The preinternship is approximately 15 hours weekly, typically completed in 2 work days each week, 8am-5pm with a one hour lunch, but our site can be flexible about trainees working multiple partial days; preinterns must have one overlapping period of time to jointly attend the seminar.
Preinterns are expected to schedule 9 individual client hours each week. At CAPS, most clients are seen weekly at first, and may be moved to biweekly as their symptoms improve, as clinically indicated, or as they prepare to transition to one of our therapy groups. Thus, preinterns are likely to have more than 9 clients on their caseload at any given time. Our clients present with a range of concerns and mental health diagnoses. (Please see the Discover UWT page to learn more about our diverse student population.) The most common diagnoses are anxiety disorders, depressive disorders, trauma- and stressor-related disorders, bipolar and related disorders, adjustment disorders, and ADHD. Many students also experience suicidal ideation, historical trauma, family relational issues, financial concerns, and minority stress. Less frequent, but still present, are alcohol or other drug concerns, eating disorders, and personality disorders. Typically, all students receive preliminary assessment through the Drop-in service. Students who participate in individual therapy at CAPS are further assessed and diagnoses are made during their First Session with their assigned provider. Clients are assigned to preinterns by staff psychologists and doctoral psychology interns at the time of Drop-in. For the most part, we do not restrict preinterns to certain presenting concerns when making client assignments. It is for this reason that we require preinterns to have previous clinical experience.
Trainees often ask if we offer short-term or long-term therapy. The answer is, we follow an intentional therapy model which is neither short-term nor long-term. That is, we do not set specific limits for the number of sessions we see clients. Rather, we intentionally work with clients to address on one or more specific presenting concerns and to increase their functioning so that they can move toward greater success academically and personally.
Preinterns gain experience with crisis assessment and intervention when such issues arise with clients on their caseload during their regularly scheduled appointments. Preinterns may monitor suicidal ideation or other risk among their individual clients. Trainings regarding suicide and homicide risk and prevention, as well as safety planning, are provided during orientation. In keeping with our practitioner-developmental model of training, supervisors are involved in crises as a first line of consultation for trainees, providing support as needed, from step-by-step assistance early-on in training (and potentially joining trainees in session) to eventually providing support and any needed direction as a consultant, depending on level of trainee competence.
The outreach work of CAPS is considered an essential service. The Outreach Coordinator is responsible for handling outreach requests, communicating outreach opportunities to the staff, maintaining an updated database of presentations, and posting relevant CAPS activities, such as available groups and workshops or self-care tips, to our social media. Our staff provides outreach to the UW Tacoma campus consistent with demonstrated need and requests. Outreach topics include, but are not limited to: introduction to our services, responding to distressed students, managing stress, coping with imposter syndrome, and improving sleep quality. CAPS frequently collaborates with departments across campus in order to provide pertinent outreach and best meet the needs of our students.
Outreach is optional for preinterns, but is encouraged as a way to obtain experience and hours for the internship application. “Tabling events,” where CAPS team members staff an information table at a resource fair and discuss services with students who stop by, are especially fun and helpful ways of introducing preintern trainees to university outreach. It is also a helpful way for the UW Tacoma community to get to know trainees. Preinterns new to outreach are expected to accompany and observe senior staff and/or interns presenting outreach presentations prior to participating themselves. For trainees who are more experienced and have interest, they must pair with a senior staff to co-facilitate their first outreach presentation so that their competency may be observed. Eventually, preinterns may pair with interns to deliver outreach presentations. Trainees may use an existing PowerPoint presentation or may develop a presentation of their own, depending on campus need.