Psychology Internship Education & Training

As a major pediatric teaching facility for the Feinberg School of Medicine, the department invests considerable staff time and facilities in the training of students from several disciplines. Professions currently represented on the department staff of 80 people include psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, speech therapists, recreational therapists, nurses, clinical educators and milieu therapists. Active training programs draw students and trainees in pediatrics, psychiatry, psychology and social work for full-time placements.  Additional part-time or part-year placements are arranged for students in clinical education, speech therapy and recreational therapy.

At present, funding is available for three full-time, twelve-month internships in child psychology. Typically, two-four graduate students from Northwestern University’s clinical psychology department arrange for a practicum experience in testing and/or therapy in our department. A fully funded post-doctoral position is also available. Preference for filling this position is given to current interns. The internship is administered by the director of training with ongoing support and cooperation from the chief psychologist, other staff psychologists, the chair of the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and staff from all other participating disciplines in the department.

Seminars

Interns attend approximately seven hours of seminars per week although this time commitment varies at different times of the year. The seminar load is heaviest during the first two months of the internship when interns require more didactic learning to acquire the information necessary to be clinically effective as the year proceeds and clinical loads increase. The Neuropsychology Seminar meets for full-day workshops once a week in the summer, during which time interns are introduced to all the necessary assessment instruments. In the fall, this seminar continues for one and half hours per week to cover topics of interest in the field of pediatric neuropsychology.

The Pediatric Psychology Seminar also meets for a longer period of time during the first two months of the internship to introduce interns rapidly to hospital consultation and topics critical to care on the pediatric psychology and consultation/liaison service. In the fall, this seminar moves to one hour per week and it is completed at the end of February. The seminars under the rubric of Topics and Treatment in Child Psychiatry and Psychology meet 2-3 times per week throughout the year and include blocks of seminars in the areas of clinical assessment, community issues including schools, diversity and cultural competence, essentials of psychopathology, the psychotherapies, forensic and ethical issues, and trauma assessment and treatment. Family Therapy Seminar meets for one hour per week during the fall with didactic presentations on the family therapy model to be used in the seminar. Following the didactic period, the seminar meets weekly for one and half hours for taped and live supervision sessions.

Additional workshops are presented at the beginning of each training year to address the use of empirically supported treatments for specific presenting problems, most notably anxiety, depression and oppositional disorders. The workshops include training in semi-structured interview techniques and the use of manualized treatments.

Daily rounds during each of the major rotations — C/L Services, Inpatient, and Partial Hospitalization — provide additional case based didactic experiences as does a bi-weekly multi-disciplinary case conference. During these conferences, psychology interns, as well as staff and other trainees, present cases for discussion and consultation. Additional didactic experiences include Grand Rounds in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

Supervision

During the course of the year, interns are assigned two supervisors for their work in general outpatient services (one of whom is the director of training), and one supervisor for their testing service cases. In addition, all three interns meet together weekly for outpatient pediatric psychology supervision. Typically, interns receive at least one-hour of supervision for every two-three cases they see. Supervision for inpatient cases is provided by the medical director of the Inpatient Unit and supervision for Partial Hospitalization cases is provided by the clinical director of this service.  While participating on the Consultation-Liaison Service, interns are supervised on a rotating basis by all the pediatric psychology staff and the consultation-liaison psychiatrists. Thus, each intern receives a minimum of  five hours of supervision per week.  Although most of the supervision is done by psychologists, interns also receive supervision by members of other disciplines.

Video recording units, audio units and observation rooms are available in the department for use by interns and their supervisors. All interns are expected to videotape at least some of their therapy sessions during the year and are observed live in the family therapy seminar.

Mentoring

All interns meet together weekly with the director of training who provides support, mentorship and seminars on ethics, professional development and supervision. These meetings also provide an informal forum for addressing intern concerns and grievances.  The variety of ages, backgrounds, interests and approaches to balancing life and work among the hospital's psychology staff provides a broad range of role models and mentors for the interns.

Research & Program Development

The internship program in clinical psychology in the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry has a strong commitment to training students as scientist/practitioners. This is an ideal setting in  which to teach students how to integrate research and clinical practice. In addition to allowing access to a number of populations (e.g. medically ill children) who are otherwise difficult to study, this setting provides students with a unique opportunity to study the effectiveness of a variety of treatment approaches with children and families.

As the field of psychology moves increasingly towards accountability and the use of empirically supported treatments this becomes a critical component of training at the doctoral level. Once they have completed their dissertation work, all interns are encouraged to get involved in an ongoing research project in  the department. They are assigned a research mentor, based on their particular interest, to help guide them in this process. Interns are encouraged to spend approximately four hours per week working on their chosen research program development project.

Evaluation

Interns are formally evaluated three times per year by all of their supervisors. Following the completion of each major rotation, rotation supervisors and testing supervisors complete evaluation forms. All students' outpatient supervisors meet together to discuss their progress, view a videotaped therapy session, and complete an evaluation form. Students participate in the last fifteen minutes of this meeting to address any concerns they may have. This is also an opportunity for interns to make changes in their PEP plan, formulated at the beginning of the training year to individualize their programs. Additional, less formal, student evaluations take place at monthly staff meetings; students receive feedback about any concerns raised during these meetings in one-on-one meetings with the training director.  All evaluations, grievance and due process procedures are outlined in the intern handbook and distributed during orientation.  Twice a year, the training director also sends an evaluation letter to each intern’s Academic Director of Training.

Interns are also asked to evaluate their supervisors three times a year, all seminars and the overall program twice a year. Seminars are evaluated after the completion of each presentation.