COVID-19 Changes to our Masters Practicum
Given the unprecedented challenges of providing training while in the global COVID-19 pandemic, several changes were made to the internship program with additional adaptations likely necessary over the course of the year. Much of this will hinge on CDC, state, and university guidelines. It is presently unclear what protocols will need to be in place at the start of the 2021-2022 training year.
While this is a challenging time to be a trainee, it is also an opportunity to practice flexibility and to learn things you never expected.
At present, any out-of-state travel requires a subsequent 5-day quarantine. WVU will be testing all employees for COVID-19 prior to starting in-person work. Significant changes to the training program are delineated in the categories below.
Most services are being provided via telehealth for the foreseeable future. At the beginning of the training year, trainees received specific training on provision of services within a telehealth environment. Our trainees provide telehealth services out of their Carruth Center offices to allow ease of access to senior staff for consultation and support. Although it is unlikely we would need to shift to all staff and also trainees to working from home, it is essential for interns to have a confidential and secure home environment from which to provide services in case this were to occur.
For the duration of the pandemic, in-person service delivery has been rare and typically only in the event of the Crisis Clinic. Such services are delivered with appropriate physical distancing and utilization of masks. Interns are unlikely to provide such crisis services independently until after a period of shadowing and co-facilitation. This depends on developmental level of the trainee and supervisory discretion. For any in-person services, strict sanitation protocols will need to be followed by staff and interns. If there is an improvement in the global health crisis, any return to in-person services more broadly will be done in a gradual manner.
Group Therapy Changes
CCPPS group offerings will take place via telehealth with the suspension of interpersonal process groups or trauma-focused group offerings. Primary group offerings will be skills groups, psychoeducational groups, and support groups. Our hope is that we will be able to broaden our group offerings later in the year should we be able to resume in-person group treatment.
CCPPS has suspended typical drop in hours. We instead offer a larger number of scheduled triage appointments. We maintain an in-person Crisis Clinic for higher-risk students who can be seen virtually, or in rare cases, in-person. Typically, only our advanced practicum trainees will be involved in staffing the Crisis Clinic.
Consultation & Outreach Changes
Outreach will be provided primarily in a teleconferencing environment, although there are plans for outdoor outreach opportunities with appropriate physical distancing. Depending on clinical demand experienced by the center, trainees may have the option for additional outreach opportunities (which count as direct hours) in place of any reduction of individual counseling opportunity. We have also started providing supportive phone consultations to students in quarantine.
Individual Supervision Changes
Individual and group supervision is likely to be received primarily in a teleconferencing environment. In some cases, it may be feasible for supervision to take the form of discussion outdoors (only in cases where adequate privacy can be ensured) or in larger rooms with appropriate physical distancing.