You are here: American University Campus Life Counseling Externship Program

Externship Program


The externship program is designed for advanced doctoral students in Clinical Psychology, Counseling Psychology, or other related fields who are interested in further developing their clinical skills, building their theoretical knowledge, and working with students in a university counseling center setting. The theoretical perspective of the training program is integrative, with a relational and multicultural focus.

The Counseling Center is American University's primary mental health agency, providing clinical services to the AU student body. It is an ideal setting for externs to gain experience working with clients from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds who present with a variety of concerns.

The program requires externs to be onsite for 16-20 hours per week, depending on the requirements of the extern’s home institution and interests. Each extern is responsible for ensuring that their hours meet criteria for their respective program. Included below is an outline of typical weekly activities:

Individual therapy (7-10 hours per week)
Clients are generally seen once per week and sessions take place at the Counseling Center. All counseling sessions with clients are videotaped for supervision purposes. Externs carry a caseload of seven to 10 clients throughout the year.

Supervision of individual therapy (2 hours per week)
Each extern will meet with two different clinical supervisors who oversee the provision of psychological services. At least one supervisor will be a licensed clinical psychologist.

Initial Consultation assessments (1 hour per week)
Externs will provide one Initial Consultation assessment per week. They will receive training and supervision in this area.

Seminar (2 hours per week)
Externs are required to attend a weekly seminar (Thursdays, 10am-12pm) conducted by AUCC staff members and visiting clinicians. The seminar series focuses on a number of clinical topics and issues, with suggested readings provided by various presenters.

Clinical case conference (1 hour per week)
Every Thursday (9am-10am), externs meet as a group with an AUCC staff member to present and discuss case conceptualizations. They are expected to complete a brief write up of the case prior to the conference.

Urgent Care Drop-In Hours (3 hours per week)
Externs will have the opportunity to serve as clinicians on one Urgent Care Drop-In Hours (2-4pm) shift per week for one semester. Externs work as part of a clinical team, which includes staff clinicians and Doctoral Interns. To prepare for this experience, externs participate in a formal orientation and Risk Assessment Training at the center. Initially, externs will observe staff clinicians conducting Urgent Care appointments, will be observed conducting such appointments, and will eventually provide services independently under the supervision of a licensed clinician. For the semester in which an Extern is not providing Urgent Care services, Externs will provide additional individual psychotherapy.

Readings for the seminars are often assigned in advance of class, but additional reading materials are also suggested during seminar.

Each extern facilitates or participates in two outreach projects within the AU community during their externship.

Training Director meeting
Externs meet with the Associate Director for Training on most Thursdays (12-12:30pm) in order to facilitate understanding of AUCC policies and procedures, receive and provide feedback regarding their training experience, and discuss issues of professional development.

Professional development
Externs will be afforded the opportunity to discuss issues related to professional identity and development throughout the training year. One goal of the externship training program is to prepare clinical trainees for their internship year.

Formal feedback will be provided to externs at the end of each semester. Informal feedback will be provided throughout the semester. Externs are evaluated in a variety of areas, including the competencies laid out in the Standards of Accreditation for Health Service Psychologists.

The American University Counseling Center training programs view supervision as a means for trainees to learn how to assess and intervene with clients and to recognize, understand, and manage their personal reactions to those under their care. The clinician's response to the client "in the room" can be an important vehicle for understanding and helping the client. As such, an integral aspect of supervision is the exploration of such issues. In accordance with the APA Ethics Code, Section 7.4, it is important for trainees to be informed that they will be expected to explore and reflect upon their feelings and reactions to clients. In the process of this self-reflection, personal information about the trainee may be discussed and addressed. The staff believes that the decision as to how much or how little to share is a choice that needs to be made by the trainee, and supervision is never viewed as psychotherapy. Also in accordance with APA Ethics Code, Section 7.5, it is important for trainees to be aware that the due process procedures for our training programs indicate that the staff may require trainees to obtain psychotherapy in those cases in which a trainee is deemed impaired.

Application and Selection Procedures

Applicants must be enrolled in an accredited doctoral program in Counseling Psychology, Clinical Psychology, or other closely related field. Applicants must have completed at least one psychotherapy practicum or field placement experience. Applications must be received by Friday, February 7, 2020 by 5pm.

All application materials should be submitted via email to Dr. Shatina Williams at

Externship Application

Questions about the Externship Program should be directed to Dr. Shatina Williams, Associate Director for Training by calling 202-885-3500 or via email at

Upon review of applications, interviews will be arranged with applicants under consideration. Please note that the majority of interviews will be conducted during American University's Spring Break: Monday (3/09/20) through Friday (3/13/20). Offers to applicants will be made according to Consortium guidelines, when applicable.