Together We Can Get to Work

The American Psychological Association of Graduate Students (APAGS) is committed to ending the internship crisis. We believe that the imbalance between the number of students seeking an internship and the number of internship positions, particularly accredited internships, is unacceptably high. Students are deeply affected by this crisis, whether or not they match. The good news? There are many ways you can be a part of the solution by bringing attention to the issue and advancing change.

The following video presents data and personal reactions to the internship crisis, discusses the importance of high-quality internship training for APAGS members, and offers a call to the psychology community for greater awareness, advocacy and action to ensure the availability of internships for students in clinical, counseling and school psychology doctoral programs.


Advocacy, Awareness and Action Steps

For Psychologists
Awareness 
  • Share this page with at least five people. Post it on social media or send the link by email to colleagues (e.g., internship training directors, doctoral directors of clinical training, leaders in your state psychological association, colleagues in your department or agency, and graduate students). 
  • Sign a pledge to stay active and aware about the internship crisis.
  • Join the APAGS internship-focused action Listserv™ and contribute your ideas. 
  • Hold a brown-bag lunch or summit with your colleagues and/or students on the internship crisis, the local landscape for training, and challenges and opportunities to help bring more positions to qualified students in need. Brainstorm new ways to work together and take action. 
  • Talk candidly with doctoral students about the crisis. For example, hold regular meetings about internship preparation with students from their first year of entry into the program. Learn from your students. Check in about any stressors or experiences they may be going through, relevant to attaining an internship.
  • Help students attend APA’s annual convention where they can meet internship training directors and attend a four-hour workshop on internship preparation through APAGS.
Advocacy 
  • Advocate for Medicaid/insurance reimbursement for trainees. This could happen at the state level in concert with the advocacy and policy team of your state psychological association and/or through consultation with your agency or hospital’s billing and Medicaid/Insurance compliance office(s) if your state already allows this possibility. APA is developing a toolkit with a state-by-state report of permissibility to seek intern service reimbursement, examples and action steps. Until the toolkit is available, please feel free to consult with Sharon Berry, PhD, member of APA’s Board of Educational Affairs, who has advised internship sites for several years on this issue.   
  • Request continued and expanded federal monies to support internship training through the Graduate Psychology Education (GPE) program and the Mental and Behavioral Education and Training (MBHET) program. 
  • Advocate for state investment in internships as other states have recently done. For example, Nebraska passed a law in April 2014 that would require the state to fund at least five interns per year, and up to 10 within three years. Alaskan education authorities banded together to form a consortium with continued funding.
  • Advocate for private foundations to invest in mental health and intern services. For example, Texas’s Hogg Foundation funded $3.2 million to develop six APA-accredited internship sites and two consortia in the state. 
  • Work with your state psychological association to develop a position statement about the internship crisis and short- and long-range goals to address it. For guidance, you can refer to the nuanced APAGS position statement (further described in a 2014 journal article). Leading to the adoption of a position statement, consider (a) a state snapshot on the internship crisis with variables such as the number of sites and positions lost/gained over time, the number of yearly internship applicants from doctoral programs in the state, the number of accredited versus nonaccredited programs and so forth; and (b) holding a state stakeholder meeting to address the data and begin to shape an official position or policy.
  • Advise student advocacy groups on campuses, at internship programs and/or at the state and regional levels about the internship crisis. Assist students to mobilize strong responses for the development of more training positions. 
Action
  • Help start an internship. There are three types: affiliated (an internship that solely or partially admits interns from a specific doctoral program), independent (a single site open to all qualified applicants) and consortia (multi-site training partnerships). For resources, consult the Psychology Internship Development Toolkit online or via PDF (334KB), as well as key articles listed on the further reading tab, and the request for mentorship through APPIC. If you are interested in exploring the consortium path, please contact APAGS, which will work to connect you with someone for advice.
  • If you do start an internship, be a mentor to colleagues and help them get started. Consider disseminating strategies, materials and more. APAGS would be happy to highlight your story through its blog; email us.
  • If you are part of an unaccredited internship site, consider applying for a grant from APA to expand the number of accredited internship positions and to promote quality training for professional practice.
  • If you are an internship training director, consider the possibilities of adding an additional internship spot, which may be even more viable if your site can seek reimbursement for intern services.
  • If you teach in a doctoral program, consider how your program may be contributing to or alleviating the internship crisis, and bolster efforts for continued improvement in match rates at the local level.
For Students
Awareness 
  • Share the shortened link to this page (on.apa.org/internshipcrisis) with at least five people. Send the link by email to colleagues (e.g., graduate student peers, faculty, internship training directors and leaders in your state psychological association), or post it on your social media accounts using the hashtag #EndTheInternshipCrisis.
  • Sign a pledge to stay active and aware about the internship crisis.
  • Join the APAGS internship-focused action Listserv™ and contribute your ideas.  
  • Take to social media about the internship crisis using the hashtag #EndTheInternshipCrisis.
  • Hold a brown-bag lunch or summit with your peers, faculty and/or colleagues on the internship crisis, the local landscape for training, and challenges and opportunities to help bring more positions to qualified students in need. Brainstorm new ways to work together and take action. 
  • Help prospective students (undergraduates and career changers) shop smartly: 
    • Consider hosting an informational panel at your university/college for undergraduate or master’s level psychology students considering pursuing doctoral programs. In the panel, help prospective students learn differences between graduate programs and how to find a program that helps them get an accredited internship. Your local Psi Chi chapter or undergraduate psychology club might be a good place to begin planning the event.
    • APAGS has a checklist and worksheet on its Resources page under “Applying to Graduate School.”  Feel free to distribute these at informational events, or via email to prospective students. 
  • After you graduate, continue to educate your colleagues about the crisis and the importance of creating more internship positions and sites. 
Advocacy
  • At the federal level:
  • At the state level: 
    • Encourage your state psychological association to take up the issue of Medicaid/insurance reimbursement for trainees.
      • Become a member of the association.
      • Send a message to the president and executive director. 
      • Join an advocacy or policy committee and/or email list.
      • Build additional support in your association by getting your faculty members to join and weigh in.
    • Advocate for your state psychological association to develop a position statement about the internship crisis and short- and long-range goals to address it. For guidance, you can refer to the nuanced APAGS position statement (further described in a 2014 journal article). Leading to the adoption of a position statement, ask leaders to pull together (a) a state snapshot on the internship crisis with variables such as the number of sites and positions lost/gained over time, the number of yearly internship applicants from doctoral programs in the state, the number of accredited versus nonaccredited programs and so forth; and (b) a state stakeholder meeting to address the data and begin to shape an official position or policy.

  • On campus:
    • Advocate for strong mentoring from your director of clinical training around internship selection and applications.
    • Request that your department hold regular meetings about internship preparation with students from the first year of entry into the program. 
    • Create an atmosphere of trust and support amongst your peers by checking in with each other about any stressors or experiences related to attaining an internship. If you have peers that don’t match, provide them support and encouragement, and speak up if you hear others shaming those who end up without placements.
    • Advocate for funding support to attend APA’s annual convention where you can meet internship training directors and attend a four-hour workshop on internship preparation through APAGS
    • If you’re in an unaccredited doctoral program, advocate for accreditation to protect students, maximize licensure and employment possibilities, and guarantee the public is receiving the highest quality training based on standards adopted by the profession. Direct your department to the Psychology Internship Development Toolkit online or via PDF (334 KB). 
    • Advocate for the development of a campus affiliated internship program (PDF, 120KB). 
  • On internship 
    • Educate your supervisors and other psychologists about the crisis.
    • Learn what, if anything, you can do at your site to help expand the number of positions for future cohorts. 
    • If your internship is unaccredited, let your staff know about grants from APA to move toward accreditation. 
Action
Data
Further Reading
  • APAGS maintains resources on its website, blog and through a frequently updated internship workbook available in print form. 
  • Extensive coverage of the internship crisis over the years appears in gradPSYCH, the magazine of APAGS and in the Monitor on Psychology, the magazine of APA. 
  • If you are focused on internship and training issues at the state level, consider joining APA Division 31, which is free for students, and look at examples (PDF, 2.5MB) of state associations and students working together on advocacy issues.
  • The APAGS committee recommends the following reading list of key journal articles related to the internship crisis:  
    • Baker, J., McCutcheon, S., Keilin, W. G. & Peranson, E. (2007). A growing bottleneck: The internship supply-demand imbalance in 2007 and its impact on psychology training. [Special issue]. Training and Education in Professional Psychology, 1(4), 229-237. 
    • Doran, J., Meyerson, D., & El-Ghoroury, N. H. (2014). Promoting the highest quality graduate training experience: A student perspective on the HSPEC Blueprint. Training and Education in Professional Psychology, 8(1), 12-17.
    • Hatcher, R. L. (2011). The internship supply as a common-pool resource: A pathway to managing the imbalance problem. [Special section]. Training and Education in Professional Psychology, 5(3), 126-140.
    • Hutchings, P. S., Mangione, L., Dobbins, J. E. & Wechsler, F. S. (2007). A critical analysis of systemic problems with psychology pre-doctoral internship training: Contributing factors and collaborative solutions. [Special issue]. Training and Education in Professional Psychology, 1(4), 276-286.
    • Lally, S. J. & Paszkiewicz, W. B. (2011). Are there fish in the sea as good as ever came out of it? A response to using the common-pool resource paradigm to resolve the internship imbalance. [Special section]. Training and Education in Professional Psychology, 5(4), 205-208.
    • Madson, M. B. Hasan, N. T., Williams-Nickelson, C.,  Kettman, J. J. & Van Sickle, K. S. (2007). The internship supply and demand issue: A graduate student’s perspective. [Special issue]. Training and Education in Professional Psychology, 1(4), 249-257.
    • McCutcheon, S. R. (2001). The internship crisis: An uncommon urgency to build a common solution. [Special section]. Training and Education in Professional Psychology, 5(3), 144-148.
    • Meyerson, D. A., Meyerson, L. N., Bolson, A., & Wilson, G.A. A legal “case” against the internship placement system and a proposal to fix the system and the internship imbalance. Training and Education in Professional Psychology, Vol 7(3), Aug 2013, 174-184.
    • Miville, M. L., Adams, E. M. & Juntunen, C. L. (2007). Counseling psychology perspectives on the predoctoral internship supply-demand imbalance: Strategies for problem definition and resolution. [Special issue]. Training and Education in Professional Psychology, 1(4), 258-266.
    • Rodolfa, E. R., Bell, D. J., Bieschke, K. J., Davis, C. & Peterson, R. L. (2007). The internship match: Understanding the problem-seeking solution. [Special issue]. Training and Education in Professional Psychology, 1(4), 225-228.
    • Rozenzky, R. H., Grus, C. L., Belar, C. D., Nelson, P. D. & Kohout, J. L. (2007). Using workforce analysis to answer questions related to the internship imbalance and career pipeline in professional psychology. [Special issue]. Training and Education in Professional Psychology, 1(4), 238-248.
    • Schaefer, M. R., Newman, G. H., Perl, R., Morrison, A., Jordan, V. B., Wong, J., Ribner, N. & Montenegro, H. (2011). Shifting the paradigm: Alternative perspectives and solutions to increasing the availability of quality internships. [Special Section] Training and Education in Professional Psychology, 5(4), 209-212.
    • Stedman, J. M. (2006).  What we know about predoctoral internship training: A review. Training and Education in Professional Psychology, S(2), 80-95.  
    • Tuma, J. M., & Cerny, J. A. (1976). The internship marketplace: The new depression? American Psychologist, 31(9), 664-670. 
    • Wells, S. R., Becker Herbst, R., Parent, M. C., Ameen, E., El-Ghoroury, N. H., Mattu, A., Wilson, G. A., Mereish, E. H., & FitzGerald, M. E. (2014). The internship crisis: Graduate students look back and plan ahead. Training and Education in Professional Psychology, 8, 112-118.