Dear Potential Applicant:
Thank you for your interest in the psychology internship training program at the Counseling and Mental Health Center (CMHC) at The University of Texas at Austin. We are pleased that you are considering our Center for this very important aspect of your professional training. In this letter, I would like to highlight some of the important components of our internship program.
The internship at CMHC was the first university counseling center internship to be accredited by the American Psychological Association, and in March 2016, we celebrated 50 years of continuous accreditation by the APA. During this period, we developed a solid training program covering the full range of campus mental health services. Nevertheless, the program continues to evolve, reflecting changes in the profession, feedback from interns, and the times in which we live. In addition, as our large staff keeps abreast of new developments in professional practice, changes in their interests and energies affect the emphasis of the training program. Thus, the program is dynamic and energetic, offering a strong foundation along with innovative approaches in the delivery of mental health services to the university community.
Training is a very important and highly valued activity at our center. The internship provides extensive opportunities for supervised training experiences in remedial, developmental, and campus/community interventions. Our training programs are enriched with staff and trainees from various mental health disciplines, including counseling and clinical psychology, social work, and psychiatry, as well as health promotion specialists. In fact, a unique and exciting aspect of our psychology internship program is its close collaboration with our social work internship program, as our psychology and social work interns share a number of common training experiences and are considered one intern "class."
We firmly believe that the internship year is a time for the integration of personal and professional growth. A vital part of this growth is the active exploration of and reflection on the unique and intersecting identities that we each bring to our encounters with each other and with those we are striving to serve. Thus, our commitment to multiculturalism is a core element of our center and our training focus. The "Use of Self" perspective is represented throughout the various training and service activities in which our interns participate. The staff at CMHC is committed to providing a safe, supportive, and stimulating atmosphere in which interns can solidify strengths, take risks, develop new competencies, and integrate skill acquisition with effective use of self. In turn, we are seeking interns who are excited and energized by this approach to training, and who possess the necessary characteristics to be successful (e.g., self-awareness, openness, dedication to supporting others in their growth process, willingness to take risks).
In the program description, you will read about our August Orientation. During this unique part of our internship, a variety of presentations, experiential workshops, and social activities are scheduled in order to provide interns with a smooth transition into CMHC. These activities are designed to help interns build group cohesiveness, get to know CMHC staff members, and prepare for their roles and responsibilities during the academic year. In addition, interns participate in activities that help us to gauge each trainee's unique skills, interests, and training goals so that we can tailor our curriculum to meet individual needs.
In reviewing our website, you will find a weekly workload plan that incorporates a good balance among training, supervision, and direct service activities. Although there are numerous opportunities for intern involvement at CMHC (some interns have described the variety of activities as "like being a kid in a candy store"), we believe that it is important to balance work with other important activities, such as leisure time and relationships. Toward that end, our training staff endorses the viewpoint that interns should hold to a 40-hour work week and concentrate on the quality of their work rather than its quantity. Of course, our center experiences periods of increased demand that require additional hours from staff and interns. Nevertheless, our focus is on helping interns avoid over-commitment that is common among energetic graduate students.
As you review our materials, you will also see a program that has considerable flexibility to accommodate individual differences. Using the apprenticeship and preceptorship experiences, interns can tailor the training program to meet their personal interests and training goals. In addition, interns are given ample opportunities to provide input as to their choices of supervisors, types of clients they would like to see, types of groups they prefer to lead, etc., and we do our best to accommodate these preferences whenever possible.
We hope that it is clear from this description of our program that we deeply value training in our center and our staff is committed to working in a collaborative manner with trainees as they continue the exciting developmental journey of growing professionally and personally during the internship experience.
If, after reviewing the description of our training approach and our internship program, you feel excited and energized by the opportunity to be a part of our next cohort, I want to encourage you to apply to our internship. I wish you all the best as you consider the internship options that fit your needs and interests.
I wish you all the best as you consider options for your internship experience!
Mark Zentner, Ph.D.
Psychology Training Director