Clinical Psychology Dissertation Topics

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"Sometimes you are going to feel lost and like you don't know where you're going," Foster says.

"The reason for that is because you are trying to do several things concurrently-you're trying to learn about this whole field and get a conceptual framework of how to map out this area of research." But, it's nothing your classes haven't prepared you to take on, Foster says.

Jennifer Reese-a fourth-year doctoral student in the Psy D program at the University of Denver-used what she calls the "scavenger hunt" approach for her lit review; she scanned reference sections of relevant books and journal articles and then found those referenced sources as well.

She is validating the use of Jane Elliott's Blue Eyes Brown Eyes exercise, a behavior training method that uses discrimination against a person's eye color to teach Caucasians about prejudice and oppression.

"I think this makes the process of identifying the big questions much easier because you are already familiar with the relevant literature." But, make sure you have passion for the topic.

Nate Tomcik-a fifth-year doctoral student in the clinical psychology program at the University of Tennessee-has an interest in his research on therapists' views of couples therapy because it allowed him to integrate research with his clinical work with couples.

What factors influence the development of problem behaviors for vulnerable individuals across the life span?

She identified these questions by finding the gaps within the problem behavior development literature.

"I know when I go to the reference sections, and I'm not finding any new things-when I keep turning up the same things over and over again," Foster says.

IDENTIFYING THE PROBLEM AND QUESTIONS Once you feel confident that you've covered the literature, identify the rationale for your study, why it's important and what hasn't been studied about it before, Foster says.


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