History of UWaterloo Clinical Psychology program

The UWaterloo Clinical Psychology Program Over Half a Century: A Memoir

E. Z. Woody and R. A. Steffy                                   April 2014                                                             

With the UW Clinical Psychology Training Program reaching its 50th year anniversary, what are some reasons for taking this retrospective view of it?  First, beginnings are intrinsically interesting. Consider, for example, events that were companions to the start of the Department of Psychology, and its clinical program, in 1963:

The opening of the “Place des Arts” in Montreal

The Beatles release of the hit song, “I want to hold your hand”

The Russian launch of the first woman into space

It was an exciting time with a lot happening. Who could ask for better company?

Second, taking stock of the past can help to contextualize and calibrate current program developments. For instance, recalling original hopes and long-term directions can help offset the effects of distracting side winds arising from recent fads and societal pressures.

Third, an important reason for writing this memoir is simply that we can. One or the other of us, and most often both, were eyewitnesses to almost all of the events recounted here.  In the words of the immortal Lerner and Lowe song (also from half a century ago), each of us can claim, “Ah, yes, I remember it well!”

Finally, reviewing the past provides amusement. These pages recall humble beginnings, conflicts that make good gossip, striking accomplishments, and curious turns in the road; collectively, we hope, they make a good yarn.

The Context: A Brief History of the UW Department of Psychology

Origin of the University of Waterloo

In the 1950s the City of Waterloo, with its strong industrial base, offered fertile ground for a new university, to be added to the already established Waterloo College (born in 1911, and later renamed “Waterloo Lutheran University” and subsequently “Wilfrid Laurier University” or WLU). In 1955, our first president-to-be, Gerry Hagey, observed a steep increase in undergraduate applications to Waterloo College and a substantial decrease in the number of Lutheran applicants. These considerations led him to devote his efforts to the development of a separate faculty for science education. By 1956, he had resigned his presidency of Waterloo College in order to initiate science and engineering educational programs on an adjacent campus.

Hagey’s efforts to advance his science and engineering program led to an uphill struggle with his old Waterloo College colleagues. However, with the support of his friend Ira Needles (soon-to-be-appointed as the first Chair of UW’s Board of Governors) and other local captains of industry, he appealed to the provincial government for permission to acquire land and to seek educational, research and infrastructure grants. The University of Waterloo was formally launched in 1957 (precisely 100 years after the founding of the Village of Waterloo). Incidentally, these early warriors (Hagey, Needles, Pollock, Porter) are memorialized in the names of various buildings around the campus.

History Professor Ken McLaughlin (1997, 2007) has provided accounts of UW’s remarkable early days. He details thorny interchanges of our early leaders with administrators at WLU and the University of Western Ontario, who resisted our development. The conflicts at the time arose from concerns about our ability as a young faculty to provide quality education and also territorial issues related to the pool of limited resources (faculty, money, and quality students). Nonetheless, as science and engineering at UW matured – with an astonishingly fast growth of the number of faculty, student enrollments, community respect for its distinctive cooperative training program, and its first building in 1962 – UW began to attract acclaim (Scott, 1967).

An interesting historical oddity is that the Department of Mathematics, because it was viewed as fitting in neither science nor engineering, was originally included in the Faculty of Arts. An arts‑math affinity arose in part because the first Chair of Math, Ralph Stanton, helped attract some important arts faculty to come to UW, including the first psychology faculty.

The Birth and Rapid Growth of the Department of Psychology

The first inkling of a nascent Department of Psychology was just a two-person group in 1961: Acting Chairperson, Harold Bexton, from McGill University, and one young faculty member, Muriel Vogel-Sprott, from the University of Toronto. The group expanded to three in 1962, when Robin Banks, also fresh from the University of Toronto, was added.

In 1963, Richard Walters, a Stanford Ph.D. who had done formative work there on social learning theory with Albert Bandura and whose first appointment had been at the University of Toronto, moved to UW as the first Chairperson of the Department of Psychology. Walters quickly proved to be a cunning and agile administer who was very effective in fostering the rapid growth of the department. From the start, Walters boldly petitioned the Dean of Arts, Norman High, for all manner of resources with great success. Of interest, these two people were polar opposites in their style. Dean High (serving from 1961 to 1967) was a “gentle giant”, with a calm and reflective manner of relating; he came from a Mennonite religious tradition featuring pacifistic views. Walters, in turn, was an excessively energetic, small-statured Welsh man with a persuasive tongue. Why Walters always got what we wanted from conversations with Dean High remained a bit of a mystery to us.

Under Walters’ leadership, six more new faculty members were quickly hired in 1963, making a total of nine. In that year, our gang of nine put forward both an undergraduate and a graduate curriculum, admitted the first graduate student class, and were building our labs and associated clinical practices. Consequently, the academic year 1963-64 should be considered as our birthdate! For this reason, we can now celebrate our 50-year anniversary.

In the first years under Walters' guidance, the Department of Psychology continued to grow quickly. From a scraggly young frontier group of 9 faculty (one of whom was part-time and expected to forge a link with an external training site), we actively recruited other equally young faculty, growing to 20 in l965, and 36 members by 1966. Although the faculty members were primarily fresh graduates themselves, the group bonded and began impressive careers. They were soon successful in many ways: getting grants, publishing, and in other ways becoming leaders in their individual areas of expertise.

In the early years, space was at a premium, and some of the first faculty members were assigned the oddest, tiniest offices imaginable—for example, one person’s office was a black-walled, soundproof acoustic chamber, and another shared his office with a colony of rats. With the rapid expansion of our numbers, we regularly outgrew our housing britches, requiring us to be scattered across different sites on campus and necessitating a number of moves, including a sojourn in a residential rental space on Albert Street (where the lab-animal facilities irked the neighbors). Later, we all came together in a factory building at the corner of Philip and Columbia Streets. Eventually, in 1972-1973, we took possession of our own permanent space, the PAS building on the southwestern corner of the campus. The original plan for that building had envisioned 60 full-time psychology faculty members, but fiscal realities led administrators to order a co-habitation with the Departments of Anthropology and of Sociology, plus some other departments parked there with us in subsequent years.

Some Contributors to Success

Early visitors frequently voiced skeptical opinions about Waterloo’s promise; in the early days, we often heard that our growth bubble would soon burst. Indeed, some of the faculty quietly harbored similarly cautious feelings, but we plunged on because we found ourselves thriving in an exceptionally nourishing climate.

One reason for this success was high-quality leadership.  More than just a facile negotiator, Walters showed excellent wisdom in his decisions, with a particularly good eye for recruiting new faculty who would succeed. The practice of choosing winners continued over the decades that followed Walters' death in 1967. Just as early leadership did a lot to get the department off to a great start, the Chairpersons who followed continued to provide the department with excellent leadership (see Appendix A).

A second factor of possible importance to our success was an administrative arrangement that delegated control of vital functions to subdiscipline faculty groups, each representing a separate program specialty. We nicknamed these units “divisions”, and that name stuck for decades (until it was changed to “areas” in 2013). In this organization, each group's day-to-day management of affairs rested in its own hands. Although the divisions did not have budget or degree-granting authority, they were free to set their curriculum in ways governed by their own educational philosophy. In our estimation, faculty from different traditions do not always have a keen appreciation of the educational and training needs of each other. As such, the divisional strategy puts educational choices in the right hands. Furthermore, we eventually found that this strategy almost entirely eliminated the need for department-wide meetings, thus reducing bickering.

Thirdly, one of the smartest initiatives that Walters put in place was the hiring of ample, highly qualified staff to assist the faculty in their research and skill-training needs. As just one example, for many years we had seven full-time shop staff members with carpentry, electrical and electronic, machinist, and other hands-on specialties, all available to help with faculty and student research projects. Later, with emerging pre-eminence of computer technology, this shop expertise was completely replaced with full-time computer specialists. Our chairpersons have also generously offered part-time appointments to help us meet course-load and practitioner-skill training needs.

As of 2013-14, the Department of Psychology includes 42 full-time faculty members. Of note, a recent report on the research productivity of our department relative to other Canadian programs indicates that Waterloo leads the pack in research productivity and impact (Carlson, Puloso, & Asmundson, 2011). More generally, UW has been regularly rated at the top of the MacLean’s Magazine listing of universities, and, largely reflecting the impact of UW on the surrounding community, the City of Waterloo has been cited to be “the most creative place” to live in Canada.

The Clinical Psychology Program

The First Decade: 1963 - 1972

Along with the other divisions in the Department of Psychology, the clinical training program started in 1963. Three of the first nine appointments in psychology were clinicians, all with pre-doctoral internship experience. To find individuals with Ph.D. training from clinical programs that adopted the Boulder Model (a scientist-practitioner educational strategy described by Raimy, 1950), Walters recruited recent clinical graduates from the United States, noting that workplace training there was better developed than that currently available in Canada. The charter members were Herbert Lefcourt (from Ohio State University), Irvin W. Silverman (from Purdue University), and Richard Steffy (from the University of Illinois). 

Although they were rank novices, these inaugural clinical faculty members took on extraordinarily heavy duties with gusto (e.g., undergraduate and graduate teaching, individual research programs, and various supervision duties). The selection of graduate students was a bit intimidating because the applicants in the early years were all older than the faculty. The first class of graduate students to arrive for the 1963-64 academic year had 8 members, only 3 of whom eventually completed the program. We were not proud of that 62% casualty rate (dropping in the next several years to a still-grim 55% level).

Also, we immediately embarked on the recruitment of additional clinical faculty.  We next hired Kenneth Bowers, who started in 1964, and Donald Meichenbaum, who started in 1966.  Patricia Bowers also joined the program part-time in 1966. Like Steffy, these three were graduates of the University of Illinois, leading to some jokes about the “Illinois Mafia.”  Moreover, Ken and Pat Bowers and Don Meichenbaum, together with Herb Lefcourt and Dick Steffy, were to form the long-term core of the program, spending their entire careers here and having immense impact on the development and reputation of the program.

Other early clinical faculty joined the program only for a relatively short time. The hires of Barney Gilmore (from Yale University) in 1964 and Joan Grusec (from Stanford University) in 1965, together with Silverman, gave promise of a strong child-clinical specialty, but all three had left by 1969 for distinguished careers elsewhere. Other early faculty members who spent only a short time in the clinical program were Walter Fenz (from the University of Massachusetts) and Godfrey Barrett-Lennard. Similarly, Doug Crowne (from Ohio State University) joined the clinical program in 1968, and, although he spent his career at UW, soon moved from clinical into behavioural neuroscience.

In setting the clinical curriculum, we were guided by an APA model that included courses in personality theory, psychopathology, assessment, therapy, and ethics. In the first years of the clinical program, we estimated that students would need 4 years to complete their clinical Ph.D.: three years for course work and practicum experience at UW, plus one year for the required pre-doctoral internship in another setting. Over the decades that followed, ever-expanding curriculum requirements mandated by accrediting bodies (APA, OPA, and CPA) gradually led to a substantial increase in the necessary time commitment, such that by 2012 our students needed  between 6 and 8 years to finish. (At this time, we implemented program changes to enable a high proportion of our future students to finish the Ph.D. in 6 years.)

In addition to scholarly and research work in classrooms and laboratories, the Boulder Model emphasized the importance of immersing clinical students in real-life, field-placement service opportunities. The first such opportunities came through Steffy’s appointment in 1963 as the Chief Psychologist to a psychiatric hospital in Toronto, but the program soon developed associations with a range of other regional service agencies. Particularly valuable in our program’s early development were our links with the psychology staff at Kitchener-Waterloo Hospital, including part-time UW faculty appointments for Chief Psychologists Paul Lerner (joining the “Illinois Mafia”) and, later, Robert Robinson. Thus began a close connection of the UW clinical program with the local hospital, which would continue for many years, enhancing and expanding our students’ clinical experiences. It is interesting to note that up through the early 1980s, the external practicum placements for our students paid quite well; unfortunately in the late 1980s these sources of funding dried up entirely.

The program’s first decade ended with an exciting development. In 1972, at the same time as the Department of Psychology moved into its own permanent space, the PAS Building, at the southwest corner of the campus, the clinical program opened its own Psychology Clinic, located on the first floor. The Clinic had (for its time) state-of-the-art facilities, including one-way mirrors and sound systems for clinical observation; hence, live clinical supervision by both core and adjunct faculty became the norm for our students.

The Second Decade: 1973 - 1982

In contrast to these solid successes, one early endeavor that failed entirely was the attempt to attract a senior psychologist to join the clinical faculty as the program’s Director of Training (DCT). This failure was not for a lack of trying—from 1963 onwards, approximately two dozen letters were sent to important clinical psychologists announcing the opportunity to be our DCT, but none accepted the position. The obvious downside of this was that the young faculty needed to rotate the onerous DCT duties among themselves, an arrangement that continued until 1983. However, a blessing in disguise was that they could fashion the program however they liked, unencumbered by whatever traditions an established leader might have imposed.

In 1975, Robert Asarnow (from Wayne State University) joined the clinical faculty. Although establishing himself well in his years here, he left in 1981 for the University of California at Los Angeles, where he continued a distinguished career in the longitudinal and genetic study of the schizophrenia phenotype. 

To replace Asarnow, the clinical program brought in Erik Woody (from Duke University) in 1981. Woody was hired along with three other new psychology faculty (in other areas), at a time when there was a burst of excitement in the department about bringing in a new generation of faculty. To welcome the four new faculty members, Ken Bowers put on an unforgettable performance as a wizard. Before the department assembled in the Lounge, he appeared in a cloud of smoke, dressed in a black cloak and a tall, pointed wizard hat. Using a chalkboard, he unveiled the cabalistic insight that the combination of the letters of our four last names signified we had been fated to arrive here and work together. However, there was a minor misspelling in one of the last names, raising some uncertainty whether the incantation would succeed. Indeed, perhaps as a result of that ceremonial error, three of the four departed from Waterloo within a few years, leaving only Woody remaining.

At the close of this decade, the clinical program consisted of six core faculty members with very diverse interests. Here are thumbnail sketches of each of them:

  • Herb Lefcourt, very well known for his research on locus of control, was branching out into the study of stress and coping more generally. He had a marvellously ready sense of humour, and his deep bursts of laughter often echoed down the corridor. Thus, there was a kind of inevitability when he eventually turned to the scientific study of individual differences in humour, especially “perspective-taking humour,” as a coping mechanism.
  • Ken Bowers had the strong conviction that the foundation of understanding for clinical students lay in philosophy, particularly the philosophy of science, and his first-year course immersed students deeply in hundreds of pages of this. His favorite topics were the mind-body problem and consciousness, and he was establishing a widely respected career in the scientific study of hypnosis, thereby embracing both of these thorny topics.  Ken always seemed to be in throes of enthusiasm over some new idea.

  • Pat Bowers very capably ran the Psychology Clinic and devoted much of her time to providing the first-year clinical students with a very solid foundation in interviewing, observation, and assessment. One measure of her success was that on pre-doctoral internships, our students garnered very high praise for their clinical skills—e.g., “best student we ever had.” Although having only a half-time position up until 1982, Pat also managed to maintain a thriving program of research linking hypnosis to other topics such as the experience of effortlessness and creativity.

  • Don Meichenbaum was playing a crucial role for clinical psychologists worldwide in unlocking the Skinnerian black box and promoting the role of cognition in behaviour change. For most psychologists, the “University of Waterloo” and “Don Meichenbaum” had become synonymous, and Don was well on his way to being voted one of the ten most influential psychotherapists of the century. Not one to turn up his nose at his own medicine, Don could sometimes be overheard alone in his office, administering audible self-talk.

  • Dick Steffy’s roots were in schizophrenia research, but he soon branched out to other interests, such as smoking cessation, and found himself supervising an unusually wide range of dissertation projects. As the complement to Don’s freshly minted cognitive behavior modification course, Dick taught the course on classic psychodynamic concepts of psychotherapy, such as resistance, transference, and counter-transference.

  • Erik Woody had become interested in UW on the recommendation of one of his mentors at Duke, Robert Carson. When Carson returned from an accreditation site visit at Waterloo, he was uncharacteristically effusive in his praise for the clinical program; his only reservation was that in winter it was so cold that everyone had to use underground tunnels to move safely from one building to another. Erik came from a generalist program at Duke that was quite similar to the UW program, encompassing clinical training with both children and adults, using both psychodynamic and cognitive behavioural therapies; thus he fit in well. The added value he brought was largely sophistication in multivariate data-analysis techniques, including structural equation modeling, which was then quite new.

In addition to the core faculty, there were three particularly important adjunct faculty members, all with primary appointments at KW Hospital, who were well integrated into the running of the program, participating fully in admissions decisions, faculty meetings, and student evaluations. Richard Dart and Claire Sullivan taught an intensive, full-year assessment practicum to the second-year students, and Barry Francis, Chief Psychologist at KW Hospital, taught the ethics course. Another important contributor to the program was Deb Baar, who taught a course on personality assessment, which at the time consisted entirely of detailed training in the use of projective tests. Dart and Baar were themselves alumni of the UW clinical program.

In the Psychology Clinic, both the core and the adjunct faculty continued to provide our students with very extensive live supervision. Integrated into the same collection of rooms as the Clinic was the Preschool. As one led a client to a therapy room, there were often cherubic, joyous children marching through the corridor, raising everyone’s spirits. An excellent one-way mirror system in the Preschool also offered clinical students valuable opportunities to learn behavioural observation, as part of Pat’s course.

The year-opening clinical parties at this time were barbecues at the Bowers’ home, behind which was a huge grassy field where each year the faculty challenged the grad students to a game of touch football. The students were younger and more nimble, yet somehow the faculty always managed to win the game with a thrilling last-minute touchdown. Most likely, the students, as astute young psychologists, realized they had more to gain from enduring a narrow defeat than from inflicting a crushing victory.

The Third Decade: 1983 - 1992

After rotating the DCT position across the various faculty members for a decade, it became evident to everyone that Steffy particularly excelled in administrative skills. Consequently, Dick took over the leadership of the clinical program in 1983 and continued, aside from the occasional sabbatical, for the next two decades, until his mandatory retirement in 2002.

In 1986, Marlene Moretti (from New York University) joined the clinical program, which brought the core clinical faculty, for the first time in at least a decade, up to seven. Marlene was a versatile, very well-liked colleague who particularly helped buttress the child-clinical part of the program (which was always more difficult to cover well than the adult part). We regretted her departure just three years later to Simon Fraser University, where she went on to enjoy an impressively successful career.

In 1989, to replace Moretti, we hired Joanne Wood (coming from Stony Brook, having done her Ph.D. at the University of California at Los Angeles). In addition to Joanne’s training as a clinical psychologist, she came with a very strong grounding in social psychology, which helped build vital links between the clinical program and UW’s world-class social psychology program. Indeed, over the decades, one of the strengths of the clinical program has been close collaboration between the clinical faculty and students and the faculty from the other divisions. Joanne contributed a research-methods course that for many years brought clinical and social graduate students together, and she rapidly became a very active research supervisor.

 In 1982, Pat Bowers moved into a full-time faculty position, which opened up a new position of Director of the Psychology Clinic. Debbie Zweig assumed this position in 1986, contributing particularly strong expertise in child and family therapies. Upon Zweig’s departure, Lynn Swanson took over this position in 1992. Lynn was an alumna of our program, thus knowing all the ropes, and worked very closely with Pat. Meanwhile, throughout the decade, the clinical program continued to benefit from the contributions to teaching and practicum training by the adjunct faculty at KW Hospital—namely, Dart, Sullivan, and Francis.

The decade brought some notable research realignments. Pat Bowers launched an ambitious new program of research into individual differences underlying reading disabilities. In a somewhat related vein, Steffy threw himself into a massive, multi-year project using a wide battery of cognitive, attention, and neuropsychological tests, in which the data were collected in the context of offering much-needed assessment services to many children in the local community. Woody, drawn in by the enthusiasm of Ken Bowers’ students, began collaborating with Ken on hypnosis research. For several years, they had the great fortune of jointly directing a very stimulating and lively research team of about six to eight impressively talented students.

An interesting feature of the clinical program in this era was “special topics” courses. These provided a unique bridge between theoretically guided research and clinical applications. For example, Ken Bowers and Barry Francis co-taught a special-topics course on hypnosis, which integrated theory, research, and clinical applications. Similarly, Woody offered a special-topics course on eating disorders and their treatment, which involved both a wide range of research readings and also an eating-disorders therapy group run by two of the students and observed by the others. Unfortunately, the relentless increase in APA/CPA mandated content—including topics like diversity and cross-cultural issues, program evaluation, and training in clinical supervision—eventually squeezed out time for special-topics courses and they disappeared from the curriculum.

The Fourth Decade: 1993 - 2002

At the start of this decade, the clinical program was functioning like a well-rehearsed orchestra playing a favorite symphony, and there was no inkling of the upheavals soon to come. However, in 1995 the university announced an early-retirement buy-out that was excessively generous; Herb Lefcourt memorably remarked, “I can’t afford not to retire.” He decided to take early retirement and left the program in 1996, as did Meichenbaum, who used this opportunity to become Research Director of the Melissa Institute for Violence Prevention, in Miami. In addition, around the same time, Ken Bowers suddenly became ill, and to the shock of everyone, he passed away in 1996. Of course, Pat was deeply affected by this very sad event. For all of us, there were times when it seemed as if the heart had been ripped out of the program. The sudden changes led to some student concern that the program was disintegrating out from under them, and Steffy and Woody spent most of their 1996 sabbaticals conspicuously in the building in an effort to create the illusion of business as usual.

The core-faculty losses opened up a major bout of hiring in 1996-97, during which three new faculty joined the clinical program: Scott McCabe (from the University of Western Ontario), Christine Purdon (from the University of New Brunswick), and Jonathan Oakman (a recent graduate of our own program). These three shared not only fairly closely related research interests—depression, social anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder, respectively—but also a common outlook that soon led them to spearhead major new directions for the program. One of these directions was a strong shift toward more emphasis on training students in relatively short-term, securely empirically supported, largely CBT-based therapy. Purdon’s CBT course played a major role in this shift by providing closely supervised “mini-skills” training, which emphasized close links of underlying theoretical models and case conceptualizations with therapeutic interventions (rather than therapy “techniques” per se). Another new direction was a shift toward empirically supported approaches to assessment and sharply away from the long-standing tradition of extensive training in projective tests. At an unforgettable clinical faculty meeting, Oakman commented about projectives, “It’s time to cut this cancer from the program.” Actually, his position closely reflected the changing views of many of our students. A couple of years earlier, some of them had invented their own projective instrument, the Make A Sandwich Test (MAST), in which the customers’ choices of what to put on their sandwich were interpreted with humorously pompous Exner-style codes and overreaching personality inferences.

Meanwhile, partly reflecting the declining circumstances of Psychology at KW Hospital (rebaptized as “Grand River Hospital”), our close ties to the hospital psychologists, which had been a major feature of the clinical program for more than two decades,  gradually came to a close, with Dart leaving the program in 2000, and Sullivan and Francis leaving in 2002. Swanson also finished as Director of the Psychology Clinic in 2000, and Ian Shulman assumed this position for a couple of years.

In 2001, Wood moved to the social-psychology program. However, she continued as a research supervisor and very welcome dissertation committee member for clinical students, as well as continuing to teach the graduate research-methods course for a number of years.

After two decades of nearly continuous service as the DCT, Steffy finally faced mandatory retirement. (It is a sad irony that just a few years later, mandatory retirement was decisively overturned as a violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.)  When Woody took over as DCT in 2002, he had two things going for him: he had watched Steffy close up for years and so knew how to get things done; and he had the continuing help of Kathy Blom, for many years the DCT’s administrative assistant, who knew practically everything about how the university actually worked.

The Fifth Decade: 2003 - 2013

In 2003, Jennifer La Guardia (from the University of Rochester) joined the clinical program. Her abiding interests in motivation and self-determination theory added new themes to the program, and she took over crucial graduate teaching responsibilities—namely, lifespan psychopathology, and Steffy’s psychotherapy course, now called “Traditional and Contemporary Psychotherapy.”

Even after La Guardia’s hire, the clinical program had a sadly reduced faculty complement. Just a few years earlier, we had had seven core faculty, three long-term part-time faculty who had taught crucial clinical courses for many years, and a half-time Clinic Director. In 2003, we were down to five core faculty (La Guardia, McCabe, Oakman, Purdon, and Woody), the part-time faculty had left with no prospect of replacing them, and the Clinic Director position was unfilled. Somehow we had to try to maintain our reputation as one of the very best clinical programs on the continent with one of the very smallest faculty complements.  All five of us had to make adjustments and work very hard—for example, Purdon temporarily took over the role of Clinic Director, which had previously been a half-time staff position.

With the departure of Dart and Sullivan and the retirement of Pat Bowers in 2003, the psychological assessment courses and practicums in the first two years of the program, which had long provided the essential foundation for the rest of students’ training, were completely uncovered. Fortunately, Steffy, although now formally retired, stepped into this breach, and, with Woody as his co-pilot, designed a new system for managing these courses, called Cognitive Assessment Teams (or CAT, for short). This was essentially a one-room-schoolhouse approach. Each team consisted of students of every level—first-year, second-year, and senior—working together on a genuine (and typically difficult) assessment case under the guidance of a faculty supervisor. In addition, all ongoing cases were tracked and discussed at weekly case conferences attended by all. With this system, first-year students were involved in real cases from day one, but their responsibilities were carefully titrated to their developing skills. At the same time, the teams not only made good use of the more advanced skills of upper-year students, but also involved them in a variety of supervisory duties, which helped them develop clinical-supervisory skills. In this fashion, each student worked through three different cases, including both child and adult clients, in the academic year. To supplement Steffy and Woody’s faculty input into the ongoing cases, Dick managed to involve other local experts as case consultants and contributors to case conferences, including reading-disability specialists Pat Bowers and Ernie MacKinnon, and educational therapist Greta Cramer.

Despite these very welcome developments, around 2005 as we looked toward the future, we could see that the clinical program had some important limitations: our allotted core faculty complement, which was down to six (one position being unfilled at that time), seemed too small to run a top-quality program; we lacked much of the staff and adjunct faculty support we had formerly had, which was necessary to run a high-quality clinical training program; and as a cost-cutting maneuver, a previous Department Chairperson had cut us back to admitting just four clinical students per year, down from six or more earlier, which was making our student complement unusually small. To reverse these trends, in 2006 we launched a proposal to establish a Centre for Mental Health Research. This proposal, very capably spearheaded by Purdon, asked for university support to increase our core clinical faculty, adjunct supervisory faculty, support-staff, and student complements, arguing that with this enhanced support we could provide a superb integration of teaching, research, and service to the community. The proposal had enthusiastic support from Department Chair Al Cheyne, and it was ultimately approved by UW Vice-President (Academic) and Provost, Amit Chakma.

Around this time, it was also becoming painfully clear that the physical layout of the Psychology Clinic would be too limited to serve as a strong platform for our future clinical research plans. At just the right time, Kathy and Gerry Blom informed DCT Woody that the Psychology Shop, which had occupied a substantial block of space on the first floor of PAS for decades, would eventually be decommissioned, and they suggested that this space could be remodeled into the new CMHR facility. A tremendous amount of work was necessary to make this idea happen, including attracting the grant funds needed to pay for the very expensive renovations needed.  Purdon again energetically undertook to spearhead this work, with lots of input from Woody and Oakman.

The approval of the CMHR led to an important burst of clinical faculty hiring in 2006-07, during which three new core faculty members joined the program: 

  • David Moscovitch (from Boston University) brought expertise in social anxiety and its treatment. We were delighted to hire him as a Canada Research Chair in Mental Health Research, which came with Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI) funds that contributed crucially to the renovations to create the new CHMR facility. Moscovitch quickly joined forces with Purdon to form the Anxiety Studies Division, facilitating the recruitment of participants for CMHR research on anxiety disorders.
  • Uzma Rehman (from Indiana University) came to us from a previous faculty position at Queen’s University. She brought extensive research expertise in marital relationships and processes. In addition, her interest in teaching marital therapy contributed an important new modality to our clinical training program.
  • Elizabeth Nilsen (from the University of Calgary) brought expertise in children’s development of communication, theory-of-mind, and executive skills, in both typically developing children and in psychopathologies such as ADHD. Her recruitment was a very welcome development for the program, because for many years it had been very challenging to attract and keep child-clinical faculty.

In 2007, Oakman took over from Woody as the program’s DCT. With this change, leadership was literally turned over to a new generation, Oakman having been an undergraduate student in Woody’s course many years previously. With Oakman at the helm, there was a rapid succession of crucial initiatives in 2007-08. Lynette Eulette, previously Head of Psychological Services at the Waterloo County Board of Education, joined us in an important adjunct position to assist with CAT training in cognitive assessment. We hired Walter Mittelstaedt (from the University of Saskatchewan), who came with extensive local mental-health administrative experience, as the Director of the CMHR, and we also hired Maureen Stafford as the Administrative Coordinator of the CMHR. In terms of staff support, these two full-time positions put the clinical program on a much firmer footing than it had ever had previously. Finally, with a very nice ceremony attended by various dignitaries in 2008, the handsome new CMHR facility formally opened its doors.

Shortly thereafter, two members of the clinical faculty—McCabe and La Guardia—left to pursue careers focusing more heavily on clinical practice. This opened up two core clinical faculty positions, which we filled in 2011-12:

  • Tara McAuley (from Washington University, St. Louis) brought us expertise in developmental neuropsychology, including executive and other cognitive deficits in psychopathology. This was a second very welcome child-clinical hire, and McAuley rapidly joined forces with Nilsen to take over CAT and the assessment training for first- and second-year students, in close collaboration with Eulette.
  • Allison Kelly (from McGill University) came to us with an exciting range of research interests, including psychotherapy processes, self-compassion, and eating disorders. She quickly assumed essential teaching duties in the clinical program, including the everything-but-CBT psychotherapy course, now renamed “Psychotherapy: Classical Roots and Contemporary Developments”.

Finally, in 2013 the department added a new teaching-focused position, which allowed Pamela Seeds (from Western University) to join us as a Clinical Lecturer. Although the main purpose of this position was to help cover undergraduate teaching, we also integrated Pamela into the CAT courses and practicums, thereby having her play an important role in the assessment foundations for our clinical students.

As of early 2014, the clinical program consisted of eight core clinical faculty members (Woody, Purdon, Oakman, Rehman, Moscovitch, Nilsen, McAuley, and Kelly), two essential teaching-focused positions (Eulette and Seeds), and two full-time CMHR administrative staff (Mittelsteadt and Stafford). In addition, the program had an additional 17 adjunct faculty serving as clinical supervisors for our students. With this abundance of talent, the program has ample capacity to launch exciting initiatives, two examples of which are the group psychotherapy project on imagery rescripting for social anxiety, led by Moscovitch, and CMHR’s participation in the new Waterloo Region Psychology Consortium Predoctoral Residency, led by Mittelstaedt.

Our Graduates

Only mentioned in passing in the foregoing history is the role of students, who are the lifeblood of any graduate program. We are in the enviable position of being able to select the very best students from across the country, as well as, on occasion, internationally. For example, in 2013 we had 150 applicants to the clinical program, from which we had the luxury of selecting a half dozen of the very best to make up our incoming class. Under these highly favourable circumstances, it is not surprising that when our graduates are compared to those of other clinical programs, they come out top-notch (e.g., Yu et al., 1997).

As of early 2014, the clinical program had graduated 163 clinical Ph.D.s. In their subsequent professional lives, these graduates have prospered wonderfully. A healthy proportion of our alumni are renowned internationally for their research contributions. More generally, our alumni play crucial professional roles across the country as, for example, directors of clinical graduate programs, directors of residencies/internships, and leaders in important professional associations (see Appendix C for examples). We are proud of them all.


Many have strained their memories and searched files to help us compile this history. We are grateful to the following:

Theresa Bauer

Gerry Blom

Kathy Blom

Patricia Bowers

Rita Cherkewski

Barney Gilmore

Joan Grusec

Ernie MacKinnon

Ken McLaughlin

Don Meichenbaum

Jonathan Oakman

Christine Purdon

Pat Rowe

Bob Seim

Irwin W. Silverman

Maureen Stafford

Thank you all.


Carlson, R. N., Peloso, D. L., & Asmundson, G. J. G. (2010). Assessing            the research activity of Canadian psychology departments with                graduate programmes. Canadian Psychology, 51(3), 164-176.

McLaughlin, K. (1997). Waterloo: The unconventional founding of an              unconventional university. Waterloo: University of Waterloo Press.

McLaughlin, K (2007). Out of the shadow of orthodoxy: Waterloo @ 50.          Waterloo: University of Waterloo Press.

Raimy, V. (Ed.) (1950). Training in clinical psychology. N.Y. Prentice-Hall.

Scott, J. (1967). Of mud and dreams: University of Waterloo 1957-1967.        Toronto: Ryerson Press.

Yu, L., Rinaldi, S. A., Templar, D. I., Colbert, L. A., Siscoe, K., & Van              Paten, K. (1997). Score on the examination for professional practice in      psychology as a function of attributes of clinical psychology graduate        programs. Psychological Science, 8, 347-350.

Appendix A

Department of Psychology Chairpersons 1961 - 2014

W. Harold Bexton

Richard. H. Walters

Godfrey Barrett-Lennard

James Dyal

Robin Banks

Gary Waller

Phil Merikle

Michael Ross

Mark Zanna

Al Cheyne

Mike J. Dixon

Colin MacLeod

1961 – 1963 (Acting)

1963 – 1967

1967 – 1968 (Acting)

1968 – 1971 

1971 – 1979

1979 – 1983 and 1988 – 1994

1983 – 1988 and 2001 – 2004

1994 – 1997 and 2007 – 2008

1997 – 2000 and 2009 – 2011

2004 – 2006

2006 – 2007

2012 – continuing



Appendix B

Full-Time Clinical Faculty 1963 - 2014

Herbert Lefcourt

Irvin W. Silverman

Richard Steffy

Walter Fenz

Barney Gilmore

Kenneth Bowers

Patricia Bowers

Donald Meichenbaum

Joan Grusec

Godfrey Barrett-Lennard

Douglas Crowne

Robert Asarnow

Joanne Wood

Erik Woody

Marlene Moretti

Scott McCabe

Jonathan Oakman

Christine Purdon

Jennifer La Guardia

David Moscovitch

Uzma Rehman

Elizabeth Nilsen

Tara McAuley

Allison Kelly

Pamela Seeds

1963 – 1996

1963 – 1968

1963 – 2006

1964 – c. 1968 

1964 – 1967

1964 – 1996  

1966 – 2003

1966 – 1996

1967 – 1968

1967 – 1969 (relocated)

1968 – 1976 (relocated)

1975 – 1981

1989 – 2001 (relocated)

1981 – continuing

1986 – 1989

1996 – 2008

1997 – continuing

1997 – continuing

2003 – 2010

2006 – continuing

2007 – continuing

2007 – continuing

2011 – continuing

2012 – continuing

2013 – continuing



Appendix C

​Examples of Positions of Professional Leadership Held by UW Graduates in 2013

Directors of Clinical Psychology Graduate Programs 

  • Director of Clinical Training, Department of Psychology, York University, Toronto, Ontario
  • Director of Clinical Training, School of Psychology, University of Ottawa
  • Director of Clinical Training, Department of Psychology, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba
  • Director of Clinical Training, Department of Psychology, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia

Directors of Clinical Training at Residency/Internship Programs

  • DCT and Associate Investigator, CHEO Research Institute, Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO)
  • Director of Training, Psychology Predoctoral Internship Program, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, Toronto, Ontario
  • Director of Training for the Pre-Doctoral Residency in Pediatric and Child Psychology, Alberta Children’s Hospital, Calgary, Alberta
  • Director of Training, University of Manitoba Clinical Psychology Residency, Clinical Health Psychology, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba

Executive/Council Members in National and Provincial Professional Organizations

  • Professional Member, Executive Committee of the College Council, College of Psychologists of Ontario
  • At-Large Member of the Executive, Canadian Council of Professional Psychology Programs (CCPPP)
  • Members of the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA) Accreditation Panel
  • Member of the CPA Task Force on the Evidence-Based Practice of Psychological Treatments, CPA

Other Academic Positions Held by UW Clinical Graduates

  • Chair, Department of Psychology, and David Starr Jordan Professor of Psychology, Stanford University, Stanford, California
  • John and Emma Bonica Endowed Chair in Anesthesiology and Pain Research, Department of Anesthesiology & Pain Medicine, University of Washington
  • Professor, School of Public Health and Heath Systems, University of Waterloo; and Executive Director, Homewood Research Institute, Guelph, Ontario
  • Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Psychology, Emory University
  • Professor, Department of Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences, and Director of the Youth Stress and Mood Program, Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center, University of California at Los Angeles
  • University Distinguished Professor of Psychology, Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts
  • Professor of Psychology, Western University, London, Ontario
  • Professor of Psychology, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia
  • Associate Professor, Department of Kinesiology, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario
  • Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario
  • Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Hong Kong

Other Hospital- or Clinic-Based Positions Held by UW Clinical Graduates

  • Independent Scientist, Clinical Research Department, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, Ontario
  • Director, Queen’s University Psychology Clinic, Kingston, Ontario
  • Psychologist, Anxiety Treatment and Research Centre, St. Joseph’s Healthcare, Hamilton, and Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neuroscience, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario
  • Clinical Psychologist, Division of Adolescent Medicine, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario
  • Psychologist, Child and Adolescent Psychology, Adolescent Eating Disorders Program, Clinical Health Psychology, University of Manitoba
  • Psychologist, Operational Stress Injury Clinic, Parkwood Hospital, St. Joseph’s Health Care, London, Ontario
  • Psychologist, IWK Health Centre, Halifax, Nova Scotia
  • Psychologist, Lutherwood Institute for Children and Youth Mental Health, Waterloo, Ontario
  • Psychologist II, Specialized Rehabilitation Outpatient Program, Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital, Alberta Health Services, Edmonton, Alberta


Christine Purdon, Professor, Director of Clinical Training

Allison Kelly, Acting Executive Director of the CMHRT 

Marjory Phillips, Director of the CMHRT 

Clinical Core Faculty

Dillon Browne*
Allison Kelly*
Tara McAuley*
David Moscovitch
Elizabeth Nilsen*
Jonathan Oakman*
Christine Purdon
Uzma Rehman*

*Faculty accepting new students for 2020

**Our new Clinical Psychology website is live! Click the black box below to visit the site.**

Clinical Teaching Faculty

Administrative Coordinator

Clinical Adjunct Supervisors

Dr. Ed Beharry
Dr. Pam Beharry
Dr. Jennifer Boyd
Dr. Linda Bream
Dr. Rick Coupland
Dr. Roger Covin
Dr. Philip Dodgson
Dr. Stephanie Dubois
Dr. Nicole Ethier
Dr. Lynette Eulette
Dr. Dubravka Gavric
Dr. Shannon Gifford
Dr. Carol-Anne Hendry
Dr. Heather Hood
Dr. Christopher Lane
Dr. David LeMarquand
Dr. Brian Mainland
Dr. Anne McHugh
Dr. Alexandra McIntyre-Smith
Dr. Sam Mikail
Dr. Susanna Reimer
Dr. Ruth Slater
Dr. Kate Spere
Dr. Elizabeth Stevens
Dr. Philip Toman
Dr. Season Tompkins
Dr. Julie Torrance-Perks
Dr. Wanda Towers
Dr. Val Vorstenbosch