Professional Clinical Training Opportunities
At the predoctoral stage, students’ professional development occurs within the context of both formal coursework and supervised professional clinical training experiences (i.e. practica) in a variety of mental health settings in the community. The culminating clinical experience is the predoctoral internship, usually taken in the fourth year of the program. The Practicum Training Director and Internship Training Director for the California School of Professional Psychology clinical doctoral programs in Los Angeles work closely with students throughout the placement process for practicum and internship sites and assist students in securing placement sites that meet program and licensure requirements, as well as the students’ individual training goals.
All first-year students participate in a practicum that is a collaboration between the Los Angeles campus Office of Professional Training (OPT) and the Alhambra Unified School District (AUSD). Students with prior clinical experience at the master’s level provide individual therapy to children and adolescents at elementary and high schools. Students without prior clinical experience at the master’s level administer evidence-based group curricula to children in elementary school (K-8th grade). In the spring semester of their practicum training, these students interview with AUSD and the primary practicum supervisor to determine readiness to begin providing individual therapy to children and adolescents at the elementary and high schools as well.
In their second and third years of the program, students complete at least 800 hours of practicum training each year in a variety of community settings such as medical centers, inpatient mental health facilities, drug and alcohol treatment programs, residential or day programs, community mental health centers, and outpatient clinics. Students assume a greater degree of clinical responsibility for assessment and intervention while being closely supervised at a level appropriate to the students’ training and abilities. Students typically receive a minimum of 1900 hours of clinical training prior to internship.
Prior to graduation, students are required to complete a full-time internship. Many students will complete their coursework, clinical dissertation, and practica in the third year of the program, leaving the fourth year free for full-time internship. The internship experience integrates the students’ academic and clinical experiences and prepares them for their professional role as a psychologist. Students may also choose to modify their academic schedule, distributing their coursework over four years in order to take a fourth practicum in their fourth year; these students take their full-time internship in their fifth year.
The Clinical PsyD program demonstrates its commitment to helping students obtain APA-accredited internships by providing specialized mentorship and guidance around the internship application process. Beginning in the first year of the program and continuing through internship match, Dr. Jessie Lowell, core PsyD faculty member and the program’s Internship Training Director, works with students individually and in small groups, in the following ways: identifying internship sites that meet students’ training goals; revising CVs and internship application essays; developing an individualized site ranking list; and preparing for individual and group internship interviews. Students also receive internship application support from their faculty advisors (core PsyD faculty members), who supplement Dr. Lowell’s guidance with their own expertise and input to ensure that students’ internship applications reflect their academic, clinical, and professional readiness for internship.
While the completion of an APA-accredited internship is not required to complete the program, all students are required to apply to a minimum number of APA-accredited internship sites and are required to participate in Phases I and II of the APPIC Match process. Students who do not match with an APA-accredited internship site after participating in Phases I and II of the APPIC Match have two options available to them. These students may elect to add an additional year of clinical training to their program and reapply to APA-accredited internship sites. Alternatively, they may elect to apply for and obtain a full-time internship placement that meets all program and licensure requirements through CAPIC, the California Psychology Internship Council.
Prospective students should be aware that while a number of Clinical PsyD students do obtain APA-accredited internship placements in the Los Angeles area each year, these placements are limited. To increase their chances of obtaining an APA-accredited internship site, students must be prepared to apply to APA-accredited internship sites in other areas of the country.