Detailed information about the APA-accredited internship program at Harris County Juvenile Probation Department is available at: hcjpd.harriscountytx.gov (click on "Join our Team" in the blue header, then "Internship Program"). The client population at Harris County Juvenile Probation Department is comprised of youth with diverse socioeconomic backgrounds, ethnicities, ages, and diagnoses. Recipients of mental health services are children ages 10 to 17 years who are involved in the juvenile justice system. The primary training site will be the Juvenile Justice Center in Houston, Texas, which houses approximately 250 youth. However, there will also be opportunities to provide services within the community; therefore, personal transportation is strongly recommended. The primary emphasis of the internship program is assessment-focused. Our department provides general psychological evaluations as well as more forensically oriented evaluations.
Interns will participate in three major rotations. They will spend their first rotation primarily conducting general psychological evaluations with the juvenile forensic population, with a focus on clarifying diagnoses and making appropriate recommendations for treatment and placement. The second rotation will give the intern opportunities to conduct more specific forensic evaluations, such as when the court is considering transferring the youth to the adult criminal justice system or fitness to proceed (competency to stand trial) evaluations. At times, such evaluations might require an intern to provide court testimony regarding the findings of their evaluation. The third rotation will consist of the intern being an integral part of one of our specialty courts, either the Court 360 for youth who have extensive mental health needs, or the CARE Court, for youth who are involved in human trafficking. This role involves evaluating youth for the appropriateness of speciality court involvement, possibily providing short-term psychotherapy to youth who are awaiting transfer to a more permanent placement, extensive multidisciplinary consultation, and interfacing with judges and attorneys. Throughout the year, interns will also have a small caseload of individual therapy clients of youth who are residing in the detention center. There might also be opportunties to provide group therapy to youth who are in the detention center or who are residing in the community.
Due to COVID-19, some training experiences have been modified and at this time, it is unknown how long these modifications will continue. While there is some face-to-face work that is occurring in the detention center, we have attempted to provide the majority of our services via telehealth. We are detaining a lower number of youth and releasing more youth into the community. As a result, we are conducting psychological evaluations and providing therapy via telehealth to youth who are at home. We have temporarily suspended interns providing individual therapy to detained youth, but we hope that this will soon resume. The majority of the interns' work has been done from home during the pandemic, although there are times when it is necessary for a clinician to be physically present at the building. Masks are currently required by all staff in our building (unless staff is in their own enclosed office space) and we attempt to maintain social distancing when feasible. We are committed to providing a safe environment for our youth, staff, and interns. During this current application cycle, HCJPD will be flexible regarding some requirements, such as minimum number of hours and number of reports written.