SCS: Who We Are & What We Do

Direct Service Activities for Externship
Clinical Training Activities
Trainee Evaluation, Grievance & Due Process Procedures

SCS, ranked one of the best College Counseling Centers in the nation by the Gourman Report (1997, 1998) and in operation for over 50 years, is a comprehensive student mental health clinic that is available to all undergraduate and graduate students matriculating at The University of Chicago. We provide individual, couple and group counseling, 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 or post-doctoral fellowship. The goals & objectives of the training program are as follows:

1. To prepare trainees for a career in clinical psychology via mentorship and role-modeling.

2. To expose trainees to a wide variety of clinical experiences and interventions in keeping with a generalist model of clinical psychology.

3. 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. 

4.  To enhance trainees’ clinical competence and knowledge in working with a diverse population through didactic & training experiences. 

Since trainees are not expected to provide the bulk of services at SCS, they 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.    

Direct Service Activities for Externship

Psychotherapy (10-12 hrs per week)

Given the amount of students served at SCS, a brief treatment model is preferred, with exceptions made when clinically appropriate. However, externs will be encouraged to carry 2 long-term 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. Building gradually, the extern will be expected to carry a caseload of 10-12 individuals or couples per week.

Academic Skills Assessment Program (ASAP) (2–3 hrs 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 (1-3 hrs 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. This activity will help the extern get acquainted with the diagnostic spectrum seen at SCS, as well as the clinical specialties of SCS staff members. Additionally, with SCS serving as the gate-keeper to students seeking long-term treatment through the University Student Health Insurance Plan (USHIP), externs will become familiar with SCS’s referral process. Externs who have limited experience doing intakes are encouraged to sit in on several staff intakes to familiarize the trainee with the procedure.  

Group Psychotherapy (1x/year)

While individual psychotherapy is predominant at SCS, there are a variety of opportunities for externs to co-lead groups with staff or another trainee.  All externs will be required to co-lead one graduate student process group during the course of their training. As other group co-leading opportunities arise, they will be assigned based on availability and interest.

“Let’s Talk” Counseling Services (2-3 hrs per week)

Adopted from Cornell University’s Counseling Center, this innovative program involves the creation of 3 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.  

Clinical Training Activities

Individual Supervision (2 hrs per week)

Externs will receive 2 hours of individual supervision per week, 1 by a primary supervisor and 1 by a secondary supervisor. The primary supervisor will track the extern’s experience over the entire year, while the secondary supervisor will be a “rotating” supervisor who will provide the extern with specialty supervision in clinical areas of interest. Externs are encouraged to receive secondary supervision from a variety of staff, including post-docs, in order to increase their breadth of experience at SCS.

Treatment Team Seminar (1.5 hrs per week)

Every extern will meet weekly with an assigned cohort of SCS staff consisting of psychologist, psychiatrist and social workers to discuss clinical cases.  Externs will be expected to present at least one case per quarter.

ASAP Supervision (1 hr per week)

This training and supervision will be provided weekly in a group format and will focus on properly conducting ASAP intakes, coaching techniques and learning strategies for assisting students who present with learning difficulties/differences and other academic concerns.

Special Topics Seminar (1 hr per week)

Issues regarding professional development will be addressed, such as negotiating the internship application process, preparing for a future job and understanding the multifaceted role of a modern psychologist. Externs will increase their competence in working with a diverse populations; emphasizing the areas of race, ethnicity, religion, gender, socioeconomics, sexual orientation, and ability.

Process Group Supervision (1 hr per week)

Externs will meet weekly with their group supervisor who will provide education and support related to facilitating a process group. The structure of the supervision will depend on the needs of the externs At times the entire cohort will meet together while at other times the externs will meet with their co-therapist and supervisor.  There will also be an experiential process element to this supervision. 

Extern Support Group

Led by Post Doctoral trainees.  This group provides an informal setting for externs to discuss personal matters and other issues that may impact the trainees' clinical work.

Application Process

Applicants should submit a cover letter stating their clinical interests and reasons for applying to SCS, along with their CV, 3 letters of reference and a transcript to the following address:

The University of Chicago-SCS
5555 S. Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL. 60637
ATTN: John McPherrin, Psy.D.

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 3 days to SCS (a total of 20 hours per week). Friday 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 e-mail 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 & 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 insure that high ethical & 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 insure fair and equitable treatment of all trainees and staff at SCS. All externs are expected to be acquainted with SCS policies & procedures as outlined in our Policies & 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.