Guidelines and Principles for Accreditation of Programs in Professional Psychology: Quick Reference Guide to Internship Programs

The accreditation standards summarized below are to be applied within the context of basic "Guiding Principles of Accreditation" summarized on pp. 2-5 of the Guidelines and Principles for Accreditation of Programs in Professional Psychology. The principles emphasize:

  • Broad and general preparation for practice at the entry level

  • Focused and in-depth postdoctoral preparation for specialty practice

  • Integration of science and practice

  • The degree to which a program achieves outcomes and goals consistent with its stated training model and with the Accreditation Guidelines and Principles.

Thus, accreditation in psychology is intended to "achieve general agreement on the goals of training… encourage experimentation on methods of achieving those goals and… suggest ways of establishing high standards in a setting of flexibility and reasonable freedom."

Domain A: Eligibility

A1. Program offers internship education and training in professional psychology including preparation for practice.

A2. Program sponsored by an institution or agency whose primary functions include providing services to clientele of sufficient number and variability to meet training goals and objectives.

A3. The program is:
  • An integral part of the mission of the institution in which it resides

  • Represented in the institution's budget and plans

A4. Program requires of each intern the equivalent of 1 year of full-time training to be completed in no fewer than 12 months (10 months for school psychology) and no more than 24 months.

A5. Program engages in actions that indicate respect for and understanding of cultural and individual diversity as reflected in its recruitment and retention policies for interns and staff, didactic and experiential training, nondiscriminatory policies and operating conditions, and avoidance of actions that restrict program access on grounds irrelevant to success. The definition of diversity includes but is not limited to:

  • Age

  • Disabilities

  • Ethnicity

  • Gender

  • Gender identity

  • Language

  • National origin

  • Race

  • Religion

  • Culture

  • Sexual orientation

  • Social economic status

A6. Formal written policies are available concerning:

  • Intern selection

  • Practicum and academic preparation requirements

  • Financial and administrative assistance

  • Intern performance evaluation

  • Feedback, advisement, retention and termination

  • Due process and grievance procedures for interns and staff

Domain B: Program Philosopy, Objectives and Training Plan

B1. Program publicly states a philosophy and model of training consistent with the sponsoring institution's mission that emphasizes:
  • Integration of science and practice

  • Training that is sequential, cumulative and graded in complexity

B2. Program specifies training objectives in terms of competencies expected of graduates consistent with:

  • Philosophy and training model

  • Substantive area of professional psychology that is represented

B3. Internship is an organized, structured and programmed sequence of supervised training experiences of greater depth and intensity than practicum training that includes the following:

  • Training activities are structured in terms of sequence, intensity, duration and frequency

  • Primary training method is experiential including socialization into the profession

  • Supervision is regularly scheduled, sufficient, and defined as a minimum of 4 hours/week, at least 2 hours of which is individual supervision

  • Training activities address the delivery of psychological services and include professional conduct, ethics and standards

  • Administrative structure and process which controls and coordinates training activities and processes

  • Designated leader(s) doctoral psychologist licensed in the program's jurisdiction who is primarily responsible for the program

B4. Program requires that all interns demonstrate intermediate to advanced skill, competency and knowledge in:

  • Theories and methods of assessment/diagnosis and effective intervention including empirically supported treatments

  • Theories and/or methods of consultation, evaluation and supervision

  • Strategies of scholarly inquiry

  • Issues of cultural and individual diversity relevant to all of above

B5. Program promotes the integration of practice and scholarly inquiry and takes responsibility for the training experiences of interns including:

  • Demonstrating that interns' service delivery duties are primarily learning oriented and that training takes precedence over service delivery and revenue generation

  • Ensuring that interns' prior educational and practicum experiences are consistent with the program's training model and goals

Note: Program describes and documents the minimal levels of achievement required of interns for satisfactory progress and internship completion

Domain C: Program Resources

C1. Program has formally designated intern training supervisors who:
  • Function as an integral part of the site and have primary responsibility for service delivery

  • Are sufficient in number to accomplish the program's service delivery and training goals

  • Are doctoral level psychologists who are appropriately credentialed (see IR C-15, Jurisdiction of Licensure for Supervisors)

  • Review with interns relevant scientific/empirical bases for the services delivered

  • Are of appropriate quality for the program's training model and goals

  • Participate actively in program planning, implementation and evaluation

  • Serve as professional role models consistent with the program's training goals and objectives

C2. Program has an identifiable body of interns who:

  • Are sufficient in number to ensure meaningful peer interaction, support and socialization

  • Are in a doctoral program in professional psychology or are certified for respecialization

  • Have completed adequate and appropriate supervised service delivery practicum training

  • Have interests, aptitudes and prior educational and practicum experiences appropriate for the internship's goals and objectives

  • Understand the program's philosophy, goals and training model

  • Have meaningful involvement in activities and decisions that enhance training

  • Have an official title at the site that denotes their psychology intern status

C3. Program has additional resources necessary to achieve its goals and objectives including:

  • Financial support for intern stipends, staff and training activities (see IR C-9, Unfunded Internships and Stipend Equity)

  • Clerical and technical support

  • Training materials and equipment

  • Physical facilities and training settings

  • Training settings appropriate to the program's training model

C4. If the program is a consortium of multiple independent entities then there is a formal written consortium agreement that articulates:

  • Nature and characteristics of the participating entities

  • Rationale for the partnership

  • Each partner's commitment to the training program including philosophy, model and goals

  • Each partner's obligations regarding contributions and access to resources

  • Each partner's adherence to central control and coordination of the training program

  • Each partner's commitment to uniform administration and implementation of the program's policies and procedures that address trainee admission, financial support, resource access, performance expectations and evaluations

Note: An individual consortium partner may not publicize itself as independently accredited unless it also has independently applied for and received accreditation.

Domain D: Cultural and Individual Differences and Diversity

D1. The program:
  • Has made systematic and long-term efforts to attract and retain interns and staff from differing ethnic, racial and personal backgrounds

  • Ensures a supportive learning environment for training diverse individuals who represent a broad cultural and individual spectrum

  • Avoids actions that restrict program access on grounds irrelevant to success in internship training (see Footnote 4 for exceptions)

D2. Program has a thoughtful and coherent plan to provide interns with relevant knowledge and experiences about the role of individual and cultural diversity in psychological science and practice.

Domain E: Intern-Staff Relations

E1. The program:
  • Recognizes the rights of interns and staff to be treated with courtesy, respect, collegiality and ethical sensitivity

  • Informs interns of these principles and of their avenues of recourse should issues arise

E2. Staff members are accessible to interns, provide guidance and supervision, and serve as role models who promote interns' acquisition of relevant knowledge, skills and competencies.

E3. Respect for cultural and individual diversity is demonstrated in accordance with Domain A5.

E4. Upon admission interns are given written policies and procedures regarding program requirements, expected performance, continuance and termination procedures. Interns receive, at least semiannually, written feedback on the extent to which they are meeting these requirements and expectations. The feedback should include:

  • Timely, written notification of any problems and opportunity to discuss them

  • Guidance regarding steps to remediate all problems (if remediable)

  • Written feedback on the extent to which corrective actions have or have not been successful in addressing the issues of concern

E5. Program issues certificate of completion to interns who successfully complete internship (see IR C-6[a],Program Names, Labels and other Public Descriptors)

E6. Programs keep records of all formal complaints and grievances filed since the last accreditation site visit.

Note: Programs must adhere to institutional regulations and applicable local, state and federal statutes concerning due process and fair treatment.

Domain F: Program Self-Assessment and Quality Enhancement

F1. With appropriate involvement of interns, the program engages in regular, ongoing self-studies that address its:
  • Expectations for the quality of interns' preparation prior to beginning training

  • Effectiveness in achieving goals and objectives in terms of outcome data while interns are in the program and after completion

  • Procedures to maintain current achievements or to make changes as necessary

  • Goals, objectives and outcome data in relation to local, regional, state and national standards of practice and changes in the knowledge base of the profession

F2. Program provides resources and/or opportunities for the continuing professional development of its training staff.

F3. Program and its host institution value and recognize in tangible ways the internship training and the staffs' supervisory efforts.

Domain G: Public Disclosure

G1. Program describes itself accurately and completely in documents available to current and prospective interns and other "publics" including:
  • Goals, objectives and training model; selection procedures and completion requirements; training staff, interns, facilities and other resources; and administrative policies and procedures

  • Its accreditation status including the name, address and telephone number of the CoA.

Domain H: Relationship with Accrediting Body

H1. Internship abides by the CoA's published policies and procedures.

H2. Internship informs the CoA in a timely manner of changes in its environment, plans, resources and operations that could affect program quality.

H3. Internship pays necessary fees to maintain accredited status.

1 The APA Committee on Training in Clinical Psychology (1947). First report of the new accreditation process in psychology. American Psychologist, 2, 539-558.