Staff Perspective: Exploring a Career as a Military Psychologist Through the Summer Institute

Staff Perspective: Exploring a Career as a Military Psychologist Through the Summer Institute

Libby Parins, Psy.D.

The Center for Deployment Psychology Summer Institute: Preparing for a Psychology Career in the Military (CDPSI) is an intensive five-day course held annually in June in Bethesda, Maryland. It is designed for doctoral students in clinical or counseling psychology who are interested in joining the US military and serving military patients. The course is held on the campus of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU) to give participants exposure to the military base and the campus. CDP will host its 2020 iteration on 15-19 June.

The Institute was established in 2015 to raise doctoral students’ awareness of what it would be like to serve as a psychologist in the Armed Forces and to increase their competitiveness for a military internship. The course offers a unique opportunity to explore in depth this career choice prior to applying for an internship. Each year CDP has received very positive feedback about the value and uniqueness of the course. Many past students have gone on to secure military, VA and Veteran-affiliated internships. For the 2015-2018 cohorts, 92% of the total matches reported are for military/VA-relevant sites. Although the emphasis of the course is preparing students for a military internship, some students end up applying for and accepting VA internships. CDPSI participants are asked to complete pre- and post-surveys after each training module during the courses as well as follow-up surveys after attending the course. This allows CDP to collect feedback and track how students are applying the information and whether they are securing military internships.

The CDPSI is an intensive program which will strengthen trainees’ backgrounds in military behavioral health as they gain first-hand knowledge of military culture, the work of psychologists serving in uniform, and evidence-based strategies to treat military members. Participants will be afforded the opportunity to interact with prior and current military psychologists through didactics, panel discussions and networking events. Students will also have an opportunity to talk with military internship training directors at the course. CDPSI didactics include topics such as:

  • Types of clinical and assessment opportunities for military psychologists
  • Deployment cycle stress, family challenges, and clinical problems experienced by military members
  • Ethical dilemmas faced by providers working with military patients
  • Cognitive behavioral treatments used at military clinics including a full day concentrated on assessment and crisis intervention for suicide

In addition, students will have the chance to learn from classmates who come from graduate programs located across the country. Past participants have reported they made connections with other Summer Institute attendees from across all branches that they continue to reach out to with questions or consultation and ultimately served with during internship and beyond.

To be eligible, students must be:

  1. Enrolled in an APA-accredited doctoral program in clinical or counseling psychology
  2. In the 2nd, 3rd or 4th year of their doctoral program when they submit their application
  3. Applying for or seriously considering a military internship in the US Army, Navy or Air Force
  4. Not anticipating being on internship in the fall of 2020
  5. A US citizen

The 2020 application period for the CDPSI opened on 18 November 2019. Applications must be received by 7 February 2020. The application process includes an online application form, 2 essays and references so it’s recommended that those interested begin the process early. There is no application or course fee, and the CDP covers hotel costs for students during the program. Attendees are responsible for all other travel and expenses. This summer there will be 45 slots for qualified students. Participants will be required to complete an online military culture and self-assessment prerequisite which will be followed by a discussion about this experience during the course. Upon completion of the course, students will be given a six-month opportunity to take one of CDP’s online EBPs at a 50% discounted rate.

For more information or to register for the CDPSI, please clidk here!

The opinions in CDP Staff Perspective blogs are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Science or the Department of Defense.

Libby Parins, Psy.D., is a the Assistant Director of Training and Education at the Center for Deployment Psychology.