The NSW Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors (STARTTS) has been actively involved in the provision of university student placements and professional internships for many years through its Student Clinic. The Clinic started as a strategy to improve the knowledge and experience of social and behavioural sciences students wishing to work in the area of torture and refugee trauma. Once their application is approved and they are admitted in the clinic, students have very similar duties to those of counsellors and psychologist at STARTTS.
STARTTS provides placement opportunities for students currently engaged though not exclusively in the following disciplines: Forensic Psychology, Social Work, Counselling, Art therapy post-graduate programs of Masters in Psychology (Clinical), Doctor of Clinical Psychology or other appropriate Masters Programs in Psychology or who are currently completing a Psychology Registration Program, to be part of a student clinic.
Placements at STARTTS enable interns to have the opportunity to provide individual therapy to clients as well as group interventions where appropriate. The nature of shorter internships (ie. less than six months duration) are usually exclusively focused on client assessments and facilitation of psychoeducation groups. Those participating in longer internships may also have the opportunity to engage in longer term therapy with clients.
Opportunities also exist to become involved in clinical research projects where appropriate. Regular supervision by experienced Clinical Psychologists and Psychologists at STARTTS is provided, following a short induction and training program. Interns are based at one of the STARTTS Sydney offices during their placement/internship but may be required to travel between sites depending on client needs.
Since the inception of the student clinic in 2006, approximately 108 students have had the opportunity to provide assessments and psychotherapeutic interventions to our clients, who come from diverse backgrounds, some of which are newly arrived and others have been in Australia for many years but are experiencing difficulties in relation to their traumatic experiences.
While interns have gained the opportunity to work with an experienced team of professionals in a multidisciplinary treatment setting, they have also brought their own skills, experiences, perspectives and enthusiasm, making a significant contribution to STARTTS.
The clinic has mutual benefits for students, the organisation and clients, whilst at the same time increases the number of professionals who are skilled and confident in the provision of services in the field of refugee trauma and health.
Also, the clinic constitutes a great opportunity to increase awareness about the refugee and asylum seekers situation among young people.
Funding & No Conflicts Declaration
The student Clinic has been funded through STARTTS internal funding. The author reports no conflict of interests.