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Predoctoral Internship in Clinical Psychology

The Emory University School of Medicine/Grady Health System (Emory/Grady) predoctoral internship in clinical psychology has both a General Internship Experience (GIE, General and Trauma Track experiences) and a Neuropsychology Track (NT) within the General Internship. The internship utilizes a generalist clinical training philosophy that is firmly rooted in a scientist-practitioner model of psychology education. A developmental framework guides a core focus on continuing to cultivate professional trainee competencies (knowledge, skills, attitudes), thereby building on competencies learned during doctoral training and anchored by the science of psychology. The internship is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of the Office of Program Consultation and Accreditation of the American Psychological Association. Applicants may contact the Commission by phone at 202 336 5979, by mail at 750 First Street, N.E. Washington, D.C. 20002 or on the web at http://www.apa.org/ed/accreditation/contact.aspx. 

Specifically, the internship provides supervised clinical experience with varied clinical populations across a range of settings, along with opportunities for professional development in training and scholarly activities.  Collectively, these activities reflect the overarching goal of the internship to train culturally competent psychologists who can assume professional roles in a multitude of settings, key examples of which include academic health science centers, universities, community clinics, and interdisciplinary health care environments. 

The General Internship Experience is based in a university affiliated public city hospital in downtown Atlanta, Grady Health System (GHS), which serves as the primary teaching hospital for the Emory University School of Medicine. Within a large, inner-city hospital setting, interns gain diverse clinical experiences with child and adult psychiatric and medical patients with severe psychopathology and life stressors. Training for the Neuropsychology Track interns occurs through the neuropsychology services of three facilities within Emory Healthcare: the Emory University Center for Rehabilitation Medicine (CRM), Children’s Health Care of Atlanta (CHOA), and Wesley Woods Center (WW). Each intern will complete six month major rotations at two of these sites. All interns complete a rotation in adult neuropsychology at the CRM, and either complete a rotation in pediatric neuropsychology at CHOA or in geriatric neuropsychology at WW. These rotations allow the interns to receive experience working with patients across a wide range of ages. The didactic opportunities on the NT track also address topics pertinent to adult, child, and geriatric neuropsychology, making this a uniquely comprehensive internship experience that will prepare interns for postdoctoral fellowships and careers in adult, child, or geriatric neuropsychology. The NT meets APA Division 40, Houston Conference, and Association of Internship Training Centers in Neuropsychology (AITCN) criteria for neuropsychology training.

The strength of the internship lies in the diversity of clinical experiences available to interns combined with the teaching and training atmosphere available in an academic health sciences center setting.  The internship settings provide a dynamic training environment rich in learning opportunities for predoctoral psychology interns.  The clinical breadth of services provided and patients served by GHS makes it possible for interns to obtain general clinical training across a range of settings.  As a tertiary care facility, the Emory CRM serves a uniquely challenging and diagnostically diverse rehabilitation population, providing exceptional neuropsychological training opportunities. As a large public urban health care institution, GHS primarily serves a low-income racially and ethnically diverse clientele.  The CRM also serves a multi-racial, multi-ethnic urban population.  As the major pediatric healthcare system in Georgia, CHOA serves a diverse patient population encompassing a wide range of racial, ethnic, socio-economic and geographic backgrounds.  Because the Neuropsychology Department at CHOA is a tertiary referral source for medical specialists within the hospital and in the community, the patient population has a wide range of presenting medical and neurological conditions, which provides very varied training opportunities for the intern. The WW is a multifaceted geriatric training and research center. The neuropsychologist and the intern provide diagnostic services to inpatients and outpatients with dementia, mild cognitive impairment, and movement disorders. Patients have a wide range of racial and ethnic backgrounds. As such, the development of individual and cultural diversity competency is prioritized throughout the internship year, with interns learning about the necessity of a cultural framework for effective and ethical psychology practice across all domains of professional functioning.  Additionally, our training model underscores the importance of considering the local context in all professional psychology endeavors.

Finally, the training environment yields opportunities for interns to learn about key systemic aspects of professional functioning.  For instance, interns gain experience in interdisciplinary collaboration, which is inherent to work in academic health science center settings.  Interns also learn to utilize community and systems-based interventions that are vital to effective work with the clinical populations served.

Consistent with the program philosophy, a strong focus on clinical training during the internship year is regarded as essential for interns to achieve competency in effectively applying scientifically derived psychological knowledge. Accordingly, the internship offers broad-based training that includes work with clinically diverse patient populations with respect to psychodiagnostic presentation, severity of psychological dysfunction, neurocognitive status, psychosocial functioning, and co-occurrence of health/medical conditions. Interns also gain experience working with patients who are diverse with respect to such sociodemographic characteristics as age (including work with children, adolescents, and adults), gender, sexual orientation, disability, race/ethnicity, nationality, and cultural background. Interns are expected to master basic clinical competencies across a range of domains (assessment, intervention, consultation, ethics, individual and cultural diversity, professional identity/functioning, interpersonal skills, scholarship/research and supervision) and are exposed to a variety of theoretical orientations (e.g. integrative, psychodynamic, interpersonal, cognitive-behavioral, family systems, existential/humanistic, neuropsychological/neurobiological). Additionally, all aspects of training integrate experiential, scholarly, theoretical, and evidence-based learning activities associated with both the science and practice of psychology. This broad-based generalist clinical training framework serves as an excellent foundation for psychologists who pursue generalist scientist-practitioner careers, as well as those who may specialize further during post-doctoral training. 

Throughout the year, the interplay of science and practice is emphasized. Didactic learning in seminars is clinically relevant and supervision focuses on utilizing the psychological literature to inform clinical practice, as well as applying a scientific method of thought to assessment, case conceptualization, and intervention planning. Through their clinical work, training activities, applied research endeavors, and community engagement in public policy advocacy relative to issues that concern both professional psychology and the public interest, faculty members model a range of professional role functions from which interns can draw as reference points for informing their own professional role development.    

In addition, the number of interns selected is limited (three interns for the GIE General track, one intern for the GIE Trauma track, and four interns for the Neuropsychology track are selected each year) to enable the faculty the time and support to make a major commitment to supervision. Finally, the internship offers the opportunity to work with a large number of minority and low-income clients.

Multiple theoretical orientations are represented among the faculty, including psychodynamic, cognitive-behavioral, humanistic/existential, systems, developmental, integrationist, and biopsychosocial. The neuropsychology faculty takes a syndrome-oriented, flexible battery approach to assessment that incorporates quantitative and qualitative data in the differential diagnosis of neuropsychological disorders. Supervisory orientations differ depending on the service setting. Supervision in different treatment modalities such as individual, couples/family, group, case management, and consultation allows the intern the opportunity to sample various intervention strategies. Additionally, we are committed to a continual review process of our program to help insure that the training we offer is relevant to the employment opportunities that are available in this changing health care market.