Training Philosophy

The training program provides a supportive learning environment that fosters the development of multicultural competence and a deep grounding in ethical principles. Each intern is expected to develop strong clinical skills with clients from diverse cultural backgrounds and gain a secure sense of self as a competent and ethical psychology professional who can practice in a variety of settings.  The internship also provides an opportunity to interact with mental health practitioners from a number of disciplines (psychology, social work, counseling, and psychiatry) within a fast-paced center, at a large public university.  The foundation of the training model is based on a program of supervised, sequential, and experiential psychological practices while respecting and encouraging self-care and self-awareness.

Diversity: A major element of the CAPS training philosophy is the belief in the essential goodness of human diversity.  Many of our students are from underserved populations and CAPS is are dedicated to helping these students be successful in their personal and professional/academic lives.  We foster this through an emphasis on prevention of mental health concerns and retention of student, all while using a contextual and multi-cultural framework.  Interns and staff are encouraged to examine their personal and professional awareness of the rich multicultural diversity among themselves as well as the clients they serve.

Mentorship: Another aspect of our training model is mentorship. CAPS recognizes that trainees are future colleagues that are transitioning from student to professional. As a center, our interns are fully integrated into our team and are given increasing levels of autonomy, while considering developmental level in addition to specific needs for professional growth. Interns have many formal and informal opportunities to interact with CAPS staff.  We pride ourselves on our open door policy, encouraging psychology interns to interact with CAPS staff through mutually respectful relationships.

Supportive Environment: Though the center is a fast-paced, we are a warm and cohesive group and hold a genuine respect for our trainees.  Self-care and self-awareness are often encouraged.  The use of honest and sensitive informal and formal feedback is used to help psychology interns to reach their full potential. In turn we utilize input from interns on a regular basis to make improvements and modifications to the program. Our respect and support for interns is reflected in various opportunities available to allow for the development of a concentration focus through a specialization area project.

Integration of scholarly knowledge and practice:

Another cornerstone of the philosophical foundation of the psychology internship is a belief in the necessity of integrating theory, practice, and research in a supervised experience. Interns have the opportunity to expand existing skills and develop new therapeutic intervention skills while providing clinical services to clients. Interns are also expected to integrate current research into their supervision of trainees, projects, outreach, and professional and case presentations.

Statement on Service to a Diverse Public

As members of the Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) staff, we consistently strive to integrate our multicultural commitment into the everyday functioning and structure of our agency and training program. We have a great appreciation for the dignity and worth of each person we encounter. In our work, we acknowledge and celebrate the diversity of the students with whom we work. We also advocate a philosophy of acceptance, compassion, and support for those we serve and provide an emotionally safe and respectful environment for all clients. Thus we have adopted APA’s documents “Preparing Professional Psychologists to Serve a Diverse Public:  A Core Requirement in Doctoral Education and Training” (http://www.apa.org/ed/graduate/diversity-preparation.aspx?tab=1) and “Professional Psychologist Competencies to Serve a Diverse Public (http://www.apa.org/ed/graduate/diversity-preparation.aspx?tab=2),” which were developed by the Education Directorate of the American Psychological Association.  The main goal of these documents to assist training programs in addressing conflicts between trainees’ worldviews, beliefs, religious values and professional psychology’s commitment to offering culturally responsive psychological services to all members of the public, especially to those from traditionally marginalized groups. We take a developmental and supportive approach to the acquisition of this competency.  While we respect the right of trainees to maintain their personal belief systems, we expect that trainees will work to develop competencies to effectively and ethically work with diverse populations regardless of their personal beliefs. If concerns arise, we will actively work with trainees to address them to ensure the culturally competent care of the diverse student population at this university.

Statement on Trainee Self-Disclosure

Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) chooses to adhere to Standard 7.04 of the APA Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct (2002) by identifying our expectations of trainees with respect to self-disclosure of personal information during training. We do not require trainees to self-disclose specific personal information as a matter of course. However, our training model is one that values both personal and professional development. We believe that becoming a competent and ethical psychologist often involves exploration of those experiences that have shaped one’s worldview. In both individual and group supervision, Counseling Center staff seeks to create a safe environment for trainees to willingly engage in the process of self-examination in the service of their training and in the service of their clients. This process may involve trainee self-disclosure of personal information as it relates to the trainee’s clinical work and/or professional development. Thus, trainees at the Counseling Center can expect to engage in some degree of self-exploration in the context of safe supervisory relationships as a means of furthering their professional development. As noted in the Ethical Principles, we may require self-disclosure of personal information if the information is necessary to evaluate or obtain assistance for students whose personal problems could reasonably be judged to be preventing them from performing their training- or professionally related activities in a competent manner or posing a threat to the students or others (APA, 2002).

In Crisis?

Emergency Contacts

    CrisisLink
    703-527-4077
    National Suicide
    Prevention Lifeline
    800-273-8255
    GMU 24 hour Sexual Assault and Intimate Partner Violence Hotline
    703-380-1434
    Veterans' Crisis Hotline
    877-838-2838

Non-Emergency Contacts

    Counseling and Psychological Services
    703-993-2380
    Student Support
    703-993-3686
    Mason Police
    703-993-2810