CAPS Doctoral Internship Becomes State's First APA-Accredited Counseling Center Training Program

At a time of increasing demand for mental health clinicians, Pat Walker Health Center's Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS) has received accreditation by the American Psychological Association for its Doctoral Internship program.

The internship — a full-time, year-long program that operates within CAPS — was created in 2018 and is now recognized for its quality of training and deemed "accredited with the full rights and responsibilities of any doctoral internship accredited by the APA."

"APA accreditation is a premier distinction and an additional mark of excellence for the University of Arkansas' already outstanding counseling center," said Josette Cline, director of CAPS. "This recognition furthers our commitment to training and mentoring a new generation of psychologists, while ensuring UA students have access to quality, evidence-based mental health services and programs."

With this extraordinary achievement, CAPS is the first university counseling center, and one of five doctoral training programs statewide to earn APA accreditation.

The move comes at a good time for students interested in careers in psychology — and for their future clients — as mental health concerns continue to increase amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

It also strengthens the program's ability to recruit highly qualified intern candidates in a competitive national match system. This allows CAPS to diversify and improve the access and quality of care for the university community. In turn, it also increases CAPS' ability to recruit and hire strong clinicians who are interested in being part of an accredited training program.

"The APA has a very demanding, rigorous accreditation process that includes a comprehensive self-study, as well as an extensive on-site visit and review. This is a prestigious accomplishment for our young program and offers immense benefits for recruitment and training," said Elizabeth Stout, training director for CAPS. "The accreditation confirms the quality of the education and training we provide to our interns and our dedication to making a meaningful contribution to the mental health of the UA community."

The accreditation site visit report highlighted several of the program's areas of distinction including a robust series of didactic and seminar training, with a special emphasis on training in individual and cultural diversity. Site visitors were also pleased with the program's emphasis on multidisciplinary training, as well as the interns' ability to provide clinical supervision throughout the training year.

"As a young program, I'm proud of the effort and speed with which we were able to attain accreditation, especially given its implications for our current interns," said Stout. "This process has been both rewarding and challenging and is a true testament to the entire staff's commitment to excellence in mental health care and education. This distinctive status is a win for our entire state because it increases access to care for our population, increases access to education for our students, and attracts new and diverse talent to the state."

The CAPS Training Program emphasizes apprenticeship relationships with staff who value evidence-based professional practice, as well as embraces a meaningful process for interns to develop skills and build a sense of professional identity necessary for a successful career as a mental health clinician.

Internships are required to become a licensed psychologist and provide invaluable high-quality training in clinical practice and specialties.

"Through this program, interns not only have a transformational experience, but they leave the University of Arkansas better prepared to transform other people's lives and serve society as leaders in their field," said Cline.

For more about CAPS, visit health.uark.edu.

About the Pat Walker Health Center: Pat Walker Health Center supports students along their academic journey by providing efficient and convenient access to quality medical care, mental health care, and wellness and health promotion programs and services. The health center strives to enrich the academic and personal development of students by creating an inclusive environment that promotes positive behavior and lifestyle changes. Pat Walker Health Center is a department of the Division of Student Affairs.

About the Division of Student Affairs: The Division of Student Affairs supports students in pursuing knowledge, earning a degree, finding meaningful careers, exploring diversity, and connecting with the global community. We provide students housing, dining, health care resources, and create innovative programs that educate and inspire. We enhance the University of Arkansas experience and help students succeed, one student at a time.

Contacts

Zac Garrett Brown, assistant director of communications
Pat Walker Health Center
479-575-4649, zacharyb@uark.edu

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