I am writing to clarify misconceptions and to provide necessary context for your recent article about services and staffing at the William & Mary Counseling Center (WMCC), including the training model used for doctoral-level interns and practicum students.
The article’s inference that students seeing doctoral-level interns or staff therapists are receiving lower quality services is inaccurate. A psychology internship is the last step before obtaining a doctorate in clinical or counseling psychology, a process that typically takes 5-7 years.
In this last step of their doctorate, they serve as full-time clinicians for one year and come with several years of prior clinical experience. They also bring a sophisticated understanding of the most recent research and trends in psychology. Our staff therapists are highly trained and experienced clinicians with doctorates in psychology and are highly valued for their talent and devotion to the students and campus they serve.
While the article cited that 40 percent of clients are currently seen by interns and practicum students, not included in that calculation were the number of hours devoted to our robust therapy groups and the intensive supervision our experienced clinicians provide. Our supervisors are intimately involved in the case conceptualization, treatment planning and progress tracking of each student served by our interns.
The WMCC has a strong identity as an accredited training site and we are deeply committed to the development of psychologists. William & Mary is now regarded as a highly sought after training site for both practicum students and interns.
More importantly, the consistent feedback we get from students is that they value their clinical experience with our interns, many of whom are frequently requested by students due to their effectiveness as clinicians and their tremendous outreach programming on campus.
The Counseling Center is fully accredited by the International Association of Counseling Services (IACS). We also offer a clinical internship accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA). Our blend of providing experienced clinicians and a high quality training model is considered a best practices model.
The process of determining the optimal size of a training program takes several years and we are currently adjusting that size to be longitudinally sustainable. As we add staff, including a full-time psychiatrist, we expect the percentage of clients seen by interns and practicum students to decrease over time. But it’s also important to recognize that our Counseling Center has continued to grow and develop in a direction acknowledged as exemplary by both of our accrediting bodies, IACS and APA.
R. Kelly Crace, Ph.D.
Associate Vice President for Health & Wellness
Email Dr. R. Kelly Crace at [email protected]