November 9, 2011
Cynthia Belar Response Letter to the New York Times
Letter to the editor in response to the New York Times magazine's article "Intern Gap Frustrates Clinicians in Training."
Your article "Intern Gap Frustrates Clinicians in Training" (Nov. 8, 2011) addressed the important issue of ensuring a sufficient number of training internships for aspiring clinical psychologists. The article is, however, incorrect in its suggestion that we encourage students who do not match to an accredited internship to accept a non-accredited training position. To the contrary, the American Psychological Association (APA) is committed to the development of additional accredited internship programs to allow all clinical psychology students to complete their studies in a timely manner and to ensure quality in all internship programs. APA accreditation is the only quality assurance mechanism recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education and the Council on Higher Education Accreditation for the review of professional psychology education and training programs.
Among efforts to address the development of quality internship programs, the APA has collaborated with the Council of Chairs of Training Councils to create a practical resource, the Psychology Internship Development Toolkit. Further, we have continuously advocated for increased funding for accredited internships through the Graduate Psychology Education (GPE) program of the federal Health Resources and Services Administration. During the September 2011 APA Education Leadership Conference, our members made over 170 visits to Capitol Hill offices on behalf of GPE.
Although access to psychological services for underserved populations is a complex issue and not directly related to the internship shortage, some internship programs do train students for work with underserved populations and allow students to deliver such services while being supervised by an experienced provider. Ensuring that clinical psychology students have the opportunity to complete their training in a timely fashion, meeting standards of quality set by the profession, is not only fair to the student but good for society.
Cynthia D. Belar, PhD, ABPP
Education Directorate/American Psychological Association