The primary goal of the program is to provide an emphasis on both breadth and intensity of training that allows interns to have a solid, well-rounded training experience. Our focus is on helping interns better learn to understand and assist individuals who are experiencing significant psychological problems. Additionally, the experiences provided in our program require a broad array of clinical skills that are important in helping individuals in many different settings outside of a VA Medical Center.
The philosophy of training at KCVA is best described as a "scholar-practitioner" model. The training experiences have a strong clinical focus. Knowledge and use of empirically supported processes and interventions and models of evidence-based practice are expected and encouraged in all aspects of the program. The training program at the Kansas City VA Medical Center is a generalist program that provides all trainees the opportunity to work closely with a diverse patient population under supervision of a psychology staff with a broad range of interest and expertise. One of the goals of this internship is to provide the necessary skill set that will enable the intern to function effectively in a professional role in a variety of employment settings.
We also value a developmental approach to training in which tasks of increasing difficulty and complexity are given to interns throughout the course of their internship as they demonstrate their ability and readiness to take on new responsibilities. Supervision is expected to match the needs of the intern in a way that facilitates professional development and progression. Thus, the intensity of supervision diminishes over the course of the rotation and internship as the intern matures into a role approaching colleague rather than student. By the internship’s end, we expect to play more of a consultant role for the interns, rather than that of a supervisor monitoring every decision and move. Continued professional growth is fostered through ongoing examination of current research to inform clinical practice and through encouraging interns to learn and utilize treatments that he or she may not have been exposed to in the past. Supervision will also generally be matched to the needs of the intern and the intensity of this supervision is expected to diminish as the intern transitions into the role of a psychologist.
A focus of our internship is fostering the growth and integration of interns' personal and professional identities. We emphasize the need for balance in our lives. This results in our insistence on a 40-hour work week and encouraging our interns to pursue interests outside of psychology, such as recreation, exercise, family, and friendships. Professional identity development, especially in the areas of employment location and selection, is assisted by seminars about job searches, licensure, program development, mental health administration, and supervision. Additionally, the Director of Training spends significant time with the interns, both individually and as a group, encouraging and facilitating completion of the dissertation, exploring possible career paths, and assisting in conducting appropriate, timely and successful job searches. In addition, psychology staff are very open to providing informal assistance in these areas. Finally, the atmosphere in Mental Health at KCVA is quite collegial. We value our interns highly, appreciating them both as professional colleagues and as fellow human beings.
KCVA provides services to diverse populations and strives to create a therapeutic environment for, and ensure ethical treatment of, patients with diverse backgrounds and characteristics. Thus, an important goal of the psychology training program is to increase trainees’ knowledge and skills in working with a wide range of clients from different cultural backgrounds.