The training curriculum of the pre-doctoral internship in psychology is designed to provide a planned, programmed sequence of training that is developmental in nature with increased challenge and complexity throughout the internship year. We begin the training year by providing information, structure, role modeling and observational learning before interns engage in experiential learning and assume more autonomy throughout the year. For example, interns participate in our intake training process, which allows them to transition from observing a professional role model, supervisor, or clinical staff member to being observed by their primary supervisors to autonomously conducting intakes.
University Counseling Services (UCS) attempts to foster an optimal learning environment that allows interns to develop clinical competencies congruent with the goals and objectives of the training program. Interns work closely with their supervisors and the Coordinator of Training throughout the internship year to develop a balanced clinical caseload (e.g., clinical interests, training needs, diversity) and a variety of experiences. Interns are exposed to and participate in the many functions and service delivery areas common to university counseling center settings. CSUN's diverse student population provides interns with the opportunity to work clinically with a wide variety of clients with diverse Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) diagnoses and the opportunity to engage them in other modalities (e.g., outreach, consultation).
The training program strives to provide a learning environment that allows interns to meaningfully explore both professional and personal issues like knowledge, values and self-awareness, which relate to their clinical functioning and professional development. We also strive to provide a learning environment that allows interns to thrive and prosper in building on their existing knowledge, solidifying strengths, taking risks, and developing and implementing new competencies. With support, challenge, role modeling and mentoring, we expect interns to grow into competent professional practitioners who will be well-prepared to practice within a university or college counseling center or generalize their skills to other practice settings.
There are informal and formal evaluations to assess interns' varying developmental levels and to accommodate their changing needs over the course of the training year.
Types of Service
Intake and clinical assessment
Intake and clinical assessment is generally the first appointment a student has with a clinical staff member or intern at UCS. UCS considers assessment and diagnosis of incoming clients to be a key part of the first stage of treatment with clients. During these appointments, interns meet with clients to develop an initial assessment that clarifies the presented problem(s), assesses the severity of the problem(s), and determines the need for timely interventions. Intake assessment is expected to lead to the development of a working DSM-IV-TR multi-axial diagnosis, discussion of disposition and treatment options with the client like determination of client appropriateness for short-term treatment model, group therapy, workshops, psychiatric referral and other referrals, and treatment planning. Interns are generally scheduled to provide three intakes per week after completing our intake training process at the beginning of the training year. Intake sessions are scheduled by appointment only.
Individual and conjoint therapy
Short-term therapy is the primary means of service delivery at UCS. Interns provide predominantly individual therapy to students within a short-term treatment model but may have the opportunity to work with a few couples in conjoint therapy. Based on the initial intake and clinical assessment, students may be eligible for up to eight individual or conjoint therapy sessions per academic year. Interns are expected to have approximately 13 to 15 client contact hours per week; however, they tend to carry a caseload of more than 20 active clients at a given time due to many clients being seen on a bi-weekly basis. Interns are required to follow UCS guidelines for short-term therapy. Interns also have the opportunity to work with two clients for more extensive long-term therapy.
Group therapy and workshops
Groups are another primary means of service at UCS. Interns work with UCS clinical staff members to provide many different types of therapy groups as well as psycho-educational workshops designed to improve students' personal growth, interpersonal relationships, learning and academic success. These groups include general therapy, structured and theme groups on a variety of topics. Examples of groups include graduate students, relationships, building self-esteem, Latina and Latino support, African American/Black student support, LGBTQ support, women's and men's support. Examples of psycho-educational group and workshop topics include anxiety management, relaxation, body esteem boot camp, overcoming procrastination, saying goodbye to shy, and career development. Interns are expected to participate as co-facilitators with a clinical staff member in one therapy group and one structured group during the fall and spring semesters.
Interns work with students in crisis in a variety of ways at UCS. These include crises presented during an initial intake and clinical assessment, crises with ongoing clients, or crises during walk-in emergency or triage sessions. Upon completion of our walk-in emergency or triage training process, interns provide walk-in emergency or triage assistance in which they respond to clinically urgent and/or complex client situations like suicidal or homicidal risk, trauma and acute psychotic decompensation. Rather than immediately providing this service at the start of the internship, this process allows interns the opportunity to obtain necessary knowledge and training, familiarize themselves with resources and adjust to their new professional roles, the counseling service, the university and the larger community. Supervisory backup and consultation is always available to interns as they engage in providing these services.
Outreach, consultation and program evaluation
Outreach is viewed as meeting multiple needs of our campus community, including providing prevention efforts, identifying students who may benefit from UCS services, de-stigmatizing counseling services and reaching underrepresented client populations. UCS offers a variety of educational presentations on academic, mental health, interpersonal and wellness topics, as well as general information about the services provided to students.
There are multiple ways interns become involved in outreach and consultation activities. Interns may identify diverse student groups (e.g., Latino and Latina African-American, LGBT or international students), particular campus departments or groups (e.g., Residential Life, athletic department or peer mentoring programs) or special areas of interest (e.g., health promotion, rape prevention or eating disorders) around which they want to develop consultative relationships and/or outreach programs. Interns are also made aware of ongoing departmental presentation or workshop requests from faculty, staff, student organizations, residence hall staff and members of the CSUN community.
Topics frequently requested by campus constituents include stress management, relaxation, academic stress, ExCEL, procrastination and presentations on UCS services. In addition to presentations and workshops, interns are often involved in passive programming for larger campus-wide events such as providing table displays, brochures and handouts, and interacting with students. Interns are required to provide a minimum of eight outreach programs over the course of the training year, two of which they must develop originally and implement. They are also required to develop an outreach and consultation project as well as a program evaluation project, both of which are outlined below.
Training Opportunities for Interns
The Professional Seminars (Pro-Sem) meet weekly for two hours and are organized by the Coordinator of Training. These seminars are didactic and provide lecture, discussion of professional literature and experiences, and experiential activities on a variety of topics. These seminars are primarily provided by in-house clinical staff, which gives the interns opportunities to have exposure to and interact with a variety of clinical staff members. Some outside professionals are invited to present on areas of their particular expertise.
The specific topics of the Pro-Sems are selected to provide training in the core component areas of our program, as well as topics relevant to working in a university counseling service, like issues of counter-transference, eating disorders, substance abuse, working with survivors of trauma and working with students with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Interns are required to present one Professional Seminar during the spring semester or summer session. This allows interns an opportunity to engage in scholarly inquiry on a topic relevant to services provided at UCS, develop and present an original professional seminar, and receive formal written feedback from clinical staff and colleagues.
Multicultural Competence Seminars
The Multicultural Competence Seminars are a specialty series of Professional Seminars offered through the internship year. These seminars are a six-part, 18-hour series of didactic and experiential trainings focused on developing multicultural counseling competencies. Lectures and interactive-experiential exercises are focused on increasing trainees' awareness of values and attitudes, skills for assessment and intervention and knowledge of multiple intersecting cultural identities. Topics include, but are not limited to, race, ethnicity and racism; class, socioeconomic status and classism; gender and sexism; sexual identity and heterosexism; spirituality, religion and religious oppression; abilities and ableism; and age and ageism. Overall, these seminars address the clinical implications of differential privileges and access to resources through an ecological perspective. Additional monthly Professional Seminars include a variety of topics on serving diverse populations and specific multicultural topics such as first generation college students, working with Latina and Latino students, deaf and hard-of-hearing students, African-Americans and mental health, working with LGBTQ students, engaging men in psychotherapy, and multiracial identities, among others.
The Training Modules are an additional weekly didactic activity for interns. The training modules consist of five rotating topics that are offered one hour per week.
- Clinical assessment and diagnosis
- Crisis intervention and management
- Short-term therapy
- Group therapy
- Outreach, consultation and program evaluation
Interns attend all professional development programs sponsored by UCS. Programs in recent years have included Law and Ethics for California Mental Health Professionals, Assessing Risk to Self or Others in University Students, Career Counseling, Deaf Culture, Working with LGBTQ Students and Group Therapy. Interns also attend events featuring Department of Student Affairs-invited speakers on campus and attend the Southern California Training Director and Intern Conference with the Coordinator of Training.
Intake and case disposition meeting
The intake and case disposition meeting is a weekly multidisciplinary meeting with the entire clinical staff during which interns and clinical staff members present intake cases needing to be assigned for treatment at UCS as well as present cases for consultation and/or referral, like crisis cases, ethical and legal concerns, multicultural and diversity considerations, treatment plans and disposition. The UCS staff psychiatrist attends this meeting, which provides interns opportunities for collaboration.
The case conference is a monthly meeting throughout the academic year with the full clinical staff. During this time, clinical staff members provide formal case presentations. Case conference is intended as a means of allowing interns to observe clinical staff members present formal cases; exposing interns to different styles of presentation, theoretical orientations, professional interests and specialization; and providing interns the opportunity for participation in interactive scholarly discussion on relevant clinical topics. During the month of February, case conferences are offered weekly, thereby giving each intern the opportunity to present one formal case presentation to the entire clinical staff. This provides an opportunity for interns to engage in scholarly inquiry, practice presenting clinical material in a clear and meaningful way and receive feedback in preparation for upcoming job interviews.
Summer outreach and consultation project
In the summer months, interns have the opportunity for more intensive outreach and consultation experiences with other university departments like Housing and Residential Life and Disability Resources and Education Services. At mid-year, interns propose a plan to the Coordinator of Training to develop an outreach and consultation project with another department on campus. Once their proposal is approved and they obtain a clinical staff member to serve as the supervisor for this project, interns develop the plan during the spring semester and implement it during the summer sessions.
Program evaluation project
Interns have the opportunity to develop a program evaluation project in consultation with the facilitator of the outreach, consultation and program evaluation training modules. Interns will engage stakeholders in the evaluation process and collect and analyze data at UCS as a means of evaluating program effectiveness.
Interns participate in weekly staff meetings, which address the administrative business of UCS.
Interns are provided with administrative time each week for client documentation, preparation for supervision, journaling, scholarly activities such as work on dissertation or doctoral project, work on outreach or consultation projects, review existing literature, prepare formal case presentations and prepare for the Professional Seminar. Preparation for supervision may include reviewing audio and/or digital recording of sessions, preparing questions, consultation and reading.
The training program considers the development of an interns' professionalism critical for the transition from graduate psychology student into an entry-level psychologist. Professionalism includes elements such as self-awareness, knowledge, integrity, accountability, responsibility, effective communication with clients and colleagues, and collegial and collaborative professional relationships. It also includes personal maturity and emotional stability, the ability to balance multiple professional roles and responsibilities, multicultural competency, competency for sound and ethical practice as a psychologist, as well as the integration of professional practice and scholarly inquiry.
We assist interns' in the development of their professionalism through role modeling, mentoring relationships, supervision, co-facilitation and co-presentation opportunities, and didactic, observational and experiential training. Interns are encouraged to engage in reflective practice and gain experience in self-assessment throughout the year. They are expected to demonstrate the ability to monitor internal states and behaviors, reflect on their strengths and areas of growth and attend to self-care. The structure of the training program encourages increasing levels of autonomy over the course of the internship, allowing interns to work more independently as their capabilities expand.
Quality supervision is considered a central component of the training program and we make every effort to match supervisors and interns as to interest, orientation and compatibility. Throughout the training year, the Coordinator of Training meets weekly with the supervisors to monitor interns' progress, address training issues and concerns, and discuss the supervisory process.
The training program attempts to foster a structure and process of supervision that provides interns with the context, security and reassurance necessary for self-examination and open presentation of their work, while also stimulating the acquisition of new understanding, techniques and perspectives. The general objectives of supervision are to present critical didactic and experiential opportunities for interns to learn and refine skills, become more confident in their role, ensure competency in the delivery of services and consolidate a stronger sense of professionalism.
Individual Clinical Supervision
Interns receive three hours per week of one-on-one individual clinical supervision. Supervision is intended to facilitate the professional and personal growth of interns, the development of competencies in the goals and objectives identified by the training program, and accurate self-assessment. Supervisors strive to provide a safe and trusting environment in which they provide support and challenge interns' "growth edges." Supervisors are expected to utilize audio and digital recordings to enhance their ability to evaluate intern skills and enhance the overall supervision process.
Interns receive two hours per week of individual supervision from their primary supervisor, who is a licensed psychologist in California. Interns and primary supervisors develop a written supervision agreement that establishes the expectations of the supervisor and supervisee, identifies goals, and addresses legal and ethical issues.
Interns also receive one hour per week of individual supervision from a secondary supervisor.
Supervision of group therapy
Supervision of groups is provided in weekly half-hour meetings with the intern's co-facilitators or clinical staff members. Interns are required to co-facilitate a minimum of one therapy process group and one structured psycho-educational group each semester. They generally co-facilitate groups with clinical staff members, but may also have the opportunity to lead a group independently or co-facilitate a group with another intern. If an intern leads a group independently or with another intern, the intern(s) will arrange weekly supervision with a designated clinical staff group supervisor.
Video-group group supervision
Interns participate in video-group group supervision for two hours per week. This supervision group is facilitated by the Coordinator of Training and offers an opportunity for interns to share their clinical work and view the work of others in a supportive atmosphere. On a weekly rotating basis, interns provide a written case presentation to the group in addition to providing 30 to 40 minutes of digital recording of their clinical work from one or more sessions. Video group is intended to provide a forum for interns to explore the process of psychotherapy, their roles as therapists, how they may use themselves more effectively, address any ethical or legal issues and offer feedback and peer supervision to one another. Video-group also provides time to discuss training issues and address transitional and developmental issues of the interns individually and as a group throughout the internship year.
Supervision of outreach, consultation and program evaluation
Interns are provided with various outreach, consultation and program evaluation opportunities throughout the training year. Interns must obtain approval from their supervisor(s) or the facilitator of the outreach, consultation and program evaluation training module before accepting an invitation to present and are required to obtain supervision for all outreach programs, consultation and program evaluation.
Evaluation of interns
The training program is responsible to informally and formally assess the progress of each intern throughout the year. The primary purpose of evaluation is to facilitate the professional and personal growth of interns and assess their competencies in the goals and objectives identified by our training program. During orientation, interns familiarize themselves with the Pre-Doctoral Internship Training Manual, which includes copies of the various evaluation forms.
Evaluation is intended to be a collaborative process with interns and supervisors completing evaluations of one another and providing feedback simultaneously. The feedback provided is intended to be timely, objective, constructive, comprehensive and ongoing. Evaluations include assessment of intern's strengths and demonstrated competencies, areas of further growth/ development, and areas of concern. Intern competencies are measured in multiple ways such as direct observation of their work, co-therapy with clinical staff, utilization of audio-tape and digital recordings, review of written reports and progress notes, formal case presentations, collaborative efforts in outreach and consultation, and collegial relationships.
The training program expects interns to make developmental changes over the course of the training year. We make every effort to provide supervision, didactic activities and an environment to promote this developmental change and growth, accompanied by appropriate support, guidance and challenge. UCS understands that, in any supervisory relationship, trust and safety have to be developed and nurtured over time. The cultivation of a safe and supportive environment makes the evaluative process meaningful and growth producing. Therefore, the inherent objective of the evaluative process is to provide ongoing feedback with regard to intern growth, development and affirmation of strengths.
The training program has identified expected levels of performance on written evaluations that are necessary to successfully complete the internship. At mid-year, if an intern obtains a mean rating of less than 3.0 (see rating scale below) on any section of the intern evaluation forms, evaluation forms will be completed by supervisors on a monthly basis. The ratings from both primary and secondary supervisors are used to determine whether the intern has met the identified minimum threshold for achievement. Specifically, interns must obtain a mean rating of 3.0 from both primary and secondary supervisors on allsections and competencies of the intern evaluation form. At year-end, in order for an intern to successfully complete the internship program, the intern must obtain a mean rating of greater than or equal to 3.0 on every section of the intern evaluation forms by both primary and secondary supervisors with no ratings of one.
Below, you’ll find information for the rating scale on written evaluations.
Five: Skills and competencies are assessed to be very developed and intern's performance is significantly above the expected level for an intern development level. This rating indicates that the intern is performing exceptionally, well above the level expected for an intern successfully completing the pre-doctoral internship. This includes skills and competencies that are far beyond what is normally seen at this level.
Four: Skills and competencies are assessed to be above average for an intern development level. This rating indicates that the intern is performing very well and is surpassing expectations. This includes skills and competencies beyond what is ordinarily seen at this level.
Three: Skills and competencies are assessed to be average or expected for an intern development level. This rating indicates that the intern is performing at the expected level of an intern who is meeting expectations. The intern is doing well and is on track in this area to successfully complete the pre-doctoral internship.
Two: Skills and competencies are assessed to be below average for an intern development level. This rating indicates that the intern is performing below the expected level. "Two" ratings identify areas in which an intern requires additional focus in training such as further work, focused supervision or additional supervision.
One: Skills and competencies are assessed to be significantly below average for an intern development level. This rating indicates that the intern is performing significantly below the expected level. Interns are likely to require formal remediation in this are to try to bring their skills and competencies up to an expected level.
Evaluations of interns include the following aspects.
- Intake evaluation
- Evaluation by supervisors (primary, secondary, supervisor of group, supervisor of outreach)
- Formal case presentation evaluation
- Professional Seminar evaluation
- Progress review meetings
Evaluation of the Training Program
The training program is committed to providing an optimal learning environment to promote interns' developmental changes and growth over the course of the training year. While we regularly and formally assess the progress of our interns, we also regularly and formally assess the components of, and the comprehensive nature of, our training program. We attempt to elicit information and feedback from interns that allows us to adequately assess our training program and ensure that we are providing the necessary opportunities to develop the clinical competency, multicultural competency and professionalism necessary to transition from graduate psychology students into entry-level psychologists.
Evaluations of the training program include the following evaluations.
- Evaluation of orientation
- Evaluation of supervisors (primary, secondary and supervisors of group)
- Evaluation of Professional Seminars
- Evaluation of training modules
- Evaluation of the pre-doctoral internship in psychology
- Evaluation of progress review meetings
- Exit Interview with the Coordinator of Training
- Post-internship surveys
Although the exact time spent in each category may vary, a sample schedule and a range of time committed to each area based on a 40-hour per week schedule is provided below.
Intake and clinical assessment
Individual and conjoint therapy
13 to 15 hours
2.5 to 3 hours
Walk-in emergency/triage session (spring semester)
Outreach and consultation (average per week)
20.5 to 23 hours
Supervision of group therapy
Supervision of outreach and consultation
Video group/group supervision
Professional Seminar series
Clinical assessment and diagnosis
Crisis intervention and management
Outreach, consultation, and program evaluation
Intake/case disposition meeting
Case conference (monthly)
10 – 12 hours
Documentation/Prep time/Scholarly activities
Stipend and Benefits
Currently, the stipend for this full-time, 12-month internship is $25,200. Interns are eligible for medical, dental, and vision benefits, and accrue vacation and sick leave benefits. Interns also receive university holidays and library privileges.
The pre-doctoral internship in psychology at UCS is a full-time (40 hours per week), 12-month internship, from August 1, 2016, to July 31, 2017. The total time is 2000 hours.