The Position Description page is intended to provide an overview of the Practicum Counselor training program. There's lots more general information about the campus, student body and mission of the University on the Puget Sound website. You can also check out the Counseling, Health & Wellness Services website, which has helpful information regarding clients served, most common diagnoses, theoretical orientations of our Pre-Doctoral Psychology Interns (who supervise Practicum Counselors) and wellness programs offered. You can also learn more about the medical services provided at CHWS.
We hope you'll consider our Practicum Counselor training with Counseling, Health and Wellness Services (CHWS) at the University of Puget Sound. Each year we select two graduate students in psychology or counseling to join our team. Practicum Counselors may be completing (or have recently completed) their master's training or may be towards the beginning of their doctoral training. In addition to learning psychotherapy, Prac Counselors gain exposure to a University Counseling Center as they document therapy, attend meetings and case conferences, are apprised of psycho-educational programs, and the like. These are unpaid training positions. We have been supervising master's-level therapists since 1987, and doc-level psychologists since 1992. Practicum Counselors make a real difference in the lives of their therapy clients, and the supervision process (below) is important to us.
Given that graduate students are increasingly seeking multiple placements to create more professional breadth (and to complete their required clinical hours), a Practicum Counselor position at CHWS provides a nice opportunity for additional experience hours and exposure to therapy with the young adult population. Practicum Counselor hours count toward the total "internship" or "externship" or "practicum" hours required by your graduate program. However, since we can most comfortably provide about 8 to 10 hours per week of training activities, this experience is less comprehensive than a formal, 20 hour "internship" would be. We think of this as a practicum experience for student mental health providers who want to deepen their psychotherapy skills. Furthermore, hours accrued at CHWS do not meet the "preinternship" requirements in WA State, and therefore cannot be counted towards licensure as a psychologist in the state of Washington. If you are in a doctoral program, the hours accrued at CHWS DO count toward your application for internship.
Because there are fewer than 20 "clock hours" here at Counseling, Health and Wellness Services (CHWS), some graduate programs will ask that you combine this training with work at other training sites. Due to the quality and quantity of supervision received here as compared with most field placements, though, some Academic Directors of Training do consider their students who have been Prac Counselors at University of Puget Sound to have fulfilled the clinical requirements for their practicum course. We recommended that you have a conversation with your Academic Director of Training about the hours and training we can provide at CHWS to determine if you will need to seek out an additional practicum experience.
Regardless of the accounting of your hours, you may find that this training opportunity makes you more marketable after graduate school. Working on a multi-disciplinary team, gaining familiarity with a new clinical setting, having a sophisticated vocabulary for discussing diagnosis, treatment and theoretical orientation, and making contact with local mental health providers are all very valuable in your professional identity development.
Practicum Counselors agree to see 2 - 4 clients at Counseling, Health and Wellness Services each week. The number of clients depends upon trainee interest, supervisor assessment of readiness, and room scheduling. Some applicants express a desire to see as many clients as possible, to accumulate direct service hours. Our goal is to provide very attentive supervision on fewer cases rather than a brief consult on a large number of cases. This is quite unlike training in a community mental health agency, for example, where students are assigned a larger number of clients, some of them higher-risk cases than (we believe) is ideal for counselor development. Many times a larger caseload does not allow for more focused, individualized supervision. Seeing five clients each week at CHWS may be possible in some instances, but we can't promise this, since client availability, space issues and/or counselor developmental readiness may preclude it. We can guarantee a terrific clientele and focused, personalized supervision, though!
CHWS clients referred to Practicum Counselors will have already had an intake (first) interview with a CHWS Predoctoral Intern or Staff Psychologist, so a provisional diagnosis will been completed. Clients will then be referred specifically to a Practicum Counselor based upon this initial assessment, and intake notes will be completed. All clients referred to Practicum Counselors will have already consented to recording. The Prac Counselor office is equipped with a webcam that allows for both audio and video recordings of sessions. We anticipate this enabling you to make high-quality recordings of your sessions to review.
Prac Counselors are responsible for providing the supervisor their available times for seeing clients, and for keeping those times open for client assignment until full. Supervisors and Prac Counselors together are responsible for reserving the room where these therapy sessions take place.
The Psychology Staff person who completed the intake will contact the Prac Counselor when a referral has been made. Intake notes will be provided to Practicum Counselors as quickly as possible, so that they may read the client's file in advance, and seek supervision or additional reading in preparation for seeing the client, if desired.
To provide crisis backup, there's always a Psychology Staff person present when Practicum Counselors see clients. For this reason, there are few opportunities to schedule appointments outside business hours. Occasionally, a staff person is predictably here after hours due to programming commitments, so there's some possibility of a later appointment, but in general, counselors who are available to see clients between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. are the best fit for this setting.
All counseling sessions occur in CHWS. Supervision sessions typically occur at CHWS in the clinical supervisor's office. Files, notes, and session recordings may never leave our Center, of course.
Practicum Counselors receive one full hour each week of individual, clinical supervision. This supervision is provided by advanced doctoral students in Clinical and Counseling Psychology. They are with us at the University of Puget Sound, usually from out-of- state, to complete a year-long Pre-Doctoral Internship with us. Your supervisor will review recordings of your counseling sessions in order to help you deepen your skills. Your supervisor will also be receiving supervision. This is called "Supervision-of-Supervision," and is common practice. (S)he will present recordings of his/her work with you to a Licensed Psychologist on our staff. For this reason, Practicum Counselors at CHWS must feel comfortable recording both their counseling sessions and their supervision sessions. This approach assures the highest quality therapy for clients and the highest quality supervision for trainees.
Your supervisory relationship should include not only reviewing sessions together and getting helpful feedback, but also discussing the treatment plan, refining written progress notes, wrestling with legal and ethical issues, conceptualizing client needs together, exploring the client-counselor relationship and the supervisor-supervisee relationship, and helping with counselor career development issues. From our perspective, clinical supervision is hugely important to the development of confidence and professional identity. It's a time to ask specific questions about how to treat particular diagnoses, to refine one's theoretical orientation and to safely express personal responses to clients. For this reason, we promise that supervision occurs every week throughout the semester, regardless of whether you have seen clients that week.
This individual supervision of Practicum Counselors occurs over-and-above whatever group supervision you may receive in the Practicum Course at your academic home department, and whatever guidance you may receive at another placement.
You and your supervisor will complete evaluations at the mid-point of each semester, then again at the end of each semester. Your supervisor will provide these written evaluations to your academic department. You will also be asked for your feedback on the quality of the training you're receiving.
An overall time commitment of one academic year (late August - late May) is required of Practicum Counselors. Prac Counselors begin with us at the end of August for a two-day orientation to the program. They begin individual supervision immediately and begin building a caseload in early September.
Weekly time commitment for Practicum Counselors is in the neighborhood of 8-10 hours, but actual time spent depends on many factors: How long writing session notes and determining a treatment plan takes for each client; how much preparation the counselor chooses to engage in prior to seeing clients or supervision (e.g., reviewing recordings of sessions, reading intake notes in advance, asking supervisor for readings, etc.); how many clients they see; how many clients we can actually provide given schedule matches, room availability and client flow; whether the Prac Counselor engages in supplementary on-site activities such as attending weekly staff meetings and intern case conferences, and supplementary activities, such as assisting with outreach efforts. The latter may call for independent work from the Prac Counselor's home or other office.
Examples of Weekly Activities
Typical week for Prac Counselor at CHWS includes: 2-4 individual therapy sessions; 1 hour of individual supervision; time for documentation; time to review tapes of your sessions; Prac Counselor Case Conference (monthly)
For those who want to try stretching the hours here, there are some options (more below) but please bear in mind that physical office space is our primary challenge; you'll note that some activities may need to be completed off-site. This means that you may need to engage in this activity outside of our Center, since therapy groups, a consulting psychiatrist, a part-time counselor, and your own face-to-face therapy sessions compete for scheduling in the same room! Though this is less than ideal, we do believe that activities such as doing web searches on clinical issues or preparing for an outreach presentation can be done off-site and are relevant to the professions of counseling and psychology.
Potential Practicum Counselor Activities
- Seeing individual psychotherapy clients each week (required)
- Writing your progress notes for the client files (required)
- Receiving an hour of individual supervision (required)
- Attending Practicum Case Conference once per month (required)
- Reviewing recordings of therapy sessions in preparation for supervision (recommended)
- Reading articles or chapters related to treatment of a particular client in preparation for next therapy session*
- Meeting one hour with your fellow Practicum Counselor for peer consultation, to discuss professional development issues*
- Attending our full CHWS staff meetings, Wednesdays 9:00-10:00 a.m.
- Attending our Intern case conference presentations, occasional Mondays, 8:15 to 10:15 am.
- Assisting with outreach programs, as arranged with CHWS staff persons (for example, helping to coordinate a depression screening day, tabling on substance abuse prevention, writing a pamphlet on how to help someone who is self-mutilating, researching treatment of anorexia, etc.)*
* = Activity may be outside of practicum office (with special attention to confidentiality)
Ongoing or Previous Clients of CHWS
Puget Sound graduate students who are themselves past therapy clients at CHWS shall not be excluded from applying for Practicum Counselor positions, but they will only be placed if issues related to dual role conflicts, confidentiality and integrity of files is negotiated to the satisfaction of both the trainee/client and the CHWS Training Director and Associate Director. We request that you be forthcoming if you have used our services here when applying for a Prac Counselor position, so that together we can engage in the best ethical decision-making process possible.
Please contact Dr. Boulter if you have other questions related to the Practicum Program at CHWS.
Charee Boulter, Ph.D.
University of Puget Sound
Counseling, Health and Wellness Services
1500 N. Warner St., Box 1035
Tacoma, WA 98416-1035