Training Philosophy, Aim and Setting

“Psychologists are recognized as Health Service Providers if they are duly trained and experienced in the delivery of preventive, assessment, diagnostic and therapeutic intervention services relative to the psychological and physical health of consumers based on: 1) having completed scientific and professional training resulting in a doctoral degree in psychology; 2) having completed an internship and supervised experience in health care settings; and 3) having been licensed as psychologists at the independent practice level” (APA,1996; APA, 2011).  The Student Counseling Service at Iowa State University adheres to the principles of the Health Service Psychology Education Collaborative (2013, August 5).

Student Counseling Service supports the educational mission of Iowa State University by helping students enhance their academic and personal well-being. We actively promote emotional and social development through preventive, remedial, and advocacy interventions. We believe that training future professional psychologists creates an essential vitality in our agency and enhances the quality of our service to clients. All staff participate enthusiastically and actively in training appropriate to our specialties and experience. Therefore, while providing excellent services to clients, we maintain a very strong commitment to training.

Our philosophy of training is grounded in the practitioner-scholar mode, emphasizing “learning by doing” while consulting empirical literature and conducting research in the clinical setting (Stoltenberg, Kashubeck-West, Biever, Patterson, & Welch, 2000). We offer an interactive process-oriented learning experience coupled with presentations of up-to-date research and theory. Interns practice and develop the multiple roles of a counseling center psychologist including individual, couples, and group therapy, training and supervision, assessment, research, and outreach/consultation. We are primarily preparing interns for practitioner careers in counseling centers and private practice, and secondarily for faculty positions.

Our aim is to prepare doctoral interns in clinical or counseling psychology to become entry-level Health Service Psychologists through participation in a year-long counseling center internship program.  This is done by providing training, learning opportunities, and feedback/evaluation with the goal of reaching competency in nine essential areas:

1. RESEARCH (Integration of Science and Practice)

2. ETHICAL AND LEGAL STANDARDS

3. INDIVIDUAL AND CULTURAL DIVERSITY

4. PROFESSIONAL VALUES AND ATTITUDES

5. COMMUNICATION AND INTERPERSONAL SKILLS

6. ASSESSMENT

7. INTERVENTION

8. SUPERVISION

9. CONSULTATION AND INTERPROFESSIONAL/INTERDISCIPLINARY SKILLS

The general staff orientation reflects the counseling psychology philosophy, which is characterized by a developmental perspective and proactive approach (Fretz & Simon, 1992). Likewise, with training, we offer a broad range of supervision and training experiences to fit the individual and shared developmental needs of the interns. To meet the shared needs of interns, group training experiences are sequential, cumulative, and graded in complexity. To meet the individual needs of interns, we grant interns considerable individual choice in determining their training priorities. We ask interns to indicate areas of known strengths as well as areas needing further refinement. Interns are then encouraged to make choices regarding their numerous training opportunities and responsibilities (for example: types of groups, outreaches, and choice of special emphasis areas). We tailor our training experience for each intern to develop a strong foundation for an emerging professional identity.

Woven throughout the training program is an appreciation for the diversity of all people. We continually examine our awareness of the rich diversity among ourselves and within the university community. Training and professional development opportunities help us explore how we react to racial, ethnic, gender, religious, sexual orientation, physical, age, and other differences. Our Diversity Statement reflects our commitment to diversity in its broadest sense.

We believe that the greatest growth is facilitated via reciprocal and ongoing feedback in a supportive climate. We expect interns to openly share their successes and challenges in their work with clients and on projects. Interns work together as a group, providing each other with supportive and challenging feedback. Staff members are also expected to share clinical and other work and be open to intern feedback. Clinical supervisors attend to many levels of the intern’s development – adjustment to the agency, clinical skills, career development, and “use of self” as an instrument of change. Supervisors consult with each other and the training director to relate insights into trainee needs to offer the right balance of support and challenge.

Staff members strive to provide a collegial atmosphere in which interns are offered many opportunities to provide leadership. Interns work collaboratively with staff members and campus agencies to provide a variety of counseling and consultative services. As the year progresses, interns may assume increasingly independent roles in service provision. Ultimately, we seek to facilitate skill acquisition and professional maturity resulting in persons capable of self-regulated, ethical, and sophisticated work as psychologists.