The Illinois Internship Experience

Internship Activities

Activities can be categorized as service, training or professional development. Approximately one-third of each intern’s time is devoted to training activities and two-thirds are designated for service and professional activities. Interns contract for 40 hours per week as an average over the full year. However, there are some weeks which require more or less hours depending on service demands.

All of the service, training, and professional activities listed in the following sections are required, except as noted. In addition, interns are encouraged to take the initiative in developing additional experiences to meet their individual needs and interests.

Although the number of hours allocated to some training activities is fixed, there is a pool of contracted hours for many of the service and professional activities, thus allowing the intern some flexibility in determining specific emphases. In fulfilling the contracted hours, the form of the activity (e.g., types of groups, outreach, consultation) is determined by the individual interests of the intern, the service demands of the agency, and the available supervisory resources of the Center.

1. Service Activities

Direct Therapeutic Services

  • Individual Counseling
  • Interns carry a minimum individual client caseload of 10 hours per week
  • Experience in counseling couples is also available as opportunities arise
  • Interns gain experience in brief, intermediate, and long-term counseling with undergraduate and graduate students presenting a broad range of client concerns

Interns and their supervisors work together to ensure that each intern’s caseload is diverse in terms of severity of client concerns as well as social identity group membership.

Initial Appointments

  • The diagnostic interview is the primary assessment tool of the Counseling Center
  • Interns conduct three initial appointments per week and receive specific training in this area

Group Counseling

  • Interns co-lead one therapy group with a senior staff member for the full academic year
  • Interns have a variety of group supervisors to choose from with occasional opportunities to conduct group in summer

Outreach and Prevention Services

We have a unique treatment team format including teams for alcohol and other drugs, disordered eating, trauma, performance anxiety, and suicide prevention. Team members have opportunities to participate in service delivery in the form of clinical work as well as outreach and consultation. Teams are often responsible for developing programming for awareness week/month activities on campus. Treatment teams provide the opportunity to specialize in an area of interest and consult with other staff members from the Counseling Center and larger community in a small group format.

  • The Counseling Center maintains a very active program of outreach and consultation that focuses on the developmental needs of the university’s racially, culturally, and socially diverse student body.
  • Interns are involved in at least two hours per week of outreach and consultation services each semester.
  • At the beginning of the internship year, interns are provided with information about outreach opportunities at the Center from which they choose one or more options
  • Interns meet weekly with the outreach supervisor who offers consultation and support

Practicum Supervision

During spring semester, interns spend two and a half hours per week providing individual supervision to a practicum student and they attend monthly supervisors meetings.

2. Training Activities

Supervision Activities

Primary Clinical Supervision

  • Interns receive two hours per week of intensive, individual supervision for their individual caseloads.
  • Clinical supervision is provided by the same supervisor for the entire year in order to allow for the development of greater depth in the supervisory relationship and a more thorough evaluation of the intern’s professional development.
  • Supervision assignments are derived within the first two weeks of internship from a “best-fit” matching of the interns’ and supervisors’ preferences. Final matches are made by the training coordinator with input from both interns and supervisors.

Secondary Clinical Supervision

  • To provide diversity in individual supervision experiences, each intern will consult in-depth with a secondary supervisor one hour per week on work with a specific client or regarding a specific clinical issue (e.g. depression, substance abuse, cross-cultural counseling, etc.).
  • Secondary supervisory assignments change at the semester break.
  • Assignment of secondary supervisors is made by the training coordinator with input from both interns and supervisors.

Case Conference

  • The overall goal of case conference is to further hone clinical skills in a group supervision format
  • Interns will strengthen written and verbal communication about clinical work
  • Interns will develop constructive skills at giving and receiving feedback about clinical work
  • Interns receive 1.5 hours per week of group supervision with co-interns and one senior staff
  • Case conference provides the opportunity to practice case presentations in preparation for job search.

Supervision of Therapy Groups

  • Group Supervision is provided by the group co-leader for 1 hour per week
  • Focus is tailored to intern’s need and experience level and might include: issues related to group screening, group process, individual group members’ needs, and the role of the co-therapist

Supervision of Practicum Supervision

  • Two senior staff members provide group supervision of supervision in conjunction with spring semester supervision of a practicum counselor
  • The focus is on understanding the developmental stage and experience level of the practicum trainee and fostering a context of safety and trust in the supervisory relationship
  • Time is spent addressing the interns’ questions and issues regarding the practicum trainee’s clinical work and professional growth

Assessment Seminar

  • Meets for 1.5 hours 13-15 times throughout the year
  • Focuses on application of a variety of diagnostic assessment and screening instruments relevant to the core issues faced by college students today (e.g., alcohol and other drugs, eating disorders, trauma, learning and cognitive disabilities, depression, etc.)
  • The assessment seminar is coordinated by the Training Coordinator.
  • Presentations are made by Counseling Center staff and other professionals from the University and local mental health service provider community

Diversity Seminar

  • Meets for 1.5 hours 13-15 times throughout the year
  • Focuses on diversity issues related to clinical work, personal development as a clinician, and work with colleagues
  • Co-led by two Counseling Center professional staff
  • Each intern develops a case presentation related to some aspect of diversity with a particular client and presents to the Counseling Center staff. This opportunity is arranged early enough to be invaluable in preparing for job talks


Staff Meetings

  • Interns participate in staff meetings and various staff retreats throughout the year.

Intern Search Committee

  • Interns participate on the Intern Search Committee which provides an invaluable opportunity to participate in the search, review a range of vitae, and provide input.


  • Interns are encouraged to serve on at least one of the Counseling Center’s therapeutic treatment teams, outreach program teams, or administrative committees.

3. Professional Development

Professional Conferences

A variety of conferences are available for interns to attend. Interns most frequently attend the Big 10 Counseling Center Conference, the Dennis H. May Conference on Diversity Issues and the Role of Counseling Centers, American College Personnel Association (ACPA), and the Midwest Intern Conference. Professional development funds are designed to support these activities (pending budget approval).

Professional Staff Development Programs

The Counseling Center has a unique model which focuses on “core competency” areas. Each semester, a full or half-day in-service regarding a clinical issue vital to competent practice is provided by a professional with expertise in the area. All clinical staff attend in addition to multidisciplinary professionals on campus and in the surrounding community. Examples of presentations during the past several years include:

  • Clinical Diagnosis with the DSM-IV presented by Peggy Fong, Ph.D., Chair, Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology and Research, University of Memphis.
  • Assessment and Diagnosis of AD/HD presented by Dr. Mary Richards, former president of the National ADHD Association. Student Disabilities Office, University of Iowa.
  • Working with Clients Who Have Eating Problems/Disorders presented by Laura Kogel, ACSW, and Lela Zaphiraopoulos, ACSW, Faculty, Women’s Therapy Centre Institute, NY, NY.
  • Cognitive-Behavioral Research, Assessment and Treatment of Anxiety and Panic Disorders presented by Rick Zinbarg, Ph.D., Director, Anxiety Clinic, Northwestern University.
  • Issues of Psychopharmacology in the Treatment of Anxiety Disorders presented by Sari Gilman Aronson, M.S., M.D., Head, Department of Psychiatry, University of Illinois College of Medicine at Urbana-Champaign
  • Customizing Treatment to Client Needs: Reconciling Empirically Supported Treatment with Clinical Practice presented by Larry Beutler, Ph.D., Graduate School of Education, University of California at Santa Barbara.
  • Short-Term Group Psychotherapy with College Student Populations presented by Sandy Colbs, Ph.D., Director, Student Counseling Services, Illinois State University.
  • Mental Health and the Law in Illinois presented by Laura D. Clower, JD, Principal and Shareholder, Dobbins, Fraker, Tennant, Joy, & Perlstein, Champaign, IL.
  • Pragmatic/Experiential Couples Therapy presented by Brent Atkinson, Ph.D., Director, Family Therapy Program, Northern Illinois University, and Director, Post-Graduate Training, Couples Research Institute, Geneva, IL.
  • Multicultural Counseling: Weaving Disability and Social Class Issues presented by Susan Powell, Ph.D., Illinois School of Professional Psychology and in private practice.
  • Psychopharmacology with College Age Populations presented by Allen Hamrick, MD, University of North Carolina @ Chapel Hill.
  • The Treatment of Depression presented by Thomas Joyner, Ph.d, Florida State University
  • Trauma Response on College Campuses presented by Barb Ertl of the International Critical Incidents Foundation
  • The Treatment of ADHD presented by Russel Barkley, PhD.
  • Risk Management in Counseling Center Work presented by Laura D. Clower, J.D., legal counsel for the University of Illinois
  • Multitheoretical Psychotherapy presented by Jeff Brooks-Harris, Ph.D.
  • Working with Trauma presented by John Briere, Ph.D.

Meeting with the Training Coordinator

Interns meet weekly with the Training Coordinator. Professional Integration Meetings with the Training Coordinator are designed to provide an opportunity to clarify administrative questions and to develop overarching strategies to identify, clarify, and integrate professional development goals.

Intern Specific Activities

In addition to assigned activities, interns select approximately six hours worth of activities per week in the fall semester and 2.5 hours in the spring semester, guided by their own interest or opportunities offered by the Counseling Center.

Options include: dissertation or other research; additional continuing clients, additional group/workshop; additional outreach/consultation projects; treatment team participation; participation in a Counseling Center committee (e.g., Intern Training Committee, Outreach and Consultation Advisory Committee, Therapeutic Services Committee).

Evaluation and Feedback

  • Interns receive ongoing formal and informal feedback from their supervisors, seminar instructors, and peers throughout the year and are encouraged to continue a process of self assessment.
  • Interns are given a complete description of the evaluation procedures at the beginning of the year.
  • Interns meet with their supervisors for 3 “professional integration” meetings to check in on goals set at the beginning of the year and to provide support for the intern.
  • Twice a year, a summary letter is sent to the intern’s graduate program documenting the intern’s training activities and progress.
  • The Counseling Center staff is highly committed to maintaining a quality training program for interns and thus relies on the evaluative feedback solicited from interns during and at the end of their internship year.

For more information about various policies and procedures connected to the Illinois internship experience, refer to the intern manual.