University Health and Counseling Services

Doctoral Training Program

The Facility and Its Philosophy

University Health and Counseling Services (UHCS) offers a full range of psychological services to University of Southern Maine students to support and contribute to their personal growth and the enhancement of their higher education experience.

UHCS is staffed by a multidisciplinary team including three licensed doctoral level psychologists and five masters level counselors, three of whom are dually licensed with the LADC/LCPC.  We have one staff member whom coordinates substance abuse clinical services and prevention efforts, one that oversees the Recovery Oriented Campus Center, and another whom serves as our Multicultural Specialist.  Our Director is also dually licensed as a Psychologist/Advanced Practice Nurse.  A psychiatric nurse practitioner working under the supervision of a psychiatrist is also affiliated with our program.  Family nurse practitioners and a consulting physician provide primary care and health education to the student population. The theoretical orientation of the staff is diverse, and interns have the opportunity to work with staff who use a range of approaches.

UHCS has a long-standing commitment to providing intensive supervision and training.  Training is provided for Doctoral practicum students as well as for masters level trainees.  Postdoctoral training is also available.  All trainees are respected as professional colleagues with valuable insights and perspectives, but are given the instruction and support appropriate for their level of experience.

The Clientele

UHCS provides brief psychotherapy to undergraduate and graduate students whose concerns vary from acute situational stress through the full range of psychopathology.  A range of clients of different ages and backgrounds are seen.  Services include individual, couples and group psychotherapy, crisis intervention, consultation, prevention, and educational programming.  Psychiatric evaluation and medication management are provided for selected clients on referral from Counseling Services clinicians.

The Training Program

The Doctoral training program at UHCS is designed to provide a broad-based training experience in the practice of psychology in a university counseling center.  While exposure to a variety of professional activities is available, a genuine commitment to intensive supervision and to the furthering of a trainee's professional and personal  growth exists as the foundation of our program.  The primary goals of the training program are:

1) To foster the development of trainees' professional and personal functioning and identity
2) To assist trainees in becoming highly responsible, ethical and competent entry level psychologists
3) To facilitate the development of competencies in professional psychology
4) To foster respect for and appreciation of individual differences, and to increase understanding of the dynamics of power, oppression and cultural influence. 

The training experience includes the following components:


Individual and Couples Counseling:  Most clients are served through brief therapy (1-12 sessions), although trainees may work with a small number of individuals for longer term treatment.  Trainees work with a diverse student population, including non-traditional aged students, international students, individuals from diverse racial, cultural and gender backgrounds, and students with disabilities. Full-time trainees generally carry a caseload of between 15 and 20 client hours per week.

Intake/Assessment:  The assessment of incoming clients is made during the initial consultation and subsequent intake.  Depending on student demand for service, trainees may conduct between one and four intakes per week.  The consult/intake worker is responsible for clarifying the presenting problem, assessing the severity and need for immediate intervention, providing an appropriate diagnosis, and developing a treatment plan that may or may not include UHCS involvement.  The emphasis of this training experience is on developing a conceptual understanding of presenting problems through the clinical interview, utilizing standardized assessment instruments to complete and refine the clinician's diagnostic impressions as appropriate, and synthesizing this information into an effective treatment plan.

Group Counseling:  The UHCS group program includes theme-centered groups, as well as structured and unstructured offerings.  Recent groups have addressed relationship skills, mindfulness and anxiety coping skills.  Trainees are encouraged to co-facilitate at least one group during the year, typically with a senior staff member or postdoctoral fellow.  Supervision for group work is provided in a group format with other trainees and senior staff as well as in individual supervision.

Crisis Intervention:  Crisis intervention at UHCS encompasses a range of situations from working with a distressed student to hospitalizing an individual who is psychotic or suicidal.  Crisis intervention may also  involve supporting a group of students who have experienced a trauma such as the sudden death of a classmate.  UHCS works closely with Residential Life and with our Public Safety Department in handling mental health emergencies.  All clinical staff and trainees may be called upon to handle walk-in daytime emergencies.  Trainees gain experience in screening for hospitalization as part of their crisis intervention experience.

Consultation and Outreach:  UHCS staff offer programming on mental health issues and consultation to faculty and staff on student-related problems.  Trainees participate actively in the planning and delivery of these services.  UHCS staff and trainees consult with departments requesting services and participate in training of Student and University Life staff on psychological issues.  Trainees consult with physicians and other medical personnel and have opportunities to initiate and develop collaborative programs.  UHCS offers prevention and educational programming to the University community.  These programs cover wide-ranging topics, including suicide prevention, stress management, assertiveness, healthy relationships, and test anxiety.  Each semester trainees are expected to develop and present at least one such offering to the campus community.  They are also encouraged to develop a  consultative relationship with at least one campus department or program.  Research and scholarly inquiry are also encouraged.

Supervision:  When possible, doctoral trainees will serve as secondary supervisors to masters level trainees, collaborating with trainees' primary supervisors who maintain overall responsibility for oversight of cases. Doctoral trainees are supervised on this work by their individual supervisors. 


Supervision: Supervision is considered the most important aspect of the training program. Senior staff provide extensive supervision in various formats throughout the year.  Doctoral trainees are assigned two supervisors who provide a minimum of two hours per week of individual supervision. In addition to the individual supervision, staff provide supervision of groups, testing, consultation and any other major activity in which trainees engage.  Additional individual supervision may be arranged as required.  Group supervision is provided throughout the year, with the aim to develop trainees' clinical expertise, sensitivity, and awareness regarding individual differences, diversity, and multicultural issues.  This occurs through a combination of didactic training, self-exploration, and case discussions.  Additional consultation and supervision occur when staff and trainees co-lead groups or other activities.  Interdisciplinary input is provided in joint UHCS staff meetings that include family and psychiatric nurse practitioners, a physician consultant, and consulting psychiatric providers. During these meetings trainees and staff present cases and explore a variety of clinical and conceptual issues.  Trainees collaborate closely with these team members, enhancing their understanding of psychiatric and medical perspectives.

Training Seminars:  The training experience begins with two full days of orientation to UHCS in late August.  During these days trainees become acquainted with the staff, the setting, and UHCS policies and procedures.  Training in crisis intervention, brief therapy, and documentation is also provided.  Following orientation, Trainees spend a minimum of four hours per week in regularly scheduled training activities, including staff meetings and seminars.  They also have  opportunities to attend outside trainings, conferences and university sponsored events.

Grand Rounds: Trainees attend psychiatric grand rounds three to four times per month at Maine Medical Center on Tuesdays from 8:00am-9:00am.

Case Conference:  Trainees participate with senior staff in weekly case conference, during which theoretical issues, diagnoses, client dynamics and treatment planning recommendations are addressed.

Didactic Seminar: The didactic seminar meets weekly to explore a broad spectrum of theoretical and applied clinical issues.  These included ethics, cultural diversity, psychopathology  and diagnosis, short-term therapy, professional development, and clinical theory and methods.  Topics for the seminars are chosen based on their relevance to work in a university counseling center, and are designed to expand the knowledge base of staff as well as trainees.  Presenters include UHCS staff, university faculty and professionals from the outside community.

Peer Support:  Trainees meet weekly without staff present for mutual support and peer supervision.

AVERAGE WEEKLY TIME SCHEDULE (for a 24 hour per week placement)

Service Activities    

Hrs. per week

Direct Service (individual, group consultation, intake, crisis intervention)

Consultation/Outreach/Workshops 2
Case Management    1
Training Activities  
Individual Supervision 2
Case Conference 1
Didactic Seminar 1
Grand Rounds 1
Staff Meetings 1
Peer Support 1
Professional Activities  
Documentation, additional projects, etc. 2
Total 24

Given the nature of the academic calendar and the ensuing demands upon university counseling centers,  the total number of hours per week will vary.  The Fall and Spring semesters are typically very busy and trainees along with senior staff may work more than their contracted hours.  However, during winter and spring break and the summer session we have limited staffing, and trainees have more flexibility for scheduling professional development activities and vacations.  During the summer months time is available for consultation, outreach, scholarly activity and research.

The Counseling staff reflect diverse backgrounds, training, theoretical orientations and special interests.  The staff participates actively in planning and service delivery, in weekly staff meetings, seminars and other professional development activities.  To read more about each staff member please click on the "People" link located at the top left of the page.


Lisa Belanger, NP : Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner and Family Nurse Practitioner

Jean Burton, NP : Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner

Victoria Hayes, M.D. : Family Practice Physician

Charles Mitchell, MD. : Psychiatrist

Rana Dagher, M.D. : Psychiatrist

To Apply: 

All materials should be submitted by January 1st of each year.  A completed application includes:

1) A curriculum vitae describing educational and employment experience

2) Official graduate transcripts

3) Three letters of recommendation from people familiar with your academic performance and clinical work

4) A statement describing your interest in the University of Southern Maine's training program, including personal objectives and professional goals

All finalists will be contacted to arrange an interview, to take place either in person (strongly recommended) or by phone. 

Applications and materials should be sent to:

Janis Mallon, Ph.D.

Director of Training


University of Southern Maine

P.O. Box 9300

Portland, ME 04104-9300

Phone: (207) 780-4050 Fax: (207) 780-5749

The University of Southern Maine has an institution-wide commitment to inclusion, diversity, multiculturalism and community. We actively engage in recruiting and retaining a diverse workforce and student body that include members of historically underrepresented groups. We strive to build and sustain a welcoming and supportive campus environment. USM provides outstanding leadership opportunities for people interested in promoting and enhancing diversity, nurturing creativity and building community.