Program Philosophy

Rutgers University Behavioral and Correctional Health Care (UBHC/UCHC) in Newark is dedicated to responding to the specific behavioral health needs of non-dominant groups across the life-span. The Psychology Internship Program is committed to the mission of training professional psychologists in an environment that supports, promotes and implements a multicultural perspective to mental health services, as well as contributing to the provision of culturally competent and effective services to the population of Newark. The program prepares students to work using evidence-based practices in multiple professional roles with clients from different age groups within the changing health care environment, and is particularly dedicated to the training of psychologists to meet the needs of underserved, urban people of color, who experience a wide variety of environmental challenges. The program seeks to train culturally competent psychologists in the specific behaviors, attitudes, and policies that recognize, respect, and value the uniqueness of individuals and groups whose cultures are different from those associated with mainstream America.

Cultural competence as a service delivery approach can be applied to systems that serve people representing diversity along a variety of dimensions, including those related to gender, age, income level, geographic region, neighborhood, sexual orientation, religion, and physical disability, race and immigration status. Researchers in the field have found that the ability of mental health workers to increase the effectiveness and utilization of mental health services is closely associated with cultural competence and attention to diversity. Our internship program’s clinical and didactic experiences guide students to become more culturally competent psychologists who are aware and respectful of the importance of values, beliefs, traditions, customs, and parenting styles of the people they serve. Students will also have the opportunity to become more aware of the impact of their own culture on the therapeutic relationship they develop with clients, and take all of these factors into account when planning and delivering services for children, adolescents, and adults with mental health problems.

The program prepares students from accredited professional psychology doctoral programs to practice as professional psychologists who deliver psychological services in a variety of contexts, and also prepares students for leadership roles in which they can develop and direct the delivery of services and provide education and training to others. We seek to develop a set of core competencies in assessment and treatment, with particular focus on either children or adults, and also to build upon specialty interests and skills through elective experiences. Multi-disciplinary experiences are central to our internship, so that students learn how to work with professionals in a variety of disciplines. Finally, we expect students to make use of their research and critical thinking skills in the service of program development and evaluation, thus developing the ability to understand and think about service delivery systems in critical ways. Our philosophy is that students who have skills at multiple levels will have greater marketability as psychologists, will be in a better position to compete with mental health professionals from other disciplines, and will be most able to respond to the changing face of health care delivery in the 21st century. Our model of the "ideal" professional psychologist is one who, in addition to being an excellent clinician, is also able to implement service improvements- someone who knows how to deliver services that are effective and efficient for diverse types of clients.

The program identifies itself as a scholar-practitioner clinical internship and accepts students from graduate programs with both practitioner-scholar and scientist-practitioner models in clinical psychology. In addition, however, we strongly consider applications from students in counseling psychology programs if the student’s prior training and goals for the year are sufficiently clinically-oriented.

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