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Training Program

  • The Training Program
  • Weekly Time Allocation
  • Stipend & Benefits

Part One: Philosophy & Goals

Philosophy and Training Model

The Grand Valley State University Internship program reflects the philosophy that the internship year is a pivotal time for a professional psychologist to expand clinical and consulting skills. In keeping current with psychology training, our multidisciplinary setting focuses on experiences & competencies consistent with Health Service Psychology. The program is developmentally-based and is designed to provide both support and challenge for the interns. Interns are encouraged and expected to become actively involved in Center activities, including individual and group counseling, assessment, crisis intervention, outreach and consultation, evaluation/research, and administrative functions. The internship program seeks to provide a training environment which will allow the interns to be well prepared for employment in a university counseling center or any setting requiring similar skills.

The University Community Model:
A Developmental Model of Embeddedness, Interdependence, Independence, and Evolution

The philosophy of the GVSU University Counseling Center incorporates a systems approach of being interdependent, independent, and embedded with the university community. In addition, the Center sees itself to be continually evolving through quality improvement based on assessment, goal setting, and outcome measures. The Center is considered to be an integral part of the University as manifested through the roles assumed and relationships developed by senior staff, interns, and the training program within the university community. Staff members believe they have an ethical responsibility not only to assist students directly through counseling services, but also to influence the university environment in order to create a healthy climate for students. The Center is interdependent in its collaborative effort with other offices at the University. Examples include collaborative programming, research, consultation, and teaching with other members of the university community. The Center is also independent in its separate budget, office space, and programmatic determinations. Staff members also function independently in the development of their specialty areas. The training program parallels this philosophy.

The training program is embedded in the Center. It is viewed as an essential part of the Center, and all professional staff members serve on the Training Committee. All staff members provide supervision to interns and have a part in intern training and evaluation. Interns take an active contributing role in staff meetings, service delivery, and center policies and procedures.

Included in the philosophy of the training program is an emphasis on the interns interdependence with the environment, appreciation of diversity, recognition of alternative world views, and embracing the importance of diversity sensitivity and multicultural competence. Some of the interns early activities include becoming familiar with the Grand Valley campus, taking part in the orientation of Student Services graduate assistants, and living on or near the campus. As they move into their direct service activities, interns have an opportunity to be interdependent with Center staff through a variety of activities including co-facilitation of groups and presentations, supervised emergency coverage, a professional development seminar comprised of interns and senior staff, and departmental case presentations. They are also interdependent with the university community through training opportunities with the Division of Student Services, research with staff, liaisons with student organizations, consultation with faculty/staff/students, and training of peer educators.

The interns have the opportunity to become independent through a developmental training program which includes a core clinical skills component. In addition, a flexible training component is designed to help individual interns meet their own training needs, the needs of the Center, and the needs of the profession of psychology. Interns experience a developmental training sequence designed to provide them with increasingly difficult challenges and experiences. Supervision follows a developmental model with gradually decreasing involvement/guidance on the part of the supervisor as interns develop skills and knowledge. During this process, interns are provided ample support by the Center staff (via supervision and an "open door" policy), yet are encouraged and expected to develop their own professional independence. Caseloads, group leadership, crisis consultation, and additional activities are based on the developmental progress of the interns toward competency and independence as practitioners. Additionally, interns are charged with specific responsibilities that they are expected to maintain. For example, interns supervise peer educators and/or graduate assistants and/or masters or advanced doctoral level clinical trainees, provide consultation to academic/student service departments regarding student issues, and maintain a workload of direct service (which includes individual/couples/group psychotherapy, intake and urgent care; consultation; outreach programming; and supervision).

Furthermore, the training program emphasizes evolution. Just as the University and the Center are changing to meet the needs of students and the changing demands of the world, the training program is also evolving. The evolution dimension seeks to focus the Center on those issues that emerge from the various professional, cultural, and social environments by which counseling centers need to be informed. Thus, research and evaluation are key components embedded within the Center and the training program, guiding the evolution of both.

Another focus of the evolution dimension is maintaining a training program that assists interns in being responsive to the data and research that affects the field of psychology and incorporating research into practice. As the demands of the University, the Center, and the profession change, the Center and the training program evolve to reflect these changes. This degree of flexibility in the program is necessary to ensure that interns are prepared for the challenges and changes in the profession of psychology, as well as those within universities and their counseling centers.

Goals & Objectives of the Training Program:

Goal I - Embeddedness

  1. To integrate into the University community.
  2. To develop skills in consultation and outreach.

Goal II - Interdependence

  1. To develop appreciation and skills for collaboration with other professionals.
  2. To develop ability to effectively utilize supervision to enhance professional development.
  3. To develop multicultural/diversity awareness, knowledge, and clinical skills.

Goal III - Developmental Independence

  1. To increase knowledge and application of appropriate professional and ethical standards.
  2. To develop competency in case conceptualization and clinical assessments.
  3. To develop therapy skills and knowledge of clinical theories.
  4. To develop competency in clinical documentation.
  5. To develop knowledge and skills in the area of career counseling and development.
  6. To develop crisis intervention skills.
  7. To develop supervision and administration skills.
  8. To develop skills in conducting group therapy.

Goal IV - Evolution

  1. To develop competency in integrating science and scholarly knowledge into practice.
  2. To develop capacity to do evaluation and research.
  3. To develop capacity for self-reflection and self-evaluation as it relates to professional functioning.
  4. To develop the capacity for self-direction.
  5. To transition from trainee to entry-level practitioner.

Part Two: Components of the Internship Program

1. Direct Service

A primary focus of the internship is on individual and group psychotherapy. Degree of involvement in each of these areas will vary depending upon the interns' interests, skill levels, and knowledge, as well as, Center needs. In addition to scheduled appointments, direct service includes drop-in and crisis intervention. Direct service will involve approximately 50% of the intern's time. This area includes counseling and psychotherapy related to personal, career, and educational concerns as well as outreach and consultation activities. The Center has a service delivery model which is primarily short-term but allows for trainees to have long-term cases. This allows interns the opportunity to develop their skills with both short and long term therapy with a wide range of psychological issues. Another focus of the Center is to provide students with assistance in the area of career development. A portion of the interns' caseload will include students with career developmental issues. Interns will learn how to help students explore their interests, strengths, values, and goals; to show students how to use other career resources, and to interpret interest inventories. Group therapy is also an integral component of direct service. Each intern will co-facilitate an ongoing general therapy group, as well as a psycho-educational group. Recent psycho-educational group offerings include Stress Management, Mindfulness, Managing Your Emotions, Managing Depression, How to Worry Well, Self-Compassion, and Body Image.

2. After Hours' Emergency Coverage

There are over 6,200 students who live on campus during the academic year. One of the services offered by the University Counseling Center is after hours' emergency coverage for on-campus students. The interns serve as the primary responders to after hour emergencies with supervision backup by senior staff. The interns are responsible for carrying the pager in a 5-6 week rotation cycle. During the fifth-sixth week, a senior staff member carries the pager. When interns are on-call, their supervisors carry a back-up pager and are contacted for consultation whenever an intern responds to a crisis situation.

Typical emergency mental health issues include suicidal ideation, bizarre behaviors, extreme anxiety/panic, self-destructive behaviors, responding to a death on campus, sexual assault, group crisis responses following a campus tragedy. Interns will learn the techniques of individual and group crisis intervention, emergency risk assessment, how to manage the crisis scene (including a presence of campus staff and other students), coordinate university and community resources, how to liaison with community mental health professionals and medical staff in a hospital setting, and providing follow-up care.

3. Consultation and Outreach

The Center is committed to a community model of service. Therefore, we value close working relationships with other agencies and groups on campus. Consultation includes outreach and preventative education, crisis intervention, and consulting with faculty and staff concerning mental health issues. Workshops, seminars, and presentations to classes and organizations are an ongoing activity at the Center. For 2015-2016, the staff members of the Center made 657 outreach contacts and provided 770 hours of mental health consultations. Interns will have an opportunity to become actively involved in the Consultation and Outreach activities of the Center.

4. Supervision Opportunities

Interns will have the opportunity to receive training and develop skills in the area of clinical supervision. Two interns will supervise an MA/MSW intern. A third intern will supervise a master's level graduate assistant working with the Career Team or with the ACES (Alcohol & Other Drugs Campus Education and Services) team. The fourth intern will work with the Center Peer Educators, providing training and supervision for the outreach activities. All interns will have the opportunity to provide a 7 week (35 hours) clinical skills training and supervision program to incoming MA/MSW interns during May/June.

5. Assessment

Assessment is a crucial component in providing comprehensive treatment for clients. Proper assessment identifies the multi-dimensional needs and issues that face clients who seek service within a university setting. Interns are required to complete three psychological assessment batteries as part of their internship experience. The focus of assessment training is utilizing assessment data therapeutically with clients. To enhance interns' ability to integrate assessment into treatment, each intern will make two formal case presentations to the staff members and consulting psychiatrist during the fall and winter semesters (see case conferences referenced below).

6. Supervision for Interns

Interns receive two hours of direct individual supervision each week from a licensed psychologist with another hour of supervision as a group in Clinical Seminar. Clinical Seminar alternates every other week with supervision of group therapy. In addition, there are regularly scheduled consultations with a board certified psychiatrist and a nurse practitioner. Weekly rotating seminars provide additional supervision rotating through the areas of multicultural/diversity issues, career counseling, and assessment. The focus of this supervision is discussing clinical issues, learning therapeutic interventions and sharing information and experiences in these areas of psychology. In addition to individual supervision, interns also meet with the Director of Training one hour per week for the Intern Seminar to address questions, concerns, and feedback for the program and Center. This seminar is also used to address special issues related to professional identity development.

7. Professional Development & Case Conferences

Interns participate in the Center's Professional Development Seminar which meets every other week and includes formal case conferences. Case conferences provide a place and time for the professional staff to meet and discuss difficult cases or clinical issues. Each intern will be required to present two formal case presentations during case conference. These presentations will include a written conceptualization as well as a videotape of a session. Other professional development meetings involve presentations on topics of professional interest. Each intern will be required to facilitate one professional development meeting during the year. Interns are also encouraged to become involved in national and local organizations related to psychology and student affairs.

8. Personal Development

Personal development includes dissertation work, special projects, and conference and workshop attendance. In past years, interns have been able to make progress in completing their dissertations while fulfilling the internship requirements. Staff members are committed to interns making progress toward completing their degrees.

Part Three: Training Activities

1. Orientation

This is a critical first experience which occurs prior to the beginning of Fall semester. Interns get to know Center staff, services, policies and procedures, physical facilities and equipment, and the structure of the internship requirements. Interns also begin to integrate into the University community, meet other Division staff and graduate assistants, and develop a greater awareness of the community roles of the Counseling Center and the Division of Student Services. Additionally, interns are provided intensive training in a variety of clinical areas in which they will begin to practice (e.g. crisis intervention, consultation/outreach, career counseling, group counseling, clinical assessment, clinical documentation, and managing multiple roles).

2. Clinical Seminar/Group Leadership Supervision:

This seminar is co-facilitated by the Clinical Director and the Training Director and utilizes a group/peer supervision format to discuss clients and clinical issues, alternative theoretical perspectives and interventions, and professional/ethical dilemmas. This seminar alternates every other week with Group Leadership Supervision facilitated by the Group Coordinator which focuses on interns' leadership of interpersonal process psychotherapy groups.

3. Intern Seminar

This seminar provides interns with the opportunity to meet weekly with the Training Director for support and to process their training experience, facilitate socialization into the profession, further discuss clinical application information from training seminars, and discuss professional development issues and ethical dilemmas. This seminar also serves as an important informal vehicle for interns to address concerns and provide feedback about their training experience and the training program.

4. Training Seminar

This is a weekly didactic and interactive seminar (often with assigned readings) primarily focusing on a variety of clinical issues, ethics, and integrating science and scholarly knowledge into practice. Other professional areas addressed include managing multiple roles, job search/application/interviewing strategies, preparation for licensure, and internship selection activities.

5. Multicultural/Diversity Seminar

This seminar is designed to expose interns to a variety of cultures and diversities as well as integrate their knowledge into culturally appropriate interventions and treatment. Interns will develop awareness, sensitivity, and skills for working professionally with diverse individuals, groups and communities of various cultural and personal background and characteristics defined as cultural, individual, role differences, including those based on age and gender, gender identity, race, ethnicity, cultural, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability, language, socioeconomic status and impact of social justice systems. Interns will also integrate self-reflections on their own privilege, culture, and identities.

6. Assessment Seminar

This seminar focuses on clinical assessment and case conceptualization with particular emphasis on a therapeutic use of assessment. Training in administration and interpretation of a variety of assessment instruments (e.g. MCMI-III, MMPI-2, PAI, BSI, 16 PF, TAT). This also includes information on assessment of special populations.

7. Career Seminar

This seminar focuses on career theory, assessment, and the provision of career counseling with particular emphasis on providing career counseling to a traditional and nontraditional student population presenting  with a diverse array of concerns and questions. Training is provided on various assessment instruments and computer-based career systems (e.g. SII, MBTI, StrengthsQuest, Focus II, & ONET). In addition, group supervision is provided during this time to allow interns to critically examine how their theoretical orientation influences their approach and steps to career counseling.

8. Psychiatric Consultation Seminar

This seminar focuses on current information regarding psycho-pharmacological intervention and mutual treatment planning for clients, shared with the Center's consulting psychiatrist and nurse practitioner.

9. Evaluation/Research Seminar

This seminar provides interns the opportunity to participate in evaluation/research relevant to Center services. Interns will implement a project and prepare an executive summary for the Center.

10. Supervision of Supervision

This seminar is facilitated by the Training Director and focuses on interns providing clinical supervision to mental health trainees and other supervisees as time allows.

Evaluation of Intern Competencies:

The Center views on-going evaluation as another primary component of the internship program. In addition to the informal feedback provided during supervision and training seminars, interns receive formal written feedback regarding their progress in competency development three times over the year (baseline, mid-year, and final). Training expectations and evaluation criteria are specified in the training manual interns receive at the start of the internship. The evaluated competencies align with the program goals and objectives delineated in Part 1. Interns are expected to achieve intermediate to advanced levels of competency. The competency evaluations are quite comprehensive and therefore, we do not complete additional training contracts and/or evaluations for individual academic programs (programs are sent copies of the mid-year and final evaluations). Specific expectations, exit standards, and competency evaluation forms along with other administrative policies are contained in the Doctoral Internship Manual provided the first day of internship (or available upon request).

Feedback to the Training Program:

Interns provide feedback to the program throughout their experience, but also have regularly scheduled meetings for such purpose along with a written program evaluation at the end of the internship and again two years post-internship.

Weekly Time Allocation

Weekly hours vary somewhat depends upon the semester and intern commitments. 

1. Direct Service

  • Intakes/Urgent Care: 6 hours
  • Individual and Couples, Counseling/Psychotherapy: 12-14 hours
  • Group Psychotherapy/Psychoed (2nd group added Winter semester): 3-5 hours
  • Liaison, Consultation & Outreach: 1-2 hours
  • Supervision (Winter semester): 1-2 hours

2. Administration

  • Coordination of an Administrative Area: 2-3 hours
    • Peer Education
    • Career Development
    • ACES (Alcohol & Other Drug Campus Education & Services)
    • Outreach / Liaison with Athletic Student Services & National Screening Days

3. Training

  • Individual Supervision: 2 hours
  • Clinical Seminar/Group Leadership Supervision (rotate e/o week): 1 hour
  • Intern Seminar: 1 hour
  • Multicultural / Diversity Seminar (2 hours e/o week): 1 hour
  • Rotating Supervision/Seminars (Assessment, Career, Psychiatric Consultation - 2 hours e/o week): 1 hour
  • Training Seminar: 2 hours
  • Professional Development Seminar (1.5 hours e/o week): 0.75 hours
  • Group Process/Supervision w/Staff Co-leader (Peer supervision Winter): 1 hour
  • Supervision of Supervision (1 hour e/o week, Winter semester): 0.5 hour

4. Professional/Administrative Activities

  • Office Time (case notes, etc.): 4 hours
  • All Staff meetings, Division meetings (Once a month): .75 hours
  • Summer (May/June) activities:
    • MA/MSW Training: 35 hours
    • Evaluation/Research Project: TBA as needed

Note: Some activities for interns (and professional staff) occur during evening hours.

Stipend & Benefits

The Grand Valley State University Doctoral Internship program is a 12-month internship. The program is funded for four doctoral-level interns from a clinical or counseling psychology graduate program. Each position carries a stipend of $25,660 plus medical benefits and life insurance. 

Interns are required to live within 30 minutes of campus and are strongly encourages to have a vehicle. 


Click here to go to our webpage describing how to apply to our doctoral internship program