Training Program

Part One: Philosophy & Goals

Philosophy of Center Service and Training

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 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 and is viewed as an essential part of the Center. All staff members provide supervision and/or consultation 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, particularly learning about the Division of Student Affairs. 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 Affairs, 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 masters 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 incorporates 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.

Training Program Goals:

The program's aim is to prepare doctoral interns in clinical or counseling psychology to become entry-level Health Service Psychologists. The internship program expects the intern to develop and demonstrate the following competencies:



 Demonstration of the integration of science and practice.


a. Demonstrates ability to select appropriate treatment interventions based upon scholarly knowledge and current research.   

b.  Ability to use scholarly knowledge to evaluate treatment efficacy.

c. Demonstrates ability to critically evaluate and disseminate research or other scholarly activities (e.g. case conference, presentations, publications) at the local, regional or national level. 

d. Demonstrates ability to conduct research/evaluation/special projects relevant to clinical practice and services in a university counseling center (if applicable).


Demonstration of knowledge and application in professional practice.


a. Demonstrates ability to conduct self in a professional and ethical manner in all professional activities.

b. Demonstrates knowledge and ability to practice in accordance with APA Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct and relevant professional standards and guidelines.

c. Demonstrates knowledge and ability to practice in accordance with relevant laws, regulations, rules, and policies governing health service psychology at the organizational, local, state, regional, and federal level.

d. Demonstrates ability to identify and think through complicated ethical dilemmas as they arise and seek appropriate consultation.


Demonstration of knowledge, awareness, sensitivity, and skills when working with diverse individuals and communities who embody a variety of cultural and personal background and characteristics (e.g. age, disability, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, language, national origin, race, religion, culture, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and other sources of difference)


a. Demonstrates knowledge regarding one’s own cultural/diverse background, values, and worldview; and how they may impact therapy and other areas of professional functioning (e.g. when reactions and/or biases may inhibit or interfere with therapy or consultative process).

b. Critically evaluates the contributions of individual and cultural issues (noted in III above) and adapt interventions in a culturally sensitive manner in assessment, case conceptualization, treatment planning, and therapy.

c. Demonstrates the ability to apply self-reflection and knowledge in a culturally sensitive manner to work effectively with the range of diverse individuals and groups encountered in a variety of capacities during internship.

d. Demonstrates knowledge of the current theoretical and empirical knowledge base as it relates to addressing diversity in all professional activities including research, training, supervision/consultation, and service.                              



a. Demonstrates appropriate professional demeanor in appearance and behavior.

b. Demonstrates integrity, accountability, and concern for client welfare.

c. Demonstrates self-evaluation and ability to integrate learning and recognize professional strengths and growth edges.

d. Initiates self-direction and demonstrates motivation for professional growth.

e. Engages in activities to maintain and improve performance, well-being, and professional effectiveness.

f. Actively engages and demonstrates openness to feedback and suggestions in supervision and training seminars.

g. Demonstrates capacity to self-reflect along with a willingness to explore personal reactions/values as they affect the therapeutic relationship/process and other aspects of professional functioning.

h. Demonstrates ability to effectively manage workload (e.g. time management, deadlines, projects).



a. Establishes respectful, productive, and culturally sensitive relationships with peers, supervisors, center staff, and other university/community colleagues and organizations.

b. Demonstrates effective interpersonal skills and the ability to manage difficult communications well.

c. Maintains appropriate and timely record-keeping in accordance with professional standards and agency policy.

d. Produces written communications/reports that are professional, informative, and well-integrated.

e. Demonstrates ability to write and present a formal case conceptualization.

f. Provides feedback regarding experiences, satisfactions, and concerns regarding the training program and/or center functioning.

g. Demonstrates ability to oversee administrative projects and appropriately manage ambiguity.



a. Demonstrates ability to conduct comprehensive initial intake assessments that integrate clinical information and relevant cultural diversity factors into thorough case conceptualization and appropriate treatment recommendations.

b. Demonstrates ability to select multiple culturally and clinically appropriate assessment instruments and interpret results in a manner consistent with current research and professional standards.

c. Demonstrates ability to integrate and communicate orally and/or in writing the findings and recommendations in an effective manner sensitive to the recipient (e.g. client, referring party, etc.).

d. Demonstrates ability to provide appropriate DSM diagnoses, taking into account multicultural/diversity factors and differential diagnoses.




Psychotherapy knowledge and skills:

  • Develops effective therapeutic alliance with a wide variety of clients.                          
  • Uses core counseling skills appropriately (including open and closed questions, paraphrasing, summarizing and accurate empathic statements).
  • Uses theory to conceptualize cases and develop, implement, and evaluate treatment plans taking into account client goals, development, and diverse identities.
  • Uses a range of evidenced-based psychotherapeutic techniques and interventions appropriate to the presenting issues and client characteristics.
  • Manages the interpersonal dimensions of therapy (including setting the use of empathy, exploring feelings, responding to verbal/non-verbal behavior, addressing incongruities, and handling therapist/client dynamics).
  • Manages the therapeutic process effectively (including setting the frame, goal setting, monitoring progress, timing interventions, managing ambiguity, special circumstances, crises, and termination).

Crisis intervention skills:

  • Demonstrates ability to appropriately assess and respond to crisis situations.                         
  • Demonstrates ability to conduct and document risk assessments (harm to self and/or others).
  • Demonstrates ability to work collaboratively with other crisis responders on the scene and effectively convey information to area resources, if involved.

Group therapy skills:

  • Demonstrates ability to recognize group process issues.  
  • Demonstrates ability to recognize the contributions of individual and cultural issues as they impact group process.

  • Demonstrates ability to effectively facilitate therapy groups.

Outreach programming skills:

  • Demonstrates ability to plan, implement, and evaluate outreach programs tailored
    to the needs of the target audiences.         
  • Demonstrates ability to incorporate feedback from student/program evaluations to improve service delivery.



a. Provides a positive role model for professional functioning.

b. Demonstrates ability to conceptualize the supervision process

c. Demonstrates ability to evaluate and effectively communicate supervisee’s strengths and areas for growth.

d. Demonstrates ability to facilitate supervisee development. 



a. Demonstrates knowledge and respect for the roles and perspectives of other professions.

b. Demonstrates ability to work collaboratively with professionals from other areas of the University (e.g. Housing & Residence Life, Office of Student Life, GVSU Police, Student Health Center).

c. Demonstrates ability to consult with professional staff and community providers as needed to provide quality treatment, make appropriate referrals, and facilitate continuity of care.

d. Demonstrates ability to provide consultation about mental health issues.

e. Exhibits knowledge about the multiple roles/functions a counseling center may have within the university community (e.g. therapist, committee member, trainer, consultant, presenter.)

f. Demonstrates ability to take a broader systems perspective in considering issues and services.

Part Two: Components of the Internship Program

1. Direct Service

A primary focus of the internship is on individual and group psychotherapy. The degree of involvement in each of these areas will vary depending on the interns' interests, skill levels, and knowledge, as well as, Center needs. In addition to scheduled appointments, direct service includes triage, urgent care and crisis intervention. Direct service will involve approximately 50% of the intern's time. This area includes counseling and psychotherapy related to personal 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. Group therapy is also an integral component of direct service. Each intern will co-facilitate an ongoing general therapy group each semester, 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. Interns also have the opportunity to develop a psychoeducation group based upon their own professional interests. 

2. Crisis Intervention Services

As part of the unique training focus around crisis intervention, our interns have the opportunity to receive over 40 hours of crisis training through various training modules in addition to direct clinical service opportunities over the year. Our goal is to provide interns with the training and skills to handle a wide range of potential emergency situations that could arise for a University Counseling Center staff member, both in and out of the office (and at times in collaboration with other campus personnel).  While crisis services are typically provided during office hours, there are rare occasions when UCC staff and interns are called upon to respond to a campus emergency that occurs outside of normal office hours.

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. Interns will become actively involved in the Consultation and Outreach activities of the Center.

4. Supervision Opportunities

Interns will receive training to develop and enhance their skills in the area of clinical supervision. This includes having the opportunity to provide clinical supervision (individually and/or in small group format) to MSW trainees during the Winter semester. In addition during the months of May and June, the intern cohort will provide a 7-week program (35-hours) of clinical skills training and supervision to new MSW trainees. 

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. 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 staff members 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 psychiatric nurse practitioner. Weekly rotating seminars provide additional supervision rotating through the areas of assessment and DEIAB (diversity, equity, inclusion, accessibility, belonging). 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 seminars, 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 and receive additional supervision. 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 segment of a session. Other professional development meetings involve presentations on topics of professional interest.

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 Affairs. 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, group counseling, clinical procedures and documentation, and managing multiple roles).

2. Clinical Seminar/Group Leadership Supervision:

Clinical 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 and psychoeducational 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. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Seminar

This 2-hour, biweekly seminar is designed to encourage personal and professional development by increasing knowledge, awareness, and sensitivity in attending to cultural factors. It includes discussions, self-reflections, experiential exercises, presentations, and case consultations that examine the self, others, and context. Specific content is largely influenced by intern interests and curiosity. 

6. Assessment Seminar

This seminar focuses on clinical assessment and case conceptualization with particular emphasis on a therapeutic use of assessment. It covers a variety of assessment tools utilized for various diagnoses and therapy interventions.

7. Psychiatric Consultation Seminar

This seminar focuses on current information regarding psycho-pharmacological intervention and mutual treatment planning for clients and is facilitated by the Center's psychiatric nurse practitioner.

8. Program Evaluation/Research Seminar

This seminar provides interns the opportunity to participate in evaluation/research relevant to Center services. Interns will implement a project, present their findings, and prepare a written report for the Center. 

9. Supervision of Supervision

This seminar is facilitated by the Training Director and the Coordinator of Social Work Training and focuses on interns providing clinical supervision to Master of Social Work trainees.

NOTE: The program does not offer any distal learning options.

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 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). 

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.


Information about specific expectations, the evaluation process, due process and grievance procedures, and/or other administrative policies are contained in the Doctoral Internship Manual provided on the first day of internship. Specific questions or requests for a copy of the manual may be obtained by contacting the Training Director.

Weekly Time Allocation

Hours vary any given week and/or semester depending upon outreach activities, consultation, supervision, individual/group caseloads, and other intern commitments. The average is 40-41 hours/week. Below is an example for Fall and Winter semesters. 

Direct Service


Intakes/Urgent Care/Triage

6 hours

Individual Counseling/Psychotherapy

10-12 hours

Group Psychotherapy (process group and psychoed group)

2-3 hours

Liaison, Consultation & Outreach

1 hour

(Supervision  - Winter semester, one less intake)

(2) hours 



Coordination of an Administrative Area

  • Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
  • Peer Education
  • Alcohol and Other Drugs Services
  • Outreach / Liaison with Athletic Student Services

2-3 hours



Individual Supervision

2 hours

Clinical Seminar/Group Leadership Supervision (rotate e/o week)

1 hour 

Intern Seminar

1 hour

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Seminar (2 hours e/o week)

1 hour 

Rotating Supervision/Seminars (Assessment, Psychiatric - 1 hour each 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 semester)

1 hour 

Supervision of Supervision (Winter semester)

(1) hour

Professional/Administrative Activities


Office Time (case notes, etc.)

4 hours

Full Staff meetings, Division meetings (once a month)

0.75 hours

Summer (May/June) activities (fewer clients):

  • MA/MSW Training (35 hours)
  • Evaluation/Research Project


5 hours

3-4 hours

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

**Hours may vary any given week and/or semester depending upon outreach activities, consultation, supervision, and individual/group caseloads. 

Page last modified June 10, 2024