APA-accredited full-time doctoral internship in Health Service Psychology
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 Doctoral Internship at UCS
University Counseling Services (UCS) has been providing training for graduate students in psychology since the Fall of 1968. The training program became CAPIC (California Psychology Internship Council)-Approved in 2000 to provide a half-time doctoral internship (24 hours per week) 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) doctoral internship and shortly, thereafter, gained APPIC membership (beginning with the 2009-2010 doctoral intern class).
The training program has participated in the APPIC Match, recruiting three (3) full-time interns each year beginning with our 2010-2011 doctoral intern class. Our program was awarded APA-Accreditation, with the initial accreditation date of November 8, 2011. Our program underwent a re-accreditation site visit in the Fall of 2018 and received APA re-accreditation for 10 years. Our next site visit will be in 2028.
American Psychological Association
Office of Program Consultation and Accreditation
750 First St, NE
Washington, DC 20002-4242
Founded in 1958, California State University, Northridge (CSUN), is located in the San Fernando Valley, a region in the greater Los Angeles area. CSUN is considered to be an urban campus. As one of the 23 campuses that make-up the California State University system, CSUN is one of the largest and most diverse universities in the nation, enrolling just under 40,000 students. CSUN is a liberal arts institution which also has a strong emphasis on science, technology, and innovation. CSUN has nine colleges and offers bachelor's degrees in 69 disciplines, master's degrees in 61 fields, and doctorates in educational leadership and physical therapy, as well as 14 credential programs. CSUN employs over 2,000 faculty members.
The client population served at CSUN's University Counseling Services (UCS) is made up of regularly enrolled CSUN students, representing many aspects of human diversity, including those pertaining to age, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, ability, and socioeconomic status. Approximately 51% of CSUN students identify as Latinx.
Worthy of not, CSUN has been officially designated as a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) and as well as an Asian American, Native American, Pacific Islander Serving Institution (AANAPISI). CSUN has the largest number of deaf and hard-of-hearing students of any U.S. state university and is home to the National Center on Deafness (NCOD). CSUN is an ability affirmative campus committed to creating accessible environment for all students and employees. Approximately 52% of CSUN's entering freshman identify as first-generation college students. Approximately 82% of CSUN's students receive financial aid. Though the exact numbers are unknown, a sizable number of CSUN student suffer "food insecurity." The campus offers food pantries to address this issue.
Finally it should be mentioned that CSUN puts a heavy emphasis on creating a sustainable campus community.
The Staff, Setting and Facilities
University Counseling Services (UCS) serves as the community mental health center for the approximately 39,000 students at California State University, Northridge (CSUN). UCS is a departmental unit within the Division of Student Affairs, under the jurisdiction of the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs. UCS is comprised of a team of multidisciplinary staff working in a team setting, including Psychologists, Social Workers, a Marriage and Family Counselor, Case Managers, Psychiatrists, Psychiatric Residents, (Doctoral) Psychology Interns, a Peer Programs Coordinator, Graduate Assistants, Administrative Support Staff, and student Peer Educators. Our counseling staff are diverse in their backgrounds and theoretical orientations (e.g., Adlerian, Biopsychosocial, Client-Centered, ACT, CBT, DBT, Existential, Family Systems, Feminist, Humanistic, Integrative, Interpersonal, Mindfulness, Multicultural, Motivational Interviewing, Psychodynamic, Relational, Solution-Focused, and Strength-Based), with most staff members being theoretically integrative.
UCS’ mission is to support student learning, development, and success, through the delivery of high quality services. Students seeking services at UCS present with a wide range of presenting concerns ranging from normative developmental issues (e.g., transitional struggles, academic challenges, relationships, identity development and cultural adjustment) to more serious or longstanding issues (e.g., depression, anxiety, substance abuse, eating disorders, relationship issues, trauma, and psychosis). Services offered at UCS include intake/clinical assessment, triage/urgent care services, short-term individual therapy, couples therapy, group therapy, and a three (3) session manualized, clinical workshop series (e.g. RIO: Recognition, Insight, and Openness Workshop Series, Anxiety Toolkit), psychiatric consultation, and case management. At UCS, interns function as professionals-in-training and are considered an integral part of our staff. They provide the same types of clinical, outreach, and consultative, services offered by our counseling staff at UCS. Short-term individual therapy, group therapy, and wellness workshops, 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 (2) clients in long-term individual therapy over the course of the training year.
UCS is an important campus resource providing prevention and wellness programs through psycho-educational presentations and consultation to students, faculty, and staff. UCS staff members provide presentations and workshops to various classes, departments, and groups. Our four (4) peer education programs (The Blues Project, JADE, Project DATE, and MenCare) provide prevention programming to classrooms, student clubs and organizations, and various campus communities (e.g., Residential Life, fraternities and sororities, etc.). Over the course of the year, our Peer Programs host various mental health days and weeks, such as Beat the Blues Week, the Semi-Colon Project, National Eating Disorders Week, Sexual Assault Awareness Week, and It’s On Us. Interns are required to participate in several of the outreach and consultation activities that UCS provides to the university community. They are also directly involved in our peer education programs, providing training to advanced peer educators as well as supervision of classroom presentations.
UCS provides quality training through a variety of programs for doctoral psychology interns, psychiatric residents, graduate student assistants, and student peer educators. These include the APA-Accredited Doctoral Psychology Internship in Health Service Psychology for doctoral psychology interns; the Psychiatry Residency Program (which provides a fourth-year rotation for psychiatric residents); Graduate Student Assistantships for CSUN graduate students in their 2nd year of a Master’s program in College Counseling and Student Services; and four student peer education programs (The BLUES Project , JADE, Project D.A.T.E., and MenCare).
The physical layout of UCS helps facilitate our training program’s open-door policy because all of our offices are housed in one location on the 5th floor of Bayramian Hall (Suite 520). Interns are each provided with an individual private office for their professional use during the training year. Interns are able to observe and interact with counseling staff for consultation, as needed on a daily basis. Counseling 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. In addition, intern offices are located together within a mutual hallway, which allows for easy interaction among the cohort. Intern offices are well-furnished with a desk, desktop computer, printer, chairs, side table, bookshelf, and white-noise machine. Each intern office is equipped with a phone and voicemail, audio-tape equipment, and a webcam (Logitech) for digital recording of clinical sessions. On their desktop computer, interns have access to the electronic scheduling and record-keeping program used by UCS (Point and Click), the university network system, the Internet, and electronic mail privileges. Interns have signs with their names on their individual office doors and general UCS business cards. Interns have mailboxes located in the same location as staff/faculty mailboxes and have access to various office machines (e.g., photocopier, fax, shredder, etc.) as well as office supplies. Interns are able to personally decorate their offices to make their work space comfortable while reflecting a professional atmosphere.
UCS has a reception area for clients, two group rooms, a conference room, and a relaxation room. These are utilized for meetings, training activities, group therapy, and workshops. A large screen television is located in our conference room that is utilized for viewing digital recordings in weekly video group/peer supervision and for PowerPoint and related videos/DVD’s for professional seminars and training modules. UCS has a peer education room that provides workspace for the four peer education programs offered through the center and a professional resources library located in the conference room. There are several storage/supply rooms that house Xerox and fax machines, mailboxes, supplies, and outreach/consultation materials.
Our Doctoral Internship in Health Service Psychology at UCS is based on a Developmental-Practitioner Model of Training. The Training Program provides supervised, planned, sequential, and experiential psychological practices including clinical assessment, intervention, outreach, and consultation, as well as supervision of peer educators. Supervision, training, and experiential learning are informed by scholarly material and research to support evidence-based practices. As part of our model of training, we strive to provide an optimum learning environment that allows interns to: 1) build on the knowledge and skills they acquired during their doctoral training, 2) obtain profession-wide competencies, and 3) prepare for the independent practice of Health Service Psychology. Vital to the learning processes are the committed training and supervisory staff who support and challenge interns in a developmental process geared towards competency acquisition. Supervisors guide interns to refine their professional skills through both experiential practice and engagement with scholarly knowledge.
Our Philosophy of Training includes multiple components 1) a multidisciplinary approach, 2) a focus on experiential learning (under supervision, 3) an emphasis on cultural competence, 4) an emphasis on competent service delivery, 5) a focus on professionalism (which includes ethical behavior), and 6) a mutual evaluation process.
The first component is based on our conviction that there is merit in utilizing a multidisciplinary approach to mental health service delivery. UCS interns are part of a multidisciplinary mental health staff housed within a university community. Interns have the benefit of engaging with staff from a variety of disciplines (psychology, psychiatry, social work, and counseling in higher education), theoretical orientations, professional interests, specializations, and backgrounds. This provides interns with opportunities for multidisciplinary interaction, collaboration, and a rich learning environment. Furthermore, training in a university environment affords interns a unique opportunity to learn and work within a broader community.
A second component of our Philosophy of Training is “learning by doing,” whereby supervised professional practice provides interns with critical didactic and experiential learning opportunities. Interns are able to learn and refine skills by integrating psychological science and practice as they engage in the provision of psychological services to clients, including clinical assessment, individual and group interventions, crisis intervention, and case management. Interns also learn through supervised experience in non-clinical areas such as outreach and consultation to the campus community, as well as the training and supervision they provide to student peer educators. Supervised professional practice by multiple supervisors exposes interns to different perspectives and approaches.
A third component of our Philosophy of Training is the importance of preparing interns to serve diverse communities. The Training Program strives to provide a learning environment that allows interns to develop individual and cultural diversity competency. Multicultural diversity is integrated into all training and supervision activities. Interns have the opportunity to meaningfully explore: their values, attitudes, and behavior, their own multiple intersecting identities, and their awareness and knowledge of the diverse clients they serve. Further, interns develop skills for assessment and intervention with diverse clients. Multicultural and diversity seminars include topics of race/ethnicity and racism; national origin and xenophobia, class/socioeconomic status and classism, gender and sexism, gender identity and transphobia, sexual identity and heterosexism; religion and religious oppression, ability and ableism; and age and ageism. Seminars also address historical experiences and clinical implications of oppression, differential privileges, identities, and access to resources. The focus on individual and cultural diversity also includes population-specific training (e.g., First Generation College Students, Chicana/Latino, African-American/Black, LGBTQIA, Hard-of-Hearing and Deaf, Asian-American, International, Men).
A fourth component of the Philosophy of Training is the focus on training interns to develop into competent health service psychologists who will be well-prepared to provide health care services, whether specifically in a university or college counseling center or in other mental health care settings. Throughout the internship year, interns have the opportunity to function in the multiple roles of a psychologist. Training and supervision activities are designed to fortify interns with culturally competent direct service skills, including campus-based outreach and clinical services.
A fifth component of our Philosophy of Training centers around professionalism. Our Program considers the development of an intern’s 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, emotional stability, and the ability to balance multiple professional roles and responsibilities. Interns are expected to demonstrate the ability to monitor internal states and behaviors, engage in reflective practices (including assessing strengths and areas of growth), and attend to self-care. Subsumed within the obligation of professionalism are the foundational pillars of sound ethical practice and the integration of professional practice with scholarly inquiry. We assist interns in the development of professionalism through didactic, observational, and experiential trainings. Our faculty provide role modeling via mentoring relationships, supervision, co-facilitation, co-presentations, and professional interactions. 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.
A final component of our Philosophy of Training is the essential role that a mutual evaluation process plays in facilitating the professional and personal growth of interns, as well as the ongoing growth of the Training Program. This underlies our Program’s commitment to reciprocal evaluations, both ongoing informal feedback and formal evaluations. The reciprocal nature of the evaluation process is important, because it allows interns to develop their evaluative skills, while also providing an avenue through which interns receive educative feedback. The Training Program expects interns to make developmental changes throughout the course of the training year, therefore our informal and formal evaluations assess interns’ varying developmental levels over time, thus allowing us to accommodate interns’ changing needs. Similar to informal feedback, formal evaluation is intended to be a collaborative process with interns and supervisors completing written evaluations of one another, and interns completing evaluations of the Training Program. Feedback provided by interns is utilized to make changes and improvements in the Training Program.
Program Aims & Profession-Wide Competencies
While our Training Program is designed to provide interns with opportunities to develop skills and competencies for working in a university or college setting, the Doctoral Internship in Health Service Psychology at UCS may be broadly applied. Indeed, the aim of our Program is to train interns to become culturally-competent, scientifically-minded, clinically and professionally skilled, and ethically sound entry level health service psychologists, enabling them to practice in a variety of settings.
Consistent with the American Psychological Association’s Standards of Accreditation for Health Service Psychology, our training program provides interns with training in nine (9) Profession-Wide Competencies:
2. Ethical and legal standards
3. Individual and cultural diversity
4. Professional values, attitudes, and behaviors
5. Communication and interpersonal skills
9. Consultation and interprofessional/interdisciplinary skills
In addition, our training program provides interns with training in an additional Site-Specific Competency:
10. Outreach and community consultation
The UCS orientation for interns is a structured four-week period at the outset of their training year. Orientation has a number of distinctive features that help interns transition into a new environment and new roles. It is intended to provide interns with an extensive introduction to UCS, the training program, and the University, as well as team building, didactic and experiential activities, and a supervision matching process:
Introduction to CSUN and UCS
Interns are provided with an introduction to the university at large as well as UCS. This is intended to 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. Activities (e.g., meetings, tours, etc.) are designed to inform interns of the missions and organizational structures of the university and of UCS. Interns are provided with knowledge of university departments and services as well as campus partnerships (e.g., Klotz Student Health Service, Disability Resources and Education Services, Pride Center, Veterans Resource Center, DREAM Center, Oasis Wellness Center, EOP, Residential Life/Housing, etc.). Within UCS, interns meet with the administrative leadership team and program coordinators (e.g., clinical services, groups, outreach, psychiatry, peer programs), which allows them to gain knowledge of various services, policies, and procedures.
Introduction to the Training Program
Interns have the opportunity to review the Internship Training Manual, as well as complete training contracts and supervision agreements. During orientation, interns complete an initial self-assessment and meet individually with the Coordinator of Training to discuss their internship goals.
Interns are provided with time to help acclimate them to a new environment and begin developing relationships. This includes a variety of team building activities within the intern cohort, opportunities for the cohort to meet with each of the UCS team members, and a beginning of the year event with the counseling center team.
Didactic and Experiential Activities
Seminars are offered during orientation to help interns adjust to the internship environment, introduce them to the diverse student population of CSUN (e.g., First Generation College Students, Chicana/o Students, etc.), and introductions to some of the competencies of the internship (e.g., Law & Ethics, Clinical and Risk Assessment, Outreach, etc.).
Supervision Matching Process
One of the most important activities of orientation is the supervision matching process. Interns participate in a round robin process through which they meet with all primary and adjunct supervisors one-on-one and have the opportunity to mutually rate one another. Every effort is made to match interns and supervisors as to orientation, interest, and compatibility. Further, interns meet potential group supervisors through our "Group Round Robin."
Throughout orientation there is time dedicated to discussing issues related to the interns’ transition into the internship, stressors they may anticipate/experience, and attention to self-care. It also provides an opportunity for the interns to begin to develop meaningful relationships with one another, and UCS staff, which often serve as important sources of support throughout the training year.