Aim and Competencies
Our program will prepare Doctoral Interns in Clinical or Counseling Psychology to become entry-level Health Service Psychologists through participation in a yearlong, full-time training experience.
We will facilitate each Doctoral Intern's achievement of competency in the following areas: research, ethical and legal standards, individual and cultural diversity, professional values and attitudes, communication and interpersonal skills, assessment, intervention, supervision, and consultation and interprofessional/interdisciplinary skills.
We are delighted that you are interested in our Doctoral Internship in Health Service Psychology! We understand that making a decision about where you will spend your internship year is very important. With that in mind, we want to share with you as much information as possible to assist in making a choice that is best for you. We hope that you will find answers to any questions that you have about our internship training site in the links below.
Some notable features of our internship include the wide variety of training opportunities related to Counseling Center specialty work, a focus on multicultural competence and working relationally with clients, and a range of group therapy and supervision opportunities. Additionally, we offer a warm, supportive, collaborative, and fun working environment. Our staff is large enough to represent a diversity of styles and perspectives, but small enough to feel warm and personal. We hope that our interns experience the quality of our community as an optimal environment for growth and as a distinctive strength of our training program.
Another important feature of our center is our commitment to attracting a diverse group of staff and interns. As a center, we are committed to creating an environment that is both welcoming and affirming where everyone feels valued and celebrated. We engage in regular self-reflection in addition to challenging and supporting one another around issues of multicultural competence and cultural humility; this is something we expect of our interns as well. Everyone at the center is expected to adhere to our Values and Diversity Statement.
Again, thank you for your interest in our training program, and we wish you the best in your application process!
The Counseling Center staff is committed to creating a welcoming and affirming space where all members of the American University community are valued and celebrated. We strive to promote the educational success of students by supporting their intellectual, emotional, and social development through the provision of culturally aware clinical services, including: individual and group psychotherapy, outreach programming, consultation, and training opportunities. We are a multicultural and multi-theoretical staff who deeply value our global and diverse community. We take a stand against discrimination and oppression in any form. Since we recognize that not all diversity is universally valued, we feel a special obligation as a mental health agency to provide an inclusive and supportive environment for all our students.
The overview of program activities below provides a general sense of how an intern spends their hours during a given week. This schedule may fluctuate depending on the particular time of the academic year, with deviations most likely occurring during the summer and winter breaks. Interns are expected to complete a minimum of 500 face-to-face clinical hours during their internship year, comprising 25% of their 2000 total hours.
Interns carry an average caseload of 11-12 individual therapy clients per week. The center provides short-term (6-8 sessions) counseling.
Initial consultation assessments
Interns conduct at least three initial consultation (IC) assessments per week, with an increase in the number of IC appointments provided during the summer months and beginning of the academic year.
Urgent Care Drop-In Hours
Interns spend three hours per week conducting urgent care (triage) drop-in assessments with students who are presenting with urgent concerns. Additionally, interns participate in the rotation of the on-call phone to provide crisis consultation services under the supervision of an AUCC clinician.
Interns co-facilitate an insight-oriented interpersonal process group for the duration of the academic year with a staff clinician. They also have the opportunity to co-facilitate an additional group for at least one semester (please visit the Group Therapy section of our website for more information on group offerings).
Interns provide supervision for two different clinical trainees, one each semester, during the internship year. There is sometimes an opportunity to provide supervision to a third clinical trainee one semester.
Outreach and consultation
Interns spend approximately one hour per week, on average, providing outreach and/or consultation services to the AU community. Please visit the Outreach section of our website for more information about our outreach services.
Each week, interns receive two hours of individual supervision of their individual therapy clients, one hour of group supervision of individual psychotherapy, 30 minutes of individual supervision of group psychotherapy per group, and one hour of supervision of supervision (in dyads). In total, interns receive between four and a half and five hours of supervision per week.
Interns participate in ongoing seminars throughout the training year. They engage in the following weekly seminars: Cultural Competency, Outreach and Consultation, and the Training Director Meeting. Biweekly, interns participate in the following seminars: Clinical and Professional Issues, Group, and Staff Development. All seminars are one hour, with the exception of Staff Development, which lasts 90 minutes.
Administrative meetings and record keeping
Intern participate in a two-hour weekly case assignment meeting and a one-hour staff meeting. They are also dedicate approximately four hours of administration and case management time per week.
In total, interns are on-site for 42.5 hours per week, with 30 minutes each day allotted for lunch. Additionally, interns devote four hours of professional reading or research each week, either off-site or on-site. Such hours are included in the internship hour total for the year.
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. The clinician’s response to the client "in the room" can be an important vehicle for understanding and helping the client. As such, an integral aspect of supervision is the exploration of such issues. In accordance with the APA Ethics Code, Section 7.4, it is important for 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 discussed and 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, and 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.
The internship at the Counseling Center trains doctoral level clinical and counseling psychology students in accordance with a practitioner-scholar model. The internship is viewed as an opportunity for interns to integrate areas of knowledge acquired through formal academic training and apply this learning in an intensive clinical experience. Interns also build on their existing knowledge base with recommended readings and didactics particularly relevant to clinical work at our site. Interns participate in a variety of didactic seminars that are particularly intensive at the outset of the internship and continue throughout the year with an increasing focus on application to growing clinical responsibilities. Seminars draw on the rich and varied expertise of training staff at the Counseling Center as well as the larger training community in Washington, DC. Interns are encouraged to utilize critical thinking skills and hypothesis testing as they regularly review their clinical work in supervision and seminars.
A mentoring relationship is a key element of our training model. Mentoring includes both support and challenge in a training process that involves didactic, observational and experiential learning. Interns develop close working relationships with multiple staff members in seminars and supervision. They also have ample opportunity to work alongside staff members while co-facilitating groups, during Urgent Care Drop-In Hours, and working together in administrative meetings to address the practical functioning of the center. Thus, interns have regular opportunities to receive support in their practice of professional activities and to observe professional role models. Further, within the alliances of these varied mentorship relationships, training can be tailored to each intern's individual strengths and needs.
Our model incorporates a developmental approach toward integrating, refining and enhancing clinical skills and ethical understanding throughout the year. Developmentally, interns are expected to proceed from an intermediate level student clinician to an entry-level Health service Psychologist. To facilitate this growth, at the outset of the year interns and their supervisors assess existing skill levels and formulate goals together for the training year. These goals are reassessed periodically and interns engage in ongoing supervisory discussions to work toward steady progress on goals throughout the training year. Internship tasks are sequential and graded in complexity. For example, interns engage in an extended orientation during their first months of internship. During this period, they build caseloads gradually and spend proportionately much more time in didactic seminars. In varied presentations and discussions with staff, community scholars/practitioners and campus partners, interns have the opportunity to develop foundational skills before proceeding to more complex clinical situations and a larger caseload. With various responsibilities, such as Initial Consultations, urgent care assessments, screening clients for group therapy, and outreach, interns progress from utilizing higher degrees of supervisory support to practicing more independently. The professional tasks expected of trainees increase over time in intensity, frequency, duration, complexity, and difficulty. As interns become increasingly comfortable with their developing expertise and as they increase their knowledge about practice in a university setting, they engage in more independent consultation and collaboration with our community partners such as the Student Health Center and the Dean of Students.
Professional Identity Development
We view internship as a critical time for the development of professional identity and behavior and we strive to create an environment that fosters optimal professional and personal growth. Over the course of the internship year, the mentoring relationship progresses from that of a student-supervisor role to one of emerging colleagues. As part of a maturing professional identity, interns are expected to incorporate the attitude of openness and collaboration to a multiplicity of clinical problems/issues as well as professional interactions and relationships. The developing professional identity incorporates a sense of courtesy and respect for all working relationships and recognition of the work of all members in a community. This professional mindset also includes the attitude of openness to life-long learning and the continuous development of skills. The maturing professional is also expected to have an understanding of ethics that involves not only legal issues and professional boundaries, but also incorporates ethics as a "professional conscience" that considers the welfare of the clients as a primary consideration.
Several seminars are specifically devoted to professional development. In these seminars training staff address topics that are particularly relevant to early career psychologists, such as the licensure process and career choices after internship. Various seminars, including the Cultural Competency Seminar, Training Director meeting, and Professional Development Seminar, provide opportunities for interns to reflect on their professional growth and examine their own work together as interns. In addition to general professional development, the internship also provides opportunities for interns to learn about professional specialization in Higher Education Mental Health. Interns participate in the varied activities and roles of Counseling Center psychologists, such as Initial Consultation and urgent care assessments, outreach, crisis management, consultation with campus partners, time-limited individual therapy and process and theme oriented groups. Professional identity development within a Counseling Center setting is also addressed specifically in the Clinical Issues seminar, which is focused on a variety of clinical issues relevant to a Counseling Center population.
Cultural Competence and Diversity
A fundamental component of the training mission is to cultivate cultural competence. The student body at American University is culturally rich, including representation from over 146 countries and all 50 states. The university demonstrates a commitment to supporting a diverse student body with various student service programs, such as those for first generation college students, Pell eligible students, veterans and international students. Thus, in a range of roles and clinical responsibilities, each intern’s growth in cultural competence occurs experientially, in contact with a culturally heterogeneous university community.
Across training experiences, interns are encouraged to cultivate their awareness of culture as a critical variable in understanding the experiences of their clients. We aim to create a training environment that respects individual differences and that encourages dialogue regarding culture, privilege, social justice, diversity and identity. We share a belief that an understanding of self in terms of one's own history, background and identity is crucial in learning to understand, respect and honor the differences of others, whether clients or co-workers. Conversations about culture occur throughout the internship experience; additionally, interns participate in a 9-month seminar that focuses on cultural competence. This seminar provides a dedicated space and time for interns to learn and dialogue about issues of diversity and how to incorporate this knowledge into clinical work. In this seminar interns are also encouraged to explore various aspects of their identities and how this influences their clinical work.
Formal feedback will be provided to interns at the halfway point of internship and at the end of internship. Informal feedback will be provided throughout the semester, particularly during supervision. Interns are evaluated on the nine competencies laid out in the Standards of Accreditation for Health Service Psychologists.
At the end of internship, an intern’s performance is considered satisfactory (passing) if they have successfully completed 2000 total hours of work, with at least 25% of such hours consisting of direct clinical service. Additionally, interns must receive competency ratings of at least a Level 4 (1-5 scale) or higher on 80% of the nine competencies in order to successfully complete their training experience.
Date Program Tables were updated: August 1, 2017
Internship Program Admissions
The American University Counseling Center considers applicants from APA accredited doctoral programs in clinical and counseling psychology. Applicants must be in good standing with their department, have passed all comprehensive examinations by the application deadline, and have had their dissertation proposal approved by the start of internship. While previous college counseling center experience is preferred, any applicant with a strong interest in training in a university counseling center setting and working with university students will be considered.
Application Minimum Requirements
Total Direct Contact Intervention Hours: 450
Total Direct Contact Assessment Hours: No Minimum
Number of Years of Graduate Training Required: 3
Financial and Other Benefit Support for Upcoming Training Year
Annual Stipend/Salary for Full-time Interns: $30212
Annual Stipend/Salary for Half-time Interns: N/A
Program provides access to medical insurance for intern? Yes
Trainee contribution to cost required? Yes
Coverage of family member(s) available? Yes
Coverage of legally married partner available? Yes
Coverage of domestic partner available? Yes
Hours of annual Paid Personal Time Off (PTO and/or Vacation): 12
Hours of Annual Paid Sick Leave: 12
In the event of medical conditions and/or family needs that require extended leave, does the program allow reasonable unpaid leave to interns/residents in excess of personal time off and sick leave? Yes
Other Benefits: Dissertation release time, dental insurance, life insurance, professional development time, use of university facilities (e.g., parking, library)
Initial Post-Internship Positions
Total # of interns who were in the three cohorts: 12
Total # of interns who did not seek employment because they returned to their doctoral program/are completing doctoral degree: 0
|Community mental health center||1||1|
|Federally qualified health center||0||0|
|Independent primary care facility/clinic||0||0|
|University counseling center||4||0|
|Veterans Affairs medical center||1||0|
|Military health center||0||0|
|Academic health center||0||0|
|Other medical center or hospital||2||0|
|Community college or other teaching setting||0||0|
|Independent research institution||0||0|
|Independent practice setting||0||1|
|Not currently employed||2||0|
|Changed to another field||0||0|
Note: "PD" = Post-doctoral residency position; "EP" = Employed position.
To apply to the American University Counseling Center Doctoral Internship, please submit the following using the online AAPI:
1. Current APPIC application for psychology internship
2. Official transcripts of all graduate work
3. Current curriculum vitae
4. Three letters of recommendation (at least two from clinical supervisors)
**The match number for the American University Counseling Center is: 177811. Please see the National Matching Services website for more information.
Please submit all documents with the online AAPI. You may address your cover letter to:
Natalie Rusch, Ph.D.
Associate Director for Training
American University, MGC-214
4400 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington DC 20016-8150
(Please direct all inquiries regarding the status and completion of your application to Dr. Natalie Rusch, Associate Director for Training, at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Applications must be received electronically using the online AAPI by November 1st.
Selected applicants will be interviewed in mid-December and early January.
The AU Counseling Center Doctoral Internship is a member of APPIC. This internship site agrees to abide by the APPIC policy that no person at this training facility will solicit, accept or use any ranking-related information from any intern applicant.
The AU Counseling Center Doctoral Internship program is accredited by the American Psychological Association.
Information regarding APA accreditation guidelines can be obtained through the APA Commission on Accreditation:
c/o Office of Program Consultation and Accreditation
750 First Street, NE
Washington, DC 20002-4242
Thank you again for your interest in our program! We look forward to reviewing your application materials. For additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact me by email or phone (email is generally the easiest way to reach me).
Natalie Rusch, PhD
Associate Director for Training
American University Counseling Center
Mary Graydon Center 214
4400 Massachusetts Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20016
The American University Counseling Center Doctoral Internship is accredited by the American Psychological Association, whose Commission on Accreditation can be reached at 750 First Street NE, Washington, DC, 20002-4242, or by calling (202) 336-5979.