Practicum training experiences are the first opportunities provided to students for clinical field training. During practicum training, students will have the opportunity to work under supervision with a clinical population within a mental health service delivery system. Students learn to apply their theoretical knowledge; implement, develop, and assess the efficacy of clinical techniques and develop the professional attitudes, knowledge and skills important for the identity of a professional psychologist. The practicum is an essential part of clinical training, and all students are required to participate in assessment and therapy practicum training experiences. During clinical training, students learn clinical skills through direct client contact at the practicum site. Students are supervised by experienced clinicians who teach relevant skills, provide supervision of ongoing work, and serve as role models for professional identity and behavior. Therapy practicum is typically completed during the midpoint in the program, most often in the third year. The Assessment Practicum must precede the therapy practicum.
The focus of the Assessment Practicum covers
- comprehensive evaluation of clients, including initial intake work
- diagnostic interviewing of clients and collateral informants as indicated
- appropriate psychological testing
- development of specific clinical treatment recommendations that evolve from a case formulation of the client’s problems
The Therapy Practicum is oriented toward psychotherapy skills which include
- development of an appropriate therapeutic relationship, problem identification and resolution
- experience in collecting quantitative outcome data on the provided services
- implementation and evaluation of a treatment plan
The opportunity for an elective Advanced Practicum that would provide diversity in training experiences for students prior to internship is also available. Diversity in training may include work with different populations, different approaches to assessment or psychotherapy, and/or more specialized training which would not be available at the required practicum level.
All students enrolled in practicum training must also be concurrently enrolled in a practicum seminar. The seminars for required practica meet weekly through the Fall and Spring semester and allow the student to reflect on various practicum experiences and to acquire additional skills and attitudes useful in field training. Students prepare to demonstrate competency by integrating theoretical work and applied bases from the classroom with clinical experience acquired during the practicum. As part of demonstrating competency, students present a clinical work sample, including an audio or video recorded session.
Students are placed for 9 to 12 months at each site and are required to complete a minimum of 600 hours in each Assessment and Therapy practicum training. If students opt to complete an Advanced practicum training, they will need to fulfill a minimum of 600 hours.
To become a professional clinical psychologist, a student is required to complete an internship which is a full-time year-long immersion in supervised clinical experience. During an internship, students focus on developing the necessary judgment and experience to be able to apply academically acquired knowledge effectively in clinical practice, with attention to the diversity of both clients and other professionals, and in adherence to the APA ethical codes.
The internship is typically completed during the fifth year of graduate studies, and only after all coursework is finished. All students applying for internship are required to fully participate in the National MATCH process that matches students with intern training sites. The National MATCH process occurs in a series of steps, the majority of which involve working individually with the Training Department to ensure they are adequately prepared to successfully be placed in an approved training site. For the most part, students are required to complete a 2000 hour pre-doctoral internship by training full-time for 12 months at an approved site. Five hundred of these hours must be face-to-face hours with clients providing intervention, assessment or the like.