The training program believes that practice and scholarship are essential to preparing Doctoral Psychology Interns to be Health Services Psychologists. We assist interns as they learn more about how to integrate critical thinking skills, a strong theoretical foundation, empirical evidence and the use of local data (data collected from the NCSU Counseling Center population) to inform and guide their clinical work with clients. The overall goal is to produce well-rounded professionals who are able to execute an approach with clients supported by empirical evidence, self-reflection, and critical thinking. The training staff also seeks to foster a lifelong commitment to the integration of self-reflective practice and scholarly examination. Because science is at the core of health service psychology, all doctoral psychology internship programs must demonstrate that they rely on the current evidence base when training and assessing interns in the following competency areas: 1. Research, 2. Ethical and Legal Standards, 3. Individual and Cultural Diversity, 4. Professional Values, Attitudes, and Behaviors, 5. Communication and Interpersonal Skills, 6. Assessment, 7. Intervention, 8. Supervision, and 9. Consultation and Interprofessional/Interdisciplinary Skills.
The profession-wide competencies are supported through opportunities for interns to be challenged and stretched beyond their current developmental stage. Interns will also be supported through supervision as they address important developmental questions, and explore any difficulties with the profession-wide competencies. Additionally, a range of supervisory experiences will be presented so as to expose interns to a variety of clinically and empirically sound approaches. An increasing level of autonomy will be offered as the year progresses, and as interns demonstrate progression within the individual profession-wide competencies.
A Developmental, Sequential Training Process
Becoming a competent psychologist requires graduated experiences and training; therefore, the NC State Counseling Center offers training experiences which offer developmentally appropriate experiences as the year progresses. The didactic instruction and supervised practice opportunities will vary based upon intern cohort needs, input from interns and requirements based upon APPIC certification and APA accreditation standards. As trainees gain experience, expectations for more advanced professional skills, greater self-awareness and autonomous functioning increase.
Training at North Carolina State’s (NC State) Counseling Center begins with the idea that learning is developmental, and that trainees have different needs that change with time and experience. Interns will be supported in both their personal and professional growth.
Orientation and training will occur in August. Presentations, trainings, and other activities are scheduled to assist trainees in transitioning to the Center setting. Initial assessment of skills in various areas of professional functioning determines each intern’s areas of strength and areas for growth. During this time, each intern is given the opportunity to explore goals for their training experience and to discuss ways to maximize opportunities in individual areas of interest. An attempt is made to match interns to supervisors based on interns’ areas of interest and individual needs.
In addition to the variety of training activities offered during orientation, informal social events are scheduled to help interns build group cohesiveness and to aid in meeting Counseling Center staff members.
As interns begin to participate in training activities and service provision, they are provided information, encouraged to observe and/or consult frequently until the training staff is clear about their skill level in each function, and they feel confident to move forward. It is anticipated that interns will develop at different rates as they move through different aspects of the program.
Training in each skill area will utilize a developmental approach, unfolding in the following manner:
- Orientation will provide interns a general introduction to all areas of functioning included in the internship and will provide background conceptual and/or didactic frameworks for many areas. Additionally, some orientation sessions may focus more extensively on some skill areas and interns will receive more extensive training in these areas, including skills required to be competent to begin performing the activity.
- Training seminars offered throughout the year will continue to provide background conceptual and/or didactic frameworks for an array of relevant topics. Seminars may provide more in depth explorations of various topics or may encourage interns to contemplate their experiences thus far in the area or to integrate their knowledge with their provision of the service.
- Participation in case consultation and staff meetings will initially provide interns an opportunity to hear how senior staff conceptualize their work and will help interns become familiar with some of the issues and challenges associated with each area of service provision. As interns become more involved with service provision, case consultation becomes a place where they can receive multiple sources of input into their work.
- Observation of staff conducting triage and intake appointments will provide interns an opportunity to become familiar with the competencies required to provide triage and intake services and the procedures utilized by the agency in performing these services. Observation helps interns to clarify questions and leads to discussion of best practices. Interns will then begin providing triage and intake appointments. For the first few weeks, participation may include providing triage and intake appointments in conjunction with a staff member.
- Interns will develop in their competency in each area as they participate in training activities including: discussions and review of video recordings of their sessions in both individual and group supervision; discussions and informal case presentations in multicultural and assessment seminar; discussions and review of video recordings of sessions with supervisees; participation in case consultation; didactic seminars; interaction and discussion with other interns.
- Supervisors and the Training Director will be evaluating and giving feedback to interns to encourage their development, identify areas needing extra attention, and provide remediation.
- As staff gains clarity regarding an intern’s level of competence and confidence in a particular area, the intern will be encouraged to function more autonomously and with more complex presentations in that area, with ongoing consultation and support.
- Supervision and other training activities will encourage interns to incorporate their increased level of competency and confidence into their self-concept as a professional. Interns will thereby feel increasingly able to take on additional challenges and work to “smooth out” their growth edges.
- Throughout the year, interns are given a chance to evaluate their experiences here at the Center, and these results are shared with the Training Committee with the intention of integrating feedback into the continuing evolution of the training program.
- Interns participate in a goodbye luncheon with staff, in which they are presented their certificates of completion.
- Finally, interns participate in an end of year meeting with the Training Director at which the year is reviewed and the training cohort is encouraged to say goodbye in a healthy manner.