused on assessment and treatment of older individuals with a wide array of psychological and neurological disorders.  These include depression, mild cognitive impairment, Alzheimer’s disease, fronto-temporal dementia, stroke, vascular dementia, and dementia with Lewy bodies.

Consistent with the overall structure of the VUMC-IPP, the Psychosis Emphasis intern will have the opportunity to spend up to one day per week at an elective placement.  Elective placements are not required and the decision to do an elective is made in cooperation with the primary supervisors and taking into consideration the intern’s schedule and training goals.

Given the goals of the Psychosis track, applications from interns whose achievements reflect a strong commitment to pursue careers in academic clinical and/or research settings will be viewed favorably.  Prior graduate training/experience and research in psychotic disorders is essential.  Consistent with the overall requirements of the VUMC-IPP, applicants should have a minimum of 550 Total Intervention and Assessment Hours as defined by the AAPI.  

Jennifer Blackford, PhD
Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Associate Professor of Psychology
Interests: Neural substrates of anxiety vulnerability; anxiety neurocircuitry in schizophrenia

Kimberly Brown, PhD, ABPP
Associate Professor in Clinical Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Interests: Forensic psychology; psychosis; psychotherapy

Emma Finan, LMFT
Associate in Psychiatry
Interests: First break/early stage psychosis; CBT; family therapy

Stephan Heckers, MD
Chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Interests: Psychotic disorders; neuroimaging; neuroanatomy

Julia Sheffield, PhD
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Interests: Psychosis; neuroimaging; psychotherapy

Jeffrey G. Stovall, MD
Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Interests: Schizophrenia; community psychiatry

Neil Woodward, PhD
Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Associate Professor of Psychology
Interests: Neuropsychological assessment; psychotic disorders; neuroimaging

2018-2019: Derek Dean, PhD | Postdoctoral Fellow, VUMC Dept. of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

2017-2018: Julia Sheffield, PhD | Assistant Professor, VUMC Dept. of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

2016-2017: Nicole Karcher, PhD | Postdoctoral Scholar, NIMH Clinical Sciences Fellowship Training Program at Washington University School of Medicine