The Catholic University of America

Doctoral Internship in Health Service Psychology

Internship Training Activities

Interns at the Counseling Center are employed on a full-time basis and participate in the following clinical and training activities:

Individual Psychotherapy

The major focus of the training program is on providing direct counseling services to the university population.  While receiving intensive supervision, interns gain a broad range of experiences with diverse clients and clinical issues.  Interns are able to gain experience using different therapeutic modalities, and length of treatment may vary from brief interventions to therapy throughout the internship year.  Interns designate twelve hours per week for individual counseling.

Group Psychotherapy

Interns participate in all phases of establishing a psychotherapy group for either undergraduate or graduate students, including creative advertising, conducting pre-screenings, co-leading the group with a senior staff member, and (if applicable) providing feedback to a trainee process observer.  The groups currently being co-facilitated by interns are a general process group, a graduate student support group and a flourishing group.  Interns may also become involved in support groups or treatment groups for specific clinical issues.  For example interns have the opportunity to take part in a sexual survivors group and a multicultural group.  The year culminates in a presentation given to senior staff in which interns have the opportunity to consolidate theory and practice.  For more information about the groups currently offered at the Center please see the group therapy webpage: http://counseling.cua.edu/services/group-therapy.cfm

Intake Interviews and Assessment

Like other trainees and senior staff, the interns conduct weekly intake assessments.  The intake consists of a 50-minute interview/assessment used to determine the best treatment for clients.  The intake counselor is responsible for determining the presenting problem, assessing the severity of the problem, gathering relevant history, judging the need for timely interventions, and discussing the treatment options that are available.  Intake counselors write an Intake Evaluation that becomes part of the client’s record.  Staff are responsible for a specific number of intake appointments per week; each intern’s schedule provides for two intakes per week.  Interns are also expected to use a variety of assessment instruments during the internship.  They are trained as needed in use of the Suicide Status Form-II-R and Counseling Center Assessment of Psychological Symptoms.

Crisis Intervention

Interns are expected to respond to crises experienced by their own clients.  Assistance is always available to the intern in those instances where an emergency situation requires hospitalization or other atypical measures.  Interns are also responsible for carrying the Counseling Center cell phone during off-hours for two weeks each semester (in rotation with the rest of the senior staff) and are trained in responding to off-hours emergencies. 

Supervision of Externs

The staff is very committed to training and believes that learning to supervise others is an integral part of professional development.  During the fall and spring semesters, each intern (along with a senior staff member) co-leads either a weekly supervision group for externs or a weekly case conference for externs.  In this role each intern is supervised by his or her senior staff co-leader.  Interns meet regularly with their co-leaders as part of training in supervision.  Interns participate in a group supervision of supervision seminar led by a senior staff member every other week.

Supervision of Practicum Students

Interns will also have the opportunity to supervise two second year practicum students during the fall and spring semesters.   The practicum students are second year clinical psychology doctoral students.  Interns will serve as the secondary supervisor for the practicum students and will meet with them for one hour on an alternating every other week basis.

Supervision

Interns receive a variety of supervision experiences. Interns each select a primary supervisor with whom they meet for two hours per week.  Interns also select a secondary supervisor with whom they meet for one hour per week.  Interns meet weekly with a third supervisor for an hour of group supervision and, during the fall and spring semesters, with a fourth supervisor for supervision of interns' supervision of externs (see “Supervision of Externs” and “Supervision of Practicum Students” below).  Interns receive supervision in group therapy and in group supervision by their group co-leader and group supervision co-leader, respectively.  Interns also meet weekly with the director of internship training to receive an ongoing orientation and to address professional development needs.

Internship Training Seminar

Every week a two-hour seminar is conducted by a senior staff member or other skilled clinician from the DC/VA/MD area.  Seminar topics have included grief and loss, eating disorders, CBT for panic disorder, private practice, outreach, crisis intervention, and many other topics.  Interns are invited to request topics to be covered in these seminars. 

Culture in Practice Seminar

It is widely accepted that culture is inextricably intertwined with psychotherapy.  This every other week applied seminar approaches culture as a broad construct with many dimensions, and endeavors to integrate cultural theories and self-exploration with current clinical practice.

Evidence-Based Practice Seminar

This every other week seminar provides interns with best practice models for the treatment of various symptomatology and disorders through current literature and research. Interns also gain the opportunity to integrate some of these treatment models into their clinical work. 

Group Therapy Seminar

This every other week seminar is designed to help interns develop in their roles as group leader, process observer, and group supervisor. It is also aimed at developing core group counseling skills, increasing interns’ knowledge base around group therapy dynamics, and providing the tools and skill set to independently start a psychotherapy group. 

Supervision of Supervision Seminar

In this every other week seminar, interns will examine the major theoretical and research developments in supervision, and facilitate the development of basic supervisory skills and techniques in their own supervisory work.

Outreach and Consultation Seminar

This monthly didactic seminar on outreach and consultation is provided to interns with an emphasis on increasing knowledge and understanding of relevant theories and philosophies that then inform programming efforts and design to better respond to and meet the needs of the campus community.

Consultation with Staff Psychiatrist

Each intern sits in monthly with the staff psychiatrist.  During this consultation the intern observes and assists the psychiatrist in medical evaluations and follow-up appointments and in the preparation of case notes and reports.  Interns learn about the integration of therapy and psychopharmacology and how to collaborate with psychiatrists.

Residence Hall Liaison/Outreach & Consultation

Interns engage with different residence halls on multiple levels.  If there is a crisis on campus that involves a residence hall, the intern, with the assistance of a senior staff member, responds to that emergency.  Each intern is also required to create and present one workshop per semester during the academic year on campus (usually, but not always, within normal working hours) that is tailored to the needs of students, faculty, or the Counseling Center staff.  Presentations have included a variety of topics such as healthy relationships, eating disorders, and depression/anxiety.  If an intern has a desire to concentrate in this area, he/she is able to shadow the director of outreach and to assist externs in providing outreach services to the university community. 

Additional Liaison Relationships

In order to increase the richness of the training experience and better serve the campus community we have developed relationships with three separate offices that serve underserved populations where interns serve as the primary liaison (e.g. The Center for Cultural Engagement and International Student Services).  During the year interns coordinate with these offices on different outreach activities.  In addition, interns are able to provide support and guidance to staff members from these offices when or if a psychological crisis arises.  

Social Media Management

Each intern will manage a social media platform (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) and be responsible for maintaining an online presence for the Counseling Center. This can include providing information on relevant campus mental health topics, advertising outreach events, and offering psychoeducation to vulnerable populations.

Personal and Professional Development

Interns participate in senior staff meetings and case presentations.  Outside experts are occasionally brought into the agency to provide consultation and advanced training, and interns join senior staff in these presentations.  Interns are encouraged to attend other training opportunities and are allotted five days for professional development during their internship year.  Interns meet with the internship training director weekly for ongoing orientation and professional development review.