Psychology Extern Training Program

JCFS has a strong history of training mental health professionals.

Each training year JCFS offers comprehensive practicum training in therapy and assessment for doctoral-level students. Every member of the JCFS Psychological Services team is committed to and engaged in the training process.

Our practicum placements are focused on providing students with high quality supervision and didactic training, a diverse and challenging client population, as well as experience working within a multidisciplinary team and agency. In addition, JCFS has specialists in a variety of areas available for case consultation. The training year begins mid-August and ends in late June.

Populations Served

Our clinical population is diverse. JCFS serves clients across the lifespan and our clients differ greatly in their presenting problems, ranging from developmental delays and depression to divorce reaction, grief and loss issues, as well as anxiety and adjustment problems. The experience one gains with this broad range of clients aids in the development of a well-rounded psychologist and enhances the training year.


JCFS offers two different training sites. The Joy Faith Knapp Children’s Center in West Rogers Park and the Elaine Kersten Children’s Center in Northbrook. Every student is provided with office space at one of the two centers, however travel between the two is common.

Supervision & Training Opportunities

Each student who trains with us is provided with a minimum of two hours of supervision weekly, in both individual and group supervision formats. Each student is also engaged in the Psychology Seminar every Friday where students learn from case presentations, experiential exercises, and didactic instruction. Examples of previous Psychology Seminar topics include: mindfulness and cognitive-behavioral therapy, self-care, Child Parent Psychotherapy, couples’ therapy, interpersonal therapy for adolescent depression, cognitive processing therapy for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, and termination. JCFS takes pride in our commitment to Evidence Based Practice. Each student who trains with JCFS will have the opportunity to learn about and engage in evidence-based work.

At the beginning of the training year, externs can expect to spend much of their time getting acquainted with various JCFS programs, developing curricula for therapy groups, participating in group screenings, and attending interdisciplinary trainings, while slowly developing caseloads and receiving psychological testing assignments. After the first few months, caseloads and psychological testing assignments tend to increase fairly quickly.

Service Modalities and Theoretical Orientation

Therapy students who train with JCFS will benefit from the integrative model of treatment held by the psychology staff. Theoretical orientations of staff range from systemic to dynamic to cognitive-behavioral. Training is provided in multiple modalities and each student is encouraged to develop her skills in multiple modalities.

Psychological assessment is a key component of JCFS’s psychology department. Our batteries are comprehensive and diagnostic students who train with us will benefit from access to a wide array of measures. Students will greatly benefit from training in psychoeducational, developmental, neuropsychological and emotional assessment in order to address the wide variety of presenting problems our clients face.

Qualities We Look for in our Externs

  • Good oral and written communication skills
  • Someone who is self-motivated and takes initiative
  • Strong interpersonal skills
  • Good organizational skills
  • Strong computer skills
  • A commitment to learning
  • Willingness to explore a range of training experiences
  • Able to navigate a large system
  • Demonstrates leadership potential

For more information, please contact Alysa Slay, Psy.D., Director of Psychological Services.