Field Placement Handbook
The Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling is a 60 credit program that allows the students to complete all the credits, including the core curriculum, required for Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) licensure in VA. Most other states have similar requirements. Please see your program advisor if you have questions about licensure requirements in other states.
A key part of this program is clinical experience. Students will complete 9 credits of field work (3 credits of practicum and 6 credits of internship) counseling actual clients at E&H approved field sites. Each field experience is aided by close clinical supervision at the site, as well as at the College. This handbook will provide the students with the details of the requirements for the field placement experience, the process for selecting sites and all the details for completing both practicum and internship.
The field placement experience is a vital and required component of graduate education in counseling. The practicum and internship provide opportunities for students in training to expand and enrich their personal and professional development by ensuring that they are provided the required supervised clinical experience. The field placement experience is also a requirement of the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), as well as the State of Virginia. This program is designed to follow CACREP standards and plans to submit an application for accreditation at the first available opportunity. Field placement provides an opportunity to experience counseling under the direction of an “on-site” supervisor and a faculty member from Emory & Henry College.
According to CACREP guidelines, counselors in training should have the following opportunities through their field placement experiences:
1) Experience in individual and group interactions;
2) Opportunities for students to counsel clients representative of the ethnic and demographic diversity of their community;
3) Involvement in a variety of professional activities in addition to direct service work;
4) Use of variety of professional resources such as measurement instruments, computers, print and non-print media, professional literature, and research.
5) Application of the ethical code and guidelines of the American Counseling Association (ACA).
6) Extensive supervision supported by observational and communications technologies.
There are three important outcomes of a successful field placement experience for the student:
1) It gives the student the opportunity to integrate and apply the fundamentals of the profession under the direction of qualified supervisors.
2) It forms the basis for the transition from the student role to the role of the professional counselor.
3) It shapes future employment by developing skills of working with particular client populations, in particular counseling modalities, and/or with particular presenting problems.
The field placement experience at Emory & Henry College is divided into a three credit Practicum (CMHC 600) and six credits in Clinical Internship (CMHC 695). The Practicum is the student’s first off-campus counseling experience. As such, it is likely to be the first time the counseling student meets with a real client and the first time the student applies the body of knowledge of the counseling profession to helping another person. During the Practicum, through intense supervision, provided both off campus by the site supervisor, and on-campus by faculty members in group settings in a weekly class, the new counselor is ushered through initial experiences of counseling. The goal is to reach a higher level of autonomy, confidence and counseling knowledge and skills.
The Clinical Internship assumes that the goals of the Practicum have been successfully accomplished. During the Clinical Internship, the student is again provided individual supervision by a qualified site supervisor and weekly group supervision by an E&H faculty member. The goal of the clinical internship is for the student to become a confident, independent and knowledgeable counselor, who is able to support clients and integrate her/his own skills with input from other appropriate sources. In both the Practicum and the Internship, students are evaluated both by their site supervisors and the supervising faculty members. The feedback from these evaluations provides useful input to guide further professional growth.
This handbook will provide information for students regarding the steps and timelines for application to register for either of the field placement experiences, the prerequisites for each, and the requirements for successful completion. The necessary forms are also provided in the Appendices.
Students are required to take charge of their own field experiences. This handbook provides the necessary information for completing the steps of the placement and the actual counseling experiences and associated course requirements. The faculty and the Field Placement Coordinator (Dr. David Burkholder) will be available at all times to support the students’ growth throughout the field placements. This handbook is also available on our website.
At the beginning of a clinical experience the student should meet with the site supervisor to determine mutually agreeable goals and expectations that are in line with the requirements of the Practicum and the Internship. These plans are summarized in a Supervision Plan. The Field Placement Coordinator and supervising faculty will be in contact with the on-site supervisor to ensure that the value of the student’s experience is maximized.
Students are expected to take the initiative to complete all the requirements that are specified for their field experience. The process steps and the associated documentation are provided in this manual. Students are required to ensure that all preparatory paperwork, evaluations, logs and approvals are completed.
A field experience is a great opportunity, but its value is very much dependent on the efforts expended by the students. Participants are strongly encouraged to take the initiative to get involved in diverse situations and work with diverse clients in diverse counseling modalities. Counseling careers can be shaped by these experiences.
After securing an approved site, please complete the following:
- Field Placement Agreement Form (before first class meeting)
- Field Placement Confirmation Form (before first class meeting)
- Supervision Plan (before first class meeting)
- Proof of Malpractice Insurance (first class meeting)
- Supervisor Information Form (supervisor completes prior to first class meeting)
The College has been working with many sites in Washington and Smyth counties. These sites are selected via a qualification process that ensures that students are provided an adequate client load, a client base of sufficient diversity and site supervision that meets the requirements set forth by state and national licensure and accreditation boards.
Students may select sites based on their own interests, time constraints and geographic proximity. Students may also recommend additional sites to be qualified by the College. Agreements between the College and the sites will be defined based on the specific needs of the site.
Emory & Henry appreciates the efforts of its training sites to support the students. It is expected that through the completion of all semesters of supervised field experiences, the students will develop the skills required for an entry-level professional counselor. This manual serves to support the implementation of the syllabus for each field experience course and serves to integrate the students’ experiences in the field with those at school. The Field Placement Coordinator will be available to support the sites and the Clinical Mental Health Counseling Department providing the best possible academic and practical experience for the students.
The requirements for the practicum include 100 hours of service at the site, of which 40 hours is spent on direct client contact. Direct contact is defined as the student having full responsibility (under supervision) for counseling an individual or facilitating a group (or co-facilitating a group). A qualified site supervisor must provide at least one hour of individual supervision each week. The required qualifications for the site-supervisor are provided in the section on Qualification of Sites. In addition, practicum students are required to record at least two counseling sessions. These sessions are analyzed during individual, or group supervision. Students must remain at their sites for the entire length of the course even if they have already exceeded the required hours.
Group supervision is provided by the faculty for CMHC 600. Individual supervision is available to students when requested.
Formal evaluations are completed by the site-supervisor, at the middle and at the end of the semester.
Policy for taking an Incomplete grade in CMHC 600: Students must have completed at least 80% of their total hours in order to take an incomplete in the course and will not be able to proceed to CMHC 695 Internship until the course is completed.
Requirements for Admission to Practicum (CMHC 600)
- Completion of the following courses with a minimum grade of B-: CMHC 500 Professional Counselor Identity and Ethics, CMHC 510 Counseling and Psychotherapy Techniques, CMHC 515 Psychopathology, CMHC 520 Counseling Theories and CMHC 525 Group Counseling.
- Satisfactory understanding and progress in the development of the professional objectives for students as outlined in the Graduate Student Handbook for Clinical Mental Health Counseling Students as assessed by the student’s advisor.
- The Field Placement/Practicum Application is due by July 1st. After the advisor’s signature, submit to the Field Placement Coordinator (FPC). Registration cannot be completed until a Placement is obtained and a signed Confirmation Form is provided to the FPC.
- Students should begin to search for sites early in order to make sure that they can complete the process in time (For detailed steps of this process, see section on Finding a Field Placement Site).
- After finding a site, the student is to ensure completion of the Confirmation Form (and supporting documents) by the site personnel and submit it to the FPC at least two weeks prior to the start of the semester. The commitment of a site and completion of the Confirmation Form are required before a student is actually registered for a CMHC 600 class. Please note that if a more customized legal Affiliation Agreement needs to be signed by the College and the Field Placement site, this process may take weeks. If you have questions about this process, please contact your advisor.
Students are required to take two semesters of Clinical Internship courses (CMHC 695). Each Internship course requires 300 site hours, of which at least 120 must be in direct client contact. Students may bank up to 100 site service hours (maximum of 50 direct) from a semester to be used as credit for the next semester, as long as the total hours for each of the courses are met. Students may ONLY bank hours from one internship to use in the second. Extra hours completed in practicum may not be banked for use in internship. In all cases, the students must remain at their site for the entire length of each course, even if they have exceeded the required service hours. An hour of weekly individual site supervision must be provided by a qualified site supervisor (supervisor qualifications are detailed in the section on Qualification of Sites). At least one and a half hours of group supervision will also be provided on a weekly basis by the faculty CMHC 695. These small supervision groups will also help the student grow through shared experiences.
Formal evaluations of counseling skills and growth will be provided by the site-supervisor at the middle and at the end of the semester.
In addition to direct counseling skills, the intern should engage in opportunities for other professional activities, such as lectures, meetings of professional associations, etc. Those activities may be counted as indirect hours. An independent, confident entry level counselor should be the outcome of the experiences obtained during these internships. The student should be able to rely on their own knowledge development to help a diverse set of clients and be able to consult with peers to determine the best approaches for treatment.
Policy for taking an Incomplete in CMHC 695: Students must have completed at least 80% of their total hours in order to take an incomplete in the course.
Requirements for Admission to Internship (CMHC 695)
- Satisfactory progress in your graduate program as demonstrated by successful completion of at least 30 credits prior to the beginning of Internship, including completion of Practicum (CMHC 600).
- Satisfactory progress in the development of professional objectives as judged by the student’s advisor and at least an average rating of such skills by the student’s site and E&H faculty supervisor during the practicum and previous field experiences (See Clinical Supervision Evaluation Form in Appendix-2).
- The Field Placement/Practicum Application is due by November 1st for the Spring semester April 1st for the summer. After signature by the advisor, submit form to the Field Placement Coordinator.
- Students approved for Internship may begin to apply to Field Sites for a placement (See next section on Choosing a Field Placement Site).
After a site is found, the student is to ensure completion of the Internship Confirmation Form by the site personnel, including supporting document, by the site personnel and submit it to the Field Placement Coordinator. The commitment of a site and completion of the Confirmation form are required before a student can actually be registered for a CMHC 695 class. Please note that if an affiliation agreement needs to be signed by the College and the Field Placement site, this process may take weeks.
Field placement is a highly individualized learning experience in which the trainee is met at the level of personal development, counseling knowledge, and skills that he/she brings to the experience.
Field placement is composed of varied experiences to be determined by the particular needs, abilities, and concerns of the trainee, the training site, the class professor and the Field Placement Coordinator.
Direct counseling experience, supervision and consultation form the central core of field placement
Self-evaluation by the trainee is essential. In order to understand what development goals to set in the practicum and the internships, the students are required to complete self-evaluation instruments.
Supervisory evaluation is an integral and on-going part of the field placement process.
With the above in mind, the students are encouraged to exercise initiative in selecting appropriate candidate sites for their field experiences. Selection criteria should include interests, diversity in client population and treatment approaches, availability of resources to support the placement and the likelihood that the hours required for the placement can be met. Please be mindful that private practices are often not able to meet these requirements, and therefore students are generally discouraged from selecting a private practice as a field placement site. Students may identify candidates from the department’s list of qualified sites, or propose new ones. Bear in mind that qualifying a new site and reaching affiliation agreements, if necessary, may take time. To initiate the qualification process for a new site, discuss it with the Field Placement Coordinator.
The list of potential Field Placement Sites for Emory & Henry College is generated through referrals from faculty, self-nominations and previous participation in the program. The College will seek to obtain a wide range of settings that serve diverse populations. Students may also propose potential sites for their internship. Emory & Henry seeks to ensure that the students have the opportunity to serve clients with diverse cultural, economic and demographic characteristics. Schools, public and private agencies and hospitals are appropriate options. A regularly updated list is available on the departmental website. If students find that the information is not up to date they should notify the Field Placement Coordinator so that corrections can be made.
For students to have a new site approved the student must complete and submit a Site Qualification Form that details the agencies professional purposes and activities, its resources, its commitment to students, the availability of assignments and the availability of a licensed supervisor. The supervisor must have one of the following licenses: LPC, LCSW, LMFT, licensed psychologist, or licensed psychiatrist and have at least two years of licensed clinical experience. The candidate site must also follow the Ethical Guidelines of the American Counseling Association. Students must also be familiar with these guidelines and are required to observe them. In addition, the site must show that it has personnel qualified to provide supervision to E&H students and provide the necessary physical and process resources to interns to allow them to carry out their work successfully.
The fieldwork component of the graduate programs is designed to provide the counselor trainee with experiences that enhance their ability, promote their professionalism, and provide qualified supervision. As educational experiences, the measure of their success is how the trainees are exposed to all the core areas. Therefore, students are generally discouraged from choosing their place of employment as a field placement site. However, in exceptional cases, in which the student can demonstrate that the learning objectives can be fulfilled at their place of employment, a work setting may be approved. It should be noted that generally a maximum of two semesters may be approved in a student’s work setting. If a student is doing fieldwork at their place of employment it is critical that their site supervisor not be in their line of work supervision (this would be a dual role, which is not considered ethical and is potentially damaging to the student’s experience).
It is important for the trainee to keep in mind that the richness of the Field Placement experience is directly related to the level of immersion in that experience. The benefit for you, the student, is enhanced if the placement site is willing to give you maximum responsibility and provides you with individual and group counseling opportunities. You should also get involved in site specific activities (staff meetings, case reviews and training courses, treatment and documentation processes). In addition, it is important that you be self-assured and request such involvement as early as possible. Your initiative is key to making this experience successful. It must also be kept in mind that there is a requirement in each field placement course that delineates the minimum number of direct service hours. Clients will not always be available to the trainee in accord with a restricted schedule. The greater the flexibility of the student, the more beneficial will be the experience.
For both internship and practicum, the process of finding and securing a placement is the same. After considering the issues discussed in the above sections and after being approved by the academic advisor, students will choose candidate sites from the list of qualified and available sites on the departmental website. (If a candidate site is not on the list of field sites qualified by E&H, the student should facilitate contact between the College and the site to ensure that such a qualification process is completed.) The following steps are suggested for securing a placement. The Field Placement Coordinator, will be happy to assist you at any step of this process.
- Students may begin to search for a placement site several months prior to the semester. Be sure to submit a Field Placement Application prior to its due date. You should generate a priority list of sites (from the list on the departmental website, or ones of your own choosing) and begin to contact the sites. Contact information is available on the website. Students are expected to make efforts to secure their sites; subsequently, additional help with finding and choosing sites is available from the Field Placement Coordinator.
- One of the best, and preferred approaches is to contact the site via email. You can also apply for a field placement via a letter. You may indicate in the communication an approximate date on which you will call to follow up (one to two weeks later). You may also want to provide a vita, which should focus on your academic preparation and relevant work or volunteer experience.
- If you do not hear from the site, follow up with a telephone call or email requesting an interview.
- Prepare for the Interview. Be prepared to discuss your goals and objectives of the field experience, your professional background and relevant volunteer experience, and your theory of counseling. Be prepared to ask informed questions regarding the nature of the agency to which you are applying, the structure of supervision at the agency and the client population served. Be prepared to discuss with the interviewer the requirements of the course you will be in and your availability. It should go without saying that you are to be prompt to the interview, dressed professionally, and have a copy of your resume with you.
- Once accepted at a placement, be sure to fulfill any prerequisite requirements of the site (affiliation agreements, physicals, immunizations, background checks, etc.) prior to the start of the semester. Once you are accepted at a placement and you accept you are committed to that site. You should recognize that they are counting on you and will be missing support if you drop out.
- Prior to the start of the field placement experience, you are to obtain Student Liability Insurance. Information on the policy offered by the American Counseling Association is available at counseling.org and www.HPSO.com . A copy of the insurance policy binder is to be given to both your site supervisor and your course professor.
- You are responsible to be in a placement, with documentation of all pre-requisites completed, by the first class meeting of your Field Experience class.
I. REQUIREMENTS FOR CLINICAL SITES
- Understand and implement the Ethical Guidelines of the American Counseling Association (Specific attention to issues of confidentiality, record keeping, etc.).
- Provide adequate space and support for trainee.
- Allow practicum/internship students to record at least 2 sessions per semester
- Provide opportunity for 100 hours of service (at least 40 hours direct client contact) for Practicum students and 300 hours of service (at least 120 hours of client contact) for Interns.
- For each student, provide a qualified supervisor who meets the College’s requirements.
In accord with the CACREP standards, the Department of Clinical Mental Health Counseling requires that site supervisors meet the following requirements:
- A minimum of a master’s degree in counseling or a related profession and licensed as a mental health professional (LPC, LCSW, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Licensed Psychologist or Psychiatrist)
- Minimum of two (2) years of licensed professional experience in the area of counseling and mental health,
- Knowledge of the Emory & Henry program’s expectations, requirements, and evaluation procedures for students.
- Agree to and carry out the supervisory requirements for all students, including providing evaluations to the College by completing the standardized evaluations forms provided.
- If your agency is for profit please recognize that while our students are considered exempt from the licensing law for hours of service during a site placement for a course, they are not exempt if they are counseling for you outside the course (salaried or even as a volunteer). In the latter case they and you are subject to fines by the State and their licensing can be delayed significantly. In such a situation they can only counsel after they receive a license.
II. The Student’s Responsibilities
- After obtaining departmental approval for placement, select and arrange a placement setting prior to the first meeting of the practicum or internship class.
- Obtain from the placement a commitment for the practicum, or internship, via the Confirmation Form and fulfill the requirements of your chosen site. Make sure all required attachments are completed and signed (copy of supervisor’s license and vita). Submit forms to the Field Placement Coordinator no later than two weeks prior to the first class.
- Obtain student liability insurance prior to the first practicum or internship class.
- Submit the proof of student liability insurance and the supervision plan to your practicum or internship professor at the first class meeting.
- Attend E&H class meetings and required group and individual supervision sessions at the site.
- Make sure you receive an average of one hour of individual supervision per week at your site. Have your site supervisor sign your hour log weekly at these sessions. Work with your supervisor to ensure biweekly progress reports are submitted to E&H during your practicum.
- Fulfill all requirements of the Practicum or Internship course. Practicum requires 100 hours, 40 face-to-face; record two sessions, weekly supervision, biweekly progress reports (provided by the University) and two satisfactory evaluations. Internship requires 300 hours, 120 face-to-face; 2 recorded sessions, weekly supervision and two satisfactory evaluations.
- Ensure that documentation of clinical hours and field supervisor evaluations are submitted to the Field Placement Coordinator prior to the deadlines for submission.
- Complete the Student Reaction to Field Placement form.
- Conduct yourself in a professional and ethical manner with supervisor, staff, and clients in accord with the Ethical Standards of the American Counseling Association. These standards are reviewed during required coursework prior to the Practicum.
- Make copies of all important documentation.
- Ensure that your site supervisor has completed all required documentation, including the midterm and final evaluations.
III. The Site Supervisor’s Responsibilities
- Complete the Field Placement Agreement Form and provide required attachments (Supervision Plan, Copy of Current License and a vita).
- Orient the student to the placement site by providing information regarding agency philosophy, policy, procedures, administration, emergency procedure, community referral resources etc.
- Assign specific cases and learning experiences. Ensure that the student has the opportunity to complete 100 hours of service, including at least 40 hours of face to face counseling and the opportunity to record at least two client sessions for Practicum, and 300 hours of service, including at least 120 hours of face to face counseling and the opportunity to record at least two client sessions.
- Schedule and provide regular face to face supervision at least once per week and approve student hours log at each meeting.
- Establish procedures for student to obtain emergency supervision if needed.
- Assist student in the development of clinical skills.
- Evaluate students’ progress through observation, supervision and other appropriate measures. Including, biweekly progress report to the College on form provided via e-mail for Practicum.
- Sign weekly for the hours the student has completed in direct service, supervision and other related activities.
- Maintain contact with the E&H Field Placement Coordinator and advise the university immediately of any concerns.
- Complete the evaluation instruments provided by the University and forward it to the Field Placement Coordinator in a timely manner.
- Provide professional role modeling, encouraging the student’s development.
- Enable the Practicum and Internship student to record (audio or video) at least 2 sessions for supervisory review.
IV. Field Placement Coordinator Responsibilities
- Assure that the student is academically and professionally prepared and meets the requirements for practicum/internship placement.
- Assist the student in the selection of a placement that is appropriate to meet the goals of the program and the needs of the student.
- Maintain contact with field placements to ensure proper placement rules and safety, and to maintain relationships.
- Serve as a liaison between the College and the placement site to meet the needs of the site and the students.
V. College Faculty Responsibilities
- At the first class, collect the Insurance Binders, Supervision Plan, and Site Supervisor’s CV/license.
- Be in contact with Field Supervisor. Receive and consider action as necessary regarding evaluations of student progress from field supervisors.
- Collect and provide all documentation to the Field Placement Coordinator
- Conduct course seminars and weekly group supervision with students.
- Evaluate the student’s progress based on on-campus and off-campus supervision and evaluation and the course requirements as described.
Information for Practicum and Internship Site Supervisors Emory & Henry College
The on-site supervisor plays a key role in the field placement experience and educational developmental of the counseling student. The supervisor serves as a professional role model and is often the student’s first contact with professional counseling’s service delivery and world of work. We look to the On-Site Supervisor as a partner in the education of our students and therefore seek supervisors who are knowledgeable in theories and techniques of professional counseling, mental health, human development, and issues of diversity that are important to the developing counselor.
The Department of Clinical Mental Health Counseling requires experiential coursework in the form of practicum and internship in accord with the requirements of CACREP and the State of Virginia.
Emory & Henry College believes that supervised experiential learning, including practicum and internship, are necessary to add breadth and depth to students’ development as counseling professionals. Practical experiences obtained as a part of our educational program should include individual and group counseling experience as well as professional experiences in psychoeducational program planning and implementation, case consultation, in direct service activities, and group and individual supervision.
This section of the handbook is organized according to questions frequently asked by site supervisors.
How many credit hours and clock hours are needed to fulfill the field placement requirement?
Students enrolled in the MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling complete a Practicum and a Clinical Internship Sequence focusing on mental health, consisting of at least 600 hours of service. This is comprised of one semester of practicum (3 credits) requiring 100 overall site hours, 40 of which are direct hours, as well as two semesters of enrollment (3 credits each semester) in the Clinical Internship courses. The field placement requirement for each Clinical Internship course is 300 hours of experience with at least 120 hours of direct face-to-face counseling service.
Can hours be banked from one semester to the next?
A student can bank up to one hundred hours from one internship to the next. Thus they can complete 400 hours one semester and then only 200 the following for a total of 600, meeting the requirements for the two courses. Students cannot carryover hours from practicum to the first internship.
What are the requirements for an internship site supervisor?
In accordance with the CACREP standards, the Department of Clinical Mental Health Counseling requires that site supervisors meet the following requirements:
- a minimum of a master’s degree in counseling or a related profession and licensed as a mental health professional;
- minimum of two (2) years of pertinent professional experience in the program area in counseling and mental health,
- knowledge of the program’s expectations, requirements, and evaluation procedures for students.
In addition to these requirements we recommend that site supervisors be trained and if possible certified, in the practice of supervision. The Approved Clinical Supervisor (ACS) certificate is available from the Center for Credentialing and Education (CCE).
How and when do the students select an internship site?
Students are required to secure their own placement and are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the nature of the population served, services provided, and support offered to students in considering potential placements.
Students whom you select for placement at your site will ask your assistance in completing the Field Placement Agreement Form which will outline the agreement between your agency and the College. If your agency requires an additional affiliation agreement, please let the Field Placement Coordinator know and a standard agreement will be provided for your consideration and approval.
How qualified are the students who seek placement?
Students seeking placement at your site from our program are budding professionals seeking to practice and develop skills of the profession. They have met our criteria for continuation in the program and have been endorsed by their advisor as prepared for the level of field placement for which they are applying.
What type of Supervision must I provide to the student intern?
The intern must receive at least one hour of individual supervision at the site each week. This clinical supervision should include a review of relevant cases, recordings of sessions or direct observations, and the student’s reaction to the counseling experience. A key purpose is to have the student gain knowledge and confidence in counseling skills and in building therapeutic relationships. A supervision plan should be provided to the student and to the College very early in the semester (format is available in Appendix 2). For practicum students, a biweekly progress form has to be completed in response to an email from the College.
What support will the College give to help me supervise students?
The Clinical Mental Health Counseling Department recognizes that the supervision of student counselors is very generous contribution of time and effort on your part. We seek, therefore to insure that we make administrative processes the least cumbersome possible, while fulfilling the necessary requirements of accountability for the student. The Field Placement Coordinator provides support for on-site supervisors and is available by telephone or e-mail to supervisors.
How can I help the intern get the most from her or his internship experience?
Apart from evaluation and administrative requirements, the supervisor is free to provide structure for the student’s experience, either formally or informally. However, a comprehensive internship should include the following important elements: orientation to the site, clear expectations, clear information and feedback, and evaluation of the intern and the internship experience.
√ Introducing the Student to the Site
Orientation normally encompasses a description of the organization’s mission and goals, administrative structure, available training and resources, and policies and procedures. Of course, the student should be introduced to the staff members and have their various roles and duties explained. The student’s lines of reporting and authority should be clarified. It is helpful if the intern is taught how the agency fits into the greater organizational picture, as well as the institutional mission.
The practical matters of availability of office space and assignment of a desk also should be addressed. Other staff members might need clarification of their responsibilities concerning the intern, particularly with regard to reporting and supervision. We hope the staff will be encouraged to interact with the student as a colleague and that supervisory lines are clear to everyone involved.
√ Clear Expectations
Structuring of the internship should be accomplished early in the student/supervisor relationship. This involves defining expectations of both student and supervisor, and describing agency rules, procedural guidelines, departmental norms, and expectations regarding work hours. The Supervision Plan to be provided to the College and the student in the beginning of the placement should be an excellent vehicle for documenting these expectations.
Because clear goals are as important as clear expectations, we ask the students to work with the supervisors to develop clear goals and objectives for the internship experience. The student’s goals should identify specific learning outcomes and objectives and provide clear means to achieve those outcomes. These goals and objectives also serve as one aspect of the evaluation at the end of the semester.
√ Clear Information and Feedback
Putting the internship into action once expectations have been established requires supporting the student by providing access to information and giving feedback. The intern should be directed to literature, manuals, and other information resources that will help in preparing for and assimilating this new role. Additional input should be given by the supervisor to complement written material and provide on-going guidance. As a supervisor, you are very important in the provision of a sense of perspective regarding the agency’s present role in the community, identifying future trends affecting agency policy, and to share insights regarding other professional issues.
Assessment and consultation through regular meetings or informal conversations should be planned in advance. These are opportunities to discuss the student’s progress towards his or her objectives, conflicts or problems she or he may be having, or other concerns. Most important, this is an important time for the student to receive on-going feedback.
The intern should be prepared to assume normal staff duties by first attempting them under closely supervised conditions. This is designed as a developmental learning experience and as such, challenge and support go hand in hand.
Beyond counseling techniques, what else should be included in student’s experience?
Students should learn how to use the documentation of the site, including intakes, case documentation, treatment plans and discharges. They should also become familiar with any computerized systems for these documents. In addition, support should be provided for using various assessment instruments, using print and computerized media for researching techniques, diagnoses and other counseling related information.
Do students have to record their client sessions?
Students are required to record at least two client sessions. These are then used in supervision at the College. Site supervisors are also encouraged to make use of these recordings. It is believed that recording can improve a student’s opportunity to improve various aspects of counseling. Direct observation has been empirically shown to provide the best supervisory data.
Evaluation of the student’s performance
Approximately halfway through the semester, the student will request that you review the goal statement with you. This mid-term evaluation is an important tool for corrective feedback and making adjustments to the goal statement. Near the end of the semester you will be asked for a final end-of-the-term evaluation of the student’s work.
The evaluation of the intern is based upon the competencies as indicated on the Evaluation Form in the Appendix of the Field Placement Handbook. The evaluation form may serve a dual function. First, it is an objective rating of the student’s progress. Its second purpose is to guide the content of your supervision throughout the semester. The evaluation form will be distributed to you at the beginning of the semester.
What if I have other questions?
The Field Placement Coordinator is available to answer any question you may have regarding accepting a student or supervising a student once accepted at your facility. If there is information regarding a student that you believe is important for the program to have, please pass that along as well.