Department of State Hospitals (DSH) - Atascadero: Clinical Psychology Internship Program

Pre Doctoral Psychology Internship


Accredited by the American Psychological Association


American Psychological Association
Office of Program Consultation and Accreditation
750 First Street,
NE Washington, DC 20002-4242

Telephone 202-336-5979
Web address:

Department of State Hospitals-Atascadero is a member of the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers (APPIC). As an APPIC member, the training program observes the guidelines regarding timing of internship offers and acceptance adopted by 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.


State forensic psychiatric hospital.

Letter from Internship Director:

2018-2019 Internship Brochure:

Patient Population:

Approximately 1100 adult male court-committed and prison transferred patients including those committed as:

  • Incompetent to Stand Trial
  • Not Guilt By Reason of Insanity
  • Mentally Ill Inmates (Prison Transfers)
  • Mentally Disordered Offenders
  • Approximately 50% of patient population consists of culturally diverse patients.


The Hospital is located in central California, 225 miles from San Francisco and Los Angeles and 15 miles from the coastline. Near San Luis Obispo and Morro Bay.

Training Program:

This is an American Psychological Association (APA) accredited one-year full time clinical internship with broad-based experience and forensic emphasis.

The internship provides clinical experience with an emphasis in:

  • forensic psychology
  • psychotherapy
  • psychological assessment

After a three-week orientation, interns participate in a full time three-month rotation on an admissions unit with an emphasis on clinical assessment.

Interns subsequently have two four-month rotations, working three days a week on treatment units providing individual and group treatment and participating as members of the interdisciplinary treatment team.

Interns participate in an eight-month forensic rotation, working with the forensic services team 12 hours per week. This rotation involves training in legal issues, forensic evaluation and forensic testimony. The program also includes:

  • seminars
  • tutorials
  • supervision
  • conferences
  • workshops
  • field trips.

The staff of approximately 60 psychologists provide supervision.

Stipend and Benefits:

Approximately $43,000 with Employee Assistance Program benefits, health insurance, sick leave, vacation, and holidays.


Interns typically rent homes or apartments throughout San Luis Obispo County. Some choose to be close to the hospital while others choose to commute from San Luis Obispo or from communities near the beach.

Applicant Eligibility:

Applicants must be enrolled in an accredited doctoral program in clinical psychology who have completed course work and doctoral level clinical practica in intervention and assessment.  Specifically, the program requires that applicants have received a minimum of 500 direct contact intervention hours and 150 direct contact assessment hours at the time of application.  Intern applicants are required to have their qualifying examinations complete and dissertation proposals approved prior to application. 

Interns must successfully complete/pass the required health and drug screenings, and security clearance prior to being employed.

Medical determination of a person’s suitability for hire shall be based on an appraisal of the applicant’s ability to safely and efficiently perform the essential functions of the position for which the applicant has applied (Administrative Directive 916).

All applicants are required to complete and pass a pre-employment drug test, which screens for Illegal and Unauthorized substances. Illegal substances include marijuana, heroin, cocaine, amphetamines, opiates, PCP, barbiturates and methaqualone. Unauthorized substances are legal, but used other than prescribed (for example: Valium used more often or in greater quantities than prescribed) (Administrative Directive 916.1).

Interns must undergo fingerprinting and pass a criminal background check prior to being employed. The hospital policy guiding such determinations can be found here:

Important Dates:

  • November 1 - Application deadline
  • Fridays in January - Applicant Interviews
  • February 23, 2018 - APPIC Match Day
  • August 6, 2018 - Begin internship

Contact information:

Carol Woods, Ph.D.
Chair, Internship Selection Committee
Department of State Hospitals - Atascadero
 P.O. Box 7001,
Atascadero, CA 93423-7001

Phone: (805) 468-3663