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


Accredited by the Commission on Accreditation (CoA) of the American Psychological Association (APA)

*Questions related to the program’s accredited status should be directed to the Commission on Accreditation:

Office of Program Consultation and Accreditation
American Psychological Association
750 1st Street, NE Washington, DC 20002
Phone: 202-336-5979

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:

2020-2021 Internship Brochure:

Patient Population:

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

  • Incompetent to Stand Trial
  • Not Guilty By Reason of Insanity
  • Mentally Ill Inmates (Prison Transfers)
  • Offenders with Mental Health Disorders
  • 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 one-year, full-time clinical internship provides broad-based training in the assessment and treatment of patients with severe and persistent mental illness with evidenced-based practices in an inpatient setting. Training experiences are provided via:

  • Two four-month 3-day-a-week rotations on treatment units
  • An eight-month 12-hour-a-week rotation on the Forensic Services Team
  • A three-and-a-half month, full time rotation on an admissions unit which focuses on psychological assessment of mentally ill forensic patients
  • Seminars in the areas of Risk Assessment/PCL-R, Forensics, Ethics and Scientific Practice, Individual Differences and Diversity, and Professional Issues
  • Tutorials
  • Supervision with a variety of psychologists

Stipend and Benefits:

Approximately $44,000 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:

Internships are offered for fourth and fifth year students enrolled in accredited doctoral programs in clinical or counseling 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.  Applicants who have 100 hours of direct contact assessment experience by the application deadline of November 1st and anticipate accruing a total of 150 hours of direct assessment experience by the start of internship, are encouraged to apply. Intern applicants are required to have their qualifying examinations complete and dissertation proposals approved prior to application.  Preference is given for candidates who will have their dissertations completed prior to the start of internship.  Enrollment in an APA accredited program is strongly preferred.  The internship is designed for the student seeking forensic training within a program that provides a broad-based clinical training experience.  Some experience in forensic psychology is necessary.

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. Please see the hospital policy guiding such determinations.

Important Dates:

  • November 1 - Application deadline
  • Fridays in January - Applicant Interviews
  • February 21, 2020 - APPIC Match Day
  • August 3, 2020 - Begin internship

Contact information:

Phylissa Kwartner, Ph.D.
Psychology Internship Director
Department of State Hospitals - Atascadero
 P.O. Box 7001,
Atascadero, CA 93423-7001

Phone: (805) 468-3663