APA internship in Fielding respecialization

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by victor, Apr 4, 2005.

  1. victor

    victor New Member

    I am considering the respecialization certificate in Clinical Psychology from Fielding. One of my concerns has to do with finding an APA approved internship site. Does anyone have experience or information about how difficult/ easy this is, what the process is, etc? I live in the Pacific Northwest, about 2 hours from any metropolitan areas. I could relocate for the internship, but as we are planning to relocate to British Columbia, would rather do it there, if possible. Also, I would rather do an internship that was more focused on intervention than diagnosis. How much choice am I likely to have?
  2. David Williams

    David Williams New Member

    Victor – I’ll be glad to offer some suggestions but first let me get a little information. Are you already a PhD and is it in psychology? Also, nowadays, a two year post-doc is part of the package.

  3. victor

    victor New Member

    Thanks, David. Yes, I have a PhD from the University of Oregon in Experimental (Cognitive) Psychology and 10 years teaching experience. I have tenure at a community college, but that makes it hard to move to another location, because there are so few tenure track jobs and I don't want to end up as an adjunct.

    I am trying to decide whether it makes more sense to go for a master's and possibly PhD in Counseling Psych, or to do a respecialization in clinical. Since I am currently teaching Psychology, continuing to do so while completing coursework is attractive. Yet, I also want to get high quality training.

    My goals are to learn great clinical/ counselling skills, have greater job flexibility, and also greater flexibility in where I live.

    I would llike to hear more about the two year post doc, too.

  4. David Williams

    David Williams New Member

    A rat-runner, eh? FWIW I'm a supervisor in an APA internship program. I don't have time to give a complete response right now, I'm just checking my e-mail on my way to the medical center. I'll do that this evening but you seem to be an ideal retread candidate.

  5. David Williams

    David Williams New Member

    Victor - If the following is familiar information I apologize in advance. Respecialization in psychology is a provision APA developed in the 70s to accommodate the many psychologists who were unable to secure employment in academia. Years ago I started on a retread although since my first doctorate wasn’t specifically in psychology (counselor ed) I elected to go for the second degree. It was a good decision that opened doors. You won’t be subject to that problem and were I in your shoes I wouldn’t entertain the idea since you have a perfectly kosher PhD in experimental. In my experience respecialization candidates spend two years on campus. You can expect coursework in areas like personality, counseling/psychotherapy, assessment, and supervised practica. Retread experimentalists seem to gravitate toward neuropsychology. I’m assuming you have cognitive, social, and biological bases nailed down. You’ll be required to complete a one year pre-doctoral internship. This means you apply through the APPIC match program. This is sometimes a bottleneck as the supply isn’t always equal to the demand. It seems like those who sit out a year are either especially weak candidates or else they applied to only top sites without building in a fallback. The post-doc residency is becoming increasingly popular. It is required in neuropsychology and in many cases it affords an opportunity for the post-doctoral supervision most states require. I misspoke myself earlier; the two-year residency is generally just in neuropsychology and other areas only require one year. Beware of paying for post-doc supervision as some states don’t accept it. If you haven’t already, I’d look up respecialization on the APA website. It includes a map of the US and Canada and drills down to programs that recruit retreads. It lists mostly free-standing schools. The retreads I’ve encountered were university-based so I’d encourage you to approach local programs and see if there is an interest in taking you on. Fielding seems like a fine choice and the only APA approved DL option but pricey. If you can manage a bricks and mortar schedule a state school might be advantageous cost-wise. I wouldn’t worry about whether the program is in clinical or counseling or even school psychology. My degree is in counseling psychology and while years ago there was a bias in favor of clinical psychology I can’t recall the last time this was a hassle. I have a rewarding job in a medical school affiliated teaching hospital. There’s always a pecking order and nowadays the bias seems to be toward free-standing programs. School psychologists have some added burdens. They are ineligible for VA/military internships/employment and they’re sometimes hassled by HMO panels looking to exclude. On the other hand a friend, a school psychologist, won admission to a very prestigious neuropsychology post-doc. One disclosure I need to make is my comments are restricted to the US. Perhaps if Gordon reads this he may wish to share some of his knowledge about credentialing and the practice of psychology in Canada. Victor, one other option to consider is taking isolated courses and securing supervised experience rather than pursuing formal respecialization although obtaining a license would be an uphill battle and mobility would likely be a problem. I don’t advise it but it is an option. Additionally, post-docs are competitive and I doubt you’d stand much of a chance of landing one if you wanted to go that way. In any event, I wish you good fortune and feel free to ask away if you have any other questions.
  6. victor

    victor New Member

    Thanks, David. I appreciate the time and thoughtfulness of your response. Many factors to consider... Fielding continues to be the most attractive because there are no nearby programs to where I currently live and work, and because the time frame is shorter. To do a respecialization at a state school (assuming I could find one- there are very few officially listed on the APA website) would mean moving, and giving up my job. One year's lost pay would more than cover the entire Fielding tuition ( I think, unless there are more costs than I am aware of). DL does make sense for mid career professionals-- it seems to be a good fit to my needs and interests. My hesitation is that there is likely be some prejudice against a DL, but it may not have much of an negative impact if I am able to secure a good internship and postdoc. But if internships and postdocs are going to be much more limited with DL, then I have to consider other options. Can you respond to this line of reasoning?

    The information on how it works in the real world is very helpful. I am sure I will go back and forth on this as I weigh relative merits of DL and RL.

    How hard is it to get a non-APA approved internship site to pass muster for approval? I am thinking if I find a site in a non-urban, underserved area, are there significant barriers to getting it to meet APA requirements?
    Thanks again.- Victor
  7. uncle janko

    uncle janko member

    This thread is degreeinfo in its glory. Thanks, docs.
  8. David Williams

    David Williams New Member

    Victor - Given your situation you can’t make a better decision than Fielding. Can you expect bias? Sure, people don’t like change. Bias exists toward free-standing schools and you can expect the same about DL training. But in the end you’ll have an APA approved program and (plan on it) internship, which means you’ll never have any problem with licensure and credentialing. Sort of like the last person in the med school class is still doctor. No one has asked where I trained in years.

    Apropos of internship. Make yourself a strong applicant. Supervised practicum hours and exposure to a wide range of disorders are great but, I’ll tell you, what makes an applicant stand out is if he or she has strong assessment skills. Take every testing course available. It will pay off in winning admission and it provides a valuable skill to market once in practice. Everybody does counseling – counselors, psychiatric nurses, social workers, chaplains (not to mention grandmothers, bartenders, coaches and many sergeants) – which drives down fees. Many psychologists who possess the skills gravitate toward assessment-based practice after a few years of hassling HMOs. Your preference for a rural location should help since the internship competition is most fierce for urban sites. It isn’t that you, the student, arrange for APA approval. The site pursues APA endorsement which is, I go through reaccredidation every few years, a burden. The problem you’ll encounter is selling the idea of a roll-your-own supervised experience or even a non-approved internship to Fielding’s Training Director and later in your career to licensure boards. I just can’t say in strong enough words this is ill advised. It’s sort of like slapping a set of off-the-rack BF Goodrich tires from Sears on a NASCAR vehicle. It just doesn’t make sense after taking the time, effort, and cost of securing a formal respecialization. Plan on making the internship a capstone experience; it’s a wonderful opportunity to learn and it may be the last chance you have to make mistakes. Speaking of biases, mine is in favor of doing the internship at a teaching hospital. It provides the opportunity for varied rotations as well as participation in grand rounds and seminars for other disciplines. I don’t think I’ll sit in on any more autopsies but it was a fascinating experience when I did. Ask Fielding’s Training Director about the success of their students, especially retreads, in securing internships. One thing you should give very strong consideration to, if you can take a summer off from teaching, is applying for a VA summer traineeship. The VA is the largest single source of internship training. The summer traineeship offers something like 8-10 weeks of very concentrated and almost inevitably very sound training with a small stipend. If you do well it’s a big leg up on being accepted by the site as an intern; it can be a good way to get in the door. If you belong to APA the December Monitor has a listing of all the approved internship sites.

    Plan ahead but don’t worry unnecessarily. There isn’t THAT many who fail to match and the worst thing likely to happen is you spend a year in a place you don’t especially care for.

    Uncle Janko – Many thanks for the ‘attaboy. I’m glad to pass on what took 30 years and more than a few wrinkles and lost hair follicles to acquire. I sure do find it paradoxical that I mostly find reasons to post about healthcare and psychology training since it was DL IT learning that brought me to the board.
  9. Jack Tracey

    Jack Tracey New Member

    Hi Victor - I think your choice of Fielding is a good one. As you stated, I don't know if there's a better choice (State U) in your area. A state u might be a bit cheaper, that could be the only advantage. Find two or three of the closest APA aproved Clinical Psych PhD programs and simply ask them for a list of their internship sites. There's no real reason why they wouldn't give that information out. These will generally be large(ish) community mental health centers. You then could contact them directly, confident that they are aware of the requirements set forth by the APA. As David said, I'd advise against trying to create your own internship site from scratch. Many people will agree (in good faith) to help you out, but when they come to realize all that is involved, your internship could fall apart leaving you stranded and possibly wasting a whole year. Good luck.
    (currently in the process of creating a multidisciplinary internship site.)
  10. Gordon

    Gordon New Member

    Hi Victor,
    I am sure you have gathered by now that the erudition on this board is second to none. Like you I have been the recipient of the very good advice offered here and continue to benefit from the wisdom and generosity of many.
    As David noted I have been researching issues related to licensure and credentialing in my end of Canada – Ontario. While I really cannot offer much vis-à-vis the relative merits of Fielding etc one point does come to mind: it seems from your initial post that you are planning to pursue re-cert training while in Washington State and then move to British Columbia? In other words, would you be seeking licensure in Washington State only to later apply to the College of Psychologists of British Columbia for consideration for reciprocal licensing?

    In this regard it might pay to further explore licensure requirements for the province of British Columbia and perhaps arrange course completion and internship towards that end. I have provided a link to the appropriate page from the College of Psychologists of British Columbia regarding registration requirements.


    In general, the College notes that applicants who have graduated from an APA/CPA accredited program and/or applicants who have completed a re-specialization certificate housed in an APA/CPA accredited program are considered by the Registration Committee to have met the registration criteria at the university and department/program levels.

    With respect to the Internship, the College notes two ways to meet the criteria for acceptable pre-doctoral internships:
    (a) a pre-doctoral internship accredited by the APA, the CPA, or the Association of Psychology Post-doctoral and Internship Centers.
    (b) a pre-doctoral internship that is otherwise equivalent – suggesting there may be some flexibility in this regard.

    My own experience with APPIC searches suggests that, the further towards eastern Canada one travels, the more differentiated Counseling and Clinical Psychology become. That is, many clinical training sites in Alberta, for example, note Counseling or Clinical PhD degrees are acceptable whereas sites in Ontario specify only Clinical PhD degrees may apply for clinical training placements.

    British Columbia is home to some of the most beautiful scenery in Canada. I am sure everyone will make you feel most welcome. Good luck in your deliberations.

    David, it is very nice to hear from you; I have been meaning to catch up but have been swamped! – an overworked grad student !!! :)
  11. chrislarsen

    chrislarsen New Member

    I am a current Fielding Ph.D. student. I just started the program (This month actually!) and do not have a lot of information to share other than I think I will love this experience. I am unable to discuss the retread aspect of the program. However, I do know a bit about the internship process. From my discussions with other students and faculty and an associate dean at the school, the rate of APA intership placement is high at @ 80%. The main limiting factor for that other 20-25% isgeographic mobility. Many mid-career, middle aged people are not able or willing to move to another region of the country to start an internship. Your typical first year Fielding student is a 40 year old with a Masters degree and 7-10 years of post-masters experience. In my case, I have years of therapy and neuropsych testing experience under my belt prior to even starting my Ph.D. at Fielding. Add 4-6 years of doctoral work and you have an "attractive package" that an internship site will want. By contrast, many graduates of B&M schools tend to be younger and have much less clinical and life experience that they bring to the internship experience. This tends to overcome and greatly outweigh any bias against a DL degree. Your typical Fielding student can "hit the ground running" on internship because most of them have years of predoctoral clinical experience. I have been told that once an internship site has a student from Fielding they want more and more. There is an APA internship program in my area that is begging the local faculty member for another Fielding student. One thing you might want to find out is a list of sites where Fielding has placed previous interns in your region of the country. They probably would be receptive to another Fielding student.
  12. Jodokk

    Jodokk Member


    I agree! Perhaps there should be a seperate discussion category that covers only intellegent, helpful, egoless advice about school.

    (Hmmm, what a concept!)

    I have learned more about the consequences of my continuance in the psych track from this discussion than any other posts. Thanks folks.
    Dan B
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 8, 2005
  13. David Williams

    David Williams New Member

    Hang in there, Gordon. Before you know you'll be Dr. G.

    Who knows, maybe someday you'll wind up in my shop and I'll get to show you what being an overworked intern is all about!!! In reality interns tell me I'm a cupcake. Some programs treat interns as cheap labor; I abhorr the practice. Are you still targeted toward a career in neuropsychology? I can't recall if I ever mentioned it but while I define myself as a geropsychologist I'm a member of Divison 40 and NAN. Its nice window dressing for interns when they apply for post docs. I'm an old enough dog I was exempt from the post-doc requirement.

    I might add I have a tremendous respect and appreciation for the financial sacrifices your generation makes to obtain a graduate education. I regularly encounter interns who have debt loads of 100K. There was a great deal of NIMH money available when I started grad school. The only people who didn't receive some sort of financial support were those who didn't want it. I took out one loan in grad school for $1500 dollars I used to buy a stereo and a motorcycle.

    Thanks much for taking the time to share your experience with Victor.

  14. Jack Tracey

    Jack Tracey New Member

    Hi David - Maybe it has something to do with Erikson's ideas rearding "generativity." We teach what we know.
  15. victor

    victor New Member

    Thanks "ya'l"

    :) I am humbled by such information sharing. Thank you. It reminds me of being in graduate school-- The finest people share their wisdom without reservation. We don't know each other, and I feel like I spoke to old friends and mentors.

    I hope to make good use of this advice. A special thanks for David Williams for getting this started. This is an impressively generous and valuable resource! I cannot thank you all enough.

    Best Regards-- Victor
  16. SteveJM

    SteveJM New Member

    Re: Thanks "ya'l"

    I would also like to thank David Williams. His posts have been very informative and helpful to me, and he has taken the time in the past to personally offer me specific advice and information. Thanks again for your generosity and willingness to share your experience and knowledge with others…it is very much appreciated!
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 8, 2005
  17. David Williams

    David Williams New Member

    Boy, talk about feeling humbled; thank you everyone. I never realized the degree of interest in this area. I don't want to presume and just go ahead with it but given what seems to be a decent amount of interest I'd be willing to put together some thoughts about how those of us who are on the other end approach the internship process. What do people think, should I rough out and post some ideas?

    Jack - I think you're exactly right about generativity. As I start to wind down my career I find it extremely rewarding to be able to pass along lessons learned to those who come behind. A much better alternative than despair.

  18. victor

    victor New Member

    More info on internships

    David said,

    David, you have me interested. I very much appreciate the importance of "making the internship the capstone experience" of my respecialization. I would like to hear more about what makes an internship applicant strong. You've mentioned assessment skills -- specifically, what assessment skills are the most appreciated? Is it variety or some types of assessment skills that matter most? Fielding has three areas of specialization: neuropsych., health psych, and violence prevention. I'm most attracted to violence prevention. How much will the area of specialization matter? One of the few things that I regret about my Ph.D. is that I spent so much time on research that I didn't take a greater variety of courses. I guess I was quite the "rat runner," except there were no rats. (Maybe I was the lab rat.) I took the minimum required course work and didn't explore enough, except for graduate courses in linguistics.--Victor
  19. David Williams

    David Williams New Member

    Victor – I don’t expect interns to hit the ground running but I do like them to know how to at least jog and not just what running looks like. Which is probably a terrible metaphor. At a minimum this includes having basic preparation in mental status assessment and psychometric assessment of personality and intelligence. I’m amazed at how frequently the doctoral programs fail to provide more than a cursory review. In general clinical practice one is expected to be able to take a history, form multiaxial diagnostic impressions, and generate a report in 45-60 minutes. Students sometimes arrive having little training in psychopathology and very frequently having none whatsoever with DSM-IV. Especially the multiaxial format. This skill is expected of an applied psychologist -- or psychiatrist, clinical social worker, or what have you – nowadays. It’s important to build in practicum experiences where you get to sit in on mental status assessments preferably with a wide range of disorders. Jack’s idea of hooking up with a community mental health center for your practica holds a great deal of merit. Its sorts of like the movie Casablanca where everybody comes to Ricks. Everything comes through the door of a community mental health center. It’s important to have a good grounding in psychopathology so you know how the pieces of the clinical picture fit together. Say, what differentiates an adjustment disorder from major depression. Knowing what pieces don’t fit will eventually pay off in being able to spot dissembling or malingering. An example might be visual hallucinations. Students almost inevitably think this is a symptom of thought disorder where it is generally seen in toxic or metabolic or frequently in the elderly infectious states. A pet peeve is how incredibly common students with hundreds of practicum hours have no idea of the difference between mood and affect. In the case of psychometric personality assessment the MMPI is the most commonly used instrument. I can’t tell you how often I interview applicants whose coursework barely scratched the surface. By this I mean an omnibus course that spent one or two or at most a few sessions discussing and no experience in actually using it. I am just remarkably impressed by students whose program required them to get under the hood. You really learn this critter by interpreting without benefit of the actuarial package. You’ll knock me out if you know the basic interpretive process, the basic clinical scales, and some of the common code types. Again, grounding in psychopathology is paramount in using the MMPI effectively. The Wechsler Scales are the most commonly used intelligence instruments in the country. I think every applied psychologist should be trained in this skill and I can’t tell you how common it is that students have no experience. I mean zip. Or, a survey course, which, at most, covers the rudiments of administration and how to generate scores. I’m impressed by the student who has coursework in the theory of intelligence along with lots and lots of practice in how to administer and interpret. Not just generate a score. Know the basics: what the individual subtests measure and the factors that bind them together. Know how to make sense of the data and not just generate a score and you’ll really impress me. I’m not expecting Alan Kaufman, just the basics. Knowledge of other instruments is terrific but these are the building blocks. It’s nice to know the Rorschach, I had a two quarter seminar and I became pretty familiar with it. But it is so darn resource consumptive in terms of the time required few are able to use it effectively. Not to mention it’s so remarkably complex the skill atrophies if you don’t have an opportunity to use it regularly, I’m thinking of Exner’s approach.

    Some other musings about making yourself attractive: network, network, network. Chris’s idea of reaching out to other Fielding students has great merit. If at all possible arrange for practicum experiences at internship sites. Look in the December Monitor to see if there are any nearby. We, the sites, like known commodities. Think about it, if I supervise someone as a practicum student and she does well she’ll have a big leg up on getting a spot. As I said earlier, VA sites often provide summer traineeships which offer a fairly substantial foot in the door. I’m thinking you might be able to fit a traineeship in one summer without interrupting your teaching. At one point VA trainees were forbidden from interning at the site although that restriction has been eliminated. Network where your practicum supervisors trained. Work on name recognition. Don’t wait until application time; contact the training director the year before and ask if you can stop by for the cook’s tour if you’re in town. Grade inflation is a fact of life so I’m going to give a lot more credibility to an applicant who has a reference from someone I trained with whom I have a personal relationship. Make sure people on your end play fair. I once rated an applicant extremely high largely on the basis of a stellar reference from a nationally recognized figure. You’d recognize the name if I could say it. The student turned out to have a lot of problems and was unable to complete the internship. Imagine how I approach those references now. Make certain if the person who writes the reference describes you as one of the top x% she makes it clear why. Make certain persons you ask to write a reference do so without reservation or ulterior motive. If I can’t write a good reference I’ll let you know up front; additionally, if I agree to provide a reference I send you a copy. When I was a graduate student there was a professor in the clinical program who was a soft touch for writing references for counseling and school psychology students. However, we eventually discovered he reserved superior ratings for his students. I’ve spoken of bias in earlier posts and I have some idea of how annoying this is. I trained before the free standing schools proliferated when bias was generally directed toward counseling psychologists. It made my blood boil. One internship I was especially interested in turned out to discriminate against my ilk. The code word nowadays is if an internship is “PsyD-friendly.” Come to the interview prepared. Read the program brochure and be prepared to show you’ve familiarized yourself with the program. Be prepared to explain why you would be a good fit, the rotations you find interesting and why. Don’t leave the impression you’re really interested in site X and I’m your backup. Even if I am. There are some pretty standard things psychologists ask one another and pretty standard questions presented of applicants. Have cases to present. Be prepared to discuss one that went well and one that didn’t. The one single thing above all else that will impress me is sound knowledge of the APA ethical standards. The practice of applied psychology is fraught with ethical dilemmas. There isn’t a week that goes by when I don’t have cause to muse about an ethical issue. The best way I know to stay out of the soup is to know and adhere to the Ethical Principles. If you interview with me I WILL ask you to discuss a dilemma you encountered, explain the issues, and identify the specific Ethical Principles involved. Students are generally savvy about having treatment cases to discuss but not ethical dilemmas. I so wish programs covered this better and Training Directors prepped students for the interview.

    As you approach the application process try to imagine seeing it through my eyes; my thought it is may help you prepare for success. The site receives like 50 applications for three spots and there is no way to interview everyone. Nor should that be the case; applicants make great sacrifice to fly in from all over the country and it would be unethical to offer an interview to those who don’t make the cut. Applicants are bright, talented people with great credentials and it’s really difficult to winnow down the pool to decide those to offer interviews. As Chris noted, some sites look for people who can hit the ground running. From my end this offers a mixed blessing. Have I ever had a day where I was overwhelmed and relieved to have a former psychology technician with years of practical experience as an intern? You bet. On the other hand, if a journeyman is 100% and, say, the unlicensed just-finished-internship psychologist is 85% think of how much more gratifying it is to bring someone from like 45% to 85% than 75% to 85%. And, for the most part training is one of the best things about my job. One of the dirty little secrets is some sites use interns as cheap labor which I find to be abhorrent. I’m blessed in that my administration has been extremely supportive of the training program for the purpose of training and not as source of cheap labor.

    I’m going to wind down here; if go on much father I’m going to start to think about trying to publish this. I need to make a disclosure that all of the ideas I’ve presented sum up to the thoughts of only one man and pertain to his experience in one teaching hospital in the Midwest. My thoughts may not apply to sites other than medical centers; eg, university counseling centers, prisons, military, what have you.

  20. Gordon

    Gordon New Member

    Ah, the Sum of All [my] Fears... :)

    Actually David the honour would truly be mine. I hope and pray that if/when my time comes I will be as fortunate to have a supervisor who would be as willing to teach, share, advise and mentor as patiently and unselfishly as you have been to the many unofficial interns you have here.

    Regarding neuropsychology, the answer is a resounding …maybe. On the one hand I love the content area, assessment tools and rich research. On the other hand, I’m not sure I want to practice only and/or just neuropsychology. Alas, there are too many areas in psychology that I simply find too interesting…

    (of course this is all contained in my almost-completed update note that I have been meaning to finish and send to you…)

    Presently I am considering the idea of whether or not to pursue studies with a local university which may likely engage in research I do not find particularly interesting and/or exciting, or, to pursue studies at a university that engages in research that truly excites me, but is quite a distance away and would require a significant move.

    Thanks much for taking the time to share your experience(s) with Victor. I would encourage you to give serious thought to publishing a formal summary of such experiences.

    All the best,


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