A Texas foundation works to create quality psychology
internships that will help underserved clients.
BY TORI DEANGELIS
In 2011, a Texas mental health foundation performed a unique feat: It gave $1.6 million to create three new psychology internship programs across the state in an
effort to improve the state’s mental health workforce (see
February 2012 Monitor).
Now, the same organization — the Hogg Foundation for
Mental Health, based at the University of Texas at Austin
— is taking another bold step. In early 2013, it will grant
$375,000 over two years to help at least four existing internship
programs that are members of the Association of Psychology
Postdoctoral and Internship Centers (APPIC) gain full APA
accreditation. The programs will spend the first year doing an
extensive self-study and, in the following year, APA will either
conduct a site visit or recommend additional changes that will
help the sites earn accreditation.
Psychology has long been dogged by having too few
internship programs to meet student need. In the 2012
internship match, for example, only 71 percent of students
were matched at all, and only 53 percent got internships in
APA-accredited programs, according to APPIC statistics. Some
states — Texas among them — have very limited internship
options, creating a situation in which students don’t come,
stay and add their expertise, adds UT–Austin psychologist
and Hogg Foundation Assistant Director of Research and
Evaluation Michele Guzmán, PhD, a driving force behind the
The foundation’s initiative aims to fix this imbalance by
getting more accredited internships in place as quickly as
possible, Guzmán says, adding that it’s easier to attract interns
than practicing psychologists to the state, which has major
unmet mental health needs.
“We want to fund well-established internships so that with a
little bit of stimulus, they’ll be able to rapidly gain accreditation
and have the validation the field increasingly requires,”
In a separate effort, the foundation granted $550,000 in
September to create a new internship consortium in El Paso.
the University of Texas at El Paso, Texas Tech University Health
Sciences Center and Beaumont Army Medical Center. The
initiative will give interns the opportunity to work with two
high-need groups: Latinos, who make up 85 percent of El Paso’s
population, and active duty military personnel and veterans,
who face high rates of trauma and post-traumatic stress
disorder, says UT–El Paso Associate Provost John Wiebe, PhD,
who wrote the grant proposal.
In all, the three new internship programs funded in 2011
plus the consortium will create 19 new Texas-based internship
positions over five years.
The Hogg Foundation’s efforts have managed to attract
additional funds from private foundations — a potential
model for other states, Guzmán adds. The foundation was
able to attract the supporters, she says, because it created very
specific proposals displaying strong technical knowledge about
internships — expertise that other philanthropic organizations
lack but might want to support. The Meadows Foundation,
a private social services philanthropy, awarded funds to help
create more internship positions in the three new internship
programs, while the Paso del Norte Health Foundation, another
private foundation, gave money to publicize, support and
promote the new consortium in El Paso.
The Texas efforts dovetail perfectly with an APA initiative
that will provide $3 million in grants over three years to help
unaccredited internship programs achieve APA accreditation,
notes APA Executive Director for Education Cynthia Belar,
PhD. The goal of APA’s internship stimulus package is to have
all unaccredited psychology internship programs accredited by
2019 (see October Monitor).
“The Hogg Foundation is doing the same thing on a state
level that we’re trying to do at the national level,” Belar says.
“Our hope is that between APA’s efforts and those of innovative
thinkers like those at the foundation, we’ll be able to meet our
goal of helping all psychology internships demonstrate that they
meet the standards of the profession.” n