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West Los Angeles Healthcare Center - Psychology Training

Learn about internship and fellowship opportunities at the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, West Los Angeles.

Internship Program

The doctoral internship at the West Los Angeles VA Healthcare Center is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of the American Psychological Association. Our next site visit will be during the academic year 2027.

Applications for full-time internship positions will be accepted from doctoral students who are enrolled at an American Psychological Association (APA) or Canadian Psychological Association (CPA) accredited graduate program in Clinical, Counseling, or Combined psychology or Psychological Clinical Science Accreditation System (PCSAS) accredited program in Clinical Science. Applicants with a doctorate in another area of psychology who meet the APA or CPA criteria for respecialization training in Clinical, Counseling, or Combined Psychology are also eligible. Per VA policy, funded trainees must be U.S. citizens. Please see our eligibility page for additional VA eligibility requirements. Applicants must be in good standing, have completed all coursework, and been approved for internship status by the graduate program training director. The training program is funded to support eight full-time internship positions, three of which are designated for trainees who will spend six months on rotations in Geropsychology. Applicants should have acquired a minimum of 400 hours of supervised direct intervention and 100 hours of assessment experience at the time of application.

The West Los Angeles VA Healthcare Center is located in one of the most culturally diverse cities in the nation and serves U.S. military Veterans who represent a mixture of ethnic, cultural, and individual diversity. Our internship program values individual and cultural diversity and strongly encourages qualified candidates from all backgrounds to apply. In keeping with our commitment to diversity, we seek an internship class that represents a wide range of backgrounds, interests, talents and life experiences.

Stephanie Cardoos Ph.D.

Director, Psychology Training

VA Greater Los Angeles health care

Phone: 310-478-3711 ext. 48210

Email: Stephanie.Cardoos@va.gov

Important Dates and APPIC MATCH Numbers

APPIC MATCH Numbers:

General Internship - 113811

Geropsychology - 113812

Applications due: November 1, 2023

Accreditation Status

The doctoral internship at the West Los Angeles VA Healthcare Center is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of the American Psychological Association. Our next site visit will be during the calendar year 2027.

Inquiries regarding the accreditation status of our internship program may be directed to:

Office of Program Consultation and Accreditation

American Psychological Association

750 1st Street, NE, Washington, DC 20002-4242

Telephone: 202-336-5979 / Email: apaaccred@apa.org

Web: http://www.apa.org/ed/accreditation

Application Procedures

Applications for full-time internship positions in psychology will be accepted from students who are enrolled and in good standing at doctoral programs in clinical or counseling psychology accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA) or the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA), doctoral programs in Clinical Science accredited by the Psychological Clinical Science Accreditation System (PCSAS), or an APA or CPA-accredited respecialization training program in Clinical or Counseling Psychology. The training program is funded to support eight full-time internship positions, three of which are designated for trainees who will spend eight months on rotations in Geropsychology. The 2024-2025 internship year will begin on July 29, 2024.

Applications must be submitted through the AAPI Online portal by 11:59PM ET on November 1, 2023. Please include the following information in your cover letter:

  1. Indicate if you are applying to the General Track or the Geropsychology Track. Applicants should apply to one track only.
  2. List list your top 6 rotations of interest in descending order of priority. You are not committed to these rotations should you match here for internship.
  3. Our program requires that applicants have accrued a minimum of 400 hours of supervised direct intervention and 100 hours of assessment experience at the time of application to internship. If you have been unable to acquire sufficient direct service hours due to the COVID-19 pandemic, please explain your situation and describe any additional training experiences you have or will have received to prepare you for internship.

Our procedures for intern recruitment and selection are governed by the Department of Veterans Affairs, the American Psychological Association (APA), and the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers (APPIC). This internship site agrees to abide by the APPIC policy that no person at this training facility will solicit, accept or use any ranking-related information from any intern applicant.

 

Please contact the Director of Training if you have any questions. 

Stephanie Cardoos, Ph.D., Director of Training

Psychology Department (116B)

VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System

Building 401, Room A241

11301 Wilshire Blvd.

Los Angeles, CA.  90073-1003

 

Telephone: 310-478-3711, extension 48210                      

E-mail: Stephanie.Cardoos@va.gov

 

**Please note, Dr. Cardoos will be on extended leave July-October 2023.  During that time, please direct questions to Deputy Chief of Psychology (Education & Training) Dr. Anna Okonek.

Anna Okonek Ph.D.

Deputy Chief of Psychology (Education & Training)

VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System

Phone: 310-478-3711, extension 40301

Email: Anna.Okonek@va.gov

 

Internship Admissions, Support, and Initial Placement Data

Internship Program Tables
Program Tables Updated 6/29/23

Does the program or institution require students, trainees, and/or staff (faculty) to comply with specific policies or practices related to the institution’s affiliation or purpose? Such policies or practices may include, but are not limited to, admissions, hiring, retention policies, and/or requirements for completion that express mission and values? No If yes, provide website link (or content from brochure) where this specific information is presented: N/A

Internship Program Admissions

Briefly describe in narrative form important information to assist potential applicants in assessing their likely fit with your program. This description must be consistent with the program’s policies on intern selection and practicum and academic preparation requirements:

Program Eligibility

Minimum qualifications include U.S. citizenship and enrollment and good standing at an American Psychological Association (APA) or Canadian Psychological Association (CPA) accredited graduate program in Clinical, Counseling, or Combined psychology or Psychological Clinical Science Accreditation System (PCSAS) accredited program in Clinical Science. Persons with a doctorate in another area of psychology who meet the APA or CPA criteria for respecialization training in Clinical, Counseling, or Combined Psychology are also eligible.

In addition, applicants must have completed all coursework and been approved for internship status by the graduate program training director. We require that applicants have passed their comprehensive exams and have had their dissertation proposal approved by the start of internship. Because of the demands of the program, we prefer that applicants have completed or have made significant progress on their dissertation before starting the internship. Applicants should have acquired a minimum of 400 hours of supervised direct intervention and 100 hours of assessment experience at the time of application to internship. Exceptions may may be considered for applicants whose direct service hours have been impacted negatively by the pandemic.

Eligibility Requirements for Psychology Trainees in VA

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) adheres to all Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action policies. As a Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Health Professions Trainee (HPT), you will receive a Federal appointment, and the following requirements will apply prior to that appointment.

1. U.S. Citizenship. HPTs who receive a direct stipend (pay) must be U.S. citizens.

2. U.S. Social Security Number. All VA appointees must have a U.S. social security number (SSN) prior to beginning the pre-employment, on-boarding process at the VA.

3. Selective Service Registration. Male applicants born after 12/31/1959 must have registered for the Selective Service by age 26 to be eligible for U.S. government employment, including selection as a paid or WOC VA trainee. For additional information about the Selective Service System, and to register or to check your registration status visit https://www.sss.gov/.

4. Fingerprint Screening and Background Investigation. All HPTs will be fingerprinted and undergo screenings and background investigations. Additional details about the required background checks can be found at the following website: Executive Orders | National Archives

5. Drug Testing. Per Executive Order 12564, the VA strives to be a Drug-Free Workplace. HPTs are not drug-tested prior to appointment, however are subject to random drug testing throughout the entire VA appointment period. You will be asked to sign an acknowledgement form stating you are aware of this practice. This form authorizes your drug test results to be shared with VA officials, and others who have a need to know. Failure to sign the authorization form may result in disciplinary action up to and including removal.

As a trainee subject to random drug testing you should be aware of the following:

  • Counseling and rehabilitation assistance are available to all trainees through existing Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) at VA facilities (information on EAP can be obtained from your local Human Resources office).
  • You will be given the opportunity to submit supplemental medical documentation of lawful use of an otherwise illegal drug to a Medical Review Officer (MRO).
  • VA will initiate termination of VA appointment and/or dismissal from VA rotation against any trainee who is found to use illegal drugs on the basis of a verified positive drug test, or refuses to be tested.
  • Although medical and recreational use of cannabis is legal in the state of California, it is illegal for federal employees and trainees to use cannabis and its derivatives, including CBD, on or off duty.

The VA-Drug-Free Workplace Program Guide for Veterans Health Administration Health Professions Trainees can be found at: VA Drug-Free Workplace Program Guide for Veterans Health Administration Health Professions Trainees

6. Additional Information. Please note that Health Professions Trainees (HPTs) are appointed as temporary employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs. As such, HPTs are subject to laws, policies, and guidelines posted for VA staff members. There are infrequent times in which this guidance can change during a training year which may create new requirements or responsibilities for HPTs. If employment requirements change during the course of a training year, HPTs will be notified of the change and impact as soon as possible and options provided. The VA Training Director for your profession will provide you with the information you need to understand the requirement and reasons for the requirement in timely manner. 

Additional information regarding eligibility requirements for appointment as a psychology HPT can be found at: Resources for Health Professions Trainees Coming to VA | Eligibility and Forms - Office of Academic Affiliations.

Selection of Applicants

Selection of applicants for admission is based on several factors. These factors include goodness of fit between the student and those of the training program, educational background and interests consistent with our program’s scientist-practitioner model, the quality of a student’s education at the graduate and undergraduate levels, the quality and diversity of practicum experiences, evidence of scholarship based on productivity in research, teaching or other professional activities, letters of recommendation and personal qualities reflected in the application materials and in the interview. We prefer applicants who have had diverse clinical experiences with a variety of patient populations, including training in VA or other public-sector settings. Because our internship places a heavy emphasis on assessment, practicum experience should include personality and cognitive assessment and experience writing integrated testing reports. Applications are reviewed by the Director of Training and training program supervisors.

Our internship training program is committed to attracting and retaining trainees who reflect the diversity of the Veterans that we serve at WLA. We value individual and cultural diversity across all identity factors and encourage qualified candidates from all backgrounds to apply, especially those from historically excluded and underserved communities.  It is the policy of the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide equal opportunity in employment for all qualified applicants, which prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex (including gender identity, transgender status, sexual orientation, and pregnancy), age, disability, genetic information, marital status and parental status. It is the policy of VA to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified applicants and employees with disabilities in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Does the program require that applicants have received a minimum number of hours of the following at the time of application? If yes, indicate how many: Yes or No Minimum Number Total Direct Contact Intervention Hours Yes 400 Total Direct Contact Assessment Hours Yes 100 Describe any other required minimum criteria used to screen applicants: None N/A N/A
Financial and Other Benefit Support for the Upcoming Training Year Yes or No; if yes, amount Annual Stipend/Salary for Full-Time Interns: Yes, $38,484 Annual Stipend/Salary for Part-Time Interns: N/A Program Provides access to medical insurance for intern? Yes, see blow
Benefits Yes or No; if yes, amount Trainee contribution to cost required? Yes Coverage of family member(s) available? Yes Coverage of legally married partner available? Yes Coverage of domestic partner available? No Hours of Annual Paid Personal Time Off (PTO and/or Vacation) - 4 hours accrued every 2 weeks Yes, 104 Hours of Annual Paid Sick Leave - 4 hours accrued every 2 weeks Yes, 104 In the event of medical conditions and/or family needs that require extended leave, does the program allow reasonable unpaid leave to interns in excess of personal time off and sick leave? Yes
Other Benefits Hours 5 days of educational leave for approved professional activities (e.g., conferences, workshops, dissertation defense, etc.) 40 11 Federal Holidays 88 Interns qualify for Public Transit Fare Benefits and may be eligible for the Childcare Subsidy Program. Unfortunately, the VA does not cover supplemental dental and vision insurance. Medical insurance premiums are withheld from stipends on a pre-tax basis. 2023 Plan Information for California can be found at: https://www.opm.gov/healthcare-insurance/healthcare/plan-information/plans/2023/state/ca. N/A
Provide an Aggregated Tally for the Preceding 3 Cohorts ’19-‘20 through ’21-‘22 Total # of interns who were in the 3 cohorts: 23 Total # of interns who did not seek employment because they returned to their doctoral program/are completing doctoral degree: 1
Each individual represented in this table should be counted only one time. For former trainees working in more than one setting, select the setting that represents their primary position. PD (Postdoctoral residency position EP (Employed Position) Academic teaching 2 0 Community Mental Health Center 0 0 Consortium 0 0 University Counseling Center 0 0 Hospital/medical center 3 0 Veterans Affairs Health Care System 16 0 Psychiatric facility 0 0 Correctional facility 0 0 Health Maintenance Organization 0 0 School district/system 0 0 Independent practice setting 1 0 Other 0 0

Post-Internship Activities

Our interns have been very successful in obtaining competitive postdoctoral fellowships and employment upon completion of internship. Over the last 5 years, immediately following internship 37 of our 40 interns obtained postdoctoral fellowships (26 clinical, 9 research, 2 clinical/research), one obtained employment, and two returned to their doctoral programs to complete their dissertations. Many continue to be actively engaged in scholarly activity, and all interns who are engaged in clinical service delivery have obtained licensure or plan to seek it. Based on our outcome data, we feel confident that our Training Program prepares interns for professional careers consistent with our program’s aim, training model and philosophy. Interns who train at WLA go on to careers in VA, academic medical center, or other public sector settings, academia, as well as the private sector.

Graduate Programs of Interns from the Classes of 2017-2018 to 2022-2023

Intern Class of 2023-2024

  • American University
  • Palo Alto University
  • San Diego State University/University of California, San Diego Joint Doctoral Program
  • University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa
  • University of California, Los Angeles (2)
  • University of Houston
  • University of Maryland, Baltimore County

 

Intern Class of 2022-2023

  • Fordham University
  • Florida State University
  • George Washington University
  • Loma Linda University (2)
  • San Diego State University/University of California, San Diego Joint Doctoral Program
  • University of California, Los Angeles
  • University of Wyoming
  • Yeshiva University

 

Intern Class of 2021-2022

  • Alliant International University/CSPP-San Diego
  • DePaul University
  • Duquesne University
  • San Diego State University/University of California, San Diego Joint Doctoral Program (2)
  • University of California, Los Angeles
  • University of Illinois at Chicago
  • University of Nevada, Reno

 

Intern Class of 2020-2021

  • Fuller Graduate School of Psychology
  • Pepperdine University
  • San Diego State University/University of California, San Diego Joint Doctoral Program
  • University of California, Los Angeles (3)
  • University of Notre Dame
  • University of Southern California

 

Intern Class of 2019-2020

  • George Mason University
  • Palo Alto University
  • Pepperdine University
  • PGSP-Stanford Psy.D. Consortium
  • University of California, Berkeley
  • University of Florida
  • University of Rhode Island

 

Intern Class of 2018-209

  • Loyola University of Chicago
  • Pepperdine University
  • University of Arizona
  • University of California, Los Angeles
  • University of Notre Dame
  • University of Oregon (Counseling)
  • University of Southern California (2)

Postdoctoral Fellowships of Interns from the Classes of 2018-2019 to 2022-2023

Generalist/Mood & Anxiety Disorders

  • Community West
  • OCD & Anxiety Program of Southern California
  • VA Long Beach Healthcare System, Advanced Mental Health Interprofessional Education

 

Geropsychology

  • VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, West Los Angeles Healthcare Center
  • VA Palo Alto Health Care System

 

Gero/Neuropsychology

  • University of Miami Medical Center

 

Health Psychology/Behavioral Health/Primary Care

  • VA Connecticut Healthcare System, West Haven
  • VA Greater Hartford Clinical Psychology Internship Consortium - Newington
  • VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, West Los Angeles
    • Integrated Care for Homeless Veterans with Severe Mental Illness
    • Interprofessional Integrative Health
  • VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, Los Angeles Ambulatory Care Center
    •  Primary Care-Mental Health Integration/Substance Use Disorders
  • VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, Sepulveda Ambulatory Care Center 

 

Neuropsychology

  • Cambridge Health Alliance, Harvard Medical School
  • University of California, Davis
  • VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, West Los Angeles Healthcare Center
    •   Neuropsychology
    • Polytrauma/TBI and Rehabilitation Neuropsychology
  • VA Northern California Health Care System, Martinez
  • VA Puget Sound Health Care System – American Lake Division

             

PTSD/Trauma

  • VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, West Los Angeles
  • VA Greater Los Angeles, Sepulveda Ambulatory Care Center
    • Women’s Clinic/Trauma Recovery Service

                       

Research

  • Columbia Aging Center
  • Medical University of South Carolina
    • National Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center
  • UCLA Department of Psychology          
  • University of California, Irvine
  • University of California, San Diego
  • University of California, San Francisco Memory and Aging Center
  • University of Colorado, School of Medicine, Psychiatry Dept
  • University of Florida
  • University of Southern California, Neuropsychology
  • VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, West Los Angeles
    •  Geriatric Research, Education, and Clinical Center (GRECC)
  • VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System MIRECC
  • VA San Diego MIRECC

 

Substance Use

  • VA San Diego Healthcare System
    • Substance Abuse Residential Rehabilitation Treatment Program (SARRTP) PTSD Track
  • VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, West Los Angeles
    • Substance Use Disorders and Homeless Mental Health/Substance Use & Co-occuring Conditions

 

Open House and Interviews

Applicants who are selected for interview are invited to attend any one of four virtual Open House/Interview sessions held on January 4, 9, 11 and 16, 2024. Applicants will indicate their preferences for interview dates once they are contacted by the Director of Training. During the 3-hour morning Open House, applicants meet with the Director of Training, training supervisors from the different rotations and the current intern class. Each applicant will participate in a one-hour individual interview with one of the training staff. All applicants will be notified of their interview status by December 15, 2023.

Internship Year Schedule

The internship is full time for one year beginning July 29, 2024 and ending July 27, 2025. Internship appointments are for 2080 hours, which is full time for a one-year period. The workweek is Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with no after hours on-call responsibilities.

Facility and Training Resources

Interns are provided with office space and computers necessary for patient care and administrative responsibilities.They have access to VA Intranet and Internet resources for on site and remote clinical work and research. The Psychology Department has a comprehensive Psychology Assessment Lab that includes a wide variety of up-to-date psychological assessment instruments and test scoring programs. 

Administrative Policies and Procedures

Authorized Leave: The West Los Angeles VA Healthcare Center's policy on Authorized Leave is consistent with the VA national standard. In the course of the year, interns accrue 13 vacation days and 13 sick days and receive 11 paid holidays. Interns may request up to 5 days of educational leave for off-site educational activities, including conferences, presentations at professional meetings, the oral defense and postdoctoral fellowship or job interviews.

Due Process and Grievance Procedures: All trainees are afforded the right to due process in matters of problematic behavior and grievances. A copy of our due process policy is available on request. 

Privacy policy: We will collect no personal information from applicants when they visit our Website.

Self-Disclosure: The program does not require interns to disclose sensitive personal information unless the information is necessary to evaluate or obtain assistance for interns whose personal problems could reasonably be judged to be preventing them from performing their training-related activities in a competent manner or if posing a threat to others.

Medical/Family Leave: The internship program allows for extended leave without pay after accrued leave is exhausted in the event of serious illness or for parental leave. Leave can be granted for the birth of a child and care of a newborn, or placement of a child with oneself for adoption or foster care; a serious health condition of a spouse, child, or parent; or one’s own serious health condition. Interns are required to complete the full 2080-hour requirement; any leave taken in excess of accrued leave will result in an extension of the training contract, during which time the intern will receive their stipend.  Interns who obtain their health insurance through the VA continue to receive coverage during extended leave. Interns are encouraged to address any requests for leave with the Director of Training as early as possible. 

Reasonable Accommodations: It is the policy of VA to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified applicants and employees with disabilities in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  Trainees may communicate their need for reasonable accommodation to their immediate supervisor or training director, by submitting a request through our internal online system, or by sending an email to our Reasonable Accommodations office.  Additional information is located here:  Reasonable Accommodations - Office of Resolution Management, Diversity & Inclusion (ORMDI).

Liability Protection for Trainees: When providing professional services at a VA healthcare facility, VA-sponsored trainees acting within the scope of their educational programs are protected from personal liability under the Federal Employees Liability Reform and Tort Compensation Act 28, U.S.C.2679 (b)-(d).

Psychology Setting

The VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System (GLA) is the largest health care system within the Department of Veterans Affairs. It consists of a tertiary care facility (West Los Angeles Healthcare Center, also known as “West LA”), two ambulatory care centers and 8 community-based outpatient clinics. GLA provides comprehensive ambulatory and tertiary care to Veterans in five counties in Southern California, with 690 beds, 5,500 employees and an annual operating budget of $1.4 billion. 

In fiscal year 2020, GLA provided medical and mental health services to over 90,000 Veterans residing in the primary service area, including Los Angeles County, which has the largest concentration of Veterans of any county in the United States. It provides a full spectrum of primary and tertiary inpatient and ambulatory care services, including acute, sub-acute, rehabilitation, extended care, mental health services, telehealth and home healthcare. GLA is one of 23 national Polytrauma Network Sites (PNS) that serves Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation New Dawn (OEF/OIF/OND) Veterans who have complex medical and psychological injuries, including traumatic brain injury. GLA's Homeless Program has been designated as a Homeless Program Center of Excellence. To find out more about GLA, please go to VA Greater Los Angeles Health Care | Veterans Affairs.

The West Los Angeles VA Healthcare Center, which is the site for this internship program, is the hospital, research, and administrative center for GLA. It is situated on a 388-acre campus with 150 buildings. The south campus is primarily devoted to medical/surgical and inpatient psychiatric services located in the main medical center building as well as outpatient mental health services in two neighboring buildings. The north campus facilities include two long-term care buildings (Community Living Center) with 150 beds, a 279-bed Domiciliary, recovery-oriented outpatient programs, and research and administrative offices. The 396-bed California State Veterans Home is also located on the north campus.

GLA directs one of the Department of Veterans Affairs' largest educational enterprises. It serves as a training site for over 2900 health professions trainees each year from more than 100 different affiliate college, university and vocational school programs. VAGLA funds nearly 400 full time medical and dental residency positions in more than 60 specialty areas, and funds approximately 150 positions in associated health training programs that include clinical psychology, dietetics, optometry, pharmacy, podiatry and social work.. GLA is also the site for the Advanced Practice Nursing programs sponsored by local universities. Primary university affiliates include the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine and the USC School of Medicine.

At GLA there are always multiple ongoing research programs and project in all areas of medical and mental health. GLA has numerous VA and NIH funded Clinical Research Centers including: The VA Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center (GRECC); the VISN 22 Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Center (MIRECC); the Parkinson's Disease Research, Education and Clinical Center (PADRECC); the Cancer Center, the VA Health Services Research Center of Excellence for the Study of Provider Behavior; the Center for Ulcer Research and Education (CURE), a VA/UCLA Consortium for gastrointestinal research; and the VA/UCLA Center for the Neurobiology of Stress.

VA Greater Los Angeles is a designated Center of Innovation for the national Office of Patient Centered Care and Healthcare Transformation. Our Integrative Health and Healing Center offers a wide variety of clinical programs for Veterans and staff. Psychologists play a leading role in implementing evidence-based integrative modalities of care, training interprofessional staff to provide these interventions, and conducting quality improvement and funded research studies on integrative care outcomes. Some of the modalities include mindfulness-based interventions, Tai Chi, yoga, acupuncture and introductory courses for integrative self-management practices. GLA has a fully developed Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction program (MBSR) for Veterans and staff with an ongoing retreat practice for our Veteran graduates. Currently, two Psychology Residents are participating in formal training in integrative modalities in our Interprofessional Health program. 

The Homeless Patient Aligned Care Team (HPACT) is a nationally designated homeless PACT delivering “whole health care.” Established in July 2014, HPACT’s five fully staffed teams are among the country’s most highly concentrated groups of integrated mental health and primary care teams. The program incorporates internal medicine, nurse practitioner, psychiatry, and pharmacy residents into the interprofessional team established by the faculty.

The West Los Angeles VA Healthcare Center is located in one of the most culturally diverse cities in the nation and serves U.S. military Veterans who represent a mixture of ethnic, cultural, and individual diversity. Of the 80% Veterans who reported their race/ethnicity when registering for care in Fiscal Year 2023 (as of 6/5/2023), approximately 52% identified as White, 20% as African American, 15% as Hispanic, 5% as Asian, and 0% as Native American. Our overall Veteran population is approximately 88% male. Over 45% of Veterans receiving care here are over the age of 65, with 12% under the age of 35 and 18% between the ages of 55-64 years. There are 13,221 OEF/OIF Veterans who have been enrolled at GLA. With regard to socioeconomic status, 76% of Veterans from all military eras report an annual income of less than $25,000, with 58% reporting less than $10,000 in income annually. 

The Psychology internship program at the West Los Angeles VA Healthcare Center has been accredited by the American Psychological Association since 1979. Of the 76 clinical psychologists on staff at WLA, approximately 30 provide clinical supervision in the internship training program. All psychologists on staff are licensed, are from APA-accredited doctoral programs in clinical or counseling psychology and have completed an APA-accredited doctoral internship. Many hold clinical and academic appointments at local institutions, including the University of California, Los Angeles, the University of Southern California and Fuller Graduate School of Psychology. Psychologists at the West Los Angeles VA occupy a variety of roles in both inpatient and outpatient medical and mental health settings, with several staff members involved in program leadership positions and the majority working in interdisciplinary or interprofessional settings with allied mental health care professionals. Supervisors represent a wide range of theoretical orientations, including cognitive-behavioral, behavioral, integrative and psychodynamic.

In addition to the clinical internship, the Psychology training program provides training for 6-8 practicum students each year, most of whom are from local doctoral programs. In addition, in the 2024-2025 training year we will have nine postdoctoral positions in six clinical specialty or emphasis areas: Clinical Neuropsychology (3 two-year positions; 2 of which will be available in 2024), Behavioral Sleep Medicine/Health Psychology, Interprofessional Integrative Health (2 positions), Substance Use and Co-occurring Conditions, Geropsychology, and Trauma Psychology. Interns may have the opportunity to work closely with practicum students and residents depending on their rotations.

The Program’s Response to COVID-19

Our Psychology interns and residents transitioned to telehealth/telework immediately after the COVID-19 Stay-at-Home order was announced by the governor of California in mid-March of 2020. This occurred with the full support of our Medical Center, Education Office, and Mental Health leadership. Our overall goal throughout and following the pandemic has been to provide the highest quality training while ensuring safe and effective patient care. Our medical center and department continue to support telehealth as a service modality that increases access to care for many veterans, and interns can expect to gain experience in telehealth over the course of the the training year. At the time that this brochure is being prepared, interns are working through a combination of telehealth/telework and in-person face-to-face care, which is required on some rotations.  Didactics remain virtual at this time but may transition to in-person in the near future.  We will continue to prioritize the health and safety of our trainees while offering an excellent training experience and providing the best possible care to our nation’s Veterans.  In doing so, we will continue to closely follow the guidelines and regulations set forth by the VA Office of Academic Affiliations, APA, APPIC, and the California Board of Psychology.

Training Model and Program Philosophy

The aim of the Psychology internship program at the West Los Angeles VA Healthcare Center is to prepare interns for successful entry into postdoctoral or entry-level professional positions, particularly in VA Medical Centers, academic medical centers or academic departments of psychology, and eventual licensure. The program supports the Department of Veteran’s Affairs mission to train professionals who will become members of the VA workforce as well as serve the health care needs of the nation as a whole. Our expectation is that our graduates will become licensed psychologists.  

The internship program provides broad and general training based on the scientist-practitioner model. Our primary goal is to develop an intern’s general knowledge, skills, values and attitudes through direct supervised patient care, supplemented by didactic seminars and participation in clinical research or other scholarly activity. Our goal is to provide each intern with a broad range of training experiences in assessment, intervention and consultation with a wide range of patients in medical and mental health settings. We believe that breadth of training is essential in developing well-rounded psychologists who will advance the field through professional practice, education, research and leadership roles. 

The core concept of our internship is the understanding and application of scientific research to the practice of clinical psychology. The internship promotes development of critical thinking skills that are essential to evaluating the research literature, implementing treatments, assessing outcomes and investigating questions that enhance our knowledge and effectiveness. Our program’s emphasis on the application of current scientific knowledge to professional delivery of services is reflected in the content of internship training activities. These activities include training in evidence-based psychological treatments, completion of a research/scholarly project and didactics offered through the VA and outside resources. While we place a strong emphasis on practice informed by the science of psychology, our goal is for interns to develop the knowledge and skills that enable them to apply psychological theory, science and technique in a flexible manner to meet the diverse needs of the patient. 

The internship is training-focused. While interns will spend the majority of their time in direct patient care activities, the intern's training goals are of primary importance and take precedence over workload demands. Interns are active participants in their own training. The transitional year from academic training to professional practice provides the opportunity for interns to develop their own interests and ideas within the structure provided by the program. We work collaboratively with each intern to develop an individualized, balanced program both within and across rotations that supplements the trainee’s prior clinical experiences, fits with the intern’s interests and career goals and meets the goals of training. Interns take an active role in selecting their rotations, planning didactics and participating in program evaluation and development. 

The program employs a developmental model of training. Training experiences are designed to provide more intensive supervision at the outset of the internship and at the beginning of each new rotation, with the goal of increasing the interns' independence and ability to manage increasingly complex situations as their knowledge and skills develop. By the completion of internship, our expectation is that interns will be well prepared to function at a sufficiently autonomous level required for a postdoctoral residency or entry-level position.  

The internship values the development of strong collaborative relationships with other professionals. As a program within a large, integrated health care system, training experiences are designed to promote interdisciplinary alliances. Interns have multiple opportunities to develop and expand their professional role, develop strong working relationships with other health care professionals and contribute meaningfully to the overall medical and mental health of the patient.

Psychologists must be trained to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse population. Awareness and understanding of diversity and individual differences are crucial to professional development, practice, and research, and we strive to integrate these into every aspect of our training program, including intern recruitment, supervised clinical experiences, didactics, and clinical research. Our model for practicing diversity includes awareness of one’s own beliefs, assumptions, values and socio-cultural identity, awareness of and sensitivity to others’, and a working understanding of how these intersect in the therapeutic relationship and institutional environment.  The training program is committed to helping trainees cultivate cultural humility, while expanding upon their skills in providing culturally responsive care to various patient populations across WLA. Additionally, the training program actively supports trainees in engaging in DEI related work throughout their training year, in order to explore other professional roles within the larger healthcare system, and to develop competencies related to social justice and advocacy within the larger healthcare system. These opportunities include working on a DEI focused research project (with protected research time), joining GLA DEI Subcommittees and various initiatives and process improvement projects. 

Training in clinical supervision is an essential component of professional development as a psychologist. Psychologists must be prepared to train the next generation of practitioners using a competency-based approach informed by science. Supervision training involves the development of competence in providing supervision and mentorship to others, as well as evaluation of one’s own skills, values and attitudes. Multicultural competence is considered integral to ethical and effective supervision practice.

The internship promotes the growth of professional development and identity through self-reflection, a collaborative approach to supervision, professional role modeling, promotion of lifelong learning, and exposure to diverse clinical experiences, patients and approaches.Through the course of the internship year, our goal is for interns to integrate the highest standards and values of the profession, including ethical practice, sound judgment and effective and compassionate patient care.

Program Competencies

The APA Commission on Accreditation requires that all trainees in APA accredited programs develop specific competencies as part of their preparation for practice in health service psychology. Interns must demonstrate competence in the following nine profession wide competencies. Interns are expected to demonstrate growing independence and the ability to manage increasingly complex situations as the training year progresses.

I. Research

Interns will demonstrate proficiency in the ability to critically evaluate the clinical research literature, integrate the scientific literature into clinical practice and demonstrate competency in conducting and dissemeninating clinical research. They will apply clinical research findings to clinical decision making, complete a clinical research or other scholarly project during the internship year, present ongoing research at the Intern Seminar, and attend seminars and workshops on evidence-based treatments and clinical research topics.

II. Ethical and Legal Standards

Interns will demonstrate ethical conduct and knowledge and application of professional ethics, laws, regulations, standards and guidelines governing health service psychology in all professional activities. They will recognize ethical dilemmas when they arise and take appropriate measures to resolve them based on a well-reasoned ethical decision-making process. Interns will gain experience and proficiency through supervised clinical experience and formal educational training in professional and ethical standards.       

III. Individual and Cultural Diversity

Interns will understand and apply knowledge of individual and cultural diversity to psychological assessment, treatment, consultation, supervision and clinical research. Diversity competency includes building awareness and understanding of self and others as cultural beings, through the practice of cultural humility, and an appreciation for the dynamic nature of the intersecting identities of self and other. Throughout training, interns are expected to work effectively with others who possess differing or conflictual worldviews. Interns are expected to apply a framework for working effectively with individual and cultural diversity. Competency is developed through didactics and supervised clinical experience with diverse individuals, as well as through optional opportunities to engage in DEI related projects and initiatives through the GLA DEI Committee.

IV.  Professional Values, Attitudes, and Behaviors

Interns will conduct themselves in ways that reflect the values and attitudes of the profession, including integrity, deportment, professional identity, accountability and concern for the welfare of others. They will demonstrate openness and responsiveness to supervision and feedback and an attitude of lifelong learning. Interns will engage in accurate self-reflection regarding their own personal and professional functioning, engage in activities to enhance effectiveness and well-being, and intervene when disruptions occur.

V. Communication and Interpersonal Skills

Interns are expected to maintain effective and respectful relationships with patients, peers, staff, supervisors, supervisees and professionals from other disciplines. They will demonstrate the ability to effectively negotiate conflictual, difficult, and complex situations and relationships, including those involving individuals and groups different from oneself. Interns will demonstrate a thorough understanding of professional language and concepts and be able to communicate in a manner that is informative, clear and well-integrated.

VI. Assessment

Interns will demonstrate knowledge and skills in evidence-based psychological assessment in a variety of inpatient and outpatient medical and mental health settings. They will select methods and measures appropriate to the referral question, context, identified goals and diversity characteristics. Conceptualization, diagnosis and recommendations will be supported by evaluation methods and objective findings, and are informed by the research literature as well as professional standards and guidelines. Interns will demonstrate the ability to communicate findings and recommendations in an accurate, effective manner that is sensitive to a range of audiences.

VII. Intervention

Interns will demonstrate competency in providing evidence-based individual and group interventions across a variety of settings. They will demonstrate appropriate and therapeutic interpersonal qualities with a diverse patient population and establish and maintain an effective therapeutic alliance. Interns will demonstrate the ability to develop an intervention plan that is informed by assessment findings, therapeutic goals, context, diversity characteristics and the scientific literature.They will evaluate treatment effectiveness using appropriate methods or measures, and modify the approach accordingly. Interns will demonstrate flexibility and skill in modifying the approach when a clear evidence-base is lacking. 

VIII. Supervision

Interns will demonstrate effective knowledge and application of supervision models and practices that are informed by the research literature.They will effectively incorporate awareness and knowledge of ethical and legal issues, diversity factors and supervisory role into practice. Interns will competently apply their knowledge in direct or simulated practice with psychology trainees or other health professionals.

IX. Consulation and Interprofessional/Interdisciplinary Skills

Interns will demonstrate the ability to function effectively as a member of an interprofessional or interdisciplinary team.This includes the understanding of and appreciation for the roles and perspectives of self and others, development of effective collaborative relationships, provision of meaningful, understandable feedback and the ability to effectively address the consultation question.

Interns are formally evaluated on these nine competencies at the end of each rotation. The formal research project evaluation occurs at midyear and upon completion of the project. In addition to these nine profession wide competencies, each rotation has specific goals and requirements.

 

Clinical Tracks

We currently have eight funded intern positions; of these, 5 positions are in the General Track and 3 are in the Geropsychology Track.

The Geropsychology Track at the West Los Angeles VA Healthcare Center is supported by three specially designated training stipends that are awarded each year by the Department of Veterans Affairs. These stipends are awarded with the intent of training well-rounded clinical psychologists who also have special interest and expertise in working with older adults. The overall philosophy of this program is to train psychology interns in a biopsychosocial approach to aging. While the primary emphasis of training is on the clinical aspects of aging, developmental and normative aspects are also covered. Interns in the Geropsychology Program are required to complete two of their three rotations in geriatrics: Geriatric Medicine (inpatient Acute Geriatric Medicine Team and Home Based Primary Care (HBPC) Mental Health) and Geropsychology/Community Living Center (CLC). Training adheres to the Pikes Peak model for training in Geropsychology. The Geriatric Medicine and Geropsychology/CLC rotations are only open to trainees in the Geropsychology Track. Any applicant interested in these rotations is encouraged to apply to the Geropsychology track.

While our program does not offer a separate Neuropsychology track, students with an interest in Neuropsychology are able to meet the Houston Guidelines for a specialty in Neuropsychology through both the General and the Geropsychology Tracks.  The Neuropsychology rotation is fully devoted to outpatient neuropsychological assessment and is a core rotation for all trainees interested in a career in neuropsychology.  Interns in the Geropsychology track will have additional exposure to neuropsychology.  The majority of the training in the Geriatric Medicine rotation is on inpatient cognitive screens and also includes the option to complete neuropsychological assessments and dementia screening in the home through HBPC Mental Health.  While the Geropsychology/CLC rotation includes a wider range of clinical activities, trainees may select to take on additional cases in neuropsychological assessment. For interns in the General Track, the Rehab rotation offers opportunities for inpatient neuropsychological assessments in rehabilitation setting as well as 1-2 comprehensive neuropsychological assessment for Veterans with a history of TBI. There is no prescribed third rotation for General Track interns pursuing neuropsychology- interns are encouraged to select a final rotation that fits their career goals or broadens their experience.  In addition to clinical training, didactics in neuropsychology are provided across these rotations.  There are also opportunities to be involved in research in neuropsychology.  The West LA campus has 9 credentialed neuropsychologists on staff, all of whom are involved in teaching/supervision. 

Clinical Rotations

Interns complete three rotations that are approximately 17 weeks long and are selected on the basis of interest, prior clinical experiences and training goals. Rotations are selected to provide a breadth of clinical experience in inpatient and outpatient mental health and medical settings. By the end of the year, interns are expected to have gained experience in assessment, treatment and consultation in varied settings with a wide variety of patient populations.

Interns are asked to indicate their preferences for rotations prior to the start of the internship year. The Director of Training reviews and discusses these preferences with each intern to ensure a balanced training plan that supplements the student’s prior clinical experiences, fits with the intern’s interests, addresses gaps in training, and meets the goals of training. The Training Program attempts to honor rotation choices within constraints of the program, such as demand for certain rotations. Interns are generally expected to receive at least two of their top three rotation choices.

One of our eight internship positions is funded for treatment of substance use disorders (SUD), which requires that that one intern be placed in the SUD rotation each rotation. Because SUD is a popular rotation, it is likely that all rotation slots will be filled on the basis of intern interest. However, should any slots go unfilled, an intern who has not selected SUD as one of their top three rotation choices may be placed on this rotation.

Interns spend the majority of their time in direct patient care activities, including assessment, individual and group psychotherapy, consultation, supervision, case conferences, interprofessional/interdisciplinary treatment team conferences and clinical support activities (chart review, writing notes). 

Year-Long Psychotherapy Placement

The psychotherapy placement is designed to provide interns with a more intensive training experience within a particular treatment model or orientation with patients who present with more complex problems. Interns are required to treat two ongoing patients during the year. A single “case” may be year-long treatment of one individual, an ongoing group or a series of individual patients who may benefit from more prolonged but not year-long treatment. At the beginning of the year interns meet with the Director of Training, who selects a supervisor based on the trainee’s interests, theoretical orientation and training needs. Interns are required to video- or audiotape their psychotherapy sessions.

Clinical Supervision

Interns may have anywhere from one to four supervisors per rotation. They receive a minimum of four hours of supervision per week, at least two hours of which are in individual face-to-face supervision. Interns have the opportunity to observe supervisors during evaluations and assessment in many settings, especially at the outset of the rotation, and frequently serve as co-facilitators for group interventions. Supervisors represent a wide range of theoretical orientations, including cognitive-behavioral, behavioral, integrative, and psychodynamic. The Psychology staff is diverse in terms of ethnicity, cultural background, gender and professional and personal interests.

Opportunities to Conduct Supervision

Interns may have the opportunity to supervise pre-intern psychology trainees depending on where pre-interns are placed in any given year. Most recently, supervision opportunities have typically occurred on the Geropsychology and Geriatric Medicine rotation; they may also be available in other rotations in the 2024-2025 training year.

Direct Observation

Consistent with APA requirements for internship training, intern competency evaluations are based in part on direct observation of practice on all rotations during each evaluation period. In most cases this will involve in-room observation or co-facilitation of an intake interview, assessment, or group intervention. Observation of individual interventions occurs through audio or video recording of sessions

Didactics

The Internship Program offers five required seminars: a weekly Intern Seminar, a weekly Assessment Seminar, a twice-monthly Diversity Seminar, a monthly seminar on Clinical Supervision, and a monthly seminar on Evidence-based Psychotherapy. The monthly Geropsychology Journal Club is required for interns in the Geropsychology Track and optional for those in the General Track. The GLA Trauma Psychology seminar is required for interns on the Trauma rotation and optional for all others.

The General Intern Seminar meets every Wednesday afternoon and covers a wide range of topics, including law and ethics, assessment of risk, the Veteran population, professional development, intervention, program evaluation and other topics relevant to treatment of the Veteran population. The Director of Training schedules the seminar and welcomes ideas from interns on topics of interest. Interns are required to make one presentation at the Intern Seminar, which will focus on dissertation research or research conducted during the internship year. General meetings are scheduled as needed, and provide the intern class with the opportunity to discuss any areas of concern or topics of interest with the Director of Training. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we also implemented weekly to biweekly 30-minute huddles with the Director of Training to discuss updates, questions, and timely topics.

The Assessment Seminar meets every Wednesday afternoon. The seminar is facilitated by a staff psychologist with assistance from other training faculty and outside speakers with specialized psychological and neuropsychological assessment experience. The seminar is designed to enhance foundational skills in personality and psychodiagnostic assessment, cognitive evaluation, and other specialized areas such as violence risk, trauma, sexual health, pain and organ transplant. Coverage of psychodiagnostic assessment will focus on the MMPI-2 and MMPI-2-RF and include case presentations and group discussion. Cutting across all lectures will be a focus on how clinical research informs the assessment process. Of note, interns with specific interest in neuropsychology have been able to attend the Sepulveda Ambulatory Care Center’s Neuropsychology Seminar depending on scheduling constraints.

The Clinical Supervision Seminar, facilitated by Dr. Cardoos, meets monthly and is designed to provide interns with training in evidence-based supervision practice. Seminars include formal didactic presentations, assigned readings, exercises, case discussions, self-assessments, and role-plays, with an emphasis on experiential learning. Topics generally include APA Guidelines for Clinical Supervision, models and theories of supervision, roles and responsibilities, the supervisory relationship, legal and ethical issues, diversity and multiculturalism, reflective practice, and evaluation and feedback.

The Diversity Seminar, led by Drs. Elika Razmjou and Catherine Woods, meets with the overarching goal of increasing trainees’ cultural awareness, sensitivity, and humility. The core of the training is an active examination of the dimensions of our cultural selves as we connect with others in the context of our professional identities, and in our lived experiences as persons with intersecting identities. We use this understanding to inform our clinical conceptualizations and the relationships with our patients, with considerations for integrating social justice and advocacy. To achieve these objectives, we use interactive didactic presentations, case discussions, and experiential practice. Guest lecturers are invited to speak on topics of relevance to our clinical population or other areas of interest that are identified by the seminar facilitators and trainees. Additionally, interns will provide a presentation on a diversity-related topic of their choosing, as an opportunity to share their expertise or to delve into a content area they are less familiar with. The seminar meets twice monthly. Handouts and resources are provided.

The Evidence-Based Psychotherapy Seminar, facilitated by Dr. Castellon, meets monthly and features a variety of guest speakers discussing state-of-the-art evidence-based interventions relevant to the VA setting. Topics have included Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, CBT for Psychosis, CBT for Pain, Cognitive Processing Therapy, Prolonged Exposure, Integrative Behavioral Couple Therapy, Mindfulness-Based Interventions, CBT for Insomnia, psychodynamic psychotherapy, and Motivational Interviewing. The seminar format includes formal didactics and group discussion.   

The Geropschoology Journal Club, led by Drs. Rebecca Melrose and Paul Cernin, is a monthly didactic required for Geropsychology trainees, as well as for any trainee interested in learning more about the unique complexities of working with the geriatric population. Each month, supervisors and trainees will meet to discuss 1-2 research articles on a specified topic in Geropsychology. Topics will include psychotherapy with older adults, successful aging/promoting cognitive health, caregiver support, the 3 D’s (depression, dementia, and delirium), mild cognitive impairment, professional development in Geropsychology, and the ABPP process, as well as various other topics based on training needs.

The GLA Trauma Psychology Seminar,  facilitated by Dr. Robert Jakucs, is a virtual weekly didactic attended by Trauma Recovery Services staff and trainees (pre-interns, interns and postdoctoral residents) across all of GLA who are interested in the assessment and treatment of PTSD. The seminar, which is led by a variety of guest speakers, focuses on increasing understanding of trauma/PTSD, reviewing evidence-based approaches for assessing and treating PTSD, examining both practical and theoretical issues in the treatment of PTSD and discussing emerging new knowledge in the field of trauma psychology. It also includes case discussions and consultation.

There are many other educational opportunities available during the internship year. These often include GRECC-sponsored program and conferences, continuing education program sponsored by the Psychology Department, the Neurobehavior Seminar, a weekly Pain Lecture Series, rotation-specific case conferences, GLA-sponsored events, VA/UCLA Grand Rounds, and many programs and lectures in the community. Attendance at optional educational activities is at the discretion of the Training Director and rotation supervisor(s).

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee

The GLA Psychology Department has an active Psychology Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee. The Committee’s mission is “to create a willing community of fellow staff members and trainees to learn from one another’s life experiences, to advocate for inclusion, to celebrate all cultures and identities, and to promote equity in access to opportunity. We strive to extend these values to the services and care we offer to Veterans.”

The Committee meets monthly with the goal of enhancing DEI initiatives across the department and the VA system. Subcommittees, made up of staff and trainees and meeting at different times throughout the month, work on DEI initiatives in the areas of hiring/recruitment, training, and staff development. Within each subcommittee, there are a number of ongoing projects and initiatives led by staff, with opportunities for trainee involvement.

The DEI Committee also sponsors monthly Lunch and Learn get-togethers for staff and trainees. Recent topics have included: cultural adaptations of evidence-based practices, decolonizing mental health, codeswitching, LGBT Healthcare within VA, and weight or size stigma. They also host an occasional Cultural Resilience and Sharing hour.

Research

Our internship is based on the scientist-practitioner model and stresses the contribution of research to clinical practice. The West Los Angeles VA Healthcare Center is a major research facility and has excellent resources for basic and clinical research.

All interns are required to complete a research or other scholarly project during internship. The goal is to demonstrate research competency through development and completion of a project relevant to the intern’s interests and/or career goals. The project may consist of involvement in an ongoing research study, or engagement in other scholarly activities such as conducting a program evaluation, case study, critical literature review, DEI related project, theoretical paper or other approved activity. Interns are required to produce a formal written report in manuscript format. Work must reflect the intern’s independent ability to critically evaluate and disseminate research or other scholarly work. Interns work with the Director of Training and Director of Psychology Research to find a research preceptor. In most cases, interns work with one of their supervisors as a part of an ongoing clinical research project or program evaluation. Interns are required to submit a research proposal at midyear and a written summary of their work at the end of the year. The formal research project evaluation occurs at midyear and upon completion of the project. 

Examples of recent projects include:

  • Associations of Hippocampal Cholinergic Receptor Binding and Subcortical Cerebrovascular Disease with Whole Brain Volume in Cognitive Aging and Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Motivational Determinants of Poor Work Outcomes in Supported Employment
  • IMPROVE: A Program Evaluation for a Novel Harm Reduction Intervention for Veterans with Substance Use Disorders
  • Implementation of Suicide Risk Assessment Training in a Residential Care Setting
  • Association Between Depression and/or PTSD and Drop-out Rates in Older Adult Exercise Programs
  • Volunteering as an Adjunctive Program for Veterans with Substance Abuse Disorders
  • Developing and Implementing a Bystander Intervention Program to Reduce Sexual Harassment Among Veterans in a Mental Health Residential Treatment Program
  • Effects of “Gerofit” on Physical, Cognitive and Emotional Health
  • The Relation Between Pain and Emotions: A Systems Perspective
  • The Relationship Between White Matter Integrity and fMRI Activation During a Reasoning Task Among Cognitively Healthy and Mildly Cognitive Impaired Older Adults
  • Cultural Considerations in CPT and PE and Implications for Clinical Practice: A Narrative Review
  • The Comprehensive Pain Rehabilitation Program: An Examination of Treatment Completers and Non-completers
  • Cognitive Decline and Exacerbation of PTSD Symptoms in Older Adults: A Case Report
  • Barriers to Health Behavior Change in Veterans participating in a Cardiac Rehabilitation Program
  • Gender-Affirming Care for Veterans: Psychology Training Needs Assessment
  • The Impact of Engagement in “Veterans Voices and Visions” Groups on Veteran use of VA Health Services
  • Literature Review and Program Improvement of the Tobacco Cessation Clinic at WLA VA
  • Circadian Rest Activity Rhythm Disruption in Schizophrenia
  • Video Teleconference (VTC) Emotional Awareness and Expression Therapy (EAET) for Older Veterans with Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain: An Initial, Uncontrolled Pilot Study
  • Contextualizing Veteran Culture: A Literature Review with Some Clinical Considerations
  • A Program Evaluation of Multicultural Supervision within the West Los Angeles VA Psychology Internship Program
  • The Validity and Utility of a Brief Self-Report Measure of Executive Functioning, the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function–Adult Version (BRIEF-A), Among Veterans

Interns are required to present a current research project in the Intern Seminar. This can be dissertation research, the internship project or any other ongoing clinical research. 

Interns are allotted a maximum of 4 hours of research time per week. While completion of the VA  research project is to be the primary use of the intern’s research time, research hours may also be used for any outside research, including completion of the dissertation, preparation of manuscripts or presentations or work on other research projects.

Evaluation

The Internship Program strongly promotes ongoing feedback between interns, supervisors and the Training Committee. Supervisors complete written competency-based evaluations at the end of each rotation, with the expectation that feedback is an ongoing process throughout the rotation. These evaluations serve as a tool to encourage communication, identify strengths and weaknesses, and set goals for training. Interns are required to complete quarterly evaluations of their supervisors and of their rotations. Psychotherapy placement supervisors perform written evaluations at midyear and at the end of internship. Interns complete evaluations of their psychotherapy supervisors on the same schedule. Research preceptors and interns perform written evaluations at midyear and upon completion of the research project. Interns are evaluated on their supervision competency at midyear and at the end of the year based on their performance in the Clinical Supervision Seminar. In addition, rotation supervisors evaluate interns on their supervision competency if this training activity is available on the rotation.

Interns are required to complete a formal self-assessment at the outset of training and again at midyear. This process is intended to promote self-reflective practice, identify areas that may require more focused training and develop goals for the training year.

Written feedback on the intern’s performance is provided to his or her Director of Clinical Training at midyear and a letter of completion is provided to the DCT on the intern's last day of internship.

We value programmatic feedback from interns. Interns meet as a group with the Director of Training on a regular basis to discuss any problems, concerns or suggestions for program development and improvement. In addition, intern representatives participate in monthly Training Committee meetings, which offers interns the opportunity to express any concerns in addition to providing input on program improvement. Interns complete a formal program evaluation at the completion of the year. 

Our goal is to provide a successful and rewarding internship experience for all of our trainees. We work closely with interns to tailor the internship to individual interests, needs for training and career goals.

Requirements for Completion

In order to maintain good standing in the program, interns must:

  1. Abide by the APA Ethical Principles and Code of Conduct and all VA policies, rules and regulations.
  2. Obtain an average rating of "3” (Fully Satisfactory/Intern Level) or higher in each of the nine profession wide competencies on all 1st through 3rd quarter evaluations, with no areas requiring remediation.
  3. Attend required seminars and Psychology Department workshops. In addition, interns must attend educational activities required on their rotations.
  4. Meet all administrative requirements.

 

Criteria for Successful completion of internship:

  1. Completion of 2080 hours of supervised professional experience, to be completed in one year of full-time training
  2. Average rating of “2” (Semi-autonomous/Exit Level) or higher in each profession wide competency on all final evaluations, with no areas requiring improvement or remediation
  3. Interns must complete a research requirement and submit a written summary of their project to the Psychology Training Committee at least one month prior to the completion of internship. Project evaluations must meet the criterion listed above.

Anxiety Disorders Clinic (ADC) with Option for Family Resilience Clinic)

This rotation is comprised of outpatient specialty treatment experience in the Anxiety Disorders Clinic (ADC), with the option for experience in the Family Resilience Clinic (FRC).  Outpatient settings provide the intern with the opportunity for training in a variety of psychological models. Both longer-term and brief psychotherapy are utilized in the treatment of individuals, families, and groups. The duration of time that an intern will spend at the ADC vs. the FRC can vary from 50:50 (ADC:FRC) to 100:0 (ADC:FRC), based on the intern’s preferences.

The Anxiety Disorders Clinic (ADC) (50-100% of time)

The ADC provides training in the assessment treatment of anxiety disorders, as well as on related disorders including panic disorder, phobias, obsessive compulsive disorder, body-focused repetitive behaviors, generalized anxiety disorder, and unipolar depressive disorders. Interns in the ADC will receive specialized training in evidence-based treatments for anxiety disorders, with an emphasis on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Psychology interns rotating at this clinic will learn assessment tools for differential diagnosis of anxiety and anxiety-related disorders as well as how to apply and tailor evidence-based psychotherapeutic approaches for anxiety and OC-spectrum disorders. Training in the treatment of anxiety and OC-spectrum disorders will include the latest methods for enhancing cognitive therapy and exposure-based behavioral treatments. Interns will also be given advanced training in treating complex comorbidity commonly associated with anxiety disorders (e.g., major depressive disorder, trauma history and symptoms) and will treat at least one Veteran with this comorbidity. Training activities for interns will include treating individual patients, leading or co-leading groups, weekly didactics, individual supervision, as well as group supervision with psychiatry residents who participate in a half-day clinic in the Anxiety Section. Collaboration between residents and psychology interns to oversee the care of shared patients will be encouraged and facilitated, with opportunities for peer supervision and co-facilitating of CBT skills groups.

The Family Resilience Clinic (FRC) (25 to 50% of time)

Veterans referred to the FRC are seeking to improve family functioning. To serve veterans and their families, the FRC provides training in family treatment, offering experiences in parent-child intervention, family treatment, and parenting groups. More specifically, interns are given the opportunity to gain experience in evidence-based cognitive and behavioral interventions for improving family communication, problem-solving, and emotion regulation skills. There are also opportunities to gain experience in parent guidance/management training, parent-child interaction therapy approaches, structural family therapy techniques, and family-based emotion regulation interventions. Interns also can gain experience with supporting veterans who experiencing homelessness in a clinical trial headed by a psychiatrist who specializes in health services delivery programs. Training activities for interns will include treating individual families, leading or co-leading skills groups for parents, weekly didactics, and individual supervision.

Weekly scheduled activities include the following:

  • 10 hours of clinical work. If an intern desires 100% training at ADC, he/she/they can anticipate to see ~8 patients a week. If an intern desires a 50:50 split between the ADC and FRC, he/she/they can anticipate to see ~4 patients at the ADC and 2-3 families/couples + 1 group at the FRC.
  • 1 hour of group supervision.
  • 1 hour of didactics/case conference.
  • 1 hour of 1:1 supervision with a licensed clinical psychologist.

 

ADC/FRC Supervisors

Patricia Tan, Ph.D. (Primary Supervisor)

Erika Nurmi, M.D. (ADC)

Roya Ijadi-Maghsoodi, M.D. (FRC)

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday A.M. FRC supervision and didactics FRC/ADC individual therapy ADC or FRC assessments or individual therapy ADC supervision and individual therapy FRC/ADC individual or group therapy P.M. FRC individual and group therapy FRC/ADC individual therapy Intern seminars 1 p.m. - 5p.m.: ADC Training Clinic (didactics, case conference, group supervision; individual or group therapy) Research hours
Goals Requirements I. Research. Integrate evidence-based research into clinical practice. 1. Complete all assigned readings and integrate concepts in delivery of patient care. 2. Actively engage in supervision discussion related to assigned readings. II. Ethical and Legal Standards. Increase awareness and knowledge of ethical issues related to the practice of psychotherapy and assessment. Actively participate in discussion of ethical issues in clinical supervision and treatment team meetings. III. Individual and Cultural Diversity. Increase awareness and knowledge of individual and cultural diversity and stigma as they apply to the outpatient mental health population. 1. Proactively engage in supervision discussions. 2. Apply normative standards to assessment data appropriately and understand limitations. 3. Attend didactics. IV. Professional Values, Attitudes, and Behaviors. Demonstrate awareness of professional values, attitudes and behaviors 1. Maintain professional and respectful relationships with supervisors, patients, staff, and peers. 2. Progress notes and assessments will be appropriately thorough and clearly written. 3. Communication in supervision sessions and team meetings will be clear and professional. V. Communication and Interpersonal Skills. Strengthen interpersonal skills and communication skills. 1. Maintain professional and respectful relationships with supervisors, patients, staff, and peers. 2. Progress notes and assessments will be appropriately thorough and clearly written. 3. Communication in supervision sessions and team meetings will be clear and professional. VI. Assessment. Strengthen general assessment skills. 1.Conduct diagnostic intake interviews with patients who are new to FRC/ADC. 2.Complete 1-2 diagnostic and/or brief cognitive assessment batteries. 3. Present one case using symptom tracking and outcome evaluations at a didactic seminar in the ADC or FRC. VII. Intervention. Increase knowledge and skill in implementation of evidence-based individual and group interventions for a wide variety of disorders, including serious mental illness. 1. Provide supervised, individual treatment of cognitive behavioral therapy for a variety of anxiety disorders (ADC). Provide family/couples cognitive behavioral therapy for improving family/dyadic functioning (FRC). 2. Co-facilitate a CBT-based skills group, with optional participation in other experiences with parenting or couples psychoeducational groups. 3. Learn how to individualize treatment plans for patients with anxiety disorders, including those with complex comorbidity. VIII. Supervision. Demonstrate knowledge of supervision models and practices. 1. Provide direct supervision of a pre-intern on a therapy case if the opportunity is available. 2. Actively participate in discussion of supervision models and practices during supervision sessions. IX. Consultation and Interprofessional/ Interdisciplinary Skills. Develop skills in interdisciplinary care coordination. 1. Attend multidisciplinary clinic meetings weekly. 2. Serve as a psychological consultant when requested by other team members. 3. Work with residents on shared patients to coordinate care in the ADC.

Behavioral Health

The Behavioral Health rotation provides interns opportunities in working with multidisciplinary healthcare teams. Interns on this rotation serve as integral members of the various interdisciplinary and interprofessional teams, providing direct patient care, consultation to team members, and treatment planning.  Prior experience working in medical settings is not a pre-requisite.  With graduated levels of responsibility and frequent opportunities for shadowing, supervision, and practice, skills in behavioral health assessment, intervention and consultation are developed. 

This rotation includes training in various medical clinics at the hospital (many are virtual). As is the case for many health psychology staff, the intern will have the opportunity to “set shift” throughout the training experience, toggling between many training settings throughout the week.  The unifying themes across settings include activities that target optimizing the mental health of Veterans with physical health concerns, helping Veterans make behavioral changes to optimize health and well-being, and making recommendations to interdisciplinary treatment teams for the provision of care to Veterans.

Training settings include:

  • MOVE Clinic: MOVE is a nationwide, interprofessional weight management program within the VA. Interns participate in teaching behavior change skills for weight management in psychoeducation groups.  Additionally, when cases are available, the intern will have the opportunity to conduct pre-bariatric surgery evaluations.
  • Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation: The Cardiopulmonary Rehab Program enrolls Veterans with heart and/or lung conditions. In the program, Veterans participate in regular supervised exercise to improve heart and lung functioning and quality of life.  In addition, Veterans participate in psychoeducation programming that addresses relevant psychological topics in the context of chronic heart and lung disease including depression, stress and sympathetic nervous system activation, values in the context of chronic illness, goal setting, and healthy behavior change. Interns participate in these educational interventions and also facilitate interventions focused on emotional processing of and effective coping with cardiopulmonary illness. Interns also assist with conducting brief psychosocial assessments of Veterans entering the program and participate in a weekly IDT meeting.
  • COVID Clinic:  The Post Covid-19 Interdisciplinary Rehabilitation Clinic is designed for Veterans who have previously been diagnosed with Covid-19 (at least 4 weeks ago), who are medically stable, but continue to display persistent residual symptoms in an outpatient setting. Veterans are assessed to see how these symptoms affect their physical, psychological, and cognitive function as well their quality of life. They are then placed with appropriate rehabilitation specialists for therapy and treatment.  In this clinic, health psychology is one of 4 disciplines that evaluates Veterans’ current functioning to inform post-COVID rehabilitation treatment planning. Specifically, psychologists assess current mood, mood changes since having had COVID, symptoms of depression and anxiety, social support, and coping among other things and use this data to inform treatment planning. 
  • Polytrauma Clinic: The Polytrauma Clinic is part of the polytrauma network site and is designed to provide outpatient long-term rehabilitative care to Veterans who have experienced severe injuries, including brain injuries, to more than one organ system. Care is provided through an interdisciplinary team (physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech/language pathology, vision, social work, rehabilitation psychology, medical care, and recreation (through referral)). Consults for psychology within this clinic are conducted within the polytrauma team and typically are related to insomnia, chronic pain management, mood symptoms, adjustment post TBI, and interpersonal functioning. Interns in this clinic will respond to consults to provide brief individual psychotherapy (primarily EBPs) and co-lead weekly groups on a variety of topics.

 

Behavioral Health Supervisors

Megan Taylor-Ford, Ph.D. (Primary Supervisor)

Kysa Christie, Ph.D.

Christina Sandoval, Psy.D.

 

Weekly scheduled activities include:

Goals Requirements I. Research. Interns will gain knowledge of and apply the Behavioral Health Psychology clinical research literature to assessment, consultation and intervention. 1. Increase knowledge through focused readings in health psychology. 2. Bring in one article related to health psychology to discuss in supervision. II. Ethical and Legal Standards. Interns will demonstrate awareness of and skill in addressing ethical and legal dilemmas in the medical setting 1.Case discussion during supervision, to include coverage of informed consent, mandated reporting requirements, confidentiality and other relevant topics. 2. Case discussions in interprofessional meetings. 3. Reflect on ethical issues that arise in assessment/therapy cases with use of consultation. III. Individual and Cultural Diversity. Address issues of individual and cultural diversity and physical illness and disability in assessment, treatment and consultation. 1. Increase knowledge through readings, supervision, case discussion, and reflection in supervision of DEI growth areas. 2. Integrate knowledge with clinical practice; recognizing barriers to care. 3. Attend didactic presentations. IV. Professional Values, Attitudes, and Behaviors. Interns will act in accordance with the values, attitudes, and behaviors of the profession and advocate for the welfare of others. 1. Gain understanding of how to be an effective interdisciplinary team member through role modeling and participation in team meetings. 2. Engage in self-reflection in supervision to understand one’s own attitudes, self-limiting factors and biases. V. Communication and Interpersonal Skills. Interns will demonstrate the ability to forge and maintain effective relationships with patients who have acute and chronic illnesses. Interns will demonstrate skills necessary to communicate with staff from a variety of personal and professional backgrounds. 1. Serve as consultant various interdisciplinary teams. 2. Demonstrate clear and concise note writing to support patient care. VI. Assessment. Evaluate psychological issues in patients with medical illness, to include selection and administrative of assessment tools appropriate to the patient’s illness and disease, for the purpose of developing treatment plans. 1. Complete brief assessments in CPR, Covid Clinic, and MOVE program (as available). 2. Provide feedback to the patient and treatment team on assessments. VII. Intervention. Provide effective individual and group evidence-based treatments for patients with acute and chronic medical illnesses, taking into consideration psychological, cultural and social-environmental factors associated with health behaviors, illness, and disease. 1. Provide short-term intervention for individual patients in polytrauma clinic. 2. Provide group behavioral health interventions in the MOVE, CPR, COVID, and polytrauma programs. VIII. Supervision. Demonstrate skills in supervision of a junior trainee and/or case consultation. 1. Attend Clinical Supervision seminar. 2. Engage in group supervision as available IX. Consultation and Interprofessional/ Interdisciplinary Skills. Function effectively as a psychological consultant on an interdisciplinary medical team. Provide consultation to interdisciplinary team members in all settings.
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday AM MOVE Group 9am - 10am Covid Clinic 8am - 11am Cardiopulmonary Team Meeting 8am - 9am Polytrauma IDT 8:30am - 9:30am CPR Clinic (group 10am - 11am; assessments) Cardiopulmonary Rehab Psychoeducation Group 10 am - 11am Polytrauma Clinic AM PM Seminars 12pm - 1:30pm Covid Support Group Seminars 1pm - 4:30pm Polytrauma Clinic PM Research hours 12:30pm - 4:30pm MOVE Group 2pm - 3pm

The Domiciliary Residential Rehabilitation and Treatment Program

The Domiciliary Residential Rehabilitation and Treatment Program (DRRTP) is a 296-bed residential facility for veterans with complex substance use, psychiatric and psychosocial needs. The program is based on a holistic, person-centered and recovery-oriented approach to wellness that promotes mental and physical health. There are a broad range of services provided at the DRRTP, including individual and group psychotherapy, social work support, in-house medical and psychiatric care, recreation therapy, vocational rehabilitation and peer support. The goal of Domiciliary treatment is to help Veterans develop and maintain sobriety, improve emotional and physical health, increase social support, identify and pursue personal goals and values and ultimately reintegrate into the community as independent and productive members of society. 

The DRRTP is comprised of several distinct treatment tracks, each with approximately 45-60 beds (Substance Use Disorder (SUD)/Homeless, SUD, SUD/Serious Mental Illness, Combat Trauma, Detox, and Women’s Track). Each track is staffed by a team of providers including psychologists, social workers, addiction therapists, social science technicians, vocational rehab specialists, recreation therapists, chaplains and peer support specialists. Psychologists serve as the team leaders for the treatment tracks and manage program development, provide individual and group psychotherapy, conduct psychodiagnostic intakes and personality assessments, respond to crisis situations and screen patients for possible admission to the Domiciliary. Interns at the DRRTP will primarily work on the SUD/Serious Mental Illness track and work closely with the team lead, but may also have the opportunity to collaborate on groups or individual therapy cases from other tracks (such as co-facilitating the Cognitive Processing Therapy group, which is available to veterans in all tracks). Thus, the training experience is flexible and diverse, and interns have the opportunity not only to develop and solidify psychotherapy and assessment skills but also to gain valuable experience in the areas of program development and interdisciplinary leadership and collaboration.

In general, each week interns lead or co-lead 3 groups, carry 4-5 individual cases, conduct 1-2 psychological assessment batteries, and attend several team and community milieu meetings. Interns have the opportunity to lead a variety of groups including Cognitive Processing Therapy for PTSD, Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), mindfulness,  Managing Thoughts and Moods (CBT), and other cognitive-behavior and emotions management groups. Individual therapy opportunities include Cognitive Processing Therapy, ACT, Motivational Interviewing (MI), DBT and integrative emotion-focused approaches.

 

Domiciliary Supervisors

Renée Alas, Psy.D. (Primary Supervisor)

Jackie Spezze, Psy.D.

Goals Requirements I. Research. Interns will demonstrate proficiency in evaluating clinical research and integrating research into clinical practice, particularly in the area of residential substance use and mental health treatment. 1. Review and discuss literature in supervision. 2. Review and discuss the evidence base for specific treatments used at the DRRTP (e.g., Seeking Safety, Motivational Interviewing, CPT). 3. Gain experience with at least two evidence-based treatments. II. Ethical and Legal Standards. Interns will demonstrate appropriate ethical knowledge and conduct based on professional principles and standards and will seek supervision/consultation when indicated. 1. Discuss ethical/clinical issues in supervision. 2. Participate in treatment team meetings and case conferences during which challenging ethical and clinical issues are discussed. 3. Coordinate with other members of the treatment team to resolve difficult ethical issues. III. Individual and Cultural Diversity. Interns will demonstrate knowledge of individual and cultural diversity and apply this to assessment, treatment and interdisciplinary collaboration. 1. Discuss diversity issues during supervision and treatment team meetings. 2. Conduct assessments and deliver interventions with sensitivity to diversity issues, particularly race, ethnicity, gender, spirituality and homelessness. IV. Professional Values, Attitudes, and Behaviors. Interns’ behavior will reflect values and attitudes of the profession, including integrity, accountability, respect and beneficence. 1. Discuss professionalism in supervision. 2. Demonstrate professional behavior with staff and patients. 3. Participate in interdisciplinary team meetings. V. Communication and Interpersonal Skills. Interns are expected to maintain respectful relationships with patients, peers, staff and supervisors and demonstrate the ability to work effectively with providers from other disciplines. 1. Participate actively in treatment team meetings and communicate effectively with other members of the team regarding specific patients/issues. 2. Discuss interdisciplinary team dynamics and challenges during supervision VI. Assessment. Interns will conduct thorough psychodiagnostic and psychological evaluations, develop realistic treatment plans based on these evaluations, and effectively communicate findings to patients and interdisciplinary providers both in person and via written documentation. 1. Conduct 1-2 comprehensive evidence-based psychological assessments. 2. Discuss assessments during supervision. VII. Intervention. Interns will competently deliver evidence-based interventions, including individual and group interventions for patients with a history of substance use disorders and trauma. 1. Provide evidence-based individual therapy for 3 Veterans. 2. Lead 2-3 evidence-based groups per week. 3. Develop and implement crisis intervention techniques. IX. Interprofessional/Interdisciplinary Skills. Interns will demonstrate the ability to collaborate effectively with providers from other disciplines, including psychiatry, social work, medicine, peer support, addiction therapy, recreation therapy, vocational rehab and building management. 1. Participate actively in treatment team meetings and communicate effectively with other members of the team regarding specific patients/issues. 2. In supervision, discuss how clinical perspectives differ across members of the team and benefits as well as challenges of interdisciplinary teamwork.
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday AM DBT Skills Group Team Huddle Treatment Team Meeting Team Huddle Team huddle Team huddle Intake Intake Chain Analysis Group Community meeting Supervision Community Meeting PM Intern Seminars Group Intern seminars ndividual Therapy Research hours Individual Therapy Individual Therapy

Geriatric Medicine Rotation (Acute Geriatric Team and Geriatric Medicine Outpatient Clinic/GRECC, Home Based Primary Care)

*Please note, this rotation is only open to trainees in the Geropsychology track. We encourage any applicant interested in the Geriatric Medicine rotation to apply to that track.

The Geriatric Medicine rotation provides training in working with older patients and their medical care teams, answering questions regarding cognitive and mood disorders as well as capacity and ways to improve quality of life. Interns are involved in clinical interviewing, neuropsychological and psychological assessment, brief psychotherapy and team consultation in both inpatient (Acute Geriatric Team) and outpatient (Home Based Primary Care) medical geriatric settings. The program is linked with the UCLA Geriatric Medicine Fellowship, one of the top rated geriatric training sites in the country. Please see their website for additional information at https://www.uclahealth.org/geriatrics/fellowship/overview

Given the focus on both aging and cognition, this rotation satisfies training/education criteria for internship specialization in both Geropsychology and Neuropsychology. The Acute Geriatric Team (AGT) oversees up to 16 inpatient beds for medically ill older Veterans, located in the main hospital (Building 500). Training cases often include delirium, dementia, depression, coping with medical illness, hospice, adjustment disorders and capacity assessment. Interns are part of an interdisciplinary treatment team that is focused on training medical residents, interns and fellows as well as optometrists, pharmacists and psychologists. The intern is responsible for reviewing the medical charts of AGT patients to detect risk factors for cognitive, psychological and functional decline. As needed, the intern assesses patients for medical decisional capacity, ability to live independently, delirium, dementia and other cognitive concerns. The intern also assesses for mood disorders, provides short-term supportive therapy or psychoeducation and participates in family consultation and discharge planning. The intern provides training on cognitive screening and capacity assessment to the rotating medical residents. Because the AGT strives to discharge patients safely and efficiently, the pace is fast and there is a strong emphasis on team communication and collaboration.

The Home Based Primary Care (HBPC) Psychologist works with an interdisciplinary primary care team that includes a physician, nurse practitioners, registered nurse, pharmacist, occupational therapist, dietitian, social worker, and trainees from multiple disciplines. HBPC staff provide comprehensive primary care services to veterans in their homes. Veterans served by HBPC are older adults who have complex, chronic medical problems, many of whom have cognitive disorders and/or significant psychiatric disability. Psychologist responsibilities include psychiatric and cognitive assessments, including assessments of capacity for medical decision-making; neuropsychological assessment, dementia screening, therapeutic interventions with patients, family members, and assisted living staff; staff/team consultation; and team development. Presenting problems are varied and include depression and anxiety, coping with chronic illness, motivation/adherence issues, caregiver stress, behavioral problems associated with cognitive disorders, and end of life care/hospice. The intern will accompany the supervisor in a government car to the Veteran’s home to conduct assessments and interventions in HBPC. Supervision is done within a developmental model, such that trainees are given increasing responsibility as their competency develops. Initially, interns will observe and be observed by the supervisor in the veteran’s home. As interns progress in their skills, the intern will conduct treatment without the supervisor present. However, the supervisor will be available in the vicinity of the actual visit. The intern will receive orientation and training on how to manage emergency situations and related HBPC policies and procedures prior to making a home visit.

The intern also co-facilitates one of two outpatient groups aimed at promoting cognition while on the Geriatric Medicine rotation: one for healthy older adults (Brain Training), or one for Veterans with Mild Cognitive Impairment/mild dementia (Memory Group). The Brain Training group is a psychoeducational program for older adults aimed at enhancing healthy brain functioning as they age. Group sessions focus on teaching participants about factors that can impact cognition, including the normal aging processes, nutrition, exercise, stress and depression. Interns teach and assist participants in practicing mnemonic strategies and compensatory techniques to enhance their memory in daily life. The Memory Group follows a similar format, but is geared towards older adults who have been diagnosed with a neurocognitive disorder.

The GRECC team is active in research, with ongoing studies in the areas of tele-medicine, physical exercise and emotional and cognitive functioning, neuroimaging of cognitive aging, and interventions to assist caregivers.

Geriatric Medicine Supervisors

Megan Johnson, Ph.D.

Rebecca Melrose, Ph.D.

Stacy Wilkins, Ph.D., APBB/CN (Primary Supervisor)

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday AM AGT clinical work HBPC or GRECC Outpt Clinic Supervision AGT clinical work Supervision AGT lectures AGT clinical work PM Seminars Report writing Seminars AGT clinical work Research hours Memory Group Journal Club 1st week of month
Goals Requirements I. Research. Interns will demonstrate proficiency in the ability to critically evaluate the clinical research literature, integrate the scientific literature into clinical practice, and demonstrate competency in clinical research as it pertains to Geropsychology. 1. Participate in the Geropsychology Journal Club. 2. Focused readings in geriatric psychology. 3. Case review during supervision. II. Ethical and Legal Standards. Interns will demonstrate ethical conduct and knowledge and application of professional ethics, laws, and standards governing health service psychology in all professional activities related to Geropsychology. 1. Case review during supervision, including identification of cases requiring Adult Protective Services reporting, capacity assessments, and involvement of legally authorized representatives in patient care decisions. 2. Attend didactics on law and ethics throughout the year. III. Individual and Cultural Diversity. Interns will understand and apply knowledge of individual and cultural diversity to psychological assessment, treatment, consultation, supervision and clinical research, including how age, medical illness, physical disability and cognitive decline intersect with culture, race and other aspects of diversity. 1. Case review during supervision. 2. Attend presentations on cultural diversity throughout the year. 3. Attend Diversity Seminar. IV. Professional Values, Attitudes, and Behaviors. Interns will conduct themselves in ways that reflect the values and attitudes of the profession, including integrity, deportment, professional identity, accountability and concern for the welfare of others. 1. Discussion of professionalism in supervision. 2. Case review during supervision. 3. Participation in interdisciplinary team discussions. V. Communication and Interpersonal Skills. Interns are expected to maintain effective and respectful relationships with patients, peers, staff, supervisors, supervisees and professionals from other disciplines. 1. Serve as the primary mental health consultant on the AGT. 2. Discussion of communication during supervision. VI. Assessment. Interns will demonstrate knowledge and skills in evidence-based psychological assessment in a variety of inpatient and outpatient geriatric medical settings. 1. Administer and interpret at least 24 inpatient neurobehavior screening assessments. 2. Administer and interpret one or more outpatient comprehensive neuropsychological batteries. 3. Conduct inpatient capacity and psychodiagnostic assessments as needed. VII. Intervention. Interns will demonstrate competency in providing evidence-based individual and group interventions across a variety of settings with older adults. 1. Provide short-term psychotherapy to at least one older adult. 2. Provide brief therapy to inpatients. 3. Co-lead the Brain Training or Memory group. IX. Consultation and Interprofessional/Interdisciplinary Skills. Interns will demonstrate the ability to function effectively as a member of an interdisciplinary team. 1. Serve as the primary mental health consultant on the AGT. 2. Participate in interdisciplinary treatment team meetings for the GRECC outpatient clinic.

Geropsychology and Community Living Center (CLC) Rotation

This rotation combines training in two different clinical settings, which are described below. Interns will spend approximately 50% time in each location. 

Geropsychology

The Geropsychology portion of this rotation emphasizes clinical training in aging and mental health, and is supported through the GRECC training stipends. This rotation provides a full range of training experiences in psychiatric outpatient care for older adults. One of the primary training sites in this rotation is the Geropsychiatry Outpatient Clinic. This clinic provides longitudinal care for approximately 350 older Veterans. This interdisciplinary setting trains students from a variety of mental health and medical disciplines, including Geropsychology, Geriatric Psychiatry, Geriatric Medicine, Pharmacy and Social Work. Training occurs in a highly cohesive and collaborative atmosphere from subspecialty trained attending faculty. The primary supervisor on this part of the rotation received postdoctoral training in geriatrics and neuropsychology.

Interns have the opportunity to evaluate Veterans who have a variety of mental health disorders, including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and neurocognitive disorders. Interns will learn about recently developed treatments for psychiatric illness and cognitive decline, including pharmacotherapies, psychotherapies and caregiver support. Evaluations are comprised of comprehensive psychiatric interviews, which include detailed psychodiagnostic interviews and often include brief cognitive assessments. Additional core training activities include: a weekly CBT-depression group, monthly neuropsychological assessment case, and both in-person and virtual psychotherapy cases.

The majority of the attending (supervisory)-level geriatric psychiatry staff participate in clinical research and have academic appointments at UCLA. Current investigations include clinical trials of pharmacotherapy to treat agitation in Alzheimer’s Disease, and group therapy interventions to treat chronic pain in older Veterans.

Geropsychology Supervisor

Paul Cernin, Ph.D. 

Long-Term Care and Rehabilitation (Community Living Center – CLC)

The Long-Term Care and Rehabilitation portion of this rotation emphasizes clinical training in aging and mental health in an extended care setting, and it is supported through the GRECC training stipends. This setting provides a full range of training experiences in psychotherapy, behavioral intervention, group therapy, cognitive assessment and interdisciplinary teamwork. While the focus is primarily on the treatment of older Veterans, there are also opportunities to work with younger patients who reside in the CLC for a variety of reasons, ranging from rehabilitation to palliative care. The intern generally has opportunities to interact with psychology trainees of varying levels, including pre-interns and postdoctoral residents. There will be opportunities to be supervised by the Geropsychology resident, as well as opportunities to provide supervision to the pre-intern. The CLC interdisciplinary setting trains students from a variety of mental health and medical disciplines, including Geropsychology, Geriatric Psychiatry, Geriatric Medicine, Pharmacy, Social Work and Nursing. Interns have the opportunity to work with patients who have a variety of mental health disorders, including mood disorders, schizophrenia, personality disorders, dementia and delirium. Training opportunities emphasize assessment (psychosocial and cognitive), individual and group psychotherapy and interdisciplinary team involvement. Individual psychotherapy follows a short-term model and utilizes CBT, MI, existential, third wave and supportive modalities. Additionally, the high co-occurrence of trauma-related psychiatric impairment within our medically-infirmed Veteran community also affords trainees the opportunity to receive some specialized training in the assessment and individual treatment of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder and associated sequelae. In the group setting, the intern co-facilitates a weekly caregiver support group and leads a weekly mindfulness-based group along with the recreation therapist. Interns are frequently asked to provide consultation directly to nursing staff through structured behavior rounds or shift huddles, as well as on a more informal basis to provide support directly on the units. Because many older Veterans have co-occurring medical and social disabilities, a broad biopsychosocial approach to care is used in this setting.

Because of the dynamic nature of this rotation, psychological assessment and intervention techniques are often modified to accommodate the unique needs of our very complex patient population. Hence, traditional testing and therapy protocols are tailored for each patient as necessary to assist the interdisciplinary team with treatment planning

 

CLC Supervisors

Kevin Booker, Ph.D. (Primary Supervisor)

 

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday AM CLC Geriatric Psychiatry Outpatient Clinic CLC Geriatric Psychiatry CBT Group for Depression CLC Geropsychiatry Rounds PM Seminars Supervision Seminars Geriatric Psychiatry Outpatient Clinic Research hours CLC Assessment/ Therapy
Goals Requirements I. Research. Interns will demonstrate proficiency in the ability to critically evaluate the clinical research literature and integrate the scientific literature into clinical practice. 1. Participate in the Geropsychology Journal Club. 2. Read articles relevant to geriatric psychology in long-term care. 3. Review and discuss articles relevant to cases during supervision. 4. Attend weekly Geriatric Psychiatry rounds. II. Ethical and Legal Standards. Interns will demonstrate ethical conduct and knowledge and application of professional ethics, laws and standards governing geropsychology practice in the long-term care/nursing home setting. 1. Case review during supervision: Cognitive and mental health vulnerability, Adult Protective Services reporting, capacity assessments, capacity declaration and involvement of legally authorized representatives in patient care decisions. 2. Consultation with other nursing home professionals regarding cases. 3. Attend didactics on law and ethics throughout the year. III. Individual and Cultural Diversity. Interns will understand and apply knowledge of individual and cultural diversity to psychological assessment, treatment, consultation, supervision, and clinical research, including how age, medical illness, physical disability and cognitive decline intersect with other aspects of diversity. 1. Case review during supervision. 2. Attend didactics and seminars on cultural diversity throughout the year. IV. Professional Values, Attitudes, and Behaviors. Interns will conduct themselves in ways that reflect the values and attitudes of the profession, including integrity, deportment, professional identity, accountability and concern for the welfare of others. 1. Discussion of professionalism in supervision. 2. Case review during supervision. 3. Participation in interdisciplinary team discussions. V. Communication and Interpersonal Skills. Interns are expected to maintain effective and respectful relationships with patients, peers, staff, supervisors, supervisees and professionals from other disciplines. 1. Participate in a variety of interdisciplinary team meetings. 2. Participate in weekly behavior rounds with direct care nursing staff. VI. Assessment. Interns will demonstrate knowledge and skills in evidence-based cognitive and psychodiagnostic assessment in long-term care. 1. Learn to administer psychological tests within this non-standardized environment. 2. Administer and interpret 1-2 neurobehavior screening assessments per week. 3. Administer and interpret comprehensive neuropsychological batteries as needed. 4. Conduct capacity assessments as needed. VII. Intervention. Interns will demonstrate competency in providing evidence-based individual and group interventions in long-term care. Understand how cognitive functioning helps set treatment goals for individual patients. 1. Learn to provide brief interventions within this non-standardized environment. 2. Provide short-term psychotherapy to residents as needed. 3. Develop and lead a psychoeducational group of one’s choosing relevant to the nursing home setting. 4. Co-facilitate the caregiver support group. VIII. Supervision. Interns will demonstrate effective knowledge and application of supervision models and practices that are informed by the research literature. 1. Discussion during supervision. 2. Attend Clinical Supervision seminar. 3. Participate in layered supervision with pre-interns and residents as cases arise. IX. Consultation and Interprofessional/Interdisciplinary Skills. Interns will demonstrate the ability to function effectively as a member of an interdisciplinary team. 1. Provide consultation to other nursing home professionals regarding cases. 2. Participate in a variety of interdisciplinary team meetings. 3. Participate in weekly behavior rounds with direct care nursing staff. 4. Develop behavior modification plans using STAR-VA principles and teach STAR-VA to staff. 5. Communicate neurocognitive and psychodiagnostic findings, and diagnostic impressions to the interdisciplinary team and nursing staff.
Goals Requirements I. Research. Interns will be able to review the scientific literature in geropsychology, neuropsychology and aging critically. They will also be able to discuss and demonstrate how their knowledge of scientific literature can be applied and integrated into clinical practice. 1. Discuss literature in Geropsychology during supervision, and how it applies to practice. 2. Present relevant research findings on the neuropsychiatric aspects of aging in the Geropsychology Journal Club. 3. Focused readings in geriatric psychology. 4. Discuss dissertation findings in supervision. II. Ethical and Legal Standards. Interns will demonstrate knowledge of ethical and legal standards in their clinical practice and decision making. 1. Case discussion in supervision. 2. Attend Law and Ethics didactics. III. Individual and Cultural Diversity. Interns will demonstrate knowledge and awareness of how diversity affects their care and interactions with patients, and obtain a fundamental knowledge of how cultural and individual diversity impact the aging process. IV. Professional Values, Attitudes, and Behaviors. Interns will demonstrate knowledge and behaviors that reflect the values of our discipline. This includes interactions within our discipline, as well as with other team members. 1. Case review in supervision. 2. Attend the Diversity Seminar and Geropsychology Journal Club. 1. Discussion of cases in supervision. 2. Participation in interdisciplinary care and case discussions. IV. Professional Values, Attitudes, and Behaviors. Interns will demonstrate knowledge and behaviors that reflect the values of our discipline. This includes interactions within our discipline, as well as with other team members 1. Discussion of cases in supervision. 2. Participation in interdisciplinary care and case discussions. V. Communication and Interpersonal Skills. Interns are expected to maintain effective and respectful relationships with staff, colleagues and patients. They will be able to communicate their clinical findings clearly, in written and oral formats. 1. Present cases to the interdisciplinary team. 2. Provide feedback to the patient. 3. Review of written notes in supervision. VI. Assessment. Interns will demonstrate knowledge and skills in evidence-based psychological assessment, psychiatric interviewing and cognitive evaluations in an outpatient setting. 1. Conduct at least 20 psychiatric interviews. 2. Administer and interpret brief cognitive and mood measures in longitudinal care. VII. Intervention. Interns will demonstrate competency in providing evidence-based individual and group interventions across a variety of settings with older adults. 1. Provide short-term psychotherapy to one older adult. 2. Lead a CBT group for depression for older veterans. VIII. Supervision. Interns will demonstrate effective knowledge and application of supervision models and practices that are informed by the research literature. Attend the Clinical Supervision Seminar. IX. Consultation and Interprofessional/Interdisciplinary Skills. Interns will demonstrate the ability to function effectively as a member of an interdisciplinary team. 1. Discuss cases with the interdisciplinary staff. 2. Provide treatment in an interdisciplinary setting

Neuropsychology

The Neuropsychology rotation seeks to train interns in the practice of neuropsychology. Interns will work in two settings.  The majority of time will be spent in the WLA Neuropsychology Outpatient service.  The outpatient program receives consults from across the hospital for comprehensive neuropsychological assessment.  Interns will complete neuropsychological intakes and administer a battery of neuropsychological tests appropriate to the referral question.  Interns will additionally score all tests and write the report.  Feedback sessions are offered to all patients.  Common diagnoses include Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, traumatic brain injury, brain tumors (sometimes pre/post neurosurgery), deep brain stimulation (DBS) screenings, substance-induced cognitive disorders, toxic/metabolic encephalopathy, seizure disorder, major psychopathology and subcortical dementias such as Parkinson’s disease and HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders. The service uses a developmental approach to supervision and patient care.  Direct training in test administration, scoring, interviewing, and feedback will be provided, especially for trainees with limited experience in neuropsychology, with the goal by the end of rotation being that the intern will take the lead on the majority of the assessment.  All trainees rotating through the Outpatient Neuropsychology service participate in Monday afternoon group supervision.  Trainees will present their recent cases for group discussion and learn vicariously as other trainees do the same.  Additional topics of relevance to neuropsychology are further discussion in group supervision, such as norm selection, diversity considerations in neuropsychology, and tele-neuropsychology.

Interns will also work in the WLA Memory & Neurobehavior clinic.  This clinic is the largest memory/dementia screening clinic at GLA and comprises of an interdisciplinary team including neurology, geriatric psychiatry, geropsychology, neuropsychology, social work, and nursing.  The clinic provides cognitive screening, diagnostic clarification, and pharmacological interventions for adults with cognitive impairment.  Trainees will complete focused cognitive screens with patients of all ages referred for a cognitive assessment.  The majority of consults will be for patients with cognitive complaints in the presence of possible modifiable causes for these complaints, such as mental health comorbidities or untreated medical conditions.  Trainees will learn how to quickly identify when patients require more in-depth testing following a cognitive screen, as well as how to develop a treatment plan to address cognitive symptoms.  A significant component of the intake will be spent on providing psychoeducation.  The day will conclude with attendance at the Memory & Neurobehavior interdisciplinary team meeting.  All new patients seen by all providers are discussed, thus exposing trainees to a wide range of patients.  Interns will be expected to present their cases to the team. The Memory & Neurobehavior team frequently refers to the outpatient Neuropsychology service for comprehensive testing - as such, interns may also present to the group about cases seen in that clinic.

Clinical training is supported by a strong didactic base.  While on the rotation interns will attend the weekly Neurobehavior seminar organized by Dr. Mario Mendez. This seminar covers a wide range of topics in the field of cognitive disorders, including presentations on atypical dementias, common neuroradiology findings in cognitive disorders, current clinical trials in dementia, affective and psychiatric symptoms, and pharmacotherapy for behavior symptoms in dementia.  The Friday Memory & Neurobehavior clinic begins with a “mini lecture” on a topic relevant to dementia care, such as causes of quickly progressing dementia, firearm safety in dementia, and suicide risk assessment in cognitive decline

The training objectives for interns in the Neuropsychology Program are to broaden and deepen the intern’s knowledge of brain-behavior relationships, to develop skills in neuropsychological practice, especially regarding data interpretation and diagnostic formulations, and to further awareness of the emotional consequences of neuropathology and of appropriate methods of psychological intervention. Also emphasized is the need to integrate current research and contributions from cognate disciplines (e.g., neurology, neuroimaging) in patient care. With regard to theoretical perspective, interns will be exposed primarily to a hypothesis testing/process approach to neuropsychological evaluation.

By the close of the rotation interns will be adept at test administration and scoring of neuropsychological instruments. Supervision will largely focus on honing skills in interpretation, differential diagnosis, report preparation and patient feedback. Interns will have occasional opportunities to work on cases with our Neuropsychology postdoctoral resident(s) in a layered-supervision context.  Interns who complete the Neuropsychology rotation will be well prepared to pursue postdoctoral training and are given strong consideration for our neuropsychology-focused postdoctoral positions. We have had great success in matching interns to neuropsychological postdoctoral programs, including locally in Los Angeles.

 

Neuropsychology Supervisors

Steven Castellon, Ph.D.

Paul Cernin, Ph.D.

Megan Johnson, Ph.D.

Rebecca Melrose, Ph.D.

Anna Okonek, Ph.D.

Stacy Wilkins, Ph.D., ABPP/CN

Michelle Zeller, Psy.D, ABPP/CN

Katie YoungSciortino, Ph.D. (Primary Supervisor)

Goals Requirments I. Research. Interns will gain knowledge of and apply clinical neuropsychology literature to assessment. Interns will improve their knowledge of brain-behavior relationships. Particular emphasis will be placed on functional neuroanatomy, integration of neuroimaging and neurological data, and normal and pathological neurocognitive and neuropsychiatric function. 2. Focused readings in neuropsychology. 3. Attend the weekly Neurobehavior Seminar. II. Ethical and Legal Standards. Interns will demonstrate awareness of and skill in addressing ethical and legal dilemmas in neuropsychological assessment. 1. Case discussion during supervision, to include coverage of informed consent, confidentiality mandated reporting requirements, assessment of capacity and other relevant topics. 2. Assigned readings III. Individual and Cultural Diversity. Interns will understand the impact of individual and cultural differences on neuropsychological test findings. 1. Increase knowledge through readings, supervision and case discussion. 2. Integrate knowledge with clinical practice. 3. Attend didactic presentations. IV. Professional Values, Attitudes, and Behaviors. Interns will act in accordance with the values, attitudes, and behaviors of the profession and advocate for the welfare of others. For interns desiring a career in neuropsychology, to provide the training and experience needed to be competitive candidates for postdoctoral fellowship. In addition to the clinical and didactic experiences enumerated above, interns anticipating a career in neuropsychology will also be expected to seek involvement in other professional activities such as research and attendance at scientific conferences V. Communication and Interpersonal Skills. Interns will demonstrate the ability to forge effective relationships with patients who are experiencing significant cognitive impairment, as well as others involved in the patient’s care. Interns will write neuropsychological reports at a level commensurate with a non-specialist psychologist. 1. Conduct at least 12-15 comprehensive, observed neuropsychological interviews. 2. Present at patient conferences. VI. Assessment. Identify and diagnose basic neuropsychological disorders. Particular emphasis will be given to the more prevalent age-linked dementias such as Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia, as well as the neurocognitive disorders that are over-represented in the VA patient population (e.g., brain injury). Administer and interpret at least 12-15 comprehensive neuropsychological test batteries. Additionally, briefer, focused inpatient evaluations will be conducted as warranted. IX. Consultation and Interprofessional/ Interdisciplinary Skills. Collaborate effectively as a neuropsychological consultant. 1. Provide written and verbal feedback to referral sources. 2. Provide feedback in peer supervision.

Rehabilitation Psychology

The primary goal of the Rehabilitation Psychology rotation is to provide interns with skills and experience in the interdisciplinary treatment of Veterans undergoing rehabilitation for disabling acute and chronic health conditions and traumatic injuries. Working within a biopsychosocial framework, the rehabilitation psychologist works closely with the interdisciplinary rehabilitation team to assist the Veteran in attaining their highest level of physical, psychological and social functioning. Interns on this rotation will have the opportunity to gain experience in consultation, assessment and intervention across a variety of inpatient and outpatient medical settings.

1. Inpatient Acute Physical Rehabilitation Unit (Dr. Zeller): Interns are required to complete 1-2  consultations a week for patients admitted for intensive physical rehabilitation of stroke, amputation, traumatic brain injury, and neurological and orthopedic disorders. Consultation may include diagnostic evaluation, psychological and neuropsychological assessment, evaluation of decision-making capacity, short-term psychotherapy and staff education and support. Interns also participate in weekly interdisciplinary treatment rounds and family conferences.

2. The Pain Clinic (Drs. Bailey and Kay): The Pain Clinic is a fast-paced medical setting in which the intern works closely with a psychologist on an interdisciplinary outpatient treatment team (Physical Medicine, Neurology, Nursing, Pharmacy, Psychiatry, Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy). Patients in the Pain Clinic present with chronic and complicated pain problems, along with co-morbid psychological conditions, such as anxiety, depression and substance use. Opportunities for training include: learning about ethical and professional considerations of a psychologist in an interprofessional setting; conducting psychodiagnostic and biopsychosocial evaluations on patients with primary pain complaints; consulting within an interprofessional team; providing brief, evidence-based individual psychotherapy including the possibility to learn the national VA evidence based psychotherapy (EBP) rollout of cognitive behavioral therapy for chronic pain (CBT-CP), and observing and/or co-facilitating an interprofessional, 10-week Comprehensive Pain Rehabilitation Program (CPRP); integrating science into practice by reviewing relevant literature and implementing evidence-based treatments; learning and applying knowledge of individual and cultural diversity that applies to Veterans with chronic pain. There may be opportunities for interns to conduct pre-surgical assessments with patients who are being considered for spinal cord stimulator or intrathecal medication pump implantation. A typical week for an intern in Pain Clinic involves a biopsychosocial assessment, group and individual intervention, supervision, and case preparation. Most activities occur on Thursdays, though some experiences may be tailored to an individual intern’s schedule.

3. The Polytrauma/Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Program (Dr. Okonek): The Polytrauma/TBI Program serves Veterans with multi-system injuries, including traumatic and acquired brain injury. While the majority of Veterans we see have served in Iraq and/or Afghanistan, we evaluate and treat patients from all military eras. Psychologists serve as part of a comprehensive rehabilitation team that includes Physical Medicine, Nursing, Social Work, Speech Pathology, Blind Rehabilitation, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Vocational Rehabilitation and Recreation Therapy.

Cognitive Intervention (Required): The intern will co-facilitate one of two outpatient groups with the intern on the Geriatric Medicine rotation. The groups are aimed at promoting cognition: one for healthy older adults (Brain Training), or one for Veterans with Mild Cognitive Impairment/mild dementia (Memory Group). The Brain Training group is a psychoeducational program for older adults aimed at enhancing healthy brain functioning as they age. Group sessions focus on teaching participants about factors that can impact cognition, including the normal aging processes, nutrition, exercise, stress and depression. Interns teach and assist participants in practicing mnemonic strategies and compensatory techniques to enhance their memory in daily life. The Memory Group follows a similar format, but is geared towards older adults who have been diagnosed with a neurocognitive disorder. are to gain exposure to and gain basic proficiency in cognitive intervention strategies for Veterans with subjective and objective cognitive complaints. Interns will gain exposure to and basic proficiency in cognitive intervention strategies for Veterans with subjective and objective cognitive complaints. 

Neuropsychological Assessment (Optional): Interns with experience in neuropsychological assessment may complete 1-2 comprehensive outpatient assessments on patients who have been referred to the Polytrauma/TBI Clinic. This experience provides the opportunity for interns to gain experience in assessing Veterans with TBI and appreciating the contribution of co-occurring disorders to clinical presentation, test interpretation, and treatment recommendations.

4. Rehabilitation Support Groups (Dr. Zeller): Interns serve as group co-facilitators for Veterans with amputation. Trainees gain knowledge and experience in group process, transition to the community and provision of education and support.

Amputation Support Group: The purpose of this weekly group is to provide support and education to Veterans who have undergone or who are scheduled for amputation. Topics include risk factors for amputation, lifestyle change, coping with feelings, pain management, setting goals and discharge planning. 

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday AM Supervision Inpatient and Outpatient assessment and therapy Inpatient Rehab Team Meeting Polytrauma/TBI Team Meeting Supervision Inpatient and Outpatient assessment and therapy Pain CPRP Amputation Support Group Pain group supervision PM Seminars Inpatient and Outpatient assessment and therapy Seminars CPRP IDT Research hours Inpatient and Outpatient assessment and therapy Brain Training or Memory Group
Goals Requirements I. Research. Interns will gain knowledge of and apply the Rehabilitation Psychology clinical research literature to assessment consultation, and intervention. 1. Increase knowledge through focused readings in rehabilitation psychology. 2. Select and discuss at least one article in the areas of general rehabilitation, pain and traumatic brain injury as it applies to one’s cases and discuss in supervision. II. Ethical and Legal Standards. Interns will demonstrate awareness of and skill in addressing ethical and legal dilemmas in the rehabilitation setting. Case discussion during supervision, to include coverage of informed consent, mandated reporting requirements, assessment of capacity, confidentiality and other relevant topics. III. Individual and Cultural Diversity. Gain an understanding of the role of diversity in assessment, treatment and consultation in persons with physical disabilities. Understand the role of diversity issues in access to care, technological literacy, cognitive and physical disabilities and cultural beliefs. 1. Increase knowledge through readings, supervision and case discussion. 2. Gain greater understanding of social and environmental barriers for persons with disability though direct patient care, supervision and readings. 3. Integrate knowledge with clinical practice. 4. Attend didactic presentations. IV. Professional Values, Attitudes, and Behaviors. Interns will act in accordance with the values, attitudes and behaviors of the profession and advocate for the welfare of others. 1. Gain understanding of how to be an effective patient advocate through role modeling and participation in team meetings. 2. Engage in self-reflection in supervision to understand one’s own attitudes and biases V. Communication and Interpersonal Skills. Interns will demonstrate the ability to forge and maintain effective relationships with patients who are experiencing significant physical, cognitive and emotional losses. Interns will demonstrate skills necessary to communicate with staff from a variety of personal and professional backgrounds 1. Serve as consultant on the interdisciplinary Inpatient Acute Rehabilitation, Pain and TBI Clinic teams. 2. Understand the importance of language and communication in medical and rehabilitation settings. 3. Participate in least one interdisciplinary team meeting for the Comprehensive Pain Rehabilitation Program. VI. Assessment. Evaluate psychological issues in patients with medical illness, to include selection and administrative of assessment tools appropriate to the patient’s illness and disease, for the purpose of developing treatment plans. 1. Complete 1-2 inpatient evaluations each week, including treatment planning, on the Acute Rehabilitation Unit. 2. Perform a minimum of 2 comprehensive psychodiagnostic assessments or pre-surgical evaluations in the Pain Clinic. 3. Complete 1-2 comprehensive evaluations in the Polytrauma/TBI Clinic (optional). 4. Provide feedback to the patient and treatment team. VII. Intervention. Provide effective individual and group evidence-based treatments for patients with acute and chronic medical illnesses, taking into consideration psychological, cultural and social-environmental factors associated with health behaviors, illness and disease. 1. Provide behavioral skills training as a co-leader of CPRP. 2. Provide brief behavioral interventions (2-4 sessions) for patients with chronic pain. 3. Provide brief supportive interventions on the Acute Rehabilitation Unit. 4. Provide a group cognitive intervention for Veterans with subjective and objective cognitive complaints VIII. Supervision. Demonstrate skills in supervision of a junior trainee and/or case consultation. 1. Supervise one pre-intern (if available) on one case. 2. Participate in the Clinical Supervision seminar. IX. Consultation and Interprofessional/ Interdisciplinary Skills. Function effectively as a psychological consultant on an interdisciplinary medical team 1. Provide consultation to interdisciplinary team members in all settings. 2. Participate in treatment team meetings and provide concise, informative feedback to team members from diverse discipline and levels of training. 3. Offer perspectives and feedback regarding cases presented by other members of the team.

Substance Use Disorder Outpatient Programs

The Substance Use Disorder Outpatient Programs rotation offers a core training component in an intensive outpatient program using evidence-based treatments. As the Veterans served vary in terms of treatment needs and readiness for change, interns will have the opportunity to acquire assessment, intervention, and consultation skills to address the broad range of needs using a variety of models and different time frames ranging from brief, single session interventions to a full 16-week program with aftercare.

The Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) of the Substance Use Disorders Clinic (SUD) serves as the intern’s home base during the rotation. This program serves Veterans with substance use disorders who are ready and able to engage in an intensive treatment program with the goal of abstinence, using a harm reduction approach that includes:

  1. A highly structured, 3-day per week, 16-week outpatient Matrix model recovery program. This program offers supportive, psychoeducational, harm reduction treatment through individual and group counseling by professional staff. Early recovery and relapse prevention skills are emphasized.
  2. A recovery maintenance program, consisting of one or more social support groups per week, encouraging patients to remain involved with their treatment team for as long as they choose.

Interns will have the opportunity to develop expertise using the early recovery and relapse prevention components of the Matrix model, a nationally recognized and widely used evidence-based treatment for substance use disorders developed at UCLA and our clinic. Interns will work with Veterans in all stages of their treatment, from intake through the maintenance phase of care. While the primary intervention modality is group therapy, interns will also provide individual therapy and related care coordination. Additional groups are also available for intern co-facilitation, including DBT skills, a mindfulness for recovery group, CBT for SUD group, a harm reduction group (IMPROVE), and an aftercare group that supports sustained abstinence. Interns also provide individual short-term psychotherapy, perform intake assessments to refine diagnostic skills and on rare occasions conduct additional psychological testing such as cognitive screens or personality testing.   

In addition to the IOP program, we also offer a Motivational Enhancement program for Veterans who are willing to explore the consequences of drugs and alcohol in their lives and are not currently interested in abstinence based approaches. This program uses evidence-based motivational interviewing techniques to reduce the harm of continued use and shift from contemplation to the preparation stage and on to the action stage of change.

Additional training tracks may be available to interns while on the substance use disorder rotation based upon interest, including:

  • Opioid Treatment Program. Medication management using methadone, Suboxone, or Vivitrol to reduce recidivism for Veterans who struggle with opioid use disorder.
  • Contingency Management Program (CM). This is an evidence-based treatment aimed at increasing program participation and reducing relapse rates through use of a random reward system. CM is being rolled out throughout the nation across VA’s and we are one of the initial sites to participate in implementing this program.  

The intern becomes a valued member and psychology consultant on our vibrant interdisciplinary team that includes addiction psychiatry, nursing, social work, pharmacy and addiction therapy. Interns may also choose to become involved in ongoing program development and evaluation research activities.

 

Substance Use Disorders Supervisors

Katherine Bailey, Ph.D.

Stephanie Cardoos, Ph.D.

Paul Perales, Psy.D. (Primary Supervisor)

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday AM Matrix group Substance Use Assessment and Intake clinic, with report-writing Long-term therapy supervision • SUD Aftercare Group & supervision SUD Seminar Emotions Management group Matrix Group Long-term therapy slot Matrix Group Mindfulness in Recovery group CBT for SUD group •Individual therapy slot Group supervision PM Seminars SUD Interdisciplinary Treatment Team meeting Seminars Research hours SUD MI or other individual therapy slot Supervision with secondary supervisor Supervision with primary supervisor Long-term therapy slot
Goals Requirements I. Research. Interns will demonstrate proficiency in the ability to critically evaluate the clinical research literature, integrate the scientific literature into clinical practice and demonstrate competency in clinical research as it pertains to substance use disorders. 1. Attend the SUD interdisciplinary seminar. 2. Focused readings in substance use disorders will be provided and discussed in supervision. 3. Case review during supervision. II. Ethical and Legal Standards. Interns will demonstrate ethical conduct and knowledge and application of professional ethics, laws and standards governing health service psychology in all professional activities related to substance use disorders. 1. Case review during supervision, including identification of cases requiring Department of Child and Family Services and Adult Protective Services reporting. 2. Attend didactics on law and ethics throughout the year. III. Individual and Cultural Diversity. Interns will understand and apply knowledge of individual and cultural diversity to psychological assessment, treatment, consultation, supervision, and clinical research, including how ethnicity, gender, gender and sexuality minority status, age, medical illness, and physical disability intersect with other aspects of diversity. 1. Case review during supervision, interdisciplinary team meetings, and SUD seminar. 2. Attend presentations on cultural diversity including the Diversity Seminar throughout the year. Participate in diversity-focused activities during group supervision. IV. Professional Values, Attitudes, and Behaviors. Interns will conduct themselves in ways that reflect the values and attitudes of the profession, including integrity, deportment, professional identity, accountability, and concern for the welfare of others. 1. Discussion of professionalism in supervision. 2. Case review during supervision. 3. Participation in interdisciplinary team discussions. V. Communication and Interpersonal Skills. Interns are expected to maintain effective and respectful relationships with patients, peers, staff, supervisors, supervisees and professionals from other disciplines. 1. Serve as a psychology consultant in interdisciplinary team meetings. 2. Discussion of communication during supervision. VI. Assessment. Interns will demonstrate knowledge and skills in evidence-based psychological assessment as it relates to substance use disorders and co-occurring conditions. Conduct a minimum of 8 comprehensive initial intakes and present initial treatment plan recommendations to the interdisciplinary treatment team. VII. Intervention. Interns will demonstrate competency in providing evidence-based group and individual interventions for Veterans with substance use and co-occurring conditions. 1. Lead or co-lead 2-3 evidence-based Matrix psychoeducational groups. 2. Co-lead DBT skills group. 3. Co-lead Aftercare Group. 4. Provide individual psychotherapy for at least 3 cases using CBT and/or MI approaches. IX. Consultation and Interprofessional/Interdisciplinary Skills. Interns will demonstrate the ability to function effectively as a member of an interdisciplinary team. 1. Serve as a psychology consultant to the interdisciplinary team 2. Participate in interdisciplinary treatment team meetings for the Addictive Behaviors Clinic.

Trauma Programs

There are two outpatient mental health programs that provide trauma training experiences for interns: the Women’s Health Clinic (WHC) and the Trauma Recovery Service (TRS). Interns on this rotation will gain experience in both settings.

The Trauma Recovery Service (TRS): The Trauma Recovery Service clinic is an interdisciplinary clinic offering assessment and treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder. Veterans seen have a history of either combat, military sexual trauma or other military related trauma. PTSD is one of the most common mental health diagnoses for Veterans at the WLA VA Medical Center. The TRS clinic serves a large number of Veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan, but also includes Veterans from other theatres, including Vietnam. All Veterans seen in the clinic receive a comprehensive psychodiagnostic intake to confirm a diagnosis of PTSD. Veterans are offered a variety of individual and group therapy services along with psychiatric management. There are opportunities to receive training in evidenced based psychotherapy for PTSD including individual Cognitive Processing Therapy, Prolonged Exposure Therapy and Written Exposure Therapy. Additional services may include Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I), Skills Training in Affect and Interpersonal Regulation (STAIR) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.

The Women’s Health Clinic (WHC): Women Veterans represent about 10% of the patients seen at the WLA VA and the Women's Comprehensive Health Clinic is an integrated mental health and primary care program designed to address their medical and mental health needs. An increasing number are Iraq and Afghanistan War Veterans with combat-related PTSD. The majority of the women seen in the Women’s Clinic, regardless of their era of service, have trauma, whether it’s combat, military sexual trauma, childhood or other civilian trauma. A large percentage present with PTSD, anxiety, panic and/or depression. Interns will co-lead three therapy groups with an emphasis on evidence-based treatments. Groups that have been offered in the past include:

  • Mindfulness Skills
  • Sexual Trauma Group (CBT-informed)
  • ACT for Depression/PTSD
  • Using Anger More Positively
  • CBT Anxiety/Depression Group
  • Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) group for sexual trauma
  • PTSD Recovery Group
  • CPT group for combat trauma
  • Emotion Regulation

Interns will also see one time-limited individual therapy case using either EBP protocols or CBT-informed treatment. The intern will also observe the WH CPT Booster group on one occasion during the rotation and may also attend the WHC interdisciplinary care coordination meeting.

 

Trauma Programs Supervisors

Laurie Boxer, Ph.D. (TRS)

Naomi Himmelfarb, Ph.D. (WHC)

Christina Robinson, Ph.D., ABPP (TRS) (Primary Supervisor)

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday AM Individual therapy case WHC Supervision TRS Intake Clinic Individual Therapy cases Individual Therapy cases Sexual Trauma group Supervision PM Intern Seminars PTSD Recovery Group Intern seminars 1-2pm Trauma Didactics Individual Therapy cases WHC group Group EBP Supervision Research hours
Goals Requirements I. Research. Learn about and integrate current research findings on PTSD and trauma into clinical practice. 1. Complete all assigned readings and integrate concepts in delivery of patient care. 2. Attend weekly didactics in TRS. 3. Lead one week of TRS didactic discussion with an article of the intern’s choosing. II. Ethical and Legal Standards. Increase awareness and knowledge of ethical and legal issues related to the practice of psychotherapy and assessment in an outpatient setting. 1. Identify ethical issues as they arise in clinical practice and be able to communicate ethical reasoning and decision making. 2. Actively participate in discussion of ethical issues in clinical supervision and treatment team meetings. III. Individual and Cultural Diversity. Increase awareness and knowledge of individual and cultural diversity. Be able to apply awareness to interactions with patients and staff. Understand the unique needs of women Veterans. 1. Increase knowledge through readings, supervision and case discussion. 2. Demonstrate consideration of diversity via inclusion in case conceptualizations and treatment delivery. IV. Professional Values, Attitudes, and Behaviors. Demonstrate awareness of professional values and behaviors. 1. Participate in weekly interdisciplinary team meetings in TRS. 2. Maintain professional and respectful relationships with supervisors, patients staff and peers. V. Communication and Interpersonal Skills. Strengthen interpersonal and communication skills. Communicate clearly and professionally in progress notes, supervision and team meetings IV. Assessment. Strengthen diagnostic interviewing and psychological assessment skills specific to trauma exposure and PTSD. 1. Complete 5 diagnostic evaluation in TRS using the CAPS, PCL-5, PHQ-9 and LEC. 2. In TRS and WHC, utilize outcome measures such as PCL-5 or PHQ-9 to evaluate the effectiveness of interventions. VII. Intervention. Enhance psychotherapy skills and gain experience in the delivery of evidenced- based psychotherapy for Veterans with PTSD 1. Provide individual psychotherapy to 1-2 Veterans in WHC. 2. Provide individual therapy to 3-4 Veterans in TRS. 3. Gain experience in the delivery of two primary evidenced -based interventions for PTSD (CPT, PE. etc.) IX. Consultation and Interprofessional/ Interdisciplinary Skills. Develop skills in consultation and care coordination in interdisciplinary teams. 1. Participate in weekly group supervision in TRS. 2. Present cases and provide feedback to other treatment team meetings. 3. Serve as psychological consultant as requested by other team members. 4. Coordinate care with other disciplines as indicated by patient needs.

Training Staff

Alas, Rénee, Psy.D.

  • Doctoral Program: Pepperdine University (Clinical Psychology), 2017
  • Doctoral Internship: Didi Hirsch Community Mental Health Center, 2016-2017
  • Rotations: Domiciliary Residential Rehabilitation and Treatment Program (DRRTP)
  • Clinical Interests: Serious Mental Illness, Trauma-related disorders, PTSD, Substance use disorders, Mindfulness/Integrative Health, Psychological assessment, Forensic assessment
  • Certifications: Diplomat and Certified CBT practitioner, Cognitive Processing Therapy, Intensive training in Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Mindfulness
  • Orientation: Cognitive Behavioral

 

Bailey, Katherine, Ph.D.

  • Doctoral Program: University of Illinois at Chicago (Clinical), 2010
  • Doctoral Internship: West Los Angeles VA Healthcare Center, 2009-2010
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship: San Francisco VA Medical Center, 2010-2011
  • Academic Affiliation: Health Sciences Clinical Instructor, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
  • Rotations: Substance Use Disorder (SUD) Outpatient Programs; Rehabilitation Psychology (Pain Clinic)
  • Clinical Interests: Substance use treatment, chronic pain, health behavior change, coping with illness, anxiety disorders, evidence based behavioral practice
  • Research Interests: Chronic pain, SUD, health promotion and disease prevention, health disparities, smoking
  • Certifications: CBT for Chronic Pain, Biofeedback, ACT-Depression, Mindfulness
  • Orientation: Cognitive Behavioral

 

Booker, Kevin E., Ph.D.

  • Doctoral Program: University of California, Santa Barbara (Clinical), 1999
  • Doctoral Internship: Howard University School of Medicine, 1998-1999
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship: UCLA School of Medicine, Department of Adult Psychiatry, 1999-2001
  • Academic Affiliation: Adjunct Faculty, Department of Cognitive Science, University of California, Irvine
  • Rotation: Geropsychology: Long-Term Care and Rehabilitation (Community Living Center)
  • Clinical Interests: PTSD over the lifespan; Exposure to violence and mood/anxiety disorders; Trauma-focused cognitive behavioral and experiential/humanistic treatments; The role of meaning in mitigating against co-morbid mood disturbance in patients with PTSD
  • Certifications: Prolonged Exposure, Cognitive Processing Therapy
  • Orientation: Cognitive Behavioral; Humanistic/Experiential

 

Boxer, Laurie, Ph.D.

  • Doctoral Program: Syracuse University (Clinical), 1991
  • Doctoral Internship: West Los Angeles VA Medical Center, 1990-1991
  • Rotation: Trauma Programs; Trauma Recovery Service (TRS)
  • Clinical Interests: Assessment and Treatment of PTSD, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, psychotherapeuticinterventions for Bipolar Disorder
  • Certifications: Intensive training in DBT
  • Orientation: Cognitive Behavioral

 

Cardoos, Stephanie, Ph.D., Director of Training, Internship Program

  • Doctoral Program: University of California, Berkeley (Clinical), 2015
  • Doctoral Internship: San Francisco VA Health Care System, 2014-2015
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship: Substance Use and Co-occurring Disorders Treatment, San Francisco VA  Health Care System, 2015-2016
  • Rotation: Substance Use Disorders Outpatient Program
  • Clinical Interests: Assessment and treatment of substance use and co-occurring disorders; motivational    interviewing; equity and antiracism in SUD treatment
  • Research Interests: Treatment of co-occurring chronic pain and substance use disorders; mechanisms of health behavior throughout the lifespan; motivational interviewing training for providers; health disparities and health equity
  • Orientation: Cognitive-behavioral, integrative

 

Castellon, Steven A., Ph.D., Director of Training, Postdoctoral Residency Program

  • Doctoral Program: University of California, Los Angeles (Clinical), 1997
  • Doctoral Internship: West Los Angeles VA Medical Center, 1995
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship: Neuropsychology, UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute, 1997-1999
  • Academic Affiliation: Associate Clinical Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
  • Rotation: Rehabilitation Psychology (Polytrauma/TBI Clinic and Assessment Service)
  • Clinical Interests: Neuropsychological assessment, psychological assessment, traumatic brain injury
  • Research Interests: Cognitive effects of cancer treatments, neuropsychiatric aspects of infectious disease
  • Research: Late effects of hormonal therapies in breast cancer survivors with and withoutchemotherapy exposure; Cognitive rehabilitation among breast cancer survivors with enduring cognitive complaints; Neurocognitive sequelae of hepatitis C and HIV co-infection
  • Orientation: Cognitive behavioral

 

Cernin, Paul, Ph.D.; Director of Training, Pre-Internship Program

  • Doctoral Program: Wayne State University (Clinical), 2008
  • Doctoral Internship: St. Louis VAMC, 2007-2008
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship: Geriatric Neuropsychology, UCLA Resnick Neuropsychiatric Institute, 2008-2010
  • Academic Affiliation: Assistant Clinical Professor, UCLA Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
  • Rotation: Geropsychology: Long-Term Care and Rehabilitation (Community Living Center); Psychotherapy placement supervisor
  • Clinical Interests: LGBT, behavior modification, geropsychology, neuropsychology, pain management mindfulness meditation, evidence-based practice
  • Orientation: Cognitive Behavioral

 

Himmelfarb, Naomi, Ph.D.

  • Doctoral Program: University of Connecticut (Clinical), 1988
  • Predoctoral Internship: Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center, 1986-1987
  • Academic Affiliation: Assistant Clinical Professor, UCLA Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
  • Rotation: Trauma Programs (Women’s Health Clinic)
  • Clinical Interests: Military sexual assault, trauma, and PTSD
  • Certifications: Prolonged Exposure, Cognitive Processing Therapy
  • Orientation: Cognitive Behavioral and Psychodynamic

 

Johnson, Megan, Ph.D.

  • Doctoral Program: Fuller Theological Seminary (Clinical), 2017
  • Doctoral Internship: Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health – Twin Towers Correctional Facility
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship: GRECC Special Fellowship in Advanced Geriatrics, 2017-2019
  • Rotation: Geriatric Medicine
  • Clinical Interests: Trauma, posttraumatic growth, moral injury, serious mental illness, psychological assessment
  • Research interests: Neuropsychology, memory, TBI, Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease, Frontotemporal Dementia, brain-behavior relationships, trauma, PTSD
  • Orientation: Psychodynamic

 

Kay, Morgan, Ph.D., ABPP-CHP

  • Doctoral Program: California School of Professional Psychology (Clinical), 2013
  • Doctoral Internship: Western New York VA, 2012-2013
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship: Interprofessional Integrative Health, West Los Angeles VA, 2013-2014
  • Rotation: Rehabilitation Psychology (Pain Clinic)
  • Clinical Interests: Health psychology, insomnia, chronic pain, health behavior change
  • Certifications: CBT for Insomnia, Mindfulness Facilitator, CBT for Chronic Pain (consultant)
  • Orientation: Cognitive Behavioral, Mindfulness-based treatment
  • Certifications: American Board of Professional Psychology, Clinical Health Psychology (ABPP/CHP)

 

McGowan, Sarah Kate, Ph.D.

  • Doctoral Program: University of Illinois at Chicago (Clinical), 2014
  • Doctoral Internship: Boston Consortium in Clinical Psychology (VA Boston, Harvard Medical School,
  • Boston University Medical School; General Mental Health and National Center for PTSD Tracks), 2013-2014
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship: UCSD/SDVA Residency Program, Anxiety Disorders and Behavioral Sleep Medicine Track, 2014-2015
  • Rotation: Behavioral Health; (Primary Care-Mental Health Integration)
  • Clinical Interests: Behavioral sleep medicine (CBT-I Consultant), treatment of anxiety and depressive disorders
  • Research interests: Relationship between insomnia and anxiety; development and implementation of behavioral treatments for insomnia
  • Active Research: 2 VA-funded grants (PI: Jennifer Martin) to develop and evaluate behavioral treatment for insomnia and PAP adherence
  • Orientation: Behavioral and cognitive; ACT; Integrative

 

Medina Del Rio, Lilian, Psy.D. 

  • Doctoral Program: Rosemead School of Psychology (Clinical), 2018
  • Doctoral Internship: VA Pacific Islands Healthcare System (Trauma Emphasis), 2017-2018
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship: Harbor-UCLA Medical Center (Assertive Community Treatment/Corrections Track), 2018 - 2019
  • Rotation: Year-Long Psychotherapy Placement Supervisor
  • Clinical Interests: Assessment and treatment of trauma related disorders, mood disorders, psychotic   disorders, personality disorders, and substance use disorders (homeless population)
  • Certifications: VA Cognitive Processing Therapy, VA Telemental Health provider, CBT Provider  Certification (A-CBT)
  • Orientation: Cognitive Behavioral

 

Melrose, Rebecca, Ph.D.

  • Doctoral Program: Boston University, Boston (Clinical), 2007
  • Doctoral Internship: West Los Angeles VA Medical Center, 2006-2007
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship: GRECC Special Fellowship in Advanced Geriatrics, West Los Angeles VA Medical Center, 2007-2010
  • Academic Affiliation: Assistant Research Psychologist, Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
  • Rotation: Geriatric Medicine
  • Clinical Interests: Neuropsychology
  • Research interests: Neuroimaging & neuropsychology of cognitive decline in aging
  • Active Research: Neuroimaging (task fMRI, resting state fMRI, DTI) of Mild Cognitive Impairment & Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Orientation: Eclectic

 

Okonek, Anna, Ph.D., Deputy Chief for Psychology Education

  • Doctoral Program: University of California, Los Angeles (Clinical), 1992
  • Doctoral Internship: West Los Angeles VA Medical Center, 1989-1990
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship: Geropsychology, UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute, 1992-1993
  • Rotation: Rehabilitation Psychology (Polytrauma/Traumatic Brain Injury)
  • Clinical Interests: Polytrauma/traumatic and acquired brain injury, neuropsychology, adjustment to disability, coping with acute and chronic medical illness
  • Orientation: Integrative

 

Perales, Paul, Psy.D.

  • Doctoral Program: Pepperdine University (Clinical), 2017
  • Doctoral Internship: VA Sepulveda Ambulatory Care Center, 2016-2017
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship: Interprofessional Integrative Health, West Los Angeles VA, 2017-2018
  • Academic Affiliation: Adjunct Professor, Pepperdine University
  • Rotation: Substance Use Disorder (SUD) Outpatient Programs
  • Clinical Interests: Substance Use Treatment, Trauma, LGBTQ+ Mental Health, HIV Mental Health, Mindfulness/Integrative Health, Group Therapy
  • Certifications: CBT for Substance Use Disorders
  • Orientation: Cognitive-Behavioral, Mindfulness-based interventions, Integrative

 

Razmjou, Elika, PsyD

  • Doctoral Program: Pacific University, Oregon, 2019
  • Doctoral Internship: University of Colorado—School of Medicine; A.F. Williams Family Medicine Clinic, Colorado, 2018-2019
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship: Health Psychology, VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare Center, West Los Angeles, 2019-2020
  • Rotation: Co-Leader, Diversity Seminar
  • Clinical Interests: Health Psychology/Behavioral Medicine (pain psychology, behavioral sleep medicine, mTBI/concussion, end-of-life care); Health Literacy and Disparities; Yoga and Mindfulness
  • Certifications: Prolonged Exposure for Primary Care, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia
  • Orientation: Integrative; Existential; Second- and third-wave behavioral therapies (CBT, ACT, DBT)  

 

Robinson, Christina, Ph.D., ABPP

  • Doctoral Program: University of Houston (Clinical), 2011
  • Doctoral Internship: West Los Angeles VA Medical Center, 2010-2011
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship: Health Psychology/Integrative Care, West Los Angeles VA Medical Center, 2011-2012
  • Rotation: Trauma Programs; Trauma Recovery Service (TRS)
  • Clinical Interests: Trauma and co-occurring disorders, exposure therapy for anxiety disorders,
  • medical/health psychology, psychological assessment
  • Certifications: Cognitive Processing Therapy
  • Orientation: Cognitive Behavioral, Eclectic

 

Rostami, Tara, Psy.D.

  • Doctoral Program: California School of Professional Psychology (Clinical), 2017
  • Doctoral Internship: Canandaigua VA Medical Center, 2016-2017
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship: Phoenix VA Healthcare Center (Trauma track), 2017-2018
  • Rotations: Year-Long Psychotherapy Placement Supervisor
  • Clinical Interests: Assessment and treatment of trauma related disorders, particularly Combat PTSD and MST, sleep disorders, behavior modification, readjustment/phase of life issues for Veterans
  • Research Interests: Suicide prevention and SUD
  • Certifications: VA Cognitive Processing Therapy, VA Telemental Health provider, CBT for Insomnia provider
  • Orientation: Cognitive Behavioral

 

Sandoval, Christina, Psy.D.

  • Doctoral Program: Alliant International University, Los Angeles (Clinical) 2020
  • Doctoral Internship: VA Richmond Healthcare System, Richmond, Health Psychology Track, 2019-2020
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship: VA North Texas Healthcare System, Dallas, Health and Rehab Psychology Track, 2020-2021
  • Rotation: Polytrauma
  • Clinical Interests: chronic pain, insomnia, rehabilitation psychology, transgender care, and adjustment post-injury
  • Orientation: Integrative with a leaning towards CBT and acceptance-based therapies

 

Spezze, Jaqulyn, Psy.D.

  • Doctoral Program: Pepperdine University (Clinical Psychology), 2015
  • Doctoral Internship: VA Los Angeles Ambulatory Care Center
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship: Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, Behavioral Medicine/HIV Mental Health
  • Rotation: Domiciliary Residential Rehabilitation and Treatment Program
  • Clinical Interests: Substance use disorders, posttraumatic stress disorder, behavioral medicine/health psychology, HIV mental health, LGBTQ
  • Research Interests: Substance use disorders, HIV mental health, well-being in individuals with chronic medical conditions
  • Orientation: Cognitive Behavioral, Integrative

 

Steinberg-Oren, Susan L., Ph.D., Staff Psychologist in Integrative and Interprofessional Health (IHH)

  • Doctoral Program:  Clark University, Worcester, MA,  1989
  • Doctoral internship:  Palo Alto VA Medical Center, 1988
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship:  Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, 1990
  • Academic Affiliation: Assistant Clinical Professor, UCLA 1993-2000,  Fuller Graduate School for Psychology 1990-2014
  • Current Rotation: Psychotherapy placement supervisor
  • Past Rotations: SUD, General Mental Health, Women’s Mental Health, Behavioral Health
  • Clinical Interests: Mindfulness, Psychodynamic Psychotherapy, Supervision, Couple’s Therapy
  • Certifications: Integrative Behavioral Couple’s Therapy, International Mindfulness Teacher’s Association (IMTA), Certified Mindfulness Teacher—Insight LA, Center for Mindful Self-Compassion (CMSC) Trained Teacher
  • Orientation: Psychodynamic and Integrative

 

Tan, Patricia, Ph.D.

  • Doctoral Program: The Pennsylvania State University (Clinical), 2011
  • Doctoral Internship: Western Psychiatry Institute & Clinic (University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine), 2009-2010
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship: Clinical Research Training in Child Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, 2011-2014
  • Academic Affiliation: Health Sciences Clinical Assistant Professor, UCLA Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences
  • Rotation: Mental Health Clinic/Anxiety Disorders Clinic; Anxiety Disorders Clinic (ADC)
  • Clinical Interests: Treatment of anxiety and related disorders, ambulatory assessment and intervention, family-focused cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Research interests: Development of stress response systems, improving access and effectiveness of cognitive behavioral therapy via ambulatory assessment approaches, neurocognitive approaches  for augmenting the assessment and treatment of anxiety and related disorders
  • Orientation: Behavioral and cognitive

 

Taylor-Ford, Megan, Ph.D.

  • Doctoral Program: University of Southern California (Clinical Science) 2015
  • Doctoral Internship: VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, West Los Angeles, 2014-2015
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship: VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, West Los Angeles, 2015-2016
  • Rotation: Behavioral Health
  • Clinical Interests: End of life, health psychology, psycho-oncology, coping with chronic and acute illness
  • Orientation: Integrative with a leaning towards CBT and acceptance-based therapies

 

Wilkins, Stacy S., Ph.D., ABPP/CN

  • Doctoral Program: Fuller Graduate School of Psychology (Clinical), 1988
  • Predoctoral Internships: Pasadena Guidance Clinics, 1986-1987; West Los Angeles VA Medical Center, 1987-1988
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship: Neuropsychology, UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute, 1988-1989
  • Academic Affiliation: Clinical Professor, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
  • Rotation: Geriatric Medicine
  • Clinical Interests: Neuropsychology, Geriatric and Medical Psychology
  • Research Interests: Neuropsychology and aging, exercise effects on mood and cognition, telehealth, capacity assessment
  • Certifications: American Board of Professional Psychology; Clinical Neuropsychology (ABPP/CN)
  • Orientation: Interpersonal and Cognitive Behavioral

 

Woods, Catherine, Ph.D.

  • Doctoral Program: University of Oregon (Counseling Psychology) 2019
  • Doctoral Internship: VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, West Los Angeles, 2018-2019
  • Postdoctoral Residency: VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, West Los Angeles, Trauma Psychology, 2019-2020
  • Rotation: Co-Leader, Diversity Seminar
  • Clinical and Areas of Interests: PTSD and complex trauma, Veterans’ trauma, the impact of race-related issues (e.g., racial battle fatigue, racial trauma and stress) on Black communities, Black health and wellness, liberation psychology, mentorship, social change
  • Current Groups Facilitated: Racial Trauma and Stress
  • Certifications: Cognitive Processing Therapy, Gottman Method Couples Therapy (Levels 1&2)
  • Orientation:  CBT, DBT, Integrative, Relational-Cultural

 

Yahalom, Jonathan Ph.D.

  • Doctoral Program: Duquesne University (Clinical Psychology), 2016
  • Predoctoral Internship: Adolescent, Geriatric, and Substance Abuse, Sharp HealthCare, 2015-2016
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship: Mindfulness and Integrative Health, West Los Angeles VA Medical Center, 2016-2017
  • Academic Affiliation: Health Sciences Assistant Clinical Professor, UCLA Department of Psychiatry and    Biobehavioral Sciences, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
  • Rotation: Psychotherapy placement supervisor; General Outpatient (Mental Health Clinic)
  • Clinical Interests: Cultural psychology, trauma, mood and anxiety disorders
  • Research Interests: Medical anthropology, anthropology of care, qualitative research
  • Orientation: Psychodynamic

 

Katie YoungSciortino, Ph.D.

  • Doctoral Program: Palo Alto University, Palo Alto CA (Clinical Psychology, neuropsychology track), 2017
  • Doctoral Internship: VA Southern Arizona Health Care System (neuropsychology track), 2016-2017
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship: Neuropsychology Postdoctoral Fellowship, Phoenix VA Health Care System, 2017-2019
  • Rotation: Outpatient Neuropsychology
  • Clinical Interests: Acquired brain injuries (e.g., stroke, TBI), dementia/neurodegenerative diseases - in particular, the contribution of vascular risk factors to dementia, and cultural aspects of neuropsychological assessment
  • Orientation: Cognitive Behavioral

 

Zeller, Michelle, Psy.D., ABPP/CN

  • Doctoral Program: Pepperdine University (Clinical), 2004
  • Doctoral Internship: VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, 2003-2004
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship: Geropsychology, UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute, 2004-2006
  • Rotation: Rehabilitation Psychology (Inpatient Acute Rehabilitation Unit)
  • Clinical Interests: Neuropsychological assessment, individual and group psychotherapy, geropsychology and stroke rehabilitationCertifications: American Board of Professional Psychology; Clinical Neuropsychology (ABPP/CN)
  • Orientation: Cognitive Behavioral

West Los Angeles VA Clinical Postdoctoral Residency Program

The West Los Angeles VA Healthcare Center offers postdoctoral residency training in Clinical Psychology in five clinical emphasis areas, noted below. In addition, we offer three 2-year positions with specialty accreditation in Clinical Neuropsychology, two of which will be available in the 2024-2025 training year.

Clinical Psychology residency positions open for the 2024-25 training year include:

  1. Geropsychology
  2. Health Psychology
  3. Interprofessional Integrative Health (2 positions)
  4. Substance Use Disorders/Homeless Mental Health
  5. Trauma Psychology
  6. Clinical Neuropsychology (2-year; specialty accreditation)

To be considered for any of our postdoctoral residency positions an applicant must:

  1. Have completed all requirements for the doctoral degree, in Clinical or Counseling Psychology, including internship and dissertation.
    1. Department of Veterans Affairs requires that the applicant’s doctoral degree and internship be completed at programs accredited by the American Psychological Association or Canadian Psychological Association.
  2. Department of Veterans Affairs requires that the applicant’s doctoral degree and internship be completed at programs accredited by the American Psychological Association or Canadian Psychological Association.
  3. Be a US citizen. VA is unable to consider applications from anyone who is not currently a U.S. citizen.  Verification of citizenship is required following selection and all of our incoming postdoctoral residents must complete a Certification of Citizenship in the United States prior to starting training.
  4. Be aware that VA employment requires males born after December 31, 1959 must have registered for the draft by age 26. Male applicants sign a pre-appointment Certification Statement of Selective Service Registration before they can be processed into a training program.
  5. Be aware that residents are subject to fingerprinting and background checks. Selection decisions are contingent on passing these screens.

Our postdoctoral program has been a member of the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers (APPIC) since 2009. Both the Clinical Psychology and Clinical Neuropsychology residency programs have been accredited by the APA Commission on Accreditation though 2028. Our brochure can be found at the following web location: https://www.losangeles.va.gov/trainee/

Local Information

The West Los Angeles VA Healthcare Center is located in one of the most vibrant and culturally diverse cities in the nation. We are located approximately one mile west of the UCLA campus and five miles east of the Santa Monica beaches. Neighboring communities include Brentwood, Westwood, and Santa Monica. Los Angeles has much to offer in the way of arts and culture (The Getty Center, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Broad Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art, the Hammer Museum, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Hollywood Bowl, the Los Angeles Opera, to name a few), sports (Los Angeles Lakers, Kings, Sparks, Clippers, Dodgers, Angels, Galaxy, Rams and Chargers), restaurants, nightlife and entertainment (film, music, theater). The Southern California weather allows for year-round outdoor sports and recreation, including hiking, surfing, sailing and bicycling, as well as skiing and snowboarding in the winter and spring. 

 

To find out more about events and attractions in the greater Los Angeles area, go to:  

http://www.discoverlosangeles.com/

Clinical Psychology Postdoctoral Residency Program

For the 2024-2025 training year, the West Los Angeles VA Healthcare Center will be recruiting for six (6) one-year postdoctoral residency positions in Clinical Psychology with emphasis area training described below. Applicants are required to have received a doctorate from an APA or CPA-accredited graduate program in either Clinical, Counseling, or Combined Psychology or from a PCSAS accredited Clinical Science program. Persons with a doctorate in another area of psychology who meet the APA or CPA criteria for re-specialization training in Clinical, Counseling, or Combined Psychology are also eligible. The applicant is expected to have completed an internship program accredited by APA or CPA or have completed a VA-sponsored internship. Per VA policy, all funded trainees must be U.S. citizens. Also, for additional VA eligibility requirements, please see our eligibility page.

These full-time (2080 hours over 12 months) residency positions offer emphasis area training in: Behavioral Sleep Medicine/Health Psychology, Trauma Psychology, Interprofessional Integrative Health (two positions), Substance Use Disorders and Co-Occurring Conditions, and Geropsychology. We seek applicants with strong skills in intervention, assessment, and consultation and our selection criteria focus on prior training/clinical experience and the perceived fit between applicant’s goals and training program objectives. Our postdoctoral program is a member of the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers (APPIC) and received 10-year accreditation from the APA Commission on Accreditation for both our Clinical Psychology and our Clinical Neuropsychology programs with next site visit due in 2028.

Steve Castellon Ph.D.

Director, Psychology Residency Training

VA Greater Los Angeles health care

Phone: 310-478-3711 ext. 53597

Email: Steve.Castellon@va.gov

Application Due Date

Applications are due December 11, 2023

Residency year begins August 26, 2024

Postdoctoral Residency Positions Available

We are recruiting to fill six, one-year, full-time Postdoctoral Residency positions in Health Service Psychology with emphasis in the following areas:

  • Behavioral Sleep Medicine/Health Psychology
  • Geropsychology
  • Interprofessional Integrative Health (2 positions)
  • SUD and Co-Occurring Disorders
  • Trauma

We also have two 2-year neuropsychology residency position OPEN for application in 2024.  These APA Accredited Clinical Neuropsychology Residency positions are described in a separate section on this same page (See: Clinical Neuropsychology Postdoctoral Residency Program)

Accreditation Status

The Clinical Psychology residency program at the West Los Angeles VA Healthcare Center is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation (CoA) of the American Psychological Association (APA).  In 2018 we received the maximum, 10-year accreditation and will undergo re-accreditation in 2028. We also have an APA-accredited program providing specialty training in Clinical Neuropsychology. 

Questions related to the program's accreditation status can be directed to Commission on Accreditation:

Office of Program Consultation and Accreditation American Psychological Association, 750 First Street, NE Washington, DC 20002;  Telephone: 202-336-5979; Email: apaaccred@apa.org   

Website: http://www.apa.org/ed/accreditation

Our program has been a member of Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers (APPIC) since 2009 with our membership renewed in 2021.

Application Process

We require applications be submitted through the APPA CAS portal (see address below). Applications must be received by 11:59 PM, EST (8:59 PST) on December 11th, 2023.  For each of the Clinical Psychology Residency positions, the following documents will be requested and must be submitted through APPA CAS. 

  • Letter of Interest (LOI), specifying the position you are applying for along with a summary of educational, clinical and research experiences relevant to that emphasis area. In the LOI please include a statement about your career goals in addition to your goals for residency training.
    • We are aware that some applicants may have overlapping interests and wish to apply for consideration in more than one track.  In this case, the LOIs should be distinct and clearly targeted to the specific track.
  • A recent copy of your Curriculum Vitae
  • Three Letters of Recommendation (LOR)
    • These letters should be from supervisors/mentors that are familiar with the work you’ve done in the emphasis track for which you are applying. 
  • Letter from your Internship Training Director verifying that you are expected to complete, or will have already completed, your internship successfully.
    • If your Internship Training Director is also writing a LOR for you, please have them make clear that they are/were also your Internship TD and that you are expected to (or already did) successfully complete your internship.
  • A letter from the chair of your dissertation committee detailing the status of your dissertation (including anticipated completion date).  This letter should indicate that your doctoral degree has been, or will be, completed before August 19, 2024.
    • If your Dissertation Chair is also writing a letter of recommendation for you, please have them make sure it is clear within the body of their letter that you are expected to successfully complete your dissertation by August of 2024.
  • Graduate transcripts.
    • You do not need to send undergraduate transcripts.

Submit these materials through the APPA CAS:  https://appicpostdoc.liaisoncas.com/applicant-ux/#/login   Complete the basic demographic, education, clinical training information and transcripts required of all applicants for all APPA CAS programs. Then select the appropriate program(s) (emphasis area) within the West Los Angeles VA Health Care System. APPA CAS allows you to request letters of recommendation electronically which are then uploaded by the letter writer. (Note: APPA CAS refers to letters of recommendation as "Evaluations”).

For questions about application submission issues:

Steven Castellon, Ph.D., Director Psychology Postdoctoral Training

Email: Steve.Castellon@va.gov or scastell@ucla.edu

Phone: Steven Castellon 310-268-3597

Eligibility Requirements

Health Professions Trainees (HPTs) are appointed as temporary employees of Department of Veterans Affairs. As such, HPTs are subject to laws, policies, and guidelines posted for VA staff members. There are infrequent times in which this guidance can change during a training year which may create new requirements or responsibilities for HPTs. If employment requirements change during the course of a training year, HPTs will be notified of the change and impact as soon as possible and options provided. The VA Training Director for your profession will provide you with the information you need to understand the requirement and reasons for the requirement in timely manner.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) adheres to all Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action policies. As a Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Health Professions Trainee (HPT), you will receive a federal appointment following the selection process, and the following requirements will apply prior to that appointment.

  1. U.S. Citizenship. VA is unable to consider applications from anyone who is not currently a U.S. citizen. Verification of citizenship is required following selection. All interns and residents must complete a Certification of Citizenship in the United States prior to beginning VA training.
  2. U.S. Social Security Number. All VA appointees must have a U.S. social security number (SSN) prior to beginning the pre-employment on-boarding process at the VA.
  3. Selective Service Registration. A male applicant born after 12/31/1959 must have registered for the draft by age 26 to be eligible for any US government employment, including selection as a paid VA trainee. Male applicants must sign a pre-appointment Certification Statement for Selective Service Registration before they can be processed into a training program. For additional information about the Selective Service System, and to register or to check your registration status visit https://www.sss.gov/.
  4. Fingerprint Screening and Background Investigation. All HPTs will be fingerprinted and undergo screenings and background investigations. Additional details about the required background checks can be found at the following website: http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/codification/executive-order/10450.html
  5. Drug Testing. Per Executive Order 12564, the VA strives to be a Drug-Free Workplace. HPTs are not drug-tested prior to appointment, however, are subject to random drug testing throughout the entire VA appointment period. You will be asked to sign an acknowledgement form stating you are aware of this practice. This form authorizes your drug test results to be shared with VA officials, and others who have a need to know. Failure to sign the authorization form may result in disciplinary action up to and including removal.

As a trainee subject to random drug testing, you should be aware of the following:

  • Counseling and rehabilitation assistance are available to all trainees through existing Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) at VA facilities (information on EAP can be obtained from your local Human Resources office).
  • You will be given the opportunity to submit supplemental medical documentation of lawful use of an otherwise illegal drug to a Medical Review Officer (MRO).
  • VA will initiate termination of VA appointment and/or dismissal from VA rotation against any trainee who is found to use illegal drugs on the basis of a verified positive drug test or who refuses to be tested.
  • Although medical and recreational use of cannabis is legal in the state of California, it is illegal for federal employees and trainees to use marijuana and its derivatives, including CBD, on or off duty.
  • Please see VA Drug-Free Workplace Program Guide for Veterans Health Administration Health Professions Trainees

Additional information regarding eligibility requirements for appointment as a VA psychology HPT can be found at the following links:

https://www.psychologytraining.va.gov/eligibility.asp

https://www.psychologytraining.va.gov/docs/Trainee-Eligibility.pdf

Additionally, to be considered for any of our postdoctoral residency positions an applicant must:

  • Have completed all requirements for the doctoral degree, in Clinical or Counseling Psychology, including internship and dissertation. 
    • Department of Veterans Affairs requires that the applicant’s doctoral degree and internship be completed at programs accredited by the American Psychological Association.

Selection Process

We are seeking applicants who have strong skills in intervention, assessment, and possess prior clinical experience and specific interest in their chosen emphasis area. Applicants should have adequate academic preparation and have acquired Profession-Wide Competencies in context of service provision to adult patients/clients. They should have received individual supervision with direct observation of the clinical work within their graduate program and pre-doctoral internship and they should meet eligibility requirements for VA employment.  Applicants should also have the personal characteristics necessary to function well as a doctoral-level professional within a medical center environment and interdisciplinary treatment settings. Our selection criteria specifically focus on educational background, clinical training and experience, letters of recommendation and the ability of the applicant to articulate their training goals and professional aspirations that we feel are consistent with the Residency Program and with VA mission. We seek the best fit between applicants and our training program.

Applications are reviewed by the Director of Postdoctoral Training (Dr. Castellon), in addition to the relevant members of the Postdoctoral Residency selection committee. This committee is comprised of clinical psychologists who serve as primary or delegated supervisors for each of the emphasis areas in which residencies are being offered.  [For the 2024-25 training year, staff on the selection committees include: Behavioral Sleep Medicine/Health Psychology (Drs. Bailey, Chen, Christie, Kay, McGowan, Razmjou, Saldana, & Taylor-Ford,), Interprofessional Integrative Health (Drs. Serpa, Dennis, and Steinberg-Oren),  Trauma Psychology (Drs. Boxer, Himmelfarb, Robinson, & Spezze), SUD  (Drs. Bailey, Cardoos, Rowland, and Perales), Geropsychology (Drs. Cernin, Booker, Funes, Melrose, Osato, Taylor-Ford, & Wilkins.)  Following this review, highly ranked applicants are asked to participate in interviews, which, due to Covid-19, will occur via video tele-conferencing. After the interview process is complete, the selection committee again ranks the applicants and offers can then be extended to top applicants for each of the open positions.  When applicants are no longer under consideration, we strive to notify them of this as soon as possible.

Our site agrees to abide by the APPIC policy that no person at this training facility will solicit, accept or use any ranking-related information from any postdoctoral residency applicant.  Our site will be abiding by all APPIC-encouraged/mandated Common Hold Date policies and recommendations (see: Postdoctoral Selection Standards (appic.org).  The Common Hold Date is February 26, 2024.

The Department of Veterans Affairs is an Equal Opportunity Employer, which prohibits any form of discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex (including gender identity or sexual orientation), age, disability status, or marital status . Our program highly values cultural and individual diversity and welcomes qualified applicants from all backgrounds.  We have a strong commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion and seek a postdoctoral residency class that represents a wide range of backgrounds, interests, talents, and life experiences.

Training Setting

The VA Greater Los Angeles (VAGLA) Healthcare System is one of the largest and most complex integrated healthcare facilities within the Department of Veterans Affairs. The VAGLAHS consists of a comprehensive tertiary care facility (West Los Angeles VA Healthcare Center), three ambulatory care centers, and 10 community-based outpatient clinics.  In fiscal year 2015, VAGLAHS provided medical and mental health services to over 86,000 Veterans residing in the primary service area, including Los Angeles County, which has the largest concentration of Veterans of any county in the United States. GLA provides ambulatory and tertiary care to Veterans in five counties in Southern California, with 716 beds, over 4500 employees and an annual operating budget of over $1.1 billion. 

The Psychology Postdoctoral Training Program is located at the West Los Angeles VA Healthcare Center. This tertiary care center is spread across an expansive 400-acre campus that includes approximately 150 buildings and is divided into a South and North Campus.  The Psychology Department consists of 48 licensed clinical psychologists, many of whom are involved with training endeavors at the internship and postdoctoral level. Psychologists at the West Los Angeles VA occupy a variety of roles throughout the medical center, working in both inpatient and outpatient mental health and medical settings and with several involved in program leadership positions. The majority of WLAVAHC psychologists work in multi- disciplinary settings with allied mental health care professionals.

In fiscal year 2022, GLA provided medical and mental health services to over 89,000 Veterans residing in the primary service area, including Los Angeles County, which has the largest concentration of Veterans of any county in the United States. The patients seen for mental health services in GLA were 87% male and 13% female (of note: limited dichotomous category). In terms of age, 34% were older than 65, 32% were between 45 and 64, and 33% were between the ages of 24 and 44. In terms of ethnicity or racial background, patients seen were 49% White, 27% Black/African American; 19% Latinx, 4% Asian, 2% Pacific Islander, and 1% American Indian or Native American.

The West Los Angeles VA Healthcare Center, which is the site for this postdoctoral residency program, is the hospital, research, and administrative center for GLA. It is situated on a 400-acre campus with 150 buildings. The south campus is primarily devoted to medical/surgical and inpatient psychiatric services located in the main medical center building as well as outpatient mental health services housed within two neighboring buildings (Bldgs. 401 and 402). The north campus facilities include two long-term care buildings (Community Living Center) with 352 beds, a 296-bed Domiciliary, recovery-oriented outpatient programs (Psychosocial Rehabilitation and Recovery Center, PTSD program), as well as research and administrative offices. The 496-bed California State Veterans Home, which was completed in 2010, is also located on the north campus.

The Psychology Department at the West Los Angeles VA Healthcare Center has a strong commitment to, and long history of, providing training. Dr. Stephanie Cardoos, oversees our highly competitive (>150 applications annually) doctoral internship program. This internship program has been accredited by the American Psychological Association since 1979 and, at the most recent site visit in 2017, received a full 10-year re-accreditation. Of Psychology Department staff (numbering 76 as of this update in 2023), there are approximately 30 that serve as supervisors in our internship training program and 21 provide supervision in the residency program. In addition to training doctoral interns and residents, the training program selects 6-8 practicum students each year, all of whom receive 9 months of supervised training on two different clinical rotations. Postdoctoral Residents will have a chance to provided layered supervision to both our doctoral interns and practicum students. All clinical supervisors in the postdoctoral residency, doctoral internship, and doctoral practicum program are licensed clinical psychologists and complete biannual training and education in clinical supervision as mandated by the California Board of Psychology.

The Psychology Department at West Los Angeles VA enjoys close ties with both the UCLA Department of Psychology and the Department of Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. Many staff members, including the majority in training/supervising roles, hold clinical and/or academic appointments at local institutions, including UCLA, Pepperdine University, University of Southern California, and the Fuller Graduate School of Psychology. 

Overview of the Postdoctoral Training Programs

There are two postdoctoral residency programs at the West Los Angeles VA Healthcare System that are part of a multiple-practice program. These programs offer advanced training in either Clinical Psychology or Clinical Neuropsychology. 

Within our Clinical Psychology program there are five separate Emphasis Areas where residents acquire specialized training within one of the following tracks:

  1. Behavioral Sleep Medicine/Health
  2. Geropsychology
  3. Interprofessional Integrative Health
  4. SUD and Co-Occurring Disorders
  5. Trauma

The resident trains in the clinic or settings associated with their emphasis area and will have a primary supervisor/mentor assigned who is an expert within that area.  While there may be occasions where supervision or consultation is provided by other mental health specialists (e.g. psychiatrists, social workers), the vast majority (95-100%) of residents’ clinical supervision is received from licensed staff psychologists that work within each of the clinics.  Our Clinical Psychology program aim supports VA’s broader mission of training clinical psychologists competent and committed to practice in public service settings.  Our training assumes that a health service psychologist should be broadly trained in accordance with the Profession-Wide Competencies defined by APA during their graduate school and pre-doctoral internship training. Our program views residency training as the time for advanced competency development and specialization training. Towards that end we seek to provide individualized, collaborative, and advanced training in Clinical Psychology or Clinical Neuropsychology.

Residents are exposed to a wide array of patients and clinical and didactic experiences over the course of their residency that allow them to further develop and build upon already-acquired Level 1 (Core) Competencies, Level 2 (Program Specific) Competencies, and – in our Clinical Neuropsychology program, Level 3 (Specialty Specific) Competencies. Competencies for the Clinical Psychology residency program are listed below -- Clinical Neuropsychology competencies are listed in that specific brochure.

Training Model and Program Philosophy

Program Mission:  Consistent with Veterans Administration mission to “Honor America’s Veterans” by providing exceptional patient care, education, and research our training program strives to ensure that our Veterans and others across the nation have continuing access to highly qualified psychological staff who possess advanced competencies in Clinical Psychology (and/or Clinical Neuropsychology).  Training is based on a scientist-practitioner orientation and is grounded in exposure to a diverse array of clinical experiences and didactics with sensitivity to and knowledge about the influence of ethnic, cultural, and individual differences on psychological services.

Program Aim:   The aim of the West Los Angeles (WLA) VA Clinical Psychology Postdoctoral Residency Program (CPPRP) is to promote advanced level competencies in residents such that program graduates are eligible for employment within public sector medical center settings, including the VA, specializing in the treatment and assessment of patient populations with behavioral and mental health problems that affect emotional, cognitive, and/or behavioral functioning.  Graduates of the WLA VA CPPRP will have developed advanced competence in the practice of professional psychology integrated with in-depth training and education in a specific area of emphasis.  Each of our emphasis areas – health, trauma, interprofessional integrative health, Geropsychology, and SUD – are consistent with VA areas of clinical need within psychology.  Our training provides population-specific focus but also the further and more advanced development of generalist skills and profession-wide competencies.

We believe that clinical training is complemented by attending didactics and gaining research and/or program evaluation/quality improvement experience in an emphasis area and our program has strong connections with local academic institutions, including the University of California, Los Angeles, that allow for research and educational collaboration.

Our developmental training model acknowledges and appreciates that our postdoctoral residents will enter our program with varying degrees of experience.  We strive to build upon previously developed skills and competency benchmarks acquired during graduate school and during predoctoral internship. In practice, this equates to the postdoctoral resident being granted more autonomy and responsibility over the course of their training in an organized sequence. 

Our postdoctoral program is based on the scientist-practitioner model of training. The core concept of the residency is the understanding and application of scientific research/scholarly inquiry to the practice of clinical psychology.  Our program emphasizes the application of current scientific knowledge to the professional delivery of services and this emphasis is reflected in the content of training experiences.  These include training in evidence-based practices, participation in clinical research, and programmatic didactics offered through the VA and outside resources. At the completion of training, our residents are expected to be prepared to obtain licensure in their area of emphasis. 

Program Competencies, Goals, and Objectives

The APA Commission on Accreditation requires trainees in APA-accredited programs develop specific competencies as part of their preparation for independent practice in health service psychology. Our residents acquire advanced competencies as related/applied to specific areas of emphasis (e.g., Trauma, Geropsychology, etc).  The Standards of Accreditation for Health Service Psychology published and approved by the APA in 2015 can be found here: http://www.apa.org/ed/accreditation/about/policies/standards-of-accreditation.pdf

Scholarly Inquiry. Residents will develop an advanced level of knowledge of evidenced-based practices, the ability to review and to apply research literature to their clinical practice, and the continued development of critical thinking skills, and implementation of a research (or Quality Improvement or Program Evaluation) project during the residency year.  Residents will be able to determine when problems are not fully addressed by empirically supported treatments

Ethical and legal issues; Professional Values.  Residents will attain advanced knowledge of, and professional conduct in line with, APA ethical guidelines and California laws. Residents will be able to recognize ethical dilemmas when they arise and take appropriate measures to resolve them.  Residents will demonstrate knowledge and awareness of legal issues pertaining to the practice of professional psychology. Residents will show good professional judgement and will demonstrate professional conduct consistent with the identity of a professional psychologist.

Cultural and Individual Diversity.  Residents will develop an advanced level of knowledge, awareness, and sensitivity to individual and cultural differences as they apply to assessment, intervention, research, supervisions, and the health care system. Residents will demonstrate awareness of and act in accordance with APA Guidelines on Multicultural Education, Training, Research, Practice and Organizational Change for Psychologists.

Assessment/Diagnosis.  Residents develop advanced, independent skills in assessment, including differential diagnosis, case conceptualization, interviewing skills, test administration, scoring, interpretation, and the integration of assessment findings in to a report.  Residents develop an advanced ability to communicate testing results to patients and to the team members with whom they work. The resident will be aware of issues related to theories of assessment, ethical issues in assessment, and the impact of ethnicity/culture.

Intervention. Residents will develop advanced skills in psychological interventions, including conceptualization within at least two specific theoretical orientations, knowledge and application of evidence-based treatments, development of skills in individual and group modalities, and appropriate therapeutic interpersonal qualities (e.g. appropriate empathy, ability to attend to process and content of interpersonal interactions).

Interdisciplinary Consultation.  Residents will be able to function effectively and cooperatively with interprofessional team members, provide consultation, and contribute to team planning. Residents will form collaborative professional relationships with other disciplines within a team and provide constructive consultation to both psychologists and non-psychologist colleagues. Residents will learn to provide constructive consultation to other psychology colleagues.

Supervision and Teaching. Residents are expected to develop entry-level skills in providing supervision to other psychology trainees, in a “layered” supervision context. Residents will be able to identify the needs of students/interns they supervise and provide developmentally appropriate feedback to supervisees.  Residents will demonstrate the ability to effectively teach colleagues and trainees in areas of expertise.

Administrative and Organizational Practices, Program Evaluation. Residents will gain experience in some aspect of administration, organization or management of psychology service delivery. Residents will observe mentors/supervisor in activities pertaining to organization/management and administration and be able to apply these experiences to their own professional activities or identity.

 

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Opportunities at WLA VA

Our postdoctoral training programs at West Los Angeles VA are committed to fostering an appreciation for multiculturalism and preparation for practice in a multicultural society among our trainees and staff. We believe that it is crucial that all psychologists be trained to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse population. Awareness, appreciation, and understanding of diversity and individual differences is crucial to professional development, practice, and research, and we strive to integrate these into every aspect of our training program, including recruitment, didactics, supervised clinical experiences, and clinical research. We encourage trainees and staff to explore their own cultural identity to help build personal and professional awareness of their own unique experiences. We prioritize these opportunities as we believe that rich educational experiences are gained when we learn and work with people from a multitude of backgrounds.

The GLA Psychology Department has an active Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee and trainees at the predoctoral, and postdoctoral level are welcome and encouraged to join. The stated mission of the DEI Committee is “to create a willing community of fellow staff members and trainees to learn from one another’s life experiences, to advocate for inclusion, to celebrate all cultures and identities, and to promote equity in access to opportunity. We strive to extend these values to the services and care we offer to Veterans.” 

The DEI Committee sponsors monthly Lunch and Learn get-togethers for our staff and trainees. Recent topics that have been discussed in this forum have included: cultural adaptations of evidence-based practices, decolonizing mental health, LGBT Healthcare within VA, and weight or size stigma. They also host an occasional Cultural Resilience and Sharing hour.

We have opportunities for our residents to become involved in any one of four sub-committees that are related to Hiring, Training, Staff Development, and Communications.

  • The Hiring Subcommittee seeks to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion among our hiring practices for GLA Psychology staff. This subcommittee has been involved with finding ways to increase and improve advertisement of positions and enhance selection procedures to promote diverse representation on staff as well as providing mentorship to new staff.
  • The Training Subcommittee aims to integrate diversity, equity, and inclusion across all the GLA Psychology training programs. This is done through mentorship, consultation, education, focus groups, recruitment of culturally diverse applicants, and provision of multiculturally competent supervision. This subcommittee seeks to enhance diversity trainings offered to GLA psychology trainees.
  • The Staff Development Subcommittee focuses on developing and disseminating resources and consultation services to staff. The subcommittee aims to enhance staffs’ knowledge, awareness, and application of diversity, equity, and inclusion principles. This particular subcommittee has hosted forums including monthly Lunch and Learns, a DEI Book Club, and monthly discussion in staff meetings of relevant diversity highlights.

Postdoctoral Residency Tracks/Emphasis Areas

Postdoctoral Residents will complete full-time (40-hrs/week), one-year postdoctoral positions in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis in one of five training tracks, as described below.  Track overview, goals of training, specific training experiences, teaching methods, and faculty are listed for each training track.  Each resident, regardless of track will attend several common didactics (described in a later section).

Behavioral Sleep Medicine/Health Psychology Track

(One position open. Please note that this is a 1-year residency and is open for applications in 2024)

Program Structure

Training for the psychology resident will occur in the Behavioral Sleep Medicine (BSM) Program and various medical clinics. The resident will spend approximately half of their clinical time in each of these two settings. 

Overview of Track: This position provides advanced training in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis in Behavioral Sleep Medicine and Health Psychology. The goal of this training track is to prepare residents to function as independent psychologists in integrated behavioral, medical and mental health settings and within clinics fostering behavioral change. It includes required and elective experiences that develop advanced skills in consultation, treatment, and assessment in various inpatient and outpatient integrated health care settings. These settings include: Behavioral Sleep Medicine Clinic (required); Pain Clinic; Primary Care Mental Health Integration; Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation; MOVE (Weight Management) Clinic; Smoking Cessation Program; Oncology, Clinic and Palliative Care.

The Behavioral Sleep Medicine/Health Psychology Program is staffed by licensed clinical psychologists who provide training at the practicum, internship and residency levels. The resident receives training and direct supervision in providing consultation to interdisciplinary treatment teams, typically informing how a given Veteran’s psychological and cognitive strengths and weaknesses may impact treatment. Residents will have a wide variety of assessment opportunities across their training rotations, including opportunities for comprehensive sleep evaluations, cognitive screening, objective psychological assessment, and the use of a variety of symptom-based rating scales and interviewing techniques. Intervention opportunities are plentiful and include delivery of evidence-based treatments in both individual and group modalities.

Clinical Experiences

This track includes required and elective experiences that develop advanced skills in consultation, treatment, assessment, and program evaluation opportunities in inpatient and outpatient integrated health care settings. Residents will complete a required 12-month rotation in Behavioral Sleep Medicine and 6- or 12-month rotation(s) in two or more of the Health Psychology Clinics (see below). Elective opportunities can be filled in from those rotations described below to best mesh with the resident’s career and training goals.

Required Experiences:

Behavioral Sleep Medicine (BSM) Program 

The BSM program is located within the VAGLA/UCLA AASM Accredited Sleep Medicine Center as part of comprehensive patient-centered care program for sleep disorders. The resident will work closely with the supervising psychologists to deliver evidence-based treatments for a variety of sleep disorders including insomnia, circadian rhythm sleep/wake phase disorders, parasomnias, hypersomnolence, and to address adherence issues in the use of positive airway pressure therapy (“CPAP”) in Veterans with obstructive sleep apnea. The resident will also have opportunities to participate in BSM-specific research activities. The main activities will include:

Behavioral Sleep Medicine Clinic (8 hours per week): The resident will spend 8 hours per week in the behavioral sleep medicine (BSM) clinic. The primary focus of the clinic is the assessment and treatment of patients diagnosed with insomnia disorder using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I), the gold-standard treatment for insomnia. The BSM clinic follows the case conceptualization-based approach that is disseminated by the VA Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention. This clinical program was developed and implemented by a Diplomate of the American Board of Behavioral Sleep Medicine who is also a National Expert Trainer and Subject Matter Expert for the VA’s National Provider training program in CBT-I (Dr. Jennifer Martin).

The resident will begin the training year by attending a 2-day intensive training on CBT-I led by Drs. McGowan and Martin. This training is the same training VA-staff psychologists attend as part of the VA national evidence based psychotherapy roll out of CBT-I and, combined with clinical cases seen in the BSM clinic, will allow for the resident to meet equivalency training status as a certified CBT-I provider in the VA system should the resident decide to continue on to a staff position with the VA.

The resident will gain expertise in delivering CBT-I including how to modify the treatment in special populations including patients with comorbid PTSD, mild neurocognitive disorder, and serious mental illness.  Based on clinical need and resident interest, residents may also be involved in delivering behavioral treatments to patients with other sleep disorders, including circadian rhythm sleep-wake disorders (delayed/advanced sleep wake phase disorders), nightmare disorder, and narcolepsy. These clinical experiences may be combined with time spent in the BSM clinic or for up to 2 hours per week outside based on resident interest and supervisor approval.

Additionally, the resident will have the opportunity to be available for live consultation with the sleep medicine provider team (which include attending physicians, sleep medicine fellows, and physician assistants) during the sleep medicine team’s half-day outpatient clinic. During this time, the resident will assist with facilitating referrals to the behavioral sleep medicine clinic, engage in brief motivational interventions to encourage engagement with behavioral health services, and address other psychological and behavioral needs of patients seen within the sleep medicine clinic.

Behavioral Sleep Medicine Didactics (2-3 hours): Residents will have the opportunity to participate in behavioral sleep medicine-focused continuing education (CE) trainings with the goal of obtaining the required CEs to sit for the Diplomate in Behavioral Sleep Medicine (DBSM) board exam. Didactics include local trainings through the Sleep Medicine Clinic and grand rounds at UCLA as well as remote/virtual didactic training opportunities including quarterly training through the VA-ECHO Sleep Group and weekly BSM-focused virtual trainings through the University of Arizona department of Psychiatry. The resident will also have opportunity to attend the annual APSS Sleep conference (usually occurs in June).

Clinical Research (6 hours): There is a thriving behavioral sleep medicine clinical research program at GLA at the Sepulveda Ambulatory Care Center (SACC)*, and the resident will have the opportunity to engage in scholarly writing and to work directly with study investigators to deliver manual-based interventions within IRB-approval protocols. Due to requirements for research credentialing, the first half of the training year will typically focus on scholarly activities that do not involve contact with human subjects. These activities will be based on the resident’s interests and may include:

  • Conceptualizing and writing a book chapter or review article
  • Participating in development of treatment manuals, patient materials or other activities in preparation for new clinical research projects
  • Analysis of de-identified data from prior studies
  • Writing and submitting an abstract for presentation at a scientific meeting or conference
  • Contributing to peer-reviewed manuscripts

The second half of the year (after research credentialing is complete) will provide an opportunity to learn “hands on” about clinical research and to participate in ongoing studies as a study therapist or in other activities that include interaction with research subjects. While the available opportunities vary by year, current opportunities include:

  • Delivery of CBT-I to older Veterans and women Veterans with comorbid insomnia disorder and PTSD (VA and NIH funded clinical trials)
  • Delivery of an ACT-based intervention to Veterans with comorbid insomnia disorder and PTSD (VA-funded clinical trial)
  • Delivery of a CPAP adherence intervention to older Veterans (VA funded clinical trial)
  • Additional planned projects (pending funding) include: Delivery of sleep-focused interventions for caregivers of older Veterans with Alzheimer’s Disease. 

*Note that this rotation might require the resident to travel to SACC in North Hills one day per week.

BSM Supervisors:

Sarah Kate McGowan, Ph.D., DBSM (WLA BSM clinic lead)

Najwa Culver, Ph.D.

Jennifer Martin, Ph.D., FAASM, DBSM (Primary Supervisor for research activities)

Monica R. Kelly, Ph.D., DBSM (Supervisor for research activities)

Austin Grinberg, Ph.D., DBSM

Health Psychology Clinics:

Health Psychology at WLA is comprised of psychologists in various outpatient and inpatient medical clinics working directly with Veterans as well as the interdisciplinary teams that serve them. The resident will work closely with the supervising psychologists to deliver evidence-based treatments in these various settings. This program is comprised of several elective clinics that the resident can choose from. These include: Infectious Disease/HIV+ Clinic, Pain Clinic, Primary Care-Mental Health Integration (PCMHI), Transplant Assessments, Women’s PCMHI. At the beginning of the training year, the resident will meet with their primary supervisor to develop a training program that meets the needs and interests of the resident.

Elective Clinics:

Infectious Disease/HIV+ Mental Health Clinic: The resident may complete a 6 or 12 month elective rotation in the Infectious Disease/HIV+ Mental Health Clinic, alongside attending psychologist (Dr. Elika Razmjou), attending psychiatrist, two psychiatry residents, and 1-2 psychiatry C&L fellows. Patients are referred directly by the Infectious Disease/HIV+ Clinic, which is a multidisciplinary team comprised of attending physicians, ID fellows, medical residents, social work, RN care management, LVN’s, and pharmacists. The clinic serves a complex patient population, many of whom are from historically marginalized communities, and whom have experienced significant stress, discrimination, and trauma, often related to their intersecting identities (e.g., BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, low SES, disability status, etc.). The resident’s primary role within this clinic is to provide psychological services which include functional assessments and time-limited psychotherapy (8-16 sessions). Patients are referred for a range of presenting concerns, including depression, anxiety, adjustment to HIV diagnosis, insomnia/sleep disturbance, medication adherence, SUD, and minority stress. There are also opportunities for clinical and didactic teaching to psychiatry residents and fellows within this elective, as well as interprofessional collaboration with the multidisciplinary ID Clinic team. 

Supervisor: Elika Razmjou, Psy.D.

Pain Clinic: The resident will work closely with psychologists who are part of an interdisciplinary pain treatment team that includes providers from Rehabilitation Medicine, Anesthesiology, Nursing, Neurology, and Psychiatry. The primary role of the psychologist in this setting is that of consultant to the treatment team based on an assessment of the veteran’s current psychological/personality functioning and biopsychosocial history. There are ample opportunities to assess veterans with chronic and complicated pain problems. Pain patients who are candidates for interventional procedures (e.g. spinal cord stimulator or baclofen pump placement) undergo a comprehensive psychological assessment, including clinical interview, self-report measures, and administration of the MMPI-2-RF. Thus, psychology trainees gain experience in the use and interpretation of screening, interview, and personality measures in the assessment of chronic pain. In addition to assessment, the pain psychology program also contributes to a CARF-accredited interdisciplinary comprehensive pain rehabilitation program. Residents conduct pain-focused biopsychosocial evaluations of candidates for the program, provide group-based psychological treatment, and participate in interdisciplinary treatment plans. Finally, residents will gain experience with the CBT for Chronic Pain protocol used throughout VHA with supervisors certified in the protocol who consult for the national program. During the last training year, treatment as well as assessments have been done both in-person and via telehealth. There are opportunities for layered supervision of psychology interns in group treatment and assessment.

Supervisors: Katherine Bailey, Ph.D. and Morgan Kay, Ph.D., ABPP

Primary Care-Mental Health Integration Primary Care-Mental Health Integration: The PCMHI program is based in the Primary & Ambulatory Care Clinic (PACC) where veterans are seen by primary care providers (physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician's assistants) for general and preventive medical care. A team of mental health providers is located within the PACC to meet the needs of those patients with mild to moderate mental health issues including depression and anxiety, PTSD, chronic illness/multiple medical problems, pain disorders, and substance abuse. The PCMHI team consists of psychologists, psychiatrists, and nurses. Residents working in PCMHI will have the opportunity to participate in a variety of clinical and educational activities including, functional assessments, short-term individual interventions, triage and assessment through same day hand-offs from PACC, and collaboration with PCMHI and PACC teams. Often, the same day referrals from Primary Care require a suicide risk evaluation and crisis interventions. This rotation will hone clinical skills working in a fast-paced medical setting, including skills for enhancing patient engagement in mental health services. There are opportunities for layered supervision of psychology interns treating short-term individual patients.

Supervisor: Suzie Chen, Ph.D.

Transplant Assessment: The resident will have the opportunity to complete a 12-month elective rotation, in which their primary role is to complete pre-transplant mental health assessments for all solid-organ transplant candidates within Greater Los Angeles VAHCS. The resident will evaluate patient readiness and suitability for transplant, by identifying psychosocial factors that research shows may lead to negative outcomes— with the ultimate goal of providing targeted recommendations to improve patient candidacy. Each case includes a standardized clinical interview (~2 hrs), collateral interview with patient’s primary caregiver (10-15 min), and a brief feedback session. Within the clinical interview, the resident will assess patient’s understanding of transplant procedure, medical adherence and self-management, cognitive functioning, psychosocial support, and mental health and SUD history; a number of measures will also be administered. The resident will receive as much supervision as is developmentally appropriate— before, during, and after the evaluation— to support them in assessment and case conceptualization, and in helping them to formulate targeted patient and team recommendations. 

Supervisor: Elika Razmjou, Psy.D. 

Women’s Mental Health Primary Care-Mental Health Integration: The Women’s Mental Health PCMHI program is based in the Women’s Clinic where women veterans are offered comprehensive care, including: primary care, gynecology, mental health care, social work services, pharmacy, and lifestyle and wellness services. Women’s Mental Health PCMHI providers work alongside both the primary care providers and the women’s specialty mental health providers to meet the needs of those patients with mild to moderate mental health issues including depression and anxiety, PTSD, chronic illness/multiple medical problems, pain disorders, sleep concerns, and substance abuse. The WMH PCMHI Psychologists also provides perinatal mental health care. Residents working in Women’s Mental Health PCMHI will have the opportunity to participate in a variety of clinical and educational activities including, functional assessments, short-term individual interventions, triage and assessment through same day hand-offs from the primary care team, and collaboration with primary care, gynecology, social work, and mental health teams. Often, the same day referrals from Primary Care require a suicide risk evaluation and crisis interventions. This rotation will hone clinical skills working in a fast-paced medical setting, including skills for enhancing patient engagement in mental health services.

Supervisor: Kathryn Saldaña, Ph.D.

Behavioral Sleep Medicine/Health - Rotation Goals  (minimum requirements)

  1. Assessment/Diagnosis: Acquire advanced knowledge and skills in the assessment and diagnosis of mental health in adults.  The knowledge base must include behavioral sleep medicine assessments as well as assessments for mental health related issues in other medical settings.  Demonstrate skill in clinical assessment and differential diagnosis, cognitive assessments, capacity, and risk assessment.  Demonstrate appropriate use of screening instruments and when to refer to other disciplines.  Show skill in written and verbal communication to all stakeholders.
    • Complete a minimum of 30 BSM and/or psychological assessments across multiple care settings.  Include risk assessments appropriate to the clinical needs of the patient.
    • Attendance at didactics
  2. Intervention: Acquire advanced skills in psychotherapeutic interventions for behavioral sleep medicine and behavioral medicine.  Gain knowledge in behavioral interventions for sleep disorders; health, illness, and pharmacology; and adaption of interventions for different care settings.  Show skill in applying individual, group, and/or family interventions to adults, using evidence-based treatments, adapting interventions for various medical conditions, and using health-enhancing interventions.
    • Follow a minimum of 5 patients for individual BSM interventions
    • Demonstrate proficiency in providing Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I)
    • Lead at least one group in a Behavioral Medicine clinic
    • Engage in group and/or individual psychotherapy in behavioral medicine
    • Attend didactics focused on behavioral sleep medicine and other medical clinics
  3. Interdisciplinary Consultation: Acquire independence in interdisciplinary consultation in behavioral sleep medicine and other medical settings.  Gain knowledge in prevention and health promotion, contexts/settings of consultation, and roles of interdisciplinary teams.  Gain skills in providing consultation, working in teams, communicating effectively, and negotiating multiple roles.
    • Serve as a mental health consultant for patients in the sleep medicine clinic
    • Participate in interdisciplinary team meetings and case conferences in settings across the medical center
    • Discussion of teamwork in supervision
    • Completion of independent project
  4. Supervision and Teaching: Gain skills in providing supervision, including assessing trainee needs and defining clear learning goals and objectives
    • Provide layered supervision to psychology pre-intern or interns regarding assessment, intervention, and interdisciplinary consultation
    • Participate in Supervision didactic series
  5. Scholarly Inquiry: Acquire general knowledge in behavioral sleep medicine and behavioral medicine
    • Completion of independent project
    • Attend didactics, including BSM specific didactics.  Present at BSM Journal club
    • Attend journal clubs and perform literature reviews for the medical clinics that the fellow is embedded within
    • Incorporation of scientific knowledge into all clinical activities
  6. Administrative and Organizational Practices: Gain skills in administrative and organizational needs, including policies and procedures for service delivery models.
    • Completion of independent project
    • Observation of supervisors/mentors in organization/management and administrative duties
    • Successful coordination of mental health care needs of all assigned patients
  7. Ethical and legal issues; Professional Values: Apply ethical and legal standards to all aspects of clinical practice.  Advocate for patients.  Practice self-reflection.
    • Inclusion of legal/ethical considerations in mental health case conceptualization and treatment plans
    • Attention to medical record documentation and outside reporting requirements
    • Advocate for patient’s needs
    • Evaluate and address knowledge and skill gaps over the course of the training year
  8. Cultural and Individual Diversity: Address cultural and individual diversity with patients and families.  Demonstrate awareness of aspects of diversity that impact the self as provider and systems of care.
    • Inclusion of cultural, demographic, and psychosocial factors in case conceptualization, intervention, and treatment plans
    • Attention to health disparities and patient values in assessment, interventions, and treatment plans
    • Readings in supervision
    • Self-reflection in supervision

Teaching/Training Methods

Didactics – the resident in this track is required to participate in weekly didactics through the Behavioral Sleep Medicine Clinic (see above). Additionally, the resident is required to participate in the Postdoctoral Seminar and Journal Club (bi-monthly), Evidence Based Psychotherapy Seminar (monthly), and the Diversity Seminar (bi-monthly), Optional didactics include Pain Clinic Grand Rounds, Assessment Seminar and various offerings throughout our VA Medical Center and neighboring UCLA. See page 26 for a description of program didactics.

Mentorship – the resident in this track will be assigned a Mentor from among the group of primary and delegated supervisors (often, the Primary Supervisor). Mentor aids the resident in evaluating their training needs and interests and developing an individualized training plan (ITP) based on those needs and the training program’s competency areas. The mentor also provides professional mentoring to the resident at least monthly, a process that is separate from clinical supervision and is designed with an eye toward the resident’s progress through the residency program and development of their professional identity. Career guidance, role modeling, and psychosocial support are a focus of the mentoring relationship. If there is a specific career goal that other psychologists on staff might be particularly expert at addressing, mentors will also facilitate connection between the resident and other expert(s) – in addition to their ongoing role as Mentor.

Supervision – clinical supervision is one of the primary vehicles of training for the resident in this track. They will receive individual and group supervision where intervention, assessment, and interdisciplinary consultation techniques are discussed and evaluated. Modeling, review of tapes (audio and/or video), case discussions, and review of written work are among the methods that allow for evaluation of the resident. The resident receives a minimum of two hours of face-to-face individual supervision each week. The BSM/health track resident will have the opportunity to work with other psychology trainees (typically predoctoral intern or extern/practicum students) under the supervision/guidance of licensed professionals.

Behavioral Sleep Medicine and Health Track Faculty: (please see Clinical Psychology and Clinical Neuropsychology Faculty, starting on page 36 of this brochure, for more detailed biosketch of these individuals).

  1. Sarah Kate McGowan, Ph.D., DBSM – clinical psychologist in Behavioral Sleep Medicine Clinic; primary supervisor
  2. Austin Grinberg, Ph.D., DBSM – clinical psychologist in Behavioral Sleep Medicine; secondary supervisor 
  3. Najwa Culver, Ph.D. – clinical psychologist in Behavioral Sleep Medicine Clinic; secondary supervisor 
  4. Monica Kelly, Ph.D., DBSM– clinical psychologist in Behavioral Sleep medicine; research supervisor
  5. Jennifer Martin, Ph.D., FAASM – clinical psychologist in Behavioral Sleep Medicine Clinic; primary research supervisor
  6. Katherine Bailey, Ph.D. – clinical psychologist in the Pain Clinic and SUD clinics
  7. Morgan Kay, Ph.D., ABPP – clinical psychologist in Pain Clinic
  8. Suzie Chen, Ph. D. – clinical psychologist in the Primary Care/Mental Health Integration (PCMHI) clinic
  9. Kathryn Saldaña, Ph.D.- clinical psychologist in Women’s PCMHI
  10. Elika Razmjou, Psy.D. – clinical psychologist in ID/HIV+ MH Clinic and Transplant 

Trauma Psychology Track

(One position open. Please note that this is a 1-year residency and is open for applications in 2024)

Overview of Track: This one-year, full-time, residency track provides residents with advanced training in Clinical Psychology and the opportunity to develop expertise and thorough understanding of trauma and its treatment.  The supervisors for the Trauma residents all have specific expertise and interest in the evaluation and treatment of trauma in the VA setting. The resident will work with both male and female Veterans from all service eras, including Veterans from Operations Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom, and New Dawn (OEF/OIF/OND).  The primary training settings for the Trauma Residents will include: The Trauma Recovery Services (TRS) Clinic, Women's Health Program, WLA Domiciliary and possibly the WLA Mental Health Clinic.

The trauma track is comprised of required clinical rotations that provide complimentary trauma-treatment training opportunities. Elective experiences can then be chosen from other rotations that tailor to the resident’s training goals, including those described below from other tracks described in the Training Experiences section.

Training Goals: At the end of residency we expect our residents to demonstrate advanced competence in the following areas:

  • Development of advanced skill in the Level 1 competencies of Scholarly Inquiry;  Ethical/Legal Issues; Professional Values and Cultural and Individual Diversity. 
  • Development of advanced skill in the Level 2 competencies of Assessment/Diagnosis; Intervention; Interdisciplinary Consultation; Supervision & Teaching; Organization and Program Evaluation.

We expect our resident in this focus area to:

  • develop advanced skills in the practice of psychological and behavioral interventions for PTSD and trauma-related conditions
  • develop a professional identity as a health service psychologist with specialized expertise in the assessment and treatment of trauma
  • prepare for state or provincial licensure or certification for independent practice of psychology;
  • prepare for requirements for board certification in Clinical Psychology and/or Counseling Psychology by the American Board of Professional Psychology

Clinical Experiences

This track includes experiences that develop advanced skills in conducting intervention, assessment, and consultation with trauma and related conditions.

The Trauma Recovery Service (Drs. Boxer and Robinson): The Trauma Recovery Service (TRS) clinic is an interdisciplinary clinic offering assessment and treatment of military-related posttraumatic stress disorder. PTSD is one of the most common mental health diagnoses for veterans at the WLA VA Medical Center. The TRS clinic is serving an increasing number of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan but also includes veterans from other theaters, including Vietnam. All veterans seen in the clinic will receive a comprehensive psychodiagnostic intake to confirm a diagnosis of PTSD. Veterans are offered a variety of individual and group therapy services along with psychiatric management. There are opportunities to receive training in evidenced based psychotherapy for PTSD including individual and group Cognitive Processing Therapy and Prolonged Exposure Therapy. There is opportunity for receiving training in the Concurrent Treatment of PTSD and Substance Use Disorders Using Prolonged Exposure (COPE) to address PTSD/SUD. Additional group experiences include:

  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
  • Seeking Safety
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Group
  • Anger Management
  • STAIR
  • CBT for insomnia
  • CBT for anxiety
  • Process/support groups
  • Trauma Recovery Group

Women's Health Program (Dr. Himmelfarb) Women's Health Program is an integrated primary care/mental health program that treats female veterans for the whole range of medical and psychiatric conditions.  The trauma track resident provides individual and group psychotherapy to women with trauma histories, presenting most typically with depression, PTSD, and anxiety disorders related to trauma types including military sexual trauma, combat trauma, and childhood sexual trauma.  The resident will see a number of individual therapy cases using both time-limited EBPs as well as longer-term trauma-focused approaches.  The resident typically leads two evidence-based trauma groups, such as STAIR and PTSD Recovery group, and does layered supervision with a Psychology intern who is acting as a group co-leader.

Domiciliary (Dr. Spezze) The Domiciliary Residential Rehabilitation and Treatment Program (DRRTP) is a 296-bed residential facility for veterans with complex substance use, psychiatric and psychosocial needs. The program is based on a holistic, person-centered and recovery-oriented approach to wellness that promotes mental and physical health. There are a broad range of services provided at DRRTP, including individual and group psychotherapy, social work support, in-house medical and psychiatric care, recreation therapy, vocational rehabilitation and peer support. The goal of Domiciliary treatment is to help Veterans develop and maintain sobriety, improve emotional and physical health, increase social support, identify and pursue personal goals and values and ultimately reintegrate into the community as independent and productive members of society. The DRRTP is comprised of several distinct treatment tracks, each with approximately 45-60 beds (Substance Use Disorder (SUD)/Homeless, SUD, SUD/Serious Mental Illness, Combat Trauma, Detox, and Women’s Track). Each track is staffed by a team of providers including psychologists, social workers, addiction therapists, social science technicians, vocational rehab specialists, recreation therapists, chaplains and peer support specialists. Psychologists serve as the team leaders for the treatment tracks and manage program development, provide individual and group psychotherapy, conduct psychodiagnostic intakes and personality assessments, respond to crisis situations and screen patients for possible admission to the Domiciliary.

Residents at the DRRTP will primarily work on the Trauma and SUD/Serious Mental Illness track and work closely with the team lead, but may also have the opportunity to collaborate on groups or individual therapy cases from other tracks (such as co-facilitating the Cognitive Processing Therapy group, which is available to veterans in all tracks). Thus, the training experience is flexible and diverse, and residents have the opportunity not only to develop and solidify psychotherapy and assessment skills but also to gain valuable experience in the areas of program development and interdisciplinary leadership and collaboration.

Teaching/Training Methods

  • Didactics – the trauma track resident is required to participate in the Postdoctoral Seminar and Journal Club (bi-monthly), Evidence Based Psychotherapy Seminar (monthly), and the Diversity Seminar (bi-monthly).  Optional didactics include TRS and Women’s Health didactics – often with psychiatry residents, Assessment Seminar and various offerings throughout our VA Medical Center and neighboring UCLA.  See page 26 for description of program didactics.
  • Mentorship the trauma resident will be assigned a Mentor from among the group of primary and delegated supervisors (often, the Primary Supervisor).  This mentor aids the resident in evaluating their training needs and interests and developing an individualized training plan (ITP) based on those needs and the training program’s competency areas. The mentor also provides professional mentoring to the resident at least monthly, a process that is separate from clinical supervision and is designed with an eye toward the resident’s progress through the residency program and development of their professional identity.  Career guidance, role modeling, and psychosocial support are a focus of the mentoring relationship. If there is a specific career goal that other psychologists on staff might be particularly expert at addressing, mentors will also facilitate connection between the resident and other expert(s).
  • Supervision – clinical supervision in one of the primary vehicles of training for the resident in this track. They will receive individual and group supervision where intervention, assessment, and interdisciplinary consultation techniques are discussed and evaluated. Modeling, review of tapes (audio and/or video), case discussions, and review of written work are among the methods that allow for evaluation of the resident. The resident receives a minimum of two hours of face-to-face individual supervision each week.  The trauma track resident will have the opportunity to work with other psychology trainees (typically predoctoral intern or extern/practicum students) under the supervision/guidance of licensed professionals.

Trauma Psychology - Rotation Goals  (minimum requirements):

  1. Assessment/Diagnosis:

Acquire advanced knowledge and skills in the assessment and diagnosis of mental health conditions for Veterans who have experienced military and/or civilian trauma. Demonstrate skill in clinical assessment and differential diagnosis of PTSD and related conditions. Demonstrate ability to show sensitivity towards Veteran’s cultural background in assessments. Show skill in written and verbal communication to all stakeholders.

  • Complete CSRE’s and Suicide Safety Prevention Plans as needed in the Dom.
  • Complete a minimum of 5 CAPS-5 assessments
  • Attendance at weekly Trauma Seminar didactics

2. Intervention: Acquire advanced skills in psychotherapeutic interventions for trauma.  Gain knowledge in the evidenced based interventions for PTSD including Prolonged Exposure Therapy, Cognitive Processing Therapy, as well as COPE and Written Exposure Therapy. Gain knowledge in the evidence-based interventions for Substance Use Disorders (CBT-SUD) and/or other trauma disorders (DBT informed care).  Gain knowledge of providing psychotherapeutic interventions for survivors demonstrating a range of readiness in engaging in trauma focused psychotherapy. Adapt interventions for client readiness, comorbidities, cultural considerations, health/illness. Show skill in applying individual, group, and/or family interventions to Veterans.

  • Lead at least one group for Veterans with PTSD
  • Follow a minimum of 12 patients for individual psychotherapy

3. Interdisciplinary Consultation: Acquire independence in interdisciplinary consultation in interdisciplinary mental health settings.  Gain skills in providing consultation, working in teams, communicating effectively, and negotiating multiple roles.

  • Attend weekly TRS staff meetings
  •  Attend weekly Dom treatment team meetings, daily team huddles, and Dom huddles (days present at Dom)
  • Communicate clearly and professionally in progress notes, supervision, and team meetings.
  • Participate in weekly group supervision in TRS
  • Present cases and provided feedback to others during treatment team meetings
  • Serve as psychological consultant as requested by other team members.

4. Supervision and Teaching: Gain skills in providing supervision, including assessing trainee needs and defining clear learning goals and objectives

  • Provide layered supervision to psychology pre-intern or interns regarding assessment, intervention, and interdisciplinary consultation
  • Participate in Supervision didactic series

5. Scholarly Inquiry:

  • Assist with organization and delivery of GLA Trauma Seminar in coordination with other fellows in GLA Trauma fellowships.
  • Attend didactics and present topic of your choice during Trauma Seminar
  • Completion of independent project in Trauma Psychology (may overlap with a QI or Administrative project)
  • Incorporation of scientific knowledge into all clinical activities

6. Administrative and Organizational Practices: Gain skills in administrative and organizational needs, including policies and procedures for service delivery models.

  • Serve on a committee or workgroup (Trainee Committee representative, MST Committee) OR complete an independent project
  • Observation of supervisors/mentors in organization/management and administrative duties
  • Successful coordination of mental health care needs of all assigned patients

7. Ethical and legal issues; Professional Values: Apply ethical and legal standards to all aspects of clinical practice.  Advocate for patients.  Practice self-reflection.

  • Inclusion of legal/ethical considerations in mental health case conceptualization and treatment plans
  • Attention to medical record documentation and outside reporting requirements
  • Advocate for patient’s needs
  • Self-reflection in supervision
  • Evaluate and address knowledge and skill gaps over the course of the training year

8. Cultural and Individual Diversity: Address cultural and individual diversity with Veterans and families.  Demonstrate awareness of aspects of diversity that impact the self as provider and systems of care.

  • Inclusion of cultural, demographic, and psychosocial factors in case conceptualization, intervention, and treatment plans
  • Attention to health disparities and patient values in assessment, interventions, and treatment plans
  • Readings in supervision
  • Self-reflection in supervision
  • Attendance at didactics
  • Discussion in supervision

Trauma Track Faculty: (please see Clinical Psychology Faculty, starting on page 29 of this brochure, for more detailed bio sketch of these individuals).

  1. Laurie Boxer, Ph.D – clinical psychologist in Trauma Recovery Services Clinic
  2. Naomi Himmelfarb Ph.D. – clinical psychologist in Women’s Health Clinic.
  3. Christina Robinson, Ph.D. – clinical psychologist in Trauma Recovery Services Clinic
  4. Jackie Spezze, Psy.D. – clinical psychologist in the Domiciliary.

Interprofessional Integrative Health Track

(Two positions open. Please note this is a 1-year residency and is open for applications in 2024)

Overview of Track: Two one-year full-time positions are available in the Interprofessional Integrative Health track.  This training track aims to enhance the interprofessional collaboration, communication, and teamwork that is so critical to successful professional engagement as a psychologist in the VA or other large clinical setting by increasing awareness and understanding of the roles, ethics, and values of multidisciplinary treatment teams.  Residents work collaboratively within interprofessional medical and mental health teams that typically include physicians, psychiatrists, social workers, advanced practice nurses, pharmacists, audiologists, and medical and psychiatry residents.  This program, which includes Social Work students as well as Psychology Residents, is based in the VA’s first Integrative Health and Healing Center (IHHC) on the WLA campus.  A joint seminar is offered to gain exposure to leaders from various disciplines and to gain experience with various professional roles, identities, and functions.

Specialized training in evidence-based integrative health and wellness practices, as part of generalist training in clinical psychology, is the heart of this program.  Supervision and training in integrative mind-body practices will be provided with a focus on Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindful Self Compassion (MSC).   No prior experience with MBSR is required, although demonstrated interest and proficiency in mindfulness-based interventions is preferred.   Residents are responsible for the integration of evidence-based integrative behavioral health interventions such as a program for relief of tinnitus distress. The resident will also select 1-3 additional training placements to develop clinical skills; past residents have selected from trauma clinics, Primary Care Mental Health Integration, Homeless Primary Care, Insomnia Clinic, Pain Clinic, Mental Health Clinic, and others to provide a range of evidence-based clinical services for mental health conditions.

Training Goals: At the end of residency we expect our residents to demonstrate advanced competence in the following areas:

  • Development of advanced skill in the Level 1 competencies of Scholary Inquiry;  Ethical/Legal Issues; Professional Values; and Cultural and Individual Diversity. 
  • Development of advanced skill in the Level 2 competencies of Assessment/Diagnosis; Intervention; Interdisciplinary Consultation; Supervision & Teaching; Organization and Program Evaluation.

We expect our resident in this focus area to:

  • develop advanced skills in the practice of mindfulness-based psychological interventions
  • develop advanced skills in assessment within multi-disciplinary team settings and providing consultation to allied disciplines regarding the implication of these assessments
  • develop a professional identity as a health service psychologist with specialized expertise in interprofessional teamwork
  • prepare for state or provincial licensure or certification for independent practice of psychology;
  • prepare for requirements for board certification in Clinical Psychology and/or Counseling Psychology by the American Board of Professional Psychology

Clinical Experiences:

Individualized Training Plans within this track are set up at program outset with the Primary Supervisor and Mentor and are highly flexible.  It will be a one-year training experience in which residents acquire skills in assessment, intervention, interdisciplinary treatment planning, teaching and/or supervision, and clinical research as available (which may include program evaluation as well).  The core training experience is development of knowledge of MBSR and MSC and skill in providing these group therapies to Veterans, which requires about 50% of the residents’ time. The remainder of the time may be divided among didactics, seminars, and training sites of interest to the resident with several graduates specializing in health psychology or treatment of trauma. 

The training setting will extend to the two major ambulatory care centers within the VA Greater Los Angeles (GLA) service area: the Sepulveda Ambulatory Care Center (SACC) and the Los Angeles Ambulatory Care Center (LAACC). Residents will provide most services at the WLA campus and work at one of the ambulatory care centers for one day during the training work week. Opportunities to provide wellness-based integrative practices via telehealth technologies will also be available.

Core Component:

Integrated Health and Healing (Dr. Serpa):  GLA is a Center for Innovation site to explore the training of staff, dissemination, empirical basis and implementation of mind-body, integrative medicine modalities of care so frequently requested by our Veteran consumers.  The integrative, Interprofessional residents will be central to these efforts.  In the past several years, GLA has invested in the local staff training and certification for a variety of integrative modalities of care.  Residents will be trained in mindfulness interventions and will co-facilitate groups with a licensed clinical psychologist certified in MBSR.  No prior experience with MBSR is required although a demonstrated interest in and experience with mindfulness-based interventions is strongly preferred.   Residents are invited to co-facilitate Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) and Integrative Tinnitus Management (ITM). The Interprofessional Integrative Health Trainees, which may include psychology residents, advance practice mental health nurses, social work interns and psychiatry residents, will also have the option for training and direct clinical experience with programs in the Integrative Health and Healing Center (IHHC) including Yoga, Breathing-Stretching-Relaxation, Tai Chi, and other interventions with a promising evidence basis.  The training goal is not simply to learn the intervention, but to utilize the specific skills of psychology to evaluate the evidence basis of an integrative intervention, work collaboratively across disciplines to establish appropriate training, dissemination in an integrated primary care setting, and quality improvement evaluation with related reporting.  It is likely residents will be involved in design, dissemination, implementation, and evaluation of employee wellness interventions. 

Interprofessional residents will be providing layered supervision weekly to a social work trainee for one individual case. Additionally, residents may have layered supervision opportunities with psychology interns and pre-interns, social workers, and others.

Secondary placements:

Secondary placements would likely last a minimum of 3 months, but may span the full year, depending on supervisor expectations and resident interest.

Primary Care Mental Health Integration (Drs. Chen): Primary Care-Mental Health Integration program is based in the Primary & Ambulatory Care Clinic (PACC) and the Homeless Patient Aligned Care Team (H-PACT – this program led by Dr. Johnson) where veterans are seen by primary care providers for both general and preventive health care.  A mental health team of providers is co-located to meet the needs of those patients with mild to moderate mental health issues including depression and anxiety, PTSD, chronic illness/multiple medical problems, pain disorders, and substance abuse.  The PCMHI team consists of psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, and nurses.  Residents working in Primary Care will be responsible for evaluation and assessment, individual and group therapies, team participation and consultation, and attendance at didactics.  There are opportunities for layered supervision of psychology interns treating short-term individual patients. Some of the clinic opportunities include:

  • Evidence-based treatments (e.g., CBT, IPT, MI and behavioral activation).
  • Health Promotion/Wellness (e.g., smoking cessation, MOVE clinic, chronic pain, and acceptance-based approaches).
  • Curbside consultations and same day access services.
  • Teaching and supervision providing in-service training and supervising pre-interns in Health Psychology. 

Pain Clinic (Drs. Bailey and Kay): The resident will work closely with psychologists who are part of an interdisciplinary pain treatment team (Rehabilitation Medicine, Anesthesiology, Nursing, Neurology, and Psychiatry). The primary role of the psychologist in this setting is that of consultant to the treatment team based on an assessment of the patient’s current psychological/personality functioning and biopsychosocial history. There are opportunities to assess patients with chronic and complicated pain problems.  Pain patients who are candidates for interventional procedures (e.g. spinal cord stimulator or baclofen pump placement) undergo a comprehensive psychological assessment, including clinical interview, self-report measures, and administration of the MMPI-2-RF.  Thus, psychology trainees gain experience in the use and interpretation of screening, interview, and personality measures in the assessment of chronic pain.  In addition to assessment, the pain psychology program also contributes to a CARF accredited interdisciplinary comprehensive pain rehabilitation program. Fellows may conduct evaluations of candidates for the program, provide group-based psychological treatment, and participate in interdisciplinary treatment plans.  There may also be opportunities to provide group behavioral pain management to Veterans who struggle with addiction. Finally, individual therapy opportunities (i.e. CBT or biofeedback) may be available as well. There are opportunities for layered supervision of psychology interns in group treatment and assessment.

Inpatient Acute Physical Rehabilitation Unit (Dr. Zeller): Residents complete consultations on patients admitted for intensive physical rehabilitation of stroke, amputation, traumatic brain injury, and/or neurological or orthopedic disorders. Consultation can include diagnostic evaluation, psychological and neuropsychological assessment, short-term psychotherapy, and staff support and education.  Residents attend weekly interdisciplinary treatment rounds and family conferences. 

Trauma treatment: Interprofessional residents may elect to develop experience in EBPs for PTSD including PE and/or CPT as supervised by highly experienced psychologists who work in trauma and general mental health clinics. Specifics would be determined upon placement.

Teaching/Training Methods

  • Didactics – the Interprofessional track resident is required to participate in the Postdoctoral Seminar and Journal Club (bi-monthly), Evidence Based Psychotherapy Seminar (monthly), and the Diversity Seminar (bi-monthly).  Rotation specific didactics include participation in a joint seminar with other discipline trainees that is offered to gain exposure to leaders from various disciplines and to gain experience with various professional roles, and functions. Optional didactics include PCMHI didactics, Pain Clinic didactics and Grand Rounds.  See page 26 for a description of program didactics.
  • Mentorship the Interprofessional resident will be assigned a Mentor from among the group of primary and delegated supervisors (often, the Primary Supervisor).  This mentor aids the resident in evaluating their training needs and interests and developing an individualized training plan (ITP) based on those needs and the training program’s competency areas. The mentor also provides professional mentoring to the resident at least monthly, a process that is separate from clinical supervision and is designed with an eye toward the resident’s progress through the residency program and development of their professional identity.  Career guidance, role modeling, and psychosocial support are a focus of the mentoring relationship. If there is a specific career goal that other psychologists on staff might be particularly expert at addressing, mentors will also facilitate connection between the resident and other expert(s) – in addition to their ongoing role as Mentor.
  • Supervision – clinical supervision in one of the primary vehicles of training for the resident in this track. They will receive individual and group supervision where intervention, assessment, and interdisciplinary consultation techniques are discussed and evaluated. Modeling, review of tapes (audio and/or video), case discussions, and review of written work are among the methods that allow for evaluation of the resident. The resident receives a minimum of two hours of face-to-face individual supervision each week.  The interprofessional track resident will work with other psychology trainees (e.g. predoctoral intern or extern/practicum students) getting experience in layered/tiered supervision under the guidance of licensed professionals.

Integrative Health and Healing (IHH) Rotation Goals (minimum requirements): 

  1. Assessment/Diagnosis: Acquire advanced knowledge and skills in the assessment and diagnosis of mental health in veterans.  Demonstrate skill in clinical assessment and differential diagnosis, risk assessment, and triage.   The knowledge base must include biopsychosocial assessment methods, their limitations, contextual factors, and diversity-related considerations.    Demonstrate appropriate use of screening instruments, how to determine appropriateness for MBI treatment, and appropriate referrals to other disciplines.  Show skill in written and verbal communication to providers across disciplines.
    • Conduct Mental Health Initial Assessments as needed.
    • Timely completion of Columbia Suicide Severity Rating Scales (C-SSRS) and Comprehensive Suicide Risk Evaluations (CSRE) for veterans, including tracking of expiration dates, and re-administering the assessments, as needed. 
    • Attendance at didactics related to assessment.
    • Fulfilling requirements related to assessment/diagnosis in elective rotations outside of IHH, including but not limited to: pre-transplant evaluations, sleep assessment, SUD evaluations, and/or Pain assessment. 
  2. Intervention: Acquire advanced skills in psychotherapeutic interventions.  Gain knowledge in mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) including Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, Mindful Self-Compassion, Mindfulness for Tinnitus, Mindful Movement, Yoga for Positive Mood, and weekly mindfulness sitting groups (Mindful Living).  Learn how to facilitate a mindfulness practice.  Adapt mindfulness-based psychotherapeutic interventions in different clinical care settings including but not limited to: acupuncture, pain, chronic illness, sleep, and SUD.  Show skill in applying individual, group, and/or couples interventions using evidence-based treatments.  
    • Lead between 5-6 MBI groups per week.
    • Per elective rotation, meet minimum requirement for number of Veterans seen each week.
    • Lead brief mindfulness practice 4-5 times during Integrative Health (IH) seminar
    • Participate in elective IHH or Comprehensive and Integrative Health (CIH) groups including by not limited to: Trauma informed Yoga, Introduction to Mindfulness, Women’s Mindfulness for Stress Management group, and Expressive Arts group.
    • Attend didactics focused on evidence-based treatments.
  3. Interdisciplinary Consultation: Acquire independence in interdisciplinary consultation in medical and mental health settings.  Gain knowledge in prevention and health promotion, contexts/settings of consultation, and roles of interdisciplinary teams.  Gain skills in providing consultation, working in teams, communicating effectively, and negotiating multiple roles.
    • Serve as the supervisor for social work interns placed in IHH.
    • Participate in weekly interdisciplinary Integrative Health seminar with IHH staff that brings in speakers from across the GLA to discuss interprofessional collaboration and consultation.
    • Participate in interdisciplinary team meetings and case conferences in settings across the medical center.
    • Discussion of teamwork in supervision.
    • Consults about the integration of MBIs across mental health-related services across the GLA.
  4. Supervision and Teaching: Gain skills in providing supervision, including assessing trainee needs and defining clear learning goals and objectives.
    • Provide layered supervision to social work interns for 1 or 2 individual psychotherapy treatments for the entire course of the social work intern training year. Show supervisory competence regarding initial assessment, triage, intervention, referrals, note-writing, and termination.
    • Participate in Supervision didactic series.
  5. Scholarly Inquiry: Acquire general knowledge in Integrative, Interprofessional, and Mindfulness-based mental health treatment.  Increase knowledge base with regard to specific elective rotations.  Expand knowledge within the field of mental health.
    • Attend all required Postdoctoral Residency didactics.
    • Attend weekly IH seminar.  Present once at IH seminar on topic of choice.  Assist social work interns in preparation for their required presentation.
    • Attend required elective didactics.
    • Participate in VA CALM National Training.
    • Attend 3 GLA sponsored CE workshops-- to the degree possible.
    • Incorporation of scientific knowledge into all clinical activities.
  6. Administrative and Organizational Practices: Gain skills in administrative and organizational needs, including policies and procedures for service delivery models.
    • Responsible for populating MBI groups, the maintenance of Excel spreadsheets, follow up phone calls to veterans, and consult-to -appointment management.
    • Observation of supervisors in organization/management and administrative duties
    • Successful coordination of mental health care needs of all assigned patients as well as the assigned patients of their supervisees.
  7. Ethical and legal issues; Professional Values: Apply ethical and legal standards to all aspects of clinical practice.  Advocate for patients.  Practice self-reflection.   Learning the ethical considerations pertaining to mindfulness practice.
    • Inclusion of legal/ethical considerations in mental health case conceptualization and treatment plans
    • Attention to medical record documentation and outside reporting requirements
    • Advocate for patient’s needs
    • Self-reflection in supervision
    • Evaluate and address knowledge and skill gaps over the course of the training year
    • Participate in didactics about the Buddhist underpinnings of mindfulness practice.
  8. Multi-cultural Sensitivity and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: Address cultural diversity as it pertains to implicit bias and discomfort with mindfulness practice by marginalized groups. Familiar with writings/teachings/podcasts by mindfulness teachers from the non-dominant culture.   Demonstrate awareness of aspects of diversity that impact the self as provider and systems of care.
    • Inclusion of cultural, demographic, and psychosocial factors in case conceptualization, intervention, and treatment plans.
    • Attention to health disparities and patient values in assessment, interventions, and treatment plans.
    • Awareness of Implicit Bias as provider.
    • Readings by Mindfulness Teachers from non-dominant cultural backgrounds.
    • Self-reflection of cultural factors as they arise in therapy and in supervision.
  9. Knowledge and application of the foundations of professional practice. Specifically, knowledge of mindfulness, i.e. how to lead a practice, facilitate MBIs, integrate mindfulness practices into individual psychotherapy, and provide MBIs to professional groups.  Knowledge and application of integrative and interprofessional skills.
    • Attendance at didactics
    • Discussion in supervision
    • Incorporation of foundational skills of mindfulness and integrative/interprofessional practice into all competency areas.

Interprofessional Integrative Health Track Faculty: (please see Clinical Psychology Faculty pages 29-34 for more detailed biosketch of these individuals).

  1. Greg Serpa, Ph.D. – Co-Director, Interprofessional Integrative Health Program; Clinical Psychologist – MBSR and Health and Wellness Programs
  2. Jessica Dennis, Ph.D. – Co-Director, Interprofessional Integrative Health Program; Clinical Psychologist
  3. Sue Steinberg-Oren, Ph.D. - Interprofessional Integrative Health Program; Clinical Psychologist

Substance Use Disorders and Co-Occurring Conditions Track

(One position open. Please note this is a 1-year residency and is open for applications in 2024)

Overview of Track: A one-year, full-time, position is available for combined training in the Substance Use Disorders (SUD) Outpatient Programs, and Domiciliary.

The Substance Use Disorders (SUD) Outpatient Programs rotation offers a core training component in the continuum of care from initial assessment to brief intervention, intensive outpatient treatment, and an opioid treatment program. Veterans served vary in terms of treatment needs, readiness for change, and severity of SUD and co-occurring problems (i.e., PTSD, mood disorders, psychosis and chronic pain). Assessment, intervention, and consultation are delivered with a spirit of motivational interviewing and focus on patient centered goals that range from harm reduction to obtaining and sustaining abstinence from substance use. Trainees learn and practice cultural humility in working with veterans with SUDs at WLA, who are diverse in terms of race/ethnicity, age, military era, gender, sexual identity, socioeconomic status, religious affiliation, cognitive/physical functioning, and other factors. 

Training in the SUD Outpatient Programs focuses on evidence-based approaches including motivational interviewing, CBT, DBT, Mindfulness, and ACT. Given the frequency of co-occurring problems, residents gain experience treating Veterans with PTSD, depression and anxiety disorders, psychosis, personality disorders and chronic pain. This rotation provides outstanding training opportunities in group psychotherapy that hone skills in delivering manualized interventions while attending to group process.  The resident joins a diverse and dynamic interdisciplinary team of physicians, nurses, social workers, pharmacists, addiction therapists, peer supports and administrative staff as well as other trainees including psychology interns, physician residents and fellows, and social work trainees.  Active team engagement and program development activities, including those related to diversity, equity, inclusion, and access, are encouraged.

The Domiciliary rotation provides excellent opportunities to train in provision of services for Veterans with SUDs and co-occurring problems in a residential setting. Trainees have opportunities to provide assessment, intervention and consultation for Veterans with SUDs using individual and group approaches including treatment of co-occurring PTSD and other co-occurring problems. Specifically, there are opportunities to learn trauma focused treatments such as Cognitive Processing Therapy and Prolonged Exposure. The Dom is an incredibly rich training environment with vibrant interdisciplinary teams that can offer experiences tailored to individualized training goals.

Training Goals: At the end of residency, we expect our residents to demonstrate advanced competence in the following areas:

  • Development of advanced skill in Level 1 competencies of Scholarly Inquiry; Ethical/Legal Issues; Professional Values and Cultural and Individual Diversity. 
  • Development of advanced skill in Level 2 competencies of Assessment/Diagnosis; Intervention; Interdisciplinary Consultation; Supervision & Teaching; Organization and Program Evaluation.

We expect our resident in this emphasis area to:

  • develop advanced skills in the practice of culturally-informed psychological and behavioral interventions for adults with substance use disorders and co-occurring problems such as trauma, mood disorders, and severe mental illness
  • develop advanced skill in the rapid assessment and triage of urgent appointments and the assessment of crisis/risk
  • develop advanced understanding of the impact of substance use on mental and physical health, as well as the impact of inequities and stigma on the development and maintenance of substance use disorders
  • develop a professional identity as a health service psychologist with specialized expertise in the assessment and treatment substance use disorders
  • prepare for state or provincial licensure or certification for independent practice of psychology;
  • prepare for requirements for board certification in Clinical Psychology and/or Counseling Psychology by the American Board of Professional Psychology

Teaching/Training Methods

  • Didactics – the resident in this track is required to participate in the Postdoctoral Seminar and Journal Club (bi-monthly), Evidence Based Psychotherapy Seminar (monthly), and the Diversity Seminar (bi-monthly).  Rotation specific didactics include participation in weekly didactics in the SUD clinics with MD trainees. See page 26 for description of program didactics.
  • Mentorship the SUD resident will receive mentorship, which is typically provided by their primary supervisor but can be provided by another staff member. This mentor aids the resident in evaluating their training needs and interests and developing an individualized training plan (ITP) based on those needs and the training program’s competency areas. The mentor also provides professional mentoring to the resident at least monthly, a process that is separate from clinical supervision and is designed with an eye toward the resident’s progress through the residency program and development of their professional identity.  Career guidance, role modeling, and psychosocial support are a focus of the mentoring relationship. If there is a specific career goal that other psychologists on staff might be particularly expert at addressing, the mentor will facilitate the connection between the resident and other expert(s).
  • Supervision – clinical supervision is one of the primary vehicles of training for the resident in this track. They will receive individual and group supervision where intervention, assessment, and interdisciplinary consultation techniques are discussed and evaluated. Modeling, review of tapes (audio and/or video), case discussions, and review of written work are among the methods that allow for evaluation of the resident. The resident receives a minimum of two hours of face-to-face individual supervision each week.  The interprofessional track resident will work with other psychology trainees (e.g. predoctoral intern or extern/practicum students) and gain experience in layered/tiered supervision under the guidance of licensed professionals.

SUD & Co-Occurring Track Faculty: (please see Clinical Psychology Faculty, starting on page 29 for more detailed biosketch of these individuals).

  1. Katherine Bailey, Ph.D. – clinical psychologist in the SUD and Pain clinics
  2. Stephanie Cardoos, Ph.D. – clinical psychologist in the SUD clinic
  3. Paul Perales, Psy.D. – clinical psychologist in the SUD Program
  4. Lily Rowland, Psy.D –– clinical psychologist in the SUD Program
  5. Jackie Spezze, Ph.D. – clinical psychologist in the Domiciliary

Geropsychology Track

(One position open. Please note that this is a 1-year residency and is open for applications in 2024)

Overview of Track: This one-year, full-time, residency track provides residents with advanced training in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis in Geropsychology.  Training in this track is comprised of required and elective experiences that develop advanced skills in consultation, treatment, and assessment in various inpatient and outpatient integrated health settings that primarily serve older adults.  Residents who complete the program will satisfy requirements for board certification in Geropsychology that are consistent with the Pike’s Peak model.  In addition to didactics, there are 3 requirements: 1-completion of a 1 year major rotation at the Community Living Center (CLC; 2 days/week); 2- completion of three, 4-month minor rotations in other geriatric mental health settings (1-2 days/week); and 3- completion of an independent project.  The goal of the one-year MAJOR rotation at the CLC is to foster the independence of the trainee.  Over the course of the year the trainee will manage a panel of patients and serve as the mental health consultant for the medical team regarding these patients.  More details about the patients and clinical activities available at the CLC are found below.  The trainee will also complete a series of minor rotations (for 1-2 days/week).  Trainees may select from any of the following placements for their minor rotations: The Acute Geriatrics Team (AGT- inpatient medical team), Home Based Primary Care (HBPC), the Geriatric Psychiatry Outpatient Program, the Memory & Neurobehavior Clinic, and the Palliative Care team.  Finally, each trainee will seek out an independent project in the field of geropsychology.  For example a past trainee developed a group to bolster brain health in cognitively healthy older adults.  Other opportunities include assisting in administrative duties (such as clinic management) or research projects.  Trainees will develop an independent project with a member of the Geropsychology staff serving as a mentor/supervisor.

Didactics:  In addition to the didactic opportunities required for all Psychology Residents, there are 2 required didactics for the Geropsychology Resident.  First, the Geropsychology staff holds monthly Journal Club meetings with all geropsychology trainees and postdocs.  Second, Residents participate in a national virtual Geropsychology Fellowship series.

Major Rotation

Community Living Center (CLC)(Supervisors: Drs. Kevin Booker and Cynthia Funes):  

The Long-Term Care and Rehabilitation setting emphasizes clinical training in aging and mental health in an extended care setting (which is essentially a combination of semi-independent living, skilled nursing care, and assisted living). This setting provides a full range of training experiences in psychotherapy, cognitive screening, consultation, behavioral management, and interdisciplinary teamwork. There are also opportunities to conduct “inpatient-sized” cognitive evaluations. While the focus is primarily on the treatment of older Veterans, there are also opportunities to work with younger patients who reside in the CLC for a variety of reasons, ranging from rehabilitation to palliative care. Common treatment themes in this setting include helping patients cope with increasing losses, pain management, family conflicts, and difficulties with caregivers. The CLC interprofessional setting trains students from a variety of mental health and medical disciplines, including Geropsychology, Geriatric Psychiatry, Geriatric Medicine, Pharmacy, Social Work, and Nursing. Residents will be given the responsibility of being in charge of a portion of the very facility (out of 150 beds and 2 buildings, there are 3 floors each divided into 2 units) and being the “go to” mental health professional for that area. There are also many opportunities to provide supervision to pre-interns and interns in this setting, as we offer multiple training programs simultaneously. The range of psychiatric presentations is wide and varied: including affective disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia, personality disorders, dementia, and delirium, among many others. Training opportunities emphasize individual psychotherapy, with availability of family and couples psychotherapy experience, psychiatric interviewing, mental status exams, group psychotherapy, and staff consultation. Individual psychotherapy is primarily from a short-term model, and utilizes psychodynamic, behavioral, and problem-solving modalities.  There is also a strong focus on trauma treatment.  Residents are frequently asked to provide consultation directly to nursing staff, which may include psychoeducation. Because many older Veterans have co-morbid medical and social disabilities, a broad biopsychosocial approach to care is used in this setting. Embedded within your experience will be understanding how Medicare/CMS interfaces directly with managed care for older adults, and you will learn how to function independently and to have the knowledge of working directly in VA- and non-VA settings to bill Medicare for the work you provide; this includes understanding CPT codes, diagnostic/procedure codes, and CMS-1500 forms and how those link directly to clinical service provision. 

Minor Rotation (select 2-3)

Acute Geriatric Team (AGT)(Supervisor: Stacy S Wilkins PhD ABPP/CN): AGT is linked with the UCLA Geriatric Medicine Fellowship, one of the top rated geriatric training sites in the country. Please see their website for additional information at https://www.uclahealth.org/departments/medicine/geriatrics/fellowship/overview. The AGT Acute Medicine Team allows the resident to work with acutely ill Veteran’s and their families, addressing cognitive and mood concerns related to aging and medical illness. AGT oversees 16 inpatient beds for medically ill older adult (over 70 years of age) Veterans, located in the main hospital (Building 500). Residents are part of the interdisciplinary treatment team, which includes physicians, social workers, occupational therapists, physical therapists, dieticians, optometrists, pharmacists and nurses. Residents work with and co-supervise the psychology intern on the rotation and are responsible for reviewing the medical charts of AGT patients to detect risk factors for cognitive, psychological and functional decline. As needed, assessment of patients is conducted for medical decisional capacity, ability to live independently, delirium, dementia and other cognitive concerns. The resident also assesses for mood disorders, provides short-term supportive therapy or psychoeducation and participates in family consultation and discharge planning. Because the AGT strives to discharge patients safely and efficiently, the pace is fast and there is a strong emphasis on team communication and collaboration.

The resident may also supervise an intern and co-facilitate one of two groups aimed at promoting cognition: one for healthy older adults (Brain Training), or one for Veterans with Mild Cognitive Impairment/mild dementia (Memory Group). The Brain Training group is a psychoeducational program for older adults aimed at enhancing healthy brain functioning as they age. Group sessions focus on teaching participants about factors that can impact cognition, including the normal aging processes, nutrition, exercise, stress and depression.  Veterans are taught mnemonic strategies and compensatory techniques to enhance their memory in daily life. The Memory Group follows a similar format, but is geared towards older adults who have been diagnosed with a Neurocognitive disorder.

Home-Based Primary Care (HBPC) (Supervisor: TBD): The HBPC Psychologist works with a large interdisciplinary primary care team that includes a physician, nurse practitioner, registered nurse, pharmacist, occupational therapist, dietician, social worker and trainees from multiple disciplines. HPBC staff provide comprehensive primary care services to Veterans in their homes. The Veterans served by HBPC are older adults who have complex, chronic medical problems, many of whom have cognitive disorders and/or significant psychiatric disability. Psychologist responsibilities include psychiatric and cognitive assessments, including assessments of capacity for medical decision-making; psychotherapeutic interventions with patients, family members, and assisted living facility staff; staff/team consultation; and team development. Presenting problems are varied and include depression and anxiety, coping with chronic illness, motivation/adherence issues, caregiver stress, and behavioral problems associated with cognitive disorders. The Resident will accompany the supervisor in a government car to the Veteran’s home to conduct assessments and interventions, or provide care via telehealth modalties. Supervision is done within a developmental model, such that trainees are given increasing responsibility as their competency develops. The Resident will receive orientation and training on how to manage emergency situations and related HBPC policies and procedures.

Geriatric Psychiatry Outpatient Program (Supervisor: Dr. Paul Cernin): The Geropsychology rotation emphasizes clinical training in aging and mental health. This rotation provides a full range of training experiences in psychiatric outpatient care for older adults. One of the primary training sites in this rotation is the Geropsychiatry Outpatient Clinic. This clinic provides longitudinal care for approximately 350 older Veterans. This interdisciplinary setting trains students from a variety of mental health and medical disciplines, including Geropsychology, Geriatric Psychiatry, Geriatric Medicine, and Social Work. Training occurs in a highly cohesive and collaborative atmosphere from subspecialty trained attending faculty. The primary supervisors on this rotation have received postdoctoral training in geriatrics and neuropsychology. Residents have the opportunity to evaluate Veterans who have a variety of mental health disorders, including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and neurocognitive disorders. Interns will learn about recently developed treatments for psychiatric illness and cognitive decline, including pharmacotherapies, psychotherapies and caregiver support. Evaluations are comprised of comprehensive psychiatric interviews, psychological assessment and neuropsychological assessment. Because many older Veterans have co-morbid medical and social disabilities, a broad biopsychosocial approach to care is used in these settings.  The majority of the attending (supervisory)-level geriatric psychiatry staff participate in clinical research and have academic appointments at UCLA.

Memory & Neurobehavior Clinic (Supervisors: Drs. Megan Johnson and Rebecca Melrose): This is a full-day, outpatient, multidisciplinary clinic held weekly on Fridays consisting of neurobehavior, gero/neuropsychology, geriatric psychiatry, social work, and nursing disciplines. Clinical training opportunities available in this rotation include capacity assessments (financial capacity, independent living, assignment of DPOA for healthcare), flexible cognitive assessments, and joint patient encounters with rotating medicine Fellows and Residents. Opportunities to provide cognitive rehabilitation on an individual or group level may also be available depending on interest/clinic need. Likewise, there may be opportunities to provide psychoeducation or psychotherapy to patients and/or caregivers.  Case conference is held each Friday from 3-4:30pm during which individual cases are presented and discussed with the various disciplines contributing to the clinical conceptualization.   

Palliative Care (Supervisor: Dr. Taylor-Ford): The resident will have an opportunity to participate in various activities with the interdisciplinary palliative care team. The team includes attending physicians, chaplains, medicine fellows, medical residents, nurse case managers, and social workers working together to care for veterans with chronic, life-limiting medical conditions.  The resident will have the opportunity to work with veterans at the end of their lives on both the inpatient outpatient services. Opportunities for training include attending daily rounds, conducting initial psychological assessments with patients, providing individual psychological interventions for patients and families at bedside, in an outpatient clinic, and/or via telehealth, and attending team and family meetings for goals of care and treatment decision meetings. Palliative care educational offerings including didactics are also available to clinical psychology residents.

Independent Project: There is considerable flexibility in the independent project.  Below are just a few examples of ongoing activities the trainee may select to participate in. 

Ongoing research: Dr. Melrose is currently involved in research projects investigating neuroimaging correlates of dementia and Mild Cognitive Impairment.  Drs. Wilkins and Melrose are exploring the mental health benefits of Gerofit, an exercise program for older adults.  Dr. Yarns, a geriatric psychiatrist in the department, is investigating psychotherapeutic approaches to chronic pain on older adults, via in person and video-telehealth technologies.  He is also participating in clinical trials addressing treatment resistant depression in older adults, and agitation in patients with Alzheimer’s Disease. Trainees may also formulate a research question that can be answered via chart review of clinic patients.

Program development: The trainee is welcome to work with a mentor in any of the settings described above to develop new programming that addresses a gap in the mental health needs of older adults.  For example, one Fellow developed a new group aimed at promoting healthy brain aging in older adults.  Another created a psychoeducation handout on dementia for caregivers in collaboration with the Dementia Committee.

Administrative work: Trainees may participate in administrative experiences, such as managing a clinic, developing trainings for current staff, or assisting in identification of systems level needs.  Dr. Osato directs the Geropsychiatry Outpatient Program, the largest outpatient program in Geriatric MH at WLA. Dr. Melrose is the Section Chief of Geriatric Mental Health for all of GLA.  All supervisors in Geropsychology oversee their own clinic management and collaborate in interdisciplinary settings with vast administrative duties.  In addition, supervisors are heavily involved (and in many cases leaders of) mental health/aging committees (e.g. Dementia Committee, Diversity Committee, Disruptive Behavior Committee, Professional Standards Board, Psychology Staff Education).

Geropsychology Rotation Goals (minimum requirements):  Note, Pike’s Peak Geropsychology competencies are incorporated into our Training Program competency requirements

  1. Assessment/Diagnosis: Acquire advanced knowledge and skills in the assessment and diagnosis of mental health in older adults.  The knowledge base must include geropsychology assessment methods, their limitations, and contextual factors.  Demonstrate skill in clinical assessment and differential diagnosis, cognitive assessments, capacity, and risk assessment.  Demonstrate appropriate use of screening instruments and when to refer to other disciplines.  Show skill in written and verbal communication to all stakeholders.
    • Complete a minimum of 20 psychological or neurocognitive assessments across multiple care settings.  Include risk assessments appropriate to the clinical needs of the patient. 
    • Complete a minimum of 5 capacity assessments
    • Attendance at didactics
  2. Intervention: Acquire advanced skills in psychotherapeutic interventions.  Gain knowledge in adapting psychotherapeutic interventions for older adults; health, illness, and pharmacology; adaption of interventions for different care settings, and knowledge of aging services.  Show skill in applying individual, group, and/or family interventions to older adults, using evidence-based treatments, adapting interventions for late life, and using health-enhancing interventions.
    • Lead at least one group for older adults
    • Follow a minimum of 5 patients for individual psychotherapy
    • Provide both inpatient and outpatient psychotherapy
    • Develop and lead a psychoeducational group of your choosing at the CLC
    • Incorporate appropriate aging services into treatment planning
    • Attend didactics focused on aging, medical illness, and pharmacotherapy
  3. Interdisciplinary Consultation: Acquire independence in interdisciplinary consultation in geriatric medical and mental health settings.  Gain knowledge in prevention and health promotion, contexts/settings of consultation, and roles of interdisciplinary teams.  Gain skills in providing consultation, working in teams, communicating effectively, and negotiating multiple roles.
    • Serve as the primary mental health consult for a panel of patients at the CLC
    • Participate in interdisciplinary team meetings and case conferences in settings across the medical center
    • Discussion of teamwork in supervision
    • Completion of independent project
  4. Supervision and Teaching: Gain skills in providing supervision, including assessing trainee needs and defining clear learning goals and objectives
    • Provide layered supervision to psychology pre-intern or interns regarding assessment, intervention, and interdisciplinary consultation
    • Participate in Supervision didactic series
  5. Scholarly Inquiry: Consistent with Pike’s Peak Competencies areas, acquire general knowledge in adult development, aging, & the older adult population
    • Attend didactics, including geropsychology specific didactics.  Present at Geropsychology Journal club
    • Completion of independent project in geropsychology
    • Incorporation of scientific knowledge into all clinical activities
  6. Administrative and Organizational Practices: Gain skills in administrative and organizational needs, including policies and procedures for service delivery models.
    • Completion of independent project
    • Observation of supervisors/mentors in organization/management and administrative duties
    • Successful coordination of mental health care needs of all assigned patients
  7. Ethical and legal issues; Professional Values: Apply ethical and legal standards to all aspects of clinical practice.  Advocate for patients.  Practice self-reflection.
    • Inclusion of legal/ethical considerations in geriatric mental health case conceptualization and treatment plans
    • Attention to medical record documentation and outside reporting requirements
    • Advocate for patient’s needs
    • Self-reflection in supervision
    • Evaluate and address knowledge and skill gaps over the course of the training year
  8. Cultural and Individual Diversity: Address cultural and individual diversity with older adults and families.  Demonstrate awareness of aspects of diversity that impact the self as provider and systems of care.
    • Inclusion of cultural, demographic, and psychosocial factors in case conceptualization, intervention, and treatment plans
    • Attention to health disparities and patient values in assessment, interventions, and treatment plans
    • Readings in supervision
    • Self-reflection in supervision
  9. Knowledge and application of the foundations of professional geropsychology practice. Specifically, knowledge of the neuroscience of aging, functional changes in aging, person-environment interaction and adaption, psychopathology, medical illness, and end of life issues
    • Attendance at didactics
    • Discussion in supervision
    • Incorporation of foundational skills in geropsychology into all competency areas

Program Structure

At the outset of each training year, residents will work closely with their primary supervisor and with the Director of Postdoctoral Training (Dr. Castellon) to design an Individualized Training Plan (ITP) that incorporates the resident’s training goals and interests with their incoming experience and prior training background and with the program's Aims and Mission.  Primary supervisors are licensed clinical psychologists (all are California licensed) and are experts in the content area on the training track where they supervise. Individualized programs are developed in collaboration with the resident to increase experience in and mastery of the core competencies in generalist skills and within the various area of emphasis.  At entry to the residency, supervisors and residents together determine the level of the resident’s competency in areas including assessment, intervention, and consultation; self-rating forms are employed and discussed.  Our program employs a developmental approach to training and to supervision, where residents gain increasing independence and responsibility as their knowledge and skills develop.  This is based on the initial baseline assessment and ongoing formal and informal assessment of skills and abilities.  Residents are evaluated formally, on their work towards development of competencies and also asked to formally evaluate their supervisors and their training experiences. With this approach, there is flexibility to address areas that require more intensive training and also to identify and modify the resident’s learning objectives if needed. At the beginning of the year, all track supervisors (primary and delegated) work jointly with residents to model and observe assessment and intervention skills. Residents function at an increasingly higher level of independence as their skills and their experience progress during the year.  Supervision of predoctoral interns as well as of practicum students is an important part of the developmental process and a core competency skill during the training year(s).

Research/Program Evaluation

Our clinical psychology residency program is based on the scientist-practitioner model and stresses the contribution of research to clinical practice.  Most clinical rotations include experience with provision of evidence-based treatments and/or assessment best-practices.  Residents are encouraged to participate in a clinical research (or Quality Improvement) project during the year consistent with their research interests.  Between 10 and 15% of a resident’s time can be approved for such a project, which may include program evaluation studies.  Recently, a position has been added to our GLA Psychology Department to specifically help develop clinical research opportunities for trainees (at the postdoc and internship level) that may be interested in getting involved in ongoing, funded research.  During both recruitment and early in the training year, Dr. Susan Rosenbluth, Director of Psychology Research Training speaks with applicants/incoming residents to assess whether there  might be projects of interest that she can facilitate connecting the resident to.

Residents are encouraged to avail themselves of opportunities to develop research interests with the help of faculty mentors with funded projects, and by participating in mental health grand rounds and research seminars along with UCLA psychiatry residents.  At GLA there is a lively Research Service with more than 225 investigators conducting over 540 research projects in all areas of medicine and mental health, and numerous VA and NIH funded Clinical Research Centers, for example, the VA Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center (GRECC), VISN 22 Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Center (MIRECC), and the Parkinson's Disease Research, Education and Clinical Center (PADRECC).

Time Commitment

Residents will be expected to spend 40-44 hours per week in training activities, including a minimum of 75% time on site.

Supervision and Mentorship

Training in specific content areas is accomplished using a combination of methods including experiential learning, direct observation by supervisor, audio and/or videotaping of sessions, clinical supervision, didactics and other educational activities, and focused readings.  All residents will be assigned a primary supervisor who will also serve as a mentor for them during their training tenure.  All residents receive a minimum of 4 hours of supervision weekly, at least 2 of which will be individual, face-to-face clinical supervision.

Mentorship is formally provided in addition to and separate from clinical supervision. Mentoring to the resident takes placed during protected times at least monthly and is a process that is separate from clinical supervision and is designed with an eye toward the resident’s progress through the program and development of their professional identity.  Career guidance, role modeling, and psychosocial support are a focus of the mentoring relationship. If there is a specific career goal that other psychologists on staff might be particularly expert at addressing, mentors will also facilitate connection between the resident and other expert(s) – in addition to their ongoing role as Mentor.

Facility and Training Resources

Residents will be provided office space and computer and phone equipment necessary for patient care and administrative responsibilities. During the Covid-19 pandemic, we have procured VA laptops for all our paid trainees (interns, residents) to make it easier to telework. Residents will have full access to VA Medical Library services, the UCLA Biomedical Library, as well as VA Intranet and internet resources for clinical and research work.  We have a comprehensive Psychology Assessment Lab, which includes a wide variety of psychological assessment instruments and scoring programs.  There are two staff available for administrative support.

Administrative Policies and Procedures

Authorized Leave:  During the course of the year, residents will accrue 13 vacation days and 13 sick days. However, leave cannot be used until it is earned (which occurs at the rate of 4 hours of vacation and 4 hours of sick leave every two-week pay period).  Residents also have 11 paid federal holidays. Residents may request up to 5 days (40 hours) of educational leave for off-site educational activities. (e.g., job interviews, scientific conferences, pre-licensure seminars, licensing exams, and training workshops outside of GLA).

Stipend: The stipend for the 2024-25 training year is $59,797

Benefits:  VA residents are eligible for health, dental, and vision insurance (for self, legally married spouses of any gender, and legal dependents). Trainees are also eligible for VA Childcare Subsidy Program and Public Transit Fare Benefits.

Due Process: – All trainees are afforded the right to due process in matters of problematic behavior and grievances. A copy of our due process policy is available upon request.

Privacy policy: we will collect no personal information about you when you visit our website.

Self-Disclosure: We do not require residents to disclose personal information to the program administrators or clinical supervisors, except in cases where personal issues may be adversely affecting the residents' performance and such information is necessary to address any difficulties.

Family and Medical Leave: The residency program allows for parental leave as well as for leave in the event of serious illness. Family and Medical Leave are granted for the birth of a child and care of a newborn, or placement of a child with oneself for adoption or foster care; a serious health condition of a spouse, son or daughter, or parent; or one’s own serious health condition. Residents are required to complete the full 2080-hour requirement; any leave time will result in an extension of the training contract. Residents are encouraged to address any requests for leave with the Director of Training as early as possible.

Reasonable Accommodations: It is the policy of VA to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified applicants and employees with disabilities in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Liability Protection for Trainees: When providing professional services at a VA healthcare facility, VA-sponsored trainees acting within the scope of their educational programs are protected from personal liability under the Federal Employees Liability Reform and Tort Compensation Act 28, U.S.C.2679 (b)-(d).

Evaluation

The Training Program strongly promotes consistent and ongoing feedback between resident, supervisor, and the Training Committee.

The Postdoctoral Training Program will evaluate its effectiveness for meeting training goals and objectives through the following means:

  • Supervisors' formal evaluations of the resident’s performance in core competency areas.  Both the resident and the supervisor sign evaluations.  Evaluations minimum every six months.
  • Residents’ formal evaluations of their clinical supervisors.  Residents provide written and verbal feedback to all of their clinical supervisors. 
  • Regular communication between the Director of Training and supervisors to discuss the residents’ performance and progress
  • Mid-term Interview with the Residency Director of Training
  • Exit interview with the Residency Director of Training
  • Residents’ representation at Training Committee Meetings
  • Seminar time set aside monthly for Director of Training and residents to discuss program issues
  • End of year survey of experiences and quality of training, along with recommendations for program improvement.  
  • One-year post-residency program survey to assess program satisfaction, achievements, scholarly activities, licensure status and employment
  • Regular programmatic review by the Training Committee
  • Representation by the Department Chair and the Director Psychology of Training at the Graduate Medical Education Committee (GMEC).  The GMEC provides oversight, advisement on graduate medical education and associated health programs sponsored by GLA; governs grievance procedures.

Training Outlines for Recent Clinical Psychology Residents

Time Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday 8 a.m. - noon SUD Clinics Elective DOM SUD Clinic SUD Clinic 12:30 - 4:30 p.m. SUD Clinics Seminars SUD Clinic Seminars DOM SUD Clinic SUD Clinic
Time Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday 8 a.m. - noon ARU Behavioral Sleep Medicine Behavioral Sleep Medicine PCMHI Pain Clinic 12:30 - 4:30 p.m. MOVE Group Seminars Behavioral Sleep Medicine Seminars Behavioral Sleep Medicine PCMHI Pain Clinic
Time Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday 8 a.m. - noon TRS/Women's Clinic TRS/Women's Clinic SUD Clinic (elective) TRS/Women's Clinic SUD Clinic (elective) 12:30 - 4:30 p.m. Seminars Seminars Sleep Clinic (elective) TRS/Women's Clinic TRS/Women's Clinic
Time Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday 8 a.m. - noon MBSR/MSC MBSR or Electives IMHC or PCMHI or HPACT or MHC PCMHI or WC or PC or MHC IMHC or MHC 12:30 - 4:30 p.m. MBSR/MSC Seminars IMHC or ID Seminars IMHC or PCMHI or HPACT or MHC PCMHI or WC or PC or MHC IC or MHC

Didactics/Seminars

Didactics include seminars held bi-weekly (Diversity Seminar, Postdoc Seminar/Supervision Seminar) or monthly (Evidence-based Psychotherapy Lecture Series).  In addition to these core didactic experiences, residents often will avail themselves of many other optional educational opportunities.  A sampling of these include, monthly Mental Health Grand Rounds, weekly Neurobehavior Seminars, occasional UCLA Department of Psychology workshops, VA-sponsored trainings, other departmental rounds and conferences, UCLA Grand Rounds, UCLA Neuroscience seminars, and licensure seminars.  Attendance at optional educational activities is at the discretion of the training staff and the resident's mentor. 

Diversity Seminar, led by Dr. Anjuli Amin, meets twice a month and is designed with a purpose of increasing the residents' cultural competence by examining the dimensions of the cultural self and others.  This understanding is used to inform clinical interpretations, treatment goals, and relationships with patients.  Case discussions, didactic presentations, listening to podcasts, experiential practice are used to achieve these objectives.  Guest lecturers are invited to speak on such topics as the gay and lesbian community, the transgender community, physical disability, aging, the immigrant experience, ethno-pharmacology, cultural issues in psychological assessment, and other areas of interest as identified by the internship and residency class. 

Supervision Seminar led by Drs. Sue Steinberg and Joy Lin, meets for six weeks, and uses didactics, role-play, case presentations, and discussion to help residents develop competency in clinical supervision.  Topics such as APA Guidelines re: Supervision, Getting Started in Supervision, Developing Alliance and Dealing with Ruptures, Diversity Considerations in Effective Supervision, and Challenging Issues in Clinical Supervision.

Postdoc Seminar and Journal Club, led by Dr. Steven Castellon, meets twice a month and features guest speakers on topics related to professional development (e.g. getting a VA job, establishing a private practice, preparing for licensure, importance of self-care etc) as well as set-aside time for discussion of administrative and programmatic demands.  This seminar also features a resident-led Journal Club – with presentations led by residents centered on clinical, scholarly, and professional issues of importance to all residents.

The Evidence-Based Psychotherapy Seminar, facilitated by Dr. Castellon, meets monthly and features a variety of guest speakers discussing state-of-the-art evidence-based interventions relevant to the VA setting. The seminar includes presentations on interventions such as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, CBT for Psychosis, CBT for Pain, Cognitive Processing Therapy, Prolonged Exposure, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, and Motivational Interviewing. The seminar format includes both formal didactics and group discussion.  

In addition to the required and optional seminars listed above, the following training activities are available to all residents:

  • Access to training activities offered to interns and practicum students
  • Weekly neurosciences lectures at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience & Human Behavior at UCLA that emphasize theoretical and conceptual issues
  • Weekly VA Neurobehavior seminars presenting research and clinical data on neurobehavioral syndromes and cases highlighting unusual disorders
  • VA Memory Disorder and Neurobehavioral Clinics in which case presentations are discussed by neurologists, neuropsychologists, and psychiatrists
  • Monthly UCLA Grand Rounds
  • Weekly Pain Clinic lecture series
  • GRECC lectures, seminars and workshops
  • MIRECC lectures, seminars and workshops
  • Psychology Department-sponsored continuing education workshops (3 offered each year) on special topics of interest including law and ethics, supervision, diversity, PTSD, psychopharmacology, assessment, psychopathology and contemporary treatments
  • VA-sponsored workshops and courses in such topics as rehabilitation, bioethics and Palliative Care

Requirements for Completion

To maintain good standing and complete the postdoctoral residency program, residents are expected to:

  1. Fully abide by the APA Ethical Principles and Code of Conduct as well as all VA policies, rules and regulations.
  2. Obtain an average rating of "Progressing Well" in each of the six core competency areas, with no serious ethical violations or transgressions identified.
  3. Meet all administrative requirements.
  4. Complete 2080 hours of supervised professional experience (SPE), to be completed in one year of full-time training.
  5. Achieve satisfactory performance in all clinical competency areas and at the completion of the fellowship term (final rotation rating), the Fellow has received ratings of “Competent” (which is anchored as “performing at level of entry-level psychologist, no supervision needed, knows when to consult”), in all competency areas.

Additionally, we expect all residents to be “progressing well” (mid-term) and then to be rated fully “competent” (final rating) on the following competencies listed below.

Intervention. Developed/ing advanced skills in psychological interventions, including conceptualization within at least two specific theoretical orientations, knowledge and application of evidence-based treatments, development of skills in individual and group modalities, and appropriate therapeutic interpersonal qualities (e.g. appropriate empathy, abilty to attend to process and conent of interpresonal interactions).

Assessment/Diagnosis.  Developed/ing advanced, independent skills in assessment, including differential diagnosis, case conceptualization, interviewing skills, test administration, scoring, interpretation, and the integration of assessment findings in to a report.  Developed/ing an strong ability to communicate testing results to patients and to the team members with whom they work. Aware of issues related to theories of assessment, ethical issues in assessment, and the impact of ethnicity/culture.

Interdisciplinary Consultation.  Functions/ing effectively and cooperatively with interprofessional team members, provide consultation, and contribute to team planning. Forms/ing collaborative professional relationships with other disciplines within a team and provide constructive consultation to both psychologists and non-psychologist colleagues. Residents will learn to provide constructive consultation to other psychology colleagues.

Scholarly Inquiry. Developed/ing an advanced level of knowledge of evidenced-based practices, the ability to review and to apply research literature to their clinical practice, and continued development of critical thinking skills, and implementation of a research project (or Quality Improvement or Program Evaluation) during the residency year.  Residents will be able to determine when problems are not fully addressed by empirically supported treatments

Ethical and legal issues; Professional Values.  Residents will attain advanced knowledge of, and professional conduct in line with, APA ethical guidelines and California laws. Residents will be able to recognize ethical dilemmas when they arise and take appropriate measures to resolve them.  Residents will demonstrate knowledge and awareness of legal issues pertaining to the practice of professional psychology. Residents will show good professional judgement and will demonstrate professional conduct consistent with the identity of a professional psychologist.

Cultural and Individual Diversity.  Residents will develop an advanced level of knowledge, awareness, and sensitivity to individual and cultural differences as they apply to assessment, intervention, research, supervisions, and the health care system. Residents will demonstrate awareness of and act in accordance with APA Guidelines on Multicultural Education, Training, Research, Practice and Organizational Change for Psychologists.

Supervision and Teaching. Residents are expected to develop entry-level skills in providing supervision to other psychology trainees, in a “layered” supervision context. Residents will be able to identify the needs of students/interns they superivse and provide developmentally appropriate feedback to supervisees.  Residents will demonstrate the ability to effectively teach colleagues and trainees in areas of expertise.

Program’s Response To COVID-19

Our Psychology interns and residents transitioned to telehealth/telework just after the Stay-at-Home order was announced by the governor of California in mid-March of 2020. This occurred with the full support of our Medical Center, Education Office, and Mental Health leadership. Our overall goal has been to provide the highest quality training while ensuring safe and effective patient care. We worked diligently to maintain as many training activities as possible without significant disruption while ensuring that all program requirements were being met.  At present, our trainees (interns and residents) provide care to Veterans via telehealth modalities (secured video connection, telephone if absolutely necessary) but also in-person in several settings. For the 2023-24 training year our residents have been granted permission to telework and also have the option to report in person should they wish to do so or that be required for better clinical care. It is currently unclear how/if these changes may continue to impact training during the 2024-25 training year. In accordance with guiding principles provided by VHA, the VA Greater Los Angeles Medical Center, APPIC and APA, our program will continue to prioritize the health and safety of trainees, Veterans and staff, and provide training that fully meets accreditation standards and enables interns and residents to receive training in all profession-wide competencies. We plan to update our public materials if we have information about any change to the current policy for trainees to telework, use of tele-supervision in several settings, and/or need to return to in-person care for the 2024-2025 training year

Clinical Psychology Postdoctoral Training Faculty

Core Supervisors:

 

Bailey, Katherine Ph.D.

  • Doctoral Program: University of Illinois at Chicago, 2010
  • Predoctoral Internship: West Los Angeles VA Medical Center
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship: San Francisco VA Medical Center
  • Emphasis Track(s): BSM/Health (Pain Clinic, Infectious Disease Clinic); SUD Clinic(s)
  • Clinical Interests: Health psychology, substance abuse, evidence-based behavioral practice
  • Research Interests: Health behavior change, health disparities, dissemination, and training

 

Booker, Kevin, Ph.D.

  • Doctoral Program: University of California, Santa Barbara (Clinical), 1999
  • Predoctoral Internship: Howard University, School of Medicine 1998-99
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship: UCLA School of Medicine, Department of Adult Psychiatry, 1999-2001
  • Emphasis Track: Geropsychology; Community Living Center (CLC)
  • Clinic Clinical Interests: PTSD over the lifespan; Exposure to violence and mood/anxiety disorders; Trauma- focused cognitive behavioral and experiential/humanistic treatments; The role of meaning in
  • mitigating against co-morbid mood disturbance in patients with PTSD

 

Boxer, Laurie, Ph.D.

  • Doctoral Program: Syracuse University (Clinical), 1991
  • Predoctoral Internship: West Los Angeles VA Medical Center, 1990-1991
  • Emphasis Track: Trauma (Trauma Recovery Services program)
  • Clinical Interests: Assessment and Treatment of PTSD, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Psychotherapeutic
  •  Interventions for Bipolar Disorder
  • Research Interests:  Impact of the therapeutic alliance in potentiating efficacy of evidence-based psychotherapy; Effectiveness of DBT skills training on PTSD symptoms and tension reduction behaviors 

 

Cardoos, Stephanie, Ph.D. – (Director, Predoctoral Internship Program)

  • Doctoral Program: University of California, Berkeley (Clinical), 2015
  • Predoctoral Internship: San Francisco VA Health Care System, 2014-2015
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship: Substance Use and Co-occurring Disorders Treatment, San Francisco VA Health Care System, 2015-2016
  • Training Track(s): SUD Clinics
  • Clinical Interests: Assessment and treatment of substance use and co-occurring disorders; motivational interviewing; equity and antiracism in SUD treatment
  • Research Interests: Treatment of co-occurring chronic pain and substance use disorders; mechanisms of health behavior throughout the lifespan; motivational interviewing training for providers; health disparities and health equity

 

Castellon, Steven A., Ph.D. - (Director, Postdoctoral Residency Program)

  • Doctoral Program: University of California, Los Angeles (Clinical), 1997
  • Predoctoral Internship: West Los Angeles VA Medical Center
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship: Neuropsychology, UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute
  • Academic Affiliation: Associate Clinical Professor and Research Psychologist, Department of Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences; David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
  • Track(s): Clinical Neuropsycholgy; Outpatient NP Assessment Service
  • Clinical Interests: Neuropsychological assessment, psychological assessment
  • Research Interests: Cognitive effects of cancer and cancer treatments, neuropsychiatric aspects of HIV/AIDS, cognitive and psychiatric consequences of Hepatitis C and its treatment

 

Cernin, Paul, Ph.D.

  • Doctoral Program: Wayne State University, 2008
  • Predoctoral Internship: St. Louis VAMC
  • Academic Affiliation: Assistant Clinical Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences
  • David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship: Neuropsychology, UCLA Semel Institute, Geriatric Neuropsychology, 2008-2010
  • Track(s): Geropsychology; Clinical Neuropsychology (Geropsychology Clinics)
  • Clinical Interests: older adults, LGBT aging
  • Research Interests: health disparities and urban elders, successful aging, breast cancer and cognition.

                    

Chen, Suzie S., Ph.D.

  • Doctoral Program: Drexel University (Clinical), 2005
  • Predoctoral Internship: VA Sepulveda Ambulatory Care Center
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship: VA Long Beach Healthcare System (Rehab and Neuropsychology)
  • Track:  BSM-Health; Interprofessional Integrative Health; PCMHI
  • Clinical Interests: Health Psychology, Behavioral Medicine, Rehabilitation Psychology, Sexuality & Intimacy, general psychological or cognitive assessment and treatment
  • Research Interests: Sexuality and Disability, Pain, Spinal Cord Injury, Caregiver Burden

 

Christie, Kysa Ph.D.

  • Doctoral Program: University of Southern California (Clinical Science), 2011
  • Predoctoral Internship: UCLA Semel Institute, Health and Behavior Track
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship: VA Palo Alto Healthcare System, (Palliative Care emphasis)
  • Track:  Behavioral Sleep Medicine/Health Psychology; Palliative Care; Health programs
  • Clinical Interests: Coping with acute and chronic illness, Hospice and Palliative Care, Consultation-Liason Psychology, Couples Therapy
  • Research Interests: Coping with illness, Psycho-oncology

 

Culver, Najwa C., Ph.D.

  • Doctoral Program: UCLA (Clinical), 2013
  • Predoctoral Internship: VAGLAHS, Sepulveda Ambulatory Care Center
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship: VAGLAHS, West Los Angeles Medical Center
  • Track(s): Behavioral Sleep Medicine Clinic; Psychosis Clinic; Seminar Speaker
  • Clinical Interests: CBT for Psychosis, ACT for Psychosis, PTSD, Anxiety Disorders, Mindfulness-Based Approaches, Couples Therapy, Behavioral Sleep Medicine
  • Research Interests: Improving effectiveness of evidence-based treatment for anxiety disorders; behavioral insomnia treatment in veterans with psychosis

 

Dennis, Jessica, Ph.D. - (Co-Director, Interprofessional Integrative Health Program)

  • Doctoral Program: Illinois Institute of Technology (Clinical), 2015
  • Predoctoral Internship: UC San Diego/VA San Diego Postdoctoral Residency Program
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship: Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, West Los Angeles VA Medical Center
  • Track: Interprofessional Integrative Health
  • Clinical Interests:  Mindfulness and Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, Integrative Health modalities, couples therapy, psycho-oncology, health psychology, transplant assessments
  • Research Interests: Mindfulness Based Interventions for veteran populations, Integrative Health

 

Funes, Cynthia, Ph.D.

  • Doctoral Program: Georgia State University (Clinical), 2016
  • Predoctoral Internship: Northern California VA Health Care System, 2015-2016
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship: Geropsychology/Neuropsychology, UCLA Semel Institute, 2016-2018
  • Track(s): Geropsychology; Neuropsychology (Community Living Center)
  • Clinical Interests: Neuropsychological assessment; medical/health psychology; psychological assessment; Acceptance and Commitment therapy for chronic illness; end-of-life care
  • Research Interests: Cultural neuroscience; dementia; healthy aging; bilingual assessment; geriatric depression
  • Certifications: None 

 

Grinberg, Austin, Ph.D., DBSM

  • Training Roles: Supervisor
  • Training Activities: Behavioral Sleep Medicine Clinic
  • Doctoral Program: University of Arizona (Clinical), 2017
  • Predoctoral Internship: University of California, San Diego/VA San Diego Healthcare System, 2016-2017
  • Postdoctoral Residency: Psychosomatic/Behavioral Medicine, University of California, San Diego/VA San Diego Healthcare System, 2017-2018
  • Areas of Interest: Behavioral Medicine, Psychology in Medical Setting, Chronic Pain, Psycho-Oncology, Behavioral Sleep Medicine
  • Certifications:  VA Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I) Provider, VA Co-located Collaborative Care (CCC) Provider, Diplomate of the Board of Behavioral Sleep Medicine

 

Harrell, Katherine, Ph.D.

  • Doctoral Program: Fuller Theological Seminary (Clinical), 2011
  • Predoctoral Internship: West Los Angeles VA Medical Center, 2011
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship: West Los Angeles VA Medical Center, 2011-2013
  • Track:  Clinical Neuropsychology (V-CAMP program)
  • Clinical Interests: Neuropsychology; telehealth based care and tele-neuropsychology; geriatrics; dementia

 

Himmelfarb, Naomi, Ph.D.

  • Doctoral Program: University of Connecticut (Clinical), 1988
  • Predoctoral Internship: Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center
  • Academic Affiliation: Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences
  • David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
  • Track: Trauma, Health (Women's Health Program)
  • Clinical Interests: Trauma, PTSD, and military sexual assault
  • Research Interests: PTSD, sexual assault in women

 

Johnson, Megan, Ph.D.

  • Doctoral Program: Fuller Theological Seminary (Clinical), 2017
  • Predoctoral Internship: Los Angeles County Dept. of Mental Health – Twin Towers Correctional Facility
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship: GRECC Special Fellowship in Advanced Geriatrics, 2017-2019 (West LA VA)
  • Track(s): Geropsychology; Neuropsychology (AGT and Consultation/Liaison service)
  • Clinical Interests: Trauma, posttraumatic growth, moral injury, serious mental illness, psychological assessment, geriatrics, homeless mental health

 

Kay, Morgan A., Ph.D., ABPP

  • Doctoral Program: California School of Professional Psychology (Clinical), 2013
  • Predoctoral Internship: VA Western NY Healthcare System (Buffalo)
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship: West Los Angeles VA Medical Center (2014)
  • Board Certification: Clinical Health Psychology (2021)
  • Track: Health Psychology and Interprofessional Integrative Health
  • Clinical Interests: Health psychology, chronic pain management, insomnia treatment, interprofessional collaboration

 

Kelly, Monica, Ph.D., DBSM

  • Training Roles: Supervisor, Clinical Research Seminar Co-Facilitator
  • Training Activities: Behavioral Sleep Medicine Clinic
  • Doctoral Program: University of Arizona, Tucson (Clinical), 2018
  • Predoctoral Internship: VA San Diego Healthcare System, 2017-2018
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship: Geriatrics/Research, Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center (GRECC), VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System (VAGLAHS), 2018-2021
  • Academic Affiliations: Assistant Professor of Medicine, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA); Research Health Scientist, VAGLAHS GRECC
  • Areas of Interest: Psychological Treatment of Insomnia, PTSD, Chronic Nightmares and Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorders, Sleep Apnea, Geriatrics, Health Psychology, Motivational Interviewing
  • Certifications: Diplomate of the Board of Behavioral Sleep Medicine

 

Martin, Jennifer, Ph.D., FAASM, DBSM

  • Training Roles: Supervisor, Clinical Research Seminar Facilitator, Research Supervisor
  • Training Activities: Behavioral Sleep Medicine Clinic
  • Doctoral Program: SDSU/UCSD Joint Doctoral Program (Clinical), 2002
  • Predoctoral Internship: Brown University, 2001-2002
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship: Geriatrics, University of California, Los Angeles 2002-2003
  • Academic Affiliations: Professor of Medicine, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles; Faculty, UCLA Multicampus Program in Geriatrics and Gerontology; Faculty; VAGLAHS/UCLA Sleep Medicine Fellowship Program; VAGLAHS Geriatric Research, Education & Clinical Center; VA OMHSP Subject Matter Expert, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia
  • Areas of Interest: Psychological Treatment of Insomnia, Chronic Nightmares and Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorders; Sleep Apnea, Geriatrics; Health Psychology; Motivational Interviewing; Women's Health, ACT
  • Certifications: Diplomate in Behavioral Sleep Medicine by the American Board of Behavioral Sleep Medicine; Fellow of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine; Diplomate of the Board of Behavioral Sleep Medicine

 

McGowan, Sarah Kate, Ph.D.

  • Doctoral Program: University of Illinois at Chicago (Clinical), 2014
  • Predoctoral Internship: Boston Consortium in Clinical Psychology
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship: UC San Diego/VA San Diego Postdoctoral Residency Program
  • Academic Affiliation: Associate Clinical Professor, Department of Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences; David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
  • Track: Insomnia Clinic and PCMHI
  • Clinical Interests: Behavioral sleep medicine, acceptance-based approaches
  • Research Interests: Relationship between insomnia and anxiety; development and implementation of behavioral treatment for insomnia

 

Melrose, Rebecca, Ph.D.

  • Doctoral Program: Boston University, Boston (Clinical), 2007
  • Predoctoral Internship: West Los Angeles VA Medical Center, 2006-2007
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship: GRECC Special Fellowship in Advanced Geriatrics, 2007-2009 (West LA VA)
  • Academic Affiliation: Assistant Research Psychologist, Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
  • Track/Rotation: Clinical Neuropsychology (Geriatric Medicine)
  • Clinical Interests: Neuropsychology
  • Research interests: Neuroimaging & neuropsychology of cognitive decline in aging
  • Active Research: Neuroimaging (task fMRI, resting state fMRI, DTI) of Mild Cognitive Impairment & Alzheimer’s Disease

 

Okonek, Anna, Ph.D. – (Deputy Chief of Psychology Education)

  • Doctoral Program: University of California, Los Angeles (Clinical), 1992
  • Doctoral Internship: West Los Angeles VA Medical Center, 1989-1990
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship: Geropsychology/Neuropsychology, UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute, 1991-1993
  • Academic Affiliation: Clinical Professor, UCLA Department of Psychology
  • Track: Polytrauma/TBI Rehab
  • Clinical Interests: Polytrauma/traumatic brain injury, neuropsychology, adjustment to disability, coping with acute and chronic medical illness
  • Research interests: Traumatic brain injury, blast injury

 

Paul Perales, Psy.D

  • Doctoral Program: Pepperdine University (Clinical), 2017
  • Doctoral Internship: VA Sepulveda Ambulatory Care Center, 2016-2017
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship: Interprofessional Integrative Health, West Los Angeles VA, 2017-2018
  • Academic Affiliation: Adjunct Professor, Pepperdine University
  • Track(s): Substance Use Disorder (SUD) Outpatient Programs
  • Clinical Interests: Substance Use Treatment, Trauma, LGBTQ+ Mental Health, HIV Mental Health, Mindfulness/Integrative Health, Group Therapy
  • Certifications: CBT for Substance Use Disorders

 

Razmjou, Elika, PsyD

  • Doctoral Program: Pacific University, Oregon, 2019
  • Predoctoral Internship: University of Colorado—School of Medicine, 2018-2019
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship: Health Psychology, VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare Center, West Los Angeles, 2019-2020
  • Track(s): Co-Leader, Diversity Seminar; DEI Co-Chair; BSM/Health Supervisor
  • Clinical Interests: Health Psychology/Behavioral Medicine (pain psychology, behavioral sleep medicine, mTBI/concussion, end-of-life care); Health Literacy and Disparities; Yoga and Mindfulness Certifications: Prolonged Exposure for Primary Care, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia

 

Robinson, Christina, Ph.D., ABPP

  • Doctoral Program: University of Houston (Clinical), 2011
  • Predoctoral Internship: West Los Angeles VA Medical Center, 2010-2011
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship: Health Psychology/Integrative Care, West Los Angeles VA Medical Center, 2011-2012
  • Track: Trauma; Trauma Recovery Service (TRS)
  • Clinical Interests: Trauma and co-occurring disorders, exposure therapy for anxiety disorders, medical/health psychology, psychological assessment
  • Certifications: Cognitive Processing Therapy

 

Rowland, Lilly, Psy.D.

  • Doctoral Program: Pepperdine University (Clinical), 2020
  • Predoctoral Internship: VA Los Angeles Ambulatory Care Center, 2019-2020
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship: West Los Angeles VA Medical Center, 2020-2021
  • Track/Role: SUD and Co-Occurring Disorders; SUD Clinics; Seminar Speaker
  • Clinical Interests: Substance use and co-occurring disorders stress management; homelessness; women’s health; multicultural and systemic integrations in care; mindfulness
  • Certifications: Dialectical Behavior Therapy – Skills Group (DBT-SG)

 

Saldaña, Kathryn Ph.D.

  • Doctoral Program: University of Colorado, Denver (Clinical Health Psychology), 2021
  • Predoctoral Internship: VA Long Beach Healthcare System
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship: VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, Sepulveda Ambulatory Care Center
  • Track: PCMHI and Behavioral Sleep Medicine
  • Clinical Interests: Integrated primary care, women’s mental health, behavioral sleep medicine
  • Research Interests: Perinatal mood disorders, ACT-based behavioral sleep medicine interventions

 

Serpa, J. Greg, Ph.D. - (Co-Director, Interprofessional Integrative Health Program)

  • Doctoral Program: California School of Professional Psychology, 2004
  • Predoctoral Internship: VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, Sepulveda Ambulatory Care Center
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship: Harbor UCLA Medical Center
  • Clinical Interests:  Mindfulness and Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, Interprofessional training, Integrative Health modalities, Substance use disorders, HIV Mental Health, Yoga
  • Research Interests: Mindfulness and integrative Modalities of health, cortical neuroplasticity in veterans with TBI using mindfulness, cortical neuroplasticity in IBS using mindfulness

 

Spezze, Jaqulyn, Psy.D.

  • Doctoral Program: Pepperdine University (Clinical Psychology), 2015
  • Predoctoral Internship: VA Los Angeles Ambulatory Care Center
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship: Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, Behavioral Medicine/HIV Mental Health
  • Training Track(s): SUD and Co-Occurring Disorders and Trauma Psychology - Domiciliary Residential Rehabilitation and Treatment Program
  • Clinical Interests: Substance use disorders, posttraumatic stress disorder, behavioral medicine/health psychology, HIV mental health, LGBTQ
  • Research Interests: Substance use disorders, HIV mental health, well-being in individuals with chronic medical conditions

 

Steinberg-Oren, Susan., Ph.D. (Co-Director, Interprofessional Integrative Health Program)

  • Doctoral program: Clark University, 1989
  • Predoctoral Internship: Palo Alto VA Medical Center
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship: Harbor-UCLA Medical Center
  • Academic Affiliations: Clinical Associate Professor, Fuller Graduate School of Psychology (1990-2010)
  • Clinical Interests: Mindfulness and Mindful Self-Compassion, Women’s Mental Health, Time-Limited Dynamic Psychotherapy, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Supervision
  • Research Interests: Impact of Alternative Therapies upon Well-Being, Trauma Sensitive Mindfulness

 

Taylor-Ford, Megan, Ph.D.

  • Doctoral Program: University of Southern California (Clinical Science), 2015
  • Predoctoral Internship:  West Los Angeles VA Healthcare System
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship: VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, West Los Angeles
  • Track: BSM/Health Psychology
  • Clinical Interests: Health psychology; psycho-oncology; end of life care; coping w/ chronic illness
  • Research Interests: mindfulness; psycho-oncology; coping with chronic illness

 

Katie Young-Sciortino, Ph.D.

  • Doctoral Program: Palo Alto University, Palo Alto CA (Clinical Psychology, neuropsychology track), 2017 Predoctoral Internship: VA Southern Arizona Health Care System (neuropsychology track), 2016-2017 Postdoctoral Fellowship: Neuropsychology Postdoctoral Fellowship, Phoenix VA Health Care System, 2017-2019
  • Training Track/Clinics:  Clinical Neuropsychology; Outpatient Neuropsychology Service
  • Clinical Interests: Acquired brain injuries (e.g., stroke, TBI), dementia/neurodegenerative diseases - in particular, the contribution of vascular risk factors to dementia, and cultural aspects of neuropsychological assessment

 

Zeller, Michelle, Psy.D, ABPP-CN – (Director, Psychology Practicum Training Program)

  • Doctoral Program: Pepperdine University (Clinical), 2004
  • Predoctoral Internship: VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship: Geropsychology, UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute, 2004-06
  • Track: Health/Integrated Care (Inpatient Acute Rehabilitation Unit)
  • Clinical Interests: Neuropsychological assessment, individual psychotherapy, group psychotherapy,
  • geropsychology
  • Research Interests: Cognitive performance on neuropsychological measures and PTSD

 

Psychologists Available for Training or Serving as Consultants:

 

Amin, Anjuli R., Ph.D. (Staff Psychologist, Telemental Health)

  • Doctoral Program: Southern Illinois University, Carbondale (Counseling), 2011
  • Predoctoral Internship: Zablocki VA Medical Center, Milwaukee, WI, 2010-2011
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship: Special Fellowship in Primary Care and Health Psychology, Edward Hines Jr., VA Medical Center, Hines, IL, 2011-2012
  • Track(s): Diversity Seminar Co-Leader
  • Clinical Interests: Multiculturalism; Aging; End-of-Life; Health Psychology/Behavioral Medicine
  • Research Interests: Health Disparities for Women of Color; Sexual Health; Multiculturalism

 

Lin, Joy Y., Psy.D., MFT

  • Doctoral Program: Pepperdine Graduate School of Education and Psychology (Clinical), 2019
  • Doctoral Internship: VA West Los Angeles 2018-2019
  • Postdoctoral Residency: VA Sepulveda Ambulatory Care Center, 2019-2020
  • Training Roles: Supervisor, Supervision Seminar Facilitator, Diversity Seminar Co-Facilitator
  • Areas of Interest: Diversity and Multicultural Psychology, Integrative Health, Anxiety Disorders, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, MST, Women’s Health, Multicultural Supervision
  • Certifications: Certified VA Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) Provider

 

Rowles, Joanna, Ph.D., Chief, Department of Psychology

  • Doctoral Program: University of Missouri – Kansas City (Clinical), 2007
  • Predoctoral Internship: California Psychology Internship Consortium, State Center Community College
  • District, 2006-2007
  • Rotation: Substance Use Disorder Outpatient Programs
  • Clinical Interests: Substance abuse treatment, cross-cultural mental health, depression
  • Certifications: Interpersonal Psychotherapy for Depression

 

Jonathan Yahalom, Ph.D.

  • Doctoral Program: Duquesne University (Clinical Psychology), 2016
  • Predoctoral Internship: Adolescent, Geriatric, and Substance Abuse, Sharp HealthCare, 2015-2016
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship: Mindfulness and Integrative Health, West Los Angeles VA Medical Center, 2016-2017
  • Academic Affiliation: Health Sciences Assistant Clinical Professor, UCLA Department of Psychiatry and    Biobehavioral Sciences, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
  • Role/Track: Mental Health Clinic Supervisor;  Seminar Speaker; Research mentor
  • Clinical Interests: Cultural psychology, trauma, mood and anxiety disorders
  • Research Interests: Medical anthropology, anthropology of care, qualitative research
  • Orientation: Psychodynamic

 

Woods, Catherine, Ph.D.

  • Doctoral Program: University of Oregon (Counseling Psychology) 2019
  • Predoctoral Internship: VA Greater West Los Angeles Healthcare System,  2018-2019
  • Postdoctoral Residency: VA Greater West Los Angeles Healthcare System, Trauma, 2019-2020
  • Role/Track: Co-Leader, Diversity Seminar (internship); DEI Co-Chair; Mentor, Supervisor, Lecturer
  • Clinical and Areas of Interests: PTSD and complex trauma, Veterans’ trauma, the impact of race-related issues (e.g., racial battle fatigue, racial trauma and stress) on Black communities, Black health and wellness, liberation psychology, mentorship, social change Current Groups Facilitated: Racial Trauma and Stress Certifications: Cognitive Processing Therapy, Gottman Method Couples Therapy (Levels 1&2)

Recent Trainees - Training Background

2019-20 residents:

 

  • Psy.D., Clinical Psychology, Rutgers University
  • Internship:  VA Los Angeles Ambulatory Care Center
  • Track: Homeless Mental Health

 

  • Ph.D., Clinical Psychology, Arizona State University
  • Internship:  Edward Hines VA Medical Center
  • Track: Interprofessional

 

  • Psy.D., Clinical Psychology, Pacific University
  • Internship:  University of Colorado, School of Medicine
  • Track: Health

 

  • Ph.D., Clinical Psychology, Pacific Graduate School of Psychology
  • Internship:  Long Beach VA Medical Center
  • Track: Interprofessional

 

  • Ph.D., Clinical Psychology, University of Oregon
  • Internship:  West Los Angeles VA Healthcare Center
  • Track: Trauma

 

2020-21 residents:

 

  • Psy.D., Clinical Psychology, Roosevelt University (Chicago)
  • Internship:  VA Sepulveda Ambulatory Care Center
  • Track: Trauma

 

  • Ph.D., Clinical Psychology, Nova Southeastern University
  • Internship:  Ohio State School of Medicine
  • Track: Interprofessional

 

  • Ph.D., Clinical Psychology, University of Southern California
  • Internship:  UCLA School of Medicine, Semel Institute
  • Track: Health

 

  • Ph.D., Clinical Psychology, George Mason University
  • Internship:  West Los Angeles VA Healthcare Center
  • Track: Trauma

 

  • Psy.D., Clinical Psychology, Pepperdine University
  • Internship:  VA Los Angeles Ambulatory Care Center
  • Track:  SUD/Homeless Mental Health

 

  • Ph.D., Clinical Psychology, Louisiana State University
  • Internship:  Buffalo VA Medical Center
  • Track: Interprofessional

 

2021-22 residents:

 

  • Ph.D., Clinical Psychology, University of Montana
  • Internship:  Southwest Consortium/New Mexico VA
  • Track: Interprofessional

 

  • Psy.D., Clinical Psychology, Pepperdine University
  • Internship:  West Los Angeles VA Healthcare Center
  • Track: Geropsychology

 

  • Ph.D., Clinical Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles
  • Internship:  West Los Angeles VA Healthcare Center
  • Track: SUD/Homeless Mental Health

 

  • Ph.D., Clinical Psychology, Alliant International University (Los Angeles)
  • Internship:  VA Sepulveda Ambulatory Care Center
  • Track: Trauma

 

  • Psy.D., Clinical Psychology, Pepperdine University
  • Internship:  VA Sepulveda Ambulatory Care Center
  • Track: Health

 

  • Ph.D., Clinical Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles
  • Internship:  West Los Angeles VA Healthcare Center
  • Track: Interprofessional

 

2022-23 residents:

 

  • Ph.D., Clinical Psychology, DePaul University
  • Internship:  West Los Angeles VA Healthcare Center
  • Track: Trauma

 

  • Ph.D., Clinical Psychology, Duquesne University
  • Internship:  West Los Angeles VA Healthcare Center
  • Track: Interprofessional

 

  • Ph.D., Clinical Psychology, University of Nevada, Reno
  • Internship:  West Los Angeles VA Healthcare Center
  • Track: Geropsychology

 

  • Ph.D., Clinical Psychology, Loma Linda University
  • Internship:  St. Lous VA Medical Center
  • Track: Interprofessional

 

  • Ph.D., Counseling Psychology, Virginia Commonwealth University
  • Internship:  University of Washington, School of Medicine
  • Track: Health

 

  • Psy.D., Clinical Psychology, Palo Alto University
  • Internship:  VA Northern California Healthcare System
  • Track: Trauma

 

  • Ph.D., Clinical Psychology, University of Kansas
  • Internship:  VA Long Beach Healthcare System
  • Track:  SUD

Postdoctoral Residency Program Tables

Date Program Tables are Updated: Sept. 21, 2023.

Eligibility:

All applicants to the Postdoctoral Residency Program must have obtained a doctoral degree in Clinical or Counseling Psychology from a graduate program approved by the American Psychological Association (APA), the Psychological Clinical Science Accreditation System (PCSAS), or the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA) at the time the program was completed. The applicant is expected to have completed an internship program accredited by APA or CPA or have completed a VA-sponsored internship.

To be considered for any of our postdoctoral residency positions an applicant must:

  1. Have completed all requirements for the doctoral degree, in Clinical or Counseling Psychology, including internship and dissertation. 
    1. Department of Veterans Affairs requires that the applicant’s doctoral degree and internship be completed at programs accredited by the American Psychological Association.
  2. Be a US citizen.  VA is unable to consider applications from anyone who is not currently a U.S. citizen.  Verification of citizenship is required following selection and all of our incoming postdoctoral residents must complete a Certification of Citizenship in the United States prior to starting training.
  3. Be aware that VA employment requires males born after December 31, 1959 must have registered for the draft by age 26.  Male applicants sign a pre-appointment Certification Statement of Selective Service Registration before they can be processed into a training program.
  4. Be aware that residents are subject to fingerprinting and background checks. Selection decisions are contingent on passing these screens.
  5. Know that the VA strives to be a drug-free workplace. Residents are not drug-tested prior to their appointment. However, all residents are subject to random drug testing throughout their VA appointment period.  You will be asked to sign an acknowledgment form stating you are aware of this VA practice.  This form authorizes your drug test results to be shared with VA officials and others wo have a need to know. Failure to sign the authorization form may result in disciplinary action up to and including removal.

Selection Process

We are seeking applicants who have strong skills in intervention, assessment, and possess prior clinical experience and specific interest in their chosen emphasis area. Applicants should have adequate academic preparation and have acquired Profession-Wide Competencies in context of service provision to adult patients/clients. They should have received individual supervision with direct observation of the clinical work within their graduate program and pre-doctoral internship and they should meet eligibility requirements for VA employment.  Applicants should also have the personal characteristics necessary to function well as a doctoral-level professional within a medical center environment and interdisciplinary treatment settings. Our selection criteria specifically focus on educational background, clinical training and experience, letters of recommendation and the ability of the applicant to articulate their training goals and professional aspirations that we feel are consistent with the Residency Program and with VA mission. We seek the best fit between applicants and our training program.

Applications are reviewed by the Director of Postdoctoral Training (Dr. Castellon), in addition to the relevant members of the Postdoctoral Residency selection committee. This committee is comprised of clinical psychologists who serve as primary or delegated supervisors for each of the emphasis areas in which residencies are being offered.  [For the 2023-24 training year, staff on the selection committees include: Behavioral Sleep Medicine/Health Psychology (Drs. Bailey, Chen, Christie, Kay, McGowan, Saldana, & Taylor-Ford,), Interprofessional Integrative Health (Drs. Serpa, Dennis, and Steinberg-Oren),  Trauma Psychology (Drs. Boxer, Himmelfarb, Robinson, & Spezze), SUD  (Drs. Bailey, Cardoos, Rowland and Perales), Geropsychology (Drs. Cernin, Booker, Funes, Johnson, Melrose, Osato, & Wilkins.]  Following this review, highly ranked applicants are asked to participate in interviews, which, due to Covid-19, will occur via video tele-conferencing. After the interview process is complete, the selection committee again ranks the applicants and offers can then be extended to top applicants for each of the open positions.  When applicants are no longer under consideration, we strive to notify them of this as soon as possible.

Provide an Aggregated Tally for the Preceding 3 Cohorts 2020 – 2023 Total # of Residents who were in the 3 cohorts 19 Total # of Residents who remain in residency program 0
Each individual represented in this table should be counted only one time. For former trainees working in more than one setting, select the setting that represents their primary position. PD (Post-doctoral residency position) EP (Employed position) Community Mental health center 0 0 Federally qualified health center 0 0 Independent primary care facility/clinic 0 0 University counseling center 0 0 Veterans Affairs medical center 0 10 Military health center 0 0 Academic health center 0 2 Other medical center or hospital 0 1 Psychiatric hospital 0 0 Academic university/department 0 0 Community college or other teaching setting 0 0 Independent research institution 0 0 Correctional facility 0 0 School district/system 0 0 Independent practice setting 0 6 Not currently employed 0 0 Changed to another field 0 0 Other 0 0 Unknown 0 0
Financial and Other Benefit Support for Upcoming Training Year Yes or No; if yes, amount Annual Stipend/Salary for Full-time Residents Yes, $59,797 Annual Stipend/Salary for Part-Time Residents N/A Program provides access to medical insurance for resident? Yes, see below.
Benefits Yes or No; if yes, amount Trainee contribution to cost required? Yes Coverage of family member(s) available? Yes Coverage of legally married partner available? Yes Coverage of domestic partner available? No Hours of Annual Paid Personal Time Off (PTO and/or Vacation) Yes, 104 (4 hours accrued every two weeks) Hours of Annual Paid Sick Leave Yes, 104 (4 hours accrued every two weeks) In the event of medical conditions and/or family needs that require extended leave, does the program allow reasonable unpaid leave to interns/residents in excess of personal time off and sick leave? Yes Other benefits Postdocs get 11 paid Federal Holidays, 5 Authorized Absence Days for educational activities, and they are eligible for health insurance, vision insurance, dental insurance, VA Childcare Subsidy Program, and Public Transit Fare Benefits. Premiums are withheld from stipends on a pre-tax basis. 2023 Plan Information for California can be found at: https://www.opm.gov/healthcare-insurance/healthcare/plan-information/pl…. * Note. Programs are not required by the Commission on Accreditation to provide all benefits listed in this table N/A

Clinical Neuropsychology Postdoctoral Residency Program

For the 2024-2025/6 training year, the West Los Angeles VA Healthcare Center will be recruiting for two postdoctoral residency positions in Clinical Neuropsychology.

These full-time residency positions offer specialty training in Clinical Neuropsychology over the course of two years (4160 hours). We seek applicants with a solid breadth and quality of prior general clinical training, specialized training in clinical neuropsychology, and who can articulate a good fit between their professional goals and program training experiences. Successful candidates typically have substantial academic and clinical experience in neuropsychology and will usually have completed doctoral and internship training that meets Houston Conference guidelines in Clinical Neuropsychology. Applicants are required to have received a doctorate from an APA or CPA-accredited graduate program in either Clinical, Counseling, or Combined Psychology or from a PCSAS accredited Clinical Science program. Persons with a doctorate in another area of psychology who meet the APA or CPA criteria for re-specialization training in Clinical, Counseling, or Combined Psychology are also eligible. The applicant is expected to have completed an internship program accredited by APA or CPA or have completed a VA-sponsored internship. Per VA policy, all funded trainees must be U.S. citizens. Also, for additional VA eligibility requirements, please see our eligibility page.

Our program is a member of the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers (APPIC) and part of a multi-practice Psychology Postdoctoral Residency program that received the maximum 10-year accreditation from APA Commission on Accreditation for both our Clinical Psychology and Clinical Neuropsychology (specialty accreditation) programs with next site visit due in 2028.

Steve Castellon Ph.D.

Director, Psychology Residency Training

VA Greater Los Angeles health care

Phone: 310-478-3711 ext. 53597

Email: Steve.Castellon@va.gov

Accreditation Status

The Clinical Neuropsychology Residency Program (CNRP) at the West Los Angeles VA Healthcare System (WLAVAHS) received specialty accreditation in Clinical Neuropsychology by Commission on Accreditation of the American Psychological Association in 2018.  Our next site visit will take place in 2028.

Our Training Program has been a member of the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers (APPIC) since 2009.

Inquiries regarding the accreditation status of our residency program may be directed to:

Office of Program Consultation and Accreditation

American Psychological Association

750 1st Street, NE, Washington, DC 20002-4242

Telephone: 202-336-5979 / Email: apaaccred@apa.org

Web: http://www.apa.org/ed/accreditation

Application Deadline

November 20, 2023. [Must be received by 11:59 P.M., EST (8:59 PST)]via APPA CAS Portal

Eligibility Requirements

Health Professions Trainees (HPTs) are appointed to their residency position as temporary employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs. As such, HPTs are subject to laws, policies, and guidelines posted for VA staff members. [Note: There are infrequent times in which this guidance can change during a training year which may create new requirements or responsibilities for the HPTs. If employment requirements change during a training year, HPTs will be notified of this change and its potential impact as soon as possible and options provided. The VA Training Director for your profession will provide you with the information you need to understand the requirement and reasons for the requirement in a timely manner].

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) adheres to all Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action policies. As a Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Health Professions Trainee (HPT), you receive a federal appointment following the selection process, and the following requirements will apply prior to that appointment.

  1. U.S. Citizenship. VA is unable to consider applications from anyone who is not currently a U.S. citizen. Verification of citizenship is required following selection. All interns and fellows must complete a Certification of Citizenship in the United States prior to beginning VA training.
  2. U.S. Social Security Number. All VA appointees must have a U.S. social security number (SSN) prior to beginning the pre-employment on-boarding process at the VA.
  3. Selective Service Registration. A male applicant born after 12/31/1959 must have registered for the draft by age 26 to be eligible for any US government employment, including selection as a paid VA trainee. Male applicants must sign a pre-appointment Certification Statement for Selective Service Registration before they can be processed into a training program. For additional information about the Selective Service System, and to register or to check your registration status visit https://www.sss.gov/.
  4. Fingerprint Screening and Background Investigation. All HPTs will be fingerprinted and undergo screenings and background investigations. Additional details about the required background checks can be found at the following website: http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/codification/executive-order/10450.html
  5. Drug Testing. Per Executive Order 12564, the VA strives to be a Drug-Free Workplace. HPTs are not drug-tested prior to appointment, however, are subject to random drug testing throughout the entire VA appointment period. You will be asked to sign an acknowledgement form stating you are aware of this practice. This form authorizes your drug test results to be shared with VA officials, and others who have a need to know. Failure to sign the authorization form may result in disciplinary action up to and including removal.

As a trainee subject to random drug testing, you should be aware of the following:

  • Counseling and rehabilitation assistance are available to all trainees through existing Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) at VA facilities (information on EAP can be obtained from your local Human Resources office).
  • You will be given the opportunity to submit supplemental medical documentation of lawful use of an otherwise illegal drug to a Medical Review Officer (MRO).
  • VA will initiate termination of VA appointment and/or dismissal from VA rotation against any trainee who is found to use illegal drugs on the basis of a verified positive drug test or who refuses to be tested.
  • Although medical and recreational use of cannabis is legal in the state of California, it is illegal for federal employees and trainees to use marijuana and its derivatives, including CBD, on or off duty.
  • Please see VA Drug-Free Workplace Program Guide for Veterans Health Administration Health Professions Trainees

Application Procedures

The Residency program in Clinical Neuropsychology begins August 26, 2024.  This is a two-year full-time program with VA benefits.  The current stipend is $59,797 for Year One, increasing to $63,029 for Year Two.  Our training program is organized to provide two years of full-time training but advancement to the second year is contingent upon successful completion of all first-year requirements. 

We are recruiting to fill two open positions in 2024.  Our neuropsychology residency positions are based at the West Los Angeles VA Medical Center.  Also, see the APPIC-run Universal Psychology Postdoc Directory (UPPD; at https://appic.org/Postdocs/Universal-Psychology-Postdoctoral-Directory/ ).

To apply, please submit the following documents:

NOTE: We require submitted applications to come through the APPA CAS portal (APPIC Psychology Postdoctoral Application Centralized Application Service – see web address below).  The following documents will be requested and must be submitted through the APPA CAS portal. 

  • Letter of Interest (LOI), specifying the position you are applying for along with a summary of your educational, clinical and research experiences relevant to the position. In the LOI please include a statement about your career goals in addition to, obviously, your goals for residency.
  • An updated copy of your Curriculum Vitae
  • Three Letters of Recommendation (LOR)
    • These letters should be from supervisors/mentors that are familiar with the work you’ve done in neuropsychology and/or how you’ve performed in recent training settings. 
  • Letter from your Internship Training Director verifying that you are expected to complete, or will have already completed, your internship successfully.
    • If your Internship Training Director is also writing a LOR for you, please have them make clear that they are/were also your Internship TD and that you are expected to (or already did) successfully complete your internship.
  • A letter from the chair of your dissertation committee detailing the status of your dissertation (including anticipated completion date).  This letter should indicate that your doctoral degree has been, or will be, completed before August 20, 2024.
    • If your Dissertation Chair is also writing a letter of recommendation for you, please have them make sure it is clear within the body of their letter that you are expected to successfully complete your dissertation by August of 2024.
  • Work samples – fully de-identified of any PHI.  Please submit two sample reports that you’ve authored over the last 12-18 months).
  • Graduate transcripts.
    • You do not need to send undergraduate transcripts.

Submit these materials through the APPA CAS:  https://appicpostdoc.liaisoncas.com/applicant-ux/#/login   Complete the basic demographic, education, clinical training information and transcripts required of all applicants for all APPA CAS programs. Then select the appropriate program(s) within the West Los Angeles VA Health Care System. APPA CAS allows you to request letters of recommendation electronically which are then uploaded by the letter writer. (Note: APPA CAS refers to letters of recommendation as "Evaluations”).

*** Application Deadline:  November 20, 2023 *** [Must be received by 11:59 P.M., EST (8:59 PST)].           

For quesitons about application submission issues:

Steven Castellon, Ph.D., Director Psychology Postdoctoral Training

Email: Steve.Castellon@va.gov or scastell@ucla.edu

Phone: Steven Castellon at 310-268-3597

Selection Procedures

The selection committee for the open positions is composed of a 10-member Neuropsychology Training Group (Drs. Castellon, Cernin, Funes, Harrell, Johnson, Melrose, Okonek, Young-Sciortino, Wilkins, & Zeller), which  includes the Postdoctoral Residency Training Director (Steven Castellon, Ph. D.).  Current residents participate in the application review (and aspects of the interview) process but do not have a formal evaluative role; their main role is helping inform applicants about the program and about their experiences as trainees.

The selection committee evaluates the following criteria: (1) Breadth and quality of prior general clinical training, (2) Quality and extent of specialized training in clinical neuropsychology, (3) Strength of letters of recommendation, (4) Quality and scope of research productivity, (5) A clear and thoughtful writing style in application materials and sample reports, (6) Goodness-of-fit between applicant’s professional goals and the program training objectives, and (7) Evidence of personal maturity and accomplishments.  Successful candidates typically have substantial academic and clinical experience in neuropsychology, with preference given to candidates who have completed doctoral and internship training that meets the Houston Conference guidelines in Clinical Neuropsychology (for details, see http://www.theaacn.org/position_papers/houston_conference.pdf ).

Due to the pandemic and the unpredictable nature of current covid-19 trends, we will be interviewing and hosting highly ranked applicants exclusively via video teleconferencing.  We anticipate having two Neuropsychology Recruitment Events (NRE), where applicants meet faculty and get to hear more about training opportunities, meet current NP postdocs, and interview with one or more faculty. We plan to host NREs on Dec. 15 and Dec. 18. If an applicant cannot virtually attend one of these Recruitment Events, we will do our best to arrange individual interviews and/or have a third recruitment event in the third week of January (after our internship interviews are over).  HOWEVER, following the December 14th and 16th NREs, our Neuropsychology Training Group will rank order applicants and an offer may be extended to the top applicant by the end of December.  If offers are not accepted, we will continue to extend offers down the rank-ordered list until the positions are filled.  Positions remain open until filled.

Training Setting

The VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System (GLA) is the largest health care system within the Department of Veterans Affairs. It consists of a tertiary care facility (West Los Angeles Healthcare Center, also known as “West LA”), two ambulatory care centers and 8 community-based outpatient clinics. GLA provides comprehensive ambulatory and tertiary care to Veterans in five counties in Southern California, with 690 beds, 5,500 employees and an annual operating budget of $1.4 billion. 

In fiscal year 2020, GLA provided medical and mental health services to over 90,000 Veterans residing in the primary service area, including Los Angeles County, which has the largest concentration of Veterans of any county in the United States. It provides a full spectrum of primary and tertiary inpatient and ambulatory care services, including acute, sub-acute, rehabilitation, extended care, mental health services, telehealth and home healthcare. GLA is one of 23 national Polytrauma Network Sites (PNS) that serves Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation New Dawn (OEF/OIF/OND) Veterans who have complex medical and psychological injuries, including traumatic brain injury. GLA's Homeless Program has been designated as a Homeless Program Center of Excellence. To find out more about GLA, please go to VA Greater Los Angeles Health Care | Veterans Affairs.

The West Los Angeles VA Healthcare Center, which is the site for this postdoctoral residency program, is the hospital, research, and administrative center for GLA. It is situated on a 388-acre campus with 150 buildings. The south campus is primarily devoted to medical/surgical and inpatient psychiatric services located in the main medical center building as well as outpatient mental health services in two neighboring buildings. The north campus facilities include two long-term care buildings (Community Living Center) with 150 beds, a 279-bed Domiciliary, recovery-oriented outpatient programs, and research and administrative offices.

GLA directs one of the Department of Veterans Affairs' largest educational enterprises. It serves as a training site for over 2900 health professions trainees each year from more than 100 different affiliate college, university and vocational school programs. VAGLA funds nearly 400 full time medical and dental residency positions in more than 60 specialty areas, and funds approximately 150 positions in associated health training programs that include clinical psychology, dietetics, optometry, pharmacy, podiatry and social work.. GLA is also the site for the Advanced Practice Nursing programs sponsored by local universities. Primary university affiliates include the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine and the USC School of Medicine.

The West Los Angeles VA Healthcare Center is located in one of the most culturally diverse cities in the nation and serves U.S. military Veterans who represent a mixture of ethnic, cultural, and individual diversity. Of the 80% Veterans who reported their race/ethnicity when registering for care in Fiscal Year 2023 (as of 6/5/2023), approximately 52% identified as White, 20% as African American, 15% as Hispanic, 5% as Asian, and 0% as Native American. Our overall Veteran population is approximately 88% male. Over 45% of Veterans receiving care here are over the age of 65, with 12% under the age of 35 and 18% between the ages of 55-64 years. There are 13,221 OEF/OIF Veterans who have been enrolled at GLA. With regard to socioeconomic status, 76% of Veterans from all military eras report an annual income of less than $25,000, with 58% reporting less than $10,000 in income annually. 

West Los Angeles VA psychologists on the south campus work in settings that are primarily devoted to medical/surgical, integrated primary care, outpatient mental health and inpatient psychiatric services. These programs are located in either the main medical center building or in one of two recently built, adjacent, modular buildings. South campus psychologists include those working within Health Psychology-Integrated Care, Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, Neuropsychology, outpatient mental health programs (Mental Health Clinic, Trauma Recovery Services, Anxiety Disorders Clinic), Geriatric Research, Education & Clinical Center (GRECC), and our Geriatrics clinical programs including Geropsychology and GEM/GRECC, described below. On the north campus, one or more psychologists work in the following programs: Community Living Center (CLC), comprised of our two 120-bed nursing home buildings; Domiciliary Residential Rehabilitation and Treatment Program (a 321-bed treatment program housed in two dormitory style buildings); and substance abuse treatment programs including Addiction Treatment Clinic (ATC). In addition, a number of treatment programs for patients with severe mental illness can be found on North campus, including the Dual-Diagnosis Treatment Program (DDTP), the Psychosocial Rehabilitation for Severe Mental Illness program (PRRC), and the Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Center (MIRECC). 

The Psychology Department at the West Los Angeles VA Healthcare Center has a strong commitment to, and long history of, providing training. The WLA VA Clinical Neuropsychology Residency received 10-year specialty accreditation in 2018 (from the APA Commission on Accreditation) and we have been an APPIC member since 2010. In addition to training clinical neuropsychology residents, we also have a Clinical Psychology Residency Program which brings in 5 to 8 postdoctoral residents for postdoctoral training in health service psychology with specific emphasis area focus (e.g., Trauma, Geropsychology, Behavioral Sleep Medicine/Health, SUD etc.) [Note: these positions are described in a separate brochure on the website above]. We also have a long-standing predoctoral internship program which receives between 150-180 applications annually and typically brings in 8 to 9 pre-doctoral interns each year.  Several of whom our postdoctoral residents – including our Clinical Neuropsychology residents - will have a chance to work alongside these interns in various clinical settings.  In addition to training postdoctoral residents and predoctoral interns, the training program selects 6-8 practicum students each year, all of whom receive 9 months of supervised training on two different clinical rotations. Postdoctoral Residents will have a chance to provided layered supervision to predoctoral interns and practicum students on many of the rotations described below.  All clinical supervisors in the postdoctoral residency, doctoral internship, and practicum program are licensed clinical psychologists and complete biannual training and education in clinical supervision as mandated by the California Board of Psychology.

The Psychology Department at West Los Angeles VA enjoys close ties with both the UCLA Department of Psychology and the Department of Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. Many staff members, including the majority of those in training/supervising roles, hold clinical and/or academic appointments at local institutions, including UCLA, Pepperdine University, the University of Southern California, and the Fuller Graduate School of Psychology

Program’s Response To COVID-19

Our HPTs (interns and residents) transitioned to telehealth/telework just after the Stay-at-Home order was announced by the governor of California in mid-March of 2020. This occurred with the full support of our Medical Center, Education Office, and Mental Health leadership. Our overall goal has been to provide the highest quality training while ensuring safe and effective patient care. We worked diligently to maintain as many training activities as possible without significant disruption while ensuring that all program requirements were being met.  At present, our trainees (interns and residents) provide care to Veterans via telehealth modalities (secured video connection, telephone if absolutely necessary) but also in-person in several settings. For the 2023-24 training year our residents have been granted permission to telework and also have the option to report in person should they wish to do so or that be required for better clinical care. It is currently unclear how/if these changes may continue to impact training during the 2024-25 training year. In accordance with guiding principles provided by VHA, the VA Greater Los Angeles Medical Center, APPIC and APA, our program will continue to prioritize the health and safety of trainees, Veterans and staff, and provide training that fully meets accreditation standards and enables interns and residents to receive training in all profession-wide competencies. We plan to update our public materials if we have information about any change to the current policy for trainees to telework, use of tele-supervision in several settings, and/or need to return to in-person care for the 2024-2025 training year.

Training Model and Program Philosophy

Program Aim: The aim of the Clinical Neuropsychology Residency Program (CNRP) at the West Los Angeles VA is to promote the development of advanced competencies in our residents such that graduates are eligible for employment in public sector medical center settings, including the VA.  Graduates will have developed an advanced understanding of brain-behavior relationships and will be able to work in a variety of settings specializing in the assessment and treatment of neuropsychological syndromes and their sequelae.  We believe that our graduates should be able to function as neuropsychologists in a variety of multi/interdisciplinary and consultation settings.”

The CNRP is structured to provide advanced clinical, didactic, and research experiences during a two-year, full-time program. Although we expect the resident will be able to function at an advanced level following their first year of training, the second year builds upon the competencies developed during the first year, as residents participate in increasingly more advanced or specialized and complex training experiences requiring greater autonomy and responsibility. During the second year of training we expect the resident to assume greater participation in administration, research, and supervision activities.  All training experiences, throughout the two years of full-time training, serve to deepen knowledge of brain-behavior relationships, develop expertise in the evaluation and treatment of neurological syndromes and their sequelae, and continued professional development through increasing involvement in direct supervision of pre-doctoral trainees, work on administration/management of neuropsychology and neurobehavioral clinics, and leadership roles within interdisciplinary treatment teams.  Greater depth of supervised clinical experiences are possible over the course of the residency than would be possible, for example, on internship (e.g. wider variety of patients, more complicated cases, or cases requiring specialized skill sets).

At the outset of each training year, each resident meets with their primary supervisor to complete and discuss an evaluation that is designed to assess his/her general neuropsychological skills and comfort in other profession-wide competency areas (NP Resident Self-Assessment Form).  This process helps the primary supervisor and resident review prior experiences, perceived strengths, areas for growth, and training goals.  This information is used to help develop a training plan where clinical/didactic/research training experiences target development within eight competency areas.  Typically, within the first few months of beginning the program the resident chooses a research mentor with whom they would like to complete a research project.  The Neuropsychology Training Group (those clinical supervisors specifically involved with the Neuropsychology Residency), as well as the broader Psychology Training Committee, meet regularly to discuss resident progress through the program and the development of neuropsychological competencies.

At the beginning of each major clinical training rotation, the resident and rotation supervisors develop a formal individualized training plan that discusses and sets forth training objectives, required activities, and caseload guidelines.  Formal evaluations are completed at the midpoint and upon completion of all training rotations lasting six months or more. 

Clinical Neuropsychology Training Experiences

We have two open positions in 2024-2026.  During the successful applicants’ two-year training tenure we anticipate that they will participate in both required and elective experiences, as described below. 

Required Rotations/Settings: All NP residents are required to spend either 6 or 12-months training in the Neuropsychology Assessment Service.  All residents are required to participate in at least one rotation that focuses on geriatric populations (Geropsychology; Geriatric Medicine; V-CAMP).  Finally, to better foster competency development in the integration of technology and testing we require either a 6- or 12-month rotation in our V-CAMP Program.  Each of these clinical rotations, along with several other elective experiences are described below.

Neuropsychology Assessment Service.  This is a required experience for each of our residents, but the breadth and depth of time spent on the NP Assessment Service is flexible. This service handles most of the outpatient neuropsychological assessment referrals for the large medical center.  Although there may be occasional opportunity for inpatient assessment within this rotation, almost all cases will be seen on an outpatient basis.  While most testing is done in person (obviously with appropriate safety precautions), some cases will be seen via video-teleconferencing – usually based upon patient need or preference (for some it may be a hardship to come into our clinic).  Residents will have the opportunity to evaluate patients with a wide variety of neurological/cognitive disorders including Alzheimer’s disease, frontotemporal degeneration (FTLD), vascular dementia, traumatic brain injury (TBI), substance-induced cognitive disorders, toxic/metabolic encephalopathy, seizure disorder, severe mental illness, and subcortical dementias such as Parkinson’s disease and HIV-associated dementia. On this service all supervisors hew to a hypothesis testing/process approach to neuropsychological testing and residents will develop competence in test selection, administration, scoring, interpretation, and report writing.  Most patients that are tested will receive feedback on their testing results, which provides excellent opportunities to develop feedback skills that maximally help patients (and/or their families or treatment teams) use results to inform their treatment plans.  The anticipated workload is tailored to the individual resident’s training goals (which includes concurrent placements in other clinics) but our residents will typically see between one to two comprehensive testing cases per week.  There are also opportunities for shorter/screening batteries to be administered where shorter turnarounds are expected.

Residents working in the Neuropsychology Service participate in Monday afternoon group supervision in addition to their weekly individual supervision with the individual supervisor with whom they are seeing a case. In this group supervision setting residents will get experience presenting their cases for group discussion and learn vicariously as other trainees do the same (including predoctoral interns who are on the rotation). Additional topics of relevance to neuropsychology are discussed in group supervision as well, often led by one of the supervisors/faculty (e.g., in recent meetings: race-based norming; challenges in layered supervision of neurocognitive assessment; cultural considerations in neuropsychological assessment; normal variability in NP performance; moving beyond the Houston Conference Guidelines).  All residents receive regular individual, face-to-face, supervision with their primary and delegated supervisors which compliments the group supervision process for allowing more in-depth discussion of the case(s) being seen that week. Residents will have the opportunity to provide layered supervision to predoctoral interns rotating through the Neuropsychology Assessment Service. 

Clinical training is supported by a strong didactic base.  All neuropsychology residents will attend the weekly VTEL Neuropsychology Seminar – a two-hour topic divided in to didactic and case presentations. In this setting they will present on various didactic topics related to neuropsychology (recent talks given by our residents have included:  Subcortical Dementias; Cultural Considerations in Normative Data Selection; Neurocognitive Impact of Cannabis; Substance-related Cognitive Dysfunction). Residents can attend the weekly Neurobehavior Seminar organized by Dr. Mario Mendez. This seminar covers a wide range of topics in the field of neurocognitive disorders, including presentations on atypical dementias, common neuroradiology findings in neurocognitive disorders, current clinical trials in dementia, affective and psychiatric symptoms, and pharmacotherapy for behavior symptoms in dementia.  The Friday Memory & Neurobehavior clinic begins with a “mini lecture” on a topic relevant to dementia care, such as causes of quickly progressing dementia, firearm safety in dementia, and suicide risk assessment in cognitive decline.

Supervisors: Steve Castellon, Ph.D., Anna Okonek, Ph.D., Katie Young-Sciortino, Ph.D., & Stacy Wilkins, Ph.D., ABPP-CN.

Residents are required to participate in at least one of the following three geriatric-focused training experiences:

Geropsychology Program: The Geropsychology program provides and emphasizes training opportunities in aging, cognition, and mental health. Residents will receive training in cognitive screening and psychiatric outpatient care for older adults through the Geropsychiatry Outpatient Clinic. This interdisciplinary setting trains students from a variety of mental health and medical disciplines, including Geriatric Psychology, Geriatric Psychiatry, Geriatric Medicine, Pharmacy, and Social Work. The Geropsychiatry Outpatient Clinic is one of the primary training rotations for the UCLA Geriatric Psychiatry Fellowship Program and thus offers excellent opportunity for interprofessional education and collaboration.   Residents will work with Veterans from diverse socioeconomic and racial/ethnic backgrounds who have mental health and/or neurocognitive disorders, including depressive disorders, anxiety-spectrum disorders, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and various dementias. Training opportunities include brief and more comprehensive neuropsychological assessment, psychiatric interviewing and mental status exams, individual and group psychotherapy (structured and process-oriented). Because many older Veterans have co-morbid medical, psychiatric and psychosocial problems, a broad biopsychosocial approach to care is used in these settings. In addition to training in the Geropsychiatry Outpatient Clinic, elective experiences include providing neurocognitive screening and evaluation in a primary care setting and providing consultative mental health services in community nursing homes.

Supervisors: Paul Cernin, Ph.D.

Geriatric Medicine: The Geriatric Medicine rotation provides training in neuropsychological and psychological assessment, brief psychotherapy and team consultation in both inpatient (AGT) and outpatient (GRECC) medical geriatric settings. The program is linked with the UCLA Geriatric Medicine Fellowship, one of the top-rated geriatric training sites in the country. The Acute Geriatric Team (AGT) oversees 12 inpatient beds for medically ill older adult (over 65 years of age) Veterans, located in the main hospital (Building 500). Residents are part of the inpatient acute geriatric medicine treatment team (AGT), and consult with medical attendings, residents, social work, rehabilitation and nursing staff. The Resident reviews the medical chart of AGT patients to identify the presence or risk for cognitive, psychological, or functional decline.  As needed, patients are assessed for medical decisional capacity, ability to live independently, delirium, dementia, and mood disorders, and other psychiatric disorders.  Brief supportive therapy and psychoeducation is provided as needed.  Because the AGT strives to discharge patients safely and efficiently, the pace is fast and there is strong emphasis on interdisciplinary team communication and collaboration.  GRECC (Geriatric Research, Education, and Clinical Center) is an outpatient clinic with a census of approximately 400 patients. Residents attend weekly didactics with the interprofessional medical treatment team. The Resident’s primary responsibility is neuropsychological assessment, treatment planning, and feedback with patients and their families. Typical diagnoses include cerebrovascular disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, Mild Cognitive Impairment, and depression.  [WSS(1] The GRECC team is active in research and is currently studying interventions to assist caregivers, tele-medicine, and diabetes management.  Dr. Melrose has a VA funded Merit Review project to examine neuroimaging correlates of amnestic Mild Cognitive Impairment and Alzheimer’s Disease. Dr. Wilkins is studying the impact of exercise on cognition, specifically within the VA Gerofit programs as well as diversity factors involved in cognitive assessment.

Residents choosing this rotation will also be able to see occasional Consultation-Liaison cases with Dr. Johnson (see C/L Service Description below)

Supervisors: Dr. Stacy Wilkins and Dr. Megan Johnson for AGT, Dr. Rebecca Melrose for GRECC outpatient clinic.

Veteran’s Cognitive Assessment and Management Program (V-CAMP):  V-CAMP provides residents with the opportunity to gain experience in interdisciplinary assessment, diagnostic evaluations, tele-neuropsychology, and longitudinal care for Veterans with neurocognitive disorders and their caregivers.

Developed in 2011 with the primary intent of increasing access and quality of care to rural Veterans with suspected and confirmed neurocognitive disorders, services are delivered primarily via clinical video telehealth to outlying clinics. The interdisciplinary V-CAMP team provides: diagnostic evaluations, behavioral assessment and intervention, geriatric psychiatry services, and comprehensive care management lead by social work.  For neuropsychology residents, primary clinical duties include clinical interviewing, cognitive screening, comprehensive neuropsychological assessment, and developing comprehensive treatment plans to optimize function, brain health and safety.  V-CAMP is one of the nation’s longest running teleneuropsychology services and provides an opportunity for residents to develop competencies in this emerging field. This service offers the unique opportunity for neuropsychology residents to provide ongoing follow up which allows exposure to the clinical course of various neurodegenerative disorders, recovery trajectory after brain insult/injury/surgery, and how the addressing of modifiable factors (sensory function, sleep, polypharmacy, active mental health symptoms, etc.) can improve brain function. V-CAMP providers work closely with CBOC clinicians, social work care managers, geriatric psychiatry, general mental health clinicians, and other specialties to provide integrated and comprehensive care.

Supervisors:  Kate Harrell, Ph.D., Jessica Alva, Ph.D., Natalie Kaiser, Ph.D.

Elective Rotations/Clinics:

Inpatient Acute Physical Rehabilitation Unit: This is an elective experience. Residents complete consultations on patients admitted for intensive physical rehabilitation of stroke, amputation, traumatic brain injury, and/or neurological or orthopedic disorders. Consultation typically involves neurocognitive or psychological evaluation and assessment of decision-making capacity. Also, the resident will acquire experience providing short-term psychotherapy and staff support/education regarding patient’s cognitive and/or psychological condition. 

Supervisor: Michelle Zeller, Psy.D, ABPP-CN.

Long-Term Care and Rehabilitation: Community Living Center (CLC):  Resident receives training and supervision in the provision of neuropsychological assessment services, interdisciplinary consultation, and experience with cognitive rehabilitation in a long-term care setting.  The CLC is a training setting where students from a variety of mental health and medical disciplines, including Geriatric Psychology, Geriatric Psychiatry, Geriatric Medicine, Pharmacy, Social Work and Nursing, work to optimize mental health, cognitive, and medical functioning in patients in a long-term care environment. Residents will have the opportunity to work with patients with a variety of mental health disorders (e.g. affective disorders, schizophrenia and psychotic-spectrum disorders, personality disorders), dementia and delirium. A broad biopsychosocial approach to care is used in this setting as many patients have social, medical, cognitive, and mental health conditions.  A variety of assessment experiences can be gained in this setting, including psychiatric interviewing, mental status exams, and objective personality testing (e.g. MMPI-2/RF, PAI).  At the CLC, residents will receive intervention experience as well, with individual psychotherapy based primarily on a short-term model, utilizing behavioral, dynamic, and problem-solving modalities. Group therapy training opportunities are also offered. 

Supervisors:  Kevin Booker, Ph.D. and Cynthia Funes, Ph.D.

Consultation & Liaison Service: The C/L Psychology service provides residents with the opportunity to gain experience in brief cognitive evaluations and therapeutic interventions for Veterans hospitalized on medical wards. Embedded within the CL Psychiatry service, the CL Psychology serves in a consultation role to medicine teams throughout the hospital. Services include diagnostic assessment (e.g. clinical interview, brief cognitive assessments) to evaluate the presence and nature of cognitive impairment in hospitalized Veterans, assessments of medical decision making capacity, and behavioral assessment and intervention. For neuropsychology residents, primary clinical duties include clinical interviewing, conducting cognitive screening, brief neuropsychological assessment, short-term bedside psychotherapy, developing treatment plans and/or recommendations for Veterans post-hospitalization, capacity assessments to inform treatment decisions and discharge planning, and providing psychoeducation to medical and nursing staff on managing patients who have dementia with behavioral disturbances. Residents will also gain experience working on an interdisciplinary team and communicating neuropsychological test results and interventions to colleges in other disciplines.

Supervisor: Megan Johnson, Ph.D.

Transplant Evaluation:  Residents complete psychological assessments on patients who have been referred from medical/neurology providers requesting assessment of issues such as decision making capacity or pre-approval as candidate for organ transplantation. 

Supervisors: Elika Razmjou, Ph.D.; Steve Castellon, Ph.D. (back up)

Supervision

Residents are likely to have multiple delegated supervisors across any specific clinical setting but  they will be assigned a single primary supervisor for each of their training year (in some instances, one primary supervisor for the entire two years). The primary supervisor meets on a weekly basis with the resident and monitors and oversees their participation in other clinics in addition to the site where they supervise the resident. The primary supervisor completes and maintains Board of Psychology paperwork during the training year(s).  Residents will receive a minimum of four hours of supervision per week, at least two hours of which includes individual face-to-face supervision.

Our residency program employs a developmental model of training with more in-depth and intensive supervision at the outset of the residency and at the beginning of each new clinical activity.  The goal of supervision/training is to increase the residents’ independence and their ability to manage increasingly complex situations as knowledge and skills develop. Most of our supervisors use multiple modalities including the following: co-therapy/assessment, direct observation, audiotape review, case presentations, role plays/response to vignettes, review of written work, review of test data, observations in interdisciplinary team meetings, and feedback from other staff members. In most settings our residents have the opportunity to observe their supervisors’ providing services, especially at the outset of the rotation, and then are observed by their supervisor, before being asked to see patients independently.  All cases are discussed in supervision, and we employ a Graduated Levels of Responsibility Form to assess and determine the most appropriate “proximity” for various clinical tasks (e.g. same room, same area, available if needed).

Teaching Methods

The West Los Angeles VA Neuropsychology Residency is a two year, full-time, program with supervised clinical and didactic experiences that are graded in complexity.  As the Resident progresses through the program, we strive to provide them with more complex training opportunities requiring more advanced skills. Supervision, a key aspect of all clinical experiences during training, is expected to progress towards providing greater autonomy and responsibility for clinical decision making. Additionally, it is expected that all Residents participate in layered supervision with predoctoral trainees to begin to acquire basic skills at providing supervision.  Throughout training, we seek to provide each Resident with a wide variety of patients from different cultural backgrounds and with differing clinical needs and conditions, thereby familiarizing them with an array of neurological and psychiatric evaluations and treatments.

Residents receive a minimum of 4 hours of individual and group supervision each week, including one-hour weekly individual supervision with a primary program supervisor and rotation supervisors.  Direct observation, role modeling, and review of neuropsychological evaluation protocols and reports, as well as joint participation in teaching clinics are among the supervision models employed.  Ongoing and regular feedback is provided at a monthly Psychology Training Committee meeting and a bi-monthly Neuropsychology Training Group meeting.  These meetings allow program faculty and neuropsychology trainees (residents and interns) to have on-going evaluation and make any modifications of individual training plan, as indicated.  Required and optional didactics, continuing education events for staff, Grand Rounds (Neurology and Psychiatry) and lectures and seminars at the West Los Angeles VA and at the UCLA School of Medicine occur throughout the training year (also, see below, Didactics).

Competency Areas Assessed

At program completion, each Resident will demonstrate advanced competency in the following areas:

  1. Assessment
  2. Intervention/Cognitive Rehabilitation
  3. Interdisciplinary Consultation
  4. Multidisciplinary Team Treatment Planning
  5. Professional, Ethical, and Legal Issues
  6. Cultural and Individual Diversity
  7. Supervision and Teaching
  8. Scholarly Inquiry

Rating Forms include the following benchmarks for competency domains above:

5 - Advanced to Independent Competence. Resident is independent in all aspects of the clinical activity. Resident does not require supervision and can function autonomously as an independent practitioner.

4 - Advanced Competence. Resident clearly demonstrates advanced competence in most to all aspects of this clinical activity. Trainee shows competencies typical of Residents in their second year of Residency training. Resident continues to benefit from limited guidance.

3 - Intermediate to Advanced Competence. Resident demonstrates competencies in this clinical area typical of trainees well into their first year of Residency training. Resident requires supervision of some aspects of the clinical activity.

2 - Intermediate Competence. Resident demonstrates competence in this clinical activity typical of trainees at the start of Residency training. Resident requires close supervision but may be independent in some aspects of the clinical activity.

1 - Deficient. Resident demonstrates competencies at a very basic level, below that expected of a trainee at the start of Residency training. Resident needs remediation in this area. NA – Not applicable or unable to evaluate.

Minimum Level of Achievement: On evaluations, mid-year of Year 1, residents are expected to have an average rating of 2.0 or higher in all competency areas measured. By the end of year evaluations in Year 1, an average rating of 3.0 or higher in all competency areas is required. Evaluations for the second year of residency should average 4.0 or higher, with scores of 3 acceptable on individual items (scores of 2 require comment). Ratings of 1, at any time point, require discussion and possible remediation plan.

Requirements for Completion

In order to maintain good standing in the program, residents must:

  1. Abide by the APA Ethical Principles and Code of Conduct and all VA policies, rules, and regulations
  2. Obtain ratings of 5 (“Approaching Autonomous Practice") or higher on 80% of items in each of the nine core competency areas, with no serious ethical violations at the mid-point of the year.
  3. Meet all administrative requirements

Criteria for Successful Completion of Residency:

  1. Completion of 4160 hours of supervised professional experience, to be completed in one year of full-time training
  2. It is required that a minimum of 25% of the resident’s worked hours be in patient care activities (10 hours of face-to-face care in a 40 hour/week).
  3. Satisfactory performance in all eight clinical competency areas. It is expected that as residents gain in knowledge and skill during the training year, they will be able to carry out more advanced tasks with greater independence.
  4. Didactic Training. Residents are required to attend required Psychology Seminars and Psychology Department workshops. In addition, residents must attend educational activities required on their rotations.

Program Structure

The Clinical Neuropsychology Postdoctoral Residency Program is comprised of two full-time years of training.  The table below summarizes a sample Training Plan/Program for three Residents for each of the two years of training.  The time allotments noted are estimates and each Resident’s program may differ based on their unique training needs and interests.

Didactics:  Diversity Seminar (Year 1), Postdoc Seminar, Supervision Seminar and Journal Club; Clinical Neuroanatomy, V-TEL Multi-site Neuropsychology Didactics

Time Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday 8 a.m. - noon Didactics NP Service Acute Rehab Unit (ARU) NP Service Acute Rehab Unit (ARU) 12:30 - 4:30 p.m. Didactics/Writing /Group Sup NP Service Geropsych Clinics NP Service Writing
Time Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday 8 a.m. - noon Didactics Gerimed/AGT V-CAMP V-CAMP Memory Clinic 12:30 - 4:30 p.m. Didactics/Writing /Group Sup Gerimed/AGT V-CAMP V-CAMP Writing

Facility and Training Resources

Residents will be provided office space and computers necessary for patient care and administrative responsibilities. They will have full access to VA Medical Library services, the UCLA Biomedical Library, as well as VA Intranet and internet resources for clinical and research work.  We have a comprehensive Psychology Assessment Lab, which includes a wide variety of psychological assessment instruments and scoring programs.  There are 2 staff available for administrative support.

Stipend and Benefits

All of residency positions are full-time, year-long experiences (Clinical Psychology Residency = 52 weeks, 2080 hours; Clinical Neuropsychology Residency = 4160 hours).  We do not offer any half- or part-time positions. The current stipend is $59,797 for Year One, increasing to $63,029 for Year Two.  Our training program is organized to provide two years of full-time training but advancement to the second year is contingent upon successful completion of all first-year requirements.  Pay is bi-weekly and begins about three weeks after starting residency. There are deductions for federal and state taxes, and for health insurance (if applicable) and Social Security, depending on your individual situation.   

Residents accrue 4 hours of Annual Leave and 4 hours of Sick Leave during each of the 26 pay-periods in the training year (resulting in 104 hours – or 13 days - of each, over the course of the full training year; 26 days over course of the two-year residency). There are 10 paid Federal Holidays.  We allow residency time to be used for certain educational activities away from the VA.  Up to five days of educational leave can be requested for attending off-site workshops, conferences, lectures, job interviews etc. 

Administrative Policies and Procedures

Authorized Leave: The West Los Angeles VA Healthcare Center's policy on Authorized Leave is consistent with the VA national standard. In the course of the year, interns accrue 13 vacation days and 13 sick days and receive 11 paid holidays. Interns may request up to 5 days of educational leave for off-site educational activities, including conferences, presentations at professional meetings, the oral defense and postdoctoral fellowship or job interviews.

Benefits:  VA residents are eligible for health, dental, and vision insurance (for self, legally married spouses of any gender, and legal dependents). Trainees are also eligible for VA Childcare Subsidy Program and Public Transit Fare Benefits.

Due Process and Grievance Procedures: All trainees are afforded the right to due process in matters of problematic behavior and grievances. A copy of our due process policy is available on request. 

Privacy policy: We will collect no personal information from applicants when they visit our Website.

Self-Disclosure: The program does not require residents to disclose sensitive personal information unless the information is necessary to evaluate or obtain assistance for those residents whose personal problems could reasonably be judged to be preventing them from performing their training-related activities in a competent manner or if posing a threat to others.

Medical/Family Leave: The postdoctoral residency program allows for extended leave without pay after accrued leave is exhausted in the event of serious illness or for parental leave. Leave can be granted for the birth of a child and care of a newborn, or placement of a child with oneself for adoption or foster care; a serious health condition of a spouse, child, or parent; or one’s own serious health condition.  All clinical neuropsychology residents are required to complete the full 4160-hour requirement; any leave taken more than accrued leave will result in an extension of the training contract, during which time the resident will receive their stipend.  Residents who obtain their health insurance through the VA continue to receive coverage during extended leave. 

Reasonable Accommodations: It is the policy of VA to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified applicants and employees with disabilities in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  Trainees may communicate their need for reasonable accommodation to their immediate supervisor or training director, by submitting a request through our internal online system, or by sending an email to our Reasonable Accommodations office.  Additional information is located here:  Reasonable Accommodations - Office of Resolution Management, Diversity & Inclusion (ORMDI).

Liability Protection for Trainees: When providing professional services at a VA healthcare facility, VA-sponsored trainees acting within the scope of their educational programs are protected from personal liability under the Federal Employees Liability Reform and Tort Compensation Act 28, U.S.C.2679 (b)-(d).

Postdoctoral Training Faculty

Supervisors and/or Seminar Leaders (* denotes member of Neuropsychology Training Group)

 

*Alva, Jessica, Ph.D.

  • Doctoral Program: Case Western Reserve University (Clinical), 2016
  • Predoctoral Internship: American Lake VA Medical Center, 2016
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship: West Los Angeles VA Medical Center, 2016-2018
  • Track:  Clinical Neuropsychology (V-CAMP program)
  • Clinical Interests: geriatric neuropsychology; teleneuropsychology; decision-making capacities; bilingual (Spanish) neuropsychological assessment

 

Amin, Anjuli R., Ph.D. (Staff Psychologist, Telemental Health)

  • Doctoral Program: Southern Illinois University, Carbondale (Counseling), 2011
  • Predoctoral Internship: Zablocki VA Medical Center, Milwaukee, WI, 2010-2011
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship: Special Fellowship in Primary Care and Health Psychology, Edward Hines Jr., VA Medical Center, Hines, IL, 2011-2012
  • Track(s): Diversity Seminar Leader
  • Clinical Interests: Multiculturalism; Aging; End-of-Life; Health Psychology/Behavioral Medicine
  • Research Interests: Health Disparities for Women of Color; Sexual Health; Multiculturalism

 

Booker, Kevin, Ph.D.

  • Doctoral Program: University of California, Santa Barbara (Clinical), 1999
  • Predoctoral Internship: Howard University, School of Medicine 1998-99
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship: UCLA School of Medicine, Department of Adult Psychiatry, 1999-2001
  • Emphasis Track: Geropsychology; Community Living Center (CLC)
  • Clinic Clinical Interests: PTSD over the lifespan; Exposure to violence and mood/anxiety disorders; Trauma- focused cognitive behavioral and experiential/humanistic treatments; The role of meaning in
  • mitigating against co-morbid mood disturbance in patients with PTSD

 

*Castellon, Steven A., Ph.D. – (Director, Postdoctoral Residency Program)

  • Doctoral Program: University of California, Los Angeles (Clinical), 1997
  • Doctoral Internship: West Los Angeles VA Medical Center
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship: Neuropsychology, UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute
  • Academic Affiliation: Associate Clinical Professor and Research Psychologist, Department of Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences; David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
  • Track: Polytrauma Psychology, Health/Integrated Care (Psychology Assessment Lab)
  • Clinical Interests: Neuropsychological assessment, psychological assessment
  • Research Interests: Cognitive effects of cancer and cancer treatments, neuropsychiatric aspects of HIV/AIDS, cognitive and psychiatric consequences of Hepatitis C and its treatment

 

*Cernin, Paul, Ph.D. (Director, Pre-Internship Program)

  • Doctoral Program: Wayne State University, 2008
  • Doctoral Internship: St. Louis VAMC
  • Academic Affiliation: Assistant Clinical Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences
  • David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship: Neuropsychology, UCLA Semel Institute, Geriatric Neuropsychology, 2008-2010
  • Track: Clinical Neuropsychology (Geriatric Neuropsychology)
  • Clinical Interests: older adults, LGBT aging
  • Research Interests: health disparities and urban elders, successful aging, breast cancer and cognition.

                    

*Harrell, Kathryn, Ph.D.

  • Doctoral Program: Fuller Theological Seminary (Clinical), 2011
  • Predoctoral Internship: West Los Angeles VA Medical Center, 2011
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship: West Los Angeles VA Medical Center, 2011-2013
  • Track:  Clinical Neuropsychology (V-CAMP program)
  • Clinical Interests: Neuropsychology; telehealth based care and tele-neuropsychology; geriatrics; dementia

 

*Johnson, Megan, Ph.D.

  • Doctoral Program: Fuller Theological Seminary (Clinical), 2017
  • Predoctoral Internship: Los Angeles County Dept of Mental Health – Twin Towers Correctional Facility
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship: GRECC Special Fellowship in Advanced Geriatrics, 2017-2019 (West LA VA)
  • Track: C/L Neuropsychology
  • Clinical Interests: Neuropsychology, geriatrics, trauma, forensic psychology

 

*Kaiser, Natalie, Ph.D.

  • Doctoral Program: Loma Linda University (Clinical), 2011
  • Predoctoral Internship: West Los Angeles VA Medical Center, 2011
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship: West Los Angeles VA Medical Center, 2011-2013
  • Track:  Clinical Neuropsychology (Sepulveda Neuropsychology Service; V-CAMP)
  • Clinical Interests: Neuropsychology; tele-neuropsychology; geriatrics; neurodegenerative conditions

 

Lin, Joy Y., Psy.D., MFT

  • Doctoral Program: Pepperdine Graduate School of Education and Psychology (Clinical), 2019
  • Doctoral Internship: VA West Los Angeles 2018-2019
  • Postdoctoral Residency: VA Sepulveda Ambulatory Care Center, 2019-2020
  • Training Roles: Supervisor, Supervision Seminar Facilitator, Supervision Seminar Co-Facilitator
  • Areas of Interest: Diversity and Multicultural Psychology, Integrative Health, Anxiety Disorders, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, MST, Women’s Health, Multicultural Supervision
  • Certifications: Certified VA Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) Provider

 

*Melrose, Rebecca, Ph.D.

  • Doctoral Program: Boston University, Boston (Clinical), 2007
  • Internship: West Los Angeles VA Medical Center, 2006-2007
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship: Special Fellowship in Advanced Geriatrics, West Los Angeles VA Medical Center, 2007-2010
  • Academic Affiliation: Assistant Research Psychologist, Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
  • Track/Rotation: Clinical Neuropsychology (Geriatric Medicine)
  • Clinical Interests: Neuropsychology
  • Research interests: Neuroimaging & neuropsychology of cognitive decline in aging
  • Active Research: Neuroimaging (task fMRI, resting state fMRI, DTI) of Mild Cognitive Impairment & Alzheimer’s Disease

 

*Okonek, Anna, Ph.D. – (GLA Director of Education)

  • Doctoral Program: University of California, Los Angeles (Clinical), 1992
  • Doctoral Internship: West Los Angeles VA Medical Center, 1989-1990
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship: Geropsychology/Neuropsychology, UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute, 1991-1993
  • Academic Affiliation: Clinical Professor, UCLA Department of Psychology
  • Track: Polytrauma/TBI Clinics
  • Clinical Interests: Polytrauma/traumatic brain injury, neuropsychology, adjustment to disability, coping with acute and chronic medical illness
  • Research interests: Traumatic brain injury, blast injury

 

Razmjou, Elika, PsyD

  • Doctoral Program: Pacific University, Oregon, 2019
  • Predoctoral Internship: University of Colorado—School of Medicine, 2018-2019
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship: Health Psychology, VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare Center, West Los Angeles, 2019-2020
  • Role/Track: Co-Leader, Diversity Seminar; DEI Co-Chair; Transplant Eval and ID Clinic Supervisor
  • Clinical Interests: Health Psychology/Behavioral Medicine (pain psychology, behavioral sleep medicine, mTBI/concussion, end-of-life care); Health Literacy and Disparities; Yoga and Mindfulness Certifications: Prolonged Exposure for Primary Care, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia

 

Steinberg-Oren, Susan., Ph.D. (Integrative Health and Healing Program/Whole Health)

  • Doctoral program: Clark University, 1989
  • Predoctoral Internship: Palo Alto VA Medical Center
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship: Harbor-UCLA Medical Center
  • Role/Track: Co-Leader, Supervision Seminar; DEI Subcommittee; Integrative Health Track
  • Academic Affiliations: Clinical Associate Professor, Fuller Graduate School of Psychology (1990-2010)
  • Clinical Interests: Mindfulness and Mindful Self-Compassion, Women’s Mental Health, Time-Limited Dynamic Psychotherapy, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Supervision
  • Research Interests: Impact of Alternative Therapies upon Well-Being, Trauma Sensitive Mindfulness

 

Taylor-Ford, Megan, Ph.D.

  • Doctoral Program: University of Southern California (Clinical Science), 2015
  • Predoctoral Internship:  West Los Angeles VA Healthcare System
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship: VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, West Los Angeles
  • Track: Health Psychology/Integrated Care
  • Clinical Interests: Health psychology; psycho-oncology; end of life care; coping w/ chronic illness
  • Research Interests: mindfulness; psycho-oncology; coping with chronic illness

 

*Wilkins, Stacy Schantz, Ph.D. ABPP-CN

  • Doctoral Program: Fuller Graduate School of Psychology (Clinical), 1988
  • Doctoral Internship: West Los Angeles VA Medical Center, 1987-1988
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship: Clinical Neuropsychology Fellowship, UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute, 1988-89
  • Academic Affiliation: Professor of Clinical Medicine, School of Medicine, Department of Geriatrics, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
  • Track/Rotation: Clinical Neuropsychology and Clinical Psychology (Geriatric Medicine)
  • Clinical Interests: Neuropsychology and Clinical Psychology
  • Research interests: Cognitive and Mood Disorders in Aging and Medical Illness, Cultural impact on Psychiatric/Cognitive Functioning and Medical Illness
  • Active Research: Post stroke depression, Impact of Culture on Psychotic Experiences in Qatar, Verbal Fluency in Arabic speakers

 

*Katie YoungSciortino, Ph.D.

  • Doctoral Program: Palo Alto University, Palo Alto CA (Clinical Psychology, neuropsychology track), 2017 Predoctoral Internship: VA Southern Arizona Health Care System (neuropsychology track), 2016-2017 Postdoctoral Fellowship: Neuropsychology Postdoctoral Fellowship, Phoenix VA Health Care System, 2017-2019
  • Training Track/Clinics:  Clinical Neuropsychology; Outpatient Neuropsychology Service
  • Clinical Interests: Acquired brain injuries (e.g., stroke, TBI), dementia/neurodegenerative diseases - in particular, the contribution of vascular risk factors to dementia, and cultural aspects of neuropsychological assessment

 

*Zeller, Michelle, Psy.D, ABPP-CN

  • Doctoral Program: Pepperdine University (Clinical), 2004
  • Doctoral Internship: VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship: Geropsychology, UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute, 2004-06
  • Track: Health/Integrated Care (Inpatient Acute Rehabilitation Unit)
  • Clinical Interests: Neuropsychological assessment, individual psychotherapy, group psychotherapy,
  • geropsychology
  • Research Interests: Cognitive performance on neuropsychological measures and PTSD

Postdoctoral Residency Program Tables

Program Disclosures

As articulated in Standard I.B.2, programs may have “admission and employment policies that directly relate to affiliation or purpose” that may be faith-based or secular in nature. However, such policies and practices must be disclosed to the public. Therefore, programs are asked to respond to the following question.

*Note. Programs are not required by the Commission on Accreditation to provide all benefits listed in this table.

Does the program or institution require students, trainees, and/or staff (faculty) to comply with specific policies or practices related to the institution’s affiliation or purpose? Such policies or practices may include, but are not limited to, admissions, hiring, retention policies, and/or requirements for completion that express mission and values No If yes, provide website link (or content from brochure) where this specific information is presented: N/A
Postdoctoral Program Admissions Briefly describe in narrative form important information to assist potential applicants in assessing their likely fit with your program. This description must be consistent with the program’s policies on resident selection and practicum and academic preparation requirements: All applicants to the Clinical Neuropsychology Residency Program at the West Los Angeles VA must have obtained a doctorate in Clinical or Counseling Psychology from a graduate program approved by the American Psychological Association (APA), the Psychological Clinical Science Accreditation System (PCSAS), or the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA) at the time the program was completed. The applicant may have a doctoral degree in any area of psychology and have successfully completed a re-specialization program in Clinical or Counseling Psychology that is APA or CPA accredited. Applicants are expected to have completed an internship program accredited by APA or CPA or have completed a VA-sponsored internship. The selection committee evaluates the following criteria: (1) Breadth and quality of prior general clinical training, (2) Quality and extent of specialized training in clinical neuropsychology, (3) Strength of letters of recommendation, (4) Quality and scope of research productivity, (5) A clear and thoughtful writing style in application materials and sample reports, (6) Goodness-of-fit between applicant’s professional goals and the program training objectives, and (7) Evidence of personal maturity and accomplishments. Applicants should also possess the personal characteristics necessary to function well as a doctoral-level professional in a medical center and as an integral member of several interprofessional teams. Our selection criteria specifically focus on background training and experience as well as future career aspirations. We seek the best fit between applicants and our training program.
Describe any other required minimum criteria used to screen applicants: The selection committee for the open positions is composed of a 10-member Neuropsychology Training Group (Drs. Castellon, Cernin, Funes, Harrell, Johnson, Melrose, Okonek, Young-Sciortino, Wilkins, & Zeller), which includes the Postdoctoral Residency Training Director (Steven Castellon, Ph. D.). Current residents participate in the application review (and aspects of the interview) process but do not have a formal evaluative role; their main role is helping inform applicants about the program and about their experiences as trainees. The selection committee evaluates the following criteria: (1) Breadth and quality of prior general clinical training, (2) Quality and extent of specialized training in clinical neuropsychology, (3) Strength of letters of recommendation, (4) Quality and scope of research productivity, (5) A clear and thoughtful writing style in application materials and sample reports, (6) Goodness-of-fit between applicant’s professional goals and the program training objectives, and (7) Evidence of personal maturity and accomplishments. Successful candidates typically have substantial academic and clinical experience in neuropsychology, with preference given to candidates who have completed doctoral and internship training that meets the Houston Conference guidelines in Clinical Neuropsychology (for details, see http://www.theaacn.org/position_papers/houston_conference.pdf ). Due to the pandemic and the unpredictable nature of current covid-19 trends, we will be interviewing and hosting highly ranked applicants exclusively via video teleconferencing. We anticipate having two Neuropsychology Recruitment Events (NRE), where applicants meet faculty and get to hear more about training opportunities, meet current NP postdocs, and interview with one or more faculty. We plan to host NREs on December 15th and 18th. If an applicant cannot virtually attend one of these Recruitment Events, we will do our best to arrange individual interviews and/or have a third recruitment event in the third week of January (after our internship interviews are over). HOWEVER, following the December 14th and 16th NREs, our Neuropsychology Training Group will rank order applicants and an offer may be extended to the top applicant by the end of December. If offers are not accepted, we will continue to extend offers down the rank-ordered list until the positions are filled. Positions will remain open until filled. Our procedures for postdoctoral resident recruitment and selection are governed by the Department of Veterans Affairs, the American Psychological Association (APA), and the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers (APPIC). Our training programs are committed to creating a supportive learning environment for individuals of diverse backgrounds, and as a federal agency, we abide by the U.S. Government Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) and Reasonable Accommodation policies. The Psychology Postdoctoral Residency Program follows a policy of selecting the most qualified candidates and is an Equal Opportunity Employer. Our commitment to diversity includes attempting to ensure an appropriate representation of individuals along many dimensions, including (but not limited to) gender, sexual orientation, age, ethnic/racial minorities, and persons with disabilities. We have a commitment to the enhancement of diversity within our training programs.
Financial and Other Benefit Support for Upcoming Training Year Yes or No; if yes, amount Annual Stipend/Salary for Full-time Residents Year 1 $59,797 Annual Stipend/Salary for Full-time Residents Year 2 $63,029 Annual Stipend/Salary for Half-time Residents N/A Program provides access to medical insurance for resident? Yes
Benefits Yes or No; if yes, amount Trainee contribution to cost required? Yes Coverage of family member(s) available? Yes Coverage of legally married partner available? Yes Coverage of domestic partner available? Yes Hours of Annual Paid Personal Time Off (PTO and/or Vacation) 104 Hours of Annual Paid Sick Leave 104 In the event of medical conditions and/or family needs that require extended leave, does the program allow reasonable unpaid leave to interns/residents in excess of personal time off and sick leave? Yes Other Benefits Postdocs get 11 paid Federal Holidays, 5 Authorized Absence Days for educational activities, and they are eligible for health insurance, vision insurance, dental insurance, VA Childcare Subsidy Program, and Public Transit Fare Benefits. Premiums are withheld from stipends on a pre-tax basis. 2023 Plan Information for California can be found at: https://www.opm.gov/healthcare-insurance/healthcare/plan-information/pl….
Initial Post-Residency Positions (Provide an Aggregated Tally for the Preceding 3 cohorts) 2018-2023 Total # of residents who were in the 3 cohorts 9 Total # of residents who remain in training in the residency program 3
Each individual represented in this table should be counted only one time. For former trainees working in more than one setting, select the setting that represents their primary position. PD (Post-doctoral residency position) EP (Employed position) Academic teaching 0 0 Community mental health center 1 0 Consortium 0 0 University Counseling Center 0 0 Hospital/Medical Center 3 1 Veterans Affairs Health Care System 8 1 Psychiatric facility 0 0 Correctional facility 0 0 Health maintenance organization 0 0 School district/system 0 0 Independent practice setting 3 0 Other 0 0

Post Postdoctoral Activities

All graduating clinical neuropsychology residents have successfully obtained licensure and employment. Several are actively engaged in scholarly activities, two are employed within University Medical Centers and several are involved in psychology training. Finally, 4 of our 6 NP graduates are employed within a VA setting.

Employment Agencies include:

  • VA Los Angeles Ambulatory Care Center (remote job, lives in Virginia)
  • VA Sepulveda Ambulatory Care Center
  • Stanford University Medical Center
  • UC Irvine Medical Center
  • VA Long Beach Healthcare System
  • VA West Los Angeles Healthcare System