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University Counseling Services has offices on the Monroe Park and Medical Center campuses. Interns see clients on both campuses. Interns spend one day a week at the medical campus working primarily with health professional students. Interns at University Counseling Services work one evening per week, either in the fall or spring semester.
Intervention (Direct Service) Training
A major focus of the internship involves providing psychotherapy to individuals, groups, and couples. Case assignments are made in disposition team meetings and cases may be self-selected by the intern. It is a priority for interns to have a diverse caseload while on internship in order to gain the broadest range of experience possible and leave internship as a competent generalist. It is expected that psychology interns will spend 20 hours a week in direct service activities. Psychology interns are encouraged to work from the theory and style of their choosing. Through supervision, psychology interns are assisted in the continued development of their theoretical orientation and the expansion of their therapeutic repertoire. The work that is included in the direct service area is outlined below:
- Individual psychotherapy: Interns are expected to see 12 to 14 individual clients per week. Individual treatment at UCS is conducted primarily from a brief treatment model, and interns are encouraged to be conscientious and intentional when setting therapeutic goals with clients. UCS also offers training in the provision of long-term therapy; psychology interns may carry two long-term psychotherapy clients. Interns are encouraged to develop multicultural competence and awareness and acknowledgement of systems of oppression. This is facilitated by providing clinical services to students with a variety of presenting issues who represent diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds, including those from historically disadvantaged groups.
- Group psychotherapy: Interns are expected to co-lead one interpersonal process psychotherapy group. In keeping with the mentoring model as a fundamental aspect of our training program, interns are paired with a senior staff co-leader. UCS has a well-established and successful group psychotherapy program, generally offering at least 10 heterogeneous process-oriented groups per semester.
- Couples: Interns have the opportunity to provide couples therapy. Couples are eligible for therapy at UCS as long as one partner is enrolled at VCU. The number of clients requesting this service has increased in recent years. Psychology interns may work with as many as three or four couples over the academic year.
- Crisis Intervention: Interns are required to serve on the after-hours on-call rotation. Each staff/intern is on call for one week each semester (3 times during the training year, including summer). On-call at UCS consists of after-hours availability by phone from 5pm on Monday to the following Monday at 8 am. Most situations can be handled over the telephone, but there may be instances requiring interns to come on campus. Senior staff are readily available for backup and supervision, and psychology interns are encouraged to utilize senior staff for consultation as appropriate when on call. Interns also provide crisis intervention during office hours. During this time interns are responsible for managing situations posed by individuals walking into the agency with emergent or emergency needs, with supervision and consultation available from a senior staff member. A licensed staff member (generally the intern's primary supervisor) will not leave the agency if an intern is engaged in managing a crisis situation.
- Referral and Assessment Meetings: Each intern provides coverage for 4 – 5 hours per week for referral and assessment meetings (RAMs). The purpose of these meetings is to assess the student’s presenting concern and needs and then make the appropriate referral for treatment. During these blocks of time, interns may also conduct risk assessments.
Clinical interviews are the most frequently used assessment method in the agency, and the focus of assessment training for psychology interns is on developing this skill. However, interns have the opportunity to use several assessment instruments such as the BDI-II, BSI, and EDI-3. In addition, interns are trained in the use of the CCAPS inventory and the CAMS suicide assessment protocol, both of which are used extensively during the training year. Additional training in assessment occurs during orientation and through various supervision experiences.
- Outreach and Consultation
- Outreach: UCS staff and interns are asked to conduct presentations from time to time on a variety of topics, including stress/anxiety management, suicide prevention, managing student adjustment and distress, handling culture shock, managing depression, learning proper self-care, Paws for Stress (in conjunction with the Center for Human-Animal Interaction), and developing healthy relationships and communication skills. These presentations are offered to a variety of student or faculty groups, including student organizations, residence life staff, and academic programs. At the beginning of the year, interns are more likely to conduct workshops with with the assistance of senior staff members, as may be developmentally appropriate. Senior staff also serve as models for outreach and consultation. Interns are expected to participate in a minimum of five outreach programs during the training year.
- Primary Outreach Project: In addition to outreach requests, interns are required to develop an outreach “primary project.” The primary project is an outreach program the intern delivers to members of the university community. The interns meet with the outreach coordinator several times per semester for assistance in identifying, developing, and implementing their primary project, as well as to obtain support in and identification of outreach partners on campus. The outreach coordinator will provide training on the development of outreach projects in the early part of the fall semester. Then, interns will be paired with a senior staff member who will serve as the primary project outreach mentor. This senior staff member will assist the intern in the development and implementation of the project, and will provide a formal evaluation to the intern at the completion of the project.
- Consultation: Interns provide professional consultation to other members of the University community on an as-needed basis. This often entails consulting with University staff about a student of concern and requires skills in assessment and clinical judgement.
- Provision of Supervision and Teaching Opportunities
- Providing Supervision: Interns will supervise at least one practicum student each semester and may have the opportunity to supervise two practicum students during the second semester, if they have the skills and interest. Each year UCS trains 4-6 practicum students from VCU's APA-approved counseling psychology program.
- Co-Teaching Opportunities
- Co-Teaching Practicum Seminar: UCS facilitates a Practicum Seminar for practicum students, which is focused on helping beginning level therapists deepen their understanding of theory, develop clinical skills, and work toward multicultural competence. An intern co-facilitates the seminar for one semester with the option of continuing for another, depending on the interest of other interns.
- Co-Teaching Group Psychotherapy Courses: Each fall and summer, a UCS senior staff teaches the graduate courses in group psychotherapy for the Psychology Department and the Psychiatry Department. One or two psychology interns have the opportunity to assist in teaching these courses each year.
- Professional Instruction and Supervision of Interns
During the orientation period, interns have the opportunity to meet the training staff. Supervision assignments are made each semester by the Associate Director for Training based on interns' training goals and preferences, staff assessment of intern needs, and the best utilization of training staff resources. Supervisor assignments are made for one semester. Interns rotate supervisors mid-year. Interns receive two scheduled hours of individual supervision by a licensed psychologist weekly and are encouraged to consult at other times as needed. Interns bring webcam recordings of therapy sessions to supervision for clinical consult. Supervision modalities vary depending on the orientation and style of the particular staff member. During initial meetings with supervisors, interns will specify goals for supervision and be informed of the frame of supervision, including expectations of both supervisor and supervisee and limits to privacy.
- Group Supervision of Group Psychotherapy
Supervision of groups typically occurs in a group format consisting of 4 co-therapist dyads or triads led by at least one senior staff psychologist and/or clinical social worker. All therapy groups are recorded for use in supervision. Group supervision occurs once per week. During the fall and spring semesters, interns participate in one of two group supervision teams. All interpersonal process group co-leaders participate in group supervision, which adds to the richness of trainees’ learning and development as group clinicians. Each group leadership team prepares a segment of tape to be shown during group supervision for feedback. Each leadership team is also responsible for facilitating one formal case presentation focused on a group topic of the team’s choice. These case presentations include the selection and review of a scholarly article.
- Meetings with Training Director
The intern cohort has at least three meetings with Associate Director for Training per month. The focus of these meetings is to process experiences that arise during internship, work on building cohesion in the intern cohort, and discuss professional issues including job search and licensure. Once per semester, interns are required to prepare a formal case presentation. Interns also complete a mock job interview in the spring semester. Meetings also allow interns time for weekly professional consultation with the training director.
- Multicultural Training
Training in multicultural competence is integrated throughout all aspects of the training program. The goal is to assist trainees in recognizing, understanding, and appreciating the impact of sociocultural factors, identities, and aspects of privilege and oppression on their life experiences, the lens through which they view the world, and the experiences of their clients. There are several components of the training program devoted to multicultural training. Four training seminars per year are dedicated to multicultural training. As part of these seminars, interns are encouraged to discuss their own identities and explore any biases they may have. The discussion of how a client’s identities impact their clinical presentation takes place in supervision, during informal case consultation, and during disposition meetings. Additionally, interns participate in four, day-long multicultural retreats with the Associate Director for Training throughout the training year. These intern-led retreats include reading scholarly articles, watching videos, and participating in discussions about multicultural topics. UCS has a strong commitment to social justice and is affirming to all members of marginalized groups.
- Training Seminars
Training seminars meet for two hours per week and are devoted to training that covers clinically-relevant topics, such as multicultural counseling, trauma, substance use, working with international students, gender, licensure process, DBT Skills, psychiatric medication and consultation, LGBTQIA+ affirming counseling.
- Supervision of Supervision
Interns meet weekly for two hours with at least one licensed psychologist to discuss their supervision of practicum students. Interns' supervision experience is assessed at the beginning of the training year and interns are provided various readings about supervision. During the two-hour supervision, interns show tape of their supervision and discuss issues related to the supervising process, their development as supervisors, and the development of their supervisee.
- Professional Ethics and Development
Training in ethical and professional practice is a routine and integral part of internship training at UCS, beginning with ethics training during orientation. Copies of the Ethical Standards of Psychologists and Guidelines for Service Providers are located in the Training Handbook and reviewed, as relevant, during training meetings. Interns are responsible for reviewing and becoming familiar with these guidelines, as well as the APA Ethics Code. Portions of training meetings are devoted to ethical issues each year. However, interns develop a more significant and meaningful appreciation for the complexity of ethical dilemmas as these topics arise during the course of their clinical work. Consultation around ethical issues is emphasized and occurs in informal interactions, individual and group supervision, case disposition meetings, and staff meetings.
- Clinical Concentrations
Interns have the opportunity to contract with a senior staff member to develop more experience in working with a particular clinical presentation. Concentrations usually involve additional clinical and outreach experience in a content area along with additional supervision. Current clinical concentration offerings are in the areas of Substance Abuse, Eating Disorders, LGBTQIA+ concerns, Trauma Treatment, DBT, Sports Psychology, and Working with International Students. Each intern negotiates time and supervision with the staff member, with the Associate Director for Training approving all contracts.
- Consultation - Informal
Interns are encouraged to consult informally with senior staff regarding clinical work, outreach, assessment, and crisis management. UCS staff has an open-door policy regarding consultation, and interns are encouraged to utilize opportunities to receive mentoring from all senior staff.
- Outreach Seminar
Interns meet with the outreach coordinator several times per semester to discuss progress on the interns' outreach primary project, discuss outreach planning, development, and evaluation, and to develop outreach partners across campus.
- Formal Case Presentation
Interns complete two formal case presentations: one in the fall semester and one in the spring semester. Several senior staff members, the Associate Director of Training, and the psychology intern cohort attend these presentations. The psychology intern receives formal feedback on their presentation.
Average Weekly Training Activities
- Individual and couples therapy: 12 - 14 hours
- Group therapy: 2 hours
- RAM (initial contact) and crisis coverage: 4 – 5 hours
- Staff meeting: 1 hour (twice per month)
- Paperwork: 5 hours
Consultation and Outreach
- Consultation and outreach programming: 1 - 2 hours (Primary outreach project & attendance at 5+ events)
Supervision and Teaching
- Practicum supervision: Providing 1 hour of supervision to doctoral level psychology supervisees
- Psych Intern Seminar: 1 hour
- Supervision of supervision: 2 hours
- Individual supervision: 2 hours
- Supervision of group therapy: 1.5 hours
- Disposition team meetings: 0.5 hour
- Training seminar: 2 hours
- Supervision for Concentration: 1 hour (bi-weekly) - Optional
- Primary Project Mentoring: Average one hour per month
- Friday Clinical Consult Team meetings: 1 hour
Committee Work - Optional