Process for students applying for the 12-month internship (PSY 904)

Am I ready to apply out for internship?

The process of applying out for internship has become increasingly competitive in recent years as the demand for internship placements has considerably exceeded the supply. It is extremely important that you carefully consider your readiness to apply out for internship, in consultation with the Director of Clinical Training (DCT) AND your research supervisor, to help maximize the competitiveness of your application. One of the biggest stumbling blocks is dissertation research progress. Nobody wants to be in the position of having to return following internship to resume data collection or to face the arduous task of writing up a dissertation tomb from scratch while trying to find employment; this includes the internship sites that review a very large volume of strong applications.  As such, the program requirements outlined below should be viewed as a bare minimum when considering the decision to apply out for internship in a given year.

  • Students are required to have all classroom-based coursework and practica completed prior to commencing internship (45 credit units); however, students are strongly encouraged to have all classroom coursework completed by the fall semester in which they apply out. Some placements will not consider applications from students with coursework still in progress.
  • Students are required to have made significant advancements in their dissertation progress, which traditionally has been defined as approval of the dissertation proposal by their advisory committee and commencement of data collection. The decision to approve a student's request to apply for internship will be made via consultation between the DCT, CEC, and the student's advisor committee by September 1 in the year they plan to apply out.

Directories of internships:

The directory of Canadian internships published by the Canadian Council of Professional Psychology Programs is available online.

The Directory of the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers is available online.

Students should:

Get the latest AAPIC Application for Psychology Internship.

Consult the website of the Canadian Council of Professional Psychology Programs and the internship binder (Survival Manual for Internship Applicants).

Request updated brochures from sites you are interested in if these are not already available on their website (most sites have electronic copies of their brochures).

Contact the National Matching Service (NMS) online to request applicant registration materials. Once this material is received, complete the "Applicant Agreement" and return to NMS along with the non-refundable fee (in US Funds).

Our NMS school code is 825 and our APPIC subscriber number is CCPPP.

In late September or early October please submit the following materials electronically to the DCT:

  • Complete draft AAPI form (PDF) and your four essays in Word
  • Draft CV
  • One draft sample covering letter; you can send multiple essays for multiple sites
  • Copy of approval of the dissertation proposal by the advisory committee.
  • List of programs to which you are applying, giving for each program:
  • Indicate whether a letter is required from me or only the verification form (this depends on whether I've supervised the student and on the program's application requirements)
  • Anything special I should know about the application or letter needed
  • Application deadline for that program

The DCT's tasks for each student application are as follows:

  • Provide feedback to student on draft AAPI, CV, and covering letter.
  • Write letters of reference where these are required (not for all students/programs).
  • Finish completing the verification form - verifying that the student has met all program requirements to apply out for internship and uploading this to the AAPI website.

Students are encouraged to consider large, well-established and accredited (CPA or APA) internship programs with several intern positions, including those in the USA. It is hard to suggest a "right" number of applications to complete, but a rough guide would be 10 to 15. Do not apply to any program that you are sure you would not attend if matched to it.

If we are asked to recommend a student to any non-accredited site, I will have a lot of questions about number of interns, history of training program, seminars, supervision, structure of rotations, plans for future accreditation, membership in training councils, etc., in order to be satisfied that the program is 'equivalent' to accredited.  A draft policy on this matter appears below.

Guidelines for Non-Accredited Internships:

Students in the Graduate Program in Clinical Psychology are required to seek an internship accredited by either CPA or APA.  However, a few students are matched with a non-accredited internship or choose it for other reasons. Often, the reason for this decision is that the internship provides a particular experience that is of interest to the student and is not available at any other site (e.g., a special population or treatment modality). In other instances, the student may not be matched to an accreditation during Phase I of the match process and may need to consider a non-accredited placement during Phase II. As well, some placements are also fairly new and have not yet had an accrediation site visit.

In order to assure the quality of training and to protect students from being used as underpaid and overworked staff, the following guidelines serve as minimum standards for non-accredited internship programs.

Students anticipating applying to a non-accredited site should review these guidelines and submit materials about the proposed training program for approval to the DCT outlining the nature of the proposed internship in enough detail to allow us to determine whether these minimal standards are likely to be met.

If the internship program is not a member of APPIC, it must nevertheless meet the criteria for APPIC membership, check the APPIC website.

The student must be clearly designated as a trainee as opposed to being hired as a junior staff member.  The program must have a registered/certified/licensed psychologist (PhD) who functions as training director and who is responsible for:

  • establishing a contract with the trainee regarding the content of the training program.
  • insuring that the trainee's program is evaluated periodically (at least at the mid year mark) so that the training program can be modified, if  necessary.
  • insuring that mid-year and end-of-year evaluation is made of the trainee's skills and deficits as a clinical psychologist and that it is sent to the Director of Clinical Training.

The trainee's internship experiences must represent a reasonable balance of activities undertaken by a clinical psychologist, including activities such as direct assessment and treatment, group and individual contact, consultation, program development, program evaluation and research.  A variety of different treatment approaches and client populations should also be available.  However, we recognize that the range of experiences will vary widely. The decision about whether the activities are appropriate will take into account the student's career goals.

The trainee must be supervised by at least two different registered/licensed psychologists for a minimum of two hours per week of scheduled individual supervision.  The total amount of regularly scheduled supervision must be at least four hours per week, supplemented by additional unscheduled or group supervision, or supervision by staff who are not registered psychologists (e.g., social workers, psychiatrists, psychological associates).

The internship must have at least one other predoctoral intern in clinical psychology (in addition to any practicum students or trainees in other disciplines).  This is to promote peer interaction and learning. 
The following will serve as positive evidence of a non-accredited program's commitment to quality in training:

Even if the non-accredited internship site meets or is trying to meet the structural requirements above, there may still be questions concerning the quality of the program, and more documentation may be requested before any decision concerning approval of the site.  The decision rests with the Director of Clinical Training in consultation with clinical psychology faculty, and a decision with which the student disagrees may be appealed to the Department head.

Guidelines for Communication between Graduate Programs and Internship Programs

The following guidelines are recommended to enhance communication between graduate programs and internship programs regarding students on internship:

Shortly after interns are selected, it is recommended that the graduate program communicate by letter with the internship programs that accepted its students. It is suggested that this letter at a minimum indicate (a) the faculty member in the graduate program with whom the internship program should communicate regarding the intern (the faculty contact person); and (b) any additional information about the training needs of the intern, especially information not covered in the intern's application and letter of recommendation. In addition to the sharing of formal evaluations, it is recommended that the faculty contact person and the internship training director have at least 1-2 informal (telephone or email) contacts about the intern. It is suggested that one of these contacts be initiated by the internship training director shortly after the beginning of the internship. If either party has difficulty contacting someone from the other site, it is recommended that they be persistent in their efforts at contacting someone. It is expected that if there is a change in the contact person at either site, that the other contact person will be notified and provided with a new contact person.

It is recommended that, the internship training director should send formal written evaluations of the intern to the faculty contact person at least semi-annually during the internship. We encourage this communication to occur at the sixth month point and at the completion of the internship. Concurrent with this, internship staff/faculty should meet in person with the intern to provide detailed feedback. Additionally, it is suggested that the internship training director provide the intern a copy of the formal evaluation sent to the intern's graduate program.

Graduate program faculty and internship program staff/faculty are encouraged to share any communications they have about an intern with the intern via face-to-face contacts, emails, telephone contacts, or copies of written correspondence, etc. They are also encouraged to solicit intern input about these communications throughout the internship year. This recommendation is intended to enhance the climate of openness and support for professional development in the training of the intern.

When major changes in the structure of the internship occur (e.g., alterations in rotations or available placements), internship program staff/faculty are encouraged to inform the graduate program faculty contact.


Guidelines for Communication When Problems Arise About an Intern

The following guidelines are recommended to facilitate open communication about intern difficulties and effective problem-solving in response to them. Programs are encouraged to review their Due Process Guidelines and see how these recommendations can be integrated into their Due Process Guidelines.

It is suggested that when significant problems arise that are resolvable and/or resolved at the internship site that the faculty contact be informed.

It is recommended that the internship training director communicate with the faculty contact person in a timely manner when problems arise with an intern that are not readily resolvable at the internship site, that are recurrent, or that may lead to the institution of due process procedures or an alteration in the intern's program. The mode of communication will vary to suit the circumstance, but may include formal letters or emails, phone or conference calls, and on-site visits. It is recommended that the graduate and internship programs keep written records of all communications between them. It is suggested that this communication include: (a) a clear statement of the problem, remediation plan, and expected outcomes needed to resolve the problem; (b) what the internship program's response has been to date; and (c) what role, if any, the internship program would like the graduate program to play in addressing the problem. It is also recommended that the internship training director ask for the graduate program's policies and procedures for identifying and dealing with problem trainees. This will assist in handling and documenting problems that arise in the internship, so as to facilitate graduate program's dealing with the trainee's difficulties.

Once communication about a problem is initiated, it is suggested that the graduate and internship programs maintain ongoing contact until the problem is resolved. It is recommended that this include discussions of the remediation plan and plan for monitoring and evaluating the intern's performance.

The intern may request and should receive copies of all formal communications regarding his or her performance.