Alaska Psychiatric Institute (API)

(Pending for 2023-2024 internship year)

General Information

Alaska Psychiatric Institute (API) is the only public psychiatric hospital in the State of Alaska. API provides acute, inpatient mental health services for anyone in Alaska requiring hospitalization for a psychiatric crisis. The vast majority of patients served at this hospital are experiencing severe and persistent mental illnesses. Most patients also have complex trauma histories in conjunction with substance abuse issues, requiring the treating professionals to maintain a high level of familiarity with evidence-based practices for multiple presenting problems. In addition, API serves as the safety net and crisis-stabilization facility for adults with developmental disabilities as well as seniors with dementia whose behavior and/or level of illness prevents them from remaining in their current placement. These patients often require intensive evaluation and innovative behavioral interventions to stabilize them and return them to a less restrictive environment in the community. The 80-bed state hospital is located in Anchorage and has two adult clinical units, one adult unit cohorting individuals with neurodevelopmental and neurocognitive disorders, one adolescent unit, and one adult forensic unit. API is a teaching hospital and is adjacent to the University of Alaska Anchorage.  Graduate students in other professional medical programs also complete clinical rotations and practica at the hospital. Most individuals at API are admitted on a court order (for danger to self, danger to others, and/or grave disability) and must be assessed to determine if they continue to meet criteria for involuntary admission or the involuntary administration of medication. Legal hearings on these issues are held at the hospital several times per week.

Additionally, API is currently the only location in the state that provides competency restoration treatment for individuals who have been found by the Court to be Incompetent to Stand Trial.

Experience at API will provide interns ample opportunity to expand cultural competency as Anchorage has a culturally and linguistically diverse population (the local school district serves families from more than 90 distinct language groups). Persons served within the hospital in 2019 self-reported approximately 41% as Caucasian and 38% as Alaska Native, 8% as African American, 13% as ‘other’. In 2019, API primarily treated adults ages 18 and older with 40% self-reporting as female, 60% as male. Only eight (8) adolescents ages 13-17 years were treated in 2019, prior to the treatment unit closing. As of Spring 2021, the adolescent unit reopened, and is currently at full capacity, with 10-adolescents admitted to the unit.

The Internship Experience

Interns work as full-time stipend employees at API and are expected to work Monday through Friday during regular business hours (with some flexibility). During their time at API, interns are active members of multidisciplinary treatment teams and develop skill in collaborating with professionals in psychiatry, medicine, social work, occupational therapy, recreational therapy, music therapy, and nursing. Psychology interns may also serve as clinical supervisors to graduate-level practicum psychology students. On all units, the interns provide focused assessments to assist in diagnostic clarification, risk assessment, and treatment planning.

API offers two training tracks for doctoral interns in psychology: the Inpatient Clinical Track and the Forensic Psychology Track.

Inpatient Clinical Track: The Clinical intern will facilitate therapeutic and psychoeducational groups on a variety of topics. They will conduct psychological assessments and draft integrated reports. Tests regularly conducted at API includes intelligence testing, neuropsychological screening, suicide risk assessment, violence risk assessment, malingering testing, personality assessment, and testing for diagnostic clarification. This intern may facilitate family therapy sessions, will assist with the development of specialized behavior plans, and will work with patients in the milieu. Each intern is encouraged to develop one therapy group on a topic of specific interest to the intern. The inpatient clinical track intern additionally interacts with forensic patients by facilitating a therapeutic group on the forensic treatment unit. Depending on intern interest and training, they may also be asked to conduct psychological assessments and provide intensive individual therapy for forensic patients with specialized needs. This track can be tailored to meet the intern’s specific needs and interests, and there is a great deal of flexibility among supervisors, units, and patient populations.

Forensic Track: Interns on the forensic track complete formal court ordered assessments of competency to stand trial for defendants involved with the criminal justice system. These evaluations are usually conducted at one of the Department of Corrections facilities in the Anchorage area or at API and are completed under the supervision of the Chief Forensic Psychologist for the State of Alaska and/or other forensic psychologists within the department. As a member of the treatment team on the forensic units, the forensic intern will assist in the development of treatment plans for all assigned cases and of individualized behavioral plans on an as-needed basis. The forensic intern will additionally facilitate individual and group competency restoration sessions, as well as complete psychological assessments for patients on the forensic units. The forensic intern will have the opportunity to interact with members of the legal profession (e.g., attorneys and judges), collaborate with personnel from the Department of Corrections, observe Mental Health Court, attend competency hearings, observe court testimony related to competency issues, and may be called to testify regarding their professional opinion. The intern on the forensic track will also have the opportunity to work with patients throughout the hospital depending on interests. API is developing an outpatient competency restoration program at present, and if running, this will also be a part of the rotation.

Supervision and Training: Interns meet individually with their primary supervisors each week for supervision which addresses all aspects of the intern’s clinical work. Additionally, group supervision for interns and psychology practicum students is held weekly. Interns will have the opportunity to share case conceptualizations, lead discussions regarding topics as they arise, trends in psychology, and cultural considerations for providing therapy to patients. Each intern is expected to develop on targeted staff training presentation over the year.

In addition to the primary internship positions, API provides a minor rotation to all other AK-PIC interns with an introduction to legal orders impacting the provision of mental health in Alaska, the provision of mental health services to seriously mentally ill patients in an acute phase of their illness and the role of a psychologist in a State Psychiatric Hospital. During this rotation, the API-based interns will take the lead in presenting to their peers evidence-based interventions found to be effective with our patients. During this time, AK-PIC interns also may observe the Anchorage Mental Health Court. API interns also will participate in minor rotations linked to the other consortium sites.

Special Requirements of Applicants Prior to beginning internship, all API interns must pass a background check per Alaska Statute 47.05.300-47.05.390. This check is conducted by the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services Background Check Unit. The history of a felony or misdemeanor may result in a failure in this review process and prevent the intern from working at API. See State of Alaska Barrier Crime Matrix for a full listing of barrier crimes: https://www.akcertification.org/wp-content/uploads/documents/Barrier-Crime-Matrix.pdf. The background check occurs after the Match outcome.


API Contact Information:

Kristy Becker, Ph.D., kristy.becker@alaska.gov

Website: https://dfcs.alaska.gov/API/Pages/default.aspx

Mailing Address: Alaska Psychiatric Institute 3700 Piper Street Anchorage, Alaska 99508



Kristy Becker, Ph.D., Director of Clinical Services, Primary Site Supervisor

Lesley Kane, Psy.D., Chief Forensic Psychologist, Forensic Track Supervisor

Christine Collins, Psy.D., Forensic Psychologist, Forensic Track Supervisor

Pam Robinson, Psy.D. Clinical Psychologist, Clinical Track Supervisor

Lacy Benoit, Psy.D., Clinical Psychologist, Clinical Track Supervisor

Jenn Burkhart, Ph.D., Adolescent Psychologist, Clinical Track Supervisor