Innovations and Adjustments in Internship and Field Experience From Non-Traditional For-Profit Education

Innovations and Adjustments in Internship and Field Experience From Non-Traditional For-Profit Education

V. Wayne Leaver, Erika Pineros, Moriah Haefner
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-9098-0.ch010
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This chapter presents an overview of innovations and adjustments made by for-profit non-traditional education in the areas of recruitment, orientation, use of technology, focusing on the development of the whole person, life-long learners, and leaders, with special emphasis on internships in psychology and counseling. Many of the insights of non-traditional for-profit education have been adopted and incorporated into more traditional campus-based programs. Innovation and adaptation continue to drive progress in internships.
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Introduction And Background

Non-traditional for-profit education emerged to meet the needs of adult learners who, because of time constraints and distance, had limited opportunities to earn a degree from a traditional campus-based program. Learners in psychology and counseling sought an accredited degree that met the requirements of state licensing boards and the expectations of professional organizations in their fields of study. To meet these needs, non-traditional institutions had to be creative and adaptive as accrediting bodies applied the same standards to both non-traditional and traditional universities’ programs.

Among the experiences learners reported were frustration that there were few programs that would allow them to continue their full- or part-time jobs and be a learner in a counseling or psychological program that included a practicum and internship. They expressed frustration that some programs required they do practicum or internship in a pre-existing site with a pre-approved supervisor and were reluctant to accept or approve new sites and new supervisors, especially when they were located at a long distance from the university. Some for-profit non-traditional institutions did not provide their online learners with possible internship sites or locations in the different states or locations around the world where they lived. This poses and continues to pose frustration and difficulty for students to complete their psychology or counseling degrees. Some also required internships at the bachelor’s level, which is not common practice, thus placing barriers on the non-traditional students to find sites that would allow them to intern at that level.

Prior to the acceptance of video conferencing, new proposed supervisors would have to travel to the university in many cases for a face-to-face interview, often without compensation. The early adapting of video conference by for-profit non-traditional schools changed that and reduced frustration for learners and on-site supervisors. When video conferencing and taping became more widely accepted, first by for-profit non-traditional schools, frustration levels of the learner and the on-site supervisor were reduced. Slowly, more non-profit traditional schools and programs adopted these methods to varying degrees.

A slightly different problem that cause stress and worry for learners was the required classes for interns with a faculty person who was not their on-site supervisor. Learners expressed concerns about maintaining a healthy marriage, relationship with their children and their job. Traditional schools and programs usually held these classes on campus and in the early evening. Traditional programs saw this as a way to maintain oversight and control of quality of the learner and monitor the work of the on-site supervisor.

For-profit non-traditional schools relied on video conferencing and recording for this with review by the coordinator of internship. On-site supervisors expressed appreciation for this approach not only because they did not have to travel but some said it showed confidence and trust in them by the program.

As time passed a group on interns would meet online in a conference video call with the class supervisor allowing them to receive feedback from their co-learners as well as the class supervisor. The on-site supervisor usually did not participate. Many interns experienced this as a very positive experience as they had the input of several people on a given class presentation. Participants reported they felt little stress in these meetings because of the class faculty person’s guidance and the connections they developed with other interns.

Negative feedback from the faculty and fellow interns was softened by a “sandwich” approach. Praise areas where corrections could be made, and a conclusion that supported the interns’ efforts. The class faculty person also liked this timing and approach using video conferencing. Often the faculty would have intern presenters submit by email a brief paper in which the intern would use different lenses to present information on the client.

As time has passed, many traditional programs still require face-to-face meeting of small groups of learners to present cases. Faculty feel this is more life realistic. However, with COVID-19 restrictions, these in-person groups have been replaced by video sessions.

In general, both traditional and for-profit non-traditional learners report they feel treated with respect by faculty and on-site supervisors. Both groups report being appreciative that they are allowed to receive financial support from their internship site as long as it is a separate job in an entirely different department unrelated to their internship.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Whole Person: The multiple aspects of a person, including behavior, affect, somatic, self-image, cognition, relationships, and other aspects a person might use to describe themselves.

Lifelong Learning: A concept that reflects the idea that learning continues throughout a person’s life, can be intentional and organized or from general life experiences.

Leadership: The ability to listen, understand people, and help them to realize their aims, goals, and potential.

Innovation: Adjustments and creative responses to needs of students.

Internship: An approved program where learners provide psychological or counseling services under the guidance of an approved faculty member or supervisor.

Technology: Electronic recording, transmission, and storage systems used in the fields of counseling and psychology.

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