Evaluation of training programs in the Texas Tech University Counseling Center
Tucker, Karen L.
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An important aspect of graduate education in counseling and clinical psychology is clinical training, specifically practica and internships. There is a clear directive from the American Psychological Association (APA) to conduct evaluations of clinical training, and an implicit directive from psychologists' responsibility to their clients. State licensure laws and thirdparty payment agents also demand certain levels of competence and accountability. It is clear that the effectiveness of clinical training should be evaluated. The literature reports that clinical training evaluation is done, but that it lacks specificity and quality. There are many difficulties inherent in such evaluation. For one, there are no standardized criteria against which to judge successful therapist training outcome. In addition, therapist trainees enter training with different skills, paces, and methods of learning. Third, assessment instruments are not well developed. It is therefore important to utilize the best evaluation methodology and instrumentation available. This dissertation study evaluated the clinical training programs of the Texas Tech University Counseling Center (TTUCC), which offers both practica and an APA-accredited predoctoral internship. There were two major foci for improving the TTUCC evaluation process. One was to make the evaluation more broad –based and comprehensive, and the second was to make the evaluation more quantitative or performance-based. The major problems with this study involved low return rates and poorly developed instrumentation, producing few statistically significant results. It was found that the trainees significantly increased in self-awareness, improved in writing intake reports, and were highly satisfied with supervision and training modules. Past interns reported that their TTUCC training/experience adequately prepared them for their future professional activities. Areas of dissatisfaction centered around policy, procedures, and staff relationships, and several suggestions for improvement were made. Current interns reported critical elements of their internship to be training experiences and relationships with staff, whereas practicum students most frequently listed client experiences as critical incidents. Both clients and supervisors were satisfied with trainee performance.