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  • Brittany Montes, Psy. D.

Can I Benefit from Treatment with a Student Therapist?

Like most areas of healthcare, students in the field of psychology learn best by participating in direct clinical care.  Through practicum placements, research projects, internships, and residencies, students practice their therapeutic skills as they work toward independent licensure.


Student therapist working with a patient

However, this kind of training requires patients who are willing to allow their therapy sessions to be conducted by a student under the supervision of a licensed clinician.  While most can agree that this type of training is necessary to produce good mental health providers, many remain uncomfortable with seeing students for the bulk of their care.


Oftentimes, patients are, understandably, concerned that the care provided by a student will not be as effective or helpful as the care provided by a licensed clinician.  Research, however, tells us that “inexperienced student therapists who receive supervision from experienced supervisors can achieve effects that are on par with those of experienced licensed psychotherapists” (Ost et al., 2011).


The benefits of seeing a student therapist are numerous in nature.  For example, students typically have smaller caseloads than licensed clinicians.  This allows students to provide more focused and individualized care.  Additionally, as students are actively attending classes focused on psychological theory and treatment, they are more likely to hold more up-to-date knowledge on research and treatment recommendations.  Similarly, because students are under the supervision of a licensed provider, patient care is being considered from multiple perspectives and experiences.


Similarly, because students are new in the field, they are much less likely to have past clinical work influencing and clouding their judgment.  Finally, students are eager to learn and grow in their therapeutic skills.  As such, they are open to feedback and eager to ensure that your treatment is meeting your needs.


At CBTC, we are committed to the growth of our field.  We firmly believe that providing students with opportunities to see patients in a private practice setting only helps our efforts to make quality mental health care accessible.  We have seen patients in our community benefit from the care provided by our students and have seen our students grow exponentially from their training here at CBTC.


About the Author

Dr. Montes is a licensed clinical psychologist and co-owner of Cognitive Behavior Therapy Center in Chesapeake, VA.



References

Ost, L.-G., Karlstedt, A., & Widen, S. (2011, May 24). The effects of cognitive behavior therapy delivered by students in a psychologist training program: An effectiveness study. Science Direct. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0005789411000608

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