Internship Training Philosophy
The internship offered by the Catholic University of America's Counseling Center is designed to provide a broad-based professional training experience in the range of activities carried out by psychologists in a service-oriented university counseling center.
Our training philosophy emphasizes the following elements:
While on internship, interns are exposed to many different theoretical perspectives, such as psychodynamic, cognitive-behavioral, behavioral, systems, and client-centered. This enables interns to function not only within the college counseling center community, but also opens up possibilities in many other mental health settings.
This training experience aims to bring theory and scientific knowledge to life through practice in accordance with the practitioner-scholar model (Rodolfa, Kaslow, Stewart, Keilin, & Baker, 2005). Throughout the training year, interns are assigned relevant literature to inform their practice not only of psychotherapy but also of supervision, group therapy, cultural competence, and the development of an identity as a psychotherapist. Supervisors serve as models for the practitioner-scholar approach, and interns are encouraged to bring to supervision questions that involve integrating theory and practice.
Experiential Training Activities
The areas of emphasis at the Catholic University of America's Counseling Center include the clinical assessment of clients' presentations, individual and group psychotherapy, crisis intervention, and supervision, as well as outreach and consultation. Through supervision, staff meetings, outreach, and informal contact and consultation with other staff members, the staff aim to model the internship's training philosophy. The staff members aspire to lead by example, providing a flexible and open environment within which interns can explore different approaches. Case discussions in staff meetings, as well as appropriate self-disclosure from supervisors during training activities, help foster an environment wherein interns can learn from others and experiment with different ways of thinking about their clinical work. This exposure to a variety of therapeutic approaches and styles contributes to a rich and varied training experience.
Where appropriate, the internship experience is organized in a sequential, developmental manner, encompassing increasing degrees of complexity as the training year progresses. This developmental approach is followed in terms of both didactic training and experiential components. In the spirit of the developmental approach, interns undergo a systematic and thorough orientation to the Counseling Center and the campus over a period of three weeks. In addition, fundamental skills and knowledge, such as an understanding of ethics and college student development, are emphasized first as a foundation for more complex skills and clinical issues. Interns are met where they are at the beginning of the training year; their existing skill levels are gauged by supervisors who then strive to provide developmentally appropriate goals for the training year. As interns progress through the year, these goals are modified according to the level of progress made by each individual intern. The aim of this approach is to sustain developmental momentum for interns while ensuring their continued development and growth within a safe learning environment.
Mentorship at the Counseling Center is evidenced by true commitment to supervision and to professional development. An important component of the professional development aspect of the internship is self-care and the development of a professional identity. Interns have the opportunity to talk about developmental issues and challenges during all of their supervisory experiences. A weekly meeting with the training director is particularly geared toward professional growth and mentorship. Interns are regarded as junior colleagues and function as an integral part of the senior staff at the center. The development of an identity as a supervisor is a further important element of the mentorship goal. Through the Supervision of Supervision seminar, as well as through modeling by individual and group supervisors, interns have the opportunity to work towards becoming competent mentors and supervisors.
Diversity and Multicultural Awareness
An integral part of the training mission involves theoretical knowledge and the experiential application of diversity and multicultural issues. The aim is to translate theory into practice in an ongoing manner throughout the year. Interns are expected not only to complete the assigned readings for the bi-monthly Culture in Practice Seminar but also to provide clinical material where relevant in an attempt to integrate these elements. Efforts are made to assign them clients who are diverse in terms of race, religion, gender identity, socioeconomic background, age, disability status, and severity of mental disorders. Supervisors continuously monitor interns' caseloads to ensure that caseloads expose interns to as much diversity as possible. Interns are formally evaluated in terms of their multicultural acuity and sensitivity across therapeutic modalities. Self-awareness of individual biases and prejudices, with consideration of how these might affect clinical and supervisory work, are further important components of the training program's efforts to stress the importance of diversity and multicultural issues. Finally, outreach activities within the multicultural realm are encouraged and expected. For example, there are several opportunities for working with the Center for Cultural Engagement, International Student and Scholar Services, the study abroad community, Disability Support Services, and non-traditional students.
Rodolfa, E. R., Kaslow, N. J., Stewart, A. E., Keilin, W. G., & Baker, J. (2005). Internship training: Do models really matter? Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 36, 25-31.
The internship is designed to provide excellent training and supervision in the various activities and responsibilities practiced by a professional psychologist. The staff members at the Counseling Center are highly committed to a graduate internship program that encourages interns to gain a broad exposure to a variety of professional activities and services which exist in a college or university counseling center setting. At the completion of the internship, interns will be prepared to assume positions of responsibility within the profession.
The aims of the internship training program are as follows:
- To prepare graduate students who have completed their doctoral studies for applied work in the field of psychology.
- To provide consistent, intensive, and professional supervision in training activities.
- To provide interns the opportunities for the refinement of their clinical skills necessary to practice as professional psychologists.
- To provide flexible training that allows each intern to develop according to his or her own personal and professional needs.
- To provide a social environment where interns are supported while developing their professional identity.