VA New York Harbor Healthcare System, Brooklyn Campus
Psychology Externship Program
The psychology externship program of the Veterans Affairs' New York Harbor Healthcare System's Brooklyn
campus provides students with a clinically intense learning experience that includes individual and group
psychotherapy as well as seminars and experiential group experiences. Patients at our facility are coping with a
wide variety of difficulties including substance abuse, posttraumatic stress disorder, grief and loss, depression,
anxiety, personality disorders, family relationships, anger management, and chronic pain, among other difficulties.
Our externship program has been a mutually positive experience for both externs and staff. It encourages
professional growth and hopes to provide externs with a training experience that enables them to discover their
own style as a clinician. Major extern responsibilities include individual psychotherapy and group psychotherapy.
Externs have weekly individual supervision with a clinical psychologist and also participate in a supervision group
in which they are supervised on their group psychotherapy experiences. They also participate in an extern
process group. In addition, externs attend Mental Health department Grand Rounds and may participate in other
seminars as well. The externship year runs from September through May and is two days per week with Friday
being a required day for the Brooklyn campus positions. Some clinic assignments require attendance on other
days. Possible clinic area assignments include the following:
Outpatient Individual and Group Psychotherapy/Introduction to Substance Abuse: Externs working in this
rotation provide outpatient individual and group psychotherapy with veterans who are facing a wide range of
difficulties, including trauma, relationship and family difficulties, substance abuse, depression, anxiety, and a
range of diagnoses. Externs will also learn to conduct initial assessments by first observing their supervisor doing
initial assessments, and then doing initial assessments themselves. There is an opportunity within this rotation to
learn more about working with issues that arise in substance abuse.
Pain Clinic: Externs work in a multidisciplinary pain clinic in order to assist the treating team gain greater insight
into the biopsychosocial etiology and impact of patients' pain. Externs will gain an understanding of the mind-
body connection regarding treatment of patients with chronic pain. They provide short-term & long-term individual
therapy to patients suffering from both acute and chronic pain conditions who also carry a wide range of Axis I
and Axis II diagnosis (e.g., PTSD, Depression, & Personality Disorders). Group opportunities include cognitive
behavioral pain skills workshops and psycho dynamically oriented group therapy.
Primary Care Psychology: Externs working in this clinic will conduct psychological evaluations as well as
conduct short-term and long-term therapy with male and female veterans presenting with a wide-range of clinic
issues. In addition externs participate in a weekly triage meeting with primary care-mental health staff where case
dispositions are discussed. Opportunity for co-leading of a psychotherapy group exists as well.
Psychosocial Rehabilitation and Recovery Center: Externs assigned to this service have the opportunity to
provide a full range of psychological services in a milieu therapy program to veterans who require intensive
mental health treatment. There are approximately 30-35 veterans enrolled in the program at any given time.
They attend the program Mondays through Fridays from 8:30am-2pm. We have male and female veterans who
suffer from a wide range of mental health problems, including combat-related PTSD, schizophrenia and other
psychotic disorders, major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, and personality disorders.
Many of our veterans also have co-morbid medical problems. Externs on this rotation are involved in conducting
initial screenings and assessments, carrying a caseload of veterans that they will see for individual
psychotherapy, co-facilitating and leading groups (both psychoeducational groups and therapy groups), and
possibly working with couples and families. Externs on this rotation will have the opportunity to work on an
interdisciplinary team with psychologists, social workers, a psychiatric nurse, a psychiatrist, and a creative arts
therapist. Externs will learn about the recovery model of care and, specifically, how to build upon each veteran’s
strengths and work collaboratively to establish treatment goals.
Inpatient Substance Abuse Program: The Substance Abuse Residential Rehabilitation Treatment Program
(SARRTP) is a structured program, providing substance abuse treatment and biopsychosocial rehabilitation to
veterans struggling with chronic addictions. These veterans present with a wide range of addictive disorders and
many have co-occurring psychiatric disorders. Many of our veterans face multiple psychosocial stressors,
including homelessness, unemployment, poverty, legal problems, ongoing relationship discord, and chronic
medical problems. Admission to the 24-bed rehabilitation unit is voluntary and the length of stay is 21 days. As
members of an interdisciplinary treatment team, externs will have the opportunity to learn about addiction from
multiple perspectives. Externs will develop and refine skills in conducting intake evaluations, writing treatment
plans, and providing individual and group psychotherapies. This externship rotation is two-and-a-half to three
days per week for a period of 11 months (i.e., September to July).
St. Albans Campus Domiciliary: A residential program for veterans coping with a variety of issues, the
domiciliary is a comprehensive therapeutic program with a large focus on substance abuse. Patients live there
during their treatment and are dealing with many mental health and psychosocial problems, which may include
homelessness, substance abuse, past trauma/posttraumatic stress disorder, grief and loss, depression,
employment/legal issues, personality disorders, family relationships, anger management, and
schizophrenia/schizoaffective disorder, among others. Major extern responsibilities include individual
psychotherapy, group psychotherapy, a psycho-educational group, and participating in interdisciplinary treatment
meetings to talk about patient care. Externs in the past have led groups focusing on various topics, including a
group for parents, a dual-diagnosis group, and a group for veterans coping with depression. The externship is
two days per week, and can be any two days except for Friday.
Applications are accepted beginning January 17th. Those interested should e-mail a copy of their CV to Dr.
Jennifer Leavitt-LaDuca at firstname.lastname@example.org indicating which clinical areas they would be interested
in and what days, in addition to Fridays, they are available for externship. Eventually, applicants will also need to
supply an official transcript, two letters of recommendation, and a letter from their school stating that they are
ready to go on externship. The externship is open to individuals that are enrolled in an APA accredited doctoral
Clinical or Counseling Psychology program and are US citizens.
Please feel free to contact Dr. Jennifer Leavitt-LaDuca at 718-836-6600, x4495 or at
email@example.com for more information.