The Graduate Intern Stipend Program of John F. Kennedy University’s MA Counseling Psychology programs offers a financial incentive designed to encourage students to complete their fieldwork/internship placements at the three JFK University Community Counseling Centers and the School-Based Programs in Concord, Sunnyvale, and Oakland. The goal is to expand and develop internship training for at-risk youth and to create a public mental health workforce pipeline that will support this transitional-age population.
These stipends are made possible by a grant the University received from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to encourage training of individuals from diverse cultures and backgrounds as mental health professionals and to support enhanced services to marginalized communities.
In FY 2014-15, JFK University’s Graduate Intern Stipend Program provided stipends to over 30 University graduate student interns pursuing a Master's degree in Counseling Psychology. Selected interns are receiving payments at the completion of each quarter, for a period of no more than one year or twelve consecutive months, of up to $10,000 per year, in exchange for 720 internship hours for the academic year 2014-15.
Receiving the HRSA stipend was the most life changing experience for me personally and professionally. As a full-time volunteer and student, I was struggling to keep myself afloat financially. With the stipend, I was able to focus exclusively on my work with my clients, mostly who are adolescents suffering from issues such as homelessness, depression, anxiety, drug addiction, and trauma. I also have been able to pursue professional development opportunities, participating in workshops such as trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy and counseling adolescents with addiction. I’m so grateful to have the support of funding such as the HRSA stipend and am inspired to continue working with adolescents in hopes to perpetuate philanthropic offerings in my community.
The stipend has allowed me to focus more of my time enhancing my knowledge of multi-cultural perspectives in therapy and learning to provide culturally appropriate services in a different language. I am currently looking to add more Spanish-speaking clients to my caseload. I enjoy working with multicultural couples, particularly with the specific challenges and issues, such as immigration, that affect these relationships. Diversity has definitely become an important aspect to the future work I want do as a therapist. The work I have done at the JFKU Concord Community Counseling Center has definitely inspired me to want to work more with underserved populations and particularly the Latino community.
The HRSA stipend allowed me to attend trainings in the use of mindfulness and guided meditation approaches which stressed the mind body connection. This helped me to become more aware about the body-mind connection, particularly in relation to trauma and loss. I am better able to help my clients use the techniques I learned to develop distress tolerance and emotional regulation skills.