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The Training Model and Underlying Values

"Come to the edge," he said
They said "We are afraid"
"Come to the edge," he said
They came
He pushed them and they flew
-Guillaume Appollinaire

Overview
The basis of the training program is a practitioner developmental/mentoring model that has as its overarching goal the training of competent professional practitioners. In essence, we focus on the developmental process and transitions of interns as they move from students to emerging practitioners to independent practitioners. Within a system that provides both support and challenge, interns are encouraged and supported in dealing effectively with these developmental transitions from the time of acceptance into the program to graduation. At the same time, interns are challenged to "come to the edge", invited to expand their repertoire of skills and areas of expertise while at the same time becoming more grounded and solidified in their basic competencies. As a means of achieving this end, the training director and the staff provide interns with the necessary supervision and mentoring to meet their personal goals and the goals of the training program.

Interns receive mentoring in their personal and professional development from the training director, clinical supervisors and major focus area supervisors.  These staff work with interns in building the scaffolding that provides the support for their development while challenging them to stand independently without the scaffolding and "fly". This model allows interns to work side by side with staff and learn through collaboration, modeling and apprenticing. Interns work gradually at their own developmental pace, assuming more and more independent responsibility and then eventually working independently. At all times, the program supports interns in exploring both the personal and professional issues that emerge for them in this process. Interns are helped in becoming mature, practitioners who can implement their own vision of their professional identity.

Diversity
The Counseling Center is sensitive to and committed to the value of diversity and the richness of human differences. Our service and training mission requires that people of all backgrounds be able to use the Center's resources with the expectation of respectful, non-prejudicial treatment and service. In particular, the center recognizes that stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination based on gender, gender identity, ethnicity, race, culture, sexual orientation, age, religious beliefs, socioeconomic class and differing abilities have affected counseling, training and programming practices in the mental health field. Thus, the Center's policies and procedures, as well as its activities, associations, and interactions with the campus community, reflect and promote the dignity and worth of the individual and the value and strength of diversity in the community. As a Center staff we are committed to addressing issues of prejudice, discrimination and oppression and the impact of those issues on the lives of the people we serve and train. There is a focus on social justice issues on the campus and beyond that also enters into intern training. The Center is considered a "safe" environment on the campus and we expect staff and trainees to contribute to and be affirmative in support of that safety.

Interns and staff in the Center are expected to be committed to the social values of respect for diversity, inclusion, and equity. Further, interns and staff are expected to be committed to critical thinking and the process of self-examination so that prejudices or biases (and the assumptions on which they are based) may be evaluated in the light of available scientific data, standards of the profession, and traditions of cooperation and mutual respect. Thus, interns and staff are expected to demonstrate a genuine desire to examine one's own attitudes, assumptions, behaviors, and values and to learn to work effectively within a diverse context. We expect to engage interns in a manner inclusive and respectful of their multiple cultural identities. We expect interns to examine their own biases and prejudices in the course of their interactions. Interns are expected to engage in appropriate self-disclosure and introspection. This can include discussions about personal life experiences, attitudes, beliefs, opinions, feelings, and personal histories. Assuming no one is free from biases and prejudices, interns will remain open to appropriate challenges from trainers to their held biases and prejudices. Trainers are also expected to be committed to lifelong learning relative to multicultural competence. We expect the same from staff trainers as we do from interns.

Developmental Model
Our focus on intern development includes attention to three areas: (1) professional growth through the development of skills and competencies; (2) the development of a major focus area(s); and (3) a focus on personal and professional growth.

Professional learning begins with the skills that are brought to our internship setting. These skills and competencies are addressed through self assessments sent to incoming interns. This self assessment procedure begins the process of interns reflecting on their own experiences and development and provides staff with incoming interns' assessments of their skills, training, supervision experiences, multicultural and diversity experiences and competencies. Beginning interns arrive at our Center at a point in development where some of their skills are well developed and others need work. Interns, generally, can be expected to demonstrate most skills at an intermediate level. Some skills need little supervision while others, due to a lack of experience, training, less confidence and less developed professional judgment need more. Some aspects of competency not only require more experience, but also continued conceptual, intrapersonal and interpersonal development. Interns are therefore encouraged from the time of acceptance in the program through graduation to carefully consider their own level of development. They are asked, in conferences with the training director and supervisors, to set goals for themselves based on their development and their vision, to build on the skills they bring and to acquire advanced skills that are essential to the attainment of their professional goals. These goals are reviewed periodically throughout the internship year and are revised or refined as the intern progresses in their development. Interns' goals are accomplished through experiential and didactic learning processes, sometimes in combination and sometimes separately. Supervision and mentoring serve to assist interns in meeting and reflecting on their goals and their developmental process.

As a part of their professional development interns are also encouraged to choose an area of major clinical/therapeutic focus that they would like to develop or extend for themselves throughout each semester or for the internship year. Interns are provided supervisors in those areas that assist them in the development of this expertise. Graduated experiences are provided to interns in their major focus area as they work closely with their supervisor(s). It is our intention that interns be able to leave the internship year with at least one area of major emphasis.

As a part of intern development, personal growth is emphasized and encouraged along with professional growth. The program encourages and provides opportunity for personal growth both attitudinally and structurally. Interns are encouraged to meet with one another regularly to focus on their personal, interpersonal and professional development and for discussing their personal and professional concerns and resolving any interpersonal issues. 

Mentoring Model
As a mentoring program, our staff is knowledgeable authorities in their areas of expertise as well as competent general practitioners. The staff models solid grounding and expertise in the general practice of psychology while also demonstrating creativity and a commitment to team work. There is also a commitment to mentoring and developing new professionals and a dedication and willingness to invest emotionally and professionally in and to commit time to the personal development of interns. The staff also demonstrates an awareness of the impact of diversity issues in their work. In addition to regularly scheduled training, interns have informal access to the different kinds of expertise each staff member possesses. There is an open door to interns at all times. Staff also provide direct feedback to interns that supports their strengths and challenges their developmental edges, collaborate with interns on projects and have interns apprentice with them in their areas of expertise.  Staff also provide evaluations of interns that are used to enhance intern growth and development and provide supervisors with information about areas of needed focus for the intern. This helps supervisors and the Training Director assist interns in modifying, changing or developing skills or behaviors necessary for their professional development. Evaluations also assist staff in guiding interns in their personal and professional growth and in exploring issues that have an impact on their developing professional identity.

Learning to be a professional psychologist is a complex process that requires the guided development of skills and competencies through support and challenge. It also requires the development of a solid professional identity that comes through modeling, self reflection and the caring guidance and involvement of sensitive and skilled professionals who are committed to the growth and development of their trainees.

Values Underlying the Model

  1. There is a process of reciprocal teaching/learning in the training of interns where the intern acquires the skills and competencies necessary to become supervisors and mentors of other trainees. Both interns and staff have roles as learners and teachers. 
  2. There is the belief that different theoretical approaches contribute to the processes which lead to the development of integrated and effective treatment, effective developmental/preventive programming, consultation and effective training methods.
  3. "Interns-as-learners" and "staff-as-teachers" are terms that describe the early stages of the training process. Interns proceed through a developmental process where they are seen as emerging professionals and finally as independent professionals and professional colleagues.
  4. Internship has its own stages of development and involves numerous transitions. The stresses of these transitions are a part of the normal developmental growth of interns and need to be explored and integrated.
  5. The Center and its staff value and are committed to diversity and an appreciation of individual and cultural differences. Intern training and functioning incorporates that commitment. There is also a focus on a commitment to social justice and interns engage in a social justice project in collaboration with staff throughout the year.
  6. Collaboration as well as independent functioning is valued in the role of the psychologist. Interns have a considerable amount of autonomy within a collegial atmosphere that emphasizes team work and cooperation. Team building within the intern group is seen as important. Learning occurs when interns are able to share their successes and struggles openly within the intern group and provide each other with supportive and challenging feedback.
  7. The creation of a supportive, climate for reciprocal and ongoing feedback and evaluation is necessary to foster the personal and professional growth of interns and staff, the ongoing relevance and vitality of the training program and the effectiveness of the Center's programs.

Values about Disclosure of Personal Information in Training
In order to be in compliance with the 2002 APA Ethics Code (Ethical Standard 7.04), we want current and future trainees to be aware of our approach to the disclosure of personal information in the course of training.

An important component of our training program is the intersection between the personal and professional. Therefore, our training model incorporates a strong emphasis on self- exploration and reflection. We believe that effectiveness in all aspects of professional functioning is related to one's ability to reflect on oneself, one's interpersonal and personal dynamics and the history from which these dynamics emerge. Thus, professional functioning can be either enhanced or hindered by one's development, or lack thereof, in these essential areas. Consequently, an objective of our training program is to assist trainees at all levels within the Center to explore the qualities and dynamics he or she brings to interpersonal encounters as well as how these dynamics impact their various interactions. We intend that interns and other trainees will engage in the process of recognizing, improving and employing those personal qualities that will assist in forming effective working relationships with clients, peers, other staff and other members of the university community.

With the above in mind, supervisors and trainers are expected to assist trainees in exploring their personal impact, qualities and histories and how these may either facilitate or hinder any psychological intervention or professional relationship. This will require trainees to reflect on and disclose personal information that may be informative about their interpersonal dynamics in such relationships. It is our aim that such disclosure will be done within a supervisory or training relationship characterized by trust, safety and respect. Also the exploration of personal qualities or histories will be carried out with a focus on enhancing the trainee's effectiveness in a professional relationship with clients, peers, supervisees, staff or members of the university community. The purpose of such exploration will neither be for doing "quasi-therapy" nor any other inappropriate purpose.

If the trainee feels there is insufficient safety, trust or respect in the supervisory or training relationship, he or she has the right to refuse to disclose personal information. Should this occur, the supervisor or trainer is expected to respect such refusal and then explore ways in which the relationship can be improved so that personal disclosures can occur more effectively. Our hope is that the trainee can express their concerns to the supervisor or training staff. If not they should bring their concerns to the training leadership. Furthermore, the supervisor or trainer is expected to carry out all such exploration with the trainee in a manner that is perceived as collegial and growth-enhancing versus coercive.