Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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CAPS earns American Psychological Association accreditation

CAPS is on the map. Northwestern’s Counseling and Psychological Services’ training program has been accredited by the American Psychological Association, which administrators said will help bring top-quality interns to NU.

“We’re accredited as a training site, which means that we will get the best interns in the country,” said Vice President for Student Affairs Peggy Barr. “And that is good news for Northwestern students. I’m very excited about that.”

Announced May 12, the accreditation will remain in place for five years — the longest period offered by the APA. With the announcement, the NU training program becomes one of about 400 sites nationwide to be accredited by the APA. Of those, only about 80 are counseling centers.

“Having interns in our center keeps all of our staff really sharp and up to date on innovation in practice,” said CAPS Director Kathy Reese. “There’s nothing like having a doctoral student around asking you questions on legal and ethical issues and guidelines.”

The internship program is for Ph.D. students who have completed their graduate course work and clinical work but not their dissertations. During the yearlong program, the interns log approximately 2,000 hours as part of CAPS’s counseling team.

“With the accreditation, we are now nationally competitive so that we can draw applicants from all over the country and be competitive for the very best candidates,” said Wendy Cutler, who coordinates the CAPS training program. “Before, we did very well in terms of getting excellent interns. This just broadens our scope and lets people know more about it.”

Reese has been working on the accreditation since she came to NU in 1995. In that time, CAPS has grown from a small division of Student Health Services to a more autonomous service that provides individual counseling to 1,300 students each year.

When Reese arrived, CAPS’s director — who worked only half time — was a psychiatrist, and the service emphasized medical treatment over counseling.

But under Barr’s leadership, CAPS steadily has added staff members and other resources. Once staffed primarily by part-time employees, CAPS now has a full-time staff of 13.

“Peggy wanted a comprehensive counseling center that was accessible and visible to the students,” Reese said. “So I was hired as director. I was the first psychologist to ever be director — we were moving away from a medical model at that point.”

The first step in becoming accredited was to establish an internship program. A yearlong self-study followed in 1998, during which time CAPS developed a training model and philosophy. In November, the APA sent an accreditation team to NU to examine CAPS up close.

“The most exciting part about it is that it really is a validation of all of the efforts that we’ve made as a staff to train excellent psychologists,” Cutler said. “To have that validated is really terrific.”

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CAPS earns American Psychological Association accreditation