Psychology Externship Program

Clinical Setting

Catawba Hospital is a psychiatric facility operated under the auspices of the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services. Catawba Hospital is fully accredited by The Joint Commission. Our current census includes adults ages 18 to 64 and geriatric adults 65 and older. Patients are admitted to Catawba primarily for the care and treatment of psychiatric illnesses including, but not limited to psychotic disorders (schizophrenia, schizoaffective), mood disorders (depressive and bipolar), anxiety disorders, personality disorders, comorbid substance use disorders, maladaptive behaviors associated with varying degrees of intellectual disability and other developmental disabilities.

Clinical Services

The Psychology Department is comprised of five full-time psychology staff members, including four licensed clinical psychologists and one licensed professional counselor. We usually invite three externs/practicum students per semester to work with us in facilitating groups, providing individual therapy, participating on a treatment team, completing the necessary documentation, and providing testing of patients as needed.

Extern and Practicum Student Expectations and Opportunities

We have had externs and students from a variety of sources including Virginia Tech, Radford University, Appalachian State University, Argosy University, Walden University, and Roanoke College. We prefer doctoral and master’s level students (no more than three per semester). We provide individual and group supervision, as well as educational seminars. We complete evaluations about the extern/student’s performance as required by his or her program. Typically, externs/students stay with us for one or two full semesters, approximately 8-20 hours per week, and we are flexible about your scheduling. The externs/students share an office and a computer, located in the psychology department.

Externship Benefits

According to their education, competency, experience level, preferences, and training needs, externs/practicum students may conduct and integrate intakes and psychological assessments into treatment plans. This individual will learn to diagnose serious mental illnesses, and will be involved in the treatment team process, including case conceptualization and relevant documentation. In addition to facilitating groups and individual therapy, this individual will become competent in cognitive- behavioral approaches and the recovery model, in which the progress level of the patient is monitored through assessments of current functioning and collection of data.

We require a written contract between Catawba Hospital and your program, which provides liability coverage and a contact person. To be eligible to work at a Commonwealth facility, the extern/student is responsible to provide results of a recent PPD test and $37 for a background check.

Hospital Location

Catawba Hospital is located in Catawba, Virginia, a rural setting in the Appalachian and Blue Ridge Mountains of Southwest Virginia. Catawba is approximately 15 minutes from the city of Roanoke, a metropolitan area with a population of 99,000. Roanoke City lies within the Roanoke Valley, which includes many towns and the cities of Vinton and Salem, and has a combined population of 250,000. The Roanoke Valley has two malls, two civic arenas, a local zoo, several city and county Parks and Recreation Departments, numerous museums, a variety of seasonal festivals and continuous cultural events. Our state parks provide excellent facilities for hiking, swimming and camping. The Roanoke Valley houses the campuses of Roanoke College, Hollins University, Jefferson College of Health Sciences, National College of Business and Technology and Virginia Western Community College. Virginia Tech and Radford University are 45 minutes away.

Apply for Externship

We cordially invite interested individuals to send an introductory letter and curriculum vitae, including any questions, to the externship coordinator, Alexandra M. Herren, PsyD. The interview process is initiated after reception of these materials, when you tour the facility and meet with psychology staff.


Mailing Address for Externship Application:

Alexandra M. Herren, PsyD
Psychology Department
PO Box 200, Catawba, VA 24070