Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services is launching a new master’s level internship program intended to invest in students seeking a career in social work, counseling, or psychology, while also bringing new clinicians to in-demand roles in West Michigan.
The one-year internship program is currently accepting applications for its first 16-person cohort, to begin in August 2024. The program will meet a significant need among master’s level students, as finding an internship in social work, counseling or psychology can be a struggle due to demand that often exceeds availability, as well as the burden internships place on the facilitating organization.
“Every master’s level student needs an internship to meet their program’s requirements for graduation. That’s a lot of people trying to find placement, and only a handful of organizations deliberately create resources capable of supporting them,” said Jean Holthaus, LMSW, LISW, regional director within Pine Rest’s Outpatient and Recovery Services line of business. “Some organizations accept only one or two interns, or are unable to take any at all, because it takes time and resources to provide the office space, clinical oversight, and collaboration with educational institutions that the internships require. None of this is anything an organization typically gets reimbursed for offering.”
Pine Rest’s program is intended to create an exceptional learning environment for interns by exposing them to a full spectrum of clinical care and offering extensive experience in the specialty of their choice (inpatient, outpatient, psychological testing, residential or school setting). The program includes dedicated supervisors and mentors, weekly didactic training, opportunities to build skills through direct patient care experiences, as well as personal and professional development events.
Although Pine Rest has often accepted interns for clinical services such as psychological testing, inpatient case management, and residential social work, the new master’s level internship program marks the first opportunity for students to gain outpatient therapy experience with Michigan’s largest behavioral health provider. The organization anticipates this will lead to an increase in new outpatient providers practicing in West Michigan.
“In our field many, if not most, clinicians find that their last internship becomes their first job. It’s like an extended job interview which also equips them with the skills and training to continue in the role after they graduate,” Holthaus said. “Many master’s level social work, counseling, or psychology students want to be an outpatient therapist but, until now, Pine Rest hasn’t been able to provide internship opportunities that leads students directly to that career path. We often hear this is something students really want; they’re looking to develop the skills for outpatient therapy, and they’re hoping to stay and work in that setting.”
Pine Rest’s master’s level internship is open to all students currently enrolled in a master’s degree program in the field of social work, counseling, or psychology. Applicants should be prepared to provide their desired number of internship hours, start or end dates required by their educational institution, and a statement on how they believe they can impact the field of mental health care.