Graduate Training Program: Externship
The Counseling Center
The American University
Externship Program Description
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The externship program is designed for doctoral students in psychology who are interested in developing their clinical skills and building their theoretical knowledge. The emphasis within the training program is primarily psychodynamic. The practical application of this knowledge is in the treatment of a university population.
The Counseling Center is American University's primary counseling facility. It offers services to a late adolescent and adult population. The Center is an ideal setting for externs to gain experience working with a wide variety of presenting concerns and broad range of diagnoses. The student population also offers the opportunity to work with clients from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds. The center is open 9:00am - 5:00pm Monday thru Friday. Evening hours (until 7:00pm) are available Mondays and Tuesdays while classes are in session during the Fall and Spring Semesters.
Schedule of Weekly Activities
The externship requires from 16-20 hours per week dependent on the extern's interests and the requirements of their program (this includes administrative responsibilities and supervision preparation). Externs are responsible for ensuring that their hours meet criteria for their respective programs. The following is an outline of weekly activities.
1. Individual Therapy (7 hours per week).
Clients are generally seen once a week. Sessions take place at the Counseling Center. Externs may need to work one evening a week to see clients. All sessions with clients are audio-taped. Externs are expected to provide their own equipment for audio-taping. Externs will carry 7 individual therapy clients at a time. In addition to providing individual therapy, externs will have the opportunity to serve as process observers in ongoing psychotherapy groups co-led by members of the staff and interns (note: as schedules permit).
2. Supervision on Individual Therapy Cases (2 hours per week). Each extern will have two clinical supervisors for individual therapy cases. Licensed psychologists will provide supervision.
3. Assessment (1-2 hour per week). Learning to assess the client and the client’s situation so as to help them make the most of their counseling is essential to the work at the Center. In order to provide training and supervised experience in this area, each extern will first observe intakes conducted by staff, and will later conduct independent intakes under the supervision of a licensed staff member.
4. Seminar (2 hours per week). Externs are required to attend the following seminar: Selected Topics & Clinical Application Seminar (Thursdays, 10:00am - 12:00pm). This seminar (conducted by staff members and visiting clinicians) focuses on a number of clinical areas in depth including: Psychodynamic theories (ego psychology, object relations, self psychology, and contemporary relational); application of theory; and other clinical topics (e.g., transference and countertransference, psychodynamic formulation, personality disorders, substance abuse, eating disorders, and sexual abuse). A reading list is provided.
5. Clinical Case Conference (1 hour per week) (Thursdays, 9:00am - 10:00am). Externs meet as a group with a staff consultant to present cases and to discuss particular problems or issues related to their work with clients. Externs will be expected to write up a brief psychodynamic formulation for the clients they will present at the case conference (due one week prior to conference).
6. Reading. Readings for the seminars are generally assigned in advance of class. The reading materials are provided by the Center.
7. Outreach. Each extern facilitates two outreach/consultation projects within the University community. Externs are encouraged to complete these in the fall semester.
8. Administrative Meeting (Thursdays, 12:00pm - 12:30pm). Externs meet with the Interim Externship Program Coordinator to facilitate understanding of center policies and procedures, provide feedback regarding their training experience, and discuss issues of professional development.
9. Evaluation and Feedback. Feedback on progress will be provided in individual supervision as well as more formally each semester. Externs are evaluated based on their ability to establish rapport with clients, integrate theory and practice, understand psychodynamics of clients and ability to use this understanding to help clients.
10. Professional Development. Throughout the training year, opportunities to discuss issues related to professional identity and professional development will also be made available to the externs.
The American University Counseling Center training programs view supervision as a means for trainees to learn how to assess and intervene with clients, and to recognize, understand and manage their personal reactions to those under their care. We believe that the therapist’s response to the client “in the room” can be an important vehicle for understanding and helping the client. As such, an integral part of supervision is exploration of such issues. In accordance with the APA ethics code, section 7.4, it is important for the trainees to be informed that they will be expected to explore and reflect upon their feelings and reactions to clients. In the process of this self-reflection, personal information about the trainee may be addressed. The staff believes that the decision as to how much or how little to share is a choice that needs to be made by the trainee. Supervision is never viewed as psychotherapy. Also in accordance with APA ethics code, section 7.5, it is important for trainees to be aware that the due process procedures for our training programs, indicate that the staff may require trainees to obtain psychotherapy in those cases in which a trainee is deemed impaired.
Application and Selection Procedures
Applicants must be enrolled in an accredited counseling or clinical psychology program for the doctoral degree program. Applicants should have completed at least one psychotherapy practicum/field placement. Applications must be received by Monday, February 25th. Applicants should allow one week mailing time unless using overnight mail. Submit application packet to: Dr. Jeanne Piette, Assistant Director for Training, The Counseling Center, MGC 214, The American University, 4400 Massachusetts Ave. N.W., Washington, DC 20016-8150. Application includes completed application form, completed Training Director form, curriculum vitae, official transcript and two letters of recommendation. Application materials must be submitted all together in one envelope. Transcripts and letters of recommendation should be signed across the seal.
Questions about the externship training program should be directed to Dr. Jeanne Piette, Assistant Director for Training - Contact information: Phone: (202) 885-3500 or E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Upon review of applications, interviews will be arranged with those applicants under consideration. Offers to applicants will be made according to Consortium guidelines when applicable.