Practicum and Internship

Clinical Practicum

The overall goals of the practicum are for students to develop their diagnostic and case conceptualization skills through  practical application and performing brief forms of assessments.

The practicum is a first-year clinical placement that:

  1. focuses on conducting psychosocial, risk, and substance abuse assessments in acute and chronic care settings
  2. allows students to spend one semester (16 hours/week) engaging in direct contact with clients of all ages
  3. gives students the opportunity to work closely with their on-site supervisors and learn how to best develop treatment interventions for their clients (students are in the field for over 200 hours over the course of a semester)

The practicum is an integral component of clinical training.  It provides a closely supervised clinical experience in which students use the knowledge obtained in the classroom to understand their clients and to develop skills in assessment, psychotherapy and other discipline related areas. As such, the practicum serves to integrate the theoretical and practical aspects of the education of the professional clinical counselor.

The practicum training also allows students to become familiar with professional collaboration and consultation in a clinical setting.  For many students, the practicum is their first experience in the clinical field.  Therefore, the practicum experience is viewed as a highly individualized learning experience tied to the developmental needs of the student.

Practicum is composed of varied experiences, which are determined by the particular needs, opportunities, mission, and training goals of the practicum site.

Internship Training

The internship is a second year clinical placement where students focus on their particular areas of interest and specialization.  Students select their internship placements based on what settings and populations they want to receive advanced training.  This year-long clinical experience occurs during the second academic year (students work a minimum of 24 hours per week and complete > 700 hours of training in the field).  The highlight of internship training is that it is designed to provide advanced training in the student’s chosen area of specialization.  Students have the opportunity to concentrate in working with populations and behavioral health disorders that are of distinct interest to them.  Most students select an internship placement which most closely aligns with their career interests.

The primary goals of internship are:

  1. to gain experience learning and practicing various psychotherapeutic techniques with individual, group, and family therapy clients
  2. to enable the student to develop more advanced assessment and counseling skills
  3. mentorship and encouragement to develop their identity as a professional counselor

Over the course of your clinical training students will have the opportunity to engage in the following activities:

  • Conduct individual therapy
  • Create and co-lead group psychotherapy
  • Carry an individual caseload of clients
  • Learn how to develop and implement treatment plans
  • Be an active member of a multidisciplinary team
  • Utilize cognitive behavioral techniques in treatment
  • Provide treatment for mood, trauma, and substance related disorders
  • Engagement in approximately 5-10 hours per week of direct clinical contact
  • Observing assessment/counseling sessions (Initial phase of training)
  • Perform clinical activities with increasing levels of autonomy
  • Structured skill development exercises and experiences (i.e. role-playing, video/audio taping sessions, process recordings)
  • Conduct culturally competent intakes, assessments, and therapy
  • Maintain individual case load consisting of individual, family, or couples therapy clients
  • Intake/Assessment report writing
  • Enhancing diagnostic skills including prescribing diagnosis on all five DSM-IV axis
  • Develop case conceptualization skills
  • Demonstrate the capacity to integrate and apply theoretically sound approaches to therapeutic interventions
  • Demonstrate the capacity to communicate effectively orally and in writing
  • Give and receive feedback regarding clinical cases with supervisors
  • Engage in case presentations to multidisciplinary staff in team meetings
  • Attend educational didactics/seminars to supplement clinical knowledge
  • Engage in research protocols where opportunities exist

During the practicum and internship field placements student receive weekly supervision at their respective training facility and at our academic institution.  All students registered for field placement engage in 2 1/2 hours of weekly small group supervision at the University.  Class size for group supervision is limited to 8-10 students to allow for a more intensive supervisory relationship with your instructor.