Training Philosophy

Internship is a time to continue the development of professional skills and to make the transition from graduate student to psychologist. The internship program offers training in a variety of areas related to the profession of psychology. We attempt to provide an atmosphere that is conducive to learning by providing interns with an appropriate blend of support and challenge. We see interns as emerging professionals and treat them accordingly, giving a great deal of autonomy and responsibility – consistent with the role of an apprentice. Our expectation is that Interns arrive ready to meet the challenges of the clients while working flexibly and adaptively to meet the level of competency consistent with their evolving developmental level. As intern’s matriculate through the program interns are expected to function more autonomously and will be charged with the responsibility to function with increased independence.  

The philosophy of Counseling and Psychiatry’s psychology internship program is a Developmental-Apprentice-Practitioner (DAP) Model.  The Counseling and Psychiatry’s internship program aims to builds upon the theoretical, empirical, and clinical foundations that interns receive from their respective academic psychology programs.  Specifically, we aim to 1) provide a training/practice environment that prides itself on the utilization of the medical home model of service-delivery program to the students of the University of South Carolina.  And  2) provides core training that attends to the development and utilization of evidence-based practice through research, encouraging ethical practice, grow in individual and cultural diversity competencies, practice professional attitudes, refine communication and interpersonal skills, improved diagnostic assessment and intervention skills, learn supervision theory and consultation and develop skills to work within an interdisciplinary team.  The aims of our training program go far beyond the ethical responsibility of providing a reasonable standard of care to our clientele to requiring interns to aspire to a high level of clinical service and professional expertise.

Throughout the different facets of our training program, we assess the level of skills—strengths and weaknesses—and make commensurate goals for each trainee.  We require all interns to participate in ongoing didactic, skills-based, and process-oriented seminars.  In addition, they must complete tasks that demonstrate their diagnostic assessment, therapy, and other professional skills.  Specific aims for professional development are addressed in individual supervision, group supervision, and professional peer relationships.  The possibility for interns to provide supervision to second year Educational Specialist (Ed.S.—a Master’s degree plus program) practicum student in the Marriage and Family Therapy track during the second semester of the training year provides another element of training that we hope to offer during this internship year.  The opportunity to work with therapists at an earlier developmental stage provides perspective and clarity of their professional abilities and further facilitates their participation in the different facets of our training program.

Apprentice roles and relationships become the vehicle to develop skills in a supportive environment.  Interns may be involved in co-therapy, co-leadership, and consultative relationships throughout their tenure here at the Counseling Center.  In addition, individual supervision focuses on management of the apprentice’s caseload so that each client receives supervisory attention.  These mechanisms help to calibrate your professional autonomy based on your skill attainment along with the complexity of the case. 

Clinical practice through direct face to face client contact is the medium for our apprentice’s to learn about the complexity of providing services.  We work with diverse students from different countries, sexual orientations, cultures, races, geographical regions, physical attributes, socio-economic groups, religions, and many other distinctions.  You will be challenged to respect and learn from their clients and to adapt their models and therapeutic techniques accordingly.  Your clients will be your best teachers and the guidance you receive from staff will serve to help you develop your best practice.

While there is a basic "core" program of training, interns are encouraged to tailor-make their training experience to meet their specific needs. If we can provide training in your area of interest or help you to cultivate that interest your individual supervisor will assist you in generating your requests. Interns have some opportunity to customize their training in terms of the types of clients that they work with, the types of community-based services and consultation projects that they undertake, and the types of groups that they run. For example it is a possibility to work specifically with an emphasis in group psychotherapy, eating disorders,  trauma, or obtain experience in providing after-hour crisis coverage during the spring and/or the summer semesters.

Evaluation and feedback are an important part of the training experience. Clinical supervisors, group supervisors, and members of the training staff evaluate and provide informal feedback in an ongoing manner across the year, and formally at the end of the fall and spring semesters). This feedback focuses on the development and progress of each trainee, with the focus always being on helping each trainee to identify areas of strength and areas for growth.  Interns, in turn, evaluate their clinical supervisors and the training program.

Interns are expected to fulfill the multiple roles of a university health service psychologist, which includes counseling services (individual, couples, and group therapy), diagnostic assessment, crisis intervention, referral, consultation, outreach workshops possibly, providing clinical supervision if applicable, participation in training seminars and professional development activities, and participation in administrative functions.  Interns are encouraged to present at regional and national conferences, to complete work on their dissertation research, and to pursue projects (e.g., writing for publication) for their professional development as psychologists