APA Internship Activities

Professional Specialization

Although the CCS internship emphasizes generalist training and the development of a breadth of knowledge and skills, we also recognize that interns can benefit from pursuing specific areas of clinical interest.

Choosing an area of specialization

Each intern chooses a yearlong specialization in a primary area of clinical interest. This area of interest is focused on a clinical issue/concern in our university student population. Past intern specializations have included clinical issues such as eating disorders/body image concerns, depression, anxiety, grief & loss, trauma, relationship violence, LGBTQ identity development, and spirituality/religious development.

In addition to the clinical area of interest, interns incorporate a multicultural component to the specialization. This component involves working with a specific student population around the clinical area of interest. For example, past interns have specialized in eating disorder/body image concerns in the Latina community, relationship violence in the LGBTQ community, adjustment concerns for international students, and depression in African American students. Other clinical areas and student populations of interest can be developed as a specialization, providing that adequate supervision is available from CCS senior staff.

In consultation with the training director and CCS staff, interns discuss and finalize their specialization areas upon arrival for internship. Once the specialization area is decided, interns are assigned a specialization supervisor and a specialization plan is developed within the first six weeks of the internship. The specialization plan includes the specific goals, activities, and time lines that interns will work to achieve within their area of specialization. Past intern specialization plans are available as a guide. The specialization plan is often based on existing services, programs, and campus collaborations provided by CCS, but new services and programs can be added based on student needs and an intern's specific interests and goals.

The time spent on specialization activities varies each week since there is overlap among an intern's specialization goals, their clinical work, and the development of outreach programming. Over the entire internship year, interns typically average 2-3 hours of specialization work each week. This includes specialization supervision, reading/literature review time, and the provision of services related to the specialization (e.g., individual counseling, group counseling, & outreach programming).

Goals of the specialization

Each specialization is developed to meet the goals below:

  • Develop and integrate a broad range of clinical competencies within the specialization area
  • Develop and integrate multicultural competencies within the specialization area
  • Experience the multiple ways in which psychologists apply their knowledge and skills within a specialization area, particularly within the context of a university counseling center
  • Provide various psychological services that meet identified needs of NIU students and the campus community

Activities related to the area of specialization

To meet the goals above, interns are involved in a variety of activities related to the specialization. The range of activities includes clinical interventions (e.g., individual counseling, group therapy, and assessment), outreach programming, consultation/collaboration, administration, and evaluation. In these ways, a specialization always involves activities that focus on the specific clinical area and/or student population. For example, a specialization in grief & loss for students who identify as LGBTQ would involve working with individual counseling clients with these concerns, the possibility of developing a therapy group connected to these concerns, outreach efforts with students and staff at the NIU Gender & Sexuality Resource Center, and ongoing consultation and collaboration with students, faculty, and staff on how to be an ally to LGBTQ students.

Multicultural Presentation & Specialization Report

In January of the internship year, interns provide a presentation to CCS staff on the multicultural component of their specialization. Interns provide a summary of the relevant literature in their specialization area and discuss the implications for providing effective services to a college student population. The multicultural presentation also provides interns an opportunity to demonstrate theory into practice competencies and "best practice" recommendations that can be utilized in a university counseling center. 

At the end of the internship year, interns complete a specialization report that summarizes and highlights the various activities undertaken as part of the specialization. In this report, interns synthesize the knowledge and skills gained from the specialization experience and make recommendations to CCS staff and future interns on ways to continue to meet the needs of students in the specialization area.