Training Experiences

The training itself consists of a one year contract, with a minimum of 40 hours a week, meeting a minimum of 2,000 training hours. More than 25% of an intern’s time is spent in providing direct services.

Training is delivered through the following Learning Activities:

Psychological Evaluations: Interns conduct mental health screenings for youth and suicide risk screens. They will also participate in conducting forensic psychosocial evaluations assessing for experiences of child maltreatment and subsequent impact. Through the use of our closed-circuit system, Interns will observe several evaluations for all ages and referral types to provide a model for assessment. Trainees will conduct one psychosocial evaluation weekly. For youth, not only will Interns learn to conduct evaluations related to child maltreatment children (including but not limited to physical, emotional, medical, and sexual abuse, neglect, exposure to intimate partner violence, and exposure to substance abuse), but also be afforded the opportunity to learn risk assessment as related to the risk of engaging in problematic sexual behavior, and risk of sexual and physical violence. Interns will also explore systemic and cultural issues that directly or indirectly influence these evaluations and resulting recommendations. Upon graduation, Interns will be competent in these areas of assessment, including being able to articulate relevant psychological issues, recognizing ethical concerns, and developing comprehensive formulations and recommendations to address referral issues through the application of the most current psychological science. There is a possibility of being required to testify before the court on produced reports. Preparation for these experiences will be provided both through supervision and the relevant attorney. 

Therapy: Interns will begin accumulating a caseload of approximately 4-6 clients as soon as possible. Psychotherapeutic services are provided to those who have experienced maltreatment (e.g. sexual abuse, physical abuse, exposure to substance abuse or intimate partner violence), supportive caretakers, ambivalent caretakers, non-supportive caretakers, and depending on the nature of the referral (e.g. physical abuse) those who have abused or maltreated a child. Through didactics, supervision, and direct practice, Interns will become proficient in the treatment of trauma and child maltreatment through evidence-based and other interventions. Interns will complete online training in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) and receive supervision from a TF-CBT-certified therapist. Interns will also be exposed to DBT-informed interventions, incorporating psychodynamic conceptualizations and interventions where appropriate, and working with mandated populations in large systems. Given the availability of appropriate referrals, the Interns may have the opportunity to run the following groups: TF-CBT groups (child and parent groups), game-based TF-CBT groups, DBT skills groups for children with minor problematic sexual behaviors. Through didactics and possible direct application, given the availability of appropriate referrals, Interns will gain a basic knowledge of substance abuse intervention (e.g. Motivational Enhancement, Harm-Reduction, Relapse Prevention models), interventions for delinquency, therapeutic jurisprudence, and the treatment of sexual offending behavior.

Didactics and Additional Training: Training is enhanced and supported through extensive didactics, supervision, and rounding. Didactics begin with basic concepts and progress to more specialized knowledge. There is a minimum of a once-weekly Educational Seminar presented by various staff members pertinent to clinical and forensic practice at the AHCH. Development of assessment and conceptualization skills are further supported through evaluation team meetings on Tuesdays [approximately 2 hours]. Treatment team meetings and quarterly multidisciplinary meetings between the treatment team and DCP&P staff also provide additional opportunities for learning throughout the year. 

Resources: Training is provided through active engagement by the training committee, consisting of five licensed, full-time psychologists, and supplemented through interaction with the rest of the mental health and medical staff. Interns are provided a shared office with their own computer and workspace with access to the electronic medical record. Technology and equipment supporting the dictation of reports is also available to the Interns. The AHCH also has several support staff for scheduling, billing and other related activities. Interns have access to the medical library, which is extensive to help support the Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine. 

Supervision and Evaluation of Progress: Cases for evaluation are reviewed by the Mental Health Director and by individual supervisors to determine appropriate referrals for trainees. These cases are then reviewed in preparation for evaluation. The evaluation is processed in rounds and a report is drafted under strict supervision. These documents are then signed by the supervisor, as well as the trainee, both of whom are clearly identified on the document. Similarly, trainees will inform treatment clients they are under the direct supervision of a licensed psychologist for the purposes of training. Interns spend a minimum of two hours per week in individual, regularly scheduled, face-to-face supervision. Individual supervision is delivered by a licensed psychologist and focuses on enhancing the Interns' acumen in both assessment and treatment. As related to group therapy, some additional supervision may be provided by Fellows, under the supervision of a licensed psychologist. Interns will also participate in a yearlong TF-CBT specific group supervision to develop an in-depth understanding of the intervention. Additionally, Interns will participate in group supervision which will be a combination of a content and process-based focus. These sessions will be facilitated by members of the training committee and staff at large. Interns are provided with regular feedback through the course of supervision. Formal written evaluations will be completed at the 6 th month mark and at the completion of the internship training. The same form is used for both the 6 and 12 month evaluation, with a delineation as to which time the evaluation represents at the top to be written in by the supervisor[s]. Information regarding the interns' progress will be communicated with the Training Director from the interns' graduate training program. Guidelines are in place to address issues in training, supplementing the larger institution’s Dispute Resolution Policy (PolicyStat ID: 8124499).

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