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Overview & Philosophy of Training


The University of Tennessee Student Counseling Center has been a training site in counseling and clinical psychology since the early 1960’s, and the doctoral internship program has been accredited by the American Psychological Association since 1980. Each year, five doctoral interns are selected from APA accredited graduate programs in counseling and clinical psychology through the National Matching Service.

The Internship Training Program has become a highly visible component of the Student Counseling Center, as well as the university at large, due in part to the university’s supportive and encouraging stand. Within the Center, staff members are available, accessible, supportive, and timely in meeting their responsibilities. In addition to regularly scheduled supervision, training seminars, case conferences and staff meetings, interns have informal access to all staff members and are encouraged to consult with senior staff members any time they are available.


The Doctoral Internship Program contributes in key ways to the mission of the University of Tennessee, the Division of Student Life, and the Student Counseling Center. The mission of the training program is to prepare interns as generalists with the knowledge and skills needed for entry-level positions in psychology. The center supports interns in their professional and personal development, including commitments to the profession and its ethics. This mission is accomplished by professional training, teaching, supervising, modeling and mentoring.

The Developmental Apprenticeship Model

The doctoral internship year is the culmination of a formal education process through which interns will learn to apply the breadth of psychological knowledge to their professional roles. The Doctoral Psychology Internship Program at the University of Tennessee Student Counseling Center focuses on the training of generalist practitioners for entry level positions in psychology using a developmental apprenticeship model. This model has as its overarching goal the professional growth of the psychology intern.

An apprenticeship is a developmental model of movement into a field. It implies a formal contractual relationship between an individual and a trainee in which both entities have certain responsibilities and rights. The apprentice serves under the direction and training of a qualified individual(s) who is responsible for the training, inculcation of values, and the quality of work produced by the apprentice.

The focus is on the developmental process as interns are provided with the knowledge and skills needed for doctoral level positions in psychology. The internship year at the Student Counseling Center is designed to promote a developmental process in which interns move from the role of student to colleague. Interns are encouraged to take an active role in designing their training to include their professional interests and needs.

This process begins by evaluating the knowledge and skills interns bring to the center. These skills and competencies are explored during orientation as interns reflect on their own experiences. Interns are asked in a variety of settings, including conferences with the training director, supervision, training seminars, and case conferences, to consider their own level of skill and professional development. Initially, interns are expected to demonstrate many skills at an intermediate level as described in the Intern Evaluation Form Rating Scale. Interns will be asked to set goals, to build on the skills they bring, and to acquire advanced skills that are essential in the profession. These goals are reviewed periodically and are revised as they progress through the internship year.

Goals are addressed primarily through experiential and didactic learning processes. Theory and techniques, based on current research and scholarly works, are presented in didactic settings and through readings. Interns will be provided ample opportunity to observe the professional staff in various settings before actually participating in areas that are new to them. As expertise forms and competence develops, interns are encouraged to take on more responsibility and leadership. It has been our experience that most interns quickly move toward independent practice under supervision, with the goal of leaving the internship year as a professional psychologist and colleague.

Along with professional growth, personal growth also is encouraged. The training staff believes that personal development and maturity are cornerstones of professional competence and identity. Every effort is made to provide a supportive environment which models and attends to personal growth. Interns attend staff meetings beginning the first week of internship. During orientation, there will be many opportunities to begin thinking about areas of special emphasis that are available throughout the year. This model allows interns to work closely with staff and learn through modeling and collaboration. In a system that provides both support and challenge, interns are encouraged and supported in the process of becoming mature practitioners.

Aims and Competencies


  1. To develop interns’ clinical skills in preparation for entry-level positions as professional psychologists.
  2. To cultivate the self-knowledge, attitudes, and professional knowledge and skills needed for effective and ethical practice as a psychologist.
  3. To develop and promote competence in individual and cultural diversity.

These aims are accomplished through the focus on the following nine specific competency areas:

  1. Intervention: Interns will develop and show competence in the provision of individual therapy, group therapy, and couples therapy.
  2. Assessment: Interns will develop and show competence in initial assessment, crisis assessment, and diagnosis.
  3. Ethical and Legal Standards: Interns will demonstrate knowledge and application of ethical principles and legal and professional standards.
  4. Individual and Cultural Diversity: Interns will demonstrate knowledge and skill in working with diverse populations and to will demonstrate a commitment towards growth in multicultural competence.
  5. Professional Values and Attitudes: Interns will be expected to behave in ways that reflect the values and attitudes of psychology.
  6. Communication and Interpersonal Skills: Interns will develop collegial, professional relationships within the counseling center and the larger university.
  7. Consultation and inter-professional/interdisciplinary skills: Interns will develop competence in collaborating with other individuals or groups to address a problem, seek or share knowledge, or promote effectiveness in professional activities.
  8. Supervision: Interns will develop and demonstrate competence in providing clinical supervision.
  9. Research: Interns will demonstrate the ability to critically evaluate and disseminate research or other scholarly activities (e.g., case conference, presentation, publications).