Child Guidance Clinic and Doctoral Psychology Internship
The Child Guidance Clinic- Court Social Services Division- Superior Court of the District of Columbia
The Child Guidance Clinic is a unit within the DC Superior- Family Court Social Services Division. The mission of the Court Social Services Division is to assist Family Court in the administration of justice and serve the youth involved in the juvenile justice system in the District of Columbia. The Clinic’s core function is to provide critical information to the Court and its stakeholders to assist with judicial decision-making. The Clinic is responsible for providing clinical services and recommendations through the use of various assessment, diagnostic, and intervention methods.
The philosophy of the Clinic’s training program is to prepare psychologists for broad-based professional practice in mental health settings, particularly in the public service spectrum. In addition to this overall goal, the program also seeks to provide specialized training in forensic psychological services. The Clinic strives to impart core knowledge regarding the law, public policy and social factors as they relate to the practice of psychology and applied to the judicial 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 Doctoral Psychology Internship Program in Psychology
The Child Guidance Clinic's psychology internship program has been accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA) [750 First St. NE, Washington DC, 20002; Phone: 202-336-5979] since 2005. The internship was reaccredited in 2011 and 2016. The Clinic is staffed by five full-time licensed psychologists, two clinical screeners, and two deputy clerks, who provide administrative support for the Clinic’s program and the internship. The full-time licensed psychologists have diverse professional interests and expertise. The Clinic’s core faculty is comprised of Malcolm Woodland, Ph.D., Chief Psychologist and Court Social Services Division Deputy Director; Jennifer Christman, Psy.D., Director of Clinical Training; Mitchell Hugonnet, Ph.D., Licensed Psychologist; and Katara Watkins-Laws, Ph.D., Licensed Psychologist.
There are several academic and clinical experience requirements for this internship. Candidates must be enrolled in a doctoral clinical or counseling psychology program. All formal course work and comprehensive examinations must have been completed prior to admission. Candidates must have also completed two years of practicum training (1,000 hours). Preference is given to candidates who have completed 15 or more comprehensive integrated assessments, and to candidates with previous experience with diverse and underserved populations. The intern stipend is $34, 673 per annum, paid biweekly. As temporary employees, interns are ineligible for health insurance and are therefore encouraged to obtain personal health insurance through their university or other means. Interns do not accrue sick leave and annual leave or compensatory (comp) time.
The internship program is guided by the Practitioner-Scholar Model. In this way, scholarly research and practice are integrated into the delivery of services. The internship program enables interns to learn to assess, diagnose and treat clients with evidence- based interventions. As the population reflects the underserved juveniles of the District of Columbia, a significant focus of the Clinic’s training program is working with diverse populations while simultaneously gaining specialized knowledge of Court-related issues. Case conferences, supervision, seminars and readings are based on a combination of psychodynamic, cognitive/behavioral, neuropsychological, family systems, trauma-focused, and developmental intervention strategies.
The goal of the internship is to develop the clinical competencies and critical thinking skills needed to excel within diverse and varied professional clinical settings. 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:
I.Assessment and Diagnosis
II.Psychological Treatment and Intervention
III.Ethical Conduct and Professional Behavior
IV.Individual and Cultural Diversity
V.Scholarly Inquiry and Evidence Based Practice
VI.Consultation, Teaching and Supervision
VII.Research and Program Evaluation
To see Internship Admissions, Support, and Initial Placement Data, click here.
I. Psychological Assessment and Diagnosis:
Psychological assessment is emphasized in this internship. The core assumption of the Child Guidance Clinic internship model is that comprehensive assessment training provides the conceptual underpinning for thoughtful, informed, and effective delivery of psychological services. These assessments typically inform many stakeholders within the Family Court. For example, the Clinic’s assessment reports are heavily relied upon by judges, attorneys, and probation officers throughout the adjudication process. These reports are used to craft specific elements of probation supervision, assist in educational placement hearings, create intervention and service plans, and highlight specific mental health issues to be addressed, such as need for psychiatric medication or inpatient hospitalization.
Clinic interns perform comprehensive psychological and psychoeducational evaluations, as well as specialty evaluations such as competency to stand trial, violence risk assessment, psychosexual, and neuropsychological evaluations. Clinic interns are afforded the opportunity to assess, prepare, and sometimes provide expert testimony about forensic issues such as competency to stand trial and violence risk. Interns attend a weekly didactic seminar on assessment and one forensic-based conference per annum.
The Clinic's training program meets this assessment objective by devoting considerable time to teaching the assessment process with an intense but graduated approach. Expected competencies include:
- Knowledge of test measurement and psychometrics
- Knowledge of a range of test instruments and assessment methods
- Standardized test administration and scoring
- Application of assessment methods
- Conceptualization and recommendations
- Communication of assessment findings
- Integrative report writing with the timeliness and precision required in a forensic environment
- Testing special populations
- Forensic applications of clinical evaluations
Achievement of these goals would be reflected in a mastery of the following skills, whereby the intern will readily be able to:
- Select appropriate assessment measures with attention to issues of reliability and validity
- Select appropriate assessment measures to answer diagnostic and legal questions
- Demonstrate awareness of the strengths and limitations of administration, scoring, and interpretation of test instruments
- Ability to utilize current risk assessment methodologies and research
- Knowledge of juvenile competency assessment
- Knowledge of the standards governing admissibility of assessment, evidence, and testimony
- Apply concepts of psychosocial behavior to case formulation and diagnosis while considering stages of development and diversity
- Utilize systematic approaches of gathering data to inform clinical decision-making
- Write assessment reports that communicate findings to particular audiences
- Write reports with the precision required in a forensic environment
- 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 interns’ growing level of competence.
For every assessment case, the intern and the supervisor review pertinent background information in order to develop an assessment strategy to address specific referral questions. Interns also attend weekly didactic trainings, group supervision, and case presentations to enhance their diagnostic, interviewing, assessment, interpretation, and conceptualization skills. Interns are introduced to a broad range of assessment methods and test instruments. Specialized forensic assessment instruments can be employed to assess specific legal questions such as competency to stand trial and violence risk.
II. Psychological Treatment and Intervention:
Interns perform supervised individual and group psychotherapy with adolescents and young adults during their internship at the Court and during a minor rotation at the Howard University Counseling Center.
Interns can be assigned individual psychotherapy cases at the Clinic and at Howard University. In the process, interns gain experience with culturally and diagnostically diverse individuals. Length of individual treatment can range from short-term (a few weeks) to long-term (duration of training year). Interns attend weekly didactic seminars on individual and group therapy. Training received in crisis intervention is typically experiential as well as didactic.
The interns’ rotation at Howard University is primarily centered on group psychotherapy. Clinic interns participate with Howard University interns and externs in a weekly group psychotherapy seminar, group supervision, and observation of a therapy group followed by discussion and a process group, which culminates with the intern co-leading a group at Howard University. Group supervision is provided by psychologists who hold specialized certifications in group therapy.
At the Clinic, interns also provide individual and group competency restoration services through the Competency Attainment Training (CAT) program, which is designed to assist juveniles in attaining adjudicative competency. Interns also provide sex offender treatment services through the Sexual Abuse Violates Everyone (SAVE) program, which has individual, group, and family components.
Each week, interns receive individual and group supervision in individual and group therapy and interventions. Supervision is complemented by weekly case conferences and didactic or experiential training. Various evidence-based therapies, personality theories, developmental models, and treatment techniques are taught and applied to specific cases and treatment populations. Treatment is provided within the context of the juvenile's probation requirements.
By the conclusion of the internship, interns are expected to have developed competencies in the following aspects of individual psychotherapy:
- Formulating and conceptualizing cases to develop treatment intervention utilizing at least one consistent theoretical orientation
- Displaying clinical skills and clinically effective interventions
- Implementing evidence-based interventions
- Evaluating treatment progress, modifying treatment plans as required, and utilizing established outcome measures
- Forming, developing, and maintaining therapeutic relationships
- Understanding the processes of psychotherapy.
By the conclusion of the internship, interns are expected to have developed competencies in the following aspects of group psychotherapy:
- Screening potential group members
- Writing group therapy treatment contracts,
- Understanding theories of group processes
- Applying theories when co-leading a group
- Interpreting group processes
- Gaining self-knowledge through participation in their own process group
III. Ethical Conduct and Professional Behavior:
Adherence to the American Psychological Association (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. Interns are also expected to be aware of the APA’s Specialty Guidelines for Forensic Psychology. Copies of the APA Ethics Code and Specialty Guidelines are provided to interns at the outset of training. Interns also attend an ethics seminar at the outset of the training year. Further training in elements of the Ethics Code is received in supervision, case conferences, and didactic presentations. Interns are expected to demonstrate an awareness of ethical issues and sensitivity to ethical conflict with a capacity for thoughtful resolution.
There are specific competencies that the intern would be expected to meet at the time of formal evaluations:
- Knowledge and understanding of the APA Ethics Code and Forensic Specialty Guidelines
- Knowledge of other relevant standards and guidelines, law, statutes, rules and regulations
- Knowledge and application of an ethical decision-making model
- Knowledge of the Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing
IV. Individual and Cultural Diversity:
The impact of culture and individual diversity upon delivery of clinical services is considered across many training activities. Interns learn about the influence of cultural factors such as race, ethnicity, nationality, gender identity, physical ability, sexual orientation, religion, and socio-economic status. This training is provided through clinical work, 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 issues that can affect the process and outcome of assessment, therapy and consultation.
There are specific competencies that the intern would be expected to meet at the time of formal evaluations:
- Self-awareness and monitoring one’s own personal background and how this may impact clinical interactions.
- Applying knowledge, sensitivity, and understanding of diverse population
- Employing culturally-sensitive and appropriate clinical practices
- Understanding how cultural factors and/or special needs can impact assessment, treatment and consultation
V. Scholarly Inquiry and Evidence-Based Practice:
The internship offers a clinical training design to integrate scholarship and evidence-based practice in psychology. Training objectives include understanding of the nature of empirically and scientifically derived knowledge, research methods, and evidence based practice. The Clinic’s research lab provides the direct instruction in these areas supplemented by seminar, supervision and off-site workshops. Interns progressively learn to review and integrate research literature into their clinical work in assessment, treatment and consultation.
Expected intern competencies will be assessed across these dimensions:
- Application of scientific methods to professional practice
- Demonstration of an intermediate level knowledge and application of evidence-based practice
- Application of empirically based assessment, intervention, and other psychological practices
VI. Consultation, Teaching and 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, and social workers. Interns will learn, understand and practice effective communication and consultation tailored to the needs and requirements of particular stakeholders and different settings. Interns may be asked to 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 in a particular client. Interns may provide consultation or supervisory services to clinical externs in specific and limited activities connected with assessment and intervention activities. Supervised experiential training is supplemented by assigned readings in theories of supervision. Specific training goals assessed in formal performance reviews include:
- Demonstrating knowledge of the consultant’s role and its unique qualities as distinguished from other professional roles (such as therapist, supervisor, teacher)
- Demonstrating ability to select appropriate means of assessment to answer referral questions
- Identifying issues and knowledge about the process of communicating assessment findings
- Identifying literature relevant to consultation methods within systems, clients and settings.
- Demonstrating skills required to provide instruction across various settings and disciplines
- Demonstrating the ability to provide helpful supervisory input in peer and group supervision.
VII. Research and Program Evaluation:
Interns have the opportunity to join ongoing research projects in the Clinic's research lab. Several interns have joined Clinic staff to publish their work in peer-reviewed scientific journals. Interns may tap into the Clinic's extensive assessment archives for their own research. The Clinic has over 10 years’ accumulation of archival data that can be utilized in research. Research conducted at the Court must be approved by the Court's Institutional Review Board (IRB), in conjunction with approval from the student's university advisor and IRB.
Interns will be evaluated on these parameters of competency:
- Development of skills to apply and evaluate theory and research relevant to the practice of clinical and forensic psychology
- Developing aptitude to apply scientific methods to evaluating clinical practice, intervention, treatment programs and large scale systems.
Group Therapy at Howard University
There is one required minor rotation in psychotherapy at the Howard University Counseling Center. This is a year-long rotation. Interns receive supervision on site from licensed staff psychologists. The Howard University rotation provides didactic and supervised experiential training in group psychotherapy. Interns are exposed to the major theories that guide the practice of group therapy. Intern-led therapy groups may include short-term counseling or specific-issue groups.
ApplicationsPlease complete the APPIC online internship application by NOVEMBER 15: All supplementary application materials must be uploaded to the APPI portal by this date. The APPIC site contains all timelines and information needed to apply to this internship as well as information about the interview process. Please review the information carefully.
Prospective interns must be able to pass Criminal Background and Child Protection Registry checks. Interns matched to the Clinic's program will need to complete and submit a Criminal Background History Form and Child Protection Registry Form prior to beginning the internship. Questions can be emailed to Jennifer Christman, PsyD, Director of Training (jennifer.christman [at] dcsc.gov) and Terri Strickland (terri.strickland [at] dcsc.gov). If an intern matched to the Clinic’s internship program is unable to successfully pass one or both of these background checks, the intern will not be permitted to proceed with the Clinic’s internship program.
The Child Guidance Clinic's predoctoral psychology internship is accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA) at 750 First St. NE, Washington, DC, 20002. The CoA phone number is: (202)336-5979; and email is: apacced [at] apa.org. See also: www.apa.org/ed/accreditation.
The Child Guidance Clinic's office is in the Carl J. Moultrie Courthouse building. The address of the Child Guidance Clinic is: 500 Indiana Ave NW, Suite 1110, Washington, DC 20001.