Health Services

Clinical Training for Graduate Students

Advanced Clinical Training Program for Graduate Students

Williams College Psychological Counseling Service

Overview of Clinical Training Program

The Psychological Counseling Services (PCS) at Williams College offers psychiatric residents and graduate students in counseling, social work and psychology the opportunity for advanced clinical training in a college setting. The college student presents for treatment with a unique set of developmental and emotional issues. Through direct clinical experience, individual, and group supervision, and didactic seminars, the trainee will gain experience learning to identify, formulate, and treat the emotional difficulties unique to a college population.

PCS is staffed by licensed clinicians from several different disciplines (clinical psychology, counseling, psychiatry, social work). When discussing clinical work in weekly interdisciplinary meetings, the staff aims to foster an attitude of genuine curiosity and openness in an effort to advance the learning of staff and trainees alike. Although the clinical work of the staff is generally informed by psychodynamic and developmental theory and practice, other treatment strategies are often used including dialectical behavioral therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, group therapy, and pharmacotherapy. The staff also works to establish an integrated, mutually-informed treatment for students working with different disciplines including, when appropriate, students being treated for medical problems.

Clinical Context

Williams College consistently ranks as one of the most selective liberal arts colleges in the country, and as such, the students are intelligent, articulate and highly motivated. The student body is also diverse, with students coming from a wide range of racial, cultural and economic backgrounds. Each academic year, PCS provides comprehensive psychological and psychiatric services to approximately 30% of the student population. Students seeking treatment at PCS struggle with a broad spectrum of emotional difficulties, of varying degrees of severity.

In addition to providing the students with confidential psychological services, PCS is an integral part of the college community and is engaged in a number of outreach activities. Outreach activities include educational events, consultation to student and staff groups, and opportunities for students to meet more informally with PCS staff.

Clinical Opportunities

  • Individual Psychotherapy: The core feature of the training program is the opportunity to conduct individual psychotherapy. There is no limit on the number of sessions a trainee can see a student, and if clinically indicated, trainees may elect to see students more than once-weekly. This allows for the possibility of in-depth psychotherapy. Although the possibility for in-depth psychotherapy exists, many students elect to do shorter term work, often focused around a specific issue. This gives the trainee the opportunity to learn how to conduct time-limited psychotherapy.
  • Group Psychotherapy: Opportunity to co-facilitate group psychotherapy with a staff therapist. In past, groups have included process-oriented groups and mindfulness groups.
  • Outreach Program: Opportunity to become involved in PCS’s various outreach activities. These include organizing educational events for the larger college community; consulting to student groups;
    co-sponsoring events with other college departments; and staffing informal drop-in hours for students to discuss concerns and learn more about the psychological services available.

Educational Opportunities

  • Individual Supervision: Licensed members of counseling staff will provide ongoing psychotherapy supervision to trainees. Trainees are assigned a primary supervisor for the year who will meet with a trainee in weekly, one-hour individual supervision. In addition, trainees will receive a second hour of weekly supervision from a member of the staff.
  • Group Supervision: Once a week, trainees and staff meet in a two-hour meeting to discuss issues that arise in the clinical work with students.
  • Case Conferences: Twice a month, a trainee or staff member will present a detailed psychotherapy case focused around a particular clinical question. Trainees are asked to present two cases during the course of the year.
  • In-services: Twice a year, staff in-services covering a range of clinical issues will be led by a staff member or invited speaker. Past in-services have addressed attention deficit, eating disorders, substance abuse, among others.
  • Educational Seminars: Throughout the course of the year, trainees will attend weekly educational seminars led by a member of the psychotherapy staff. The seminars are organized into 3-4 week blocks and cover a wide range of clinical and theoretical topics. Past seminars have included psychodynamic theory and practice, dialectical behavioral therapy, neuroscience, multicultural and diversity issues, and psychotherapy in a college context.

Candidates for Training and the Selection Process
Trainees typically have had one or two years of previous practicum experience. Preference is given to applicants who have had at least one year of experience as a psychotherapist. We also welcome post-doctoral candidates. In the past, some trainees have stayed on for a second year of training. Each year, we typically accept four trainees. The selection process involves being interviewed by several staff members and attending a staff meeting.

Training Program Specifics

  • Training program runs from September-May (approximately 35 weeks; includes 4 weeks of vacation)
  • Minimum of 16 hours a week. Prefer 20 hours a week.
  • Trainee must be available from 9-12 noon on Wednesdays.
  • Unpaid position.
  • Begin accepting applications after January 1. Selection process is complete by the end of March.

To apply, submit a cover letter, vitae and two letters of recommendation to:

Craig Piers, Ph.D.
Director of Education and Training
Psychological Counseling Services, Williams College
105 The Knolls
Williamstown, Massachusetts 01267
(413) 597-2353
craig.piers@williams.edu