The pre-doctoral internship program offered by the Student Counseling Center at Western Washington University is designed to provide supervised experience in individual and group counseling; consultation and outreach; assessment; and crisis services.
The Student Counseling Center is located in Old Main with space that has been customized to meet the needs of a university counseling center. Professional and self-help libraries and observation rooms are a part of the space in the Counseling Center. The Center also has a group/conference room. All professional staff and interns have individual desktop computing capabilities.
The internship is 2000 hours. The purpose of the internship is to provide intensive experience in and supervision of the various activities practiced by a professional psychologist. The Counseling Center is committed to the achievement of excellence in the internship experience it provides. Interns are encouraged to gain a broad exposure to the variety of professional activities and service delivery systems that exist in a contemporary college or university counseling setting.
The expectation is that graduate interns will profit from the experience in terms of both their professional and personal growth. The opportunity exists to individualize the program so that special needs or skills of graduate interns can be addressed or developed. At the completion of internship, individuals will hopefully view the experience as a valuable capstone to their formal graduate training in counseling and will be capable of assuming positions of responsibility within the field.
The objectives of the internship training program are:
- To provide a high quality training experience for individuals who have progressed through doctoral studies in the field of psychology;
- To provide interns with regular intensive supervision in those activities carried out by professional psychologists;
- To provide interns with opportunities for the refinement of the basic skills necessary to practice as a professional psychologist and to expose interns to related areas of practice;
- To provide a training experience that is flexible enough to allow individuals to meet their personal and professional needs.
Required Training Responsibilities
Interns are required to complete 500 hours (25%) of the internship in the provision of direct clinical services. Interns will typically engage in an average of 15 hours per week in direct clinical services. Interns at the Student Counseling Center are required to participate in the following training programs:
Initial Assessment Interviews
The assessment and diagnosis of incoming clients is a central function of the Counseling Center. The intake counselor is responsible for clarifying the presenting problem, assessing its severity, judging the need for timely interventions, and discussing with the client the treatment alternatives that are available. Personality inventories and interest inventories may be assigned by the intake counselor. Prior to conducting initial assessments on their own, interns will have the opportunity to observe/conduct them with senior staff. Once trained, interns are responsible for a minimum of one hour of initial assessment duty per week.
Direct counseling and psychotherapy is one of the major emphases of the internship program. The internship experience is viewed as one of the best opportunities for the developing counselor to gain a broad range of experience with clients while receiving intensive supervision. Interns will have experience with a number of different kinds of cases, requiring different interventions and lengths of treatment, and will designate approximately 60% of their hours for direct service activities in the Center. Washington State law requires that 25% of all internship hours (500 for a 2000 hour internship) be completed as face-to-face direct service. Interns should expect to spend an average of 15 hours a week in direct, face-to-face client contact. At various points during the year, the actual number of hours per week will be higher or lower.
It is reasonable to assume that individuals who are involved in providing counseling services will have to develop skills in crisis intervention. Although the Center treats crisis management as a shared staff responsibility, interns are expected to be able to respond to the crises experienced by their own clientele. Assistance is available for the intern, or any staff member, in those instances where an emergency situation may require hospitalization or other atypical measures. Interns are expected to participate in after-hours crisis coverage and response, once trained.
Group activities are considered to be preferred modes of treatment in many situations. Interns will be encouraged to participate in at least one multiple session group as a leader, co-leader, or process observer. Group offerings vary each quarter, and interns are encouraged to meet with other staff members early in the year to identify possible options.
Interns receive supervision in a number of different ways. Each intern will meet with senior staff members for two hours a week to receive supervision of his/her individual counseling caseload and related activities. Interns may also work with senior staff members in a number of other areas such as teaching, paraprofessional training, group programs, etc., and will be supervised by the participating senior staff member for those activities.
The Center staff engages in a formal professional development program and interns participate fully in such activities. Additionally, the Center staff generally schedules two or three extended staff meetings a year to deal with matters of importance to the Center. Interns are encouraged to participate in their own personal and professional growth as an integral part of the internship.
Interns are scheduled for a weekly two hour seminar. In the seminar, topics are ones which are determined to have particular relevance for interns. Drug and alcohol assessment, specific applications of psychometric assessment instruments, neuropsychology, stress management, and working with eating disorders are a few examples of topics that may be addressed in the seminar.
Interns participate in peer consultation group and medical consultation hours. Peer groups meet one hour per week to discuss cases presented by senior staff and interns. Interns also participate in the medical consultation hours with Health Center physicians. Interns are encouraged to present their cases at these meetings as appropriate.
Interns will participate in weekly staff meetings. They will have the opportunity to assume committee responsibilities and participate in the decisions which affect the policies, procedures, and personnel of the Center.
Consultation and Outreach
The Counseling Center has an active consultation and outreach program serving the university community and campus organizations. These consultations extend the skills and expertise of the staff to the larger community, broaden the Center’s contacts, increase the Center’s awareness of psychological needs, and contribute to the visibility of the Center. Interns are encouraged to participate in on-going consultation and outreach efforts and/or to initiate new ones. Outreach opportunities include training and facilitating developmental and educational activities on campus.
Twice a year, interns are given formal feedback about their professional skills and performance. Interns will be evaluated on their professionalism -- including their adherence to the relevant ethical and legal guidelines of the profession, as well as the policies and procedures of the Counseling Center. They will also be evaluated on the scope of activities in which they engage, and their counseling aptitude, behaviors, and skills. The intern's clinical supervisor drafts the formal evaluation and discusses it with the intern prior to forwarding it to the Training Director.
As a part of evaluation process, group and individual supervisors may exchange information and/or perceptions about the progress of interns. The Training Director forwards the final evaluations to the intern's academic department twice a year. Evaluation and feedback are viewed as important aspects of the learning process which assist interns in maximizing their strengths, developing new competencies, and mastering the fundamental skills which will permit them to function in the multiple roles of a professional psychologist.
Stipend and Benefits
The pre-doctoral internship currently is funded at an annual stipend of $24,000, and – as a one-year exempt staff position – includes benefits offered to professional staff employees. Information about benefits is available online at: www.benefits.wwu.edu
Accreditation and Memberships
The Counseling Center is accredited by the International Association of Counseling Services (IACS).
The internship program is a member of the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers (APPIC). This internship site agrees to abide by the APPIC policy that no person at this training facility will solicit, accept, or use any ranking-related information from any intern applicant.
Qualifications of Candidates
Candidates must be enrolled in a doctoral program in counseling or clinical psychology or a closely related area. All of the formal coursework and comprehensive examinations for the doctorate should be completed.
To apply, please complete the AAPI online, including graduate transcripts and three letters of recommendation (two of which should come from clinical supervisors or individuals who are familiar with your clinical work.) You will also need to register for the Intern Match.
Application information and deadlines can be found on the APPIC directory listing for the WWU Counseling Center. Applicants who advance past the initial screening will be invited to participate in telephone or Skype interviews.
Offers to candidates matched to the internship are contingent upon successful completion of the University’s required criminal background check.
Direct Inquiries To
Dr. Eric L. Denson
Coordinator of Clinical Training
Counseling Center, OM-540
Western Washington University
Bellingham, WA 98225-9052