A Day in the Life of a Clinical Psychology Trainee

A Day in the Life of an Extern

Yubelky Rodriguez

My name is Yubelky Rodriguez and I am a psychology extern at New York Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center. The externship program provides the opportunity to train in various modalities and treatment approaches, while working with a diverse population of adults.

Every day is different, but I start one of my days conducting individual psychotherapy in Spanish. It is followed by co-facilitating comprehensive DBT skills-group in Spanish. I continue the day conducting individual psychotherapy and individual supervision. Supervision is key for personal and professional growth, and I receive quality guidance and support. A highlight of my day is working with a multi-disciplinary team to consult on our DBT cases; we are challenged to incorporate the skills in our behavior toward our patients. Additionally, I am a part of an evaluation team that discusses differential diagnosis, risk management, and disposition planning. I also receive insightful didactics weekly, group supervision, and I am a part of a Latinx consult team.

Through these clinical experiences, I grow from the insights that I am gaining, and I am learning how to recognize automatic assumptions and developed better self-awareness. This position has affords me the opportunity to work directly with a range of social identities and psychopathologies.

I am able to connect with the community, which I consider myself a part of. It is an honor to serve comprehensive and culturally sensitive interventions for monolingual Spanish and English speaking patients.

Erin Burke

My name is Erin Burke, and I am a psychology extern at the Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital of NewYork-Presbyterian School-Based Mental Health Program. This externship program provides a rigorous training experience working with a diverse population of children and families conducting individual and collateral family therapy in a New York City public school, providing PCIT in the pediatric psychiatry department of the hospital, and conducting neuropsychological evaluations at the Promise Program.

On a typical day, I begin by conducting neuropsychological testing at the Promise Program, a grant-funded program that helps provide testing and educational advocacy to children for families with limited resources. Following testing, I attend supervision with my testing supervisor, where I am trained on new neuropsychological tests, gain feedback on my reports, and learn about the intricacies of assessment diagnosis. Next, I attend individual supervision with my clinical supervisor, where I review videotaped sessions, engage in clinical conceptualization, and receive feedback and guidance on how to provide the highest quality care to my patients. After supervision, I lead a Zones of Regulation group at my assigned elementary school with my clinical supervisor, where we help teach children how to regulate their emotions and learn how to engage in prosocial behavior with other children. Finally, I end my day by conducting a Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) case with a Predoctoral Intern and a PCIT-certified trainer to help families learn how to build attachment bonds with their children and learn an effective discipline strategy. I also see children at my school for individual therapy and meet with parents and teachers for collateral sessions.

What I have valued most about this externship is being able to train with a team of mental health professionals that demonstrate profound care and cultural humility in providing quality mental health services to the surrounding community. Through working with this team, I am learning how to advance my therapy and assessment skills and provide quality psychological care to my patient population.

A Day in the Life of an Intern - Adult Track

Kelsey Power

My name is Kelsey Power. I am an adult track psychology Intern at NYP/Columbia University Medical Center. My experience as a psychology intern is one of wearing many hats and shifting sets throughout my day. I begin my day generally by attending rounds at the New York Psychiatric Institute on a research-based eating disorders inpatient unit. One of the unique aspects of the training philosophy at CUMC is the importance of being exposed to varying modalities of treatment and mechanisms of treatment delivery. This is offered through a thoughtful, lengthy enough experience working for 6 months on an inpatient unit and 6 months with a specialized outpatient treatment team. On the inpatient unit, I am able to work with individuals in treatment for an eating disorder throughout the entirety of their stay, often up to three months. This is an incredibly unique opportunity to be exposed to both long-term inpatient work and the marriage of research and behavioral clinical protocols. It also exposes me to thinking about treatment from varying aspects of our patients' experience through the lenses of the interdisciplinary team including nursing staff, psychiatry, nutrition, and activity therapy.

Throughout the rest of my day, I am engaged in didactics, supervision, neuropsychological testing, and outpatient therapy appointments including couples, individual, and group work. The training offered through the Internship at NYP/CUMC requires me to manage multiple ways of thinking about individuals, their families, and the larger community and cultural influences involved in their lives. Each supervision, of which there are 8, is geared towards isolating differing nuances of my patients' experience and offering me the freedom to think aloud and struggle with the complexities of delivering competent, effective care. It has been a wonderful opportunity to learn from experts in different fields of psychology including psychodynamic, behavioral, cognitive, and group/family modalities.

As an Intern, I feel encouraged to find my own way of working that feels authentic to who I am as a psychologist. I am supported in this journey by a rigorous and thoughtful training experience embedded within an institution filled with bright, passionate, and curious people.

A Day in the Life of an Intern - Child Track

Tim Stahl

My name is Tim Stahl and I am one of the current interns in the child track. Being an intern here at Columbia has provided me with an invaluable breadth of challenging and exciting training experiences.

The internship includes unique opportunities for each intern, in addition to shared training opportunities, which make for a week packed with a multitude of learning experiences. While the bulk of our clinical work focuses on providing services to children and their families at Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital (CHONY), we also provide weekly outpatient psychotherapy to adults and conduct intake evaluations in that clinic. We all also provide family therapy, and conduct neuropsychological and diagnostic evaluations to children, adolescents, and emerging adults. Outside of these shared experiences, we each have different schedules based on specialty rotations within the child and adolescent outpatient clinic that best fit our own clinical interests. For my internship experience, I chose to work with children and families within the Child Anxiety and Depression clinic, with a particular focus in providing trauma-informed psychotherapies, and the Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)/Home Based Crisis Intervention Program. By providing treatment in these different clinics and rotations, I am receiving further training in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and DBT models of treatment while also receiving training in family systems, psychodynamic and interpersonal treatment modalities. Outside of clinical work, we attend a series of didactics focused on providing various evidence-based treatments, psychopharmacology, and working with diverse populations while also attending team meetings to discuss shared cases with Child Psychiatry Fellows. There is never a dull day!

Interspersed throughout my week is several hours of individual supervision for each of my rotations, allowing me to focus on specific treatment frameworks. This has strengthened my knowledge of different treatment approaches and has helped me to foster my own therapeutic style that calls upon a multitude of evidence-based theories and intervention techniques. One of the strengths of this internship is its dedication in flexibly applying evidence-based practice to the highly diverse community in Washington Heights, and its surrounding neighborhoods. For me, this has allowed me to enhance my skill set as a bilingual trainee through providing services, conducting evaluations, and receiving supervision from Spanish-speaking supervisors. The staff at CHONY is so dedicated to cultural adaptations to treatment that they have even added a weekly bilingual seminar this year for me and my co-intern to aid our professional development as bilingual child psychologists.

What I value most about my internship experience so far is the multidisciplinary teamwork that pervades every aspect of the services provided at CHONY. The open-door policy of the CHONY staff makes for a welcoming and supportive training environment, which is crucial for the busy and exciting day-to-day activities of a child intern. Perhaps the best part of the day is when all the child interns are in our offices together to be able to bond over our experiences, challenges, and (of course) eating lots of snacks.

A Day in the Life of a Postdoctoral Fellow

Adhithi Rajan

My name is Dr. Adhithi Rajan and I am a Clinical Psychology Post-Doctoral Fellow in Midtown NYC within Columbia University Irving Medical Center’s Department of Psychiatry. The clinical fellowship offers me a specialization in integrative treatment for Affective and Personality Disorders.

I completed my undergraduate and Master’s degree in Psychology in India, followed by a doctorate degree in Clinical Psychology at the Wright Institute in Berkeley. My predoctoral psychology internship at Columbia University-New York Presbyterian Hospital focused on treatments of adult psychopathology especially in dual-diagnosis, mood, personality and complex trauma, with specialized rotations in dialectical behavior therapy and eating disorders. My doctoral research studied meaning making mechanisms in caregivers of patients with psychosis in relation to constructing brief family intervention protocols.

As a postdoctoral fellow in Psychiatry, I see adult outpatients with complex presentations of mood, anxiety, personality and trauma and provide both individual and group treatment using Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Psychodynamic Therapy with a relational and justice lens, and Trauma Recovery-focused intervention. In terms of group therapy, I run four DBT groups with focus on skills, stress management, and LGBTQ issues. This is a strong fellowship for independent work and training, where I get to utilize the team in peer supervision in addition to my individual case supervisions. This scaffolding is balanced with the opportunity to weave in clinical cases of my individual interest and collaborate with other teams like Columbia Day Program, Smithers Clinic, and Women’s Program.

The fellowship aids me to develop independent clinical thinking, utilize team support effectively, and hone my skills in collaborating with various clinical providers, all of which are crucial for a solid clinical repertoire in combined care systems.

Katelyn Selver

My name is Katelyn Selver and I am a second-year postdoctoral fellow in pediatric neuropsychology at the Promise Program at Columbia University Medical Center. Promise is a program that provides comprehensive neuropsychological evaluations and educational advocacy for underserved youth with learning and neurodevelopmental disorders, along with comorbid psychiatric and medical conditions. I have always found neuropsychological testing to be fascinating, and over the course of my training here, I have been afforded the opportunity to further cultivate that passion while refining my skills and expertise.

I start my day at 9:00 or 9:30 with testing. We typically see children and adolescents for two full days of testing in order to complete all the testing necessary. Comprehensive neuropsychological testing requires us to evaluate a child’s level of functioning across a variety of domains including his or her cognitive functioning, academic skills, memory abilities, learning style, ability to sustain attention, executive functioning skills, language abilities, fine-motor development, and psychiatric functioning. If that sounds like a lot to you, it is; but it is really important to hone in on a child’s specific area(s) of deficit(s) in order to make targeted recommendations to ensure that the child is able to succeed in his or her academic and social environment. Testing sessions typically last around 5 hours, with an hour for a lunch break and plenty of breaks for games and rest in between. We are asking these kids to do a lot of work, and for most of them, we are asking them to do things that are extremely challenging for them. As such, it is important to keep it fun when we can and provide lots of positive feedback for all the hard work and effort they are putting in.

I typically wrap up testing around 3:00PM. The remainder of my afternoon varies significantly from day-to-day. Sometimes, I attend didactic seminars on different areas relevant to my scope of practice. Some of my favorites have been seminars discussing bilingual language development, prenatal exposure to substances, and autism. I also participate in weekly individual and group supervision meetings. I am fortunate to receive supervision from Dr. Meghan Tomb and Dr. Jaci Zocca. Their knowledge base is extensive and they have been generous in guiding both my clinical and professional development. In addition to these responsibilities, I also provide supervision to an extern at the Promise Program. As an early-career psychologist, this experience has been so valuable to me, as I hope to continue supervising as I progress in my career.

On days when I do not have testing, I am usually writing reports, or meeting with parents to provide them with feedback on their child’s evaluation. I am so fortunate to have the opportunity to work closely with our educational coordinator team who provide an essential service to our families. They are the ones responsible for attending IEP meeting with parents to ensure that the recommendations we make in our evaluations are implemented in the child’s academic programming. When I am available, I also attend IEP meetings with our educational coordinators and families to provide additional support and advocacy. I have learned so much about the education system in New York through my work with the educational coordinator team, and I know that knowledge will be valuable as I progress in my career. I also try to attend pediatric psychiatry grand rounds, neurology grand rounds, and hematology/oncology grand rounds where I am exposed to the most current research in my field, as well as related disciplines.

What I have valued most about my experience at Columbia is the sense of community and emphasis on teamwork. Between supervision meetings and the open-door policy of all staff and faculty on the floor, I always feel like I always have someone to turn to with questions, consultations, and the occasionally necessary pep talk. One of the daily activities I look forward to most is laughing with my awesome co-fellow, doing informal peer supervision, and bonding over challenges we are facing. My experience as a postdoc at Columbia has been exciting and rewarding. I look forward to what this year holds!