Program Structure

SAPIC is an APA Accredited Internship Program

I. Introduction (Goal and Philosophy)

The primary focus and overarching goal, of SAPIC’s training is the development of professional identity from “intern” to “psychologist.” This is accomplished by challenging interns to develop confidence and trust in their own clinical judgment and abilities. While this approach is demanding, particularly in the early stages of the internship year, the emphasis on the intern’s attainment of professional confidence results in substantial benefits. SAPIC’s overall training model is a developmental-mentoring model, which focuses on using supervisory relationships to further the development of future psychologist/professionals. Through the mentor relationship interns gain support in developing their confidence in their professionalism, as well as individual attention toward the development of their professional identities. SAPIC is the best fit for interns who are interested in becoming skilled generalists; proficient in working with a wide range of diagnoses, populations (age, ethnicity, etc.), settings, and modalities.

2. Internship Training Goals

  • To help interns develop a “psychologist” identity that includes success in integrating knowledge, skills, and attitudes for competence in professional conduct and ethical and legal matters.
  • To further develop the intern’s clinical knowledge and skill to an advanced level commensurate with completing a doctoral degree in psychology (with regards to assessment, interventions, monitoring outcomes, consultation, and trainings).
  • To train interns in an advanced level of competence regarding individual and cultural diversity (applied to knowledge, skill and attitude).
  • To further develop the intern’s knowledge and skills in psychological testing with varied cultural and clinical populations.

3. Host Agencies

La Frontera Arizona is a community behavioral health agency, with a mission to provide quality primary care in an atmosphere of dignity, respect, and cultural sensitivity. La Frontera Arizona consists of La Frontera Center, 16 clinics located in Tucson, Arizona, as well as Empact, a suicide prevention center in Phoenix, Arizona, and multiple La Frontera New Mexico clinics located in the Southwest corridor of New Mexico. La Frontera Center offers outpatient behavioral health, and full array of community health and preventive services. La Frontera Center has been serving residents of Pima County, Arizona, for over 40 years.  In addition to providing preventative and direct mental health services, La Frontera also delivers supportive housing, vocation rehabilitation, and a variety of other services. La Frontera Center also conducts and participates in numerous research projects.

  • La Frontera Center has multiple clinics, treatment centers, residential complexes, in-patient and out-patient facilities, and offices in multiple communities around the state:
  • La Frontera Center Partners with the Arizona Department of Health, and the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS).

Sierra Tucson is a 138-bed, internationally renowned inpatient treatment center providing individualized treatment for addictions, chronic pain, trauma, eating disorders, and mood disorders from a multidisciplinary perspective. Sierra Tucson consists of a Level 1 and a Level 2 facility on the same site. The Level 1 portion of the facility (14 beds) is a locked, inpatient hospital designed for safety and security while providing detoxification, crisis management, containment, and transitional treatment in a comfortable environment. The Level 2 portion of the facility is a Residential community designed to provide treatment and integrative services for patients seeking expert care for sobriety, resolution of trauma, stability of mood, and/or chronic pain management. Residents typically stay for 30-45 days of treatment.

The psychology department consists of clinical, educational, and neuropsychologists. The primary role of the psychology department at Sierra Tucson is to provide psychological assessments. These include psychometric test evaluations and are used to inform case conceptualization, diagnostics, treatment planning, and aftercare planning.

The University of Arizona’s Strategic Alternative Learning Techniques (SALT) Center at the University of Arizonais an academic support program for students with learning and attention challenges. The department operates within the Division of Student Affairs at the University of Arizona and provides a comprehensive set of programs and services to enrolled students. SALT’s goal is to provide a balance of both challenge and support as we foster the academic success of SALT students.
4. Rotation Descriptions
SAPIC 2014-2015 Overview (subject to change)
SAPIC’s Primary tracks include (descriptions are below):

  1. New Life (Formerly Intensive Recovery Team): Serious Mental Illness & Developmentally Disabled (1 intern)
  2. Child and Family Services Program (Formerly Children’s East Clinic & Young Adult Program): Child and Family (2 interns)
  3. Casa de Vida: Co-occurring Residential Program (2 interns)
  4. University of Arizona SALT Center (1 intern)
  5. Sierra Tucson (1 intern)

5.Primary Rotations
1) Serious Mental Illness & Developmentally Disabled

Southwest Clinic and New Life are outpatient sites which provide experience treating clients diagnosed with a serious mental illness in two different modalities. Southwest Clinic is an outpatient clinic offering treatment to over 1000 adult clients for serious mental illness, co-occurring disorders, and substance abuse. The population served is culturally diverse representing the highest number of Hispanic and homeless populations at La Frontera Center. Clients receive medication management, case management, individual and group therapy, health promotion, peer support, and out of office therapy services. The Southwest Clinic offers a wide variety of educational, vocational, skills-based and process groups. The intern will serve as a supplemental therapist for this team performing intake assessments for therapy services as well as delivering individual and group therapy.
New Life’s objective is to provide intensive and specialized resources to reduce the risk of harm to self and others, to prevent and reduce unnecessary hospitalizations, and their concurrent costs. To qualify for New Life services, clients must meet specific clinical criteria related to risk of harm to self and/or others, highly impaired status, co-morbidity and quality of their recovery environment.  These clients may be in crisis frequently, medication non-compliant, and acutely symptomatic. New Life also provides services for adult clients who are concurrently enrolled with the Arizona Department of Developmental Disabilities. The intern will serve as a psychology consultant and supplemental therapist for this team. The intern willalso conduct ongoing clinical assessments for the New Life program, as well as provide group therapy services.

2) Child and Family Services Program
The Child and Family Services Program was formerly known as 2 separate tracks, Children’s East Clinic and The Young Adult Program. We accept two primary track psychology interns into the Child and Family Services Program each internship year. Interns from other tracks can do “minor” rotations in this Program. The Child and Family Services Program has multiple teams at various clinics throughout Tucson, Arizona. Our Program provides a wide range of services including office services and home-based child and family services, birth to five services, Spanish speaking services, school based services, adolescent and young adult services, and group therapy services.

Each intern will receive clinical supervision from the supervising psychologist, and administrative supervision from the Director of the Child and Family Services Program and/or a Child and Family Clinical supervisor. The purpose is to give each intern rich clinical experience and support, as well as exposure to administrative experience in a community based mental health setting.
Each intern will be assisted to develop a self-designed clinical experience that is relevant to their professional goals. We encourage the interns to pursue a broad range of clinical exposure working with children, adolescents, and their families. We expect this experience to include: 1. family systems work, 2. clinical work (including assessment and direct services) with varying age ranges and clinical populations (ages 0-21), 3. administrative experience, 4. research and program design, and 5. consultation, training, and supervision opportunities. In addition, we expect each intern to participate in the year long weekly seminar on family systems theory and practice, and to assist in a clinical supervision group for master’s level child and family therapists.

Due to the rich professional opportunities available in our Program, in 2012 our Child and Family rotations were identified as being “a strong family psychology training internship” by the APA Division 43 (Society for Family Psychology).

General expectations of our interns:

  1. Typically, the primary track interns will maintain a caseload of 10-12 active cases. Caseloads may vary depending on other clinical responsibilities assigned. Direct services will include individual therapy, family therapy, and group therapy.
  2. Early on in the rotation, if the intern opts to work with Child Protective Services cases, the intern may have the opportunity to attend assigned PPH’s (Preliminary Protective Hearings), and TDM (Team Decision Making) meetings for designated Child Protective Services cases. Later in the rotation, the intern may have the opportunity to provide expert testimony at the Juvenile Court.
  3. Throughout the internship, our interns may have the opportunity to assist with intake assessments of urgent response clients and/or general intake cases.
  4. Our interns will be encouraged to be involved as family co-therapists with staff clinicians on several cases during the early stages of the major rotation. During the course of the internship, the intern will be expected to provide increasingly independent family therapy services.
  5. Our interns will be available to consult with clinical staff as needed regarding clinical issues, assessment issues, and professional practice issues. We often ask our interns to assist with evidence based program design or to help assess the efficacy of existing programs.
  6. The intern will perform psychological assessments of children and adolescents in the Child and Family programs at La Frontera. Specific requirements are set by SAPIC guidelines.
  7. Our interns will participate in weekly clinical supervision with the supervising psychologist, and scheduled administrative supervision with the Director of the Child and Family Services Program and/or a Child and Family Clinical supervisor. The intern will have the opportunity to attend administrative and community based meetings to expand knowledge and skills for negotiating service provision in a community mental health setting. The intern will be expected to attend clinical team meetings, and Child and Family Team meetings as appropriate and possible.
  8. Our interns will assist the supervising psychologist in clinical group supervision sessions with masters-level clinicians during the major rotation. Group supervision sessions will cover topics such as professional ethics, cultural sensitivity and competence, diagnosis and assessment, treatment models, and case consultation.
  9. Our interns will be expected to become familiar with research on family systems, and will attend the supervising psychologist’s weekly year long seminar on family systems theory and practice.
  10. Our interns will participate in regularly scheduled review and evaluation meetings with the Psychology Internship Director, the Child and Family Services Program supervising psychologist, and with the Director of the Child and Family Services Program.
  11. Our interns will videotape and/or audiotape active clinical cases for “live” supervision with the supervising psychologist. The intern is expected to bring monthly audio/videotapes for supervision.
  12. Our interns will keep the administrative supervisor and clinical supervisors informed regarding her/his schedule and whereabouts. It is understood that the administrative supervisor has administrative authority, although the primary responsibility for clinical supervision of the intern is with the supervising psychologist, SAPIC faculty, and unit supervisors.
  13. Our interns are expected to work late (e.g., to 6-7 p.m.) 1-2 evenings a week to accommodate scheduling of services for children and families.
  14. Our interns are expected to be active “team players” with La Frontera staff, with community professionals, and with the children and families we serve.

3) Casa de Vida/Ranch: Co-occurring Residential Program
Casa de Vida is a 53-bed residential treatment center for people with substance dependence and co-occurring disorders. Casa de Vida provides a highly structured long-term program, up to 6 months residential followed by 3 months of aftercare, to clients who are committed to their recovery.
Clients/consumers at Casa de Vida learn and participate in various recovery groups, gain knowledge about drugs and addictions, and learn ways to improve their mental and physical health.   The structure is intensive. It includes more than 30 hours of structured treatment weekly with the goal of providing support to clients in the initial stages of their recovery. In addition, clients receive support and guidance in securing employment and finding housing to further their ability to live healthy, happy, and productive lives.
During the major rotation, interns will have an opportunity to hone therapeutic skills in diagnosing and treating individuals with substance dependency, co-occurring disorders, and trauma. Interns are expected to be familiar, if not proficient, with evidenced-based practices such as Motivational Interviewing, Cognitive Processing Therapy, Seeking Safety, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, and SMART Recovery. The intern is a key player on the multidisciplinary team and will provide individual, couples, family, and group therapy. As an important part of the team, it is imperative the intern attend daily clinical staffings, and weekly and monthly trainings and all-staff meetings. There will also be an opportunity to conduct psychological assessments with individuals in treatment and to provide educational presentations to staff and clients. Casa de Vida utilizes the strengths of each intern to provide exemplary training experience while meeting the needs of the current clients. As such, the above is not a comprehensive list of the intern’s duties; we welcome your thoughts, creativity, and specific skills!
4) The Strategic Alternative Learning Techniques (SALT) Center
The Strategic Alternative Learning Techniques (SALT) Center at the University of Arizona is a nationally recognized, academic support program for college students with a learning disability or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).  Since 1980, the SALT Center and has become the most comprehensive program of its kind in the nation and has helped thousands of students successfully complete postsecondary education.  Using a comprehensive system of programs and services, the SALT Center serves more than 550 undergraduate and graduate students who come from across the nation and several countries each semester.  Each SALT student is assigned to a Learning Specialist whose role is to provide individual academic support and to assist students as they navigate through the University of Arizona.  Additionally, SALT students receive individualized educational planning and monitoring, assistance from certified tutors with coursework, and an array of workshops geared toward their individual academic needs, as well as other specialized services.

Psychological Services at the SALT Center provide SALT students the opportunity to receive on-site and individualized outpatient mental health services.  The Primary rotation at SALT offers the psychology intern the opportunity to gain in-depth, supervised experience conducting intake interviews, developing treatment plans, providing individual psychotherapy, and consulting with SALT staff and outside professionals.  Students in need of psychological services at SALT are referred by their Learning Specialist and represent a range of clinical presentations and mental health diagnoses consistent with a university population.  Over the course of the academic year, the intern will become adept treating a variety of clinical conditions in tandem with the attention and/or learning challenges specific to each student.  When necessary, the intern also facilitates referrals for medication evaluations, as needed to Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at the University of Arizona or to private providers in the Tucson community.

The Primary rotation at the SALT Center occurs during the academic year (early August through mid-May) or approximately 9 months of the calendar year.  At those times when the University of Arizona is not in session (summer and winter break), the SALT intern will work at La Frontera Center exclusively, providing brief therapy, curriculum development and intra-agency trainings to clinical teams. Opportunities for consultation, research activities, and providing group therapy may be available upon intern request.
Minor Rotations

Seven minor rotations are available, as well as the possibility for a self-design minor rotation. One intern per rotation will be assigned. Rotations are usually for 6 months, unless specified. Interns will be required to submit their top 3 choices and every effort will be made to match interns to one of their identified choices. In the case of a self-design minor rotation, a written proposal with clearly defined structure, guidelines and expectations must be submitted by the intern to the faculty for approval. In either case, interns will participate in their minor rotation for 8-10 hours a week, for about 24 weeks (2 rotations/year), to fill out their training experience.

Adult Therapy Services minor: The intern will participate as a clinician on the Adult Therapy Services team. During this minor rotation the intern will have opportunities to conduct:

  • One to two groups: one to co-facilitate with Dr. Penn, and the other optional and by intern’s design, per week.
  • Individual therapy (following an evidence based therapy (EBT) appropriate to the presenting problems).
  • The intern’s caseload can be tailored to interest and request including: specific populations, couples or families, and diagnoses.

Child/Family Systems: This minor may be an individualized creation based on the intern’s specific interests and clinical opportunities.  Numerous opportunities (e.g., one intern was a co-therapist with a family therapist) will be further explored and fleshed out.  Future interns could serve as co-therapist to various full time therapists, join treatment groups, provide child/family intakes, etc. SAPIC faculty, associated program managers, and interns will continue to discuss options for this minor rotation.

Testing and Training: In depth assessment and employee training: The assessment and training minor will be driven in part by referrals for neuropsychological, psychological, and psycho-educational assessments. When not assessing, interns will be a vital part in providing clinical training to new and ongoing staff (i.e., GAF, DSM-V, Cultural Competency, Trauma, and Best Practices). Trainings will be based on combining intern interests and areas of competence with requests that come through the training director. This rotation is fairly new; as such it will be exciting and will require the intern(s) to be flexible, adaptive, and innovative.

The Ranch: The Ranch is comprised of two houses, Thornydale Ranch and Mountain Rose. It is a 14-bed client-centered residential facility that offers a variety of evidenced-based services to promote the recovery process in a relaxing ranch setting. The schedule is structured but offers group choices to residents designed to meet their individual treatment and recovery goals. The Ranch offers a distinct therapeutic modality to clients, equine-assisted psychotherapy (when weather permits).  Interns will be trained in the EAGALA model by the Clinician and Equine Care Coordinator. No horse experience is necessary as interns will be co-facilitating sessions with the Equine Care Coordinator who is the horse professional. The Ranch offers interns a rare opportunity of working with staff and to provide training, consultation, and group design to meet the needs of the staff and clients in this unique therapeutic setting.

The SALT Center: There is an option for an intern to participate in a minor rotation at The University of Arizona’s SALT Center, depending on the intern’s schedule and time constraints, and on the needs of the SALT Center. The one-day a week minor could be a mini-version of the primary rotation, but only if the intern can commit to the entire academic year.   This is necessary in order insure continuity of care for the students during the complete academic year.

On the other hand, if the intern is interested in working on alternative activities such as program development or program evaluation within SALT (where program development and evaluation are on-going continuously), that may be arranged depending on intern interest and SALT need. In other words, a minor rotation at SALT is available but must be individually (and creatively!) arranged, and is not necessarily a fixed program. One hour of direct supervision is provided each week.

Program Development and Evaluation: The Administration of Community Behavioral Health:

The goal of this minor rotation is to give the intern experience at the broader level in service delivery, administration, program development, planning, and evaluation.   If you are considering a career (short or long) in community behavioral health (CBH), this will give you an idea of the workings behind service delivery. As with many non-profit agencies, the emphasis is on delivering service, but it takes thoughtful planning for effectiveness and sustainability. There will be several projects to oversee or develop. The expectation is not necessarily for the completion of the projects but for the intern to understand the process. The following are examples:

  • Facilitate an agency team to create an index of group therapy services, curriculum and materials, and evaluate for best practice standards.
  • Develop a plan for integrated health care group services, research programmatic services, put together 2-3 options, and meet with sites to develop strategies.
  • To understand a leadership role in CBH, will attend agency leadership meetings as the intern’s schedule will allow for.

Psychopharmacology: The Psycho-pharmacology minor rotation is one of our new minor options. In an effort to enhance the intern’s knowledge of medication treatment, working together with other therapeutic services, the intern will join the psychiatric team in weekly grand rounds; meet with the Chief Medical Officer monthly, attend psycho-pharmacology seminars monthly (required attendance, third Wednesday, 9:30-11am), and give short presentations on relevant topics (i.e., new wave of medications for substance abuse or over-prescribing medication for ADHD) to SAPIC team.Having set these standards, we are sure that this will be a positive, productive, and fun year.

APA Commission on Accreditation contact information:

American Psychological Association
Program Consultation and Accreditation
750 First Street, NE
Washington, DC 20002-4242
(202) 336-5979




Liz Dampsey, PhD
(520) 306-6922


EMPACT-Suicide Prevention Center, La Frontera center, La Frontera Mariachi and La Frontera Partners all are members of La Frontera Arizona

Translate »