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Graduate Training Program: Externship

American University Counseling Center's Externship Program

Download Externship Application

The externship program is designed for doctoral students in psychology who are interested in developing their clinical skills and building their theoretical knowledge. The emphasis within the training program is integrative with a relational and multicultural focus. The practical application of this knowledge is in the treatment of a university population.

The Counseling Center is American University's primary counseling facility. It offers services to a late adolescent and adult population. The Center is an ideal setting for externs to gain experience working with a wide variety of presenting concerns and broad range of diagnoses. The student population also offers the opportunity to work with clients from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds. The center is open 9:00am - 6:00pm Monday and Thursday, 9:00am - 5:00pm Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Schedule of Weekly Activities
The externship requires from 16-20 hours per week dependent on the extern's interests and the requirements of their program (this includes administrative responsibilities and supervision preparation). Externs are responsible for ensuring that their hours meet criteria for their respective programs. The following is an outline of weekly activities.

1. Individual Therapy (7 hours per week).
Clients are generally seen once a week. Sessions take place at the Counseling Center. Externs may need to work one evening a week to see clients. All sessions with clients are audio-taped. Externs are expected to provide their own equipment for audio-taping. Externs will carry 7 individual therapy clients at a time.

2. Supervision on Individual Therapy Cases (2 hours per week).
Each extern will have two clinical supervisors for individual therapy cases. A licensed psychologist and a doctoral intern will provide supervision.

3. Assessment (1-2 hours per week).
Learning to assess the client and the client's situation so as to help them make the most of their counseling is essential to the work at the Center. In order to provide training and supervised experience in this area, each extern will first observe intakes conducted by staff, and will later conduct independent intakes under the supervision of a licensed staff member.

4. Seminar (2 hours per week).
Externs are required to attend the following seminar: Selected Topics & Clinical Application Seminar (Thursdays, 10:00am - 12:00pm). This seminar (conducted by staff members and visiting clinicians) focuses on a number of clinical areas in depth including: Psychodynamic and relational theories; application of theory; and other clinical topics (e.g., transference and countertransference, personality disorders, substance abuse, eating disorders, and sexual abuse). A reading list is provided.

5. Clinical Case Conference (1 hour per week; Thursdays, 9:00am - 10:00am).
Externs meet as a group with a staff consultant to present cases and to discuss particular problems or issues related to their work with clients. Externs will be expected to write up a brief case conceptualization for the clients they will present at the case conference (due one week prior to conference).

6. Urgent Care Coverage/Crisis Intervention (3 hours per week for 1 semester).
Externs will be responsible for providing urgent care coverage one afternoon (2-5 pm) per week for one semester. Externs will be working as a part of a team, which includes staff and pre-doctoral interns. To prepare for this experience, all externs will participate in an orientation that will cover a range of topics, including how to provide urgent care support, risk assessment, and treatment planning. Externs will shadow staff as they begin this responsibility, and later conduct these sessions independently with supervision.

7. Reading.
Readings for the seminars are generally assigned in advance of class. The reading materials are provided by the Center.

8. Outreach.
Each extern facilitates two outreach/consultation projects within the University community. Externs are encouraged to complete these in the fall semester.

9. Administrative Meeting (Thursdays, 12:00pm - 12:30pm).
Externs meet with the Externship Program Coordinator to facilitate understanding of center policies and procedures, provide feedback regarding their training experience, and discuss issues of professional development.

10. Evaluation and Feedback.
Feedback on progress will be provided in individual supervision as well as more formally each semester. Externs are evaluated based on their ability to establish rapport with clients, integrate theory and practice, understand psychodynamics of clients and ability to use this understanding to help clients.

11. Professional Development.
Throughout the training year, opportunities to discuss issues related to professional identity and professional development will also be made available to the externs.

Self-Disclosure Policy
The American University Counseling Center training programs view supervision as a means for trainees to learn how to assess and intervene with clients, and to recognize, understand and manage their personal reactions to those under their care. We believe that the therapist's response to the client "in the room" can be an important vehicle for understanding and helping the client. As such, an integral part of supervision is exploration of such issues. In accordance with the APA ethics code, section 7.4, it is important for the trainees to be informed that they will be expected to explore and reflect upon their feelings and reactions to clients. In the process of this self-reflection, personal information about the trainee may be addressed. The staff believes that the decision as to how much or how little to share is a choice that needs to be made by the trainee. Supervision is never viewed as psychotherapy. Also in accordance with APA ethics code, section 7.5, it is important for trainees to be aware that the due process procedures for our training programs, indicate that the staff may require trainees to obtain psychotherapy in those cases in which a trainee is deemed impaired.

Application and Selection Procedures
Applicants must be enrolled in an accredited counseling or clinical psychology program for the doctoral degree program. Applicants should have completed at least one psychotherapy practicum/field placement. Applications must be received by Monday, February 13, 2017. Applicants should allow one week mailing time unless using overnight mail.

Submit application packet to:
David Goode-Cross, Ph.D.
Assistant Director for Training
Counseling Center, MGC 214
The American University
4400 Massachusetts Ave. N.W.
Washington, DC 20016-8150

Download Externship Application

Application includes 1) completed application form, 2) completed Training Director form, 3) curriculum vitae, 4) official transcript, and 5) two letters of recommendation. Application materials must be submitted all together in one envelope. Transcripts and letters of recommendation should be signed across the seal.

Questions about the externship training program should be directed to Dr. David Goode-Cross, Assistant Director for Training - Contact information: Phone: (202) 885-3500 or E-mail:

Upon review of applications, interviews will be arranged with those applicants under consideration. Offers to applicants will be made according to Consortium guidelines when applicable.