Program Description – Master’s Level Practicum / Internship

Overview

The Counseling Center at NC State offers Practicum and Internship Opportunities for Graduate Students in Counselor Education, Counseling, and Counseling Psychology.  We prefer individuals are able to make the commitment to do a full academic year of training beginning in Fall and carrying through Spring semester.  Starting dates that do not follow this timeline are available at times, however so you may inquire to see if this option is a possibility. This is an unpaid opportunity but training and supervision are provided.

Our Practicum and Internship program accepts talented students from differing programs (i.e., Counseling, Psychology, Social Work) and allows all students to work with senior staff from varying disciplines. Many college counseling centers operate within a multi-disciplinary framework, and our training program is no exception.  We expect a cooperative spirit and enthusiasm to learn from a variety of colleagues (peers, supervisors, senior staff, psychiatrists, and our office staff).

Practicum

Our focus is to give all trainees a strong clinical experience that promotes their training as mental health professionals while also meeting all academic requirements of your graduate program.  For Practicum, independent of any hours you will commit to your academic program (coursework or supervision provided by your program), students generally work 10-20 hours a week at the Counseling Center.  We strongly prefer accepting practicum students who plan on completing their internship at our center as well.

Typically, you will receive a minimum of 1 hour a week of group supervision and 1 hour a week of individual supervision.  Once you have been oriented to the system here and your skills have been assessed, you will be referred clients directly from your supervisor.  Cases assigned are somewhat dependent on interest and skills, but typically during a beginning practicum you will work with students on academic issues (study skills, time management, procrastination, etc.), career issues (including assessments), and mild personal issues. Advanced practicum students will be assigned a greater variety of cases as appropriate.

Group supervision is a time where all trainees meet together with one or more senior staff. This time is used in many ways, from orientation and explaining procedures, to allow time for questions, to provide time to process experiences related to your work and professional development, and many sessions will be dedicated to specific topics, often relevant clinical issues and treatment techniques. Trainees have an opportunity to influence the topics selected for group supervision.

In addition, practicum students will develop and lead workshops on various academic and personal issues.  Trainees will be expected to do at least 3 outreach programs a semester.  This type of activity is typically expected of most clinicians in a college setting and it is an important skill to develop. This direct service can often be counted as group hours.  At times, therapy and psycho-educational groups are offered at the Counseling Center, and if appropriate, Practicum students can participate as co-facilitators with senior staff.

Internship

Our focus is to give all trainees a strong clinical experience that promotes their training as mental health professionals while also meeting all academic requirements of your graduate program.  Depending on the hours requirements of your program and how many semesters/quarters you are diving these hours across the weekly hours commitment at the Counseling Center may vary.  For example, to meet the 600 hour requirement in 1 semester, students generally work approximately 35 hours a week at the Counseling Center.  You will receive a minimum of 1 hour a week of group supervision and 1-2 hour(s) a week of individual supervision.

As your skill level increases, so will the complexity of the cases to which you will be assigned. Students can expect that they will get approximately 2/3 of their direct service hours in the last half of the semester.  This is due to the increase in demand for services as the semester progresses, as well as the increase in your skill level and comfort level that occurs as you gain greater experience.

In addition, interns will develop and lead workshops on various academic and personal issues.  Trainees will be expected to do at least 3 outreach programs a semester.  This type of activity is typically expected of most clinicians in a college setting and it is an important skill to develop. This direct service can often be counted as group hours.  At times, therapy and psycho-educational groups are offered at the Counseling Center, and if appropriate, interns can participate as co-facilitators with senior staff.

Structure of the Training Program

The training program consists of several main components: group supervision, individual supervision, and clinical and counseling experiences.

Group supervision is generally held weekly during the academic year.  Group supervision meets for a minimum of one hour per week.  All practicum/intern students are expected to regularly attend group supervision.  The format of group supervision is a mixture of group process, case consultation, and exchange of information.  Initially supervision focuses on orientation and training to prepare trainees to see clients.  Training covers expectations, office procedures, and training specific to the types of counseling that trainees will be exposed to (career counseling, academic counseling, substance abuse screening, etc.).  Trainees will also be able to take part in training seminars that focus on a variety of relevant topic areas (various individual counseling techniques, specific clinical issues, as well as special populations) and other requested topics. The training staff or other senior staff members may present these topics to trainees.

Individual supervision is also held weekly and is in addition to any supervision offered by the student’s academic program.  The amount of supervision time may vary depending on the student’s academic programs requirement, however a minimum of one hour per week is expected.  Supervisors will attempt to make up a lost supervision hour if he or she has to cancel that time due to illness or emergency.  Trainees are expected to attend and be prepared for all supervision times unless they experience an illness or emergency.  If either a supervisor or supervisee fails to meet for supervision regularly this should be brought to the attention of the Training Director.

Trainees will go through orientation and then will start being assigned some individual sessions with students who have been screened by senior staff members.  While trainees are going through this process they will also be observing Intake, and Career sessions with senior staff.  Please see the section on observing sessions for more detail.  Additionally, group supervision will be focusing on building the skills necessary to start seeing students coming in for a variety of reasons, and when ready the trainees will start to take some students for Career Intakes, and eventually Personal Intakes.

Trainees are expected to participate in many of the types of activities that are typical for counseling center staff.  We hope that by the conclusion of their training a trainee will have a good understanding of what it is like to work in such a setting.  As part of this practice, we expect trainees to facilitate at least 3 outreach programs a semester.  Trainees will have the opportunity to use outreach materials composed by other staff and/or former trainees, or may create their own program with close supervision.  While trainees will have some choice in the topics they choose, they must participate in both academic outreach programs and personal issues outreach programs and the programs selected must be relevant to the needs of out students, as well as the needs of the Center.

Observing Sessions

After basic procedural training and expectations are reviewed, trainees begin the process of observing senior staff in a variety of sessions.  We encourage trainees to observe many different senior staff so they can be exposed to a variety of counselor styles.  Trainees are expected to observe Career Counseling, Academic Counseling, Personal Intakes, and triage to prepare them for performing these task themselves.  In addition it is important to observe Outreach Programs conducted by senior staff prior to starting your own programs.  After the trainee has observed several sessions, the trainee and supervisor may agree that the trainee is ready to attempt to conduct such a session.  Initially the trainee would do this by taking the lead with a senior staff person in the room for support and, after the client leaves, feedback.  Supervisors work closely with trainees and senior staff who may observe trainees to determine when a trainee may be ready to conduct a particular session type without a senior staff person in the room.  Generally speaking, a trainee will learn to do Career Counseling, Academic Counseling, and appropriate Personal Counseling first.  Later, the trainee will be ready for Personal Intakes which involves being ready to assess a wide range of issues.  This may vary depending on the trainees’ prior experiences and other individual factors.  During this time trainees will be assigned developmentally appropriate personal counseling cases by their supervisor, although other senior staff sometimes refers to trainees as well.  The Intakes for these sessions have already been completed and the presenting problem appears suitable for the current level of the trainee.

Expectations of Trainees

We expect trainees to behave professionally and ethically at all times.  Trainees will be required to sign a Contract that clearly defines our expectations of them.  Additionally, we expect trainees to embrace diversity and be accepting of ideas different from their own as both our student population and our staff is quite diverse.

An additional expectation is that in order to prepare to see clients and to meet early requirements that many programs have for clinical hours and taping, trainees will be expected to commit to our Orientation.  For students who are only here minimal hours in the Fall semester, this might mean some additional hours at the Center initially and/or some training before the academic semester officially begins.  Since we accept students from various academic programs, who have different academic schedules and hour requirements, it is essential that our trainees remain flexible the first several weeks of our program for Orientation.  This may mean some temporary changes with part time jobs or other personal responsibilities.  If a student feels he or she cannot commit to this initial extra time requirement, she or he should not accept placement to the program.  Please see tentative training schedule for more information.

Taping Sessions

Most trainees’ programs have specific taping requirements.  We work with these requirements to the best of our ability.  On site Supervisors may require additional audio or video taping to be reviewed as part of the supervision process.  These requirements may vary depending on the developmental level of the trainee.  More advanced trainees may be required less taping than more novice counselors.  The client must sign a taping consent form.  This form is provided to the trainees by the Center.  Some recording equipment is available at the Center for trainees to use.  Trainees will want to ensure that the equipment available meets your needs.  Trainees are also responsible for working out a schedule for the use of the video camera if necessary.

Trainee Feedback and Support

There is an evaluation of the training program that students are asked to complete at the end of their training program.  Trainees have the option to discuss concerns regarding training and supervision with the Center’s Training Director or the Center’s Director if they feel uncomfortable addressing these with their supervisor.  Trainees that are NCSU students (and eligible for CC Services) and are interested in pursuing personal counseling while they are participating in the training program, should speak to the Training Director as arrangements for very short-term counseling could possibly be arranged with therapists outside of the Center to avoid dual relationships.

Trainee considerations in services to Peers

All trainees will see a wide range of clients both graduate and undergraduate students. Trainees will not be allowed to see students who are currently or recently have been enrolled in the Trainees’ program of study. For example, if a trainee is enrolled in the Counselor Education program at NC State, this trainee will not be allowed to see any student who is currently or has been a recent student in any of the graduate programs in Counselor Education. If a trainee should find a student on their schedule that is a member of their own program, alert a supervisor and/or the front office and we will assist you in rescheduling this student with a different clinician. In addition, any staff member who has previously served in the capacity as primary instructor for a student’s course or as their supervisor will refer a student to another clinician.

As covered in our confidentiality agreement, all trainees will respect the privacy of students’ records that are not their current clients. This, of course, includes charts and records associated with any student that is known personally rather than professionally to the trainee.

Office Space

Trainees will be assigned office space to use during training.  We expect trainees to be flexible in their use of space, and will assist trainees in creating a schedule for office space.  At times, this is accomplished by rotating trainees between the Trainee office, senior staff offices (as some of our staff are regularly out on certain days), and by using the group room.  Concerns related to office space should be discussed with the Training Director.

Parking

All NC State University staff pay for their own parking permits.  Trainees may receive permission to obtain a staff parking permit if available for the time they are working at the Center.  This parking permit allows trainees to park where Counseling Center staff are able to park.  Trainees are responsible for purchasing their permit.  At this time the Center does not have funds to pay for trainee parking.  Trainees who are NC State students may opt to use the parking permit they already have (if applicable) and would have to park in lots where their permit is allowed.  There is an extensive bus system, and trainees may opt to park off-campus and take the bus, however, must take responsibility for navigating the transportation system and planning to arrive on time.