We approach training and supervision from a developmental perspective, meeting each trainee where they are at. We also have as a basic understanding that we learn from one another. In support of this approach, we have adopted and teach interpersonal and program guidelines to facilitate that all trainees get, and give, as much in the program and with each other as possible. Trainees are encouraged to be supportive and engaged, and to receive support and feedback from peers, building a strong sense of interaction and ownership of the functioning of the training community.
The training program provides in-depth training and support to learn solid psychotherapy skills and to develop a personal therapy style within a clinically professional and sound ethical practice. Trainees are expected to see, on average, ten clients per week including two drop-in sessions, and to serve as a liaison to several students clubs and campus organizations.
Trainees learn their strengths and limits as clinicians, and develop confidence to learn new skills in a supportive setting. More importantly, trainees are provided with structure in supervision and training sessions to discover new ways of engaging, providing support and education, expressing empathy, identifying clients strengths and needs, and intervening in crisis situations. Trainees learn about themselves as clinicians, and how to manage the therapeutic relationship in ways that enhance the experience of the client.
Both the training and supervision portions of the program aim to assist trainees with the synthesis of material learned academically in graduate programs and its integration and application into useful clinical practice. Emphasis is given to the development of clinical and therapeutic skills as well as the ethical and mindful use of self in clinical practice. The therapeutic dyad and relationship are highly valued, and clinical decisions are case specific. New materials and ideas are incorporated as is relevant; all SPS staff and trainees are encouraged to enlarge the communal knowledge base by adding to our files and resources, and by communicating responsively to the group as new skills are learned.
Ideas from schools of Developmental Psychology, Mindfulness-based approaches, Psychodynamic Therapy, Psychiatric Psychopathology, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Attachment Theory, Family Systems theory, Humanistic theory and others are all used as they aid in alliance building, assessment and inquiry skills, and intervention techniques to effectively address the particular needs and disorders found in the campus setting. These range from disorders such as depression and anxiety to eating to substance use. Trainees also assist clients with issues of gender identity, sexual orientation, and cultural and relational concerns. Trainees learn to navigate the process of providing treatment from informed consent, to assessment, diagnosis and goal development, to middle intervention and termination phases of both individual and group therapy. Additionally they participate in outreach, preventative and educational activities campus wide, giving short talks on certain topics or outreach promoting topical groups.
The training program works within the frame of an academic setting and calendar, and because demand is so high, individual therapies are on a brief model, with some clients seen only for a few sessions and others for 6-8 or so sessions. (Trainees also may work with one client for a much longer period.) Trainees learn how to differentiate long and short-term issues, and to structure a brief therapy and achieve therapeutic success, often with clients who present with long-term issues. No one model of short-term treatment is required. We use an integrative theoretical model, with an emphasis on thorough assessment and then tailoring the treatment approach to the needs of each individual client. Emphasis is given to initial interview and contact, creating safety and support, building an alliance quickly, establishing a collaborative therapeutic relationship, working in the present moment, and providing coping and self-care skills that lead to progress.
Case formulation is emphasized, including: an overview/thumbnail of the client including current life circumstances and presenting issues and precipitating event(s), health and risk assessment, issues of developmental level and dynamic level of functioning, attachment style, family of origin and historical impact, cognitive functioning, capacity for self-care, strengths and coping capacities, as well as diagnostic considerations using the standard of care model. Short-term work is often solution focused, and skill based, integrating a mixture of supporting, exploring or deepening, educating and clarifying, and reinforcing interactions. The ability to integrate diverse theoretical orientations and to work creatively with patient strengths is highly valued.
An additional approach of the training program is that of integration, which occurs on multiple levels, both clinically and structurally. SPS is a program within Student Health Services, and as such, works within a multidisciplinary cooperative integrative model, with a team comprised of the staff and interns of SPS as well as staff Physicians, Nurse Practitioners, Medical Assistants and support staff; we coordinate with SHS staff funded by the county PEI grant promoting prevention of mental health issues through monthly topics and regular presentations and outreach. Trainees have the additional opportunity to provide informal supervision to student peer-support workers. As a result, the SPS Training Program includes an emphasis in Health Psychology and Community Psychology.
Supervision in a developmental model is the primary tool of the training program, both in individual and group sessions. The emphasis is on building a trusting and mutually respectful relationship between and among all SPS supervisors and trainees, and using this to deepen trainees’ sense of professional identity. Group supervision and case settings include an additional layer of modeling and mentoring among the various levels and types of experience within any given year’s cohort, and trainees are actively encouraged to learn from one another and to stretch and express their professional voices. Additionally, supervision is coordinated within the program so that training is titrated and cumulative, based on the level of development of each trainee. Individual training emphasis is within a clinically professional and standard of care approach, under supportive competency-based supervision in a developmental model.
Within individual supervision and case conference alike, an emphasis is put on developing a capacity to be able to identify, track and verbalize the details and progress of cases, to review clinical and ethical issues arising in sessions, to explore transference and counter-transference as clinical realities and tools, and to incorporate additional and new ideas and skills in professional practice. Video recording allows for an enhanced supervision experience.
The SPS Training Program is committed to multicultural and diversity awareness and training on multiple levels. Attention is given to issues of gender, gender identity, age, race, ethnicity, ability, sexual orientation, religious and spiritual affiliation, socioeconomic, college programmatic and diagnostic differences in each and every clinical case, as well as within the cohort and the professional environment. Specific trainings are provided on topics such as working with Latinx and LGBTQ clients; supervision in group and individual formats takes these issues into account each meeting, as applicable, and trainees are strongly encouraged to attend to these issues in working with transference and counter-transference awareness and parallel process in treatment and supervision.