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PAU MS Students Master Clinical Interviewing Skills at Intensive Training Week

Last month, second-year PhD prep students from PAU’s MS Clinical Psychology program gathered for an intensive one-week residency focused on clinical interviewing skills and community building. The Clinical Interviewing Intensive Week provided invaluable in-person training opportunities for online students to demonstrate and practice essential counseling competencies.

What Happened at the Clinical Interviewing Intensive?

This immersive week-long experience allowed the 2nd year PhD prep MS students to learn and practice key clinical competencies such as conducting intake interviews, building therapeutic alliances, communicating ethically, and forming case conceptualizations. Students participated in hands-on activities to practice essential skills like gathering intake information, explaining consent, and developing professional yet compassionate client rapport.

MS Students

"Students shared their surprise at how much they were able to see their clinical skills and confidence grow over this one-week, and we definitely saw that growth too!" said Liz McConnell, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology.

For many students who traveled from across the country and internationally, this was their first time meeting classmates and faculty in person after 1.5 years of virtual classes.

Hands-on Learning and Community Building

The intensive schedule featured large group activities, small breakout sessions, role-playing scenarios, and faculty demonstrations, however, there was still time to create bonds and have fun!

MS Students Hug

Lighthearted community-building events were also part of the week, allowing students to bond outside of the classroom. A group hug photo captured the engaged spirit of this student cohort. "This was a very cohesive group, and the strength of their connections was clear," noted McConnell.

One student enthusiastically shared, "Something super significant to me was having the opportunity to engage with my classmates in person! After many years on Zoom school, it felt so wonderful to be in a classroom setting again and meet all the wonderful people who made up the MS and get to enjoy their company in a new light! Not only this, but the feedback I got from all the role-play scenarios was invaluable. I really felt like I got to build my skills and learn more about myself and my identity as a clinician!" 

MS Students

Another student remarked, "I felt it was impactful to learn from such an experienced and warm presence like Dr. McConnell," highlighting the value of in-person mentorship.

In reflection on the experience, Teaching Assistant Shirin Aghakhani said, "I have been a TA for this course for the past 3 years and it is my absolute favorite. Not only do I get to watch the students form connections with each other during this Intensive Training Week, but I also get to see their personal and professional growth on their journey to becoming clinicians."

As these MS Clinical Psychology students transition into PAU's PhD program, the Clinical Interviewing Intensive Week provided a transformative experience for applying theory to practice and forging lasting bonds within their cohort.

More photos from the MS Clinical Interviewing Intensive.