The Child Guidance Clinic of the Superior Court of the District of ColumbiaThe Child Guidance Clinic is an integral part of the Division of Court Social Services within the Family Court of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. The Child Guidance Clinic has multiple functions but the core function of the Clinic is to provide the Family Court with critical information derived from the Clinic’s court ordered forensic psychological evaluations. These evaluations help inform judicial decision making and other stakeholders concerned with providing services to adjudicated juveniles while safeguarding the community. Throughout the internship, interns learn the skills required to assess and treat juveniles and to utilize these skills in the service of consultation to other professionals within the context of the legal system. By the end of the internship, interns are expected to have the skills consistent with functioning as license eligible, early career professional psychologists.
The Pre-Doctoral Internship Program in PsychologyThe Child Guidance Clinic’s psychology internship program has been accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA) since 2005. The internship was reaccredited in 2011 for an additional five years. The Clinic is staffed by five full-time licensed psychologists, two post-doctoral residents and two deputy clerks, who provide administrative support for the Clinic's programs and the internship. The five full-time licensed psychologists have diverse professional experiences and expertise, but all are well versed in forensic assessment and other skill areas required by the needs of the Superior Court. The core faculty and Training Committee is comprised of Chief Psychologist Michael E. Barnes, PhD, the Director of Internship Training Mitchell H. Hugonnet, PhD, Mary Donnelly PhD, Rachel Martell, Psy.D and Malcolm Woodland, PhD.
To apply to the internship, candidates must be enrolled in an APA accredited doctoral psychology program and certified for internship eligibility by their university. Applicants must have completed at least 120 assessment hours of supervised, face to face, client and collateral contact hours. These face to face hours are earned in the course of conducting comprehensive psychological assessment batteries. In practice, applicants need to have written approximately 15 comprehensive assessment reports in order to be considered by the Training Committee. Brief psychological screenings do not count towards this requirement; typically an additional 20-30 hours are required to write the actual comprehensive assessment report. Prior training experiences consistent with the training offerings of the internship are viewed favorably. The intern stipend is $24,865 per annum, paid bi-weekly. As temporary employees, interns are not eligible for health insurance and are therefore encouraged to obtain personal health insurance through their university or other means. Interns do not accrue sick and annual leave or compensatory (comp) time.
The internship program is guided by the Practitioner-Scholar training model. This model integrates extant scholarship and scientific methods to enable the intern to learn how to assess, diagnose, and treat clients with evidence based interventions. The Clinic defines scholarship to include scientific knowledge, methods and evidence based practice. The internship is designed to integrate this base of scholarship with psychology practice. Interns are expected to graduate with scientifically informed versatility and skill across a variety of mental health service delivery settings.
The goal of the internship is to develop the critical thinking skills needed to excel within diverse and varied professional psychology service settings. Interns graduate prepared for entry level generalist professional practice with a concentration in forensic assessment. While the internship offers a wide range of clinical training experiences to develop the intern’s core competencies, psychological assessment is emphasized in this internship. Core competencies are taught and evaluated in the following areas:
•Assessment & Diagnosis
•Psychological Treatment & Intervention
•Ethical Conduct & Professional Behavior
•Individual & Cultural Diversity
•Scholarly Inquiry & Evidenced Based Practice
•Consultation, Teaching & Supervision
•Research & Program Evaluation
I. Psychological Assessment & Diagnosis:Psychological assessment is emphasized in this internship. The core assumption of the Child Guidance Clinic’s internship model is that comprehensive assessment training provides the conceptual underpinning for thoughtful, informed and effective delivery of most psychological services. These assessments typically inform many stakeholders within the Family Court. For example, the Clinic’s assessments are heavily relied upon by judges, attorneys and probation officers throughout the trial and disposition process. The intern’s work product is used to craft specific elements of probation supervision and educational placement hearings, establish treatment needs for psychiatric medication, addiction treatment or inpatient hospitalization. Increasingly, the Clinic’s interns are afforded the opportunity to assess, prepare and sometimes provide expert testimony about forensic issues such as competency to stand trial and various risk assessments.
The training program reflects this objective by devoting considerable time to teaching the assessment process with an intense but graduated approach. Expected competencies would include a: knowledge of measurement and psychometrics, b: knowledge of assessment methods, c: application of assessment methods, d: diagnosis, e: conceptualization and recommendations, f: communication of assessment findings, g: report writing with the timeliness and precision required in a forensic environment. Achievement of these goals would be reflected in mastery of the following skills whereby the intern readily be able to: a: select assessment measures with attention to issues of reliability and validity, b: demonstrate awareness of the strengths and limitations of administration, scoring and interpretation of traditional assessment measures, c: select appropriate assessment measures to answer diagnostic questions, d: apply concepts of normal/abnormal behavior to case formulation and diagnosis in the context of stages of human development and diversity, e: utilize systematic approaches of gathering data to inform clinical decision-making, f: write assessment reports that communicate assessment findings particular audiences, g: write reports with the precision required in a forensic environment, h: complete reports within Court mandated deadlines
Training staff recognize that interns start the internship with diverse experiences and training needs in the area of psychological assessment. This is taken into account for each intern with an individualized, graduated and sequential training process. Cases are screened and assigned to interns by staff psychologists on the basis of the intern's growing level of competence.
For every assessment case, the intern and supervisor review pertinent background information in order to develop an assessment strategy to address specific referral questions. Interns are thereby introduced to a broad range of assessment methods including the clinical interview, collateral interviews, developmental history, behavioral observations and rating scales, cognitive, educational, self-report and projective tests. Specialized forensic assessment instruments are employed to assess competency to stand trial, violence and sexual violence risk, Miranda waivers to name but a few. Computer scoring is available for most instruments. Hypothesis development and integration of data to test hypotheses is accomplished through individual and group supervision.
II. Psychological Treatment & Intervention:Interns perform supervised individual and group psychotherapy with adolescents and young adults. Interns are assigned up to seven court-referred juveniles, two young adults and conduct topical therapy groups. In the process, interns gain experience with culturally and diagnostically diverse individuals. Individual treatment may consist of short (10 sessions) and long-term (one-year) therapy. Training in crisis intervention is typically experiential as well as didactic.
Every week, interns participate in individual psychotherapy supervision, which is complemented by weekly case conferences and didactic or experiential group supervision. Various evidence based therapies, personality theories, and treatment techniques are taught and applied to specific cases and treatment populations. Interns are responsible to the Court for the provision of monthly progress reports to inform the Court of the juvenile's progress in treatment; treatment is almost always provided within the context of the juvenile’s probation requirements.
By the conclusion of the internship, interns are expected to have developed entry-level competencies in: a: formulating and conceptualizing cases and develop treatment planning interventions utilizing at least one consistent theoretical orientation, b: displaying clinical skills and effective interventions, c: implementing evidence-based interventions, d: evaluating treatment progress and modifying treatment plans as required and utilizing established outcome measures, e: forming, developing and maintaining therapeutic relationships, f: understanding the process of psychotherapy.
Group psychotherapy training has two components: The first component involves on-site experience in the Child Guidance Clinic treating juvenile sex offenders, restoring competency for trial and conducting focused groups such as anger management, grief, teenage parenting, sex education and drug education and alternative life style issues. The second component is comprised of a group therapy rotation at Howard University's Counseling Service. Interns participate with the Howard University interns in a weekly group psychotherapy seminar. This entails observation of a therapy group followed by discussion, participation in their own process group, group supervision, culminating with the intern co-leading a group. Howard University psychologists who hold specialized certifications in group therapy supervise interns in group therapy.
By the conclusion of the internship, interns are expected to have developed entry-level competencies in: screening potential group members, writing group therapy treatment contracts, understanding theories of group processes, applying theories to the here-and-now process when co-leading a group, interpreting group processes, and gaining self-knowledge through participation in their own process group.
III. Ethical Conduct & Professional Behavior:Adherence to The American Psychological Association's (APA) Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct (hereinafter referred to as the Ethics Code) is integral to all aspects of the internship. Interns are expected to understand and incorporate the Ethics Code in their delivery of clinical services and be able to apply the code to other professional activities such as teaching, supervision and consultation. The in-house ethics seminar is required during internship orientation. Further training in elements of the Ethics Code is accomplished in supervision, case conferences and didactic presentations. The APA Ethics Code and forensic specialty guidelines are provided in the Intern Handbook. Interns are expected to demonstrate an awareness of ethical issues and sensitivity to ethical conflicts and capacity for thoughtful resolution. There are specific competencies that the intern would be expected to meet at the time of formal evaluations: a: knowledge and understanding of the APA Ethical Principles and Code of Conduct and other relevant standards and guidelines, laws, statutes, rules, and regulations, b: knowledge and application of an ethical decision-making model, c: knowledge of The Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing and the Specialty Guidelines in Forensic Psychology.
IV. Individual & Cultural Diversity:The impact of culture and individual diversity upon service delivery is considered across many training activities. Interns learn about the influence of race (in this setting, primarily African-American), ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, urban culture, socio-economic status and on occasion, nationality. This training is provided by clinical case assignments, case conferences, didactic seminars and assigned readings. By the conclusion of internship, interns are expected to have developed entry-level competencies in these areas. The clinic emphasizes understanding individual and cultural diversity (ICD) issues that may affect the process and outcome in assessment, therapy and consultation. The interns will be graded in these specific areas: a: monitoring and applying knowledge of self as a cultural being in assessment, treatment, and consultation, b: applying knowledge of others as cultural beings in assessment, treatment, and consultation, c: applying knowledge of the role of culture in interactions in assessment, treatment, and consultation of diverse others, d: applying knowledge, sensitivity, and understanding regarding ICD issues in order to work effectively with diverse individuals in the course of assessment, treatment, and consultation.
V. Scholarly Inquiry & Evidenced Based Practice:The internship offers clinical training designed to integrate scholarship and evidence based practice in psychology. Training objectives include understanding the nature of empirically and scientifically derived knowledge, research methods and evidence based practice. The Clinic’s research lab provides direct instruction in these areas supplemented by seminars, supervision and off-site workshops. Interns progressively learn to review and integrate research literature into their clinical work in assessment, treatment and consultation. Expected competencies will be assessed across these dimensions: a: application of scientific methods to professional practice, b: demonstration of intermediate level knowledge of scientific bases of behavior, c: demonstration of knowledge and application of evidence-based practice, d: application of empirically based assessment, intervention and other psychological applications.
VI. Consultation, Teaching & Supervision:The Child Guidance Clinic has a strong commitment to the development of consultation skills over the course of the internship. Interns will understand how to practice collaboratively and provide consultation to other disciplines, including lawyers, probation officers, educators, psychiatrists, social workers and others. Interns will learn, understand and practice effective communication and consultation tailored to the needs and requirements of particular stakeholders and different settings. Typically interns are asked to identify, specify, explain and discuss the juvenile’s unique history, diagnosis, treatment needs, educational placement recommendations and placement issues. Interns may provide testimony as fact witnesses based upon the results of treatment or assessment of a particular client. Expected competencies include: a: demonstrating knowledge of the consultant’s role and its unique features as distinguished from other professional roles (such as therapist, supervisor, teacher), b: demonstrating the ability to select appropriate means of assessment to answer referral questions, c: identifying issues and knowledge about the process of communicating assessment findings, d: identifying literature relevant to consultation methods within systems, clients, or settings.
Opportunities for supervised training experiences in teaching and supervision is provided during the internship program. Training includes didactic presentations in seminars, division wide training offered to probation officers and court-wide training to judicial personnel within the Family Court. Interns may supervise clinical externs in specific and limited activities connected with assessment and intervention activities. Supervised experiential training is supplemented by assigned reading in theories of supervision. Specific training goals assessed in formal performance reviews include a: the skills required to provide instruction across various settings and b: the ability to provide helpful supervisory input in peer and group supervision.