Western Carolina University’s Counseling and Psychological Services office has gained accreditation by the American Psychological Association for programs offering internships.
Counseling and Psychological Services, better known as CAPS, operates within the Division of Student Affairs and reports to the assistant vice chancellor for health and wellness. Psychology interns have the opportunity to provide individual and group counseling and provide outreach and consultation across campus while receiving intensive supervision from the licensed mental health providers at CAPS.
The goals for the 2,000-hour internship are centered around four main areas: development of skills in the clinical practice of psychology, cultural competence, consultation and coordination of care, and identity as a psychologist. WCU is now one of the six universities in North Carolina that provides an accredited internship within its counseling centers and one of 129 universities in the U.S. that does so.
The American Psychological Association is a scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the U.S. with more than 115,700 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students as members. The accreditation status awarded to WCU is retroactive to September 2016, which is the date when association’s team completed an on-site visit. The university’s next re-accreditation site visit for CAPS will occur in 2023.
Jay Manalo, associate director and training director at CAPS, led the accreditation efforts. He coordinates the internship program for psychology doctoral students from various universities who come to WCU for a year to train as part of a clinical internship. “Since 2009, CAPS has been an internship site for doctoral-level psychology students from across the country ― and in some cases internationally ― who apply to and match to our training site for a 12-month internship via a competitive national matching process,” he said. “This internship is a requisite part of the completion of the doctoral degree for psychologists.”
CAPS currently has three doctoral-level psychology interns for the academic year and has also successfully matched with three incoming doctoral students for the next academic year. The also has an extensive history as a training site for master’s-level students from WCU’s on-campus mental health programs in clinical psychology, clinical mental health counseling and social work.
Manalo completed his doctoral internship training at CAPS in 2010-11. “My own personal experience as an intern at CAPS was a big reason for me choosing to come back to WCU as a staff member in 2013,” he said.
The program’s success can be attributed to the staff and interns who have contributed so much from the beginning, said Kim Gorman, CAPS director. “The accreditation is significant for CAPS and for WCU in that it will help us to be competitive in attracting top quality interns to our program who, in turn, contribute immensely to the care of our students and community,” Gorman said.