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Deaf Wellness Center Specialized Training Experience


Since 1992, the Clinical Psychology Training Program has offered interns on the Adult Track the opportunity for specialized training in services to the deaf population. Adult Track intern applicants who are proficient in American Sign Language (ASL), and have experience serving deaf individuals may apply for a specialized training experience in the Deaf Wellness Center. (This experience is listed separately from the general adult psychology internship positions through the APPIC match.)


Interns in this clinical placement spend approximately 12-16 hours per week in the Deaf Wellness Center (DWC) program. The DWC staff consists of a faculty psychologist, social worker, mental health counselor, consulting psychiatric nurse practitioner, and baccalaureate and/or master's degree trainees. Doctoral interns engage in intake sessions, individual and group psychotherapy, and psychological assessments, all involving deaf adults. The population served consists of deaf adults, almost always ASL users who present with a wide range of mental illness diagnoses, language abilities, and levels of functioning. Supervision is provided by the sign-fluent faculty and staff of the DWC. All of the remaining training activities the DWC doctoral interns engage in are identical to those described for the Adult Track psychology internship program (e.g., didactics, the Rochester Psychiatric Center Rotation). The combination of specialty training within the DWC and the General Ambulatory Service experience (serving hearing patients, with sign language interpreters as necessary when the intern is deaf) has been particularly valued by our graduates. The DWC experience also can offer opportunities for consultation, teaching, and research experience.


Applicants must be proficient in ASL and have prior experience serving deaf individuals. Applications from persons who are themselves deaf or hard-of-hearing are particularly encouraged.  Deaf and hard-of-hearing trainees in this program enjoy a rich pool of accommodation resources, including sign-fluent supervisors and a talented array of sign language interpreters who are experienced in serving deaf professionals who work in mental health settings. Applicants' ASL proficiency can be documented by sending one of the following four items with your regular application materials: (A) a video clip to Dr. O'Hearn via email, at least 10 minutes in length, which thoroughly demonstrates the applicant's expressive and receptive ASL skills (a ten minute, casual conversation between the applicant and another fluent signer, on any topic, should suffice) or (B) documentation that you have passed the Sign Language Proficiency Interview (Newell, Caccamise, Boardman, & Ray-Holcomb, 1983) at the advanced level or beyond, (C) evidence of having attended primary and secondary schools where ASL was the predominant communication mode, or, (D) evidence of RID interpreter certification. Please review the "How to Apply" page for the most recent information.

Deaf Wellness Center Training Mission

All DWC activities are grounded in professional and cross-cultural values pertaining to deaf people as a heterogeneous sociocultural group, yet one whose members are frequently misunderstood, neglected, or maltreated by the health and mental health care enterprise. The distinctions of normalcy and mental illness in this population, the systemic, linguistic, and cross-cultural issues involved in accessing mental health care and in identifying and treating psychopathology, and the ethical imperative of preparing persons who are deaf and hard-of-hearing for leadership in the mental health professions are themes that characterize our work. DWC training initiatives have been internationally recognized and were cited in an award from the American Psychological Association in 1994 and APPIC's Excellence in Psychology Diversity Training Award in 2007.