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Chastity Chartier, Psy.D., is a 2014 graduate of the Psy.D. Program in Clinical Psychology at Antioch University, New England

Dissertation Committee:

  • Susan Hawes, Ph.D., Committee Chair
  • Lorraine Mangione, Ph.D., Committee Member
  • William Slammon, Ph.D., Committee Member

Document Type

Dissertation

Publication Date

2014

Abstract

The predoctoral internship is a required component of training to complete a doctoral degree in the field of psychology. Most psychology students participate in the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers (APPIC) Match in hopes of securing an internship that meets their training needs and complements their developing professional identities. However, there are more applicants than there are positions available, and the imbalance rate is considered to have reached crisis proportions, with approximately a quarter of psychology students remaining unplaced following the Match. The implications of not matching to an internship are devastating to the applicants. The impacts of the imbalance are well-known statistically, including the high number of students who do not match each year, the financial and professional implications of postponing internship completion, and the percentage of growth in number of applicants compared to the smaller percentage of growth in number of internship positions available. A topic with little research has been the personal experiences of the applicants who do not match, and how not matching affects individual well-being and professional development. This dissertation is a research study designed to explore the experiences of students who, through their participation in the APPIC Match process, did not acquire an internship. A review of research on the internship crisis provided the background history of one of the most influential causes of "not matching," the imbalance in available internship sites. The experiences of unmatched applicants were gathered by means of a two-part electronic survey. The first part of the survey was conceptualized from research publications about the effects of the internship imbalance on unmatched applicants. The second part of the survey is the Brief COPE measure, a flexible assessment instrument designed utilizing Lazarus and Folkman's (1984) theory of stress, appraisal, and the coping process to assess the use of several different types of coping mechanisms. The first research question, "which consequences of not matching are most prominently stressful among students who do not find an internship through the APPIC Match?" was answered utilizing the responses of participants on the first part of the survey. The second research question, "which methods of coping are most prominently evident among students who do not find an internship?"; was answered utilizing the responses of participants on the second part of the survey, the Brief COPE. Results indicate several stressful consequences of not matching, as well as several commonly utilized coping methods among unmatched applicants. This research is intended to (a) inform and empower students, doctoral programs, and other stakeholders to become advocates for increasing the number of available internships, and (b) provide information about how the internship imbalance affects unmatched applicants based on Lazarus and Folkman's theory of stress, appraisal, and the coping process.

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