Psychological & Wellness Services 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 the program and reports to the Director of Psychological & Wellness Services. The Training Director is responsible for program philosophy, training structure, intern selection, assignment of supervisors, and resolution of problems or concerns involving interns and/or the training program. 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 (4 times per year) to discuss supervisory issues, as well as the progress and training needs of current interns.
Training Program Model and Philosophy
The UW Tacoma Psychological & Wellness Services internship 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 interns move toward greater levels of autonomy and independent practice by the completion of the internship year. Embedded in this model is the belief that professional identity is not a static phenomenon that ends once a terminal degree or appropriate licensure or certification is achieved but instead consists of life-long learning that evolves as the field does.
This model also includes an emphasis on experiential learning which allows interns to learn through concrete experience, reflective observation, active experimentation, and establishment of mentoring relationships where training is viewed as relational and reciprocal. Interns are provided ample opportunity to observe the professional staff in various settings before actually participating in areas that are new to them. As expertise forms and competence develops, interns are encouraged to take on more responsibility and leadership. It has been our experience that most interns quickly move toward independent practice under supervision, with the goal of leaving the internship year as a professional psychologist and colleague.
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, interns are encouraged and supported in the process of becoming mature practitioners. This process begins by evaluating the knowledge and skills interns bring to the center. These are explored during orientation as interns reflect on their own experiences. Interns are asked in a variety of settings, including conferences with the training director, supervision, training seminars, and case conferences, to consider their own level of skill and professional development. Interns are asked to set goals, to build on the skills they bring, and to acquire advanced skills that are essential in the profession. These goals are reviewed periodically and may be revised as interns progress through the internship year.
The internship training program is integrated into Psychological & Wellness Services, the Division of Student Affairs, and the UW Tacoma campus in a number of ways. PAWS approaches training as a vital contribution to the mental health field, and the internship as a culmination of training for entry-level professionals. Accordingly, all clinicians are committed to training, and are available as mentors during the internship year. Interns are encouraged and invited to seek all clinicians for guidance, consultation, and advice. All clinicians participate in leading training seminars and facilitating case conference. Interns also join clinicians at PAWS weekly staff meetings.
Interns are also encouraged to engage with the campus community through referral, outreach, and consultation with other campus units within the Division of Student Affairs (e.g., Disability Resources for Students, First Generation Student Initiatives, Residence Life, Veteran and Military Resource Center, Student Involvement and Leadership) and in other areas of the university (e.g., Center for Equity and Inclusion, Teaching and Learning Center, International Student and Scholar Services, University Academic Advising). Based on individual interests, interns may also develop liaison relationships with campus partners, working with faculty, staff, and/or students to provide psychoeducational workshops or guest lectures, conduct needs assessments, or develop projects related to students’ mental health. Lastly, as an urban serving university, interns are introduced to and may tour the facilities of community partners (e.g., Crystal Judson Family Justice Center, Rainbow Center, Rebuilding Hope! The Sexual Assault Center for Pierce County).
In regard to functional roles, interns participate in a broad range of departmental and divisional activities and work in close contact with all their colleagues. Interns are viewed as colleagues-in-training, deserving of respect, and treated accordingly both professionally and personally.
Is this an internship in health psychology? No. In 2017, APA changed its terminology from "professional psychology" to "health service psychology," (HSP) leading to some confusion among internship applicants. When applicants read “Internship in Health Service Psychology,” they may imagine that we focus only on primary care, behavioral health, or concerns related to physical wellbeing. Rather, clinical psychologists and counseling psychologists working in university counseling centers are included in the definition of HSPs. As the National Register for Health Service Psychology details, “Health Service Psychologists are licensed practitioners who provide preventive, consultative, assessment, and treatment services in a broad range of settings, including independent or group practice, multidisciplinary clinics, counseling centers, or hospitals. Health service psychologists differ from health psychologists in that their practice is not confined to the treatment of problems associated with physical health or wellbeing.” We hope this clear things up and helps you during what can be a confusing time of internship applications!
PAWS Training Director, Bonnie Benson-Palmgren, Ph.D.