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, four to five doctoral interns are selected from APA accredited graduate programs in counseling and clinical psychology through the National Matching Service.
The training program is a highly visible component of the Student Counseling Center, as well as the university at large. Within the SCC, staff members are available, accessible, supportive, and timely in meeting their responsibilities, and nearly all clinical staff are active participants in the training program. In addition to regularly scheduled supervision, training seminars, case consultations, and staff meetings, interns have informal access to all staff members and are encouraged to consult with senior staff any time they are available.
The 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 doctoral level positions in psychology. The SCC 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 training program at the SCC focuses on training generalist practitioners 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 qualified individuals who are responsible for the training, inculcation of values, and the quality of work produced by the apprentice.
The internship year at the SCC is designed to promote a developmental process in which interns move from the role of student to colleague and are provided the knowledge and skills needed for doctoral level positions in psychology. 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 their internship year. These skills and competencies are explored during orientation as interns reflect on their own experiences. Interns are asked in a variety of settings, including meetings with the training director and supervisors, 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 may be 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 professional staff in various settings before participating in areas that are new to them, such as facilitating brief assessments/triage appointments. As 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. Staff involved with training believe 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. During orientation, there will be 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
- To develop interns’ clinical skills in preparation for entry-level positions as health service psychologists.
- To develop self-knowledge, attitudes, professional knowledge and skills needed for effective and ethical practice as a psychologist.
- To develop and promote competence in individual and cultural diversity.
These aims are accomplished through the focus on the following nine Profession-Wide Competencies, as outlined by the APA Standards of Accreditation:
- Research: Interns are expected to demonstrate knowledge, skills, and competence sufficient to produce new knowledge, to critically evaluate and use existing knowledge to solve problems, and to disseminate research. Interns are expected to have substantial knowledge of scientific methods, procedures, and practices.
- Ethical and Legal Standards: Interns are expected to conduct themselves in an ethical manner in all professional activities; recognize ethical dilemmas as they arise and apply ethical decision-making processes in order to resolve the dilemmas; and be knowledgeable of and act in accordance with:
- the current version of the APA Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct;
- relevant laws, regulations, rules, and policies governing health service psychology at the organizational, local, state, regional, and federal levels; and,
- relevant professional standards and guidelines.
- Individual and Cultural Diversity: Interns are expected to demonstrate knowledge, awareness, sensitivity, and skills in providing culturally competent psychological services to diverse individuals and communities and will demonstrate a commitment towards personal and professional growth in multicultural competence.
- Professional Values, Attitudes, and Behaviors: Interns are expected to actively seek and demonstrate openness and responsiveness to feedback and supervision, engage in self-reflection, and demonstrate behavior that reflect the values and attitudes of the field of psychology, such as integrity, cultural humility, and concern for the welfare of others.
- Communication and Interpersonal Skills: Interns are expected to develop and maintain effective, professional relationships with a wide range of individuals and groups, including colleagues, organizations, supervisors, supervisees, and clients; interns are expected to demonstrate the ability to manage difficult communication well.
- Assessment: Interns are expected to demonstrate competence in case conceptualization, selecting and applying assessment methods, interpreting assessment results, integrating assessment data into clinical intervention, and communicating findings and implications of the assessment.
- Intervention: Interns are expected to develop and demonstrate competence in evidence-based interventions, including the provision of individual therapy, group therapy, crisis intervention, and outreach.
- Supervision: Interns are expected to apply supervisory knowledge and supervisory skills of observing, evaluating, and giving guidance and feedback to trainees.
- Consultation and Interprofessional/Interdisciplinary Skills: Interns are expected to demonstrate knowledge and respect for the roles and perspectives of other professionals and apply the knowledge of consultation through collaboration with other individuals or groups to address a problem, seek or share knowledge, or promote effectiveness in professional activities.