EDUCATIONAL NOTE: A program's adherence to APPIC membership criteria does not guarantee that the trainees in the program will meet individual state, provincial, or territorial licensing requirements.
A psychology internship is an organized training program, which in contrast to supervised experience or on-the-job training, is designed to provide the intern with a planned, programmed sequence of training experiences. The primary focus and purpose is assuring breadth and quality of training.
Clarification: The organization of an internship program is evident in a clear:
- Statement of the goals and objectives of the training activities.
- Description of the plan, location, and sequence of direct service experiences.
- Description of the training curriculum; i.e., the content, duration, and frequency of the training activities.
- Description of how the psychology training program is integrated into the larger organization.
For programs with multiple sites, the services rendered by interns, the supervision offered, and the training director's involvement is clearly described at each site.
The internship agency has a clearly designated doctoral level staff psychologist who is responsible for the integrity and quality of the training program. This person is actively licensed, certified, or registered by the State Board of Examiners in the jurisdiction where the program exists, and is present at the training facility for a minimum of 20 hours a week.
Clarification: The internship is administered by a doctoral level licensed (certified or registered for independent practice) psychologist who:
- Directs and organizes the training program and its resources.
- Is responsible for selection of interns.
- Monitors and evaluates the training program's goals and activities.
- Documents and maintains interns' training records.
The internship agency training staff consists of at least two full time equivalent doctoral level psychologists who serve as primary supervisors and who are actively licensed, certified, or registered as a psychologist by the Board of Examiners in the jurisdiction where the program exists.
Clarification: "Full time equivalent" typically refers to 40 hours/week. However, there may be a range of hours that qualify as "full time equivalent" depending on the norms of the program. 35 hours/week is the minimum that will qualify for "full time equivalent" for APPIC member programs. "Full time" for interns could also be set at 35 hours/week if this meets licensure requirements in your jurisdiction. APPIC believes supervisor expectations should be similar to intern expectations.
It is expected that interns receive supervision during the year from at least two different supervisors. Interns' primary clinical supervision and role modeling must be provided by psychologists on the program's staff members who are licensed (certified or registered) for independent practice at the doctoral level and who are:
- Officially designated as psychology intern supervisors.
- Significantly involved in the operation of the training program.
Intern supervision is provided by staff members of the internship agency or by qualified affiliates of that agency who carry clinical responsibility for the cases being supervised. Regularly scheduled individual supervision is provided by one or more doctoral level licensed psychologists, at a ratio of no less than one hour of supervision for every 20 internship hours. Supervision is provided with the specific intent of dealing with psychological services rendered directly by the intern.
Clarification: Supervisors need to be clearly designated by the agency as clinically responsible for the cases (for example, countersigning documentation or having their name on the treatment plan or case summary). Depending on clinical needs, increased hours of supervision are expected. The required hours shall be through face-to-face individual supervision (rural sites may use visual telecommunication technology in unusual circumstances and when face-to-face supervision is impractical, but must demonstrate that such technology provides sufficient oversight). Programs shall adhere to all requirements of their state licensing boards.
The internship provides training in a range of psychological assessment and intervention activities conducted directly with recipients of psychological services.
Clarification: Internship training in Psychology is primarily based on experiential learning which:
- Provides psychological services directly to consumers in the form of psychological assessment, treatment, and consultation.
- Exposes interns to a variety of types of psychological services and consumers.
- At least 25% of trainees' time is in face-to-face psychological services to patients/clients.
The internship must provide at least two hours per week in didactic activities such as case conferences, seminars, in-service training, or grand rounds.
Clarification: The Psychology training program should have scheduled didactic experiences available to meet the training needs of their interns, a minimum of 2 hours per week on average with not less than 8 hours in any given month. "Didactic activities" refers to actual training opportunities and should include training activities beyond Intern Case Presentations. Formal processes must be in place to encourage intern socialization.
Internship training is at post-clerkship, post-practicum, and post-externship level, and precedes the granting of the doctoral degree.
Clarification: Interns must have completed adequate and appropriate prerequisite training prior to the internship. This would include both:
- Completion of formal academic coursework at a degree-granting program in professional psychology (clinical, counseling, school), and
- Closely supervised experiential training in professional psychology skills conducted in non-classroom settings.
The internship agency has a minimum of two interns at the predoctoral level of training during any training year. These interns must be at least half-time (i.e., 20 hours per week). The minimum number of interns must be on site and in training at the time of the initial application for APPIC membership.
Clarification: The intention of this criterion is to allow opportunities for personal (face-to-face) interaction with peers in formal settings in the training program and on the training site during each training week. Part-time internships must ensure that intern schedules sufficiently overlap to allow substantial and meaningful peer contact.
- The internship level psychology trainees have a title such as "intern," "resident," "fellow," or other designation of trainee status.
The internship agency has a written statement or brochure which provides a clear description of the nature of the training program, including the goals and content of the internship and clear expectations for quantity and quality of the trainee's work. It is made available to prospective interns.
Clarification: Internship programs must make available descriptions of their training program which give their applicants and interns a clear understanding of the program in terms of:
- The program's training goals and objectives.
- The program's training methods, content, and curriculum (for example, required rotations, sample weekly schedules, or available training seminars).
- The program's training resources (e.g., training/supervisory staff, physical facilities and training equipment, clerical support, etc.)
- The sites at which training and services are provided. For programs with multiple sites, clear descriptions are given for each site of services rendered by interns, supervision offered, and involvement of the training director.
Clarification: APPIC must be notified in writing of substantive changes to the training program (personnel, placements, etc.) that have the potential to impact quality of training or which substantially alters the advertised training experience. The training program is likewise responsible for maintaining an up-to-date and accurate description of the program in the APPIC Directory.
Internship programs have documented due process procedures that describe separately how programs deal with (1) concerns about intern performance, and (2) interns' concerns about training. These procedures include the steps of notice, hearing, and appeal, and are given to the interns at the beginning of the training period.
Clarification: Due process procedures describe how an agency deals with intern deficiencies and how the interns' handle grievances with the training program. The documentation would include:
- Description of formal evaluation and complaint procedures.
- The program's and intern's responsibilities and rights in the process.
- The appeal process.
- Description of procedures if interns have grievances about their training or supervision.
Programs need two written policies: (1) Due Process and (2) Grievance Process. The procedures must be specific to the internship training program; reliance on a more general HR policy is insufficient. Both procedures should be provided to interns at the commencement of training. Due Process is a written procedure that comes into use when an intern’s behavior is problematic. (The use of the term "impaired" is discouraged because if one identifies an intern by that term, legal issues having to do with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) could be invoked.) Due process must include three elements: Notice (i.e. the intern must be notified that problematic behavior has been identified and that the internship is addressing the problem); Hearing (i.e. the program must have a formal process by which the identified problematic intern has an opportunity to hear concerns and to respond to the concerns); and Appeal (i.e. the intern must have an opportunity to appeal the actions taken by the program in regards to the identified problematic behavior. The appeal should extend at least one step beyond the Training Director). Grievance Procedure is a process that is invoked when an intern has a complaint against the training program. The procedure should include specific steps an intern takes in the complaint process and be broad enough to cover any and all complaints that may arise for interns (e.g. complaints about evaluations, supervision, stipends/salary, harassment, etc.)
The internship experience (minimum 1500 hours) must be completed in no less than 9 months and no more than 24 months.
Clarification: Internships may be conducted on a full or part-time basis. Only School Psychology programs will be accepted at 1500 hour or for 9-10 month internships. It is required that internships provide training that meets the requirements for licensure eligibility in the state, province, territory or jurisdiction in which it is located.
- APPIC member programs are required to issue a certificate of internship completion, which includes the word "Psychology," to all interns who have successfully completed the program
At least twice a year the internship program conducts formal written evaluations of each trainee's performance.
Clarification: The written evaluation process provides comprehensive evaluative feedback to doctoral psychology interns as follows:
- The evaluation provides summary information of performance in all major competence areas that are a focus of internship training.
- Interns have the opportunity to review their evaluation with supervisors to ensure the fullest possible communication between supervisors and interns.
- Evaluation procedures provide feedback that validates trainees' achievements by noting areas of unusual strength and excellence and facilitate trainees' further growth by identifying areas that would benefit from additional training.
- The program provides the doctoral psychology intern's graduate training director with feedback concerning the intern's progress in the internship program.
The program has the necessary financial resources to achieve its training goals and objectives. Intern stipends shall be reasonable, fair, and stated clearly in advance. Unfunded internship positions are allowable only in unusual and infrequent circumstances.
Clarification: APPIC requires internship positions to be equitably funded across the site. Intern stipends shall be set at a level that is representative and fair in relationship to the geographic location and clinical setting of the training site. Stipends should be reasonable based on a comparison with other APPIC member programs in your area. Unfunded or poorly funded internship positions are allowed only in unusual and infrequent circumstances in which the creation of such a position would serve to alleviate a hardship for the potential intern candidate. The "burden of evidence" lies with the program to demonstrate that the lack of funding does not adversely affect morale or quality of training. In addition, training resources should be sufficient to afford the same training for an unfunded or poorly funded position as for fully funded positions.
The payment of a stipend is a concrete acknowledgment that a trainee in the agency is valued and emphasizes that the primary task of the year is educational in nature. Stipends are generally lower than a salary received by a regular employee and implies that there is a significant training component in addition to experiential learning. Stipends are equal among trainees unless there is an extenuating circumstance (e.g., specialized skills, consortia agreements). This distinction between trainee and regular employee emphasizes that an internship is "an organized training program, in contrast to supervised experience or on-the-job training.
Frequently Asked Questions About APPIC's Stipend Requirement
Note: APPIC membership criteria are approved by a vote of the APPIC membership and appear above in bold type. Clarification information is approved by the APPIC Board of Directors.