About Us

Mission of ACEPT

Advance the quality of graduate level psychology training through increased communication, collaboration, partnerships, and sharing of best practices between academic programs, training sites, and students. Expand the number of academic programs and training sites that adhere to a structured practicum application, interviewing, and offer process that best serves the interests of students while addressing unique program needs. Create new practicum and predoctoral training opportunities for students in the Chicagoland area, especially those that serve underserved populations.

Who We Are

The Association of Chicagoland Externship and Practicum Training Sites (ACEPT) is a 501(3)(c) organization formed in November 2003 by psychology graduate programs and training sites seeking to improve the structure and ethical standards of the practicum application process for graduate students. The graduate programs and training sites that have agreed to adhere to the following standards have committed themselves to abiding not only to the letter of the guidelines, but also the spirit as well.

What We Do

ACEPT promotes ethical and respectful conduct throughout the practicum application process. Constructed in an atmosphere of mutual collaboration between schools, sites, and students, these guidelines clarify the responsibilities and roles of all parties, specify acceptable and unacceptable conduct, and promote professional courtesy.

A Brief History of ACEPT

The Association of Chicagoland Externship and Practicum Training Sites (ACEPT) was formed in November 2003 by psychology graduate programs and training sites seeking to improve the structure and ethical standards of the practicum application process for graduate students. The founders of ACEPT included Drs. (Bob) Robert Marshall, Deane Rabe, Greg Sarlo, and Wendy Paszkiewicz, who represented graduate programs as well as training sites. Initially, ACEPT was called "accept" because the intention of ACEPT was to be inclusive of diverse academic programs, training sites, and graduate students. It is unknown when the pronunciation shifted to the current form, "a-cept."

Prior to its establishment, there were growing concerns about a lack of ongoing communication and collaboration between and among APA-accredited graduate academic programs in Clinical and Counseling Psychology and practicum training sites. Several academic and practicum site training directors were also concerned about academic programs not sharing information about training sites with each other as well as the extremely competitive, unstructured nature of the practicum application process. One founding member described the practicum application process at the time as the “wild, wild west.” There were also concerns about the quality of some training sites and needs to raise the standards of training across various sites.

The founders of ACEPT were aware that training directors at APA-accredited internship sites put forth efforts developing on-going relationships with one another and academic programs as they met monthly and invited academic training directors to their meetings. Moreover, they became aware of and learned from the California Psychology Internship Council (CAPIC) which had key roles in creating a more structured practicum application process in the State of California.

Upon its establishment, one of the major challenges that ACEPT faced was finding ways to bring more order, integrity, and transparency to the practicum application process. Many of the practicum sites had formal or informal relationships with academic programs, and some or all of their practicum openings were dedicated to specific academic institutions. Sometimes, this was public knowledge but other times it was not. Therefore, the founders' efforts were at first met with skepticism and reluctance from some academic programs and training sites that wanted to maintain their existing relationships with one another.

While the general practice was that offers would be made and accepted on a specific, "Match Day," several training sites did not adhere to this practice. This led to spirited debates as to whether or not adherence of the ACEPT guidelines would be a necessary condition of membership in ACEPT. Additionally, it was unclear whether ACEPT should function as a monitoring entity and if so, how monitoring of the actions of ACEPT members would be accomplished and whether to make such findings public and/or how public those findings should be. Even among training sites that were committed to adhering to the Match Day, there was a lack of consistency among them with regards to how much time students had before they needed to make a decision to accept or reject offers. This placed both students and training sites in a very stressful position. For instance, some training sites informed students that if they did not accept their offer immediately, the site would move on to their next applicant. Some students held on to more than one offer, while they took time to consider which site to accept. Some sites made offers to students a few days before the Match Day. Some sites would pressure students during the interview to indicate if the site would be their first choice. Some students expressed to a site during the interview that the site would be their first choice, only to reject the site's offer on the Match Day.

After much heated discussion that took place over several months involving academic programs and training sites, the founders were able to establish two major procedures. First, training sites were able to inform their top applicants a few days prior to the Match Day that the applicants would receive their offers first thing on the Match Day. Second, students were not able to accept these offers until the official offers were made on the Match Day. These procedures significantly reduced the chaos on the Match Day, especially for the sites and students that were each other's top choices.

The founders continued to work toward increasing buy-ins from academic programs and training sites by listening to their concerns, hopes, and needs. Academic training directors, along with a few site training directors, pushed for establishing the practicum application process guidelines in order to create a professional, ethical, and fair process for graduate students and training sites. Guidelines as well as bylaws committees were formed to support these efforts. The guidelines addressed what was “fair game” for training sites and students to inquire about and inform each other about their respective positions on an offer list. In addition, a maximum and minimum time for students to hold an offer was determined. A Monitoring Committee within ACEPT was established in order to receive complaints from students, academic programs, and/or training sites regarding conduct that was inconsistent with the guidelines established by ACEPT. All of the proceedings of the committee were viewed as consultations as opposed to investigations and were done confidentially. The Monitoring Committee would report to the ACEPT organization about the nature of a complaint that was made for the purpose of clarification and reinforcement of a particular guideline. While there was room for further improvement, there was agreement in the training community that the practicum application process had been significantly improved by the collaboration between academic sites, training sites and students.

Moreover, ACEPT launched the Chicagoland area practicum fair for training sites to share information about their training programs with students from various academic programs. Over time, many academic and training site training directors became more interested in establishing and/or strengthening relationships with one another and collaborating as they saw the value of the organization. ACEPT also began implementing membership fees as its membership started growing.

Around 2011, the previous guidelines were revised, and the current guidelines were established by the Guidelines Committee. In the following few years, the Guidelines Committee continued to make revisions to the guidelines in order to reflect feedback from the training community. The current guidelines address when students can submit their practicum applications, time frame for training sites to contact all the applicants with regards to their application status, procedures for the Pre-Notification and Notification Days, and procedures for the Clearing House process.

ACEPT promotes ethical and respectful conduct throughout the practicum application process. Constructed in an atmosphere of mutual collaboration between schools, sites, and students, these guidelines clarify the responsibilities and roles of all parties, specify acceptable and unacceptable conduct, and promote professional courtesy.

Currently, ACEPT holds 10 Academic Program Members and 64 Training Site members across the Chicagoland area. The graduate programs and training sites that have agreed to adhere to the following standards have committed themselves to abiding not only to the letter of the guidelines, but also the spirit as well. During the academic year of 2020-2021 and the COVID-19 pandemic, a few major initiatives were made by ACEPT. The Student Financial Concerns Committee was formed. ACEPT applied to become a 501(3) (c) not for profit organization. ACEPT offered virtual open forums to support the training community to navigate remote training and clinical practice. ACEPT successfully held the virtual Practicum Fair, and plans to hold the virtual Annual Conference.

*Thank you so much for former EC members who were able to provide valuable information!
*If you have additional information about the history of ACEPT, please contact us at aceptchicago@gmail.com.