UW-Whitewater psych internship earns high levels of accreditation

Calahan Steed, Journalist

Mental health is becoming a major focal point in the country. That is why the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater psychology department is looking to stay ahead of the curve by preparing their students for their future.

UW-Whitewater, along with UW-Madison, are now the only universities in Wisconsin to earn accreditation from the American Psychological Association for their doctoral psychology internship program. Theresa DeWalt, a psychologist at the Ambrose Center, is happy with the accreditation because students have to complete an internship to complete their degree and become a licensed psychologist.

“It was important for us to become accredited and so the process allows them to receive the training and in-depth supervision they need in order to complete their doctoral training and become licensed as psychologists,” said DeWalt.

The U.S. Census Bureau reported that over 18 million college students had experienced an “overwhelming anxiety” in 2017. DeWalt has seen a rise of mental health cases at UW-Whitewater as well.

“We’ve seen a lot of increase in severity of mental health concerns for our students over the years,” said DeWalt.

However, the counseling that many students have received from the University Health and Counseling Services has helped with their academic performance.

The UHCS reports 95% of students who were thinking about leaving school before counseling have either graduated or are still enrolled. Jim Freiburger, executive director and psychologist, is proud of the services provided by UW-Whitewater.

“I think the accreditation by the American Psychological Association really speaks to the level and quality of care that we provide to the students here.”

Freiburger isn’t the only one who is enthusiastic about the mental care provided at UW-Whitewater. The American Psychological Association reported current and alumni interns were very enthusiastic about their training experiences. Freiburger stresses the importance of continuing to provide excellent care for students.

With the increased numbers and the increased acuity, we really need to make sure that we’re utilizing the best practice standards models and really functioning and really being able to give care at a high level,” said Freiburger.

Over 90% of students who have received counseling from the UHCS would return back. 91% of students who received treatment would even refer a friend to counseling services. The UHCS is fully prepared if students need counseling.

“In order to meet those needs so students can be successful here is something we have a good breath and depth of mental health providers to help meet those needs,” said DeWalt.

Even though the accreditation applies to the doctoral internship program, students in the master’s-level internship will receive the same training and experience.

“In order for them to complete their degree, they have to complete an internship. It’s a national kind of wide process where people get matched to certain sites throughout the country and in order for them to really have the best chance of getting a license in any state,” said DeWalt.

The University Health and Counseling Services has a history of excellence and will be continuing to help students.