Field Work

Practicum and Internship- Click here to download the new integrated Mental Health Handbook and Internship (2015-2016)

Students must complete 100 hours of practicum experience. This consists of observing and participating in mental health counseling activities in a recognized practicum site. Students consult with their advisor as to the location and activities required for the practicum experience. As part of the practicum experience students will attend a seminar class where practicum experiences and current issues in mental health will be discussed. A practicum must include a minimum of 40 hours of direct service work with clients, 10 hours of individual supervision by an approved supervisor, and 10 hours of group supervision, and 10 hours of either group or individual supervision by an approved supervisor. Please review the requirements for licensure as a mental health counselor for more detailed information. Prior to beginning their practicum students need to have taken the following courses. Counseling Theory I, Counseling Theory II or Psychotherapy with Children and Adolescents, Abnormal Psychology, Group Counseling, and Ethics. One or two of these can be taken simultaneously with Practicum.

The Mental Health Counseling Internship is also required of all students. It consists of closely supervised field experiences in a mental health facility. Students are required to complete a total of 600 hours, 300 hours a semester. Included in the 600 hours is a requirement of 120 hours of direct service clock hours. Internship students must have completed a minimum of 18 hours of semester credits, classroom work, including: Counseling Theory I, Counseling Theory II or Psychotherapy with Children and Adolescents, , Abnormal Psychology, Group Counseling, and Ethics. One or two of these can be taken simultaneously with Internship. Please refer to the internship contract (found in the internship handbook) that will exist between you and the internship site. It reviews ethics, responsibilities and requirements, professional conduct and acknowledgment. Additionally, the student intern must obtain proper insurance.

The Objectives of the Internship are:

  1. To acquaint the student with the roles, duties and responsibilities of a professional mental health counselor.
  2. To develop counseling techniques that must be acquired in actual counseling relationships.
  3. To learn to integrate counseling theories acquired through course work to actual issues confronting persons with mental health problems.
  4. To have the student engage and participate in the roles, duties, and responsibilities of a professional mental health counselor.
  5. To provide the student with experiences in which they may receive feedback from a professional mental health counselor and a mental health counselor educator.
  6. To develop the skills of a professional mental health counselor so that the student will begin to feel confident in his/her ability to function as a professional in the field.
  7. To learn to work and function as a team member with other professionals in the counseling process.
  8. To have the student understand the relationship and functioning of systems, e.g. the relationship between the counseling staff and the administration of the agency.

Selection of Internship Site

The selection of an internship site is an important part of your education in the profession of mental health counseling. Therefore, careful selection of a site is important. The selection of your placement site should take into account your desired learning experiences, e.g. what are the skills you wish to acquire and the populations you wish to work with. It is important that you work with your academic advisor in the selection of a placement. Therefore, it is recommended that you see your academic advisor during early spring if you plan on an internship for the following fall. You will want to discuss a strategy for selecting your internship along with the appropriate steps in the process.

Internship Supervisor
Internship supervisor must have at minimum:

  • hold a masters degree in mental health counseling, social work, marriage and family therapy, rehabilitation counseling, etc.,
  • be licensed in their discipline 
  • If they are a social worker, they must be a licensed independent social worker
  • must have three years of post-licensure  work experience.

The agency supervisor will be responsible for the student intern's orientation to the agency and daily assignment of work activities at the internship site. The supervisor must be committed to the training of the student and be responsible for making the internship a good learning experience. The student intern should have a reasonable number of clients and have generous opportunities to perform counseling. No specific limit is set for the number of actual counseling or contact hours because each agency is different. It is expected that the students will have opportunities to videotape or audio-tape counseling sessions that will be presented and discussed during the internship seminar class. It is essential that each student have individual clients (at least 2) so that they can complete the capstone which requires a student to have met with a client at least 10 times in ongoing psychotherapy.