The Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Vanderbilt University Counseling Center (VUCC) is designed to provide advanced training to clinical and counseling psychologists who wish to build a career and assume leadership positions within a fast-paced, multidisciplinary university counseling center setting. The VUCC is a large and well utilized counseling center that provides an array of services to both undergraduates and graduate students. Services include individual and group counseling, cognitive and psycho-educational testing, biofeedback, outreach, pharmacotherapy, on-call/crisis response, and triage opportunities. Under the supervision of two licensed psychologists, postdoctoral fellows assume many of the functions and responsibilities of center staff and are afforded ongoing opportunities, both formal and informal, for collaboration and consultation with a wide range of mental health providers. Below you will find a more complete description of the postdoctoral fellowship experience, including our training philosophy, training responsibilities, opportunities for specialization, practical considerations of the position, and application information.
The postdoctoral year is one in which the fellow is transitioning from the status of “student in training” to that of that of licensed professional. The VUCC training staff recognizes this important developmental transition and seeks to provide an extensive training experience that both supports and challenges fellows to make meaningful contributions through their direct clinical service, as well as through consultation, weekly staff meetings, and case conference discussions. While fellows function within a training capacity, they are viewed and approached as valuable members of the clinical staff. From this perspective, fellows are seen as being early in their career but at an advanced level in terms of training. Thus, emphasis is placed on assisting fellows in continuing to cultivate their knowledge, skill, and overall professional identity, as well as to meet their hours towards licensure. Trainees are also expected to serve as colleagues to the clinical and administrative staff, and also serve as models of professionalism for the practicum students and pre-doctoral interns who train at the VUCC.
The VUCC utilizes the biopsychosocial model in conceptualizing and attending to the students we see. Our staff considers the interplay between these three areas and the larger cultural context in which they unfold to be of key importance when approaching assessment, diagnosis, and treatment planning. The emphasis placed on diagnosis and treatment planning, combined with the many services located at the VUCC requires that staff and trainees fully invest in a team approach to serving our students. To this end, the training philosophy of the center is also grounded in the spirit of thoughtful collaboration and communication.
Primary responsibilities associated with the postdoctoral fellowship position are as follows:
- Individual and group psychotherapy
- Participating in Supervision
- On-call and triage services
- Participation in weekly staff meetings and case conference discussions
- Assist in the training of practicum students
- Fellowship project (see below)
Fellows are expected to contribute to the center through the completion of a fellowship project. Like the clinical training at the VUCC, this project is considered to be flexible enough to allow the fellow to pursue particular areas of interest but the ideal project will be grounded in, or informed by, existing research/literature and will be undertaken with the aim of enhancing the clinical, administrative, and/or organizational goals of the center. Group therapy initiatives, organizational assessment, and comprehensive literature reviews of pertinent clinical phenomena are only some examples of possible fellowship projects. Fellows will be able to discuss their project ideas with their assigned research supervisor at the beginning of the training year, followed by the creation of a more formal and comprehensive outline of the plan, which is ultimately reviewed by the research supervisor and VUCC training director before the project is initiated. There is no set timeline for project completion but the postdoctoral training year will not be considered successfully completed until the project is brought to fruition.
In addition to the core experiences associated with the fellowship position, secondary experiences exist that will enable fellows to pursue particular areas of interest. Such areas include:
- Acting as liaison/consultant to specific departments
- Participating in specialty treatment teams (Trauma, Alcohol/other Drug, DBT, and Eating Disorders)
- The provision of supervision (based on availability of supervisees)
The diversity of VUCC clientele represents an additional opportunity to pursue specific clinical interests. Our clients present with a wide range of concerns and cultural backgrounds. As such, fellows can expect to develop rich caseloads that vary in terms of complexity and treatment duration. Postdoctoral fellows are challenged to consider the full complexity of the clients they serve and identify not only their clinical needs but appropriate resources within and outside of the center that will assist them in achieving their goals. To this end, postdoctoral fellows work closely with not only other psychologists, but also members of our multidisciplinary staff, which consists of psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, licensed professional counselors, licensed clinical social workers, and psychiatry residents. Collaboration is a hallmark of the VUCC, and postdoctoral fellows can expect ongoing opportunities to cultivate their knowledge and skill in this area.
For further information, please contact Frances Niarhos, Ph.D., HSP at firstname.lastname@example.org or (615) 322-2571 with any questions related to the postdoctoral fellowship position. To apply for the position, please submit a letter of interest, vita, and two letters of reference. The review of materials will begin January 20, 2018 and will continue until the positions are filled. The application materials are to be submitted to Dr. Frances Niarhos via email at email@example.com.