Bright Future is addressing the need for licensed behavioral health professionals in Eagle County by spear-heading a rural internship consortium for doctoral students in their final stage of the education process. The Colorado Psychology Internship Consortium, also known as CO-PIC, prepares interns to meet the needs of rural and underserved populations.
Research suggests that behavioral health professionals are most likely to remain and work in the geographical area where their training is completed. A lack of internship programs outside the Denver Metro area contributes to a shortage in rural Colorado. Most psychology doctoral students are more likely to stay within the Front Range, rather than seek employment in rural areas.
This shortage can be seen in Eagle County, where there are nine licensed psychologists. Three of whom do not work full time within the county.
“Another potential issue for rural areas is that a majority of mental health professionals do not receive specific training on rural mental health needs, practice models, and challenges,” says Clinical Director Casey Wolfington. “CO-PIC meets these needs by providing a range of clinical and didactic experiences that represent the necessary depth and breadth required for future professional practice.”
The internship program is highly competitive, bringing applicants from schools around the United States, including Stanford University, New York University and, in-state, from University of Denver.
“Our national ranking with Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers (APPIC) means that we receive approximately 50 applicants each year,” says Wolfington, who is also the lead internship training director. “After a thorough interview process we make the challenging choice to narrow it down to three final interns.”