HAZARD — As the demand for psychologists increases in rural Kentucky and around the nation, the American Psychological Association (APA) has granted accreditation to Kentucky River Community Care’s (KRCC) Doctoral Psychology Internship program for seven years.
The accreditation, which was awarded in November, is the highest recommendation a clinical psychology program can receive, and has a retroactive effective date of January 10, 2016. This means that students who graduated from the program in the spring are now considered to have graduated from an APA-accredited program.
“I think it’s a crowning of a program that we knew was good, and it’s now received the recognition it deserves,” said Dr. Geraldo Lima, KRCC’s Director of Training for the Doctoral Psychology Internship program.
“And it’s amazing that we now provide this service with the recognition that it is of higher excellence,” he added.
Dr. Lima noted that the APA’s accreditation process is demanding and that programs must meet the rigorous standards set by the APA’s Commission on Accreditation (CoA).
“The fact that we have their endorsement speaks volumes about who we are at this point,” Dr. Lima said.
He explained, “(The APA) has figured out what a psychologist absolutely needs in order to be efficient and competent in their profession, so it’s quite a statement that they feel we have everything that is essential in a program.”
Dr. Brenda Hughes, who is the former Training Director of the Internship Program, was the “architect” behind the program’s accreditation, according to Dr. Lima.
Dr. Hughes put together the program’s comprehensive Self-Study, which led to a three-member site visit in June.
“These were psychologists who had visited a lot of sites across the country and held our organization and our psychologists in high esteem,” she said. “It’s something that the region can be proud of.”
Hughes said the seven-year endorsement was a huge vote of confidence in the program, meaning that the program’s next review won’t need to occur until 2023.
“It’s also a statement that KRCC has the quality and the financial soundness to support a training program, and we’re the only one in the eastern part of the state,” Dr. Hughes noted.
Since 2011, the internship program has graduated three psychologists each year.
The accreditation will lead to a lot of open doors for the program and its students, Dr. Lima said.
Hughes and Lima said the accreditation means their students will be qualified to pursue licensure in many other states, and it will also give students access to a broader range of postdoctoral training sites, as well as increase their employment opportunities with the federal government.
“It’s a breath of relief knowing that all job opportunities are opened up now,” said Andy Orayfig, an intern from Albany, NY. “It also brings a sense of responsibility to live up to (the APA accreditation). It’s been a positive experience, and mostly, I’m happy for everyone who’s put a lot of work into it.”
Dr. Lima explained that the range of applicants to the program would increase exponentially, meaning that top talent in the field of psychology from all over the country will now consider KRCC as a potential site for their internship.
Dr. Hughes added that the KRCC internship will be an important option to have available for student psychologists interested in practicing in a rural area.
“I am extremely proud of the work that Dr. Hughes, Dr. Lima, and the interns, both past and present, perform here at KRCC, and I’m excited for the opportunities that accreditation will afford,” said KRCC Executive Director and CEO Mary Meade-McKenzie.
“This will allow KRCC to consider an even larger pool of applicants with ever-broadening points of view. That worldview will help our agency, our staff, and our clients,” she concluded.
For more information about KRCC’s Doctoral Psychology Internship program, email Dr. Brenda Hughes at [email protected]
Mindy Miller is the multimedia writer for Kentucky River Community Care.