The Florida Department of Corrections is now the third largest state corrections system in the country and is considered a national leader in corrections due to its innovations and insistence on quality. Health Services is an integral and constitutionally required element in the Florida Department of Corrections’ services, and is responsible for the physical and mental care of all offenders in its care, custody, and control. To meet the mental health needs of all offenders we have several levels of care, including outpatient, and four levels of inpatient care: crisis stabilization, transitional care, infirmary care, and the Correctional Mental Health Institute (court ordered inpatient treatment).
Interns will have the opportunity to treat patients from across the full breadth of our inmate population. Our patients include minimum, medium and close custody as well as close management and death row offenders, although work with death row inmates is not guaranteed. Interns may work with inmates with a variety of physical ailments and impairments, including chronic, progressive disorders, and visual, hearing, and ambulation limitations. The interns will also care for incarcerated patients who suffer from a wide array of mental disorders, ranging from serious, chronic mental illness and progressive disorders, to transient crisis based disturbances. The full spectrum of mental disorders may be seen. However, most commonly treated disorders will include the following: depressive, anxiety, psychotic, organic, substance abuse, cyclic mood, borderline, schizoid, schizotypal, antisocial and narcissistic. Developmental disorders such as mental retardation and learning disabilities are also seen, and special efforts to identify and care for these vulnerable offenders are undertaken.
The patient population served is racially, culturally, and socially diverse. The racial composition is 50% African American, 46% white, 3% Hispanic, and 1% self-identified as other. Our interns work primarily with men but may also work with some male and female youthful offenders, and some adult females. Some patients have been physicians and lawyers, while others have little education and have been homeless. Sixty three percent of our inmates have not achieved General Equivalency Diploma (GED) preparation literacy skills. Some are from other countries and speak other languages, with a significant proportion speaking Spanish. About 5% of inmates are non-U.S. citizens, with the largest number coming from Cuba, Mexico, and various Central and South American nations.
Multidisciplinary Team work is essential to successful work within the Florida Department of Corrections. A typical multidisciplinary team is employed for mental health service delivery that involves the integration of the patient with psychological, medical, and nursing staff. However, coordination and cooperation between mental health and security staff is another component to the interdisciplinary teamwork required to work within the Corrections System.
The internship mission is to provide training that will produce postdoctoral/entry level psychologists who have the requisite knowledge and skills for successful entry into the practice of clinical psychology in general clinical or correctional settings and eventually become licensed psychologists. Therefore, the internship endeavors to create solidly trained generalists while simultaneously affording opportunities for specialization in the role of psychology in corrections. The mission of the internship is consistent with and fits well within the Florida Department of Corrections’ mission as well as its vision, mission values and goals.
The Florida Department of Corrections’ vision, mission, values and goals are:
Inspiring success by transforming one life at a time.
Provide a continuum of services to meet the needs of those entrusted to our care, creating a safe and professional environment with the outcome of reduced victimization, safer communities and an emphasis on the premium of life.
Safety remains a priority, in everything we do, for our staff, inmates, offenders and the public. Looking forward, technology will allow us to take an innovative approach toward creating safer environments.
We must be accountable to those under our supervision, our fellow members and most importantly, the people of Florida through fiscally sound policy and strategic goals that complement our mission and vision.
Fairness and Integrity
We must always be fair and act with integrity. Our officers face difficult situations every day. We expect them to rise above these testing circumstances and be professional at all times.
Finally, we must be innovative in our approach to building a modern Department of Corrections. I expect Florida to serve as a national leader in correctional policy and embrace a best in class approach to creating policies that promote success for our supervised population.
Talent Development: We will invest in our members for their professional development, growth and success.
Inmate/Offender Programs: We will implement rehabilitative programs that support a continuum of services for inmates and offenders, resulting in a successful transition into the community.
Communications: We intend to promote a collaborative and transparent communications framework that engages all members and stakeholders.
Environment: We intend to provide healthy, sustainable and compassionate environments that are the foundation of our values.
The Department of Corrections is invested in the internship program as a hallmark of excellence and as a “Train and Retain” program. The Department is involved in the training of a number of professionals including psychiatry residents, medical students and psychology residents. For this reason, rotations and other training opportunities are designed to enhance the students’ training and skills rather than for the convenience of other staff. The internship provides short-term and long-term benefits for the Florida Department of Corrections. An excellent training environment ensures high quality, in-depth patient assessment and care, and is considered professionally and intellectually stimulating for our staff. Additionally, a rewarding internship experience may lead the interns to seek employment within the Florida Department of Corrections after graduation. Both factors provide impetus to create and maintain a high-caliber training program.
Maintaining membership in the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers (APPIC) and attaining accreditation by the American Psychological Association (APA) are goals of the program. Our first internship class began in July of 2007 allowing us to apply for and gain membership in APPIC in the Fall of 2007 as we had targeted. We obtained APA accreditation in November 2010 and the next site visit will be held in 2016.
Philosophy and Training Model
The Florida Department of Corrections Doctoral Internship Program in Clinical Psychology is organized around a Practitioner-Scholar Model of the relationship of science to practice, where scientific training is integrated into the practice training component (Stoltenberg et al., 2000.) The program is designed to allow our interns to use their clinical experiences as opportunities to apply scientific concepts. Additionally, the program structure is guided by a competency based model in which training activities, supervision, and evaluations by supervisors, peers and self are designed to give interns opportunities to progressively develop and then demonstrate competency in each area delineated in our goals and objectives (Kaslow et al., 2009). Finally, we adhere to a training philosophy of experiential learning to train and prepare our interns. Classroom knowledge and written test assessment of information is an appropriate measure of basic knowledge but is insufficient to produce or measure competency in the practice of psychology. Therefore, we provide opportunities for our interns to apply knowledge through concrete clinical experiences, abstract conceptualization, reflective observation, and active experimentation. Experiential learning produces awareness, knowledge, skills, attitudes and the ability to apply these with increasing appropriateness to their future experiences.
Applicants who come from scientist-practitioner graduate programs should find that our internship program complements, and is consistent with, the general long-term goals of a scientist-practitioner training program. However, primary research is not a requirement of the program. Interns are expected to be knowledgeable consumers of psychological research and practice in a manner that is guided by psychological theory and research. In order to complete their internship they are required to demonstrate an advanced level of competency in the provision of evidence-based psychological services that are appropriately sensitive to individual and cultural diversity. We provide our interns with progressive training, clinical experiences, opportunities for self-reflection, and supervision by faculty and peers in order to prepare them to competently incorporate strategies of scholarly/evidence based inquiry that is sensitive to individual and cultural diversity into their provision of psychological services. Mechanisms used to establish competency levels include live-supervision, video/audio tape review of therapy sessions, formal presentations designed to showcase their competencies, as well as supervisor, peer and self evaluation.
The internship consists of 2,000 hours over a one year period. Nineteen hundred hours of the interns’ time is paid for and must be spent working at the Department of Corrections Facilities. An additional 100 hours that the interns are not paid for, are required for completion of the internship. These hours are designed to allow the intern to participate in professional activities that might occur outside of the Department. For example, they may be used for attendance or participation in conferences, for dissertation defense, for research projects, research or for other professional activities. These professional activities must be approved ahead of time by the Training Director.
The internship begins September 1 and ends on August 31 of the succeeding year. The Florida Department of Corrections funds 4 interns per year. The interns are based at Zephyrhills Correctional Institution. They are provided with an office, desk, filing cabinet, network computer, access to a phone, clerical support a common printer, copier, scanner and general office supplies. They are supervised by at least three licensed psychologist during the year.
Interns will work at several facilities during the year and be supervised by a licensed psychologist at each one. Interns receive a comprehensive orientation to training opportunities, expectations and policies at the beginning of the year. The interns’ ability to properly use common assessment instruments is evaluated at the beginning of the year. They are also provided with direct observation of their therapy at the beginning of the year. They also initially participate in group therapy with the residents. They are provided with supervision of the audio or video tapes of their therapy sessions. Later in the year, they will supervise masters level staff in the provision of group therapy.
The Florida Department of Corrections is an Equal Opportunity Employer.
Certain veterans and spouses of veterans receive preference in employment
by the state as provided by Chapter 295, Florida Statutes, and are encouraged to apply.