Training Philosophy

The CAPS Doctoral Internship in Health Service Psychology is a full-time, 12-month internship based on the practitioner-scholar model. The training program provides a supportive learning environment that fosters the development of cultural and ethical considerations into all aspects of service delivery and professional development. The foundation of the training model is based on a program of supervised, sequential, and experiential psychological practices. Each intern is expected to develop strong clinical skills with clients from diverse cultural backgrounds and gain a secure sense of self as a culturally informed and ethical psychology professional who can practice in a variety of settings. The psychology 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.

Diversity: A foundational aspect of the CAPS training philosophy is the necessity to consider cultural and contextual factors in all of the ways that we interact with students and with each other.  The student population at Mason is diverse, and as such, we strive to ensure that our services acknowledge their lived experiences and address their needs as we seek to provide culturally relevant clinical services and outreach programs. We foster this goal through by using a contextual and multicultural clinical and prevention framework.  Interns and staff are encouraged to examine their own personal and professional context and intersecting identities as well as the context of clients they serve through ongoing learning and self-reflection.

Mentorship: Another aspect of our training model is mentorship. CAPS recognizes that interns are emerging psychologists who are transitioning from graduate students to professionals. At our center, interns are integrated fully into our team and are given increasing levels of autonomy that consider developmental levels 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 interns to interact with CAPS staff through mutually respectful relationships.

Supportive Environment: Though the center is fast-paced, we are a warm and cohesive group and hold a genuine respect for the interns who are part of our team. Self-care and self-reflection are regularly discussed. The use of clear, direct, and culturally informed informal and formal feedback is used to help interns work toward their professional goals and fulfill the expectations of the internship year. In turn, we utilize input from interns on a regular basis to make enhancements and modifications to the program. Our respect and support for interns is reflected in various opportunities associated with the training year, such as their participation in staff meetings and opportunities to advocate for their goals related to their internship year.

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 implement research-informed practice through their advocacy project, in which they use research to inform their consultation with a campus partner. Interns are also expected to integrate current research into their supervision of psychology externs, projects, outreach, and all 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 individuals whom 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” and “Professional Psychologist Competencies to Serve a Diverse Public“, which were developed by the Education Directorate of the American Psychological Association. The main goal of these documents is 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 integration of this value. While we respect the right of trainees to maintain their personal belief systems, we expect that trainees will work to develop competencies to work effectively and ethically with diverse populations regardless of their personal beliefs. If concerns arise, we will actively work with trainees to address them to ensure the culturally informed 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 culturally informed and ethical psychologist often involves exploration of those experiences that have shaped one’s worldview. In both individual and group supervision, counseling center staff seek to create a safe environment for trainees to engage willingly 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 trainees 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).

For additional information about the training program and the associated policies and procedures, we invite you to review the Training Manual associated with the current training year.

For the 2021-2022 training year and in response to the evolving COVID-19 pandemic, the counseling center will provide a hybrid model of clinical services, including both telemental health services. Full-time clinicians, including interns, will  have hybrid schedule of working from campus and telework unless an intern has a medical accommodation through Human Resources. Determinations about telesupervision and virtual didact will be made based on updated guidance from the Commission on Accreditation and the Virginia Board of Psychology as well as public health best practices. Interns will be provided with required technology and are asked to have a confidential location in Virginia in which they can provide services if teleworking. It is possible this set of procedures will shift during the training year in response to ongoing preparedness procedures.