APA-Accredited Doctoral Internship in Health Service Psychology

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.  We received accreditation for seven years, with our next accreditation site visit to be held in the Fall of 2018.

The University

Founded in 1958, California State University, Northridge (CSUN), is one of 23 campuses in The California State University system.  Serving more than 42,000 students each year, CSUN is one of the largest universities in the United States. Money Magazine recently named CSUN one of the top ten values in all of higher education, and the Social Mobility Index ranked CSUN fifth in the nation for elevating its students' economic and social well-being. CSUN ranks 10th in the country in awarding bachelor's degrees to underrepresented 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. Situated on a 356-acre park-like setting in the heart of Los Angeles' San Fernando Valley, 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 designated as a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) and an Asian American, Native American, Pacific Islander Serving Institution (AANAPISI) and we value the diversity of all of our students and the campus community. CSUN is a welcoming university that champions accessibility, academic excellence and student success.

The Staff, Setting and Facilities

University Counseling Services (UCS) serves as the community mental health center for the more than 42,000 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, Afrocentric, Biopsychosocial, Client-Centered, ACT, CBT, DBT, Existential, Family Systems, Feminist, Humanistic, Integrative, Interpersonal, Mindfulness, Multicultural, Motivational Interviewing, Narrative, 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 workshops, RIO (Recognition, Insight, and Openness) Workshop Series, 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 RIO 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 also 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, and 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.  UCS’ hours of operation are from 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.  Interns are required to participate in various 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 in the UCLA-San Fernando Valley residency program); 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, and in a more formal manner 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 and reflect a professional atmosphere.

UCS has a spacious reception area for clients, two group rooms, a conference 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 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. 

Training Model

The primary educational model of the Doctoral Internship in Health Service Psychology at UCS is based on a Developmental-Practitioner Model of training.  The training program provides experiential psychological practices that are planned, sequential, and supervised, including assessment, intervention, outreach, consultation, training, and supervision.  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 build on the knowledge and skills they acquired during their doctoral training to obtain profession-wide and site-specific competencies, and prepare interns for the independent practice of Health Service Psychology.  Vital to the learning process are the committed training and supervisory staff who support and challenge interns in a developmental process of competency acquisition as they refine their practice as formed through both the processes of experiential practice and engagement of scholarly knowledge.  

The philosophy of the training program includes multiple components.  One component is that at 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, theoretical orientations, professional interests and specializations, and backgrounds.  This provides interns with a rich learning environment and opportunities for multidisciplinary interaction and collaboration.  Furthermore, training in a university environment affords interns a unique opportunity to learn and work within a campus community with individuals in other professions and professionals in the broader community. 

A second component of the philosophy of the training program 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, as well as crisis intervention and case management.  Interns also learn through supervised experience providing outreach and consultation to the campus community, as well as training and providing supervision to student peer educators.  Supervised professional practice by multiple supervisors provides interns with exposure to and experience with new preventive and intervention skills as well as opportunities to self-reflect and grow.

A third component of the philosophy of the training program is the importance of preparing interns to serve diverse communities.  Our internship adheres to the documents, “Preparing Professional Psychologists to Serve a Diverse Public:  A Core Requirement in Doctoral Education and Training” (http:www.apa/org/ed/ graduate/diversity-preparation.aspx?tab=1) and “Professional Psychologist Competencies to Serve a Diverse Public” (http:www.apa.org/ed/ graduate/diversity-preparation.aspx?tab=2), which were developed by the Education Directorate of the American Psychological Association (2013).  The training program strives to provide a learning environment that allows interns to develop multicultural competency.  Interns training in our center are expected to develop competencies to effectively serve diverse populations, including clients whose identity, beliefs, religious values, worldview, or cultural background, differ from and may even create personal conflict with those of the intern.  While we respect interns’ right to maintain their personal belief systems, the training of professional psychologists who can serve a diverse public necessitates both the trainees’ and trainers’ openness to learning, introspection, cognitive flexibility, and exploration of personal beliefs, attitudes, and values.   Multicultural competency seminars include topics of race/ethnicity and racism; class/socio-economic status and classism; gender and sexism; sexual identity and heterosexism; spirituality and religion and religious oppression; abilities and ableism; and age and ageism.  They also include population-specific training (e.g., Working with Chicana/Latino Students, Working with African-American Students, Providing Optimal Care for LGBTQ Students, Unique Issues in Working with People with Hearing Loss, Working with Asian-American Students, Engaging Men in Psychotherapy, etc.), and address historical experiences and clinical implications of oppression, differential privileges, identities, and access to resources.  Through training and supervision activities, interns have the opportunity to meaningfully explore their own multiple intersecting identities; awareness of their own personal and professional values, attitudes, and behavior; awareness and knowledge of the diverse clients they serve; and develop skills for assessment and intervention with diverse clients. 

A fourth component of the philosophy of the training program is the focus on training interns who will develop into competent health service psychologists who will be well-prepared to enter entry-level positions, whether 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.  In addition to clinical and multicultural competency, training and supervision activities are intended to provide interns with skills in general professionalism.  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 provides increased complexity and autonomy over the course of the internship, allowing interns to work more independently as their capabilities expand.

And, a last component of the philosophy of the training program 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 ongoing informal feedback and formal evaluation throughout the training year that is reciprocal in nature.  The training program expects interns to make developmental changes over the course of the training year.  The program provides informal and formal evaluations to assess interns’ varying developmental levels and to accommodate their changing needs over the course of the training year.  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 competencies for working in a university or college setting, the Doctoral Internship in Health Service Psychology at UCS aims to train emerging generalist health service psychologists with entry-level, culturally-competent, clinical and professional skills, and knowledge for effective and ethical practice, in a variety of health service psychology 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:

1. Research
2. Ethical and legal standards
3. Individual and cultural diversity
4. Professional values, attitudes, and behaviors
5. Communication and interpersonal skills
6. Assessment
7. Intervention
8. Supervision
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 and expectations, 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. 

Team Building

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, Multicultural Seminars, 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 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.

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.