A recent graduate of the El Paso Psychology Internship Consortium program said during his one-year program in El Paso, he had the opportunity to see a lot of patients in the ER who had severe mental illness. Sean Woodland, a San Francisco bay area native, said as he leaves for Kaiser Permanente in Northern California, he will take with him an ability to work with diverse populations and an understanding of how psychology integrates into medical settings and his exposure to multiple evidence-based practices.
Rebecca Pasillas, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry, Paul L. Foster School of Medicine and site training director for the El Paso Psychology Internship Consortium (EPPIC) said EPPIC, a doctoral psychology internship program, provides a comprehensive training program for doctoral interns in psychology, in order to prepare competent psychologists and effective multicultural therapists.
In 2012, the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health at UT Austin selected The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) to receive $550,000 over five years to create the El Paso Psychology Internship Consortium. The consortium, which also receives over $200,000 from the Paso del Norte Health Foundation, is an El Paso-based partnership currently composed of two training sites — University of Texas at El Paso and Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso.
“During their one-year period, interns are expected to complete 2000 hours of training. At EPPIC, the interns receive a unique training experience in that they have opportunities to provide psychological services in multiple health care settings to Latinos living in our border community and to use their Spanish language skills in providing these services,” said Dr. Pasillas.
Interns learn how to provide and adapt evidence-based psychotherapies for Latinos and Spanish-speakers and to conduct psychological testing in both English and Spanish. They also completed a research project during their year-long internship.
Woodland said he got into clinical psychology because he always had a drive to help others and wanted to make a difference “in the most profound way possible. I also wanted to have the most flexibility with my career so clinical psychology was a good fit.”
“It is our belief at EPPIC that the understanding of the science of psychology is an important and necessary tool for the actual practice of psychology. This combination helps interns develop both competent skills and a professional identity which prepares them to work independently as professional practitioners,” said Dr. Pasillas.
Woodland says the internship was high-quality and as a graduate of the program, he will make the most difference in helping mental health systems become more effective. “This will include promoting more services that are evidence-based, as well as services that take into account the client experience.”