Externship Training for the PhD in Clinical Psychology
Applying what you’ve learned at a clinical psychology placement.
Providing doctoral candidates with an introduction to procedures and requirements pertaining to clinical placements outside the program, also known as externships.
The doctoral program trains clinical psychologists who are competent to work with patients from diverse backgrounds across the lifespan, and with different presenting mental health problems and adjustments to life situations. This involves providing a broad academic, clinical and research training that builds on the strengths trainees bring with them, and on skills acquired while progressing through the program. Ultimately, the program aims to equip trainees with the core competencies and skills deemed necessary for practice as a clinical psychologist.
Externships are an essential part of this training regimen. Placements give trainees exposure to a range of clinical problems in different settings with a variety of assessment and therapeutic approaches and in an increasingly complex and intensive manner. During the placements, trainees are expected to learn to make theory-practice links and apply the knowledge learned in the course of academic teaching.
Requirements for Externship Training
Trainees are required to complete two external clinical placements.
The first externship is a beginning level training experience undertaken in the second year of training. It is typically a one-day per week hospital-based externship arranged for the student by the director of field training.
Students qualify for the first externship by gaining competency through clinical experience conducting intake interviews with prospective patients in the program’s on-site training clinic under supervision. In this way, the program prepares students for the first external placement, teaching them professional roles and assessing readiness in the year before the placement begins.
The goals of the first externship are met by immersing the student in an inpatient setting. This first experience carries a beginning level of patient responsibility consisting of informal observation of patients, co-leading therapy groups with staff, diagnostic testing and participating in staff meetings with professionals from other disciplines. Responsibility for individual cases may begin at the discretion of the supervising psychologist on site. Close supervision and evaluation of student progress is provided throughout the externship.
During the academic year, students are evaluated by their respective supervisors at the end of the first and second semesters. The director of field training is available to site supervisors to consult on student training issues as needed.
The second externship is an intermediate level training experience. It is a 16-to-20-hour per week experience, and students prepare to apply in December of the second year of training. At that time, students receive instruction in the application processes and procedures. This includes the selection of externship sites that are consistent with individual student and program training goals, preparing application materials, and attending interviews to which they may be invited. Details of application procedures are described to students and presented in writing. These procedures derive from a set of agreements between externship directors and program training directors indicating when students may begin applying, how they are to be notified of acceptances on match day, how to communicate acceptance of an offer, and how to manage multiple acceptances.
Students may elect to complete a third externship in their fourth year of training. This placement may address an area of special interest, where the student wishes more intensive training, or in infrequent circumstances, where a student has not attained minimal threshold for competencies and is, therefore, in need of additional training before applying to internship.
The New York Metropolitan area is rich in potential training sites. The large majority of these (approximately 150) are listed on the website, psychpracticum.apa.org. This website functions as a portal where students register and transmit externship applications. Entries include contact information, a description of the site, and application instructions. With approval of the Director of Field Training, students may attend externships that are not listed at psychpracticum.apa.org. Sources of information about unlisted externship sites include personal contacts, the web, program faculty, and other students. Guidelines for approval include access to relevant training experiences, appropriate supervision, and adherence to administrative policies and procedures of the doctoral program.
Ordinarily, students will not undertake externship training in their place of employment. If requesting to do so, approval of the Director of Placements is required, and exceptions to the program’s policy will be considered on an individual basis.
Students will enter training hours into their respective clinical logs, also known as “Tracking Hours.” These hours must be logged in real time to be verified by the Director. This is a continuation of the procedure students adopted in the first year when they conducted intake interviews in the program’s training clinic.
Legal contracts, known as Affiliation Agreements, between the University and all externship sites are executed for the protection of all parties. Accordingly and as required by training sites, the University maintains professional liability coverage for all students engaged in clinical training activities.