A significant strength of our clinical psychology internship is our ability to train students with interests in adult psychopathology, problems of childhood and adolescence, or both. Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic (UPMC WPIC) is a nationally-recognized psychiatric health care center offering diverse programs to meet the needs of children, adolescents, and adults.
The one-year internship includes rotations in both inpatient and outpatient settings; individual and group supervision in adult and child assessment and intervention; weekly clinical and didactic seminars; attendance at case conferences, grand rounds, educational conferences, and guest lectures by scholars in various mental health disciplines; and an opportunity to pursue clinical research activities. Interns are also required to complete a small research project within a selected clinical science specialty area.
Interns gain expertise in the following areas:
- Development and consolidation of clinical skills in psychiatric assessment, diagnosis, and case conceptualization
- Increased familiarity and proficiency with evidence-based psychological interventions
- Increased effectiveness working as a scientifically trained clinical psychologist within multidisciplinary treatment and research teams located within a university-based medical setting
- Increased competence in critically evaluating, disseminating, and utilizing empirical research findings across clinical contexts
- Throughout the year interns also participate in ongoing activities, which occur as rotation schedules permit (during unscheduled hours in outpatient rotations; late in the day during inpatient rotations and Friday afternoons):
- Clinical research practicum (10 percent effort)
- Longitudinal outpatient cases (PTC) and supervision
- Group supervision and didactic experiences (Friday mornings)
In developing individual rotation schedules, all interns are expected to meet the following program requirements:
This half-time, three-month rotation in the psychiatric emergency room provides interns with the opportunity to enhance their assessment, diagnostic, and triage skills in an evaluation setting that provides exposure to a variety of acutely ill psychiatric patients.
All interns are required to complete at least one rotation that focuses on the assessment and treatment of severely and persistently ill psychiatric patients. Relevant rotations include the inpatient psychiatric units, the Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOPs), and Service and Research for Recovery in Severe Mental Illness program.
These weekly seminars are coordinated by the internship training directors and cover a wide variety of content and process areas, including basic training in empirically supported treatments such as Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT) and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), ethical issues for psychologists, issues of individual and cultural diversity, and theory and methods of supervision.
A minimum caseload of two outpatients in psychotherapy treated with evidence-based psychological interventions, e.g., the repertoire of clinical tools available in such models as interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), or cognitive-behavior therapy (CBT). All interns are expected to carry an outpatient caseload of at least two patients seen through the WPIC Psychotherapy Training Clinic (PTC). As part of this experience, interns are partnered with licensed PhD supervisors to obtain weekly, individual supervision.
All interns are expected to devote 10% effort toward developing and completing a research project in conjunction with a research mentor. Interns are expected to identify a research mentor during the first 4-6 weeks of the training program. Typical research projects include analyses of archival data sets, development of a peer-reviewed paper or poster presentation, a specified literature review, or development of a small pilot study. This requirement ensures that interns gain experience in programmatic clinical research during their tenure at WPIC. For interns who choose to stay in the department for postdoctoral clinical research fellowships, research initiated during internship year provides a basis for the remaining years of postdoctoral research training.
Training at the Postdoctoral Level
Interns at the postdoctoral level are encouraged to participate in the weekly Career and Research Development (CARD) seminar. CARD seminars feature presentations by experienced Department of Psychiatry research faculty and also offer a broad range of topics aimed at supporting postdoctoral trainees as they transition to independent careers including the following:
- External research funding opportunities (including federal agencies, private foundations, and corporate sources)
- Development and submission of applications for research funding (including peer review of applications in preparation)
- Peer review and funding processes within federal agencies
- Research communication skills (e.g. manuscript preparation, how to serve as an editorial reviewer, and developing strong oral communication and presentation skills)
- Research ethics (e.g., potential conflicts of interest and conflicts between research and clinical priorities)
- Human research subject consent procedures
- Building collaborative relationships in a multidisciplinary medical setting
- Career search strategies (including discussion of the pros and cons of academic positions in medical settings vs. arts and sciences departments)
- Alternate career paths within academic settings
- Preparing a curriculum vitae
- Dissemination of scientific findings to the public and practitioners
- The CARD seminar concludes each spring with the annual Fellows Review where postdoctoral trainees present an update on their current work and research findings, and describe future directions.
Trainees may enroll in courses offered by various departments of the University of Pittsburgh on an individual basis. Tuition support for such courses is available. Since trainees are involved in research within their area of clinical interest, advanced clinical training in the specialty area is also encouraged.