Professional Psychology Internship Training Program

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Devereux PA Adult Services

Client Population

Devereux PA Adult Services (PA AS) provides programs and supports for adult individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) ranging from the borderline to the profound range of cognitive functioning. We also serve individuals with autism spectrum disorder, mental health disorders (MHD), co-occurring disorders (I/DD, MHD), and brain injuries. Individuals receiving services reside on our campus or in community homes throughout several counties and range in age from 21 years through end of life. Though the majority of the population is diagnosed with an intellectual disability, interns have the opportunity to work with a variety of clinical conditions. Interns are encouraged to tailor their internship experience to suit their clinical interests and collaborate with their supervisors to develop a challenging and rewarding intern year.

Treatment Program Overview

Our mission for the doctoral internship is to provide a training experience that will prepare the intern for beginning independent practice in psychology.  Devereux PA AS provides a model for clinical interventions and supports using identified evidence-based practices. Core components of this model include functional and behavioral assessment methods, clinical hypothesis formulation related to specific assessment data, evidenced based interventions linking to the clinical hypothesis, and progress monitoring that informs data-based decision making. 

Clinical services are provided in campus-based homes, community group homes, apartment programs and in other community settings. In addition, prevocational services and specialized work skills training programs are provided for those individuals involved in the vocational/work programs

Training Activities 

Assessment. Assessment opportunities include cognitive testing, adaptive skills assessment, and clinical behavior assessment. Our assessment emphasis is on functional behavioral assessment, which focuses on identifying biological, social, affective, and environmental factors that initiate, sustain, or end a particular behavior. Interns are provided instruction on how to conduct skillful observations and complete a variety of measures to develop clinical functional hypotheses.

Intervention. Interns use the assessment process to formulate a clinical hypothesis.  This hypothesis is then used to select evidenced-based interventions that are relevant to the presenting problems.  A key aspect of clinical intervention is the teaching of alternative or functionally equivalent skills that relate directly to shaping more socially acceptable responses in place of the individual’s challenging behaviors. Some of these interventions may include: identifying specific coping strategies, problem solving approaches, anger management training, relaxation technique training, and cognitive-behavioral approaches. Interns will carry a caseload of 4-6 individual cases and are required to run at least one group.

Consultation. Clinical consultation is widely used in the delivery of services.  Interns gain experience in both direct and indirect consultative approaches when working with individuals and their interdisciplinary teams. A behavioral consultative model is utilized at Devereux PA AS. The intern consults at least every 90 days with the treating psychiatrist to provide data on behaviors and symptomology to inform medication decisions. In 2015, PA AS began implementation of Devereux Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (D-PBIS) which is an evidence-based framework for treatment that emphasizes a proactive approach and focuses on teaching pro-social and positive behaviors. Interns will be provided with training in this framework and will assist with training staff and supervisors, teaching skills to individuals, and monitoring the integrity of fidelity of implementation.

Research/ Program Evaluation. Interns are required to complete a research project during their internship experience at Devereux. Based on a topic of interest, interns are guided throughout the process, from conducting a literature review to developing the methodology for implementation, analyzing the results and discussing the findings. Interns also participate in our clinical research committee which meets every two weeks and serves to evaluate the quality of our service delivery and enhance the system of care.

Diversity/Cultural Competency. Cultural issues and concerns are interwoven into all clinical applications. This includes selecting assessments, interventions and training methods that have cultural relevance and impact on the individual’s care.  Additionally, interns are exposed to collaborative, culturally sensitive consultation practices.

Supervision. At mid-year, the intern has the opportunity to provide clinical supervision to the clinical team members who are assisting on the intern’s research project.  The experience includes scheduling supervision times, coordinating clinical activities related to the research project and formal documentation of the supervisory sessions. Interns are also given the opportunity to supervise our clinical interns or clinical associates, which are bachelor or masters level clinicians.

Professional Skills and Development. Professional skills and development begins during the first week of the internship and is evaluated throughout the year. After an initial self-assessment of skills is completed by the intern, specific goals and objectives will be established.  These targeted areas will be reviewed and discussed during individual supervision.

Training Supervision

Supervision of interns is provided in both individual and group formats. Two supervisors provide one hour of individual supervision each per week and are easily accessible for additional supervision as needed. Devereux PA AS uses a developmental competency-based model that builds clinical skills over the course of the internship.  Group supervision is provided weekly through participation in the clinical team meeting. Clinical issues, case reviews, in-service training, individual issues and organizational information are some of the common topics at the group supervision meetings. Additionally, didactic center-based training experiences are possible.

Desired Intern qualifications and competencies 

The ideal intern candidate will have the following characteristics:

  • Experience with and strong interest in working with adults with intellectual disabilities
  • Interest in working wtihin a social learning/behavioral model for clinical service delivery
  • Interest in functional behavioral assessment
  • Experience participating in applied research and willingness to learn and participate in research projects and related program development initiatives
  • Experience in working in an interdisciplinary team process

Outcomes of Training

Over the course of the training year, the intern will develop competencies in providing clinical services using a best practices model where clinical formulation, intervention and analysis are supported by relevant clinical data. Specific skills will be developed in the areas of functional behavioral assessment, individual therapy, psychological assessment, group therapy, research methodology, and the consultative process.

Upon completing the training year, interns are employed in residential programs, clinics, hospitals, community programs and as consultants for specialized populations.