By Dave Ranney
KHI News Service
TOPEKA — The American Psychological Association has accredited the internship program at Larned State Hospital.
The seven-year accreditation took effect April 1.
The internship program is designed to give doctoral-level psychology students experience in individual and group therapies, assessments and report writing in a hospital setting.
Since 2006, the internship program has been accredited by the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers (APPIC.)
The criteria for achieving APA accreditation are more difficult to meet than those for APPIC accreditation, said Rob Zettle, a psychology professor at Wichita State University.
“It’s a pretty rigorous process,” said APA Executive Director Rhea Farberman.
Larned State Hospital has been working on its APA accreditation for five years.
“That’s about normal,” Farbermas said. “It’s not easy.”
The Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services announced the accreditation April 3, calling it the “gold standard in training for licensed psychologists.”
Larned State Hospital is one of three state-run hospitals for people who are severely mentally ill and considered a danger to themselves or others.
Earlier this month, The Joint Commission, a national organization that accredits hospitals, cited Larned State Hospital for being understaffed and for being lax in dispensing patient medications.
The Joint Commission’s findings are independent of the American Psychological Association’s accreditation.
“The APA accreditation program evaluates the quality of the psychology internship program only – the quality of the training opportunity for those interns,” Farberman said. “It does not evaluate the overall facility; it is not a measure of the overall quality of patient care within the facility, nor does it evaluate issues of employee performance or treatment within the care units, although such issues could impact the internship’s programs next review.”
According to the APPIC website, the hospital has four interns on staff.
It remains to be seen if the program’s APA accreditation will attract additional interns at Larned or help employee recruitment. SRS officials said they anticipated that it would.
“This will really help us in the recruitment and retention of quality staff,” SRS Secretary Phyllis Gilmore said in a prepared statement. “In fact, many of our recent psychology hires are former interns. This program will also enable Larned State Hospital to continue to strengthen its ability to serve as a teaching facility for psychology students.”
The internships last a year.
Two Kansas universities — Wichita State and Kansas University — have doctoral level clinical programs in psychology.