The Governing Board of the Illinois School Psychology Internship Consortium (ISPIC), as a collective body of university trainers, supervisors, administrators, and practitioners, has benefited from the perspectives of individuals who vary with regard to age, disability, ethnicity, language, sexual orientation, race, gender, religion, social economic status, and life experience. In addition, a review of the literature across disciplines has contributed to our intention that issues of diversity be a forethought rather than an afterthought in all aspects of the program.
ISPIC operates on the two principles described in Arredondo & Arciniega (2001). First, we consider ourselves a learning organization (Morgan, 1997). The members of the ISPIC community strive to notice and examine patterns or trends in the environment and to challenge our own norms and expectations. Self-study is an essential part of each Governing Board meeting and the on-going reflection on our consortium listserv. Secondly, we tackle teaching and practice of cultural-competence from a competency-based rather than a deficit-based approach. In other words, rather than viewing ourselves or our interns as culturally incompetent, we believe that we all, regardless of training or background, have some strengths upon which to build and something to contribute to the life-long learning of others.
The realization that nearly every interaction is a cross-cultural one serves as a filter through which we view each of our policies and procedures. Understanding this fact, we assert our intention to contribute to the development of culturally competent professional psychologists. Traditionally, we have found that interns coming into our program have at least a rudimentary knowledge of different cultural groups and some degree of cultural sensitivity or awareness. In addition, all interns have some level of experience in assessment, intervention, prevention, supervision, and consultation. We aim to develop a training environment where their capstone experience with regard to each of these skills first considers the unique cultural context within which it occurs.
This plan documents efforts to express the priority ISPIC places on attending to all kinds of group and individual differences. There are two areas of focus.
Opportunities for exchanges with racially diverse individuals.
According to the US Census Bureau report (2000), approximately 38% of the citizens of Illinois are racially or ethnically diverse (12% Hispanic/Latino, 15% African-American/Black, 11% Other) while school professionals are largely White/Non-Hispanic. The implications of this incongruity are vast. Three avenues to address this problem are being pursued.
A. Involvement of diverse training supervisors.
- Ten school psychologists of diverse racial/ethnic backgrounds were recruited to participate in the activities of ISPIC. These individuals serve both as educators and mentors.
- Primary supervisors solicit the contributions of diverse non-school psychology individuals at their sites to the training of their interns.
- Primary supervisors engage the intern in the work of the Diversity Committee at their respective sites.
- Materials are provided to our Partnering Sites regarding successful strategies for minority staff recruitment.
B. Exposure to diverse clientele. On average, 40-45% of interns’ service contacts are with minority children and families.
- ISPIC continues to recruit training sites in rural and urban areas where underserved populations do not typically access mental health services outside the schools.
- Training supervisors select cases for interns, which involve aspects of diversity, including students of different races.
C. Recruitment of diverse intern classes. Thirteen percent of all ISPIC trained interns have been racially or ethnically diverse. According to statistics on the US, approximately 15% of Ph.D. psychology graduates in 2002 and 2003 were minority students (Maton, Kohout, Wicherski, Leary, & Vinokurov, 2006). We are determined to attract racially/ethnically diverse applicants to our program, learn from them, provide them appropriate mentors, and retain them in the state. We have implemented several strategies to this end.
- Publishing and distributing our Diversity Plan to all Directors of APA-accredited school psychology training programs and urging them to share the information with their students.
- Posting advertisements on listservs recommended by the Black, Hispanic, Indian, and Asian American psychological associations.
- Obtaining grant funding to increase stipends for interns in sites with underserved populations.
- Investing time and financial resources in cohort development so that interns can receive social support from one another. For example, ISPIC provides mileage reimbursement for all events and dinner and hotels at Orientation and at the annual Illinois School Psychology Association Conference.
- Providing contact e-mails for applicants of color interested in receiving candid answers to their questions from current/former interns.
- Providing materials to interns relocating to Illinois regarding cultural contacts/resources of interest in the community.
- Adding a $1,000 stipend for two interns (diverse background preferred) to represent the intern class on the Governing Board. These interns also receive time and money to attend NASP or APA to present posters on the outcomes of the Diversity Plan and also to ensure that the assigned readings on the different areas of diversity are current.
- Paying for study materials and fees for the state certification exam. We also purchase study materials for the EPPP licensure exam for graduates who stay in Illinois.
- Assisting interns in locating post-internship employment where they can receive post-doctoral supervision or providing it for them.
Training curriculum to cultivate cultural competence.
A. Training Seminars. Interns attend monthly trainings where they receive didactic instruction in a service area and a related diversity topic. Beginning at orientation, training supervisors engage in open expression regarding power differentials and discuss differences related to language, race, SES, sexual orientation, and gender in professional settings as well as in service delivery.
B. Videos. Interns, training supervisors, and diverse mentors view on-line videos about cross-cultural service delivery where skills are modeled. They discuss with one another via the listserv what they have learned and how it applies to their own cases and settings.
Note: The Diversity Videos have been moved to the ISPIC Ning.
C. Assigned Readings. Interns prepare for trainings by reading articles regarding the particular diversity topic.
D. Competencies. Knowledge and application of best practices with diverse populations is a stand-alone competency. Being cognizant of one’s own basic assumptions and how they affect one personally and professionally is the premise for one of the assignments submitted by the interns. Attention to cultural and individual differences is also interwoven into the work products submitted for the other 10 competencies. Consistent with the practitioner-scientist training model, interns apply knowledge gleaned from the most current literature in their work with students and families. They implement a developmental-ecological approach which attends to the values and norms of the systems within which the student resides. And finally, because diverse groups are underrepresented in many studies on empirically-supported treatments (DHHS, 2001), interns gather data and monitor outcomes. Interns and their supervisors present their work at professional conferences.
E. Supervision. Supervisors utilize a uniform note format, which reminds them to attend to aspects of diversity. They often reflect on the process of cross-cultural supervision
F. National Speaker. We partner with professional organizations to bring one national speaker in the field of diversity each year. Time is arranged for discussion of a current topic with the intern cohort.