On Creating Doctoral Internship

Division 49 Early Career Psychology Column July 2019

This article about doctoral internships was written for American Psychological Association Division 49 Early Career Psychology Column July 2019

I recall the last day of my doctoral internship — turning in my keys and saying goodbyes to everyone I’ve trained with for a year. There was a huge sense of accomplishment dampened only by knowing I would be living apart from my girlfriend for another year. It was a culmination of years of school, hard work and tears.

Fast-forward five years. I was a licensed psychologist promoted at my job to create, from scratch, an APA-accredited internship. It was an exciting but daunting task. There were hours of research and consultation involved. I was extremely concerned about missing a small but vital detail. The training directors’ community ended up being a wonderful group of professionals. I am grateful for all the help I received.

Forward, once again, to June 2019. My first internship cohort graduates in just two months. Three brave people took a chance with our internship when it did not have APPIC membership nor APA accreditation. There was tremendous pressure to make sure we received both. I would have felt I’d failed them if they did not graduate from an internship that was accredited by APA and had an APPIC membership. Thankfully, we received an APPIC membership around Thanksgiving and become accredited, on contingency, by APA in April. I am happy for all of the progress we have achieved. However, I am surprised by the bursts of sadness I have felt over the past couple of weeks. I was not sure what to make of it until I realized that I have begun working on 2019-20 internship cohort tasks.

It was surprising to me just how much I’ve invested in my first year doctoral internship cohort. There is a lot of emotional investment to make sure they are set up for success: APPIC membership, APA accreditation, attending a conference, making sure they are not overworked, making sure they are learning and having fun and making sure they are integrated within our counseling center. There were times that I certainly came up short as a training director, no doubt about that. I hope that I repaired what I could. Just like my first time facilitating a group psychotherapy, I will never forget my first intern cohort group. I will never forget them.