Letters of Recommendation for Internship


Senior Member
10+ Year Member
Aug 27, 2004
    Hi, All

    I am a third year clinical ph.d. student who is leaving for internship next year. I am starting my last rotation at a mental health clinic and am planning on obtaining 2:3 of my letters from persons who work at this clinic. When I brought this up to the supervising psychologist, he told me that I definitely did not want to get a letter of recommendation (LOR) from a clinical social worker (like i was planning). Rather, he thought that he and the psychiatrist should write the letters.
    However, the psychiatrist has never written a LOR and it concerns me that she may leave important facets that are integral to a letter out. However, even more concerning is the fact that I have no LOR template. I figure there must be a template somewhere...how else would new faculty know how-to write LOR for their students? So:

    1 - Does anybody know where I can locate this template?
    2 - In order for me to get a good LOR from a psychiatrist, it seems like I should be talking to the psychiatrist every week or so (i.e., staffing cases, bringing in research that shows the latest empirically validated treatments, taping my sessions). Is this a good idea? Any idea of what else I should be doing with the psychiatrist to let her get to know me, impress her, and get her to write me a good, solid letter?

    Thanks in Advance


    Senior Member
    10+ Year Member
    7+ Year Member
    Oct 29, 2004
    1. Psychologist
      Hi there,

      I am a 4th year student who just finished applying for internships. I guess you have to listen to the MHC psychologist regarding the letter from the clinical social worker, but I am not sure I agree. I had a CSW write an LOR for me and everything seems to have worked out fine (of course I haven't matched yet :laugh: ). The CSW in question is well-regarded within the mental health community and writes LORs for one or two students every year. Maybe you could ask your director of clinical training what he or she thinks?

      As for getting a good LOR from the psychiatrist, I might be careful how much tried to impress her. Bringing in articles and trying to manufacture impressive conversations seems like it could backfire. Demonstrating consistently good clinical judgment and an ability to efficiently communicate the most important clinical details during case presentations may be a more effective way to get on her good side. In my experience, psychiatrists tend to value brevity over comprehensiveness, and I have received positive feedback when I have tailored my presentations with this tendency in mind.

      Unfortunately, I don't know of an LOR template that you could use, but I don't personally feel as though you need to worry too much about it. Even if the psychiatrist in question has not written a lot of LORs, I am sure she will be able to guess what should be included. Even if she misses something you will still have two other letters. I think I would be more concerned with making sure you have three solid, unequivocally positive letters than worrying about the exact content of each letter.

      BTW, the application process is hellish so start getting stuff together earlier than I started (September). It sucks that we have to go through all of this just to finish our training, but I guess there is nothing we can do about it.

      Good luck and I hope my own rambling experiences are helpful in someway.

      EL CAPeeeTAN

      "like Capitan"
      10+ Year Member
      7+ Year Member
      Dec 22, 2004
        Your best bet as far as a good LOR is to see if she will agree to having you write the rough draft of the letter. You can approach this by saying to her that you understand how busy she is and may not know everything about you so you would be willing to ease the hassle by creating something for her to work with. Ultimately she will modify and put her spin on it. If you do not feel comfortable with this or she is not comfortable then you should give her a 1 - 2 page essay about yourself and the activities, accomplishements, and other bragging rights that you may have. Also provide her with info about the programs so she can tailor the letter specifically for the programs you want to pursuit. A good LOR is all about the person writing the letter pointing out your outstanding qualities and uniqueness.
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