Psychology internship program earns American Psychological Association seal of approval

Intern cohorts (from left) Daniel Reed and Mallorey Gatti, with Amy Miller.

Intern cohorts (from left) Daniel Reed and Mallorey Gatti, with Amy Miller.

September 25, 2020

By Walter Ryce

CSUMB’s Psychology Internship Program, which resides within and supports the Personal Growth and Counseling Center as part of Health and Wellness Services (HWS), has been accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA).

HWS was officially notified of the decision on Aug. 11 of this year, but the accreditation became active on July 19.

“This is significant because the date allowed for our second intern cohort to graduate from an accredited internship since they were still present on campus at the time of the decision,” said Amy Miller, Psy.D., HWS training lead and counselor-faculty.

The APA’s Commission on Accreditation (APA-CoA) is the main accreditor in the United States for professional education training in psychology programs and doctoral internships and residencies, including in clinical, counseling and school settings. It sets the standards of quality for programs to train graduates to deliver successful, ethical, evidence-based psychological services.

“A psychology internship program is akin to a medical residency for psychologists in training,” said Miller. “To become a psychologist, students pursuing their doctorates need to complete one full year of training during their final year of graduate school in which they are able to apply all the knowledge they gained during their education.”

That application can happen at prisons, hospitals, community mental health centers, VA hospitals, or schools. The interns come from all over the United States and Canada and are matched with institutions according to preferences and best fit. Accreditation puts institutions in a better position to attract the strongest candidates.

Miller was hired in 2016 to build and run CSUMB’s doctoral internship program. She consulted with colleagues at other accredited programs in order to build it from scratch, and launched it with its first interns in Fall 2018.

It was decided early on to strive for APA accreditation. Within a year Miller prepared to submit materials for accreditation, including an extensive self-study review, followed by a two-day site visit with interviews and observation, which happened Feb. 27-28, 2020.

In August, Jacqueline Remondet Wall, the APA’s director of the Office of Program Consultation and Accreditation, wrote in a letter to President Eduardo Ochoa, “I am pleased to inform you that the CoA voted to grant the program ‘accredited, on contingency’ status.”

Contingency accreditation means that the university program met all the standards except for outcome data on two interns/residents who have gone through the program.

“We completed our second training year this July and will soon have the necessary data to submit to APA to pursue full accreditation,” Miller said. The hope is to earn the longest duration of full accreditation possible—10 years.

For CSUMB students this means they will have a constantly diverse group of mental health specialists within the PGCC. There are currently two interns within each cohort, and HWS would like to add a third.

"We are very proud of Dr. Amy Miller's success in quickly building the Doctoral training program into a highly desired training destination, matching with the best candidates for our team three years in a row, and accomplishing APA accreditation," said Ana Hernandez, Senior Director of Health & Wellness Services. "Among the greatest benefits of this program is the ability to bring new specializations to our campus that support the evolution of services to our diverse student population and builds the professional development of our faculty counselors."