Dr. Jackson talks about the Derner Internship Consortium, a program for doctoral clinical psychology students.

By Michael Kestenbaum, Jonathan Jackson, Ph.D., and Jairo Fuertes, Ph.D.

This fall, four Derner students will begin their internships at various sites participating in the newly developed Derner Internship Consortium. We sat with Dr. Jackson to hear what led him to successfully implement the internship program for doctoral clinical psychology students.

During our discussion, Dr. Jackson elaborated on the many factors that contributed to the foundation of the Derner Internship Consortium. In particular, he spoke of the overarching problem with the matching process. “I’ve been overseeing the internship process for fourth year students for several years,” Dr. Jackson said. “And ever since I took it over, there’s been an imbalance, a national imbalance. There are more students applying for accredited spots than there are accredited spots. And every year…there would be a small number, sometimes none, but more typically a small number of students, who would not match.” This occurred despite the fact that the students not matching were strong academically and had had sufficient training to make them competitive for the match. Understandably, for some of these students, it was a major blow to their confidence, not to mention to their overall professional and personal plans. “It really affected the entire class, the morale of the whole class,” Dr. Jackson explained.

Dr. Jackson eventually learned about a potential solution to this problem in the form of an affiliated internship that a doctoral program could create. Although such a program could function exclusively for students of the particular doctoral program or could consider applicants from other programs, Dr. Jackson set out, at first, to operate the Internship Program for Derner students only. Basing his ideas on how other programs operated similar internships, Dr. Jackson saw an opportunity for such an internship to assist current students in obtaining high-quality internship experiences and to add to the distinction of the PhD program at Derner. According to Dr. Jackson “there was nothing stopping anybody with the resources and the will to create an internship” for a doctoral program. As Dr. Jackson said, “The wheel had been invented.” But how to copy the design of said wheel while also adjusting the designs for your particular needs? This is the question that Dr. Jackson slowly answered as he set out to build the Internship Program from scratch.

Two years ago, there was consensus among the administration and faculty that an in-house internship would enable current students to worry less about the 5th year while focusing more on the earlier training years, and that it might enhance the value of the program to prospective students. Dr. Jackson and the Derner administration viewed the internship as a unique addition to the doctoral program, as most other APA-approved PhD clinical psychology programs do not offer their own internships. However, though much more was needed to make it a reality, the all-important factor of will was present. “Since I proposed the internship,” Dr. Jackson stated, “the role of moving ahead and bringing it to reality was also mine.”

Early on, Dr. Jackson and other members of the Derner faculty met and spoke with individuals from different universities who had experience building internships within clinical psychology doctoral programs. In large part due to the consultation received from his colleagues at other universities, Dr. Jackson understood that he first needed partners, potential sites to join the Internship Consortium. As such, he approached several locations and pitched the idea. These particular locations were sites where Derner had a history of placing externs, where Dr. Jackson had established relationships with the supervisors and training directors, and where said trainers might be receptive to the idea of participating in an internship. Where he received positive responses, Dr. Jackson followed up with these locations by discussing with them the details of the internship.

The locations that agreed to participate in the Internship Consortium are: the Student Counseling Center at Adelphi University, the Village Institute for Psychotherapy in Manhattan, the William Alanson White Institute in Manhattan, and the Employee Assistance Program in the Corporate Office of North Shore Long Island Jewish Hospital. Each location has had experience with Derner students working there in some capacity. Just as important, each site, in particular the White Institute, was interested in affiliating with Derner’s Internship Consortium because of their ambitions to keep doctoral training relevant and to encourage more analytic ways of working with patients. ” I did anticipate a receptiveness on the other end,” Dr Jackson exclaimed, “and that was very much the case.”

Three of the participating sites agreed to take two part-time interns, which equates to three full-time interns among the three locations. Additionally, the Employee Assistance Program accepted a trainee who had previously trained there as an extern. Placement at the sites will be half-time. As such, interns will accrue a total of 2,000 hours by the end of their respective training years. Each site will require that interns treat patients in a variety of modalities: individual, group, couple, etc. Individual supervision by a licensed clinical psychologist, group supervision, case conferences, and didactic training will also be offered at every site. In addition, interns will attend weekly didactic/case conference meetings at Derner throughout the year, taught by Derner faculty in their respective areas of expertise, including, for example, trauma, short-term therapy, group therapy, diversity, etc.

During the process of building the Internship Consortium, Dr. Jackson was able to apply for an APA-sponsored stimulus grant that was specifically designed to assist start-up internships and encourage existing internship programs to undertake the costly and time-consuming steps of applying for APPIC membership and APA accreditation. The grant provides support over a two-year period for start-up costs. By gaining this grant of slightly over $20,000, Dr. Jackson has been able to apply the funds to accreditation costs and student stipends. For example, students will receive a stipend of $3,000 from the grant, in addition to the $20,000 that the internship sites will provide. He also said that the grant has heightened the confidence levels in the internship from Derner administration and the respective training training affiliates. “When you’re applying for a grant, you have to be clear about your goals and your ability to reach them,” Dr. Jackson said. “It’s in consideration of your articulated goals and your ability to assemble the needed resources that you are awarded the grant.”

Once the foundation had been laid, it was then time to initiate the matching process for those Derner students who had applied to the Internship Consortium. As with many aspects of the internship process, Dr. Jackson had to learn how to receive applications through the Training Director online portal. Of the 22 students applying for internship this year, 11 applied for the Derner Internship Consortium, and approximately half were granted interviews. Through the mechanism of the National Match, four students matched with the Derner Internship.

There were barriers and difficulties that were hurdled and overcome in order to attain the successful beginning to the Internship Consortium at Derner. As Dr. Jackson expressed, “There [were] a lot of little bumps that I tripped over along the way. Everything that I tripped over I have learned from. A lot of unforeseen problems, but we’re charting the course.” For example, Dr. Jackson stated how he was initially unfamiliar with the matching process from the vantage point of an Internship Training Director. Specifically, he had to determine how many applicants to rank for the Match and how to distribute those who matched to different training sites according to their unique experience and competencies.

Although Dr. Jackson was very much “on his own” for much of the work involved in setting up the Internship Program, he had the encouragement of his colleagues at Derner and a key resource in the form of the APPIC Mentorship Program. Through this program, he was in contact with Dr. Gayle Norbury, who currently directs the Mid-Atlantic Internship Consortium and acted as his APPIC mentor throughout the internship-building process. Dr. Jackson cited this program, and Dr. Norbury specifically, as vital to understanding what the necessary steps were in establishing the program and how to proceed with each and every step.

Dr. Jackson has continued to implement new strategies to further improve the quality of the Derner Internship. For example, he is currently preparing an application to obtain APPIC membership, which will grant the program permanent access to the National Match. Two years from now, Dr. Jackson expects to begin application for APA accreditation once outcome data are available for those who worked as interns in the program. In addition, Dr. Jackson wishes to reach out to other locations to add to the current roster of internship training sites, and to eventually add five more intern spots with said locations. Specifically, Dr. Jackson would like to add a hospital as well as smaller clinics and centers. Dr. Jackson emphasized that he is looking for independent entities with their own staff and their own approaches to treatment and commitment to training.

Dr. Jackson emphasized how the willingness of each site to participate in the Internship demonstrates their dedication to training and their fundamental drive to establish connections with those contributing to the mental health field. The model of independence, good practice, and ambition that these locations embody sets a positive example for students who may be inspired to establish themselves according to such a model. “I think of the Internship as emerging, taking shape.” Dr. Jackson affirmed. “That’s the tenor. That’s the flavor that I’d like for it to assume. The important thing this year was to get it started. And we did.” Although the Internship will certainly grow, Dr. Jackson does not predict that it will replace the current general internship matching process. “I don’t foresee the Derner Internship replacing fully the internship training opportunities that students now seek,” Dr. Jackson stated. “I see it as being complementary to it, an alternative for students who want to consider it.”

Hopefully, the success of the Derner Internship Consortium will demonstrate what is required in the current doctoral training climate and assist graduate students as they prepare to enter the professional world.

CONGRATULATIONS! Derner students matched at the following sites for the upcoming 2013-2014 year:
Albert Einstein Early Learning Center Lincoln Medical Center
Bellevue Hospital Center Lindner Center for Autism & Developmental Disabilities
Beth Israel Medical Center Manhattan Psychiatric Center
Brooklyn College Counseling Center Massachusetts General Hospital
Columbia University Medical Center MercyFirst—Abuse Treatment
Derner Institute Consortium New Jersey VA Medical!Center
Jacobi Medical Center North Central Bronx Hospital
Kings County Hospital Center Northport VA Medical Center
Lenox Hill Hospital UMass Amherst Counseling Center
Published Spring 2013 in Day Residue the Derner Institute Doctoral Student Newsletter

For further information, please contact:

Todd Wilson
Strategic Communications Director 
p – 516.237.8634
e – twilson@adelphi.edu

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