It doesn’t take years of analysis to understand why Pace’s Pre-doctoral Internship Program for aspiring psychologists is such a hit. The only one of its kind in the New York Metropolitan Area, the unique program exposes interns to the wide variety of functions a psychologist can perform, including individual and group psychotherapy and multicultural competency. Launched in 1984, it is accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA) and each year accepts only four interns from a pool of more than 150 applicants. This year, it received more applications than any other APA-accredited counseling center internship program in the United States and Canada.
Molly Grimes, PsyD, Assistant Director and Training Director for the Counseling Center, and a former intern in the program herself, explains why: “The interns have a really full training experience. They get a lot of really solid clinical training, meaning that they do what other staff members in the Counseling Center do: individual therapy, group therapy, outreach, and crisis intervention. At the same time they take on a series of training seminars on consultation and outreach, psychological testing, and multicultural competencies, as well as receiving many hours of individual supervision.”
That individualized attention is one of the real assets of the program, notes Grimes, who adds that the University is incredibly dedicated to the training process and able to offer many more training opportunities than fee-for-service sites, for example. Multicultural competency is another area of excellence for the Pace program. While all sites are required to examine multicultural issues, Pace focuses on this area in several specific ways. In addition to including multicultural issues in all six training seminars, one of those seminars focuses on multicultural competency. Interns also focus a great deal of their consultation and outreach work on issues specific to Pace’s diverse student body and are involved in grant-funded work at the Counseling Center regarding suicide prevention with students from culturally diverse backgrounds.
The program is a win-win for both the interns and the Pace counseling staff, who constantly strive to improve student wellness and provide the community with the best possible service. PsyD, PhD, and EdD candidates apply to the program from schools around the nation, many bringing with them at least three to five years of clinical experience already, as well as research backgrounds and understanding in unique fields.
“I’ve been surprised at how much expertise these students have, even prior to starting with us,” says Grimes. “Many come in with an advanced level of expertise in a particular area that we don’t have ourselves.” In fact one of the recent interns has already become a leader in the field of Filipino mental health, publishing two books since his time in the program and currently touring the United States.
The program is currently finishing its reaccreditation process with the APA (a process that occurs every few years) but with 25 years of accreditation under its belt, it has received great feedback to date. It is also getting ready to welcome its new group of interns, who start September 1. In addition to the pre-doctoral internships, the program offers an externship program for graduate students who have not yet completed their academic training as well as an Undergraduate Summer Internship Program open to students nationwide (also highly competitive) who are interested in pursuing a career or advanced degree in psychology. “This is a really unique program,” says Grimes. “To my knowledge, there is no other counseling center training program available to undergraduate students. They get training in clinical issues, assessment, and professional issues and help us with our outreach and research efforts.”
And outreach and education is what the program is all about: responding to the needs of the community, educating students about mental health and wellness issues, and destigmatizing the concept of counseling—as well as preparing the next generation of committed, caring, leaders in the field to do the same.
Click here to learn more about the program and other counseling center services.