Student Counseling Service is a comprehensive student mental health clinic that is available to all undergraduate and graduate students who have paid the Student Life Fee at the University of Chicago. SCS provides individual, couple, and group therapy, crisis intervention, academic skills assessment, alcohol/drug abuse intervention, psychopharmacology, consultation to faculty and staff, and 24-hour/365-day emergency on-call phone service.
Students served are adolescents and adults who bring with them a range of psychological difficulties that are very similar to what one would see in a standard outpatient clinic. And as a highly competitive, internationally recognized university, there is a great deal of ethnic diversity within the student body and the students seeking services at the clinic.
SCS offers training opportunities to pre-doctoral clinical psychology trainees seeking an advanced psychotherapy externship and post-doctoral trainees in clinical, counseling, community, or health psychology. The goals and objectives of the training program are as follows:
- To prepare trainees for a career in clinical psychology via mentorship and role-modeling.
- To expose trainees to a wide variety of clinical experiences and interventions in keeping with a generalist model of clinical psychology.
- To immerse trainees in the range of activities typically encountered at a college counseling center in preparation for working in a college setting in the future.
- To enhance trainees’ clinical competence and knowledge in working with a diverse population through didactic and training experiences.
Trainees have the opportunity to be immersed in a supportive, nurturing, and intellectually challenging environment that will serve as an excellent segue to future professional life. The staff at SCS possesses a wide variety of clinical interests and theoretical orientations, and is deeply committed to providing an enriching and comprehensive clinical experience to trainees.
Psychotherapy (10–12 hours per week)
Given the amount of students served at SCS, a brief treatment model is preferred, with exceptions made when clinically appropriate. Externs will be encouraged to carry two extended psychotherapy cases as a way of gaining a more intensive clinical experience. Selecting good long-term cases will be determined collaboratively between the extern and his/her primary supervisor.
Academic Skills Assessment Program (ASAP) (1–2 hours per week)
Externs gain some specialized diagnostic and treatment skills in the area of learning disabilities/difficulties that will be particularly helpful to those externs who envision taking an internship or future job within an academic setting. In addition to working with students individually, externs will be expected to develop and present one ASAP outreach event during the winter or spring quarters that combines a clinical topic of interest to the extern and the effect the issue can pose on academic performance.
Intake Assessment (2–4 hours per week)
Intake assessments are performed on every student seeking services at SCS for the purpose of getting a rough diagnostic impression and making appropriate dispositions, the options of which are typically seeing the student for a brief course of psychotherapy and/or scheduling the student for a psychiatric evaluation. Referrals will be made to community-based providers when more open-ended psychotherapy seems warranted. With SCS serving as the gatekeeper to students seeking long-term treatment through the University Student Health Insurance Plan (U-SHIP), externs will become familiar with SCS’s referral process and network.
Group Psychotherapy (1x/year)
While individual psychotherapy is predominant at SCS, there are opportunities for externs to co-lead groups with staff or another trainee. All externs will be encouraged to co-lead at least one psychotherapy group during the course of their training.
Externs will have the option to co-facilitate groups in the winter and spring. Externs are encouraged to express interest in a group to your supervisor and then the group facilitator. Group co-facilitation assignments will be made based on interest, student readiness, and goodness of fit with topic and facilitator.
“Let’s Talk” Counseling Services (optional)
Adopted from Cornell University’s Counseling Center, this innovative program involves the creation of various drop-in offices on campus to assist students who might be reluctant to seek psychological services through traditional means by offering more informal contact that may serve as a prelude to seeking services at SCS. This program is run by SCS and is available to trainees on a rotating basis at the discretion of the staff member who runs the program.
Individual Supervision (1–2 hours per week)
Externs will receive two hours of individual supervision per week, one by a primary supervisor, and one by a secondary supervisor. The primary supervisor will track the extern’s experience over the entire year. The secondary supervisor, a post-doc, will work with the extern to determine the focus of what their secondary supervision relationship will address.
Multidisciplinary Treatment Team (1 hour per week)
Externs will be assigned to a seven to eight member multidisciplinary staff treatment team where cases will be presented and discussed.
Psychotherapy Seminar (1 hour per week)
Externs will meet weekly with the Coordinator of Psychology Training to present and discuss clinical cases. Externs will be expected to make one formal case presentation during Autumn, Winter, and Spring Quarters.
Special Topics Seminar (1 hour per week)
A variety of issues will be addressed in this seminar, some of which are preplanned, others of which are chosen by the externs via popular vote. Issues of professional development will be addressed, negotiating the internship application process, preparing for a future job, and understanding the multifaceted role of a modern psychologist. Externs will also increase their competence in working with diverse populations, emphasizing areas of race, ethnicity, religion, gender, socioeconomics, sexual orientation, and ability.
Extern Support Group (1 hour per week)
This group is facilitated by our post-doctoral trainees and allows externs the opportunity to discuss personal issues that might be surfacing in their work, concerns/questions regarding their training experience, and the internship application process.
ASAP Supervision (1 hour per week)
This training and supervision will be provided in a group format. Externs will learn how to properly conduct ASAP intakes, utilize coaching techniques, and implement strategies in order to assist students who present with learning difficulties/differences and other academic concerns.
Group Supervision (varies based on activity level)
Externs will meet with their co-leader and a supervising psychologist who will provide education and support related to facilitating the group. The structure of the supervision will depend on the nature of the group and the needs of the externs.
Applicants should submit a cover letter stating their clinical interests and reasons for applying to SCS, along with their CV, three letters of reference, and a transcript to the following address:
The University of Chicago—SCS
5555 S. Woodlawn Ave.
Chicago, IL. 60637
ATTN: John McPherrin, PsyD
Applications should be received no later than 3 weeks prior to the notification day set forth by the Association of Chicagoland Externship and Practicum Training Sites (ACEPT) and offers will be made during the Notification Period via standard ACEPT protocol.
Externs will commit three days to SCS (a total of twenty hours per week). Monday is a mandatory didactic day, while the other days are based on SCS office availability. The practicum starts in September with a trainee orientation and lasts through June, amounting to approximately 650 hours of supervised experience. Time off from practicum includes all University holidays, sick leave as needed, and 2 weeks of vacation to be taken during winter and spring breaks. All trainees will receive a University email address to aid communication with staff and clients, and training will be given to learn the clinic’s electronic medical record system.
Trainee Evaluation, Grievance, and Due Process Procedures
At the end of each quarter, externs will receive a formal written evaluation on his/her performance in all areas of training by his/her primary supervisor. Performance evaluations will be discussed by the SCS Training Committee to ensure that high ethical and clinical standards are being maintained and that all trainee expectations are being met. In the event that there is a problem with an extern’s performance, SCS has in place Grievance and Due Process Procedures that clarify remediation steps. These procedures are in place to ensure fair and equitable treatment of all trainees and staff at SCS. All externs are expected to be acquainted with SCS policies and procedures as outlined in our Policies and Procedures Manual that is distributed at the Trainee Orientation.
Additionally, externs will evaluate their primary supervisor at the end of each quarter so as to insure that their expectations are being met. In the event that there is a problem with a supervisor, the Director of Training will first attempt to resolve it by informal means and, if necessary, a Grievance and Due Process Procedure.