PHILOSOPHY AND TRAINING OBJECTIVES

Appalachian Regional Healthcare Psychology Internship

Appalachian Regional Healthcare Psychology Internship was born as the result of identified mental health needs in rural Appalachia, the residents of which have traditionally been underserved. We firmly believe that rural settings create unique demands on mental health professionals, and specific training ensuring clinical competency in working with rural populations is essential. Our hope is to provide training in a rural area, encouraging practitioners to choose this or a similar rural area for their future practice.

The internship program is committed to offering a rural practitioner model of training within an isolated region through the collaboration of a variety of sites within the ARH Regional Healthcare System. We conceptualize the internship year as an experience dedicated to translating theory, knowledge, and scientific inquiry into practice. We seek to provide generalist training, emphasizing a breath of skill while preparing professional psychologists to serve the underserved. We embrace a local clinical scientist model of inquiry which is grounded in and guided by general knowledge, but is dominated by the needs of the client. In this rural setting, we begin by focusing on client needs and applying relevant scientific knowledge and clinical interventions to meet those needs.

At the ARH Psychology Internship, we are committed to effectively using available resources to provide interns with an integrated, flexible, and balanced set of learning experiences necessary for the emergence of a competent rural psychologist. A rural treatment setting requires generalist skills as clinicians are frequently called upon to assess and treat a diverse population with a wide range of functioning capabilities and levels of pathology. Likewise, it is necessary in rural settings for psychologists to serve as mental health experts in providing education to staff, community members, and local agencies. Therefore, rural psychologists must possess excellent communication skills and demonstrate respect for cultural and individual differences. Due to the underserved nature of rural communities, rural psychologists are typically required to fulfill many administrative and supervisory roles relatively early in their careers.

Consequently, our training goals and objectives (enumerated below) center around skill development with rural clients and the necessary formulation of an appropriate clinical and experiential knowledge base required to function independently in a rural setting:

  • To provide training within a generalist framework emphasizing a breadth of clinical skills, including competence with a wide range of assessment strategies and empirically validated treatment interventions for a diverse rural population.
  • To provide necessary experiences facilitating development and socialization of the intern into the role of a rural psychologist. Interns will be able to: 1) identify relevant ethical issues when conceptualizing and formulating treatment interventions; 2) interact with other mental health professionals in a variety of roles, such as consultant, supervisor, or multidisciplinary team member; 3) treat individuals presenting with a range of psychopathology; and 4) develop and explore professional and research interests.
  • To provide training in both Appalachian culture and the specialized needs of rural communities, enhancing the intern’s understanding of cultural and individual differences as they impact assessment and treatment within rural Appalachian and non-Appalachian populations.