Training Components

Internship Program in Clinical Psychology

Training at Howard University Counseling Service is composed of an orientation period, in-house training activities (which take place at the University Counseling Service) and three major rotations which take place at Howard University Hospital, DC Superior Court, and a location which is determined by each individual intern’s 3rd rotation choice. Professional development is also a component of the training. The theoretical framework which guides many of the training activities is psychodynamic, and attention to diversity issues is infused throughout the training.


During the orientation period, interns participate in the Howard University New Employee Orientation. This orientation includes information on benefits and a component on Howard’s policies aimed at prohibiting sexual harassment and gender-based discrimination. Interns also participate in a four-day orientation at DC Superior Court, given that each intern must complete a six-month rotation at the Child Guidance Clinic at DC Superior Court.

After these initial orientation activities, the interns participate in various orientation activities aimed at familiarizing them with UCS policies and procedures. Initially, they meet with the Training Director and other members of UCS staff to learn about the various components of the training program. 

During the course of the 3-4 week orientation, the interns meet with the Training Director during a series of meetings to discuss the program’s training philosophy, evaluation procedures, and due process and grievance procedures.  During this period, interns also practice intake interviewing skills via role plays and they receive feedback from each other and the Training Director.  As well, they attend weekly intake conference so that they can observe senior staff members present and discuss the new clients that have come to UCS.  

They also meet individually with the Training Director to discuss their training goals and individual expectations. In the upcoming year, an added component of the orientation period will include the assignment  and discussion of readings on diversity and psychodynamic theory and evidence-based interventions to orient the interns to the program’s training model.

Throughout the orientation period, interns have pockets of “free” time, during which they are encouraged to explore the University, work on their own research projects or dissertations, prepare their offices according to their individual preferences, and bond with each other as a group.  Interns also begin their supervision with the Outreach supervisor during the orientation period, and they accompany the Outreach supervisor and other staff members to outreach events to observe and participate in outreach presentations.   

Each intern is informed at the beginning that the Training Director will be one of his or her individual clinical supervisors and at the end of the orientation period, each intern is assigned his or her  second individual clinical supervisor for the year. These assignments are based on the Training Director’s observations of clinical styles during the role plays and discussions with each intern regarding his or her individual needs, strengths and areas of growth.  At the end of the orientation period, interns also start conducting intake interviews with UCS clients and presenting their intake write-ups during intake conference.

Training Activities

After the orientation period, many of the core training activities begin. In-house UCS training activities are as follows:

Intake interviewing and crisis intervention: Interns typically conduct an average of two intake interviews per week, usually with walk-in clients, but also with clients that have requested an intake by appointment.  Given that some walk-in clients are in immediate crisis, some intake interviews require crisis intervention and possibly hospitalization. Interns  typically consult with senior staff members and psychiatric staff to assist with crisis intervention and hospitalization. Following each intake, interns write an intake summary to be presented in the weekly intake conference.

Individual Psychotherapy Training: One of the goals of the UCS internship training program in psychology is for interns to graduate with Ph.D./Psy.D. entry level skills and knowledge to provide counseling and psychotherapy to diverse populations. Interns are expected to acquire certain competencies in the area of individual  counseling and psychotherapy.  At their peak, interns are expected to carry a case load of 10-12 individual clients. Approximately two thirds of the clients will be short- term clients, who will be seen for 6-8 sessions. The remainder may be longer term clients that will be seen across the training year. In this way, interns are given the opportunity to learn about conducting brief and long term psychotherapy sessions. Interns receive supervision on their work with clients through weekly individual clinical supervision sessions with two supervisors and through participation in a weekly case conference supervision session.

Group Psychotherapy and Group Counseling: A unique aspect of the training program at  UCS is the emphasis on group training. The training that interns receive has four components:

Didactic Seminar

Observation Group and Discussion

Co-leading a counseling group

Group Supervision

Through didactic training in group, interns are exposed to theory and technique of group intervention. The group seminar is attended by UCS interns, UCS externs, and predoctoral interns from DC Superior Court. Special emphasis is placed on specific issues such as group contracting, specific purpose and task, and the difference between group counseling and group psychotherapy. The concept of the group as a whole instead of individuals in a group is the theoretical model from which groups are approached. Interns are able to see group theory in action by observing an ongoing weekly therapy group and discussing it at the conclusion with the group leader. Interns are able to put their learning into practice during the second semester when they form a short-term counseling group and conduct the group to its contracted termination date. Some of the groups that interns have co-led in the past have involved interpersonal relationships, adjustment to college, career choices, survivors of sexual assault, gay and lesbian issues, trauma, etc. Supervision takes place in a peer group format that is led by the group training supervisor, who holds additional credentials in group work.  

Consultation and Outreach: Outreach activities are primarily dedicated to educating the university community in preventive mental health strategies. In addition to intervening with the staff in outreach activities during orientation, interns also provide consultation and outreach workshops throughout the year. Outreach activities include day and evening workshops, presented in classrooms, dormitories, and the Student Union. Occasionally, outreach activities are presented to local community organizations or groups.  After having an opportunity to present outreach workshops with other staff members, interns have the opportunity to plan, coordinate, and present outreach workshops independently as a group. They receive feedback and supervision in a group format from the Outreach supervisor. 

Microcounseling: During the fall semester, interns have the opportunity to develop their teaching skills by  co-teaching the Microcounseling Lab, a required course for graduate students in the Clinical Psychology doctoral program. The Microcounseling Lab is also attended by graduate students from local universities that are admitted to the UCS practicum program. The interns are responsible for lectures and discussions on a range of topics pertaining to clinical work and the development of basic counseling skills. They also observe the students practice counseling skills during role plays and provide feedback.  The interns receive feedback and supervision in a group format from the Microcounseling supervisor.

Peer Supervision: This component provides UCS interns with the opportunity to develop supervision skills. Each year, clinical or counseling graduate students from Howard University and/or graduate students from surrounding local universities are admitted into the UCS Practicum and Extern Training Program.  Each UCS intern is matched with at least one practicum student to supervise from September until early May. The intern meets with his or her supervisee on a weekly basis to supervise the practicum student’s clinical work with an individual caseload of 5-6 UCS clients.  The interns receive supervision in a group format from a licensed member of the UCS training staff.

 Psychodiagnostics/Assessment: Psychological assessment is a vital arm of this component. Through training and supervision in assessment, interns are provided opportunities to increase their knowledge, skills and appreciation of psychological testing. This is done by broadening their awareness of evaluative instruments commonly used in the diagnosis and treatment of clients. Training involves both projective and non-projective instruments. The training in psychological assessments includes diagnostic interviewing, test administration/scoring and interpretation of the assessment results. Interns also receive training in how to synthesize information from diagnostic interviews and assessment and write a precise psychological report. Most of the psychological assessment work takes place during the rotation at DC Superior Court, which is further discussed below, interns also have the opportunity to conduct  1-2 psychological assessments with UCS clients. Supervision is provided in a group format on Thursday evenings with the assessment supervisor, who is also the Chief Psychologist at DC Superior Court Child Guidance Clinic.

Supervision: We believe that the quality of supervision strongly contributes to a positive internship experience; therefore supervision is a primary aspect of our program. Intern supervision is designed so that each intern has exposure to most of the senior staff. Supervision emphasizes both the development of skills, personal awareness, and the integration of psychodynamic theory into one’s individual therapeutic style.

Individual Supervision: Each intern is assigned two primary clinical supervisors who oversee the intern’s individual counseling and psychotherapy training. Interns receive a total of two hours of individual psychotherapy supervision per week. Individual supervision occurs throughout the entire year.

Case Conference: Interns are also supervised on their individual cases in a case conference setting for one hour and 15 minutes per week. Case conference is supervised by a licensed psychologist and is attended by UCS interns and externs. Some degree of self disclosure is typically a component of case conference, as the intern is encouraged to examine how his or her experiences and worldview affect the lens through which he or she views the client. The impact of the client on the therapist is also examined during case conference. Case conference takes place from September until late April or early May.

Supervision of Group Counseling: Interns receive weekly supervision of their group counseling experience in a peer group setting led by a licensed psychologist. The supervision is for 90 minutes each week from February until late April or early May.

Consultation and Outreach Supervision: The supervisor of the Outreach component is a license-eligible UCS clinician. Outreach supervision takes place in a group format for one hour each week from August until early May. After this period, outreach supervision occurs during the weeks that interns provide outreach presentations.

Assessment Supervision: Interns receive a minimum of two hours of supervision each week for this component. The assessment supervisor supervises the interns as a group. The Chief Psychologist at DC Superior Court is the primary assessment supervisor. Assessment supervision occurs throughout the entire year.  In addition, interns completing the court rotation receive an additional hour of supervision in a case-conference format at DC Superior Court. The court case conference is attended by predoctoral interns from DC Superior Court, and the supervision is provided by a team of licensed psychologists at DC Superior Court. Court case conference ends in May.

Administrative Supervision: During this weekly supervision, interns meet with the Training Director to discuss routine administrative matters, and to address issues and concerns that the interns may face. Interns’ clinical cases are also discussed in administrative supervision, as needed. In addition, readings from the theoretical and empirical literature, as well as professional identity and development issues are addressed in administrative supervision. Program evaluation is incorporated more heavily into administrative supervision during the latter months. Administrative supervision occurs during the entire year.

Microcounseling Supervision:  UCS interns receive feedback and supervision on a weekly basis with the Microcounseling Supervisor, a license-eligible UCS clinician. It takes place in a group format from 30 minutes to an hour each week during the fall semester.

Supervision of Supervision:  UCS interns receive 1.5 hours of supervision of supervision in a group format on a weekly basis from September until early May. The supervisor of this component is the UCS Director.

Hospital/Inpatient Supervision: UCS interns completing the hospital rotation receive an hour of supervision weekly from a licensed UCS psychologist.  This supervision occurs for the 4 months that the intern is participating in the hospital rotation. Hospital supervision occurs in a group format for the interns completing the rotation during the fall semester, and it occurs in an individual format for the intern completing the rotation during the spring semester.

Seminars and Workshops

An important aspect of our training program is focused attention to didactic and experiential learning via several seminars that take place at UCS.

Group Training Seminar: In the group training seminar, interns are exposed to theory and technique of group intervention. The concept of the group as a whole instead of individuals in a group is the theoretical model from which groups are approached.  The supervisor of the group component is a licensed clinician who holds additional credentials for specialization in group work, and the group seminar is attended by UCS interns, UCS externs, and pre-doctoral interns from DC Superior Court.  Special emphasis is placed on specific issues such as group contracting, specific purpose and task and the difference between group counseling and group psychotherapy. Readings from the literature are assigned and discussed.  The group seminar takes place from September until February, and in February the group seminar shifts to group supervision, as co-leadership pairs take turns presenting and receiving supervision on their counseling groups.

Psychoanalytic Seminar/Clinical Case Presentations: This seminar examines the construction of the mind during the developmental period and its impact on the psychology of the adult individual. Readings are integrated into the class discussions and analysis of characters in movies which illustrate the relevant theoretical concept. Interns take turns giving presentations during which they apply the learned concepts. Interns are also encouraged to discuss the application of the concepts to their clinical cases. This seminar is attended by UCS interns, UCS externs and externs of other universities in the metro area, and it occurs from September until late April.

Psychopharmacology Seminar: Interns are informed of medications and their uses. This includes thorough discussions of the chemical composition of the various medications, related studies, indications and contraindications. Special emphasis is placed on identification of indicators for medical evaluation and involves didactic and case presentations. This seminar is attended by UCS interns and by doctoral-level psychopharmacology interns. The instructor is an attending psychiatrist and faculty member from Howard University Hospital. The Psychopharmacology Seminar takes place from September until early May.

Research Seminar: The purpose of the research seminar is to provide interns with a forum to discuss research-related issues in a clinical setting. One of the goals of the seminar is to keep interns involved in research, directly or indirectly, in order to facilitate their development into well-rounded psychologists. The research seminar takes place from September until late April or early May.

Diversity/Cultural Competency Seminar: This seminar is facilitated by a licensed psychology consultant who specializes in cultural competency training.  This seminar typically takes place during an all-day (8 hour) session or during two half-day (4 hour) sessions and emphasizes the role of culture in diagnostic assessment and intervention.

Ethics Workshop:  This workshop is entitled Ethics and Ethical Decision Making for Psychologists, and it is facilitated by a licensed psychologist from the APA Ethics Office. The Ethics Workshop examines the substance and organization of the Ethics Code, a process for resolving ethical dilemmas, and incorporates vignettes to highlight a process of resolving ethical dilemmas.  The Ethics Workshop typically takes place over the course of two 1.5 hour sessions during the training year.

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5) Training  Workshop –This workshop is a full-day, 8-hour workshop facilitated by a licensed psychologist from the Psychological Group of Washington. This workshop is attended by UCS interns, externs, and practicum students and provides them with a detailed review of the diagnostic criteria offered within the DSM-IV. It is important to note that this workshop is structured to provide advanced knowledge in the area of diagnosis.

Major Rotations

At the beginning of the training year, interns select the order in which they will complete their respective rotations, during which they are given the opportunity to increase their knowledge and skills through supervised interaction with other mental health agencies. Interns are expected to become familiar with these agencies, the populations they serve, and their relationship to other mental health agencies.

The two required rotation settings are the (a) District of Columbia Superior Court and the (b) Howard University Hospital Inpatient Psychiatry Unit. It is essential to note that interns do not participate in these rotations simultaneously. Typically, one intern participates in the court rotation for the first six months, while the other two interns attend the hospital rotation for four months.

During the second semester, one intern participates in the hospital rotation for four months, and the other two interns in the court rotation for six months. The third major rotation is a rotation of choice based on each intern’s interest, level of expertise, and the availability of the placement. The third rotation is typically 2 months in duration. D.C. Superior Court Child Guidance Clinic: This rotation provides UCS interns with training and experience in conducting assessments in a forensic setting. Interns spend one day a week at the court rotation interviewing and assessing a court-referred client at the beginning of the day and participating in staff development and case conference  during the latter part of the day. Many of the court-referred clients are youth, but occasionally adults are referred. Typically, interns complete approximately one full psychological battery (composed of cognitive and personality measures, including projectives) and one written report per week. This rotation lasts for six months. UCS interns receive at least two hours of evening assessment supervision in a group format with the assessment supervisor on a weekly basis.  All UCS interns participate in this supervision throughout the training year.  In addition, UCS interns that are currently completing the court rotation receive another hour of supervision in a case conference format with predoctoral interns from DC Superior Court and licensed supervisors from DC Superior Court on a weekly basis.

Howard University Hospital Inpatient Rotation: The hospital rotation provides UCS interns with the opportunity to intervene with an inpatient population as part of an interdisciplinary treatment team. The hospital rotation is approximately 5 hours a week for four months and takes place on the inpatient psychiatry unit at Howard University Hospital. Interns participating in the hospital rotation travel to Howard University Hospital one day a week for 5 hours and conduct clinical interviews and provide short-term interventions with patients. They also participate in treatment and discharge planning with HU Hospital staff, which includes an attending psychiatrist and psychiatric residents. In addition to the feedback they receive from the attending psychiatrist, the interns receive supervision on a weekly basis from a licensed UCS psychologist.

The third rotation is a rotation of choice based on each intern’s interest.  Essentially, each intern has the opportunity to craft his or her own rotation in collaboration with a supervisor and the Training Director. The amount of time commitment for the third rotation may vary, based on the needs of the facility and the interns availability and interests, but most third rotations are approximately 60 hours in duration and take place over the latter 2-3 months of the internship. The third rotation may be a combination of direct service and readings and discussion on a related topic. Examples of third rotation options that interns have chosen in the past include additional work in group counseling, additional work in forensic assessment, trauma-focused interventions, administrative rotation (e.g., shadowing the UCS director and fulfilling assigned administrative tasks), and research.  Each interns works in collaboration with a chosen supervisor to complete the third rotation.

 Professional Development

We believe in the importance of professional development activities as a means of facilitating each intern’s growth and identity within the field of psychology. Correspondingly, we financially sponsor each intern’s attendance at selected conferences during the training year.  Two of these conferences facilitate the interns’ exploration of group process and dynamics. Each year, UCS interns attend the fall conference of the Mid-Atlantic Group Psychotherapy Society where they have opportunity to learn about group process in an experiential manner.  Each spring, UCS interns attend an AKRice Group Relations Conference focused on diversity. The AK Rice Conference also gives interns the opportunity to participate in small groups and large groups to facilitate their understanding of group process.  In addition, given that assessment is a major rotation of our program, we also sponsor each interns’ attendance at a conference focused on forensic assessment each year. Each year, professionals with expertise in a range of areas are invited to UCS to enhance staff members’ professional development via staff development presentations.


Last updated March, 2014