The training program part 1

Doctoral Internship:

The Training Program, Part 1:  Philosophy and Goals . . .

Philosophy and Training Model

The Grand Valley State University Internship program reflects the philosophy that the internship year is a pivotal time for a professional psychologist to expand clinical and consulting skills. The program is developmentally-based and is designed to provide both support and challenge for the interns. Interns are encouraged and expected to become actively involved in Center activities, including individual and group counseling, assessment, crisis intervention, outreach and consultation, research, and administrative functions. The internship program seeks to provide a training environment which will allow the interns to be well prepared for employment in a university counseling center or any setting requiring similar skills.

The University Community Model:  A Developmental Model of Embeddedness, Interdependence, Independence, and Evolution

The philosophy of the GVSU University Counseling Center incorporates a systems approach of being interdependent, independent, and embedded with the university community.  In addition, the Center sees itself to be continually evolving through quality improvement based on assessment, goal setting, and outcome measures.  The Center is considered to be an integral part of the University as manifested through the roles assumed and relationships developed by senior staff, interns, and the training program within the university community.  Staff members believe they have an ethical responsibility not only to assist students directly through counseling services, but also to influence the university environment in order to create a healthy climate for students.  The Center is interdependent in its collaborative effort with other offices at the University.  Examples include collaborative programming, research, consultation, and teaching with other members of the university community.  The Center is also independent in its separate budget, office space, and programmatic determinations.  Staff members also function independently in the development of their specialty areas.

The training program parallels this philosophy.  The training program is embedded in the Center.  It is viewed as an essential part of the Center, and all professional staff members serve on the Training Committee.  All staff members provide supervision to interns and have a part in intern training and evaluation.  Interns take an active contributing role in staff meetings, service delivery, and center policies and procedures.

Included in the philosophy of the training program is an emphasis on the interns’ interdependence with the environment, appreciation of diversity, recognition of alternative world views, and embracing the importance of diversity sensitivity and multicultural competence.  Some of the interns’ early activities include becoming familiar with the Grand Valley campus, taking part in the orientation of Student Services graduate assistants, and living on or near the campus.  As they move into their direct service activities, interns have an opportunity to be interdependent with Center staff through a variety of activities including co-facilitation of groups and presentations, supervised emergency coverage, a professional development seminar comprised of interns and senior staff, and departmental case presentations.  They are also interdependent with the university community through training opportunities with the Division of Student Services, research with staff, liaisons with student organizations, consultation with faculty/staff/students, and training of peer educators. 

The interns have the opportunity to become independent through a developmental training program which includes a core clinical skills component.  In addition, a flexible training component is designed to help individual interns meet their own training needs, the needs of the Center, and the needs of the profession of psychology.  Interns experience a developmental training sequence designed to provide them with increasingly difficult challenges and experiences.  Supervision follows a developmental model with gradually decreasing involvement/guidance on the part of the supervisor as interns develop skills and knowledge.  During this process, interns are provided ample support by the Center staff (via supervision and an “open door” policy), yet are encouraged and expected to develop their own professional independence.  Caseloads, group leadership, crisis consultation, and additional activities are based on the developmental progress of the interns toward competency and independence as practitioners.  Additionally, interns are charged with specific responsibilities that they are expected to maintain.  For example, interns supervise peer educators and/or graduate assistants and/or masters or advanced doctoral level clinical trainees, provide consultation to academic/student service departments regarding student issues, and maintain a workload of 21-23 direct service hours (which includes 15-17 hours of individual, couples, group, intake and urgent care; consultation; outreach programming; and supervision).

Furthermore, the training program emphasizes evolution.  Just as the University and the Center are changing to meet the needs of students and the changing demands of the world, the training program is also evolving.  The evolution dimension seeks to focus the Center on those issues that emerge from the various professional, cultural, and social environments by which counseling centers need to be informed.  Thus, research and evaluation are key components embedded within the Center and the training program, guiding the evolution of both. 

Another focus of the evolution dimension is maintaining a training program that assists interns in being responsive to the data and research that affects the field of psychology and incorporating research into practice.  As the demands of the University, the Center, and the profession change; the Center and the training program evolve to reflect these changes.  This degree of flexibility in the program is necessary to ensure that interns are prepared for the challenges and changes in the profession of psychology, as well as those within universities and their counseling centers.

Goal I - Embeddedness
     1. To integrate into the University community.
     2. To develop skills in consultation and outreach.

Goal II - Interdependence
    1. To develop appreciation and skills for collaboration with other professionals.
    2. To develop ability to effectively utilize supervision to enhance professional development.
    3. To develop multicultural/diversity awareness, knowledge, and clinical skills.

Goal III - Developmental Independence
    1. To increase knowledge and application of appropriate professional and ethical standards.
    2. To develop competency in case conceptualization and clinical assessments.
    3. To develop therapy skills and knowledge of clinical theories.
    4. To develop competency in clinical documentation.
    5. To develop knowledge and skills in the area of career counseling and development.
    6. To develop crisis intervention skills.
    7. To develop supervision and administration skills.
    8. To develop skills in conducting group therapy.

Goal IV - Evolution
    1. To develop competency in integrating science and scholarly knowledge into practice.
    2. To develop capacity to do evaluation and research.
    3. To develop capacity for self-reflection and self-evaluation as it relates to professional functioning.
    4. To develop the capacity for self-direction.
    5. To transition from trainee to entry-level practitioner.

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