Internship Training for the PhD in Psychology
Intensive, practical experience in clinical psychology.
This section provides doctoral candidates with an introduction to procedures and requirements pertaining to internship training. 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 that trainees bring with them, and on skills acquired while progressing through the program. Through a sequence of graded and increasingly complex clinical training experiences beginning in the first year at the program’s training clinic, progressing through two or three externships, and ending with the internship, the program aims to equip trainees with the core competencies and skills deemed necessary for independent practice as a clinical psychologist.
A required and important part of this training regimen, the internship gives trainees exposure to a range of clinical problems, in different settings with a variety of assessment and therapeutic approaches, in a complex and intensive manner. During the internships, trainees are expected to learn to make theory-practice links and apply the knowledge learned in the course of academic teaching, and approach competency at the level that qualifies them for independent practice upon receiving the doctoral degree.
The internship is an exciting and challenging time in the development of a psychologist. This page will provide you with an overview of the internship application procedures. It will serve as a valuable introduction as you begin preparations. Beginning in the spring of the year before you apply, the director of field placements will introduce the application process to you and provide a timeline for making your way through the process from beginning to end. At anchor points along the way, the director is available to meet with you and provide you with updated supplemental information.
The program’s policy is that whenever possible, all students will complete APA accredited internships. In internship training year 2013-2014, the doctoral program began an affiliated Internship, the Derner Internship Consortium. The Internship attained APPIC membership in 2013 and APA accreditation in December 2015. Only Derner students are considered as applicants to the Derner Internship in Phase I of the Match; unfilled positions are open to qualified students from other APA-Accredited Doctoral Programs in Counseling, Clinical and School Psychology in Phase II of the Match and in the post-match vacancy period. For detailed information, please consult the Derner Institute Internship Consortium Handbook (PDF).
In the spring semester preceding the year that you apply to internship, you should evaluate your readiness with your adviser and with the director of field training. You will need to be in good academic standing, having satisfactorily completed all academic courses and practica. In addition, you will need to have completed your pre-dissertation research project and your dissertation proposal by September of the year you will be applying to internships.
Begin to consider what kinds of training opportunities you want to experience during your internship. Evaluate your preparation and appropriateness for the variety of internship training sites available. Give practical consideration to applying to sites outside of the New York metropolitan area, as this will increase your chances of being successful in the match.
Consult the APPIC Directory Online (DOL) and begin making a list of sites that interest you. Applicants can search for internship sites using the DOL based on specific criteria, such as geographical location, specialty areas, etc. Begin to explore the wealth of information found on internship programs’ websites that are linked to the DOL.
Visit the website, appic.org, and begin to familiarize yourself with the information available to you. Sign up for a free email service called Match-News. It will provide you with invaluable and timely news and information about the match from start to finish. You will also find useful questions and answers about completing the application.
Your personal priorities will affect the kind of sites to which you will apply. We strongly suggest applying to a minimum of 18 sites if you are applying only to sites in the NY Metropolitan area. APPIC prepares statistics that correlate to the number of applications students send out with their respective match rates. Sending more than 18 applications appears to offer no additional advantages. However, if you are also attempting to match outside of the NY Metro area, you should apply to a minimum of 10 additional sites.
We recommend consulting with the students who are just starting internship or have recently completed internships. They are a valuable resource for you, especially those who applied to sites you are considering. We will provide you with a record of where current students are placed and recently graduated students trained.
To register for the match, go to natmatch.com, follow instructions and pay a non-refundable fee in order to be assigned a Match ID Number. This ID number will follow your applications.
Writing a thorough curriculum vitae is an extremely important part of the internship application process. Your CV will give you the opportunity to display all of your experience including research work, publications, practicum training and other facts about yourself that internship sites would like to know. It also gives you a chance to highlight special skills or awards you have received, such as fellowships or grants, or special skills you may have in speaking foreign languages or in using particular statistical software programs. We will supply you with sample CVs to consult as models for developing your own. We also suggest that you ask your peers and faculty members for copies of their vitas to give you an idea about the options for format, content, style and length. For applying to internship, we recommend including the following sections in your CV:
- Education where you highlight bachelor’s work, master’s work and doctoral work. Include the topic (or title) of your dissertation research.
- Designate separate sections for “clinical experience” and “research experience.” In the clinical section, you should include practicum sites or employment that required clinical duties. Provide a description of your particular roles/duties at each site. In the research section, you should include the title and method of publication/presentation of your pre-dissertation research project, the title of dissertation proposal and date the proposal was accepted by your committee, grants, research projects you have conducted or worked on as a research assistant and any other research focused employment or experience.
- Include a section on presentations, including posters and papers presented at conferences. You may also want to include a different section on community presentations given (e.g., talking to a local parents group on child development, or presentations on stress management to elderly patients, etc.).
- Be sure to include in your CV any special awards, honors or grants that you have received thus far in your career. In addition, include memberships in professional organizations, such as APA or NYSPA.
- Be sure to include at the end of your CV the phone numbers and email addresses of individuals who will be writing your letters of recommendation. These may be faculty supervisors, practicum supervisors, clinical supervisors, professors etc. You should consider including faculty who will speak about your clinical and research skills.
- Be sure that it looks neat and professional. Do a spell check, and have friends look over your CV to ensure that you have not made any errors. Make sure your name and addresses (work and home), phone numbers and email addresses are presented clearly on your CV. Make it easy for the internship sites to contact you to tell you they would like for you to come for an interview.
The APPI is the standardized application for psychology internship used by nearly all internship programs participating in the match process. To apply for internship, an applicant typically submits the APPI, current CV, a cover letter and requested supplemental materials.
Most of the sections of the APPI are relatively straightforward and simply require thought and patience to complete. One of the more complex sections asks you to document the wide variety of doctoral practicum hours you have amassed. Among other things, this section requires applicants to report hours spent engaged in face-to-face patient contact and support activities. Since entering the program, we have required you to log in all of the assessment and therapy cases you have seen while on practicum, including supervision and support hours. Therefore, this should not be an arduous task.
The APPI has four required essay questions. They are:
- Provide an autobiographical statement. There is no “correct” format for this question. Answer this question as if someone had asked you “tell me something about yourself.” It is an opportunity for you to provide the internship site some information about yourself. It is entirely up to you to decide what information you wish to provide along with the format in which to represent it.
- Describe your theoretical orientation and how this influences your approach to case conceptualization and intervention. You may use de-identified case material to illustrate your points if you choose.
- Describe your experience and training in work with diverse populations. Your discussion should display explicitly the manner in which multicultural/diversity issues influence your clinical practice and case conceptualization.
- Describe your research experience and interests.
Typical requests for supplemental application materials include: a sample diagnostic testing report, adult and/or child; a psychotherapy case summary, an essay describing a memorable experience. The best essays are not only organized and well written, but are effective in helping the reader learn more than is evident from reading a CV, and gain a good sense of the applicant’s experience, goals and the reasons why he or she would be a good match for the internship site. The best essays are written and revised several times. Internship sites rely heavily on your essays to determine if they would like to interview you.
The cover letter is your opportunity to make a case for being a good match to a particular internship site, to create a favorable first impression and to distinguish yourself from other applicants. Consider writing about your internship goals, how these relate to your career goals, your strengths, your training needs (also known as areas for future development). Include information that demonstrates you have researched the internship site, including statements about what rotations you may be interested in, references to the training philosophy of the internship and how it may be consistent with yours. Mention supervisors/faculty at the internship site with whom you might like to work.
Always request letters of recommendation early, perhaps during the summer prior to applying to internship. Choose faculty who know you well, and who can speak about your abilities in more than one domain (e.g., research abilities, clinical abilities, etc.). It is usually a good idea to ask your faculty adviser, as well as other faculty who also know you well. You should also ask clinical supervisors to write you letters of recommendation. We recommend sending the exact number of recommendation letters that are requested by the internship site.
In mid-November, students begin to hear from internships sites requesting interviews.
Internship training directors are required to notify all applicants who submit a complete set of application materials as to their interview status, preferably by January 1.
If you have been offered an interview at a site and have applied to another site in that geographical area (and you haven’t heard from the other site) it is acceptable to call the other site to ask if they were planning to offer you an interview and, if so, to explain that you will be in the area on a specific date and would like an interview for that date. However, some repeat trips may be unavoidable. Make sure that your email account is working well and check your spam folder frequently.
We will provide interview coaching in the fall of the year in which you are applying. Some internship sites have unstructured interviews where they are using the time to get to know your interests and goals for training. Some will ask you to talk about a case you have worked on or your experiences in supervision. Some offer structured interviews where they ask all applicants to respond to clinical material, including video presentations of an intake assessment or psychotherapy session. You can do some background research on the people you may meet and examine their recent publications or areas of clinical interest.
The best strategy for ranking internship sites is to rank them based on your preference without considering how you believe the site will rank you. Before excluding a site from your ranking list, consider if you would you rather remain unmatched then attend that site. Remember that the same internship site can have multiple match numbers representing different programs. You will have an opportunity to review your rank order list to be sure that it has been properly entered at NMS. Your confidential personal identifier will be required to access this information online. Don’t wait until the last minute to submit your rankings.