Direct Service Activities
The Structure of the Outreach Externship
Outreach Externs are expected to be at CAPS 2-3 days per week, for a total of 14-16 hours per week; Mondays and Fridays are preferred and occasional evening hours are required. The training program begins approximately the first week of September for orientation training, and concludes at the end of Northwestern University’s spring quarter in June. Outreach externs will facilitate experiential learning activities related to two main components of the Outreach and Education Externship: (a) psychoeducational workshops, both at CAPS and off-site campus locations, and (b) individual and group stress management interventions at the CAPS Stress Management Clinic. Time is dedicated weekly for supervision of both training components.
Outreach Externs provide a variety of life skills workshops to undergraduate and graduate/professional students. Workshops are scheduled and held at CAPS, with some occurring as one-time, 1-hour programs, and others as a series of three or four weekly sessions of 1 to 1 ½ hours in length. Workshops are created based on needs identified by CAPS’s local clinical data and national data in college student mental health. Following the CAPS apprenticeship model, externs observe and assist senior CAPS clinicians as they develop and conduct psychoeducational workshops, then subsequently assume primary responsibility for conducting the workshop independently or with another facilitator. Outreach Externs may also provide off-site (on-campus) outreach presentations (e.g., stress management, suicide prevention) per the request of a campus department or organization; these presentations may be done with a fellow Outreach Extern or a CAPS clinician. The development of workshops usually includes marketing, promotion, and recruitment strategies, which may involve designing promotional materials, coordinating with other departments or student groups, and using technology and social media to boost public awareness. Evaluation of the program’s effectiveness via assessment of learning outcomes and program satisfaction is also a common component.
CAPS Stress Management Clinic
Outreach Externs provide interventions in individual and group formats that help Northwestern University students learn healthy and effective ways of coping with stress and anxiety. In their role as stress reduction counselors, externs provide psychoeducation as well as experiential interventions. Empirically validated biopsychological approaches for stress and anxiety reduction are used, including mindfulness, cognitive-behavioral, and biofeedback techniques.
Drop-In Stress Management Resource Center
Each week, the Outreach Extern is available for individual stress management consultation with students on a walk-in basis. Interventions used in these consultative meetings include the biopsychological approaches for stress and anxiety reduction provided during Stress Management Clinic workshops, and introducing students to stress management exercises via audio-recordings designed for CAPS’ MP3-player equipped “Egg Chairs.”
Question-Persuade-Refer (QPR) Gatekeeper Suicide Prevention Training
CAPS has chosen the QPR Suicide Prevention Gatekeeper Training Program, a community-focused, nationally-recognized, empirically-based suicide prevention program, to educate the Northwestern community about suicide and the resources available for those needing professional help. Each Outreach and Education Extern will become a Certified QPR Gatekeeper Instructor, a certification belonging to the extern for three years. Externs complete QPR self-study materials and, consistent with the CAPS apprenticeship model, first observe senior CAPS clinicians providing QPR training to the NU community, then subsequently assume responsibility for conducting the training with another facilitator.
Innovative Outreach/Media Projects
By the end of the training year, each Outreach Extern comprehensively designs and delivers a novel outreach and/or media project that represents the integration of their knowledge of program development, theories of health and well-being, their familiarity with the population and needs at Northwestern University, and their skills in group- and community-level interventions. Taking two academic quarters, the Outreach Extern plans and prepares for the project, in consultation with the Assistant Director for Outreach and Education, aimed to be delivered in the spring quarter (April – June).