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Counseling psychology students learn next step on 'match day'

  |   Kristen B. Morales   |   Permalink   |   Spotlight,   Students and Faculty

This year's annual "match day" for University of Georgia counseling psychology students recently resulted in placements for doctoral students across the country.

The annual event, similar to one celebrated by pre-med students at UGA, places students in the UGA College of Education's counseling psychology program into psychology-based environments. Students spend this critical third or fourth year of their doctoral program as an intern at universities, medical centers and other training sites, where they put into practice what they have been studying in their coursework.

Of the 19 students seeking placement, 18 found a match by April, said associate professor Bernadette Heckman, director of clinical training for the College's counseling psychology program. This high rate of placements is one of several reasons to celebrate the students' next steps, she said.

"While our program is proud of this 95 percent internship match rate—which is an extremely rare match rate for such a large number of applicants—we are even more proud of our students, whose hard work and perseverance has enabled them to obtain these highly competitive internship placements," she added.

The range of placements was wide in terms of both geographic location and type of organization. For example, some students were matched with university-based counseling sites, such as the Georgia Tech Counseling Center or the Emory University Counseling Center. Others will be working with specialized sites such as the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, University of Colorado School of Medicine, the Travis County Juvenile Probation Department or Veterans' Affairs medical centers in Durham, North Carolina, or Long Beach, California. Other students were placed at Texas A&M, University of Memphis, University of Oregon, Texas Women's University and Boston University.

This upcoming year for the students is a time to hone professional skills and refine their real-world, professional counseling experiences. Doctoral student Courtney Williams said while her upcoming year at the University of Memphis doesn't necessarily align with her research—her dissertation focuses on self-image among girls and teens of color—it still aligns with her clinical values and interests and will allow her to work with students of marginalized identities.

"I'll be working at the University of Memphis Counseling Center," she said. "There, I'll be supervising practicum students, seeing students for individual therapy, facilitating groups, implementing outreach programs and administering psychological evaluations. Additionally, I hope to integrate some of my research into some of the outreach programs and clinical work I will be doing."

The placements are also reflective of the varying settings graduates of the counseling psychology land in the professional world. The UGA College of Education department of counseling and human development services has a long history of serving as a state and national training site, and the program encourages research and community engagement focusing on social justice, underserved populations, and access and inclusion.

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