The Counseling & Psychological Services training program consists of a doctoral level preinternship and an APPIC-member internship program. CAPS staff members value training and all clinical professionals participate in the training program. The Training Director, who is a Licensed Psychologist in the state of Washington, coordinates both programs and reports to the Director of Counseling & Psychological Services. The Training Director has primary responsibility for the day-to-day administration, coordination, and development of the training program. Center staff members are kept informed about the training program through weekly staff meetings. Supervisors meet formally at mid-quarter (3 times per year) to discuss supervisory issues, as well as the progress and training needs of current preinterns.
The UW Tacoma Counseling & Psychological Services training program utilizes a practitioner-developmental model of training. The focus is on service delivery with a view of professional development as sequential in nature, and with the goal of helping preinterns move toward internship readiness by the completion of the training year. Embedded in this model is the belief that professional identity is not a static phenomenon that ends once a clinical experience or terminal degree is achieved but instead consists of life-long learning that evolves as the field does.
Along with professional growth, personal growth also is encouraged. The training staff 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. In a system that provides both support and challenge, trainees are encouraged and supported in the process of becoming intermediate level practitioners. This process begins by evaluating the competencies trainees bring to the center. These are explored during orientation as trainees reflect on their own experiences and complete a self-assessment that helps them identify training goals for the year. Preinterns are asked in their individual supervision, the practicum seminar, and their meetings with the Training Director to consider their own level of skill and professional development. Initially, preinterns are expected to demonstrate basic listening skills, development of rapport with clients, and other skills at an emerging competence level. Trainees are asked to set goals, and over the course of the year, build on the skills they bring, and acquire new skills at an intermediate or growing competence level that are essential for internship. These goals are reviewed periodically and may be revised as trainees progress through the preinternship year.
Our training model aims to produce competent and versatile generalists who are prepared to enter the internship year as intermediate-level psychologists-in-training. Program aims, listed below, are addressed through experiential and didactic learning processes. These include direct intervention with clients and the presentation of theory and techniques - based on current research and scholarly work - in didactic settings.
- To develop preinterns’ clinical skills in preparation for the doctoral psychology internship.
- To cultivate the self-knowledge, attitudes, and professional knowledge and skills needed for effective and ethical practice as intermediate-level psychologists-in-training.
- To develop and promote competence in individual and cultural diversity.
The above aims are accomplished through focus on five of the nine Profession-Wide Competencies listed in the American Psychological Association Standards of Accreditation for Health Service Psychology1and described in the Commission on Accreditation Implementing Regulations2 for doctoral psychology internship. The level of competency required for successful completion of the preinternship is described in the program evaluation forms as suitable for preinternship-level trainees preparing for the internship experience.
- Ethical and Legal Standards
- Individual and Cultural Diversity
- Professional Values and Attitudes
- Communication and Interpersonal Skills
1 American Psychological Association. (Rev. 2019). Standards of Accreditation for Health Service Psychology and Accreditation Operating Procedures. Accessed July 27, 2020.
2 Commission on Accreditation. (Rev. 2017). Implementing Regulations. Section C: Internship Programs. C-8 I. Profession-Wide Competencies. Accessed July 27, 2020. https://www.apa.org/ed/accreditation/section-c-soa.pdf
Evaluation is an important aspect of preinternship training, as it facilitates the communication between supervisors and trainees about the trainees’ strengths, areas for growth, and recommended methods for achieving the preinternship competencies. CAPS staff and interns meet at each mid-quarter period to informally report to the Training Director about the progress of each trainee. Supervisors are expected to provide timely and specific feedback to preinterns so that improvements can be made during the course of the quarter, and so that there are no surprises when it is time for formal evaluations. At the end of each quarter, the individual supervisor (or the co-supervising pair) collects feedback from all training staff and shares with the preintern their feedback in the form of the formal Preinternship Competency Evaluation. Preinterns are expected to receive a rating of 3 or above (on a 1 to 5 scale where 3 = at current expected level of competency) on all items by the end of the preinternship year. Preinterns also provide formal evaluations of their individual supervisors, the Training Director, orientation activities, and the training program as a whole. This feedback is used to facilitate discussion and to consider program improvements.
Communication between doctoral training programs and practicum/preinternship sites is of critical importance to the overall development of competent new psychologists. While the site’s staff assess the student’s performance during the preinternship year, the doctoral program is ultimately responsible for evaluation of the student’s readiness for internship and eventual graduation. Therefore, evaluative communication must occur between the two training partners. Given this partnership, our training program follows the practices set forth by the Council of Chairs of Training Councils1. While these practices were established for the purpose of doctoral psychology internships, CAPS finds the practices to be relevant for preinternship as well.
Copies of each preintern’s evaluations are sent to the trainee’s Director of Clinical Training (DCT) following each of the three formal evaluation periods (timed with each academic quarter) which generally fall in December, March, and June. Trainees receive a copy of their evaluation and a copy is placed in their permanent file. Informal contact with the doctoral program is maintained throughout the year via e-mail or phone contacts with the DCT. Program directors are invited to call and/or visit CAPS at their convenience during the internship year.
1 Council of Chairs of Training Councils Ad Hoc Committee. (2019). Council of Chairs of Training Councils (CCTC) Recommendations for Communication. Accessed August 23. https://pr4tb8rrj317wdwt3xlafg2p-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/CCTC-Recommendations-for-Communication.pdf)
Staff and trainees are encouraged to discuss and resolve conflicts informally. However, if this cannot occur, the Due Process Procedures for Training Staff and Grievance Procedures for Preinterns documents provide formal mechanisms and guidance for CAPS and trainees to respond to issues of concern. The documents are available from the Training Director, included in the Preinternship Manual, and reviewed during September orientation.