POTENTIAL SPACE: MARK MCKINLEY, M.A.
CHALLENGES IN PSYCHOANALYTIC INTERNSHIP TRAINING
The key to perpetuating any tradition or discipline is training the next generation of practitioners. Within the discipline of clinical psychology, this vital training often culminates in the predoctoral internship. Through this formative experience, interns are exposed to an array of clinical theories and techniques that become foundational to their emerging professional identity. In this way, the predoctoral internship serves as the capstone experience that facilitates the transition from being a student to a professional.
Competition for an APA-accredited or APPIC internship has grown fierce. In 2011, 937 students (24% of the applicants) were unmatched (Vasquez, 2011). Within this competitive environment, students interested in seeking training at a psychoanalytically oriented internship face an even greater challenge. Where such opportunities once abounded, today there is a scarcity of psychoanalytically informed internships. According to a recent survey by Downing, Greenlee, and Louria (2006), the number of internships that were rated high for offering training from a psychoanalytic perspective had decreased by 22% (from 49 to 36 sites) over the past 10 years. In essence, opportunities for training in psychoanalytic predoctoral internships are diminishing.
Despite there being fewer opportunities, the demand among students to learn within the psychoanalytic tradition remains strong. With limited opportunities, however, many of these students may opt for internships that are not accredited by APA or a member of APPIC. Selecting such internships carries some risks. Some of these risks include limiting opportunities for employment in academia and the Veterans Administration, as well as for positions on competitive managed-care insurance panels. Also, due to a lack of uniformity in licensing laws, students who do not complete an APA-accredited internship may face licensing barriers in certain jurisdictions (Vaughn, 2006). This may restrict licensing mobility and potentially truncate career opportunities.
In an ever-competitive marketplace for mental health practices, the ways in which psychoanalytic theory and practice matter must be articulated and disseminated widely among professional colleagues, policy makers, third-party payers, and - perhaps most importantly - students entering the field of clinical psychology. The future of the field is predicated on training its next generation of clinicians. Today, aspiring psychoanalytically informed clinicians face more obstacles than previous generations, and as a field, we need to be cognizant of these challenges and poised to actively address them.
Downing, D.L., Greenlee, T.M., & Louria, S. (2006). Psychoanalytical training opportunities in pre-doctoral internships: Opportunities and challenges. Retrieved 4.18.11 http://www.apadivisions.org/division-39/leadership/committees/education/....
Vasquez, M.J.T. (2011). The internship crisis: Strategies and solutions. Monitor on Psychology, 42(4), p. 5.
Vaughn, T.J. (2006). Overview of licensure requirements to meet _high standards_ in the United States and Canada. In T.J. Vaughn (Ed.), Psychology licensure and certification: What students need to know, pp. 7-15. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association
Mark McKinley, M.A.
Impulse Staff Writer