Baylor University Counseling Center Receives National Accreditation for Its Doctoral Internship Program
WACO, Texas (June 9, 2017) – Baylor University Counseling Center (BUCC) has achieved a milestone for its doctoral internship program. The American Psychological Association has announced the accreditation of BUCC’s doctoral internship program, a multi-step process that begins with accreditation and continues through long-term assessment of internship outcomes.
The achievement positively impacts current and future doctoral interns, the Counseling Center staff and Baylor students seeking services from the Center.
“We have been talking about this and working steadily toward it for years,” said James G. Marsh, Ph.D., executive director of Counseling Services. “This accreditation is instrumental for our program.”
Every candidate for a Ph.D. or Psy.D. in clinical or counseling psychology is required to complete a year-long internship once doctoral coursework is finished. Accredited internships are competitive and attract top talent, according to Randal W. Boldt, Psy.D., supervising psychologist, assistant director and training director at the Counseling Center. Accreditation requires programs develop a rigorous and well-defined model of training for doctoral candidates that is measured against a lengthy set of training standards.
“This accreditation is good for Baylor because it proves our interns have met a high standard,” Boldt said.
The Counseling Center has supported two groups of doctoral interns since the program’s founding in August 2015 and will welcome a third at the end of the summer. Interns work full-time for one year to complete a 2,000-hour internship, which includes 500 hours of direct, clinical intervention. Weekly, they receive four hours of supervision and between two and four hours of academic training. Interns also attend regular diversity seminars where they enhance their multicultural competencies.
“We are pouring into the interns while they’re here, continually,” Boldt said. “They get a lot of support, experiences and education to help them grow.”
Investing time and resources into training and supervising doctoral interns benefits Baylor students engaged in therapy at the Counseling Center. Highly trained interns, supervised by licensed psychologists, lead individual and group therapy, walk-in clinics and consultations.
“Students who come in say they get great service from our doctoral interns,” Boldt said. “They are very complimentary of our interns, who are energetic, engaged and do a fantastic job.”
To date, two doctoral interns have completed the program each year. The accreditation, along with additional physical space in the Counseling Center’s new Dutton Avenue facility and the hiring of additional staff, will allow the Center to accept four interns in August 2018.
Jamie Lopez completed Baylor’s internship in July 2016. She then successfully defended her dissertation and was conferred a Psy.D. in clinical psychology from Ponce Health Sciences University in Puerto Rico.
“This is an exceptional internship,” Lopez said. “It’s a great learning experience and it really prepares you to become a professional.”
In fact, Lopez was hired as a post-doc fellow at Baylor’s Counseling Center. In this role, she continues to invest in projects she began as an intern, including facilitating a support group – Latinas Unidas – for female Hispanic students.
“The team at the Baylor Counseling Center really supports me and encourages me with whatever personal and professional goals I have. They just make this a great working environment,” Lopez said.
One of the advantages of a competitive internship program, according to Boldt, is the impact on the pool of applicants for new hires. The program also provides opportunities to increase the diversity of the clinical staff and to stay sharp in industry best practices.
“When you teach and train and people watch you as a model, you make sure you maintain your excellence,” Boldt said. Interns also provide regular feedback to the Counseling Center staff. “It gives us a chance to see ourselves and make changes,” Boldt said. “Continuous feedback and continuous improvement.”
Pursuit of excellence
With this accreditation, the doctoral internship program’s unique features are available to a wide range of candidates. The Counseling Center competes for interns among other institutions of higher education, hospitals, federal prisons, military settings and community mental health centers. Baylor is one of only a handful of Christian-oriented internships in the nation. The program is distinguished by bringing an awareness of faith into work with clients. Another unique aspect of this program is that doctoral interns provide two hours of supervision to practicum students – graduate students who are in the earlier, coursework phase of their learning.
“All the clinical interventions we do are relational,” Boldt said. “We work to provide a transformational experience in the lives of our interns as well as our student body.”
From clinical interventions to multicultural competencies to professional skills, doctoral interns at the Baylor University Counseling Center are equipped with the best practices in clinical and counseling psychology. The American Psychological Association’s endorsement of the program by way of accreditation speaks to the pursuit of excellence in the program.
“These doctoral graduates are about to go into the world, so we give them every experience we can, in a supervised setting, so they can expand their wings,” Boldt said.
ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY
Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 16,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.