Academic journal article North American Journal of Psychology

Psychology Internship Directors' Perceptions of Pre-Internship Training Preparation in Assessment

Academic journal article North American Journal of Psychology

Psychology Internship Directors' Perceptions of Pre-Internship Training Preparation in Assessment

Article excerpt

Assessment is a valued and important skill for professional psychologists (American Psychological Association, 2015; Butcher, 2006; Krishnamurthy et al., 2004; Ready & Veague, 2014). Fifty-eight percent of respondents to a survey of APA Division 12 (Society of Clinical Psychology [SCP]) members were engaged in diagnosis and assessment (Norcross & Karpiak, 2012), which accounted for approximately 14% of professional time. It is imperative to train clinical psychology doctoral students to be competent in psychological assessment, so that they will be adequately prepared for assessment activities during their pre-doctoral internship. The internship is a yearlong, full-time (or two-year part-time) clinical training experience that occurs prior to awarding of the doctoral degree in clinical psychology. It follows doctoral-level assessment coursework and practicum experiences.

Internship directors indicate that training in assessment and diagnosis is one of the top two learning objectives on internship, preceded only by intervention (Stedman, Schoenfeld, & O'Donnell, 2013). Sixty-four percent of internship sites offer a major rotation in assessment (Stedman, Hatch, Schoenfeld, & Keilin, 2005). Despite the importance of assessment training at the doctoral level, there may be discrepancy between training in graduate programs and desired assessment skills for incoming interns (Clemence & Handler, 2001) [for historical reviews of relevant literature, please see (Piotrowski, 2015a; Piotrowski & Belter, 1999; Stedman, 2007)].

In 2011, APA published Revised Competency Benchmarks for Professional Psychology (American Psychological Association, 2011) but it is unclear if students are meeting these aspirational assessment benchmarks. The readiness for internship competency benchmarks can help determine graduate student preparation in: (a) Knowledge of Measurement and Psychometrics (selects assessment measures with attention to issues of reliability and validity), (b) Knowledge of Assessment Methods (demonstrates awareness of the strengths and limitations of administration, scoring and interpretation of traditional assessment measures as well as related technological advances), (c) Applications of Assessment Methods (selects appropriate assessment measures to answer diagnostic questions), (d) Diagnosis (applies concepts of normal/abnormal behavior to case formulation and diagnosis in the context of stages of human development and diversity), (e) Conceptualization and Recommendations (utilizes systematic approaches of gathering data to inform clinical decision making), and (f) Communication of Assessment Findings (writes assessment reports and progress notes and communicates findings verbally to client).

This study determined internship director perceptions about the extent to which psychology interns are meeting the six APA readiness for internship competency benchmarks in assessment training. A second aim was to provide additional data about internship sites and assessment preparation to help doctoral programs and doctoral student applicants prepare for internship with regard to assessment activities. Survey response data were analyzed, as well as data from the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers (APPIC) Directory to determine representativeness of responses and how responses vary by internship site characteristics.



In Spring 2014, 681 internship training directors from the 2012-2013 APPIC Directory were invited to participate in the online survey. Fifty-nine additional programs listed in the APPIC Directory could not be reached because (1) the program no longer offered an internship or (2) the current training director or proxy could not be identified (e.g., contact information could not be located via web search, analysis of other advertising materials, or contacting the prior director).


Programs were invited to participate via an email to internship training directors that included a link to the online survey. …

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