Master's Internship Training Model

AT FORT LEWIS COLLEGE COUNSELING CENTER
DURANGO, COLORADO

The Counseling Center at Fort Lewis College subscribes to the practitioner-mentorship-developmental model of training counselors. We aim to prepare our interns to work in college or university counseling centers and other outpatient settings that require mature, experienced, and self-aware application of a variety of skills to enhance the lives of the people they contact. The internship is considered to be the intern’s opportunity to practice what s/he has learned in the academic setting; thus, training is conducted primarily through provision of clinical services with supervision.

Skills that students can expect to hone during their internship at the Counseling Center include: provision of outpatient short-term individual and group therapy, assessment, crisis counseling, case presentation and documentation, and outreach services. Other areas of training (such as substance abuse evaluation, or consultation) can be developed as individual rotations depending on the intern’s interest. Interns applying to this developmentally oriented internship are expected to have some degree of self-motivation and self-direction, and to have a foundation of basic skills and knowledge upon which she or he hopes to build upon and expand throughout the internship year. Because we are a small counseling center with a diverse student body, interns can expect to receive extensive clinical experience in a supportive environment.

The diverse nature of the student body at Fort Lewis College and the experience of the staff provide a wonderful opportunity to assist interns in increasing their understanding of and competency in working with individuals from diverse backgrounds. Similarly, with the increase in psychopathology noted in counseling centers nationally, interns can expect to become proficient in providing services to clients with both developmental and more pervasive mental health issues.

The staff provides a developmentally appropriate, graded sequence of experiential learning activities for interns throughout the year. Learning is achieved by observation, performing clinical activities, and receiving supervision through direct observation of clinical skills, videotape review, collegial consultation, and review of case notes. Interns are expected to use this variety of experiences to increase the autonomy and complexity of their work through the training year.

We believe that interns are in training to develop both their unique professional identities and high positive self-esteem; our staff believes that the supervisory/mentoring relationship is a key element in this development. Through the safety and intimacy of a mentoring relationship, training can be tailored to the intern’s particular strengths and needs to foster optimal professional and personal growth. Supervision can be expected to cover the primacy of development and maintenance of the therapeutic relationship, assessment of clinical issues, various theoretical approaches to working with clients, personal issues that affect the intern’s ability to work with clients, and professional identity development.

The Counseling Center fosters a sense of openness to life-long learning and the continuous development of skills. Interns are expected to incorporate the attitude of openness to a multiplicity of clinical problems/issues as well as collaboration with professional interactions and relationships as part of their maturing professional identity. Interns are also expected to emerge from the internship with an understanding of ethics that involves not only legal issues and professional boundaries, but also a “professional conscience” that considers the client’s welfare as a primary consideration in treatment. An understanding of oneself in terms of history, background, and present-day concerns is crucial in learning to understand, respect, and ethically work with both clients and co-workers. The collegial atmosphere and emphasis on relationship at the Counseling Center assist the intern in developing these crucial.aspxects of him or herself during the training year.

COMPONENTS OF THE TRAINING PROGRAM

Orientation

Goal: to acquaint the intern with relevant Fort Lewis College and Counseling Center policies, procedures, and resources; welcome intern to Counseling Center staff

The first week of the internship is orientation week, which provides the foundation for the responsibilities of the internship year. Interns are introduced to staff both at the Center and on campus and trained on College and Center policies, procedures, and resources. They are trained on intake assessment and crisis intervention protocol, and introduced to the six-session model. Interns are given time to set up their offices and familiarize themselves with the campus and surrounding community.

Individual Psychotherapy

Goal: to enhance development of individual therapy skills; increase effective use of supervision

Once orientation is completed, interns will carry a clinical caseload of at least 10 individual therapy cases, up to 3 of which can be long-term cases. Cases will be assigned to the intern depending on the intern’s clinical abilities and interests. Interns will be responsible, with direct supervision, for all.aspxects of their cases, including: initial assessment, case conceptualization, setting treatment goals, evaluating treatment efficacy, discussing fees, termination planning, and crisis management all within the overarching context of the therapeutic relationship.

Clinical supervisors discuss cases, review video and audiotapes, read and co-sign notes, provide feedback about clinical strengths and areas for growth, and recommend adjunct training resources when indicated. Supervisors and interns collaboratively set training goals for types of clients/issues as well as training in specific intervention modalities. The clinical supervisor completes a written evaluation of the intern’s skills and abilities at the end of each semester, and discusses it with the intern as a tool for further learning.

Crisis Assessment & Intervention

Goal: to help interns attain an intermediate to advanced level of competency in evaluating and intervening in emergency situations

In the beginning of the school year, interns receive training in the theory of crisis assessment and agency procedures for crisis management. After this training, and as the interns and supervisor deem the intern is ready, s/he may provide crisis intervention services on a rotating basis with staff during office hours.

Assessment

Goal: to develop intermediate to advanced skill in intake assessment of clinical issues, diagnosis, and treatment planning.

Interns are trained in orientation in intake assessment techniques; additional training sessions during the year may focus on assessing clients from diverse backgrounds and incorporating information about different people’s experiences when performing assessment. Trainees also attend a weekly clinical staff meeting to discuss treatment issues with challenging clients; a consulting psychiatrist also attends these meetings bi-monthly. Interns discuss DSM-IV diagnoses and relevant treatment plans with individual supervisors.

INFORMATION ABOUT THE STAFF

The Counseling Center staff comprises counselors with both doctoral and master’s level training, with a variety of experience and orientation. We all believe in the primacy of the therapeutic relationship, and in living full and balanced lives (some of us are better at putting this into practice than others). Sacred traditions within our staff are laughing, eating lunch together at the school cafeteria, walking together at noon, and the silly holiday parties.

Susan McGinness, Director, Psychologist, Ed.D. in Counseling
Deb Allen, Counselor, LPC, M.A. in Counseling/Psychology
Karen Nakayama, Associate Director, Psychologist, Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology
Colin Smith, Training Director, LPC, M.A. in Counseling
Rob Cowen, Counselor, LPC, M.A. in Counseling
Kim Johancen-Walt, LPC, MA in Counseling Psychology

INFORMATION ABOUT THE COLLEGE

Fort Lewis College is part of the State of Colorado higher education system and part of the Colorado State University System. It is a four-year, undergraduate liberal arts college with an enrollment of 3,800 students, of whom 24% are Native American and Latino. The College has a School of Arts and Sciences, a School of Education, and a School of Business Administration. The Counseling and Student Development Center is part of the Division of Student Affairs which also included Residence Life, Student Activities, Career Services, Disability Services, Learning Assistance, Financial Aid, Public Safety, Health Center, and Conferences and Institutions.

Fort Lewis College is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer committed to diversity in its people and its programs. Persons from under-represented groups are encouraged to apply.

INFORMATION ABOUT THE SETTING

Durango is located on the Colorado Plateau in a mountain valley, nearly surrounded by soaring peaks, some reaching more than 14000 feet, and opening to the desert of the Southwest. Numerous possibilities for outdoor activities are readily available. The town of Durango has a population of about 13,000 with about 50,000 living in La Plata County. The town has numerous art galleries, a cultural center, repertory and melodrama theater companies, and a wide array of other cultural and recreational activities. Purgatory Ski Resort, Mesa Verde National Park, and the Durango-Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad are popular tourist attractions.

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