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Training Philosophy

The Doctoral Psychology Internship in Health Service Psychology at the Counseling Center is intended to assist students in their development as professional psychologists. The program adheres to a Developmental-Practitioner model of training which is based on the premise that professional development is best facilitated by training that is developmental and sequential in nature. We seek to build upon the intern's clinical and didactic knowledge base acquired at the intern's host institution to facilitate the transition from graduate student/apprentice to professional psychologist. Therefore, the training program emphasizes assessment of each intern's professional skills and competencies at the start of internship and facilitates the development of their ability to become more independent practitioners. Interns have the opportunity to practice developing intermediate and advanced clinical skills, are exposed to new approaches, models and issues in therapy/psychology, and are encouraged to integrate their personal and professional identities. The Counseling Center is dedicated to the exploration of diversity variables on personal, relational, and professional levels. Thus, interns receive broad and integrated training regarding multicultural issues throughout all aspects of the internship program. Throughout the year, interns engage in a hierarchical sequence of training and clinically applied practice experiences. In collaboration with their primary supervisors, interns develop individualized training plans and goals that incorporate their special interests as well as areas in need of increased proficiency. At completion of the internship program, the interns are expected to achieve an intermediate to advanced level of competency in the program's learning objectives and demonstrate that they are capable of autonomous functioning at the entry levels of the profession.

The Developmental-Practitioner model of training at the Counseling Center upholds the principle that clinical practice goes hand in hand with scholarly understanding of psychological science. Therefore, the internship incorporates and encourages the application of scientific knowledge to the clinical setting. Emphasis is placed on helping interns become sophisticated consumers of psychological knowledge and research, helping them integrate this knowledge with the goals of clinical practice, and applying this knowledge in their professional activities. The training program supports interns' professional activities through a combination of supervision, experiential learning, training seminars, and professional role modeling. In addition, the training program is committed, through mentoring relationships, to cultivating the person of the interns as well as the conceptual and methodological skills necessary to the ethical practice of psychology.

Training Goals & Objectives

The core domains of training that make up the training goals and objectives of the Doctoral Internship program are as follows:

  • Goal 1:  To develop the knowledge and skills necessary for entry level positions in the professional practice of psychology.
    • Objective 1.1: To develop competency in the assessment and diagnosis of clinical concerns.
    • Objective 1.2:  To develop skills in the provision of individual therapy.
    • Objective 1.3:  To develop competency in the provision of group therapy and specialized treatment programs.
    • Objective 1.4:  To develop crisis intervention skills.
  • Goal 2:  To develop the knowledge and skills necessary for effective interdisciplinary collaboration on psychoeducational issues.
    • Objective 2.1: To develop the ability to work with and among individuals in the Counseling Center, the larger university and other professional systems.
    • Objective 2.2: To develop skills in providing and receiving supervision.
    • Objective 2.3: To develop consultation skills.
    • Objective 2.4: To demonstrate competency in psychoeducational outreach programming.
  • Goal 3:  To develop the self-awareness, interpersonal skills, and attitudes to effectively function in an agency setting.
    • Objective 3.1: To demonstrate professional and ethical behavior.
    • Objective 3.2: To develop a self-awareness of personal characteristics that impact professional functioning.

Initial Assessment: Interns will learn how to gather relevant information during the initial assessment procedure in order to make appropriate referrals to Counseling Center programs and/or other JMU offices as needed. Initial assessments will be written in a timely manner.

Counseling Skills. Interns will develop and enhance effective intermediate and advanced counseling skills in two primary areas--individual and group therapy. They will demonstrate an ability to build therapeutic relationships with clients, an awareness of the counseling process, and explore relevant client issues, feelings and goals within the format of a brief therapy model. Interns will also develop a therapeutic approach that is consistent with their personal style and be observant of clients' styles of verbal expression and non-verbal behavior. Through verbal discussions in supervision and written case conceptualizations, interns will demonstrate an ability to integrate personality and psychotherapy theories into their clinical work and translate these skills into effective interventions for each client. In addition, interns will develop skills in the selection and screening process of clients appropriate for brief therapy, will maintain proper therapeutic boundaries, and adequately prepare clients for termination.

Interns will also identify clients appropriate for participation in the Center's therapy groups and specialized treatment programs, develop effective group co-facilitation skills, and base group interventions within a theoretical model. Finally, interns will develop proficiency in the handling of crisis situations through the provision of emergency coverage during the Center's normal operating hours and by providing after hours on-call crisis intervention services. Interns' crisis intervention skills will include an ability to promptly assess crisis situations and make decisions about service delivery and referrals while maintaining a calm professional demeanor. They will also develop proficiency in crisis documentation, follow-up procedures and consult with agency staff as needed.

Operational/Agency Factors. Interns will develop the ability to work and communicate as professionals with the Counseling Center staff as well as with other factions of the University community. Interns will develop effective oral and written communication skills, demonstrate responsibility, dependability, and initiative in their training activities, and have a working knowledge of the policies and procedures of the Counseling Center. Interns will develop effective report writing skills and will efficiently complete required paperwork for effective case management.

Supervision. Interns will develop the skills necessary for the effective use of supervision to improve their psychological practice. Particular emphasis will be placed on the intern's ability to be actively involved in receiving supervision, being open and responsive to feedback, and demonstrate the willingness and ability to stretch beyond their own limitations as therapists and understand how their own values, beliefs and relational style influences therapeutic and supervisory relationships. Interns will also develop and demonstrate skill in the provision of supervision to less advanced trainees. They are expected to apply supervision theory to practice, effectively assess the developmental levels of their supervisees, assist supervisees in developing appropriate training goals, provide feedback to supervisees, model respect and openness, and effectively use the supervision of supervision seminar to enhance their skills as a supervisor.

Consultation. Interns will develop the skills essential for developing and maintaining effective consultation relationships with other agencies and individuals, both on and off-campus. Each intern will be paired with a senior staff member to provide consultation services to a designated section of residence halls within the Office of Residence Life (ORL). Interns will show initiative in preparing materials and planning objectives for presenting psycho-educational materials to ORL staff. Interns will respond to consultation requests in a timely manner.

Outreach Programming Skills. Interns will display initiative in becoming involved in outreach programming and will learn and/or continue to develop the skills required in creatively and effectively providing psycho-educational programming on a university campus. Interns will develop the skills needed to establish objectives, outlines, and materials for outreach presentations and will demonstrate an ability to establish rapport with program participants.  To aid in the development of these skills, interns are given the opportunity to develop an original presentation that reflects an area of interest.  They will develop the outline for the presentation, bring together the materials, advertise the program, and connect with a group on campus that would benefit from the program.  By doing so, the intern learns both the elements that go into developing the presentation and the necessary consultation and networking skills to aid in successful implementation of the program on campus. 

Professional/Ethical Understanding. Interns will gain knowledge of professional and ethical standards and will exhibit their use of these standards in the practice of psychology. Interns will demonstrate concern for client welfare and knowledge and use of referral and consultation resources. They will consult with other Center staff as needed, maintain a professional demeanor, and take initiative to attend workshops at the local, regional or national level.

Personal Characteristics. The Counseling Center training staff believes that there is a functional relationship among the quality of an individual's personal functioning, interpersonal working relationships, and general effectiveness as a Counseling Center staff member, especially in the area of client care. Interns are expected to function in a manner consistent with that of any responsible professional: treating clients and other staff members with respect, maintaining clear boundaries with clients and staff, and contributing to the smooth and effective functioning of the Counseling Center. Therefore, interns are expected to develop and maintain an awareness of personal characteristics that impact their professional behavior. In addition, interns will develop an ability to be aware of and evaluate their own their skills, including handling personal stress and problems, value conflicts, dealing with authority and ambiguity, and how issues such as client/trainee counter-transference, cultural beliefs, and flexibility influence therapeutic and professional relationships.

In all aspects of the training program, we emphasize the need for self-understanding and personal exploration, because we believe that ongoing process of self-reflection is needed to facilitate effective working alliances in professional and therapeutic relationships. Due to this philosophy, interns will be encouraged to self-disclose personal information as it relates to their effective functioning as it relates to furthering the goals and objective of the training program. Therefore, interns are encouraged to talk with their supervisors when they believe that personal concerns may be interfering with their professional functioning. The internship training program functions in a manner consistent with the American Psychological Association's (APA) Ethical Standard 7.04 (Student Disclosure of Personal Information) as contained in APA’s Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct (APA 2010).

Training Tracks. Interns will develop or extend an emphasis area in which they will work with a senior staff member in a particular program or clinical area of interest. Training tracks include 1) Crisis Response and Recovery; 2) Eating Disorders; 3) Group Therapy; 4) Sexual Trauma Empowerment Program; and 5) Teaching.