Because we are a Psy.D. Program, there are high expectations regarding practical training. Given that students must have a Master’s degree from a program where they provided counseling under the supervision of an appropriately credentialed professional, students are scheduled to begin their practica immediately upon starting the program and continuing at various sites until they leave for internship. The sections below provide some information about practicum and internship training.
Students typically will participate in three practicum placements that run across Fall, Spring, and Summer semesters, spending an average of 16 hours a week on-site (e.g., two full days; this does not include commuting time to and from the placement). Within these 16 hours, the goal is for students to have face-to-face contact with an average of 10 clients per week. Thus, the overall goal is for students to have approximately 2000 total practicum hours before leaving for internship, at least 1000 of which are client contact hours. This will maximize competitiveness for internship and may also help satisfy training hours required for licensure. In fact, the Virginia Board of Psychology has proposed changes to the regulations that will allow practicum hours to count toward licensure in certain circumstances and we have designed our practica to meet the requirements, which means that once these changes are implemented, then our students will be eligible for licensure upon graduation from the program and passing the national licensing exam.
We are still developing sites, but the following places have indicated a willingness to accept qualified Psy.D. students.
· Catawba Hospital
· Free Clinic of the New River Valley (Christiansburg and Giles County offices)
· Mental Health Association of the New River Valley (Blacksburg, Christiansburg, Pearisburg, and Pulaski offices)
· New Horizons (Roanoke)
· New River Valley Community Services
· Radford University Student Counseling Services
· Roanoke Rescue Mission
· Southwestern Virginia Mental Health Institute (Marion)
· Virginia Department of Corrections (Bland, Marion, and Pulaski facilities)
· Virginia Tech’s Cook Counseling Center
We have an arrangement with the Mental Health Association of the New River Valley to assign all of our first year students to their sites. The MHANRV sponsors a Pro Bono Counseling Program that provides free counseling to people who have no insurance and cannot afford to pay for mental health services. This collaboration demonstrates our commitment to assisting with the PBCP.
Incorporated within the overall practicum sequence are two “social justice practica” in which students will spend one day a week at a local agency where they will provide consultation and outreach on social justice related activities. This is one way that our program is attempting to integrate social justice into the program and provide additional services to our community. In the summer of 2010 four students did social justice practica, providing free services to the Virginia Wounded Warriors Program (developing material for a group designed to help veterans and their families after the veteran returns home), High Rocks for Girls in West Virginia (developing program evaluation material for a new component of their services), the RU Experiential Learning and Career Services (gathering material on potential volunteer sites that can be placed on the Center’s website to facilitate student volunteering), and Radford City Schools (developing a lunch delivery program for students who qualified for free lunches during the school year but who could not get to the school over the summer).
An 1800-2000 hour-long internship is required. We are aware of the issues associated with the internship imbalance and have included several components in the program to maximize the likelihood that our students will be placed in high-quality sites. For example, as discussed above, the practicum training sequence is designed to allow students to receive approximately 2000 total practicum hours, 1000 of which will be face-to-face contact with clients. The curriculum is also practice-heavy, with several assessment and applied courses. These efforts helped all three students who applied for internship for 2011-2012 “match” in the first round.
In addition, Psy.D. faculty have collaborated with the RU administration and Carilion Clinic, which runs the RU Student Counseling Services, along with with faculty from the Clinical Psychology Ph.D. Program at East Tennessee State University (ETSU) and administrators at Stone Mountain Health Services (http://www.stonemtn.org/) in far Southwest Virginia to develop the East Tennessee / Southwest Virginia Predoctoral Psychology internship Consortium. The Consortium has one slot for an RU student at Student Counseling Services as well as one slot for an ETSU student and one slot for an RU student at Stone Mountain. This year ETSU used its slot but RU didn’t need ours. ETSU did not need it either so we opened it up to other programs in VA and TN and other programs with a rural focus. Next year we will have another RU slot at Stone Mountain as well as the Student Counseling Services slot.
Stone Mountain is a Federally Qualified Health Center with several offices located in a very rural part of Virginia, near the Tennessee and Kentucky borders. Thus, the internship is set up for interns who have some experience and interest in working in an integrated care setting with a rural population. In terms of the placements, each of the interns will spend 6 months in the Pennington Gap clinic and 6 months in the St. Charles clinic.
· At Pennington Gap they will participate in a child and adolescent specialty clinic (under the supervision of Dr. Polaha from ETSU) in addition to the standard integrated care efforts.
· At St. Charles they will participate in:
o the black lung specialty clinic (which is one of the leading sites in the country; (http://www.stonemtn.org/blacklung/; http://www.webmd.com/lung/tc/black-lung-disease-topic-overview),
o a Suboxone clinic (http://www.suboxone.com/),
o and perhaps in telehealth (again with Dr. Polaha),
o in addition to the standard integrated care approach.
· At both sites there will likely be some opportunities for longer-term therapy but this is not the primary emphasis of the internship.
Stone Mountain is hiring psychologists specifically to function in integrated care capacities and to supervise interns, in addition to Dr. Polaha being there on Mondays to provide specialty supervision and Dr. Werth going over on Fridays (he is in charge of coordinating the training and group supervision efforts).
There are several other benefits associated with this internship position:
· Stone Mountain has made it clear that if the internship year goes well then they would likely offer jobs to the interns to help them continue to fill the need in their many clinics.
· Stone Mountain is an approved National Health Service Corps site so that interns can apply for loan repayment after one year of post-degree work (this wait time is a NHSC requirement, it does not depend on licensure).
· Another benefit of the internship consortium is that if the Governor signs the documents approving the changes to the Virginia Psychology regulations, interns will be able to count practicum hours that meet certain requirements toward the post-doctoral hour requirement and therefore could be eligible for licensure upon completion of the internship and passing the EPPP at an appropriate level.
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As we discuss in both the Accreditation page and the first section of the FAQs page, the Radford University Psy.D. Program is not yet accredited by the American Psychological Association. If you have questions about the accreditation process for doctoral programs in psychology, you can contact the APA via the following means:
750 First Street, NE
Last Updated 10/16/2012