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Externship Description

An externship experience at the Center for Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) is designed to give doctoral and master’s level students the opportunity to further enhance their counseling skills and develop their own natural counseling style that is consistent with their theoretical orientation, values and beliefs.  An equally important goal of externship is the development of professionalism.  This involves developing and enhancing an extern’s sense of ethical, social, and personal responsibility.  As part of this process, externs are invited and expected to share personal reactions and to engage in a process of self-examination of their work in supervision.

This externship provides doctoral and master’s level students with supervised experiences in short-term individual therapy, intake assessment, case disposition and management.  Additional opportunities are available in group therapy and outreach depending on a student’s prior clinical training and training requirements, as well as CAPS system’s needs.  We also encourage externs to collaborate with staff from our large multidisciplinary team including case managers, psychiatric providers, and support staff for a wholistic care approach. Opportunities are not available in assessment and couples counseling. Students benefit most from an externship at CAPS that spans the duration of the academic year and it is strongly preferred that students complete a year-long externship placement.  It is the expectation of CAPS, that students wishing to complete an externship experience be enrolled in course credit for the hours earned during their placement. Semester long externship placements may be considered on a case-by-case basis but are generally not preferred.


Externs gain intensive experience providing short-term individual psychotherapy to students.  As part of the short-term therapy process, externs complete intake appointments with their clients, engage the client in short-term therapy to address presenting concerns, and discuss disposition following treatment to ensure clients are connected with ongoing services as needed.  CAPS also has a robust group therapy program, typically running 25+ groups per semester.   Externs have the potential opportunity to co-lead a group based on clinical needs of the center.  Additionally, all externs receive training during the orientation period on our group therapy program, how to talk with students about group therapy, our referral process for groups, and basics of group psychotherapy, including ethical considerations in group therapy and co-facilitation of group. 

Externs will have a diverse caseload of students in terms of demographics, identity, and clinical presentation over the training year dependent upon clinical availability. Common presenting problems include, but are not limited to, interpersonal concerns, depression, anxiety, lack of motivation or concentration, poor academic performance, body image and eating disorders, trauma, as well as typical development issues.  For those externs with a strong interest in development, the externship offers a unique opportunity to meet with students who are in the late adolescent/early adulthood phase, which is a time of continued change and exploration in a number of areas (e.g. relationships with caregivers/friends/partners, identity, values, roles, impulse control, academic/career, etc.). 

Additionally, sensitivity to human differences is a fundamental tenet of our training program and our center initiatives. Our goal in this area is for externs to develop/expand their multicultural competence and cultural humility, utilize supervision to recognize blind spots and areas for growth in the work, and openly approach and address these in supervision and other consultation experiences (e.g. extern seminar) to facilitate continued clinical growth.


  1. Perform university counseling center duties including short term individual therapy, as well as any additional clinical duties negotiated as part of the externship placement (e.g. group therapy, outreach). 
  2. Develop skills to accept feedback from supervisors, including a focus on self-examination. 
  3. Effectively collaborate with a multidisciplinary staff.
  4. Integrate science and practice to provide effective treatment to clients.
  5. Demonstrate an awareness of and sensitivity to multicultural issues in both clinical and professional roles.  Over the training year, externs will grow in their multicultural competence and in their cultural humility. 
  6. Demonstrate an awareness of and sensitivity to ethical issues relevant to specific cases and act in accordance with the ethical codes guiding one’s profession. 


  1. Externs provide individual psychotherapy to 5 (doctoral practicum) or 10 (master’s internship) clients weekly.
  2. Externs actively participate in 1.5 or 2 hours of individual supervision weekly, depending on the size of the caseload.  In the fall semester, supervision will be provided by a licensed psychologist.  In the spring semester, supervision will also be provided by a doctoral intern or post-doctoral fellow, who will receive supervision of supervision from a licensed psychologist(s).  For Master’s Interns, 1/3 of their client caseload will be supervised by a doctoral intern or post-doc and 2/3 will be supervised by a licensed psychologist.  
  3. Externs will also participate in a one-hour weekly externship seminar. In seminar, students will engage in group supervision and are invited and expected to share personal reactions, to engage in a process of self-examination, and provide interpersonal feedback to one another.  Time in seminar will also be spent discussing topics such as current caseloads, urgent situations, general therapy information, assigned readings, engaging with invited presenters, etc.  (1 hour)
  4. Externs will complete paperwork within one week of scheduled client appointments.  Notes documenting urgent concerns should be completed in the same day.  (1-4 hours note-writing time is provided depending on client caseload at CAPS)
  5. Externs will be aware and compliant with CAPS policies and procedures.
  6. Externs are expected to seek consultation as needed outside of scheduled supervision.


The doctoral practicum typically totals 8.5 hours minimum (9.5 hours with a one-hour lunch break), unless the extern has made other arrangements with the externship coordinator at CAPS.  With a 1-hour lunch break, this externship placement can be completed in one workday.  If externs would prefer to spread their hours out over two days, this could be arranged as well. Students traveling to Penn State CAPS from a distance will be responsible for any housing, parking, and food costs.


The Master’s internship totals 20 hours minimum (plus 2 one-hour lunch breaks) per week. The internship is usually completed in two full days and one half-day each week or three full days if needed to meet hours requirements. Master’s interns will co-facilitate one therapy group or clinic as part of the internship. Doctoral practicum students may also co-facilitate a therapy group or clinic depending on experience, interest and system needs.  The co-facilitator is a licensed senior staff member, or a doctoral intern or post-doctoral fellow, who is supervised by a licensed senior staff member.

Clinical hours listed above may be divided differently depending on program requirements (doctoral practicum or master’s internship), student experience, and training interests (e.g. 3 individual psychotherapy hours and 1.5 hours of group therapy).  Number of notes hours and time in supervision will be adjusted as needed depending on clinical caseload (e.g. more notes time as needed, 1 hour of individual psychotherapy supervision for 3 client hours, 1.5 hours of individual psychotherapy supervision for 5 client hours, 1 hour of group therapy supervision if co-leading a group).


Students interested in the externship at CAPS should obtain application materials from their home program or contact the Externship Coordinator, Caitlin Chun-Kennedy, Ph.D. to request the application materials.  All questions pertaining to the externship should be directed to Dr. Chun-Kennedy.

For applicants from doctoral programs, externship applications are due by (Friday, February 4, 2022) at 5:00 p.m. with most interviews taking place during the weeks of February 7 and February 14, 2022. For applicants from Master's programs, externship applications are due by Friday, April, 1, 2022 at 5:00 p.m. with most interviews taking place during the week of April 4 and April 11, 2022. Students may submit applications earlier. Interviews will be scheduled as applications arrive. A total of 6-8 externship placements are available (including both doctoral and master’s level trainees).

Note: This externship placement is an unpaid position.



Caitlin Chun-Kennedy, Ph.D.

Externship Coordinator

Center for Counseling and Psychological Services

501 Student Health Center

Penn State University

University Park, PA 16802

Phone: (814) 863-0395

Fax: (814) 863-9610


Penn State Student Affairs
Counseling & Psychological Services
Main Location

501 Student Health Center
University Park, PA 16802

Additional Locations

3rd Floor Bank of America Career Services Building
University Park, PA 16802

Allenway Building (Downtown)
315 S Allen Street
State College, PA 16801