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 Doctoral Psychology Interns (who co-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, & 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 maybe 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 masters-level therapists since 1987 and doctoral-level therapists since 1992. Practicum Counselors make a real difference in their therapy clients' lives, and the supervision process (below) is important to us.
Given that graduate students are increasingly seeking multiple placements to create more professional breadth (and complete their required clinical hours), a Practicum Counselor position at CHWS provides a nice opportunity for additional experience hours and exposure to therapy 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 only 8 to 12 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 "pre-internship" requirements in Washington State. They, 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 internship application.
Because there are fewer than 20 "clock hours" here at CHWS, some graduate programs will ask that you combine this training with work at other training sites. 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 additional practicum experience.
Regardless of your hours' accounting, you may find that this training opportunity makes you marketable after graduate school. Working on a multi-disciplinary team, gaining familiarity with a new clinical setting, and having a sophisticated vocabulary for discussing diagnosis, treatment, and theoretical orientation, and contacting local mental health providers, are all very valuable in your professional identity development.
Practicum Counselors agree to see 3 - 6 clients 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 unlike training in some agencies, where students are assigned a large number of clients. Many times a larger caseload does not allow for more focused, individualized supervision. Seeing six or seven clients each week at CHWS may be possible in some instances. Still, 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 completed an interview with a CHWS Doctoral Intern or Staff Psychologist to complete a provisional diagnosis. 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 the record. The Prac Counselor office is equipped with a webcam that allows for audio and video recordings of sessions.
Prac Counselors are responsible for providing the supervisor with their available times for seeing clients and 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 Prac Counselor will be notified after a referral has been made. Intake notes will be available for the Practicum Counselors to review. Typically there is time to discuss a new client referral in supervision before the first session.
To provide crisis backup, there's always a Psychology Staff person present when Practicum Counselors see clients. For this reason, there are no opportunities to schedule appointments outside business hours. Thus, Practicum 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 occur at CHWS in the clinical supervisor's office. Files, notes, and session recordings may not leave our center.
Practicum Counselors receive one hour each week of individual clinical supervision. This supervision is provided in a co-supervision format with a doctoral psychology intern and a licensed psychologist. Thus, Practicum Counselors receive input from two supervisors on case conceptualization, diagnosis, treatment planning, documentation, ethical considerations, etc. Typically the intern will review session recordings outside of supervision and provide feedback on clinical skills. At times segments of a session recording may be viewed during supervision. There will be direct observation of clinical skills by both the intern and the licensed psychologist during the year.
Your supervisory experience should include reviewing sessions, getting helpful feedback, discussing the treatment plan, refining written progress notes, considering legal and ethical issues, conceptualizing client needs, exploring the client-counselor relationship and the supervisor-supervisee relationship, and helping with counselor career development issues. From our perspective, clinical supervision is important to the development of confidence and professional identity. It's a time to ask specific questions about how to treat particular diagnoses, refine one's theoretical orientation, and safely express personal responses to clients. For this reason, supervision occurs every week throughout the semester, regardless of whether you have seen clients that week.
This supervision of Practicum Counselors occurs over-and-above whatever group supervision you may receive in the Practicum Course at your academic home department. Whatever guidance you may receive at another placement.
You and your supervisors will complete evaluations at the mid-point of each semester, then again at the end of each semester. Your supervisor will provide the end-of-semester written evaluations to your academic department. You will also be asked for your feedback on the quality of the training you're receiving.
Case Conference and Training Seminar
Twice a month, the two Practicum Counselors will participate in a training seminar or case conference. This seminar series is coordinated by one of the doctoral interns. There will typically be a minimum of three didactic seminars and three case conferences each semester. An intern will be present at one case conference each semester, and each practicum counselor will present a case conference. On the day of the seminar/case conference, the Practicum Counselors may also want to schedule a time to discuss training and professional development. The seminar will occur if we can coordinate schedules, as our practicum counselors are in CHWS on different days.
One academic year's overall time commitment (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.
The weekly time commitment for Practicum Counselors is in the neighborhood of 8-12 hours, but the 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 a 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, attending practicum case conferences and supplementary activities, such as assisting with outreach efforts. Outreach presentations may happen after business hours.
Examples of Weekly Activities
A typical week for Prac Counselor at CHWS includes: 3-6 individual therapy sessions; 1 hour of individual supervision; time for documentation; time to review tapes of your sessions; Prac Counselor Case Conference (monthly), Practicum Seminar (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, and your own face-to-face therapy sessions compete for scheduling in the same room! Though this is less than ideal, we 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)
- Attending Practicum Seminar once per month (required)
- Reviewing recordings of therapy sessions in preparation for supervision (recommended)
- Reading articles or chapters related to the treatment of a particular client in preparation for the 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.
- 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 the 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. Still, they will only be placed if issues related to dual role conflicts, confidentiality, and integrity of files are negotiated to the satisfaction of both the trainee/client and the CHWS Training Director and 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.
If you have other questions related to the Practicum Program at CHWS:
Erin M. Potts, Psy.D.
University of Puget Sound
Counseling, Health and Wellness Services
1500 N. Warner St., Box 1035
Tacoma, WA 98416-1035