Prospective Trainees

Clinical Training

Internship positions are available in the Counseling Center and are open to students in doctoral programs who are preparing for a career in counseling.  Doctoral internship applicants must follow APPIC guidelines and timetables regarding the submission of their application materials.

The Counseling Center at Western Washington University is a unit of Counseling, Health, and Wellness Services, a department of the Division of Enrollment and Student Affairs and is accredited by the International Association of Counseling Services (IACS).  Counseling, Health, and Wellness Services is dedicated to promoting the mental and physical wellbeing of Western Washington University students.

Currently, the Center includes 10 full-time professionals and 4 doctoral interns, supplemented by 2 full-time support staff.  Staff members practice in a variety of counseling modes and represent a number of theoretical approaches to counseling and psychotherapy.  Case conferences, professional development programs, and consultation activities help each staff member share and expand their individual skills.

Facilities

The Student Counseling Center is located in Old Main with a space that has been customized to meet the needs of a university counseling center.  Professional and self-help libraries are a part of the space in the Counseling Center.  The Center also has a group/conference room.

Doctoral Internship

The doctoral internship program offered by the Student Counseling Center at Western Washington University is designed to provide supervised experience in individual and group counseling; consultation and outreach; intake assessment; and crisis services.

The internship is 2000 hours.  The purpose of the internship is to provide intensive experience in and supervision of the various activities practiced by a professional psychologist.  The Counseling Center is committed to the achievement of excellence in the internship experience it provides. Interns are encouraged to gain a broad exposure to the variety of professional activities and service delivery systems that exist in a contemporary college or university counseling setting.  The expectation is that interns will profit from the training experience in terms of professional and personal growth.  Opportunities exist to individualize aspects of the program so that special needs, skills, or areas of interest can be addressed or developed.  Upon completion of the program, it is hoped that interns will view the experience as a valuable capstone to their formal graduate training, and that they will be capable of assuming positions of responsibility in the field.

Objectives

The objectives of the doctoral internship program are:

  • To provide a high quality training experience for individuals who have progressed through doctoral studies in the field of psychology

  • To provide a training experience that will result in interns being eligible for licensure as psychologists

  • To provide interns with opportunities for the refinement of the basic skills necessary to practice as a professional psychologist and to expose interns to related areas of practice

  • To provide a training experience that is flexible enough to allow individuals to meet their personal and professional needs

Required Training Responsibilities

In compliance with Washington State law, interns are required to complete 500 hours (25%) of direct clinical service.  Interns will also receive a minimum of 2 hours of individual supervision per week, and a minimum of 2 hours of other learning activities.  Counseling Center interns are required to participate in the following activities:

Initial Assessment

The assessment and diagnosis of incoming clients is a central function of the Counseling Center.  The intake counselor is responsible for clarifying the presenting problem, assessing its severity, judging the need for timely interventions, and discussing with the client the treatment alternatives that are available. Prior to conducting initial assessments on their own, interns will have the opportunity to observe/conduct them with senior staff. Once trained, interns are responsible for a minimum of one hour of initial assessment duty per week.

Individual and Group Counseling

Direct counseling and psychotherapy is one of the major emphases of the internship program.  The internship experience is viewed as one of the best opportunities for the developing counselor to gain a broad range of experience with clients while receiving intensive supervision.  Interns will have experience with a number of different kinds of cases, requiring different interventions and lengths of treatment, and will designate approximately 60% of their hours for direct service activities in the Center.  Interns should expect to spend an average of 15 hours a week in direct, face-to-face client contact.  Interns should expect the average to be higher during times of peak demand in the traditional academic year. 

Group activities are considered to be preferred modes of treatment in many situations.  Interns will be encouraged to participate in at least one multiple-session group as a leader, co-leader, or process observer.  Group offerings vary each quarter, and interns are encouraged to meet with senior staff members early in the year to identify possible options.

Crisis Management

It is reasonable to assume that individuals who are involved in providing counseling services will have to develop skills in crisis intervention. Although the Center treats crisis management as a shared staff responsibility, interns are expected to be able to respond to the crises experienced by their own clients.  Assistance is available for the intern, or any staff member, in those instances where an emergency situation may require hospitalization or other atypical measures.  Once trained, interns are expected to participate in after-hours crisis coverage and response.

Clinical Supervision

Interns receive supervision in a number of different ways. Each intern will meet with a senior staff member for two hours a week to receive supervision of his/her individual counseling caseload and related activities. Interns may also work with senior staff members in a number of other areas such as outreach, group programs, consultation, etc., and will be supervised by the participating senior staff member for those activities.

Intern Seminar

Interns are scheduled for a weekly two-hour seminar. In the seminar, topics are ones which are determined to have particular relevance for WWU interns. Drug and alcohol assessment, specific applications of psychometric assessment instruments, neuropsychology, stress management, and working with eating disorders are a few examples of topics that may be addressed in the seminar.

Case Conferences

Interns participate in peer consultation group and medical consultation hours. Peer groups meet one hour per week to discuss cases presented by senior staff and interns. Interns also participate in the medical consultation hours with Health Center physicians. Interns are encouraged to present their cases at these meetings as appropriate.

Outreach and Consultation

The Counseling Center has an active consultation and outreach program serving the university community and campus organizations.  These consultations extend the skills and expertise of the staff to the larger community, broaden the Center’s contacts, increase the Center’s awareness of psychological needs, and contribute to the visibility of the Center.  Interns are encouraged to participate in on-going consultation and outreach efforts and/or to initiate new ones.  Outreach opportunities include training and facilitating developmental and educational activities on campus.

Evaluation Procedures

Twice a year, interns are given formal feedback about their professional skills and performance.  Interns will be evaluated on their professionalism - including their adherence to the relevant ethical and legal guidelines of the profession, as well as the policies and procedures of the Counseling Center. They will also be evaluated on the scope of activities in which they engage, and their counseling aptitude, behaviors, and skills.  The intern's clinical supervisor drafts the formal evaluation and discusses it with the intern prior to forwarding it to the Training Director.

As a part of evaluation process, group and individual supervisors may exchange information and/or perceptions about the progress of interns.  The Training Director forwards the final evaluations to the intern's academic department twice a year.  Evaluation and feedback are viewed as important aspects of the learning process which assist interns in maximizing their strengths, developing new competencies, and mastering the fundamental skills which will permit them to function in the multiple roles of a professional psychologist.

Stipend and Benefits

The pre-doctoral internship currently is funded at an annual stipend of $25,584, and, as a one-year exempt staff position, includes benefits offered to professional staff employees. Information about benefits is available online at: http://www.benefits.wwu.edu/

Accreditation and Membership

The Counseling Center is accredited by the International Association of Counseling Services (IACS).

The internship program is a member of the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers (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.

Qualification of Candidates

Candidates must be enrolled in a doctoral program in counseling, clinical psychology, or a closely related area. All of the formal coursework and comprehensive examinations for the doctorate should be completed.

Application Process

To apply, please complete the AAPI online, including graduate transcripts and three letters of recommendation (two of which should come from clinical supervisors or individuals who are familiar with your clinical work.) You will also need to register for the Intern Match.

Application information and deadlines can be found on the APPIC directory listing for the WWU Counseling Center. Applicants who advance past the initial screening will be invited to participate in telephone or Skype interviews.

Offers to candidates matched to the internship are contingent upon successful completion of the University’s required criminal background check.

Direct inquiries to:

Dr. Eric L. Denson
Coordinator of Clinical Training
Counseling Center, OM-540
Western Washington University
Bellingham, WA 98225-9052
360 650-3164