Elective Placement

Each intern has the opportunity to receive training for the equivalent of up to one day per week at a site other than his/her primary placement. Interns are expected to select an elective placement that complements the training opportunities available at the primary placement, broadens the overall training experience, and provides experiences congruent with the intern’s needs/objectives for professional development.

To aid in the elective placement selection process a faculty member at the intern’s primary placement, in conjunction with the intern, will complete a needs assessment, reviewing the intern’s overall training background in relation to the intern’s and the Internship’s training objectives. Interns may discuss options in advance of the start of the internship. The elective experiences will also be discussed during the Internship Orientation Day. The supervisor at the interns' primary placement, and the Internship Director (on an as needed basis), will provide individual guidance to interns during the elective placement selection process using information gathered through the needs assessment. Final assignment of an elective placement takes into account the intern’s expressed preferences; faculty and intern evaluation of the intern’s training needs, and the availability of particular experiences and supervision.  

Due to faculty changes/availability, the number and type of elective opportunities varies from year-to-year. 

  • Supervisor(s): Kimberly Brown, Ph.D., ABPP and Mary E. Wood, Ph.D.

    Location: Vanderbilt Psychiatric Hospital but evaluations will also take place in local jails, prisons, and detention centers.

    Clinical or Research Rotation: Clinical

    Number of Positions Available: 1

    Anticipated Number of Face-to-Face Clinical Hours per Week: 4


    Description: There are three types of evaluations available for this rotation. Interns traditionally have done a mix of all types.

    1. Criminal forensic evaluations – Evaluations of individuals who are charged with a criminal offense who have been court ordered to receive a forensic mental health evaluation. Evaluations entail assessing competency to stand trial and mental state at the time of the alleged offense (insanity). There are opportunities for evaluations both with juveniles (which focus more on treatment issues and waiver to adult court) and with adults. Evaluations are typically done in a criminal justice setting (e.g., jail or detention). These evaluations provide exposure to severe forms of psychopathology (both Axis I and II), sometimes in an untreated condition. The focus of the evaluation is on records review and interview, although there is some assessment (e.g., competency to stand trial assessment measures and malingering assessment – e.g., M-FAST, TOMM).
    2. Fitness for duty evaluations – Evaluation of individuals (mostly physicians) referred to the Vanderbilt Comprehensive Program (VCAP) for evaluation of their fitness to practice medicine. Referrals are based on issues related to disruptive behavior, substance use, prescribing problems, boundary violations, mental illness, and sexual issues. Axis II issues are commonly diagnosed in this otherwise high functioning population. Assessments include a standard battery of personality tests, including MMPI-2, PAI, and MCMI-III.
    3. Pre-employment psychological evaluations – Evaluation of applicants to a 911 operator position in Nashville. As a condition of their employment they are required to receive psychological evaluations to rule out psychopathology or personality issues that would compromise their ability to carry out the job duties safely.

    The interns are involved in all stages of the evaluation, including the opportunity to testify in court in some instances. The involvement is gradual, with interns first mostly observing and eventually conducting most of the evaluation on their own. The supervisor is present for the duration of the evaluations and supervision is hands on.

    For additional information please see:                                       



    Competency Goals:

    1. Increase knowledge of the specialty field of forensic psychology and how it differs from general clinical work;
    2. Increase awareness and understanding of specific ethical issues in forensic psychology (e.g., APLS specialty guidelines);
    3. Integrate ability to integrate multiple sources of data: collateral sources, psychological testing, interview and records in writing forensic reports. Explain the basis for opinions and back opinions with data from multiple sources in language appropriate for a legal audience. Identify weakness and limitations of one’s opinions;
    4. Increase knowledge of the assessment of distortion and bias in self-report (including basics of assessment of malingering and defensiveness);
    5. Conduct forensic clinical interviews with increased emphasis on examiner neutrality, confrontation when necessary, decreased emphasis on empathic therapeutic manner, and accurate documentation of  responses;
    6. Testify in court when available

    Prerequisites: Experience with a forensic population or forensic coursework is desirable but not required. Interns should have experience and comfort with severe psychopathology (e.g., schizophrenia). They should also have some familiarity with the MMPI-2 and/or PAI.  They should be comfortable conducting assessments in a jail setting (with supervisor present).

    Contact Information: Kimberly Brown, Ph.D., ABPP, Kimberly.p.brown@vanderbilt.edu

    Phone: (615) 327-7130

  • Supervisor(s): Blythe A. Corbett, Ph.D.

    Location: Vanderbilt Kennedy Center, One Magnolia Circle, Room 407B, 110 Magnolia Circle, Nashville, TN   37203

    Clinical or Research Rotation: Clinical Research

    Number of Positions Available: 1

    Anticipated Number of Face-to-Face Clinical Hours per Week: 3-4


    Description: The SENSE research program (funded by NIMH) focuses on the assessment and treatment of reciprocal social interaction and stress responsivity of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and typical development.  The SENSE Lab is fundamentally multidisciplinary by combining students and scholars with diverse academic backgrounds in psychology, neuroscience, child development, psychiatry and quantitative methods.  Our translational research program focuses on characterizing biobehavioral profiles of ASD by utilizing several tools including neuropsychological measures, neuroimaging, physiological indices of stress and arousal and sophisticated behavioral observation tools.

    Specific Activities: The primary focus of this rotation is the assessment of social cognition, behavior and functioning in children and adolescents with ASD especially as it relates to engagement with typically developing peers.  As part of the rotation, students will also be invited to participate in a novel intervention program that utilizes theater techniques and classic operant conditioning principles.

    Assessment: training in diagnostic and neuropsychological assessment of children with ASD and other neurodevelopmental disorders.  The majority of participants include children and adolescents between 7-17 years of age with and without ASD. Diagnostic measures include the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS) and the Social Communication Questionnaire (as well as structured parent interview).

    Intervention: SENSE Theatre intervention research program for youth with ASD that incorporates classic behavioral intervention strategies with theatre techniques in a peer-mediated, community-based treatment model.  

    Time commitment: Rotation is held on Thursdays, 8:00 am- 4:30 pm. If interns choose to participate in the SENSE Theatre program, they are expected to attend all sessions, which are conducted on Saturdays 1:00-5:00 pm during the Winter or consecutive afternoons for two weeks in June for the summer session.

    Competency Goals: By the end of the rotation, the intern will have learned the neuropsychological measures, which include the Wechsler Abbreviated Intelligence Scale (e.g., WASI, measurement of intellectual functioning), receptive and expressive language (e.g., Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals, Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test), as well as social cognitive processes using neuropsychological measures (NEPSY affect recognition, memory for faces, theory of mind), as well as parent questionnaires and self-report measures.

    Prerequisites: Prior graduate level coursework and practicum experience in neuropsychological/cognitive assessment.

    Contact Information: For more information, please contact Dr. Blythe Corbett (blythe.corbett@vanderbilt.edu).

  • Supervisor(s): Neil D. Woodward, Ph.D.; Monica Jacobs, Psy.D., ABPP-CN

    Location: Vanderbilt Psychiatric Hospital, Room 3057M, 1601 23rd Ave. S., Nashville, TN   37212

    Clinical or Research Rotation: Clinical

    Number of Positions Available: 1

    Anticipated Number of Face-to-Face Clinical Hours per Week: 3-4


    Description: The Vanderbilt Psychiatry Memory and Aging Clinic (VMAC) is an outpatient clinic focused on assessment and treatment of older individuals with suspected cognitive impairment.  This rotation provides interns with experiential training in neuropsychological assessment of older individuals with a wide array of psychological and neurological disorders.  These include depression, mild cognitive impairment, Alzheimer’s disease, fronto-temporal dementia, stroke, vascular dementia, and dementia with Lewy bodies.

    This rotation emphasizes the role of the neuropsychologist in the context of a multi-disciplinary team which includes a geriatric psychiatrist and registered nurse.  Under direct supervision, interns will conduct clinical interviews; administer, score, and interpret neuropsychological tests; prepare neuropsychological reports; and provide feedback to patients and families.  Interns may also have the opportunity to work with a psychometrist. 

    Time commitment: Rotation is held on Thursdays, 8:00 am- 4:30 pm.

    Competency Goals: By the end of the rotation, interns will be expected to demonstrate proficiency in clinical interviewing of older individuals with varying levels of cognitive impairment; administering, scoring, and interpreting clinical neuropsychological tests; conceptualizing cases from a brain-behavior perspective; and preparing written neuropsychological reports.

    Prerequisites: Prior graduate level coursework and practicum experience in neuropsychological/cognitive assessment.

    Contact Information: For more information, please contact Dr. Neil Woodward (neil.woodward@vanderbilt.edu).