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, 10-14 June 2019. The Summer Institute is a five-day course for 2nd, 3rd and 4th year doctoral students in clinical or counseling psychology that also includes a two-hour online military culture prerequisite. The curriculum is aimed at students who anticipate or are seriously considering applying for a military internship that will start in fall of 2020 or later. Military internship refers to the 11 training programs located throughout the U.S. 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 unique 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 and group discussions 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 in their 2nd, 3rd or 4th year of their graduate program and are planning to apply to or seriously considering a military internship should submit an application to the CDP. Students should not apply if they anticipate beginning their internship in the fall of 2019. The course is appropriate for students who plan to start their internship in the fall of 2020 or later.

Note: Military internships require that individuals are able and willing to join the U.S. 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. The Summer Institute is geared for students interested in becoming an intern/psychologist for the Armed Forces (Department of Defense) not for the VA.

Mission and Course Content

Approximately 2.8 million U.S. Service members have been deployed in support of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Additionally, they are assisting with other combat and non-combat missions spanning the U.S. and other nations. Although most acclimate well after engaging in such military operations, a significant minority experience behavioral health problems, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, traumatic brain injury (TBI), sleep problems, 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 course will include completing an overview of military culture and self-assessment online. When students arrive for the course in Bethesda initial topics will be an overview of the roles and activities unique to military psychologists and 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 psychologists 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. Upon completion of the course, students will be given a six month opportunity to take one of CDP’s online two-day evidence-based psychotherapy (EBP) workshops at a 50% discounted rate. This EBP training is not a requirement of the course.


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 Bethesda, Maryland will not be eligible for hotel reimbursement.

The fee for the optional, follow-on EBP workshop will be covered by the student at half off the regular price at the time of registration. This fee will be approximately $25.00.


The course will take place on the campus of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU) in Bethesda, Maryland, where many U.S. military medical providers are educated.

Prerequisite and Course Date

Accepted students must first complete an online military culture course by 19 April 2019. Then they must attend all five days of the course on 10-14 June 2019.


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

  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 U.S. Army, Navy, or Air Force
  4. Not anticipating being on internship in Fall 2019
  5. A U.S. citizen

Application Process

The application period is now open. Students will be notified of their acceptance decision in early 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 hcampbell@deploymentpsych.org.
  5. Applications must be received by 29 January 2019.
  6. Students who are accepted to the program will be notified by March 2019.

The application period for the 2019 iteration has closed.

Questions can be emailed to Hakimah Campbell at hcampbell@deploymentpsych.org.

The Summer Institute: Preparing for a Career in the Armed Forces | Center for Deployment Psychology


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