UCF-Aspire Behavioral Health Internship Programs
The UCF-Aspire Behavioral Health Internship Programs aim to expand the behavioral health workforce in the Central Florida area. Funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), the programs provide funded internships in behavioral health treatment agencies, including opioid and other substance use disorder treatment, for graduate students in the UCF Counselor Education program.
- To provide grant-funded internships in behavioral health settings for UCF Counselor Education graduate students.
- To foster an integrated and/or interprofessional approach to behavioral health training through community partnerships.
- To provide behavioral health services, including opioid and other substance use services, to individuals in the Central Florida area.
Over the last four years, the UCF Counselor Education program has been awarded over $2.5 million in grant awards from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). The awards support training for students in the UCF Clinical Mental Health Counseling (CMHC) and Marriage, Couples and Family Therapy (MCFT) programs. These programs encourage an integrated approach to training through academic and community partnerships. These workforce investments help counselors to provide integrated behavioral health care and treatment services in underserved communities.
The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) funds two training programs to expand the behavioral health workforce.
Behavioral Health Workforce Expansion Training (BHWET)
The BHWET two-semester internship program is exclusively for UCF Clinical Mental Health Counseling students and Marriage, Couples and Family Therapy students. The program is designed specifically for students preparing to become behavioral health professionals, who will work with individuals across the lifespan in high-need, high-demand areas. For their internship, students will be placed at one of Aspire Health Partners’ behavioral health treatment sites. In addition, students are required to participate in experiential and didactic trainings in integrated behavioral health care in primary care settings. Through an application process, selected students are eligible to receive a $10,000 stipend.
For more information, email the UCF-Aspire program office.
Opioid Workforce Expansion Program (OWEP)
The OWEP two-semester internship program is exclusively for UCF Clinical Mental Health Counseling students and Marriage, Couples and Family Therapy students. The program is designed specifically for students preparing to become behavioral health professionals focused on opioid use disorder and other substance use disorders. For their internship, students will be placed at one of Aspire Health Partners’ opioid and other substance use treatment facilities. In addition, students are required to participate in experiential and didactic training in opioid and substance use treatment services as well as integrated behavioral health care. Through an application process, selected students are eligible to receive a $10,000 stipend.
For more information, email the UCF-Aspire program office.
Program Details and Application ProceduresWe’re excited that you’re considering applying to the UCF-Aspire Internship Program.
The UCF-Aspire Internship Program is supported through a federally funded grant that is designed to introduce interns to the integrated healthcare system for clients who struggle with mental health and/or substance use disorders. Those students who apply and are selected to participate in the year-long program are paid $5,000 per semester (totaling $10,000) and will attend resume-building specialized trainings in such things as:
- Integrative Healthcare Training and Practices
- Training (an online module)
- Practice takes place at these locations (not all of these apply to every participant):
- Advent Health Hospital (internal medicine)
- Apopka Farmworkers Clinic
- Grace Medical Home
- Nemours Children’s Hospital
- Seminole County Corrections
- Advanced Training:
- Motivational Interviewing (provided at Aspire)
- Culturally Responsive Counseling Services for Diverse and Underserved Populations (provided at Aspire)
- Suicide Prevention Training (provided at Aspire)
- Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Training (an online module)
- Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (an online module)
- Inter-Professional Education (participating collaborating with graduate students in medicine, nursing, pharmacy, physical therapy and social work)
To qualify, applicants must:
- Be currently enrolled in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program or the Marriage, Couples and Family Therapy Program at UCF
- Be enrolling in Internship I next semester (and agree to remain in the internship program for two semesters)
- Be a full-time student (9 credit hours in the fall/spring and at least 6 in the summer)
- Have completed all the prerequisites for an internship
- Have an interest in serving underserved and/or vulnerable populations
- Have an interest in integrated care
- Agree to be placed at one of the approved settings at Aspire Health Partners
- Must be U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals or foreign nationals with a visa permitting permanent residence in the United States. Individuals on temporary or student visas are not eligible to participate.
If you are interested in participating in this opportunity, you will need to fill out the online application (link sent through email each semester). Before you begin, you will need to collect the following documents to upload with the application:
- An email from two (2) faculty references, stating simply, “I endorse [insert name] for the UCF-Aspire Internship Program.” (That’s all the email needs to say.)
- One reference must be from a core faculty member (i.e. not an adjunct or a doctoral student) and the other from your current practicum 2 instructor (who may be an adjunct).
- You must “print to PDF” those two emails into one document and attach it to the application.
- Title this document “YourName_References” (for example, BryceHagedorn_References) and attach it to the Application.
- Your Graduate Plan of Study that displays your course grades (the one from MyUCF - not the one that you completed with your advisor)
- Save this document as a PDF and title it “YourName_GPS” and attach it to the application.
- Your final CCS-R from Practicum 1
- Save this document as a PDF and title it “YourName_CCSR” and attach it to the application.
- A headshot picture (JPG or PDF) of yourself
- Title this file “YourName_Picture” and attach it to the application.
If you have any questions, please direct them to UCFAspire@ucf.edu.
We accept applications in the spring for summer placements and in the fall for spring placements. There may be openings available for spring placements, and if so, then information will be distributed via email.
Open: February 1
Closed: March 1
Announcements: April 1
Open: June 1
Closed: July 1
Announcements: July 21
Some Final Words
- You should start the internship site-seeking process as soon as your being practicum. If you want to qualify for the grant, it will need to be at an approved Aspire site (which are listed on the Counselor Education website in the approved internship site list). If you are selected for the grant, then you will be privy to the benefits afforded by the grant. If you are not selected for the grant, you will still have an internship at Aspire (as long as you have been approved by them).
- You do not need to have secured an internship site with Aspire before the application deadline, but you should have made some initial inquiries to Jody Scott at Aspire about setting up an interview.
Common Questions & Answers
It is normal to have questions about the UCF-Aspire Internship Program: There are a lot of moving parts, a lot of great opportunities and the potential for some significant financial support. Sometimes rumors or misinformation makes students feel like they won’t qualify for the grant, so we’ve put together a few clarifying remarks to help dispel any unease about applying.
If you have additional questions, please attend one of our information sessions (which happen each semester at the beginning of practicum) or contact us at UCFAspire@ucf.edu.
Participation in the UCF-Aspire Internship Program:
- Does not result in students’ skin turning blue (okay, that may not be one of the rumors you’ve heard, but we just wanted to see if you were reading).
- Does not negate your student loans. It does increase your annual income (whatever that may be) by $10,000, and that may impact the amount of loan money you are allotted (as the money allotted is based on your annual income). If you want to see how much it may impact your loan, check with the Financial Aid office.
- Does not add a ton more work/hours to an already busy schedule.
- The time spent on grant-based activities (those outside of trainings at your internship site) totals 40 hours over the course of the entire semester. That’s an average of 2.5 hours per week (which, if you think about it, is like being paid $125/hour for your extra time).
- Some weeks may involve more activities, while some weeks have none. Aspire internship site supervisors are aware of these hours and allow you to adjust your schedule.
- Does not result in meaningless activities that are disconnected from the actual provision of mental health services. In fact, it does the opposite: Participants get to work with some of the most underserved populations in Central Florida. It has become a way to address social injustices and help inform the medical profession of the utility of using a holistic treatment approach (using systemic mental health services) with their patients.
Again, if you have additional questions/concerns, bring them to one of our information sessions or send an email to UCFAspire@ucf.edu.
Aspire Health Partners is the primary internship site for the Health Resources and Services Administration grant-funded internships. Aspire Health Partners is the largest provider of behavioral health services in the Central Florida area and one of the largest providers in the southeastern United States. Aspire operates extensive residential and outpatient treatment programs for clients across the lifespan with mental health and substance abuse issues. Aspire’s sites serve rural, vulnerable and medically underserved populations in five Central Florida counties, including Brevard, Orange, Osceola, Lake and Seminole.
Melissa Zeligman, Ph.D., LPC, NCCAssociate Professor
K. Dayle Jones, Ph.D., LMHC, NCCAssociate Professor
Gulnora Hundley, Ph.D., LMHC, LMFT, QCS(FL)Associate Lecturer
W. Bryce Hagedorn, Ph.D., LMHC, NCC, MACProfessor and Academic Program Coordinator
Amanda DiLorenzo-Garcia, Ph.D.Postdoctoral Scholar