University of Missouri (MU)/National Taiwan Normal University (NTNU) Summer Internship Program (SIP) is an 8-week program designed to provide advanced doctoral students in counseling psychology at MU the opportunity to work as full-time counselors in a Taiwanese university counseling center. The goal of the program is to enhance students’ ability to provide therapeutic help in a Chinese cultural context. The students are engaged in a wide array of professional activities (e.g., individual and group counseling, supervision, program development and implementation).
In addition, a reciprocal program was piloted in summer 2010, in which four students from NTNU came to MU to learn about the practice of counseling. During this program, they had both a number of MU health services providers as well as independent practitioners from the community join them in providing a wide range of opportunities to share and exchange their therapeutic experiences. They also visited a range of therapeutic centers and talked to staff about psychotherapy in the U.S. They also had opportunities to make presentations on their work with clients in Taiwan.
The following students from both MU and NTNU have participant in the SIP:
2008: Hung Chiao at National Taiwan Normal University (Taipei)
2009: Yuhong He at TamKangUniversity (Taipei), Catherine Hsieh at National Taiwan Normal University (Taipei)
2010: Lu Tian at TamKang University (Taipei), Ran Zhao at TamKang University (Taipei)
2010: Pichin Chang, Hsiao-Pei Chang, Hungwen, Shu-Hua Lin at University of Missouri (MO)
Some of the outcome from the students:
Over the years, interns have indicated that the summer internship greatly increased their understanding of the role of culture in human behavior. One student concluded “I definitely would recommend the Summer Internship to other students. It’s an excellent opportunity to immersed in different cultures, especially focusing on cultural issues in professional activities. Through this experience, students can learn a lot about cultural issues in the counseling process, from macro campus environments to micro individual counseling and what you should say in the session. Students will have a deeper understanding of human behavior through this experience.” (L. Tian, 2010).
Students also have consistently indicated that the experience increases their awareness of themselves as a cultural being, and help them grow personally and professionally. For example, one student indicated: “You will never know what it’s like doing cross-cultural counseling until you practice yet; the cross cultural awareness, sensitivity, and skills need to be practiced and experienced in order to learn them fully.” (R. Zhao, 2010).
“Being in a different professional setting (other than the U.S.) allowed me to really see the culture background of my training from MU. I am gaining greater awareness to how my theoretical orientation and approach to counseling is a reflection of the current trends in psychology in the U.S. It is one thing to know the culture biases embedded in my training. It is another to see, hear, and experience the differences when I ’ m immersed in a different cultural context. “( C. Hsieh, 2009)
“My exposure to the Taiwanese counseling profession was informative and inspiring. I began to picture what I will need to do if I go back to Mainland China to help develop counseling psychology there, what I will need to do. I also met a number of people who asked about my career plan, whether I am going back to Mainland China, or stay in the U.S. Through answering their question repeatedly and hearing some professionals’ journey of coming back to Taiwan from overseas, I feel more certain about what I want, what I need, and what I may be doing in the next few years. This clarified cation came in the right time, as I will have to make a couple of important career decisions pretty soon. ( Y. He, 2009 )