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The Charleston Consortium Psychology Internship Training Program (Charleston Consortium) is a collaborative effort of the Medical University of South Carolina and the Psychology Service of the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Internship training began at the Medical University in 1968, and at the VA Medical Center in 1969. In 1972, the two internship training programs combined to form the Charleston Consortium. The program provides a year-long, full-time, American Psychological Association-accredited internship training experience for Ph.D. students in APA-accredited clinical and counseling psychology programs. It has trained over 300 psychology interns, many of whom are now pursuing careers in universities, medical schools, Veterans Administration Medical Centers, teaching hospitals, and other settings. Many of our graduates have also become distinguished scientists with substantial externally-funded research programs. The foundation of the program is grounded in five important philosophical principles.

First, because our program is based on the scientist-practitioner model, it is guided by the principle that psychology interns should receive training that integrates research and clinical practice. Our objective is to produce interns who approach their clinical work with an investigatory, inquisitive attitude and who are competent to conduct clinical investigation. We encourage interns to examine the efficacy of their work with their clients and to review the research literature for guidance about which treatment strategies are best suited to particular problems. Integrating the scientist and practitioner roles is difficult; however, the exposure interns receive in our program to role models who are actively involved in both research and clinical practice enhance their opportunities for learning to balance these two professional roles.

Dean Kilpatrick, Ph.D.

Dan Smith, Ph.D.
Associate Director


Second, we believe it is important to balance broad-based, "generalist" training with in-depth training for interns who wish to specialize. Super-specialization at the internship level can be as professionally limiting as training that is so broad that interns lack an in-depth understanding about any specific topic. Therefore, we designed our program so that interns wishing to specialize can do so, but only while also participating in more general training experiences.

A third philosophical belief providing a foundation for the program is the value of working with a variety of client populations, including those frequently underserved by mental health professionals. We believe that interns must receive training experiences that prepare them for working with the increasingly culturally and ethnically diverse U.S. population; thus, being exposed to role models working with underserved populations is vitally important. Interns in the program work with faculty in providing services to a variety of typically underserved populations, including (but not limited to) crime victims, minorities, substance abusers, the poor, individuals from rural areas, and those with combined physical and mental health disorders.

Fourth, interns will be provided with training experiences that expose them to "cutting edge" aspects of the scientist-practitioner work in the 21st century. Several areas offer bright prospects for psychologists of the future, including behavioral and health psychology, neuropsychology, health services research, and development and evaluation of empirically-validated brief treatment procedures. How to survive and even prevail in a managed care environment is also a challenge for the future. It is our goal to provide interns with as much training as possible in these issues to better prepare them to succeed in the changing career world of psychology.

Finally, we believe that the best learning environment is one in which a student learns by doing while also having fun, and that good training is best accomplished in an atmosphere of mutual respect between faculty and interns. We attempt to create such a learning environment by treating interns as junior colleagues.

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