Pre-doctoral Internship Program

APA-accredited full-time pre-doctoral internship program

The program at University Counseling Services (UCS) is accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA), and we are members of the Association of Psychology Post-Doctoral and Internship Centers (APPIC). Our program participates in the APPIC Match (program code number 212911) and follows all APPIC Match policies.

History of the Pre-Doctoral Internship in Psychology at UCS

University Counseling Services has been providing training for graduate students in psychology since the fall of 1968. The training program became California Psychology Internship Council (CAPIC)-approved in 2000 to provide a half-time, 24 hours per week pre-doctoral internship for graduate students in counseling and clinical psychology from doctoral granting institutions. In 2009, the training program received CAPIC approval to provide a full-time, 40 hours per week pre-doctoral internship and, shortly thereafter, gained APPIC membership beginning with the 2009-2010 pre-doctoral intern class. The training program has participated in the APPIC Match for the last three years, recruiting three full-time interns each year beginning with our 2010-2011 pre-doctoral intern class. 

Our program most recently went through the accreditation process required by the APA Commission on Accreditation. Our program was awarded APA-Accreditation, with the initial accreditation date of November 8, 2011. We received accreditation for seven years with our next accreditation site visit to be held in 2018.

The University

Founded in 1958, California State University, Northridge (CSUN) is a vibrant and global community located on a 356-acre park-like setting  in the heart of Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley.  Serving more than 38,000 students each year, CSUN is one of the nation’s largest single-campus universities.  CSUN encourages students to combine academic pursuits with hands-on experience. It also serves as the intellectual, economic and cultural heart of the Valley and beyond.  CSUN ranks 10th in the country in awarding bachelor's degrees to under-represented minority students, fifth nationally in awarding master's degrees to Hispanic students and enrolls the largest number of deaf and hard-of-hearing students of any U.S. state university. CSUN's 171 academic programs and engaged centers enjoy international recognition for excellence. CSUN currently partners with more than 100 institutions of higher education in 22 countries around the globe and attracts the largest international student population of any U.S. master's level institution. The campus features modern educational buildings and world-class LEED Gold-certified performing arts and recreational facilities recognized as among the best in the country. CSUN is a welcoming university that champions accessibility, academic excellence and student success.  Alumni include California Teachers of the Year as well as 2012's national Teacher of the Year, Grammy Award winners, public officials, nationally-recognized news-casters and a space shuttle astronaut. Their success reflects the hard work of CSUN students and the ongoing dedication of faculty and staff.

The Staff, Setting and Facilities

University Counseling Services (UCS) is a department within the Division of Student Affairs at California State University, Northridge. UCS serves as the community mental health center for the approximately 36,000 students at the university. The staff at UCS is multidisciplinary with psychologists, counselors, a social worker, psychiatrist, psychiatric residents, pre-doctoral psychology interns, graduate assistants and administrative support staff working in a team setting. For more specific information about our staff, please see the About Us section. Services offered at UCS include intake and clinical assessment, individual therapy, conjoint therapy, group therapy and workshops, psychiatric consultation, urgent care assistance, outreach and consultation.

UCS is an active participant in implementing CSUN's overall philosophy of being a learning-centered university. As such, our mission is to support student learning, development and success through the delivery of high quality psychological services, academic counseling, psychiatric services, outreach and consultation, and training. UCS provides services to a diverse and complex population of students, both residential and commuter. Students seeking our services present with a wide range of concerns, from normative developmental issues including transitional struggles, individuation, relationships, identity development and cultural adjustment to more serious or longstanding issues, including depression, anxiety, eating disorders, trauma and family history issues. UCS is the primary campus resource for short-term individual and group therapy for enrolled students. UCS is also an important campus resource providing quality psycho-educational outreach and prevention programming and consultation to students, faculty and staff. 

At UCS, interns function as professionals in training and are considered an integral part of our staff. Interns provide the same types of clinical and outreach services offered by our clinical staff including intake and clinical assessment, individual and conjoint therapy, group therapy and workshops, crisis intervention, outreach and consultation, and referrals. Short-term individual therapy and group therapy are the primary means of service delivery at UCS. As such, interns have significant training and experience working in short-term treatment models and group therapy. Interns also have the opportunity to work with two clients in longer-term individual therapy over the course of the training year. Interns are expected to participate in various consultation and outreach activities that UCS provides to the university community. 

The training program operates within the University Counseling Services at California State University, Northridge. All of UCS staff and faculty are housed in one location on the CSUN campus on the fifth floor of Bayramian Hall in suite 520. Interns have private offices they can personally decorate to reflect a professional atmosphere. Each intern office is equipped with a phone and voicemail, audio-tape equipment, a Webcam for digital recording system (Logitech), a computer and a printer. Interns have access to Point and Click, the scheduling program used by UCS, the university network system, the Internet and electronic mail privileges. UCS has a spacious reception area for clients, two group rooms, a conference and training room and a relaxation room that are utilized for meetings, training activities, group therapy and workshops. A large screen television is located in our conference and training room that is utilized for viewing digital recordings in weekly video group or group supervision and for PowerPoint and related videos and DVD's for professional seminars and training modules. UCS has a peer education office that provides workspace for the three peer education programs offered through the center and a professional resources library located in the relaxation room.

We have an open-door policy at UCS. The layout of UCS helps facilitate our open-door policy because all of our offices are located on the same floor. Interns are able to observe and interact with clinical staff for consultation as needed and in a more informal manner on a daily basis. Clinical staff members provide role modeling and support that aids interns in the development and integration of their professional and personal selves as they learn to balance multiple professional roles and demands.

Training Model

The pre-doctoral internship year is viewed as an opportunity for professional growth and integration. The primary goal of the internship at UCS is to provide an optimum learning environment that allows interns to develop the clinical and ethical competence, multicultural competence and professionalism necessary to transition from graduate psychology students into entry-level psychologists. Our internship subscribes to a developmental-practitioner model in which the intern’s education is viewed as a developmental process that occurs through the practice of professional psychology activities. Vital to this learning process are clinical staff members who promote intern education through observational and experiential learning opportunities, supervision and training, serving as role models and mentors and offering challenge, feedback and support.

We recognize that interns enter our training program with a foundation of clinical knowledge and skills from their academic programs and practical experiences, and they progress developmentally over the course of the training year. The training program provides interns with an opportunity to build on existing knowledge and strengths, develop and implement new clinical competencies, and utilize and expand these skills in varied and creative ways. Furthermore, training in a university environment affords the intern a unique opportunity to learn and work within a broader community. At UCS, interns collaborate within a multidisciplinary setting, which provides them with rich opportunities to learn from our clinical staff from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines, theoretical orientations, professional interests and specializations. It also provides interns the opportunity to develop the skills to work effectively within a team and to collaborate with other mental health professionals as a means to optimize client care.

Goals, Objectives and Competencies

The pre-doctoral internship in psychology at UCS expects interns to develop competencies by the end of the internship year as outlined in the following goals and objectives. 

Goal 1:

Interns will develop knowledge and the ability to apply psychological knowledge and skills in preparation for entry-level psychologist positions.

Objective A:
Interns will develop and demonstrate competence in clinical assessment.

Competency 1: Interns will develop and demonstrate competence in intake and clinical assessment, diagnostic and case conceptualization skills.

Objective B:
Interns will develop and demonstrate competence in individual intervention skills.

Competency 2: Interns will develop and demonstrate competence in individual therapy with an emphasis on short-term therapy.

Competency 3: Interns will develop and demonstrate competence in the provision of crisis intervention and management.

Objective C:
Interns will develop and demonstrate competence in the provision of group therapy.

Competency 4: Interns will develop and demonstrate competence in the provision of therapy process groups and structured psycho-educational groups.

Objective D:
Interns will develop and demonstrate knowledge of providing outreach, consultation, program evaluation and supervision.

Competency 5: Interns will demonstrate the ability to engage in effective consultation and program evaluation.

Competency 6: Interns will demonstrate the ability to develop and facilitate psycho-educational programs and/or presentations.

Competency 7: Interns will obtain knowledge of theories and methods of supervision.

Goal #2:

Interns will develop professionalism, including knowledge, skills, behavior and relationships, in preparation for entry-level psychologist positions.

Objective E:
Interns will demonstrate knowledge and practice of ethical and legal guidelines.

Competency 8: Interns will develop and demonstrate ethical decision-making and knowledge of and adherence to the laws and regulations in California.

Objective F:
Interns will develop and demonstrate multicultural competence.

Competency 9: Interns will develop and demonstrate multicultural competence in psychological knowledge and skills across all clinical competency areas and within interpersonal interactions.

Objective G:
Interns will demonstrate the ability to integrate scholarly inquiry into professional practice.

Competency 10: Interns will demonstrate the ability to integrate theory and science of psychology into their professional work and practice.

Objective H:
Interns will demonstrate appropriate and effective professional interpersonal relationships.

Competency 11: Interns will develop and maintain effective professional relationships and collaborations with clients, colleagues and members of the campus community.

Objective I:
Interns will demonstrate personal and professional self-awareness and reflection.

Competency 12: Interns will demonstrate the ability to engage in self-awareness and self-reflection that leads to accurate self-assessment.

Objective J:
Interns will engage in supervision and training experiences in a meaningful way.

Competency 13: Interns will demonstrate an openness to learning and feedback in training and supervision activities.

Objective K:
Interns will demonstrate integrity and accountability for professional activities.

Competency 14: Interns will fulfill professional expectations and responsibilities with honesty, personal responsibility and adherence to professional values.


Beginning an internship can be a stressful event for interns with transitions to a new environment and new roles. The UCS orientation has a number of distinctive features that address and help facilitate this transition. The orientation is a structured four-week program that begins when interns arrive at UCS at the beginning of August. Orientation is intended to provide interns with an extensive introduction to UCS and the university. Interns meet staff and faculty and begin to acclimate to a new environment and to develop relationships with the intern cohort and the staff. Interns are provided with a copy of the Pre-Doctoral Internship Training Manual to help acquaint them with their roles and responsibilities during the internship. Throughout orientation there is significant time dedicated to discussing issues related to the interns' transition into the internship, stressors they may anticipate and attention to self-care. Orientation provides an opportunity for the interns to interact, socialize and to begin developing meaningful relationships with one another and UCS staff that often serve as important sources of support throughout the training year.

Orientation includes a variety of team building exercises, meetings, trainings, tours, experiential multicultural seminars and social events. Meetings, trainings and tours provide interns with information about general policies and procedures, campus resources, relevant documents and forms and UCS technology. Orientation activities also familiarize interns with some of the realities of working in a university counseling center and within a large and complex educational institution and campus community.

The training seminars included in orientation serve as an introduction to the goals and objectives of our training program. Social events during orientation include a mini-welcome breakfast on the first day of internship, a welcoming event and lunch with the entire staff, lunch at an on-campus eatery and lunch off-campus with the Coordinator of Training.

During orientation, interns also participate in a supervision matching process, complete an initial self-assessment and set goals for the training year. The self-assessment is reviewed with the Coordinator of Training and used in conjunction with the interns' supervisors to identify initial intern training goals and modify them as the training year progresses.

Some of the activities during orientation include the following.

  • Tours of CSUN campus, Klotz Student Health Center, Career Center and Disability Resources and Education Services

Professional seminars:

  • Developmental Transitions and Stressors; Professionalism; Self-Care
  • Law and Ethics in a Campus Counseling Center
  • Intake and Clinical Assessment; Risk Assessment and Management
  • Time-Limited Therapy; Cognitive Treatment of Anxiety and Depression
  • Experiential Multicultural Training
  • Group Therapy
  • Outreach and Consultation
  • ExCEL (academic counseling)