Professional Training

Training Philosophy and Model

Counseling / Professional Training / Doctoral Internship in Health Service Psychology / Training Philosophy and Model
VCU University Counseling Services [View Image]
Pages in this section:
Training Philosophy and ModelPrimary Aim and CompetenciesTraining ActivitiesApplication and SelectionAdministration Mission and VisionPast InternsSettingTraining Sites

University Counseling Services utilizes an apprenticeship model for training. The core elements of this model entail mentoring and a developmental approach to prepare psychologists who are generalists trained for professional practice as health service psychologists. At the end of training, it is expected that psychology interns will be prepared to function as entry-level psychologists who are culturally sensitive, work from a theoretically-sound base, function within ethical and professional guidelines, and integrate scholarly research into practice.‌

Developmental approach

UCS training staff understands that interns arrive with various academic backgrounds, clinical skills, and life experiences. As a means of gaining an understanding of these experiences and skills, interns are sent a self-assessment survey over the summer, which is then shared with the staff. UCS training staff recognizes the skills and experiences of interns as strengths and it is our desire to continue to help facilitate the growth in those areas of strength.   

We also understand that interns arrive with different levels of clinical skills, understanding of theoretical orientations, outreach and consultation experience, sensitivity to diversity issues, and communication skills. The process of enhancing psychology interns’ skills occurs in training seminars, individual and group meetings with the Training Director, individual and group supervision, and during outreach and consultation opportunities.  We support the development of interns’ skills through the use of scaffolding, assisting them in taking appropriate next steps toward reaching the goals of the internship program.

The use of honest and sensitive feedback is most constructive in helping psychology interns to reach their full potential. Interns are supported by staff to grow both professionally and personally. It is our value that personal growth is as important as professional development. We therefore support interns in developing any personal areas that will aid their professional functioning that they define for themselves.


Interns have formal access to staff with various expertise (e.g. supervision, co-leading group with senior staff, co-teaching group class, co-teaching practicum seminar, primary outreach project mentor) and informal access to staff (e.g. training activities, staff meetings, consultation). UCS is comprised of a multidisciplinary staff, which values the diverse contributions of individual professions.

Psychology interns have the opportunity to gain valuable mentoring from Clinical Psychologists and Licensed Clinical Social Workers on staff. UCS staff's initial method of mentoring interns is through modeling professional behavior and demonstrating a commitment to their respective professions (i.e. commitment to client care, actively gaining CEUs, participation in professional organizations, operating ethically, etc.).

UCS has an open door policy, encouraging psychology interns to interact with UCS staff through mutually respectful relationships.  Staff and interns collaborate on various projects throughout the training year.

Values about personal disclosure in training

In order to be in compliance with the 2002 APA Ethics Code (Ethical Standard 7.04) we want current and future trainees to be aware of our approach to the disclosure of personal information in the course of training.

An important component of our training program is the intersection between the personal and professional. Therefore, our training model incorporates a strong emphasis on self-exploration and reflection. We believe that effectiveness in all aspects of professional functioning is related to one’s ability for self-reflection, one's interpersonal and personal dynamics, and the history from which these dynamics emerge.

Thus, professional functioning can either be enhanced or hindered by one's development, or lack thereof, in these essential areas. Consequently an objective of our training program is to assist trainees at all levels within UCS to explore the qualities and dynamics he or she brings to interpersonal encounters, as well as how those dynamics impact these various interactions. This will require trainees to reflect on and disclose personal information relevant to their interpersonal dynamics in clinical and professional relationships. It is our aim that such disclosures be done within a supervisory or training relationship characterized by trust, safety, and respect.

The purpose of disclosure is to enhance clinical and professional relationships and is not intended to be used as therapy or any other inappropriate purpose. If the trainee feels there is insufficient safety, trust, or respect in the supervisory or training relationship, he or she has the right to refuse to disclose personal information, and the supervisor or trainer is expected to respect such refusal and explore ways the relationship may improve so that personal disclosures can occur more effectively.

Virginia Commonwealth University
Division of Student Affairs
907 Floyd Ave, Suite 238
Richmond, VA 23284
Phone: (804) 828-6200

View graphic version