What is a Practicum?
A practicum is:
- a pre-intemship experience
- one semester
- a supervised 100 clock hour field experience
- completed in a clinic, day treatment program, a hospital, a residential program, etc.
- mostly observational of the activities carried out at a rehabilitation program
The practicum on site supervisor will complete an evaluation of student progress, and there will be an evaluation of student participation in a weekly seminar. The purpose of a practicum is to expose students to the operation and activities within a rehabilitation agency and an opportunity to observe the provision of services to clients prior to taking on full responsibility in the internship. For those who have rehabilitation agency experience, the intent is to expose the student to a new environment and new information about models of providing rehabilitation services.
How do I obtain a practicum placement?
Obtaining a practicum placement site is a collaborative process between you, the student, your advisor, and the course instructor. The first step is to meet with your advisor and discuss the type of experience you would like to have and the population and specific type of agency you would like to observe. After narrowing your focus with your advisor, review the list of placements which has been compiled and is available in the Department of Counseling and School Psychology. Select three or four sites which fit your interests and complete the following steps:
- Prepare an updated resume.
- Send the resume to the three or four sites with a cover letter stating your intent and that you will be calling in the near future to discuss the possibility of a practicum experience.
- Call the contact person at each site and discuss meeting to explore practicum possibilities.
- Meet with a rehabilitation agency representative and discuss a practicum. Be sure to take along copies of practicum forms and requirements to show to the agency representative. Most importantly, check to be sure the agency has an approved supervisor. See qualifications of an approved supervisor.
- Select a site, complete the appropriate forms, and inform your advisor.
Who qualifies as an approved supervisor?
- A rehabilitation counselor currently certified as a CRC by the CRCC; or
- A currently licensed rehabilitation counselor or an individual who meets the qualifications for licensure as a rehabilitation counselor by the Board or
- A person who has a minimum of five years of clinical experience in rehabilitation counseling either:
(i) a masters degree in rehabilitation counseling or a related field; or
(ii) a doctorate in psychology or
(iii) a medical degree with a sub-specialization in psychiatry
*NOTE: taken from 262 CMR: Board of Allied Mental Health and Human Services Professions, Commonwealth of Massachusetts
May I use my job as my practicum site?
You may not use your current job as your practicum except under special circumstances. The purpose of the practicum is to allow you to be exposed (primarily as an observer) to clinical sites, services, and populations you have not had an opportunity to experience previously. There are several other reasons why you cannot use your current work site as a practicum. One reason is that there is potential for confusion concerning roles and responsibilities if you are both an employee and a student at the same site (dual roles).
A potential exception to using your work site as a practicum may be when you work in an agency with several distinct programs. In such situations in which there is minimal interaction between programs and clients served, you may complete a practicum with the approval of your faculty advisor.
Timeline for obtaining a practicum site
Due to the importance of meeting classroom and site requirements you must begin practicum site participation no later than the fourth week of the semester. To ensure that you begin participation on time, you should begin seeking a site two months prior to the start of classes.
Activities of the weekly classroom seminar
The seminar serves two purposes: 1) to support students in the experience of being a practicum student (e.g. beginning entrance and socialization into the rehabilitation counseling profession, understanding agency functioning, interpretation of ethical issues, etc.); and 2) introduce students to the experience of documenting and presenting clinical material.
An important course requirement is completing a case presentation. Also, seminar attendance is necessary to document group supervision (required for licensure).
The internship placement is required of all students in the Department of Counseling, which includes four programs (Marriage and Family Therapy, Mental Health, Rehabilitation, and School Counseling), and two concentrations under Mental Health Counseling (Forensic Counseling Services and School Adjustment Counseling). In the Mental Health Counseling, School Counseling and Rehabilitation Counseling Programs, an additional 100 hours of practicum are required prior to starting the internship. In the Mental Health Counseling, School Counseling and Rehabilitation Counseling Programs, the practicum must be completed prior to starting the internship. Internship may only start in the Fall semester and end in the Spring semester for the Mental Health Counseling, School Counseling and Rehabilitation Counseling Programs.
Rehabilitation Counseling — 600 hours of a supervised field experience must be completed within one calendar year and two continuous academic semesters.