Training Philosophy

Training Philosophy

The staff members at CAPS have a strong dedication to training at all levels and in all of the disciplines represented by the range of training programs. Each training program is designed to meet the unique needs of that specific group of emerging professionals, but they are also closely connected to each other and share many of the same goals. The philosophies of each program all have at their core a strong emphasis on the development of clinical skills and professional identity within the context of a program where training is sequential and graded in complexity over the course of the year. They all share the values of developing highly ethical, culturally sensitive, and self-reflective clinicians. Below is a fuller description of the specific philosophies of the doctoral internship in psychology, social work internship, and the psychology externship.

Training Philosophy and Aims – Psychology Internship

The doctoral internship program at CAPS is accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA). The CoA can be contacted at the Office of Program Consultation and Accreditation 750 First Street, NE Washington, DC 20002-4242 Phone: 202-336-5979 TDD/TTY: 202-336-6123. The program is based on a practitioner/scholar approach to training in which we emphasize learning through the integration of science and practice under close clinical supervision. Interns receive intensive training and experience in performing the central responsibilities of a psychologist in a multidisciplinary counseling center setting. These include: individual psychotherapy, group psychotherapy, diagnostic assessment through triage and intake interviews, crisis consultation, supervision of practicum students, and outreach and consultation.

In all of these endeavors we also strive to foster interns’ growth in providing services to a diverse population through an emphasis on self-awareness, greater understanding of sociocultural contexts, and a focus on the role of culture in all areas of the interns’ work. Professional identity development is also a priority, as interns evolve from experienced trainees toward independent practitioners over the course of the year. We aspire to train interns to become highly ethical and competent generalists who have

acquired skills to intervene directly with clients in the role of clinician and in the campus community in the roles of consultant and advocate.

The University of Pennsylvania is a world-class university located in the heart of Philadelphia, which has a very vibrant mental health community with many training opportunities. Where possible, the internship draws upon the considerable resources of the university and the city to enhance the training program. For instance, we offer seminars led by experts from the community on assessment, brief therapy, anxiety disorders, substance abuse, sexual orientation, and gender identity.

Doctoral interns will receive training to achieve competency in the following areas:

  • research
  • ethical and legal standards
  • individual and cultural diversity
  • professional values, attitudes, and behaviors
  • communications and interpersonal skills
  • assessment
  • intervention
  • supervision


Multidisciplinary Approach

As a center whose senior staff is comprised of licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, and social workers, we value a multidisciplinary approach to training and service delivery. We aim to develop the interns’ capacity to work collaboratively with psychology colleagues and professionals from other disciplines. The externship, social work, nurse practitioner, post-doctoral psychology, and psychiatry residency training programs at CAPS also contribute to the multidisciplinary learning environment. All members of the staff participate in interns’ training through formal and informal supervision, team meeting collaboration, consultation, and seminars.

Clinical Practice with an Emphasis on Social Identities

The University of Pennsylvania is a culturally diverse institution, with students from all over the country and all over the world, representing a broad spectrum with regard to race, class, ethnicity, age, religion/spirituality, gender identity, sexual orientation, and ability. At CAPS, we are committed to training interns to integrate a multicultural perspective into all areas of their work. We facilitate this in a number of ways. First, interns have extensive experience consulting and collaborating with a culturally diverse group of professionals from a number of mental health disciplines through participation in a multidisciplinary treatment team. Second, awareness of the cultural identities of both therapist and client is integral to case discussions in individual and group supervision. Third, a multicultural perspective is infused into training seminars. In particular, interns participate in a variety of multicultural seminars throughout the year that highlight self-awareness, social identity, themes of privilege and oppression, and relevant knowledge and skills. Fourth, interns participate actively in the outreach program, where they design and conduct programs to reach both specific and highly diverse cultural groups on campus. Stemming from a social justice model, interns also choose a concentration in outreach. Each available concentration has been developed with the goal of intervening on the community level to make the campus community and/or services more inclusive and accessible to marginalized or underserved groups.

Integration of Science and Practice

We train our interns to take a scholarly approach to their clinical practice activities at CAPS. We strive to help them develop skills in applying clinical theory and empirical research to case conceptualization, treatment planning, and clinical interventions. In seminars, individual supervision, case group, and group supervision (of supervision) we incorporate readings and discussion of theoretical and empirical literature relevant to clinical practice in an outpatient setting. We hope to help interns continue to elaborate and expand upon their theoretical orientation to clinical practice. We also hope to increase their knowledge base regarding the scientific basis for a variety of treatments and practices in psychology.

Professional Identity Development

We view the internship as the capstone of the doctoral level psychologist’s training. Therefore, we believe it is particularly important for interns to develop an appreciation of the professional role they will be adopting once their training is completed. We devote some of our intern seminars and intern meetings to discussions of professional issues for beginning psychologists such as, career development, job search, licensure requirements, continuing education opportunities, and work/life balance. Time is also spent discussing the evolving role of psychologists in society and psychologists’ role in creating social change. Additionally, interns are afforded numerous opportunities to establish close working relationships with staff members from a wide variety of professional and theoretical backgrounds. Through their direct work with staff via collaboration and consultation across a wide range of professional services, interns have many opportunities to begin to develop an identity as a professional psychologist. We believe that the strong generalist skills they attain through our internship will enable them to become psychologists who are skilled in both community and individual levels of intervention and are prepared to work in university counseling centers as well as a multitude of other professional settings including, but not limited to: community mental health centers, academia, private practice, schools, and hospitals.

Ethical Practice

We strive to train interns who will
become practitioners with the highest ethical standards. During the year, there are ethics seminars devoted to teaching interns about contemporary ethical issues, especially issues relevant to college counseling, but also more broadly to ethical decision-making. Ethical issues are also routinely discussed in individual and group supervision. Additionally, our staff clinicians are expected to conduct themselves in a highly ethically competent manner and to model this conduct for all of our trainees. At CAPS we particularly value the use of consultation and collaboration in ethical decision-making and interns have many opportunities to see this in action in multidisciplinary team meetings and formal and informal staff collaboration meetings.

Self- Awareness

We also believe that reflectivity is an integral part of being a counseling or clinical psychologist. Therefore, we encourage interns to develop self-awareness skills in a variety of ways in the course of the internship experience. Interns are encouraged in supervision and in seminars to explore their own identities, beliefs, and values and to better understand how their unique backgrounds shape their approach to their work and impact their interactions with clients. In addition, supervisors create a space where interns can share their reactions to their clients, supervisors, and supervisees. We hope to teach interns to use these reactions as an important source of data about themselves, their clients, their supervisees, and the therapeutic or supervision process. It is our belief that such dialogues will enhance their conceptualizations and treatment, as well as their supervisory relationships.

Since we believe that self-reflection is essential to the supervisory process, interns will be explicitly invited, at times, to disclose personal information. Our supervisory staff is deeply invested in maintaining a safe, trusting, and supportive environment so that interns will feel comfortable with self-disclosure.

Training Philosophy – Social Work Internship


Social work training here at Counseling and Psychological Services of The University of Pennsylvania is rooted in the history and values of the social work profession.

History of the Profession

“Social work” arose at the beginning of the 20th century and described the volunteer work women did for charitable organizations or settlement homes. This entailed visiting people in their living situations. Early social workers, known as “friendly visitors“, engaged in societal advocacy and provided clinically-oriented services to individuals, addressing issues like poverty, oppression, and injustice.

Professional Values

The mission of the social work profession is rooted in a set of core values which are very clearly enumerated in the Code of Ethics of our national organization, National Association of Social Work (NASW) :

  • integrity
  • social justice
  • dignity and worth of the person
  • human relationships
  • competence
  • service

Our intention in this training program is to thread these values which are unique to the profession of social work through the integration of theory, practice, outreach and prevention. Therefore, all facets of a social worker’s training in this setting aim to incorporate and demonstrate these values in practice.

Training Philosophy – Psychology Externship


The Psychology Externship Program at Counseling and Psychological Services is based on a practitioner/scholar approach to training in which we emphasize learning through and the integration of science and practice under close clinical supervision. The extern experience at CAPS is designed to provide graduate students in counseling or clinical psychology the opportunity to develop their skills in a clinical setting.  Embedded within a culturally diverse institution and multidisciplinary clinical setting, the Psychology Externship Program provides training and clinical experience to foster growth in providing services to a diverse population through an emphasis on self-awareness, greater understanding of sociocultural contexts, and a focus on the role of culture in all areas of the practicum students’ work.  Success in the externship requires the ability to integrate theory, practice, ethics, self-awareness, and professionalism.

To further develop clinical competence and their identity as professionals in psychology, extern students receive intensive training and experience in performing some of the core responsibilities of a psychologist in a multidisciplinary counseling center setting.  They also participate in individual and group supervision, all with the goal of assisting them in the development of the following seven competencies:

I.      Collaboration with Multidisciplinary Professionals
II.     Diagnosis and Assessment
    Multicultural Awareness, Knowledge, and Skills.
IV.    Individual Counseling/Psychotherapy Skills
V.     Professional/Ethical                                                                      
VI.    Supervision
VII.   Self-Development

When available, extern students may also have the opportunity to develop competencies in:

  • Group Therapy
  • Outreach Programming