2011. Vol.2, No.9, 978-986
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. DOI:10.4236/psych.2011.29147
Professional Development Experiences: Are Psychology
Interns Getting Enough?
Annette S. Kluck1, Tracy O’Connor Pennuto2, Kathrin Hartmann3
1Special Education, Rehabilitation, and Counseling, Auburn University,
Auburn, USA;
2Federal Medical Center, FCC Butner U.S. Department of Justice Butner,
Butner, USA;
3Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences; Eastern Virginia Medical School,
Norfolk, USA.
Received June 10th, 2011; revised July 21st, 2011; accepted August 28th, 2011.
Understanding the professional development needs of psychology interns is essential to maximize the utility of
predoctoral internship training; yet, little research has explored the professional development training experi-
ences interns receive. In Study 1, 275 psychology interns from APPIC-listed programs completed a 20-question
web-based anonymous survey, assessing experiences of and satisfaction with professional development training
obtained on internship. Using a mixed method research design, a series of descriptive and correlational analyses
were conducted. Results indicated almost 90% of interns reported receiving professional development training
on internship, and 60% of interns were satisfied with their professional development training experiences. More
comprehensive coverage of relevant professional development topics was associated with greater overall satis-
faction and any coverage of a particular topic tended to be associated with greater satisfaction. Multiple linear
regression results suggested that perceptions of preparedness for various post-internship positions were associ-
ated with satisfaction with professional development internship training experiences. In Study 2, 194 internship
training directors completed a modified version of the same survey. Training directors reported more hours of
coverage than did interns and tended to perceive interns as more satisfied with professional development training
experiences on internship than did interns themselves. Implications for those involved in the training of interns
are provided.
Keywords: Professional Development, Psychology, Internship, Training, Satisfaction
“Professional development” is training and guidance in the
transition to the profession and practice of psychology. Jarvis
(1989) described internship as the time when trainees are so-
cialized in real world practice, making professional development
appropriate for inclusion in predoctoral internship training for
psychologists. Kaslow and Rice (1985) described this time as the
“professional adolescence,” referring to the developmental
period where trainees struggle to establish their professional
identity while transitioning from students to independent psy-
chologists. According to the American Psychology Postdoctoral
and Internship Centers (APPIC, 2006, 1) internships are “de-
signed to provide the intern with a planned, programmed se-
quence of training experiences.” Thus, psychology internships
are obligated to ensure that trainees receive guidance in profes-
sional development to make the transition into professional
practice (e.g., Drabman, 1985; Sternlicht, 1966).
We define professional development as a set of experiences
provided to interns that focus upon assisting them with their
transition to future professional positions and preparing them for
real world experience. For example, topics such as licensure and
finding postdoctoral fellowships or jobs in desired fields repre-
sent the next step for many psychology interns with interests in
applied practice. A focus on topics such as the development of a
private practice, ethics, advocacy, board certification, admini-
stration issues, and research may also relate to long-term func-
tions within the careers of professional psychologists. Thus,
learning experiences that focus on the advancement of interns
into future professional positions are appropriate for profes-
sional development training experiences. Familiarizing interns
with the real world experiences that psychologists face when
working with clients in service oriented settings and collabo-
rating with others to improve/ensure client welfare are also
We believe that professional development is one of many
important components of the internship training experience.
That is, professional development training complements training
psychology interns receive for clinical skill development (e.g.,
assessment, therapy, case conceptualization, content knowledge),
making professional development distinct yet integral to the
primary focus of enhancing skills in the provision of psycho-
logical services. As the final formal step in professional psy-
chology (clinical, counseling, school) predoctoral training, in-
ternships have the responsibility to ensure that trainees receive
education or guidance in professional development. Yet, re-
search exploring professional development experiences obtained
while on internship is sparse.
Available research regarding professional development and
psychology internships supports the notion that professional
development is a critical component of this capstone predoctoral
training experience. Sternlicht (1966) identified professional
development as eighth among the ten learning areas for clinical
psychology internships, suggesting that professional develop-
ment should be considered a learning objective for the pre-
doctoral internship. Years later, Drabman (1985) identified pro-
A. S. KLUCK ET AL. 979
fessional development of psychologists-in-training as one of the
four main areas most in need of improvement in the graduate
training of scientist-practitioner-oriented clinical psychologists.
In more recent years, researchers have sought to understand
the role professional development plays in creating a successful
psychology internship training program. Research with trainees
indicates that interns consider professional development ex-
periences (i.e., the process of professional development over the
year, the reciprocal influence of personal and professional devel-
opment during internship) to be among the most influential on
their development during the predoctoral internship year (Scott,
2004). In addition, interns consider both personal (psychother-
apy, personal relationships, and mentors) and professional ex-
periences (research design and methodology, practicum, ethics,
and coursework) to be important aspects of internship for their
professional development.
Some researchers have focused upon the inclusion of specific
content deemed to be an important part of the knowledge base
for professional psychologists. For example, researchers have
suggested that brief psycho-pharmacology curriculum (Dunivin
& Southwell, 2000), business concepts (Spruill & Pruitt, 2000),
and research (LeJuez, Read, Gollan, & Zvolensky, 2001) be
included in internship training since such knowledge would
assist interns in future practice, aiding in differential diagnoses,
selection of appropriate assessment and intervention methods,
and working within the constraints of managed care. The re-
maining studies found in this literature search involved profes-
sional development on internship that was highly specific to a
particular patient population, setting, or practice area such as
working in counseling centers (Ross & Altmaier, 1990), family
psychology (Kaslow, Celano, & Stanton, 2003), and providing
services to individuals with severe mental illness (Hoge, Stayner,
& Davidson, 2000).
Although these studies address important issues for future
psychologists, little is known about what assistance psychology
interns currently receive in the process of transitioning into their
postdoctorate roles. Understanding the professional develop-
ment needs of psychology interns is essential to maximize the
utility of predoctoral internship training. The present set of
studies examined psychology interns’ experiences of profession-
al development training obtained while on internship.
Study 1
Participants included 275 professional psychology predoc-
toral interns (58 men and 217 women) at the 630 sites listed in
the APPIC online internship directory for the 2005-2006 training
year. Though the gender split was far from equal, APPIC (2005)
reported a similar ratio in their survey of the same cohort. Most
participants were in their 30s (n = 121, 44.0%) or younger (n =
124, 45.1%). Consistent with the APPIC sample, nearly all
participants were pursuing Ph.D. (n = 167, 60.9%) or Psy.D.
degrees (n = 106, 38.7%). Our sample contained 230 (83.9%)
individuals from clinical psychology programs (compared to
77% of respondents in the APPIC sample) and 34 (12.4%) re-
spondents from counseling psychology doctoral programs.
Nearly all of the participants (n = 264, 96.0%) were from
doctoral programs accredited by the American Psychological
Association (AP) and/or Canadian Psychological Association
(CPA) and most study participants were completing APA- or
CPA-accredited (n = 234; 85.1%) internships. The remaining
respondents were at unaccredited internship sites (n = 40, 14.5%;
many of these individuals listed “APPIC member” as their ac-
creditation organization; however, APPIC is not an accrediting
agency; APPIC, 2002). Canada and all regions of the United
States (US) were represented by respondents with the majority at
internships in the Northeast (26.2%; n = 72), Midwest (22.5%; n
= 62), and Southeast (20.4%; n = 56) regions of the US. Despite
a wide range in the number of interns per site (from 2 or fewer to
more than 15), 80% (n = 155) of respondents were from sites
with 3 - 10 interns at the time of their training. Nearly all re-
spondents were at internship sites (or major rotations) in com-
munity medical settings (n = 103, 37.3%), counseling centers (n
= 60, 21.7%), or VAs (n = 59, 21.4%), with few completing
internships in outpatient mental health centers (n = 18, 6.5%),
correctional facilities (n = 11, 4.0%), or schools (n = 8, 2.9%).
Most respondents intended to complete a postdoctoral fel-
lowship (n = 130; 47.3%) or some type of clinical/non-private
practice job (n = 77; 28.0%) immediately following internship.
Few participants planned to immediately enter academic (n = 12;
4.4%), research (n = 4; 1.5%), or private practice (n = 11; 4.0%)
positions. Over two thirds of respondents (n = 198; 72.0%)
desired a clinical career (e.g., private practice, non-private prac-
tice) as their long-term position post-internship, with few plan-
ning careers in academia (n = 45; 16.4%) or research (n = 8;
Training Directors (TDs) with published email addresses in
the APPIC online directory (a total of 613 TDs) for the intern-
ship year were contacted via email and asked to forward an
invitation to participate in the study to their current intern class
in early June 2006, which fell near the termination (final 4
months) of the training year for most APPIC member internship
sites. Two weeks later, TDs received a reminder email to for-
ward to their current interns. TDs and interns were informed that
the study explored professional development experiences during
internship. The email invitation directed interested interns to a
survey hosted on The survey intro-
duction contained required information for informed consent,
stating that respondents’ answers would serve as their consent.
Interns who chose to participate completed an anonymous on-
line questionnaire, assessing experiences and satisfaction with
professional development obtained on internship.
Although a measure with established psychometric properties
would enhance the soundness of the present study, no such
measure exists. In exploratory research in related domains such
as student trainee perspectives of practica (Gross, 2005), neu-
ropsychology postdoctoral training experiences (Donders, 2002),
postdoctoral training in health psychology (Belar & Siegel,
1983), correctional psychology internship training (Ax & Mor-
gan, 2002), and child and adolescent psychiatry residency
training (Stubbe, 2002), researchers have developed question-
naires specifically for the study using face valid items designed
to assess the experiences expected to relate to the particular type
of training under investigation. Although guidelines regarding
internship professional development training would provide a
starting point for item development, no such guidelines exist.
Due to the lack of available measures and limited existing lit-
erature, questions focused upon quickly capturing information
about training opportunities available to interns at their sites
were developed specifically for this study. The survey contained
20 questions generated by the authors based upon their knowl-
edge and experience of training opportunities, and included
face-valid questions related to professional transition (e.g.,
licensure, board certification). In addition, input from individu-
als who had previously completed an APA-accredited internship
at different training sites than the authors was solicited.
Because one of the primary goals of the study was to explore
professional development opportunities offered by internship
sites, we felt it necessary to collect background information
about internship sites so that we could adequately describe the
training sites represented within our sample’s responses given
potential regional and setting differences. To avoid the potential
identification of participants, who could potentially suffer
negative consequences if they provided non-favorable informa-
tion (which some participants explicitly stated as a concern in
heir responses), we limited the information solicited about in-
terns. In some cases, personal demographics (e.g., specific age,
ethnicity) combined with internship site demographics may be
specific enough to make the identification of an intern possible.
Thus, collected personal demographics were limited to age
group, gender, degree, and program specialization. The demo-
graphics collected for internship sites were limited to accredita-
tion, ranges of internship class size, region, and primary training
setting. In addition, participants reported availability and esti-
mated hours of training in different types of professional de-
velopment experiences. They also indicated their level of satis-
faction with professional development training using a 5-point
scale (from 1 = extremely dissatisfied, to 5 = extremely satisfied)
and listed suggestions to improve such training.
The survey items were not intended to be summative, but
rather to capture data about the different components and foci of
professional development experiences of psychology interns.
While internal reliability analyses are not appropriate for the
entire measure, we conducted such analyses for item sets for
which participants provided multiple responses to assess a par-
ticular construct. We obtained acceptable coefficient alphas for
presence of coverage of 11 different topics (α = .73), hours
devoted to those topics (α = .83), hours of guidance on those
topics interns obtained outside of formal professional develop-
ment training experiences (α = .87), and ratings of how well their
professional development experiences on internship prepared
them for 5 different post-internship positions/tasks (α = 82).
Design and Analyses
This study was descriptive and correlational in design. Analyses
were predominantly descriptive in nature, and a series of corre-
lations and analyses of variance (ANOVAs) were used to
evaluate the relationship between several aspects of internship
professional development training and level of satisfaction with
such training.
Most interns (89.1%) reported receiving some type of pro-
fessional development training. Table 1 reveals that a majority of
interns reported that their internship professional development
training covered topics of private practice issues, ethics, post-
doctoral fellowships, licensure, support and adjustment, and
administrative issues. In contrast, 50% or more of respondents
reported that their formal professional development training
included 0 hours on academic job topics, board certification,
research, and current events and advocacy.
Most interns were satisfied with their internship professional
development training experiences (60%), though a substantial
portion (21.8%) reported some level of dissatisfaction. Over
60% of respondents felt that their internship had prepared them
“well” or “very well” for postdoctoral fellowships and clinical/
non-private practice work and half (49.7%) felt their internship’s
professional development training had prepared them “well” or
“very well” for licensure. In contrast, respondents’ views about
how well their sites’ professional development experiences
prepared them for private practice jobs were mixed (over 30%
reported that the experiences had “not at all” or “poorly” pre-
pared them and 36.4% described the preparation as “fair”).
Respondents tended to view their internship professional de-
velopment experiences as least adequate in preparing them for
academic jobs (53.5% felt “not at all” or “poorly” prepared).
Using 5 ANOVAs, differences in perceptions of preparedness
related to primary training site were examined. No group dif-
ferences were found for perceptions of preparedness for clinical
non-private practice, F(6, 268) = 1.57, p = .157, postdoctoral
fellowships, F(6, 268) = 1.92, p = .078, academia, F(6, 268) =
2.08, p = .056, or licensure, F(6, 268) = .49, p = .814. However,
counseling center interns believed their professional develop-
ment training better prepared them for private practice than did
those in medical settings and schools, F(6, 267) = 2.24, p = .04.
Table 2 contains bivariate correlations between internship
professional development training satisfaction and hours of
professional development training devoted to different topic
areas. Broadly, less time spent on topics was associated with
greater dissatisfaction. To determine if these relevant topics
were covered in some other format (outside the professional
development seminar) during internship (e.g., supervision, as-
signed mentors), respondents indicated the number of hours
spent with other individuals associated with the internship (not
including other interns) addressing each of the professional
development topics (see Table 3).
Satisfaction as a Function of Professional Development
A series of t-tests and ANOVAs were conducted to test if level
of satisfaction with professional development differed as a
function of internship characteristics and professional devel-
opment availability. Sixteen t-tests were planned so a Bonferroni
correction was applied, resulting in an adjusted alpha level
of .0031. The Bonferroni correction for three planned ANOVAs
resulted in a new alpha level of .0166. Table 4 contains group
means for the 16 t-tests conducted on availability of different
components of professional development. Coverage of any topic
(except ethics) in professional development seminars was asso-
ciated with higher levels of satisfaction with professional de-
velopment on internship. Satisfaction did not differ depending
upon internship accreditation, F(3, 270) = 2.00, ns, or type of
primary training setting, F(6, 268) = 2.38, p = .029. Satisfaction
level did differ depending upon number of interns at the site, F(4,
270) = 4.75, p = .001. Post hoc analyses using the Tukey method
revealed that respondents from sites with 6 - 10 interns (M =
4.00, SD = .98) had significantly (using a cutoff of p < .05 for
post hoc analyses) higher levels of satisfaction than did those
from sites with 1 - 2 interns (M = 3.28, SD = 1.16) and 3 - 5
interns (M = 3.43, SD = 1.19), whereas respondents from sites
with 11 - 15 interns (M = 3.80, SD = 1.21) and 16 or more in-
terns (M = 4.75, SD = .50) did not differ from any other group.
Perceived Preparedness Predicting Satisfaction
We expected that perceptions of preparedness may predict
overall satisfaction with professional development training.
Thus, we conducted a multiple linear regression with respon-
dents’ ratings of preparedness for academia, private practice,
A. S. KLUCK ET AL. 981
Table 1.
Hours of professional development devoted to different topics of interest.
Topics 0 hours 1 hour N (%)2 hours 3 - 5 hours 6 - 10 hours 11+ hours
Academic jobs 148 (53.8%) 46 (16.7%) 44 (16.0%) 22 (8.0%) 10 (3.6%) 5 (1.8%)
Private practice 115 (41.8%) 56 (20.4%) 66 (24.0%) 28 (10.2%) 8 (2.9%) 2 (.7%)
Clinical/Non-private practice 136 (49.5%) 68 (24.7%) 38 (13.8%) 17 (6.2%) 7 (2.5%) 9 (3.3%)
Postdoctoral fellowships 102 (37.1%) 45 (16.4%) 59 (21.5%) 42 (15.3%) 14 (5.1%) 13 (4.7%)
Licensure 67 (24.4%) 65 (23.6%) 81 (29.5%) 38 (13.8%) 14 (5.1%) 10 (3.6%)
Board Certification 195 (70.9%) 43 (15.6%) 22 (8.0%) 9 (3.3%) 4 (1.5%) 2 (.7%)
Research 153 (55.6%) 35 (12.7%) 17 (6.2%) 20 (7.3%) 14 (5.1%) 36 (13.1%)
Ethics 40 (14.5%) 39 (14.2%) 58 (21.1%) 74 (26.9%) 40 (14.5%) 24 (8.7%)
Current events/advocacy 137 (49.8%) 30 (10.9%) 29 (10.5%) 36 (13.1%) 23 (8.4%) 19 (6.9%)
Support and adjustment 71 (25.8%) 35 (12.7%) 20 (7.3%) 35 (12.7%) 31 (11.3%) 83 (30.2%)
Administrative issues for internship 49 (17.8%) 54 (19.6%) 45 (16.4%) 56 (20.4%) 31 (11.3%) 40 (14.5%)
Table 2.
Bivariate correlations (r) between self-reported level of satisfaction
with professional development training on internship and hours of
professional development devoted to different topics.
Hours of Professional Development Devoted To: Satisfaction
Academic Job Issues .323**
Private Practice Jobs .345**
Non-Private Practice Jobs .456**
Postdoctoral Fellowships .394**
Licensure .451**
Board Certification .319**
Research .317**
Ethics .356**
Current Events and Advocacy .314**
Support and Adjustment .464**
Administrative Issues .297**
Note: All correlations are between level of satisfaction and specific focus of
professional development training using an ordinal scale rather than a ratio scale,
where individuals indicated which of the following best described number of hours
of professional development training focused on the topic: 0, 1, 2, 3 - 5, 6 - 10, and
11 or more. **p < .001
non-private practice, licensure, and postdoctoral training pre-
dicting satisfaction with professional development training
experiences. Perceptions of preparedness across domains ac-
counted for 60% of the variance in satisfaction, F(5, 268) =
79.33, p < .001. Perceived level of preparedness for academia (β
= .10, sr = .09, p = .026), clinical/non-private practice (β = .31, sr
= .22, p < .001), postdoctoral fellowship (β = .21, sr = .16, p
< .001), and licensure (β = .28, sr = .21, p < .001) emerged as
unique predictors that remained significant after controlling for
the effects of perceptions in the other domains. The semipartial
coefficients suggest that perceived effectiveness of professional
development training in preparation for practice related activi-
ties (postdoctoral fellowships, clinical/non-private, and licen-
sure) commonly faced by individuals shortly after internship
were most related to satisfaction.
Qualitative Analyses
Sixty-five interns responded to an open-ended request to “list
any suggestions… for the provision of more effective profes-
sional development experiences on internship.” The responses
were filtered into a single table and reviewed by the researchers.
Data reduction and content analysis were performed by hand,
which involved immersion of the investigator in the data with
several readings to identify concepts. Next, each response was
coded based on content. Coding was initially done with re-
spondents’ words or short phrases. As patterns were identified,
phrases were collapsed into subcategories, then broader catego-
ries, common themes were derived, and coded frequencies of
responses for each theme were summed.
Of the responses, nine did not suggest changes to internship
professional development experiences (e.g., “N/A”, “adequately
prepared”). Eight key themes emerged for the remaining re-
sponses with the predominant (n = 51) message reflecting a
desire for more professional development on transitioning to the
next career phase (see Table 5 for sample responses).
The first theme was a desire for more preparation for the li-
censure process (8), such as “We have no clue how to proceed as
far as licensure.” The second theme reflected a need for more
guidance in acquiring postdoctoral positions (16), both for con-
tinued training (“… regular meetings about acquiring postdocs”)
and employment (“Schedule seminars related to job finding”).
The third theme requested more information about post-in-
ternship clinical work (5), including “how to start a private
The inclusion of more intern support emerged as the fourth
theme (6), with requests including a “more supportive envi-
ronment regarding adjusting to clinical work,” or support group
(3), “just for interns, where these matters could be discussed.”
The fifth theme was the request for more talks from practicing
psychologists regarding job experiences or options (5), “from
psychologists in various professions… to learn how they got
started, etc.” The desire for a mentoring program comprised the
sixth theme (3), “More… 1:1 mentorship.”
The seventh theme emerged from several comments reflecting
the desire to begin these processes much earlier in the internship
training year (4), “By the time we were encouraged to look into
positions, many of the deadlines had passed!” Finally, the eighth
theme suggested regulation, oversight, or input by APA, CPA, or
APPIC (4), “I think that in order to be APPIC or APA/CPA
accredited that each site MUST have certain hours put aside for
professional development.” In addition, there were individual
requests for more information regarding selected topics (e.g.,
board certification, securing grants).
Table 3.
Hours of guidance o u t s i d e of p r o f e s s ional development devot ed to different topics of in t e r e st d u r i n g in t e rnship training.
Topics 0 hours 1 hour N (%)2 hours 3 - 5 hours 6 - 10 hours 11+ hours
Academic jobs 144 (52.4%) 51 (18.5%) 36 (13.1%) 29 (10.5%) 10 (3.6%) 5 (1.8%)
Private practice 173 (62.9%) 42 (15.3%) 29 (10.5%) 21 (7.6%) 8 (2.9%) 2 (.7%)
Clinical/Non-private practice 151 (54.9%) 48 (17.5%) 34 (12.4%) 24 (8.7%) 11 (4.0%) 7 (2.5%)
Postdoctoral fellowships 95 (34.5%) 54 (19.6%) 42 (15.3%) 43 (15.6%) 25 (9.1%) 16 (5.8%)
Licensure 104 (37.8%) 56 (20.4%) 70 (25.5%) 28 (10.2%) 11 (4.0%) 6 (2.2%)
Board Certification 196 (71.3%) 42 (15.3%) 20 (7.3%) 9 (3.3%) 4 (1.5%) 4 (1.5%)
Research 149 (54.2%) 31 (11.3%) 25 (9.1%) 21 (7.6%) 17 (6.2%) 32 (11.6%)
Ethics 103 (37.5%) 48 (17.5%) 61 (22.2%) 35 (12.7%) 16 (5.8%) 12 (4.4%)
Current events/advocacy 137 (49.8%) 35 (12.7%) 54 (19.6%) 30 (10.9%) 8 (2.9%) 11 (4.0%)
Support and adjustment 75 (27.3%) 36 (13.1%) 48 (17.5%) 43 (15.6%) 23 (8.4%) 50 (18.2%)
Administrative issues for internship 95 (34.58%) 64 (23.3%) 54 (19.6%) 32 (11.6%) 14 (6.1%) 16 (5.8%)
Note: Respondents were asked to exclude hours of guidance received from other interns or from individuals affiliated with their graduate program.
Table 4.
Mean (and standard deviations) satisfaction with professional devel-
opment experiences on internship as a function of availability of vari-
ous experiences (N = 274).
Does your internship: Yes No t val u e
Have PD Component? 3.70 (1.12) 2.63 (1.16)4.88**
Use Guest Speakers? 3.80 (1.13) 3.20 (1.14)2.45**
Have Regularly Scheduled Seminars? 3.90 (1.08) 2.99 (1.11)6.59**
Have a Support Group? 3.92 (1.13) 3.41 (1.16)3.45*
Have Q & A with Faculty? 4.07 (.95) 3.34 (1.20)5.01**
Have Intern Presentations? 4.00 (1.08) 3.35 (1.16)4.51**
Cover Academic Issues? 3.95 (1.07) 3.32 (1.18)4.49**
Cover Private Practice Issues? 3.91 (1.07) 3.23 (1.18)4.97**
Cover Non-Private Practice Issues? 4.02 (1.08) 3.30 (1.15)5.15**
Cover Postdoctoral Fellowships? 3.92 (1.01) 3.10 (1.22)6.08**
Cover Licensure? 3.87 (1.03) 3.01 (1.24)6.09**
Cover Board Certification? 4.14 (.94) 3.46 (1.18)3.80**
Cover Research? 4.06 (.96) 3.33 (1.19)5.13**
Cover Ethics? 3.69 (1.17) 3.24 (1.12)2.84^
Cover Current Events/Advocacy?
Advocacy? 4.10 (1.03) 3.33 (1.16)5.39**
Cover Support/Adjustment to
Internship? 3.94 (1.08) 2.98 (1.07)7.09**
^p < .01; *p < .0031 (the cut off for significance using a Bonferroni correction);
**p <.001.
Most respondents reported receiving some professional de-
velopment-related training on internship, though the focus and
extent of that training varied widely and a subset (about one fifth)
of respondents were dissatisfied. Inclusion of relevant topics
(e.g., fellowships, licensure, academia, board certification) and
more time devoted to those topics were associated with greater
satisfaction with professional development, as was perceived
effectiveness of the internship professional development training
for preparing respondents for post-degree activities. Thus, pro-
viding professional development experiences focused on en-
hancing perceptions of preparedness for the post-internship
activities of interest to any particular cohort may help to increase
satisfaction with this area of internship training. Similarly, in-
ternship sites may be best equipped to accommodate trainees’
preferences by explicitly inquiring about post-internship plans
and formulating professional development training specific to
their interns’ career goals.
The eight common themes derived from the qualitative open-
ended feedback provided by respondents clearly highlighted
interns’ desire for more guidance in the transition to the next
phase. As was implied with quantitative findings regarding
satisfaction, respondents tended to suggest more coverage of
topics that received fewer hours of coverage during internship.
In particular, interns requested more preparation for obtaining
postdoctoral positions and licensure, which are often the next
“hurdles” for interns.
The lack of differences in satisfaction as a function of ethics
training (when using the modified alpha level to control for
multiple analyses) may reflect how interns view professional
development. It may be that at the internship stage of training,
soon-to-be professional psychologists do not connect ethics with
preparation for post-degree activities as readily as they do ac-
tivities such as licensure. Obviously, the value of inclusion of
ethics in professional development extends beyond interns’
perceptions of how ethics relates to their preparation for the next
phase of their careers (e.g., training in ethics has immediate
application while on internship, ethics is a topic included on the
examination for licensure in psychology).
Study 1 contains some important limitations including the use
of a descriptive design and reliance upon intern self-report. As
Belar and Siegel (1983) suggested regarding their own research
in a similar domain, it is not possible to ensure the accuracy of
participants’ ratings regarding hours of coverage of a particular
topic. Similarly, as is common in this type of research (e.g.,
Belar & Siegel, 1983; Mullins, Hartman, Chaney, Balderson, &
Hoff, 2003; Stubbe, 2002), self-selection bias was inherently
Study 2
Past research on professional development for psychology
A. S. KLUCK ET AL. 983
Table 5.
Selected intern suggestions for the provision of more effective profes-
sional development experiences on internship.
“Wow! I didn’t realize that these areas should have been covered
in our internship. It would have been really helpful to have gotten
past the ‘how do I handle this case?’ to more of the real in’s and
s of practicing. Because my internship ran like a job, it never
felt appropriate to take time out to ask some of these questions.”
“I wish my program had started to talk about applications for
postdoctoral positions sooner. By the time we were encouraged to
look into positions, many of the deadlines had already passed!”
“Starting at the beginning of the training year preparing for postdocs
applications and information about state licensure requirements
with continued review and preview regularly throughout the year.”
4 “Better didactics regarding administrative responsibilities: billing,
negotiating pay/job, inter-department workings (red tape/politics).”
5 “Internships should be clued in to helping interns develop what
happens next, especially since we graduate without a license...”
“I believe it would be helpful for internship sites to receive advice
on the topics interns need information about from APPIC and …
accreditation sites.”
7 “Guest speakers sharing their experience.”
8 “A support group for interns led by someone OUTSIDE of the
internship agency.”
9 “This is generally not a component of clinical/research supervision
but should be.”
11 “Requiring APA accredited internship programs to have seminars …
devoted to this area.”
11 “Some discussion regarding board certification.”
12 “Set up a mentoring program to connect interns with experienced
clinicians with similar interests/goals.”
13 “Walking the intern through the process of licensure from start to
14 “I do think it would be helpful to receive information about how to
start a private practice.”
“I feel the last quarter of internship should be geared towards
students functioning in a more autonomous role to prepare for
post-internship positions. My internship site has provided consistent
professional development topics, but no real emphasis on transitioning
to the next phase has occurred.”
16 “More opportunity to attend seminars and trainings would be
interns generally results in the conclusion that professional
development is an important component during the predoctoral
internship training sequence (e.g., Lochner, 1997; Scott, 2004;
Sternlict, 1966). Despite the importance of this training, little
research has explored the specific experiences psychology in-
terns receive in professional development during internship. In
Study 1, we attempted to address this deficit in the research by
surveying individuals completing their internship training. We
found that most psychology interns receive some professional
development training, but some respondents were at least
somewhat dissatisfied. Although the findings of the first study
expand our existing knowledge of professional development
opportunities trainees receive during their predoctoral internship,
the self-reported experiences of psychology interns provides an
incomplete picture of this training. In particular, potential re-
spondents may have been more or less likely to participate de-
pending upon their level of satisfaction with their professional
development training experiences. As such, additional data from
individuals other than interns themselves would provide a
clearer picture of the offerings of professional development
training for psychology interns.
The present study expands the findings of Study 1 by ex-
ploring TDs’ perceptions of the quality and types of professional
development training experiences available to their interns. We
compared TDs’ responses to the experiences reported by psy-
chology interns in Study 1 to determine if TDs’ perceptions of
training offered by programs differed from perceptions of
trainees, thus enhancing our understanding of the extent to which
results of the first study might be representative of the general
experiences available for psychology interns. We expected that,
like the interns in Study 1, TDs would report that professional
development predominantly covered domains of postdoctoral
fellowships, private practice, ethics, and support, addressing
current issues (e.g., ethics) and issues likely faced in the short-
term future by interns (e.g., postdoctoral fellowships). It was
also expected that in comparison to psychology interns, TDs
would report more time spent on professional development and
evaluate the professional development opportunities as more
satisfactory than did the psychology interns in Study 1 because
we assumed most TDs seek to offer quality training experiences.
A total of 194 internship TDs responded to an email invitation
to participate in an on-line survey hosted through www.sur- Similar to our Study 1 sample, respondents in
this study predominantly represented training sites in the Mid-
west (n = 51, 25.6%), Northeast (n = 41, 20.6%) and Southeast
(n = 27, 18.6%), with the fewest from Canada (n = 10, 5.0%).
The majority of TDs were from sites accredited by the APA
and/or CPA (n = 153, 76.9%). Another 37 (18.6%) of the TDs
that participated represented non-accredited training sites with
the remaining either pursuing accreditation or having some other
accreditation status. The difference in percentage of TDs who
represented accredited training sites compared to the psychology
interns from Study 1 was about 9% with a lower percentage of
the TDs representing APA- or CPA-accredited sites compared to
the psychology interns. As was true for the respondents in Study
1, the participants most frequently represented internships based
(or primarily based in the case of consortiums) in medical
school/hospital settings (n = 67, 33.7%), counseling centers (n =
36, 18.1%), community mental health centers (n = 29, 14.6%),
and Veteran’s Affairs settings (n = 23, 11.6%). Consistent with
Study 1, most TDs were from sites that trained between 3 to 10
interns per year. In order to obtain relevant information about the
internship sites, maintain anonymity, and keep the time required
for participation to a minimum to increase response rates, no
information regarding the background of the TDs was collected.
As was true in Study 1, there is a lack of valid measures to
assess professional development experiences offered at different
training sites. Thus, the survey used in Study 1 was modified for
use in this study to create a 10-item survey. The survey was
again face valid in nature and items were reflective of different
types of professional development experiences offered at vari-
ous sites familiar to the authors. Items regarding personal
demographic details were removed, but items on the demo-
graphics of the internship site were retained. The survey also
required respondents to provide information about opportunities
related to professional development offered at their site and their
beliefs about the satisfaction of their trainees regarding the
available opportunities by modifying the wording of survey
questions from Study 1 to be appropriate for TDs. When pro-
viding responses regarding the number of hours devoted to
various topics during professional development training, TDs
were instructed to estimate the total number of hours of profes-
sional development his or her site devoted to the various topics.
No assessment of informal professional development that may
occur in supervision or mentoring was attempted. As was true in
Study 1, the final survey question was open-ended, asking TDs
to offer suggestions for the improvement of professional de-
velopment training experiences on psychology internships. In all
cases, the retained questions in the survey closely matched those
used in Study 1 to allow for comparisons of the perceptions of
TDs and interns. In addition, TDs were instructed to provide
information regarding the training experiences offered at their
site during the 2005-2006 training year in order to obtain data
from TDs that corresponded to the cohort of participants used in
Study 1.
As was true with Study 1, the survey was not meant to be
summative in nature so a reliability analysis for the entire survey
would be inappropriate. However, it was possible to conduct a
reliability analysis for estimation of hours of professional de-
velopment devoted to the 11 different topic areas. The obtained
Cronbach’s alpha was .76, suggesting sufficient internal con-
In October 2006, an email was sent to all of the TDs whose
email addresses were listed in the APPIC directory at the time of
the study or whose email addresses could be found on the in-
ternship site’s website. We chose to contact TDs at the end of
October to ensure that most internship sites would have recently
graduated the cohort used in Study 1. The email served as the
invitation to participate in the study and described the purpose of
the study. Those TDs who were willing to participate were
instructed to click on a link connected to our on-line survey
where we provided information required for informed consent
including that continued participation in the study would serve
as providing informed consent. Individuals who agreed to par-
ticipate responded to the on-line survey that was developed for
the present study.
Nearly all (n = 190, 95.5%) TDs who participated reported
offering formal, regularly scheduled didactics that all interns
attend and most (n = 186, 93.5%) included professional devel-
opment in these didactic training experiences during the 2005-
2006 training year. Over one fifth of the TDs reported that no
time was spent covering topics related to academic jobs (n = 46,
23.1%), private practice (n = 50, 25.1%), clinical/non-private
practice jobs (n = 52, 26,1%), research (n = 72, 36.2%), and
current events/advocacy (n = 40, 20.1%). Over half (n = 119;
59.8%) of the respondents indicated that they did not cover
board certification. In contrast, ethics was nearly universally
covered to some extent (n = 193, 97%). Postdoctoral fellowships
(n = 161, 80.9%), licensure (n = 180, 90.5%), interns’ adjust-
ment/support (n = 186, 93.5%), and administrative issues (n =
184, 92.5%) were also covered in almost all cases.
We used a series of single sample t-tests to explore differences
between TDs and psychology interns regarding the time they
reported was spent covering various topics. To control for the
increased familywise error rate associated with running multiple
analyses, we used a Bonferroni correction which set the new
alpha level to .004. Compared to psychology interns, TDs re-
ported that significantly more (p < .001) time was devoted to all
areas of professional development including research (t(186) =
17.469), private practice (t(189) = 15.032), clinical/non-private
practice jobs (t(186) = 17.150), postdoctoral fellowships (t(187)
= 14.282), licensure (t(191) = 16.297), board certification (t(183)
= 16.179), research (t(186) = 10.314), ethics (t(193) = 24.802),
current events/advocacy (t(183) = 14.092), interns’ adjustment/
support (t(190) = 19.950), and administrative issues (t(189) =
18.192). Also consistent with our hypotheses, an independent
samples t-test revealed that TDs (M = 4. 4.20, SD = .72) esti-
mated that psychology interns were more satisfied than were the
Study 1 psychology interns (M = 3.58, SD = 1.17), t(467) = 6.49,
p < .001. Specifically, 93.3% of TDs reported that their interns
were somewhat or very satisfied with their professional devel-
opment training experiences provided on internship.
We invited TDs to respond to an open-ended question by of-
fering suggestions for improving professional development ex-
periences during internship (Table 6). The same coding proce-
dure employed with the data from the psychology interns in
Study 1 was used to qualitatively analyze the TDs’ responses.
The same individual also completed the coding, providing in-
creased likelihood of consistency of coding qualitative re-
sponses across the two studies. Thirty-eight of the participants
provided suggestions and an additional 2 respondents further
elaborated on their answers to the survey. Generally, suggestions
varied and TDs offered several ideas regarding how professional
development experiences might be organized to provide maxi-
mally beneficial training. The most common themes reflected in
the responses were 1) meeting the specific needs of a particular
cohort depending on interests/goals, 2) using post-doctoral
fellows or new professionals as speakers, 3) covering job search/
post-doctoral fellowship acquisition early and extensively, 4)
use of mentoring/modeling, 5) regularly scheduled seminars, 6)
voluntary support groups available or covering self-care, 7)
instruction specifically on CVs and interviews, and 7) requests
for guidance from APPIC (see Table 6).
As expected, TDs reported more time spent covering relevant
topics during professional development training and TDs re-
ported most consistently covering ethics, postdoctoral fellow-
ships, and intern support to some extent. As predicted, the TDs
overestimated the degree of satisfaction psychology interns have
with their professional development training when comparing
estimates to self-reported levels of satisfaction among interns.
Though the cause of the discrepancy between psychology interns
experiences of professional development training and TDs’
perceptions of experiences offered is unclear, our findings sug-
gest TDs may want to communicate with psychology interns
more frequently about their expectations and needs for profes-
sional development. TDs and internship faculty may also want to
remember the inherent hierarchy between trainees and faculty
which in turn may discourage interns from more readily report-
ing satisfaction in person to their training faculty or encourage
them to avoid the expression of dissatisfaction face to face. This
may be especially true for interns in smaller internship sites who
fear that their written responses on frequently used anonymous
evaluation forms could identify them.
As was true for Study 1, Study 2 is limited by the study
methodology. Specifically, self-selection bias may continue to
operate for TDs and it is possible that TDs are also not accurate
in reporting hours devoted to various topics. It is possible that
A. S. KLUCK ET AL. 985
Table 6.
Selected training director suggestions for the provision of more effective
professional development experiences during predoctoral psychology
1 “Reliance on outside speakers/consultants who are experts in the
area presented.”
2 “Seminar evaluations by interns to assess efficacy and value of
3 “Coordinate professional development training with other internship
4 “Newly licensed speakers from the community have been a hit.”
5 “Mentoring program”
6 “We do mock interviews with our interns…”
7 “Try to assess each intern’s interests … and gear seminar time to
meet intern needs.”
8 “Stay up to date on trends in the field.”
9 “Shadowing professional psychologists to see what their job entails.”
“The establishment of a specific ‘Professional Issues’ Seminar is an
efficient way to ensure that the above mentioned topics are covered
during the internship year.”
11 “Resume development and preparation.”
12 “If the site is near the state’s licensing board, and the board’s meetings
are open to the public, I recommend attendance at those meetings.”
13 “Exploring cultural competencies.”
14 “Encourage APPIC to publish a manual on these issues.”
the differences between TDs and interns reflected a tendency for
TDs with a strong interest in providing professional develop-
ment to interns to be more likely to take the time to participate in
a study on the topic. In other words, those TDs who participated
may be at sites that provide more coverage of professional de-
velopment issues and, in fact, foster more satisfied interns.
General Discussion
Future Directions
As professional development should be a priority at every
level of a psychology student’s academic career, future research
should systematically examine the experiences of and satisfac-
tion with professional development training obtained during the
undergraduate and graduate years, as well as during Postdoctoral
Fellowship. In addition, future studies should continue to ex-
plore differences between interns’ and TDs’ perceptions of
professional development training. For example, it may be that
TDs are less aware of the interns’ changing interests for each
incoming intern cohort. TDs may differ from interns in their
beliefs about the importance of specific training aspects, or may
believe that their interns are satisfied with the professional de-
velopment experiences that are presently offered based to the
feedback they are receiving (and that feedback may or may not
be accurate). Finally, research that explores the long-term out-
come of enhanced professional development experiences is
needed. Such research might explore rates of job acquisition,
satisfaction with selected job, difficulties transferring to the role
of independent professional, time to licensure, and involvement
in advocacy.
Strengths and Implications
We also sought to explore the extent to which different rele-
vant topics are components of professional development training
experiences for psychology interns. That is, results detailed the
professional development experiences currently offered by
many internship sites, by defining what is taught and how this
information is conveyed, adding to our current knowledge of
how the teaching of or guidance in professional development is
approached on internship.
The present study makes an important contribution to training
considerations of psychology interns. It is among the first re-
search endeavors to systematically examine perceptions of
professional development training for psychology trainees dur-
ing internship. This study demonstrated that while many interns
feel they received satisfactory training in areas related to their
transition into the profession of psychology, a significant subset
does not. The present study also presented descriptive informa-
tion regarding topics covered and time devoted to such topics
during professional development provided on internship. In
addition, the anonymous nature of the study allowed individuals
to provide confidential feedback that TDs may use to improve
the professional development experiences currently offered.
Some excellent suggestions are contained in Table 6 as a sam-
pling of the feedback received from respondents, many of which
could easily be incorporated by TDs into future professional
development internship training experiences at their sites.
Moreover, the study results may help faculty at internship sites
that offer extensive coverage of professional development topics
have confidence that the experience is valued by their interns.
Finally, as some of the participants suggested, interns may
benefit from requirements imposed or oversight by the APA/
CPA or APPIC that regulate the minimum acceptable coverage
within the area of professional development. Such regulation
may help ensure that professional psychology interns receive
adequate information and support as they transition to the next
stage of their career.
The results of this study will allow TDs to enhance the pro-
fessional development experiences offered at their sites. TDs
may wish to adjust the number of hours offered in a particular
area based upon the frequency with which such training is of-
fered elsewhere. For example, since over 50% of respondents
reported that their site provided coverage of topics related to the
licensure process as part of their professional development
training, TDs at sites not currently covering licensure during
professional development seminars may wish to do so. Similarly,
a TD might increase time spent providing support to interns after
identifying that satisfaction with professional development
during internship training was most strongly correlated with time
devoted to support and adjustment. In addition, as we found that
more time spent on professional development was correlated
with overall increased satisfaction, TDs may want to enhance the
professional development aspect of their interns’ training by
increasing time spent on topics of interest to their current intern
class. Although topics of interest can easily be obtained in an
initial training needs assessments of the incoming interns, set
training schedules, the need for teaching faculty qualified to
address topics, and other needs identified in the needs assess-
ment may make accommodation of all the incoming interns’
interests for professional development difficult.
Results from this study may also assist individuals seeking an
internship placement, by helping them to better evaluate how
well a site prepares interns for the transition into the professional
role. After reviewing the present study, applicants can identify
which professional development experiences are most important
to them. Applicants can then compare how much time a par-
ticular site of interest spends addressing professional develop-
ment experiences to that of other sites to which the applicant
applied. This information would allow applicants to submit more
informed rankings during the matching process.
In conclusion, this study makes a valuable contribution to the
literature on the training of psychology interns and provides
essential information for those involved in student training. It is
one of the first research endeavors to explore perceptions of
interns’ professional development training experiences and to
compare interns’ self-reported satisfaction with the TDs’ per-
ceptions of their interns’ satisfaction. This represents an impor-
tant first step in enhancing the process by which professional
psychology interns transition from student to independent pro-
fessional. Using the findings of the present study, professional
psychology internship applicants can become better informed
about seeking a placement that more adequately meets their
professional development needs, be aware of topics they might
request be considered for inclusion, and TDs can become more
intentional in designing and implementing the professional
development components of future internship training experi-
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