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Internship Program Description

The Counseling Center offers trainees the opportunity in virtually every area of center functioning to provide a rich training experience and preparation to enter the mental health care field

North Carolina State University’s Doctoral Psychology Internship Overview of Training

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. Interns will be encouraged to continually seek awareness of self and use this information to define strengths and areas for development. Interns’ examination of personal values will help them to discover the impact of their beliefs on professional functioning. Increased personal awareness should also assist trainees in understanding their role in interpersonal dynamics and their role in personal and professional interactions.

Diversity is a core value here at NC State’s Counseling Center. Interns are encouraged to explore their beliefs, attitudes and skills in order to assess and increase their multicultural humility. Furthermore, the emphasis placed upon personal understanding as part of professional development may require that interns be asked to consider issues that are somewhat personal in nature. Every effort is made to provide a safe and nurturing environment which respects disclosure and protects interns’ confidentiality. The internship training program functions in a manner consistent with the American Psychological Association’s 2002 Ethical Standard 7.04 (Student Disclosure of Personal Information) as contained in the Revised Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct (APA, 2002).

In support of the desire to foster diversity, the Counseling Center is committed to developing diversity training for staff. The Center hosts the DEI and Outreach Committee, which examines varying aspects of diversity related to the Center’s practice. An attempt is also made to recruit diverse staff and trainees, and consistently work to ensure that the Center is welcoming to students and staff from all backgrounds. Multicultural training is also provided to interns through training seminars and is woven into all aspects of training. Finally, the Center is an APA licensed continuing education provider, and provides 6-7 continuing education programs per year.

The Counseling Center recognizes that factors such as multiculturalism, race or ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, religion, and range of ability affect college students’ lives and sometimes present unique challenges. The Counseling Center values each student’s individuality and commits to welcoming all people with respect and sensitivity. Counseling Center staff also attends to their own professional development by participating in training and programs designed to enhance their understanding of the needs of diverse people.

As part of the Division of Academic and Student Affairs’ mission to promote the success of the whole student, the University Counseling Center believes that a healthy emotional life is the foundation for personal, academic, and professional success. Honoring individual and cultural identities, strengths and differences, core personal values, and the complexities of collegiate life, our multidisciplinary mental health team uses compassionate, professional interactions to support emotional balance while encouraging students to reach their potential.

Our mission is realized through the delivery of comprehensive services, such as:

  •         Brief individual, group, and couple’s counseling
  •         Psychiatric evaluation and treatment
  •         24-hour crisis response
  •         Campus and community referrals
  •         Faculty, staff, and student consultation
  •         Outreach/Prevention Service
  •         Mental health educational programming and training

Training at NC State’s Counseling Center will cover all of the services listed above, and will be comprehensive in breadth and depth.

Learning Elements of the Program

We consider personal counseling of individuals the primary direct service practice. Interns will have the opportunity to work with students with varying presenting issues. While our center works primarily within a short-term model, all staff, and especially interns are encouraged to work with two longer-term clients. Interns may have the opportunity to do some couples counseling work either individually or in a co-therapy situation.

Groups are an integral part of counseling service in our center. We have a variety of groups offered at any given time, with a combination of therapy groups, drop-in groups, and psychoeducational groups. We are a busy center and find groups an excellent opportunity to provide support while students are waiting for an Intake, in between sessions, as individual work is finished, or in some cases instead of individual therapy. Typically Interns will co-lead one group (with a permanent staff member) during the Fall, and will have an opportunity to co-lead up to two groups during the Spring Semester.  Summer group participation is optional for interns. Interns typically meet with their group co-leader on a weekly basis while planning and running the group.

Our center uses a triage model to assist in determining students’ level of risk and urgency for which they need to be seen. Triage is used as a screening and referral tool. While we have triage clinicians who do the bulk of triage, all staff participate, and we include this experience as part of the Internship as it is a valuable skill that may be expected of them in future positions. Training for triage and opportunities to observe triage clinicians occur early in internship. Our triage system offers back-up for consultation and support in crisis situations.

Doctoral Psychology Interns are expected to schedule 3 intake placeholders each week for the intake assessment of new clients. After triage, clients are scheduled into intake placeholders based on availability of the client and also on client needs/severity. Doctoral Psychology Interns will gain experience with learning more about intake assessment via these appointments, and will use the information gained during these sessions to either work further with these clients or refer clients out for long-term services as needed.

All clinicians at our center do some after-hours on-call. Interns will be trained to participate in the on-call system, with supervisor back-up available if consultation is needed.

Threat, Risk and Crisis: Monitors treatment for clients considered high-risk; works to develop strategies to identify high-risk clients (including, for now, psychological testing); interfaces with the University Behavioral Assessment Team (BAT) team to provide consultation to BAT and to facilitate information from BAT to clinicians in the Counseling Center; ensures that risk-related information from other sources is available to clinicians; provides consultation within the Counseling Center regarding cases involving threat, risk or crisis; offer outreach programming to the university at large related to counseling center functions. Members of the TRaC team also consult with clinicians during and/or manage hospitalizations for the Center. Doctoral Psychology Interns will also participate in TRAC shifts throughout the year in order to gain experience with clients who might present with threat, risk and/or crisis

Our center provides career exploration counseling and assessment for students. Interns will use the Myers Briggs Type Indicator and the Strong Interest Inventory with students when suitable. We provide training in the career exploration process as well as in use of these instruments.

A clinician’s primary assessment tool is the clinical interview. In addition, training in other assessment opportunities include: Eating Disorder assessment, Substance Abuse screening, and some personality assessments. Doctoral Psychology Interns are given opportunities to be trained on assessment tools, and are closely supervised in the assessment process and interpretation of results.

Our center does a significant amount of outreach programming for the campus community. This includes screening days, tabling events, Residence Life training and programs, classroom and campus organization presentations, as well as in-house programs. These programs cover a large variety of topics, from time and stress management, to healthy sleep and healthy relationships. Our center also offers QPR (Question Persuade Refer) training to students and staff. Outreach is considered an essential skill for clinicians in a university setting. As such, we require Intern participation in outreach programming. Outreach programs and projects will offer additional exposure to a range of interventions with diverse populations. If there are special populations an intern would like to work with Outreach is another way to gain this experience.

There is training for all interns each August to prepare interns in outreach presentations. For those who have a special interest in outreach there is opportunity to work on the Outreach Committee.

Staff regularly consults with students, faculty, staff, parents, off-campus mental health providers and others. Most consultation requests come through phone calls, on-call, and walk-ins. Other times consultation will be around a particular student or issue of concern. Interns will participate in consultation as circumstances arise and back-up will be available as needed. Consultation will offer further opportunities to work with diverse populations and student issues.

Our students have access to time-limited psychiatric services, including evaluation and medication management. Our staff can refer students to our in-house psychiatrists, and consult with psychiatrists about students. Additionally, there may be some opportunities to sit in with students during the psychiatric evaluation when a student is referred.

Our center is involved in some academic processes on campus, including withdrawal and course drop requests. While Deans make decisions about granting exceptions to academic policy, center staff is expected to provide assistance in assessing psychological issues that may impact a student’s performance in classes. We have staff that take the lead in this area, but all staff may be required to participate in this process at times, particularly if a student a staff member is seeing needs to request a lower course load or to withdraw from the semester entirely. Academic policies and procedures are covered during orientation in August.

Training Activities

In order to prepare to see clients and function as a Counseling Center staff member, interns will be introduced to Center modes of service delivery via an orientation process.  This orientation will be completed within a two-to-three-week period. Orientation will consist of sessions in which interns will learn more about policy and procedure regarding Center functions, and will be given time and space to process any questions they might have. Interns will also be introduced to the Center’s electronic record system (Titanium), will engage in orientation to available benefits, will have an “Onboarding” session in which important personal information is entered into the university system (i.e. banking information for direct pay deposit) and will have a chance to meet with the Administrative Team here at the Center.

Finally, orientation is also a very important piece of training in that interns will be exposed to many different staff here in the Center; thus, beginning the process of integration into the team through learning about staff interests and areas of expertise.

Primary Individual Supervision

2 hours per week
Intensive primary supervision focuses on dispositional decision-making, case management, and short-term, intermediate and long term individual clinical work. Professional development is also a focus, as well as professional psychologist identity development. Interns work with their primary supervisors for the entire training year. This provides depth in the development of the intern’s therapy and conceptualization skills and allows for a more thorough personalized evaluation of the intern’s development over time.

Secondary Individual Supervision

1 hour per week
Secondary supervision is offered during the yearlong internship experience. This type of supervision focuses on a circumscribed area of the intern’s work and can be tailored to a particular intern’s area(s) of focus (e.g., specific clinical areas, specific theoretical approach, modes of therapy such as couples, etc.), areas needing particular focus (e.g., remedial clinical work), or areas relevant to the intern’s development at a particular point in his/her training (e.g., job search process). The focus for secondary supervision is determined collaboratively with available supervisors, interns, and the Training Director. Interns will be assigned a secondary supervisor for the Fall, and then will choose a different secondary supervisor for the Spring and Summer. The secondary supervisor will take on up to 10 individual clients from the DPI’s case load.

Supervision of Group Psychotherapy

.5 hours per week
Interns co-lead a therapy group with a senior staff member during the fall, spring and sometimes summer semesters. This supervision can be tailored to the intern’s level of development and experience (e.g., focusing on the screening process, group level interventions, etc.).

Trainees will be supervised regarding their triage/intake work, during individual supervision with their primary supervisors. Trainees will be expected to provide coverage for triage services, and will learn how to engage students in timely and effective assessment of their risk and needs. Training regarding an intake interview will occur through live observation and through viewing audio/video tape. Triage sessions will not be audio/video taped, but will be supervised through review of notes, and some live observation. Risk assessment training will also be an important aspect of triage/intake training.

Group Supervision

1 hour per week
Group Supervision is led by two independently licensed senior staff members. Group supervision is used to discuss clinical issues including: challenging cases, disposition issues, professional concerns, multicultural or ethical issues salient to a particular clinical situation and various treatment approaches. Interns are encouraged to participate in discussions, and to informally present cases throughout the year, using video and/or audio recordings of client sessions to augment the presentation of client presenting issues.

Supervision of Supervision

Bi-weekly didactic training during the fall, 1 hour per week during the Spring semester
This group supervision experience is led by the Training Director and “guest co-leaders” which will vary from year to year. In order to best prepare Doctoral Psychology Interns for their professional role, the internship program requires that interns supervise a trainee. Interns will supervise master’s practicum trainees from the counseling department housed here at NC State. Interns will participate in advanced didactic training during the Fall, but will not meet with their supervisees until the Spring semester of the internship. During the Spring, interns will meet with their supervisees 1 hour weekly, and will participate in group and triadic supervision focusing on supervision techniques and supervision issues. Interns will also use this time to focus on development of and ability to articulate a theory of supervision.

Case Consultation

1 hour per week during the academic year
All staff participate in small-group case conference meetings. This is an opportunity for staff, including advanced trainees, to present and discuss cases that are more complex or for which the staff member would like feedback. This group supervision experience also provides the opportunity for interns to hear more about how staff members conceptualize cases through different theoretical lenses. Interns also receive other perspectives regarding their work with their clients.

Didactic Training Seminar

2 hours bi-weekly
This bi-weekly (every-other Monday) seminar is topic-focused in that topics are covered in areas such as ethics, utilizing specific treatment strategies, crisis and risk management, psychopharmacology, etc. The seminar will be organized by the Training Director, but will utilize center staff in their areas of expertise on a rotating basis. Training seminars will be evidence based in nature, and will be heavily focused on assisting interns with blending research and practice.

Assessment Seminar

1 hour bi-weekly
This seminar is led by a Center psychologist who specializes in psychological and risk assessment, with the inclusion of center staff who also specialize in this area. Doctoral Psychology Interns are expected to utilize a variety of assessment tools at the Center. Interns will have a chance to consult together (and with a staff psychologist) regarding standard or more complex assessments (those that involve a difficult diagnostic picture or risk). Doctoral Psychology Interns will be expected to administer and report on 3 psychological measures by the end of the academic year. All reports must be completed by the beginning of July. Training related to the clinical interview will also be a large piece of training that will take place during the internship year. This training seminar will also include training related to suicide/homicide risk assessment. The risk portion of this seminar will allow interns the opportunity to have in depth training regarding risk assessment related to suicidality and homicidality. This training will include foci regarding safety planning, interventions for acute crisis symptoms, and training regarding how to help clients move toward hospitalization if needed. 

Multicultural Seminar

1 hour bi-weekly
This seminar is led by the Assistant Director for Diversity and Outreach. This seminar has a focus on developing cultural humility through reflections on belief systems, research and findings on working with students from a variety of cultures, treatment considerations, and how cultural differences can impact student development. Issues include ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic class, and religion. Finally, as part of this seminar, interns will develop a Cultural Capstone Project.

The Cultural Capstone Project is an opportunity for Doctoral Psychology Interns to learn about consultation with campus partners, to develop outreach skills and to learn about program development through a multicultural lens. Interns will work together with the Assistant Director for Diversity and Outreach in order to choose a student services office, a student-led club or a specific student group which represents diversity on the NC State campus. After the intern chooses a group on which to focus, then the intern will consult with this group around any needs or gaps in services to the students served. After a consultation subject is identified (i.e. Latinx students have worked with a past intern to generate increased use of the Counseling Center by Latinx students, the LGBT Center has worked with a past intern to address perceptions of cliques in the Center), then the intern works with this group for the year to develop programs and/or materials which would help to address the agreed upon need. This could be in the form of outreach presentations, developing flyers and/or marketing materials, or through the development of a new group program to name some formats. The intern will then present their consultation process and product to members of the Counseling Center staff in July of the internship year.  The hope here is that interns will be able to gain useful experience around multicultural consultation, while also generating marketable experiences for the job search process.

Triage Seminar

Fall only; 1 hour weekly until Fall break, then transitioning to bi-weekly until Thanksgiving Break
During this time, the Assistant Director of Clinical Services and/or triage therapists will meet with Doctoral Psychology Interns in order to answer questions and provide information about the triage system here at the Center. Triage here at the Center is a fairly complex system, so support will be given via this seminar, as interns participate in and learn more about this piece of the clinical system.

Supervision of Supervision

1 hour bi-weekly in the Fall, then weekly in the Spring
This seminar meets bi-weekly in the Fall, so as to provide additional didactic training to Doctoral Psychology Interns before they move into a formal supervising role during the Spring Semester. See above for more details regarding the Spring semester session of this seminar.

Professional/Administrative Activities

1 hour bi-weekly
This meeting is led by the Training Director. The purpose of this meeting is to provide mentorship related to interns’ professional identities as future psychologists. Interns will be invited to discuss career opportunities in psychology, job searching, managing interpersonal conflict, early career issues, dissertation defense, private practice as a future psychologist, licensing, professional organizations, risk management , self-care, legal and ethical issues, etc.  This seminar will be open to other staff members as intern-identified needs arise.

1 hour weekly
This is an opportunity for the entire clinical staff to come together to discuss center issues, policies and current happenings. Several times a semester, this time will be used for CE activities to assist in enhancing the staff’s professional development or to work on the center’s planning, mission/goals or cohesion.

Trainees are invited to participate in at least one committee and/or treatment team. Committees range from the DEI/Outreach Committee, Groups Committee, Clinical Services Committee, Continuing Education (CE) Committee, Assessment Committee, and the Community Engagement Committee, while treatment teams include the Addictive Behavior Concerns Treatment Team, Interpersonal Violence Treatment Team, TraC Team, Triage/Case Management Team, Academic Services Team, and the Eating Disorders Treatment Team. Some committees and treatment teams meet weekly, while others meet bi-weekly or as needed.

Additional Learning Elements

Doctoral Psychology Interns are encouraged to consider an area of clinical and/or Center work that they might want to focus on during the year. Interns are encouraged to talk to the Training Director about available areas of focus. The Training Director will assist each intern with deciding on an area of focus for the year, by processing with each intern the areas of clinical work they are passionate about, and/or the direction they would like to take their careers. The goal with the area of focus is to begin to give interns the opportunity to learn more about their passions and interests within the field of Health Services Psychology. Once an area is decided upon, then specific experiences will be discussed with the Training Director.

The center provides a number of CE programs throughout the year on a variety of topics. Guests from other departments or from outside the university frequently serve as presenters for these programs. Most of these CE programs are approved by APA for CE credit. The CE committee works in conjunction with the DEI/Outreach and other committees to include topics relevant to multicultural training and competence. Additionally, some other professional development programs are offered by the center. This may include “lunch and learn” discussions, or webinars.

There is a budget set aside for trainees to attend off-campus trainings or conferences. The amount available may vary depending on budget allowances each year. There are a number of trainings that are convenient based on our location (close to Chapel Hill and Durham) and the number of colleges and universities in the area.

There are some opportunities to take part in trainings available to staff on campus. For example, most of our staff have participated in Project Safe training that is offered by the LGBTQ Pride Center on campus. If interns see trainings advertised for the campus community that are of interest, we encourage them to discuss participation in these with their supervisor and/or the Training Director.

Research and assessment skills as important aspects of professional development. Relatedly, Doctoral Psychology Interns arrive in different places in the dissertation process. Interns may also have varying levels of interest in research and assessment. We provide support and encouragement in completion of the dissertation for those who have not done so prior to arrival by offering some time to work on this project (2 hours per week). For those who have completed their dissertation but have an interest in being further involved in research and/or program assessment, there are opportunities to work with the Assessment Committee or to work on individual projects with approval of the Training Director.