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Doctoral Psychology Internship

INTRODUCTION

The Minnesota Department of Corrections (MN DOC) was created in 1959 to consolidate state correctional functions within one agency. There are three divisions in the MN DOC: Facility Division, Community Services Division, and the Operations Support Division. The MN DOC currently operates 10 correctional facilities – nine for adults and one for juveniles. The adult prisons hold more than 9000 men and over 600 women.

Minnesota has a national reputation for operating humane, safe correctional institutions with low levels of violence and are safe for inmates and staff. Although the adult inmate population in Minnesota has been increasing during the past decade, MN DOC correctional institutions are not confronted with the magnitude of prison crowding plaguing most states. Minnesota continually ranks as one of the lowest states in the nation in the number of incarcerated individuals per capita. This low incarceration rate reflects Minnesota’s reliance on alternatives to prison for less serious incarcerated individuals. The system is designed to reserve expensive prison space for only dangerous criminals who need to be incarcerated.

The DOC is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity and Beyond The Yellow Ribbon employer, and recognizes that a diverse workforce is essential and strongly encourages veterans, women, racial/ethnic minorities, individuals with disabilities, and members of the LGBTQ+ community to apply.

The MN DOC Psychology Internship Training Program is committed to providing a training environment welcoming of diverse interns. Our commitment to diversity, inclusion, and equity also extends to creating an environment of ethical treatment of patients with diverse backgrounds and characteristics. Thus, an important goal of the training program is to increase interns’ knowledge and skills in working with a wide range of clients from different cultural backgrounds. Applicants with diverse backgrounds are encouraged to apply.

ORGANIZATION OF DOC MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES

Psychology is part of the Behavioral Health Services Unit, which is part of Health Services. The overall management and direction of mental health services is the responsibility of the DOC Behavioral Health Services Director. At the institution level, behavioral health services are under the supervision of Psychology Directors.

Internships are offered at four Minnesota DOC facilities:

The MN DOC Psychology Internship Program is a member of the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers (APPIC). This internship site agrees to abide by the APPIC policy that no person at this training facility will solicit, accept, or use any ranking-related information from any intern applicant. The internship is accredited effective October 2020 by the American Psychological Association (APA).

The MN DOC Internship Program has established a profile on the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Center’s website. This website exhibits the accreditation status of the Psychology Internship Program. Questions related to the program’s accredited status should be directed to the Commission on Accreditation: Office of Program Consultation and Accreditation American Psychological Association 750 1st Street, NE, Washington, DC 20002 Phone: (202) 336-5979 / Email: apaaccred@apa.org Web: www.apa.org/ed/accreditation

MCF-Stillwater

The Stillwater facility is a close (a security level between Maximum and Medium) custody facility with a population of about 1200 adult, primarily male incarcerated individuals. The facility has been in operation since 1914 and is located 20 miles east of the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. The Minnesota Correctional Facility-Stillwater (MCF-STW) has many special programs, including several industry and vocational training programs, education, and a 48—bed long-term substance use disorder treatment unit. The behavioral health staff includes a licensed doctoral psychologist, licensed master-level social workers, mental health therapists, and substance use disorder counselors. Behavioral health staff at this facility provide a wide variety of services, including the following: diagnostic testing and assessments, individual and group therapy, crisis intervention, frequent consultation with the numerous disciplines within the facility, and release planning services. An intern at this site can expect a wide diversity of clients and referral issues ranging in complexity and severity of illness. 

MCF-Lino Lakes

The Lino Lakes facility is a medium custody "campus" with large substance use disorder and sexual offense-specific treatment programs (SOTP). SOTP provides direct services to incarcerated individuals, including the following components: assessment, treatment planning, individual and group psychotherapy, psycho-educational classes, and release planning. SOTP serves approximately 270 adult male incarcerated individuals at a given time, many of whom also experience co-morbid mental illness, chemical abuse/dependency, and traumatic brain injury. The intern will work with team clinicians, including licensed drug and alcohol counselors, sexual offense-specific therapists, release planners, and psychologists (who conduct psychosexual assessments and provide ongoing mental health services).

MCF-Shakopee

The Shakopee facility is the MN DOC’s only adult female facility. MCF-Shakopee currently houses over 600 incarcerated individuals of all custody levels. The Behavioral Health Department at MCF-Shakopee includes a multidisciplinary team of psychologists, master’s-level licensed clinicians, licensed alcohol and drug counselors, and two release planners. The intern will be involved in a full range of services, including, but not limited to, completing various assessments (i.e., intake assessments, substance use disorder assessments, diagnostic assessments, and comprehensive mental health assessments inclusive of psychological testing). Additionally, MCF-Shakopee offers the intern a wealth of opportunities to provide brief and long-term individual therapy as well as opportunities for group facilitation. Using a developmental supervisory approach, additional activities (e.g., crisis management, multidisciplinary case consultation) are offered to prepare interns for a future career as a psychologist in a variety of settings.

MCF-Oak Park Heights

The Oak Park Heights facility is a maximum-security prison. The facility is unique as it has specialized units that operate comparable to an inpatient medical unit and an inpatient psychiatric unit. Onsite, a team of Psychology staff provides individualized services to incarcerated individuals who reside on the Mental Health Unit (MHU), Transitional Care Unit (TCU), restrictive housing, and those residing in the general population. The Psychology Department provides individual psychotherapy services, group psychotherapy services, assessment, crisis intervention, and consultation. On the MHU, treatment services are centered on assessment and mental health stabilization of complex cases involving serious and persistent mental illness, personality disorders, and civil commitment. Services provided on the TCU are focused on assessment and treatment of mental health concerns with the opportunity to provide assessment and monitoring to those with medical concerns necessitating a hospital-level of care. This facility is an ideal training site for an intern interested in gaining experience in outpatient and inpatient care.

MISSION

The mission statement of the Minnesota Department of Corrections is as follows: Transforming Lives for a Safer Minnesota

The mission of the MN DOC is demonstrated by the behavioral health staff who provide prosocial, evidence-based, and culturally sensitive interventions aimed at maintaining a safe and secure environment for the incarcerated individual, staff, and the community at large.

The MN DOC Psychology Internship Program’s aim is to provide ample supervision and education within a mentorship training model that prepares individuals for postdoctoral positions in psychology which, ultimately, would lead to a career as a licensed psychologist. While geared toward work in and with correctional populations, the Psychology Internship Program is of sufficient breadth and diversity so that it provides the intern with the experiences necessary to perform as a generalist in a non-correctional/forensic setting.

For nearly two decades, the Minnesota Department of Corrections has relied upon the doctoral internship program to provide the department with uniquely qualified entry-level psychologists. Interns who have shown themselves to be competent clinicians within the correctional setting are often recruited by the department at the end of their internship year.

PHILOSOPHY

The Psychology Internship Program at the Minnesota Department of Corrections emphasizes the practice of clinical psychology in a correctional facility. Correctional facilities are unique institutions, which have their own culture, vocabulary, and social hierarchy. They are also unique for the responsibility and authority given to psychologists. Correctional psychologists are concerned with the provision of psychotherapy services, consultation, crisis intervention, suicide prevention, assessment, and rehabilitation of incarcerated individuals within correctional facilities. Therefore, interns in the MN DOC will gain experience with diverse issues and clinical problems.

GOALS/EXPECTATIONS

Internships in the MN DOC are twelve months long, 2000 hours, and typically begin in early September. Interns will spend at least 25% of their time in direct face-to-face clinical service activity. It is the goal of our program that, by the completion of the internship, interns will have developed sufficient competence in the following areas so they can function independently as psychologists:

Assessments: Interns are expected to develop the skills necessary to complete an assessment. Interns receive training in formal psychological assessments, including neurocognitive testing. Under supervision, interns work with referral sources to clarify the referral question, select and administer appropriate psychological tests, conduct thorough clinical interviews, integrate the test findings and other data, prepare cogently written reports which can be readily understood by referral sources, and provide follow-up consultation as needed.

Intervention: Interns are expected to demonstrate competencies in evidence-based psychotherapies. It is expected that they will develop treatment strategies to address issues that were identified in the assessments, write treatment plans, provide the appropriate group or individual therapy, and modify their treatment based on changes in the client’s condition. Interns are expected to establish and maintain effective therapeutic relationships with clients. In working with their clients, interns are to develop and adhere to evidence-based service interventions.

Individual and Cultural Diversity: Interns are expected to demonstrate an understanding of how their own personal/cultural history, attitudes, and biases may affect their understanding and interaction with people who are different from themselves. Interns will remain current in theoretical and empirical knowledge related to their professional activities. As the internship unfolds, interns will demonstrate the ability to independently apply their knowledge and approach to working effectively with diverse populations.

Research: Interns demonstrate the ability to critically evaluate and disseminate research or scholarly activities to inform their clinical practice and the professional practice of psychology in corrections specifically.

Consultation and Interprofessional/Interdisciplinary Skills: Interns are expected to learn the psychologist's role as a consultant to other professionals. This consultation typically focuses on challenging clients with whom the intern may or may not have a client-therapist relationship. The intern is expected to learn what behaviors are most likely to lead to a consultation, how to prepare for a consultation meeting, what other professionals expect from a psychologist, and how to achieve a satisfactory outcome.

Supervision: As interns become more experienced during their internship, the intern will demonstrate proficiency in understanding the basic principles of clinical supervision (e.g., building a supervisory alliance, providing and accepting effective summative feedback, promoting growth and self-assessment of peer/intern, and seeking consultation) and apply these principles as peer supervisors during group supervision and/or with doctoral practicum students if available.

Ethical and Legal Standards: Interns are expected to be knowledgeable and act in accordance with the APA Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct; relevant laws, regulations and rules, and policies governing health service psychology; relevant professional standards and guidelines. When ethical dilemmas arise, they seek appropriate consultation and supervision.

Professional Values, Attitudes, and Behavior: Interns will demonstrate proficiency in providing psychological services consistent with professional values, beliefs, and practices within the field generally and within the correctional environment specifically.

Communication and Interpersonal Skills: Interns are expected to develop and maintain effective relationships with various individuals that include colleagues, communities, organizations, supervisors, supervisees, and those receiving professional services.

INTERNSHIP ACTIVITIES

Given the unique nature of providing mental health services within a correctional facility, the first month of the MN DOC internship is geared toward preparing and orienting the intern for work in a correctional setting. Starting with the first day, all interns meet with the Director of Clinical Training. The Director of Clinical Training reviews the entire orientation manual with the interns on this first day. This also provides an opportunity for the interns to meet and become acquainted with each other. Each intern will go through a site-specific orientation during their first week. Also, in the first month, interns will attend more than 45 hours of MN DOC academy, training that is required for all department employees. The academy provides training on various topics related to working in a correctional facility (e.g., Avoiding set-ups by inmates, First Aid, Incident Command System, and Security Threat Groups, aka gangs).

Upon completing the first month, a relatively routine training schedule ensues with the intern getting at least two hours of individual supervision weekly. In addition to individual supervision, all MN DOC interns will meet weekly throughout the year for didactic training totaling over 100 hours.

There are a total of nine adult correctional facilities and one juvenile facility in the MN DOC. Ideally, the interns will have the opportunity to visit select facilities for a tour and discussion with the mental health staff on the programming specific to the individual site and the general operation of the psychology unit. Due to the recent COVID-19 pandemic, this opportunity may be limited pending the current COVID-19 guidance. Other training includes seminars in treating individuals who commit sexual offenses, personality disorders, and drug and alcohol problems.

Interns will attend MN DOC Mental Health Training Sessions as available and are encouraged to attend workshops outside of the department when approved by their supervisor. An intern's work and progress are formally evaluated at quarterly intervals during the internship year. Evaluations are reviewed with the intern and shared with the MN DOC Director of Clinical Training and Director of Internship Training at the intern's educational institution.

STIPEND AND BENEFITS

Interns are entitled to an annual stipend of $30,000 and are eligible for health insurance benefits. Psychology interns do not receive holiday, sick, or vacation pay. Instead, they are allowed up to 15 Personal/Educational/Dissertation (PED) days away from the facility. Interns are allotted two hours onsite at their facilities each week to work on their dissertation. For interns who have completed their dissertation, they may use this time to engage in relevant online trainings and/or to review relevant research to expand their clinical knowledge and skillset. The two hours allotted to each intern are not allowed to be “banked” for later use. If the intern selects to forgo their dissertation time on a week or as an ongoing pattern, the internship program will not be held liable. Interns are encouraged to work with their supervisors to establish a way to promote their utilize of the two hours of onsite dissertation time.  

Interns are provided an office, computer, telephone, desk, access to and use of psychological testing instruments and manuals, DSM-5, and general office supplies.

SUPERVISORS FOR PSYCHOLOGY INTERNS

Adam Piccolino, Psy.D., LP, ABN, Behavioral Med Practitioner, Sr.

Shannon Stanton, Psy.D., LP, Behavior Medicine Practitioner

Luke Utecht, Psy.D., LP, Psychologist 3

Charlotte Gerth, Ph.D., LP, Behavior Medicine Practitioner

Amanda Knoll, Ph.D., LP, Psychologist 3

Angela Kollmann, Psy.D., LP, Psychologist 3

ELIGIBILITY

Graduate students from accredited doctoral programs in professional psychology are eligible. The Minnesota DOC is committed to fostering diversity in its training program; members of minority groups are strongly encouraged to apply. Applicants should have the following minimum qualifications:

1. Graduate coursework and practicum training in intellectual and personality assessment.

2. Graduate coursework and practicum training in psychotherapy.

3. Graduate coursework in psychopathology.

4. Verification from the Director of Clinical Training of the applicant’s graduate program that they have completed all graduate coursework and any comprehensive examinations required by their program before the internship start date.

5. Student is in good academic standing at the educational institution in which they are enrolled.

6. The educational institution is regionally accredited.

7. While correctional experience is valued, intern applicants who have a strong foundation and direct clinical training in psychological assessment and psychotherapy, and who have practicum experiences that have allowed for experience and exposure to a broad clinical population will be given strong consideration.

APPLICATION PROCEDURES

Applications are only accepted through the APPIC Application for Psychology Internships (AAPI). Applicants are required to complete the APPIC Application, submit three letters of recommendation, their curriculum vitae, a sample psychological evaluation that has been redacted.

Applications for internships starting in 2023 should be completed by November 14, 2022. All applicants will be notified regarding interview status by December 15, 2022, via email. Applicants are invited to interview through a combination of email and telephone communication. We will begin interviewing in early January 2023. Virtual interviews are scheduled for two to three hours. Applicants are invited to interview by Microsoft Office Teams or by telephone if the other platforms are not accessible. Please note that we cannot accommodate requests for in-person interviews or on-site tours due to current state guidance for COVID-19; however, this may change based on changing protocols for correctional environments as we near the interview dates. At the direction of the Director of Clinical Training, interviewees will be encouraged to contact former interns.

Adam Piccolino, Psy.D., ABN, LP

Psychology Internship Director of Clinical Training
Minnesota Department of Corrections
1010 West 6th Avenue
Shakopee, MN 55379
Telephone: (952) 233-3897
Email: adam.piccolino@state.mn.us

DOCUMENTS

MN DOC Psychology Internship Handbook

Internship Admissions, Support, and Initial Placement Data

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