Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology

Diversity and Community Mental Health

Palo Alto University, Pacific Graduate School of Psychology
Diversity and Community Mental Health (DCMH) Area of Emphasis
The following information is subject to change

Philosophy and Overview

The Diversity and Community Mental Health (DCMH) area of emphasis at PAU provides students the opportunity to develop competency in the provision of psychological services within the public mental health sector through a combination of coursework, research, and clinical training. Community mental health (CMH) involves a perspective of care that addresses challenges on both an individual and systemic level, and revolves around philosophies of wellness, recovery and consultation. CMH services are often atypical of traditional clinical psychology training; community mental health care involves the consumer and family members, and is integrated with the community in collaborative interdisciplinary teams.

Not only is CMH work embedded within unique approaches to care, but it is devoted to the service of clients dealing with a unique combination of mental health problems (e.g., co-occurring disorders, chronic and serious mental illness) from diverse underserved and unserved communities (e.g., homeless, disability, LGBT, racial and linguistic ethnic minorities, indigent, elderly, rural). In addition, issues of crisis and risk management are particularly important. The DCMH track provides students with the specialized skills and knowledge to assume a variety of roles – not only as CMH clinicians, but also consultants, researchers, policy advocates, community organizers, and administrators.

Training in community mental health is typically learned piecemeal and on-the-job; it is the aim of this area of emphasis to provide a systematic program of education. Curriculum will focus on the following competency areas:

  • Theories and practice models of community mental health
  • Vulnerable populations and special diagnoses (e.g., substance abuse, co-occurring disorders, chronic and serious mental illness, homelessness, monolingual clients)
  • Cultural competence as related to mental health disparities and underserved communities. Discrimination and stigma reduction.
  • Risk management: suicidality, homicidality, child and elder abuse
  • Organizational, economic, advocacy, and policy issues in the public mental health system
  • Program evaluation and organizational research

Not only does PAU aim to prepare students to be public sector professionals, but also recognizes that many students will become leaders in the field. As such, DCMH students will be exposed to the skills and mentorship necessary for these leadership roles. The DCMH program prepares students for early career options that qualify for application to the National Health Service Corps Scholarship or Loan Repayment Program.


Overall objectives of the DCMH track include the following:

  • Recruit, train, and mentor psychologists proficient in the unique theoretical bases, models of practice, and organizational and policy issues of community mental health.
  • Prepare students to become competent clinicians, researchers, and future leaders in the public mental health sector.
  • Prepare a cohort of psychologists to serve the diverse needs of unserved and underserved communities.
  • Prepare culturally competent public and community mental health-focused clinical psychologists able to meet the needs of the diverse communities in the public mental health sector.



Following are courses already required by the Ph.D. Program that are also requirements of the DCMH curriculum.

Psychopathology and Psychodiagnosis I
Psychopathology and Psychodiagnosis II
Psychological Science III:  Biological Bases of Behavior II: Psychopharmacology
Cultural Differences: Cross-Cultural Issues in Psychology
Psychological Science I: History and Systems

The DCMH area of emphasis is comprised of 15 units (5 courses) of coursework completed over the course of two years (the 2nd and 3rd or 3rd and 4th years of the Ph.D. program). These 15 units are encompassed within the 18 units of elective coursework required of students in the Ph.D. program. The coursework sequence is designed to supplement the Ph.D. program’s general clinical psychology training with an emphasis in diversity and community mental health.

Because DCMH encompasses such a broad array of settings, DCMH students who primarily want to work in community mental health have many different areas of focus. Examples of such varied foci may include: dual diagnosis/substance use, LGBTQ clients, trauma, children and families within the community setting, forensic clients on the community side, or integrated health within community mental health. As such, starting the academic year 2014-15, for the fifth course of the DCMH emphasis area, students can choose from existing PAU elective classes addressing one of numerous DCMH-related topic areas (including courses addressing substance abuse, child/family, trauma, health, forensic, LGBTQ, or Latino mental health topics). Students entering DCMH prior to 2014-15 may contact Joyce Chu ( to request inclusion under this new policy. The list of approved courses for this 5th course is under development as of May 2014; contact Dr. Chu for updates.

Brief descriptions of core courses are provided below.

Year 1 (typically the 2nd year of the Ph.D. program):

DCMH course #1: Community Mental Health I (3 units)

DCMH course #2: Serious Mental Illness (3 units)

Year 2 (typically the 3rd year of the Ph.D. program):

DCMH course #3: Community Mental Health II: Organizational Management and Consultation (3 units)

Timing optional (take the course during the spring quarter of whichever year preferred):

DCMH course #4: Mental Health Disparities (3 units)

DCMH course #5: Choice from numerous existing PAU elective courses on the topics of substance abuse, child/family, trauma, health, forensic, LGBTQ, or Latino mental health). The list of approved courses for this 5th course is under development as of May 2014; contact Dr. Chu ( for updates.

Consumer-driven education is a key component of training in Diversity and Community Mental Health. Students in the DCMH track will be required in the context of different DCMH courses to work with or visit different community mental health organizations to learn experientially from consumers and families themselves. Consumers are also invited as speakers in DCMH curriculum to share their experiences and offer invaluable perspectives, through organizations such as NAMI and Momentum for Mental Health.

Research Training

DCMH coursework will be paired with both research and clinical training. Students will be required to complete dissertation work with one of PAU’s numerous research groups that support an emphasis in community mental health topics. Research focused on cultural diversity issues, serious mental illness, substance abuse, systems-based interventions, or other special populations are only a small example of acceptable research topics. Program evaluation or organizational research is typically needed in community mental health leadership, and is particularly encouraged in the DCMH area of emphasis. Qualifying dissertation research projects will be approved by the DCMH Director.

Clinical Training: Practicum requirements

All DCMH students, like other Ph.D. students, will participate in their 2nd year practicum at the Gronoswki Clinic. During their 3rd or 4th year, students should participate in at least one community mental health practicum training site.

Clinical Training: DCMH-dedicated Internship consortia

DCMH has internship consortium agreements with 2 APA accredited APPIC Adult and Child/Family internship sites (Marin county mental health and Casa Pacifica in Camarillo, CA), where several APA internship spots are dedicated for DCMH students. A third adult site and fourth child/family site are currently in development.

1)     1 dedicated APA-accredited internship spot in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties, Casa Pacifica, Centers for Children and Families
Contact: Myra Saltoun, Ph.D.

One APPIC member, APA-accredited internship spot at Casa Pacifica per year will be dedicated to a PAU DCMH student each year. DCMH students participate in the APPIC national match to be matched to this position. Casa Pacifica is located in Camarillo, CA and provides services to Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. Interns train in the field of clinical child and adolescent psychology, providing services to underserved families in residential treatment, emergency shelter, and day school treatment programs. Supervised experience is gained in providing individual and family therapy, psychoeducational groups, and administering psychosocial assessments and psychological evaluations.

One dedicated two-year postdoctoral psychology fellowship placement spot will be reserved for the PAU DCMH student that matches with Casa Pacifica for internship, contingent upon satisfactory performance during internship year training, on-time graduation from PAU’s Ph.D. program, and an open available postdoctoral position. This two-year post-doctoral psychology fellowship provides advanced training in child and adolescent clinical psychology with emphasis on community mental health in underserved populations. Training areas include cognitive-behavioral interventions, crisis management, brief and long-term psychotherapy, group therapy, and consultation. 
Contact: Elizabeth Latu, Psy.D.

2)     2 dedicated APA-accredited internship placements in Marin County, Marin County Health and Human Services
Contact: Carol Kerr, Ph.D.

Two APPIC member, APA-accredited internship spots per year in the APPIC member, APA-accredited, Serious Mental Illness Recovery Track of Marin County Mental Health will be dedicated to a PAU DCMH student each year. The interns receive supervised training in providing integrated psychology services to adults and older adults with acute or serious/persistent mental illness. Interns provide individual and group psychotherapy and learn skills for crisis intervention, stabilization and assertive case management. Interns also provide intensive IDDT and case management services and field interventions to the homeless, older adults, in the medication clinic, in the Health and Wellness Campus, and in client homes. Clients are diverse with intern opportunities to provide services (and receive supervision/consultation) in Spanish and Vietnamese.

One dedicated postdoctoral psychology fellowship placement spot will be reserved for one PAU DCMH student that is placed in Marin County Health and Human Services for internship (see above), contingent upon satisfactory performance during internship year training, on-time graduation from PAU’s Ph.D. program, and an open and funded available postdoctoral position.

3)     Two additional internship consortia are under development (one adult and one child/family), locations TBA


1st, 2nd, 3rd, or 4th year Ph.D. students at PAU may apply for admission into the DCMH area of emphasis.


Students applying to the DCMH Area of emphasis should submit 1 electronic copy of the following to Dr. Joyce Chu via email ( by May 12, 2014.

  • Application cover sheet (see below)
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • PAU transcript (unofficial is fine)
  • 250 to 1000 word statement discussing your past experience with or interest in the area of Diversity and Community Mental Health. Please share your specific clinical and research interests in DCMH. Please note that this basic 250-1000 word statement is briefer than the more involved essay asked of the DCMH scholarship application. If you are applying for the DCMH track only, this more concise statement will suffice for your application.

Core Course Descriptions

Community Mental Health I (3 units)

This course is the first of a two-course sequence covering the history, theory, research, and practice of community mental health. Students will learn about the historical emergence and future directions of community mental health in the field. Theoretical, research, and clinical foundations central to working in community mental health will be covered, including systems and ecological models, empowerment, wellness and recovery approaches, community organizations, the wraparound process, strength-based work, self-help, and psychoeducation. We will also discuss the unique role of psychologists in community mental health, addressing research and organization-based knowledge needed in such roles as consultant, administrator, researcher, director, or supervisor.

Community Mental Health II: Organizational Management and Consultation (3 units)

This course is the second of a two-course sequence covering the history, theory, research, and practice of community mental health. Students will learn about the new roles and skills psychologists are expected and required to have to operate in the 21st century community mental health setting.  Psychologists are often viewed as change agents in the community necessitating a diversity of skills to be effective in their roles.  These skills include but are not limited to administrative, fiscal and procurement, policy development, advocacy, consultation and supervision, research, organizational analysis and strategic thinking.  Embracing the ‘2nd curve’ opportunities, psychologists are poised to be organizational leaders needing administrative and management skills not traditionally taught in traditional clinical programs.  Conceptual and applied multileveled administrative skills will be explored and practiced.  Prerequisite: Community Mental Health I.

Mental Health Disparities (3 units)

This course will engage students with the literature of mental health disparities in underserved and unserved communities, including ethnic and racial minorities, recent immigrants and refugees, sexual minorities, elderly, and individuals with disability, limited English proficiency, or low socioeconomic status. Students will learn extant knowledge about emic versus etic symptom expression, diagnosis, and treatment. We will attend to special issues in culturally diverse individuals, including the influence of stigma, acculturation, identity, and other culturally specific values and practices. The course will also cover common practices and models of working with and engaging underserved communities, with the aim of effectively serving the needs of these individuals, often within the context of community mental health.

Serious Mental Illness (3 units)

This course follows the foundational Psychopathology and Psychodiagnosis courses to provide more in-depth coverage of serious mental illness (SMI) with a focus on psychotic and affective disorders. This Serious Mental Illness course is also part of a Diversity and Community Mental Health course sequence covering the history, theory, research, and practice of community mental health. We will examine literature on diagnosis, symptom presentation, and best treatment practices in working with clients with chronic and serious mental illness. The course will focus particularly on providing a broad survey of evidence based treatment for serious mental illness focusing on the dissemination and transportation of evidence based treatment programs in real world community settings.

Prerequisites: Psychopathology and Psychodiagnosis I.

Click here for the PAU Diversity and Community Mental Health (DCMH) Area of emphasis Application Cover Sheet.

1791 Arastradero Road
Palo Alto, CA 94304
(800) 818-6136
(650) 433-3888 FAX