The Mission Statement of Fulton State Hospital is as follows:
We partner with individuals who have the most serious mental disorders as they reclaim their lives and progress toward the community, by offering them treatment and rehabilitation in a manner consistent with both individual and public safety.
Consistent with this, our model for preparing professional psychologists is based on four key values. These include our: (1) conceptual model regarding the relationship between science and practice, (2) developmental, individualized approach to training (3) commitment to preparing psychologists to provide services to the seriously mentally ill, and (4) commitment to preparing psychologists for ethical practice.
The integration of psychological science and practice is central to our training model. We conceptualize science and practice as complementary and interdependent such that psychological science informs practice and scientific inquiry is guided by professional practice. In essence, we view psychological practice as an applied science. In pragmatic terms, our integration of science and practice takes multiple forms. Building upon their doctoral-program learning, interns receive experientially-based training in empirically-validated treatment programs and evidence-based approaches as well as informal methods of scientific inquiry. We emphasize using objective assessment data from multiple sources to inform individual treatment planning, evaluate client outcomes, and to modify and improve interventions at the individual and programmatic level.
We view the internship year within the overall context of doctoral psychological training and emphasize professional growth and development. Building upon interns' prior learning, we facilitate their transition from the role of student to that of professional psychologist. An initial, collaborative assessment between supervisor and intern regarding intern strengths, weaknesses, existing knowledge/skill base, specific training needs, and areas of professional interest leads to the development of an individualized training plan, which helps tailor the specific content of training experiences within each rotation and throughout the year. Assessment of intern competencies and progress is ongoing throughout the year. All training experiences are planned and coordinated such that as interns demonstrate increased competency they are given increased autonomy in professional service delivery and assigned increasingly complex learning tasks. Thus, our training approach is sequential, cumulative, and graded in complexity.
We are committed to preparing psychologists for high quality work with individuals who have serious mental disorders. In our view, this is important for several reasons: (1) this population is underserved, (2) professional psychology is underutilized with regard to treatment design and implementation for this population, and (3) more training opportunities with this emphasis are needed. We provide training in empirically-validated treatment with the goal of helping severely disabled clientele to develop as much autonomy as possible. Further, we emphasize the identification and application of clients' strengths to facilitate successful outcomes. We believe this is particularly important in working with individuals with serious mental disorders, because society has typically focused on their disabilities, and they have often learned to overlook their own assets. Our approach is also collaborative in nature, as we invite clients to assert their own goals related to the treatment/rehabilitation process.
Finally, we are committed to preparing psychologists for ethical practice in general, with a particular emphasis on ethical practice in a forensic setting. Many of our clients interface with the legal system in some way. As our setting includes the only maximum and intermediate security inpatient psychiatric units operated by the Missouri Department of Mental Health, many of our clients share a common history of engaging in behavior that endangers themselves or others. Practice in this setting necessitates frequent attention to legal and ethical issues related to preserving clients' rights, freedoms, and autonomy as much as possible in the context of ensuring individual and public safety.
Ensuring cultural competence and respect for diversity is a priority to Fulton State Hospital in general and to the Psychology Internship in specific. The hospital's Strategic Plan contains an objective "to assure cultural competence and advocate for zero tolerance for any discriminatory behavior toward staff or clients." The internship adheres to hospital policies and Missouri Department of Mental Health Operating Regulations that prohibit discrimination in employment and sexual and other harassment. Further, the internship is committed to providing an environment that fosters a growing appreciation for the learning opportunities provided by diversity among interns, faculty, staff, and clients.
Interns receive training in cultural competence that is required of all staff at Fulton State Hospital, as well as more intensive training related specifically to issues of cultural diversity and individual differences in the practice of professional psychology. Interns are exposed to a population of service recipients representing broad diversity of cultural, ethnic, and other individual variables (e.g., age, sexual orientation, physical and developmental disabilities). With regard to ethnicity, the current client population is 38% African-American, 59% Caucasian, 0.4% Asian-American, and 1.4% Latino. FSH has a diverse professional staff, including emigrants from many different countries on 5 continents. Awareness and sensitivity for individual differences and diversity are among the criteria for determining successful intern performance.