Predoctoral psychology intern selection: Does program type make a difference?

Harvey L. Gayer1, Michael B. Brown2, Betty E. Gridley3, James H. Treloar3
1Positive Outcomes Psychological Services, GA, United States
2East Carolina University, United States
3Ball State University, United States
Cite this article:  Gayer, H. L., Brown, M. B., Gridley, B. E., & Treloar, J. H. (2003). Predoctoral psychology intern selection: Does program type make a difference? Social Behavior and Personality: An international journal, 31(3), 313-322.

Volume 31 Issue 3 | e1251 | Published: May 2003 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2224/sbp.2003.31.3.313

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The purpose of this study was to determine whether or not the type of program (school psychology, clinical psychology or counseling psychology) is a factor in the predoctoral psychology internship selection process. Simulated application materials describing a prospective intern, identical in all respects except for the doctoral program type, were randomly sent to 535 directors of Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers (APPIC) internship sites. One-third of the sites each received application materials that indicated that the student's training was in an APA-accredited clinical psychology program, an APA-accredited counseling psychology program, or an APA-accredited school psychology program. Internship directors or intern selection committee members from 302 APPIC-listed internship sites responded, resulting in a 58% response rate. There is a pattern of greater acceptance for students from clinical psychology programs, with students from counseling psychology programs accepted somewhat less frequently, and students from school psychology programs being most often rejected. The results suggest that internship selectors may use a judgment heuristic that clinical psychology students are more suited to internships than are counseling and - especially - school psychology students during initial screening of internship applicants, even though there is no empirical evidence to support the hueristic. Internship selectors are advised to become more aware of potential biases toward students from counseling and school psychology programs.
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