Doctoral candidate John Burke reports on the history of the Derner Internship Consortium and its recent APA accreditation.
Five years after it was first proposed by Director of Practicum Training Dr. Jonathan Jackson and endorsed by the Derner faculty, the Derner Internship Consortium has solidified its place in the clinical psychology community, as well as providing a valued training opportunity to Derner students. At a time when stress over internship placement continues to run high among doctoral students, it is a success story for the Derner School of Psychology: the capstone to the process of establishing this program came in December of 2015 when the Derner Internship Consortium was granted a 7-year accreditation by the American Psychological Association (APA). According to Dr. Jackson, this APA accreditation is, “a professional seal of approval that says we have achieved the highest standard of training in our profession… and the 7-year accreditation is a reflection of the APA’s confidence that we have created a valuable, worthwhile and sustainable training opportunity for students.”
Completion of an APA-accredited internship is required for employment with the Veterans Administration and other Federal agencies, as well as a prerequisite for many postdoctoral fellowships.
In recent years, doctoral students have struggled against what the APA has termed an “imbalance” between the number of doctoral candidates seeking clinical psychology internships and the availability of APA-accredited internship positions. Due to this imbalance, a pattern of disappointment on internship match day was becoming problematic at Derner. “Every year with few exceptions, we would have one or another student who wouldn’t match, and it was a challenge for that student and disappointing for the cohort. It left an unhappy incomplete feeling among everybody, including me,” says Dr. Jackson.
Responding to this problem, in 2012 Dean Jacques Barber proposed to the faculty that a partially affiliated doctoral internship be created, using the consortium internship model. The faculty enthusiastically approved this proposal, and affiliate sites were recruited for the consortium. Along the way, an APA-sponsored stimulus grant, which was used to defray accreditation costs and support intern stipends in the first years, and indispensable mentorship provided through the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers (APPIC), helped launch the project, which grew through the persistent work of Dr. Jackson and the support of Derner faculty and administrators. The dedicated effort of the first few cohorts of Derner Consortium interns gave confidence to affiliate sites in the value of the project to their clients and to their respective clinics. These early efforts, along with interns’ post-internship outcomes (e.g., fellowships, licensure, and employment) were major factors in the ultimate achievement of APA accreditation.
Participating sites provide training and stipends to interns, who provide psychological services at these sites, as well as participating in cross-site training, all under the direction of Dr. Jackson. As a partially affiliated internship, application to the Derner Internship Consortium is restricted to Derner Students during Phase I of the internship application and match process. If internship positions remain unfilled after Phase I, then applicants from other doctoral programs can apply in Phase II of the two-part match process. Over a dozen Derner students have completed the internship since its inception, as well as students from Ferkauf, Long Island University, the Wright Institute and other programs.
The 2017-2018 Derner Internship Consortium cohort consists of six interns, placed at sites which include student counseling centers, an analytic institute, a community clinic, and substance abuse treatment centers. This diversity of sites gives students access to a range of training opportunities. Furthermore, Derner Consortium interns have had success in finding postdoctoral placements. “The Derner Consortium provides a needed opportunity to take some of the pressure off students seeking internships, and provides students with an alternative to inpatient training,” says Dr. Jackson, summing up the value of this program to the Derner community and highlighting that the efforts dedicated to establishing the consortium are now bearing the fruit envisioned when the project was first proposed five years ago.
Derner Alumni interested in supporting the Derner Internship Consortium can contact Dr. Jackson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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