Postgraduate Diploma in Clinical Psychology - Overview

Mission Statement

The mission of the University of Canterbury Clinical Training Programme is to train competent clinical psychologists who can apply and adapt general conceptual and technical skills in diverse professional settings.


Postgraduate training in clinical psychology began in 1960 in the Department of Psychology at the University of Canterbury, at the request of the Department of Health.

The first Diploma in Clinical Psychology programme in New Zealand was set up two years later. Since then the programme has developed, as have opportunities for graduates, to such an extent that clinical psychology has become one of the major professional commitments for psychology graduates. The practice of clinical psychology is continuing to broaden to include traditional psychiatric practice along with extensions to general medical, criminal justice, social welfare, and non-patient populations. The key role of research and teaching skills in the practice of clinical psychology has enabled graduates to take up senior administrative positions in related areas.

The aim of the University of Canterbury Clinical Psychology programme is to provide a comprehensive integration of academic and practical work, and produce generalists rather than specialists.

General Programme Goals and Philosophy of Education

An effective clinical psychologist possesses a strong professional identity that includes:

  • a firm grounding in the science of psychology,
  • knowledge of relevant theories of human behaviour and psychopathology,
  • competence in the application of technical skills that aid in the amelioration of human suffering, and
  • awareness of and adherence to the ethical principles of the profession.

Consistent with these goals, a clinical psychologist understands the interactive and mutually informative relationship between science and practice. As such, the educational philosophy of the clinical training programme at the University of Canterbury is consistent with the traditional scientist-practitioner model of clinical training.

Several professional characteristics are integral to all levels of clinical training and are reflected throughout the programme objectives and curriculum. Specifically, a clinical psychologist adapts to societal needs and changes in service delivery, thinks critically, and communicates clearly. In addition, a clinical psychologist contributes to the knowledgebase of psychology, evaluates the effectiveness or professional services, embraces standards of professional ethics, recognises the importance of personal values, and appreciates and respects individual and cultural differences.