The Summer Institute: Preparing for a Career in the Armed Forces

Summer Institute: Preparing for a Career in the Armed Forces

Course Overview

The Center for Deployment Psychology (CDP) at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU) is pleased to host The Summer Institute: Preparing for a Career in the Armed Forces, 25-29 June 2018. The Summer Institute is a five-day course for 2nd, 3rd and 4th year doctoral students in clinical or counseling psychology who anticipate or are seriously considering applying for a military internship. Military internships refer to the 11 training programs located throughout the US Army, Navy, and Air Force housed on military bases.

The Summer 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 increase their competitiveness for a military internship. The course offers a wonderful opportunity to explore in depth this career choice prior to applying for an internship. This intensive program will strengthen trainees’ backgrounds in military behavioral health as they gain firsthand knowledge of military culture, the work of psychologists serving in uniform, and evidence-based strategies to treat military members.

Through didactics, experiential exercises and panel sessions led by CDP faculty and experts in the field, participants will gain first-hand knowledge about:

  • Types of clinical and assessment opportunities for military psychologists
  • Deployment cycle stress and common clinical problems
  • Cognitive behavioral treatments used at military clinics including a full day concentrated on suicidal behavior
  • Ethical dilemmas faced by providers working with Active Duty Service members

Who Should Apply

Students who are planning to apply to or seriously considering a military internship should submit an application to the CDP.

Note: Military internships require that individuals are able and willing to join the US military and become an officer. Typically, they are required to serve 3 more years in the military after completing their internship. Military internships differ from VA internships or other Veterans-affiliated internships, which do not require serving in the military. Students on a military internship usually treat individuals on Active Duty or in the Reserve or National Guard who have been activated, while rarely treating Veterans or retirees.

Mission and Course Content

Nearly 2.8 million US Service Members have been deployed in support of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Although most of them have acclimated well since returning and deployments to these areas are less common today, a significant minority experience behavioral health problems, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, traumatic brain injury (TBI), insomnia, chronic pain, or substance abuse.

As a result, well-trained psychologists are needed to provide care in the Armed Forces. However, some doctoral students interested in this specialization may not feel adequately prepared to succeed as an intern at a military treatment facility (this refers to Active Duty military bases rather than internships at VA hospitals). Others may not be aware of the unique opportunities afforded by a career in military behavioral health, including being deployed with military operations, service in overseas locations, and non-traditional behavioral health roles. The Summer Institute will fill these gaps by preparing students for internships at military treatment facilities and enhancing their awareness of such opportunities through a focused curriculum.

The first phase of the five-day course will provide an overview of military culture and the deployment cycle, as well as the roles and activities unique to military psychologists. In addition, students will become familiar with key assessments used in military clinics. Then the course will highlight the more common clinical conditions experienced by military members. Later, students will explore military culture experientially by touring the war memorials on the National Mall and hearing from a panel of internship training directors from military treatment facilities.

The second phase of the course will explore situations that may expose military to unique ethical challenges. Trainees will also have the chance to interact with psychologists from different branches of the military representing diverse career paths post internship. The course will conclude with an overview of how to assess and treat PTSD in military patients, followed by a day-long skills-based training in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Treating Suicidal Behavior.


The CDP will offer the course free of charge and will cover hotel costs excluding parking*. Attendees are responsible for covering all of their travel, transportation and daily expenses.

*Students living within 50 miles of USU will not be eligible for hotel reimbursement.


Carefully review the following eligibility requirements. If you do not meet all of them, your application will not be considered. Applicants must be:

  1. 1. Enrolled in a doctoral program in clinical or counseling psychology that is APA accredited
  2. In the 2nd, 3rd or 4th year of their doctoral program when they submit their application to CDP*
  3. Applying for or seriously considering a military internship in the US Army, Navy or Air Force
  4. A US citizen

* Where all other qualifications are equal, 3rd or 4th year students will receive priority consideration.


The course will be held 25-29 June 2018. Participants must attend all five days of the event.


Training will take place in Bethesda, Maryland on the campus of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU), where many of the nation’s military medical staff are educated.

Application Process

The application period for the 2018 session has ended. Participants will be notified by 2 March.

  1. The application must be submitted online
  2. Applicants are required to write two essays (instructions included in the application) 
  3. Applicants are required to provide one academic/professional reference and ensure that the individual identified completes the form online
  4. Applicants must email their curriculum vitae (CV) to Hakimah Campbell at:
  5. Applications must be received by 29 January 2018.
  6. Students who are accepted to the program will be notified by 2 March 2018.

Students are required to attend the full course, i.e., all five days in their entirety.

Questions can be emailed to