Practicum, Internship and Graduation

Practicum Paper and Counseling Portfolio
(Cumulative evaluation requirements for the Counseling Master's degree)

The portfolio is a collection of experience-based materials and reflective information that demonstrates dimensions of the counselor's philosophy, work and goals. The purpose is to represent the focus of the counselor in training and provide a vehicle by which the counselor may be presented professionally. This portfolio begins as the student enters the program and is updated periodically. It includes professional orientation and background information, and documentation of curricular skills and practice. Portfolio development is a process that facilitates student's shaping of their learning, provides for feedback from faculty, serves as a marker for requirements completed, and provides a record of professional qualifications

. A five chapter practicum paper the reflects the individual counseling interests and needs of each student. Student papers demonstrate scholarly pursuit of inquiry focused on application of counseling theory or a specific counseling related problem, blending research and practical application. Students meet with their practicum advisor when they submit their first draft of the Practicum Proposal (the semester prior to practicum) which includes an outline of the first chapter of the paper. Fundamentals of Statistics and Research Design, EPY 601, which should be taken just prior to Practicum, will focus on the first two chapters. Chapters one through three are due the first week of Practicum. Four and five are due one month before the end of Practicum. Acceptable style for final presentation follows the most recent edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association and E &EP Department guidelines. There is a blind review of the paper by counseling faculty submitted in triplicate with social security number and no name on one of the title pages. Final grading will include the criteria, "Pass," "Pass with Revisions," or "Fail".

Master's Credit Hours for Clinical Instruction Requirements
All students in the program (community and school) must complete a practicum of at least 100 hours and an internship of at least 600 hours. All school counseling students who are not certified teachers with three years of teaching experience and who are seeking certification in Connecticut must complete a full-time, 10 month internship (in addition to practicum). This 10 month internship must involve at least 700 hours. We strongly advise students to complete 9 credits of clinical instruction (Practicum and Internship). However, a small percentage of students, with the consent of the counseling faculty, take 6 or 12 credits to complete the required number of clinical hours.

The following is used by students and their advisors to plan for clinical instruction:

  1. Early in the program, students must contract to complete a full-time or a part-time Internship, i.e., whether the Internship is to be completed in three (3) credit hours or six (6). This decision will depend upon whether the student is a Certified Teacher with three (3) or more years of teaching experience and whether the student is a candidate for certification in Connecticut or New York. It is crucial that students understand that contracting for one semester means that both the total 600 hour requirement and the 240 hour direct service requirement must be fulfilled in one semester. This also means that any Practicum or Internship experience that is contracted over a summer cannot occur during a regularly scheduled university semester. Summer clinical experiences usually need to extend over a three (3) month period and be approved by a faculty supervisor.
  2. It is the faculty's prerogative to require any student to repeat Practicum for credit if it is the faculty's judgment that this is in the student's best interest. If the student then contracts for two semesters of part-time Internship, the student will use 12 credit hours to complete the clinical instruction component of the program.

Connecticut State Education Department Certification Requirements for Clinical Instruction

  1. Students who already hold a master's degrees, are certified teachers and have taught for three or more years in public education do not have to complete an Internship for Connecticut certification. However, they must complete the 600 hour Internship as a requirement for the 48 credit Master's degree in counselor education.
  2. Students in the School Counseling track who have not completed three years of successful elementary middle or secondary school teaching must complete a full-time supervised school internship of 10 school months. The clinical experience must provide students with exposure and practice in pre-K through 12, in urban, suburban, and rural settings. This experience must be of at least 700 hours duration across two full semesters.
  3. Students who want to be certified in Connecticut must complete their clinical training in a Connecticut public school or a school recognized by the SDE.

Practicum
Didactic instruction and pre-practicum are intended to prepare the student to be placed in a counseling setting (school or agency) that matches the student's career objectives.

  1. COURSE REQUIREMENTS: There are three (3) requirements for the practicum that are necessary to consider in identifying an appropriate site.
    • The student must commit 100 clock hours to the site to meet the requirements of Practicum.
    • Of these 100 hours, forty (40) must be direct service hours. Direct service hours involve "face-to-face interaction with clients which includes the application of counseling, consultation, or human development skills." Ten (10) of the forty (40) direct hours must consist of group counseling.
    • The student must be observed in a 30 minute counseling session for the purposes of supervision.
    • The student meets for a minimum of one (1) hour per week for individual supervision and a minimum of one and one-half (1 ½) hours per week of group supervision with other students in Practicum over a minimum of one academic term with a program faculty member
  2. SUPERVISION: Practicum represents the first opportunity for the student to engage in direct service with "real" clients. The school site supervisor must be a certified school counselor with a minimum of two (2) years of professional experience. The community site supervisor must have a minimum of a Master's degree in counseling or a closely related field and appropriate certification and/or licenses as well as a minimum of two (2) years of pertinent experience. The faculty assumes primary responsibility for the student's supervision. This allows the faculty the opportunity to tie in didactic instruction and pre-practicum preparation will occur on campus. The site supervisor, therefore, is not expected to provide intensive supervision during Practicum. The site supervisor is asked to:
    • Organize the practicum experience and assure that the student will have an opportunity to work with appropriate clients.
    • Help orient the student to the site.
    • Provide appropriate space for the student to meet with clients.
    • Monitor the practicum generally in order to determine that the student's needs and to ensure that the clients' needs are being met.
    • Provide the faculty supervisor with evaluation of the student's overall performance and professionalism during the practicum.
    • Be available to the student in case of emergency.
    • Provide any additional supervision for reasons of necessity or preference. (In other words, the university faculty welcomes the site supervisor's involvement in supervision above and beyond the minimum expectations listed above.)
  3. EARLY PLANNING FOR PRACTICUM
    Practicum should not be viewed as other courses in terms of the amount of time required to prepare adequately for the experience. At the time of matriculation into the program, when the students first meets with his or her advisor, it would be appropriate to begin planning for the approximate time of Practicum. Later, after the student has taken several prerequisite courses, more deliberate planning should begin to take place. Practicum proposals are distributed during course in individual counseling or one year prior to Practicum. Proposals are finalized the next semester and contracts are completed and shown to faculty before the beginning of Practicum. In addition,
    • It can be a time consuming process finding a practicum site, and this should not be delayed until the beginning of the Practicum semester.
    • Because of the amount of supervision required for Practicum, faculty assignments will be determined by the number planning to enroll in the course. Staff planning takes place a few months before the beginning of each semester.
    • With other counseling programs in our geographic area, there is competition for Practicum sites and early contracting with a site is recommended
  4. FINDING A PRACTICUM SITE: During the initial meeting with the student's Track Coordinator, the discussion will center on the student's career objectives and the availability of Practicum sites within the student's area of interest. Usually, the Coordinator will be able to recommend sites that the student might consider. The student may be aware of a site that he or she is hoping will be acceptable for Practicum. By the end of the meeting, there should be a plan for the student to use to approach sites. It is the student's responsibility to keep the Coordinator current until the student has successfully contracted with a Practicum site. Although the Coordinator assumes the role of guiding the student toward appropriate Practicum sites, it is ultimately the student's responsibility to find an appropriate site.
  5. SITE VISIT: Prior to or at the beginning of the course, the Practicum instructor along with the student assigned to the site visits the Practicum site. At this time, requirements for the course and the site supervisor's role are reviewed. The purpose of this meeting is for the faculty instructor to be assured that the site is an appropriate one for Practicum and for the site supervisor and/or student to clarify any issues that may be pending.
  6. THE PRACTICUM AGREEMENT FORM: During the site visit, the Practicum Agreement Form is reviewed. This document must be signed by all parties where indicated and kept in the student's clinical file. There is also an orientation meeting at the University, as well as supervision instruction, upon request, for all site supervisors and students the semester prior to the Practicum experience.

Internship
Following successful completion of the counseling Practicum, students must complete a counseling Internship either in a school counseling or in a community counseling facility. This internship is a two semester, full-time commitment for those students who do not hold a Connecticut Teaching Certificate but wish to be certified as school counselors. For all others, the Internship will be completed in one or two semesters (see Master's Credit Hours For Clinical Instruction for details).

COURSE REQUIREMENTS: There are five (5) requirements for Internship that are necessary to consider in identifying an appropriate site.

  • The student must commit 600 (700 for school certification candidates in Connecticut who are not certified teachers with 3 years of experience)clock hours to the site to meet the requirement of Internship.
  • Of these 600 (or 700) hours, 240 must be direct service hours. Direct service hours involve "face-to-face' interaction with clients which includes the application of counseling, consultation, or human development skills."
  • If the site does not allow the intern to audiotape (or videotape) direct service hours for the purposes of supervision, students will be observed at the site..
  • The site (school or agency) must provide supervision by a clinician acceptable to the counseling program. The identified site supervisor must be a certified school counselor or, in the case of a community setting, hold a minimum of a Master's degree in the program emphasis area and possess appropriate certification and/or licenses. In addition, the site supervisor must have a minimum of two (2) years experience as a counselor.
  • The site must permit the student intern to participate in a variety of professional activities in addition to direct service work. These activities should be those that a regularly employed staff member in the setting would expect to perform.
  • The student must meet for a minimum of one and one-half (1 ½) hours per week for group supervision with the program faculty supervisor throughout the internship.

SUPERVISION: The site supervisor is the primary supervisor for the student intern and must commit to a minimum of one (1) hour weekly of individual supervision to the intern. Clinical supervision should include supervision of counseling cases and related professional activities. This site supervisor will be asked to provide the counseling program with evaluations of the student intern's overall performance and professionalism during the Internship. Supervision also takes place on campus with a faculty supervisor on a weekly basis. Group supervision for one and one-half hours (1 ½) includes peer feedback.

EARLY PLANNING FOR INTERNSHIP: Students should be in contact with the Coordinator to begin planning for Internship. Few internship sites are ideal. The search for an acceptable site involves a number of variables, including mission of the site, qualifications of the site supervisor, availability of experiences that will enhance the intern's professional growth, and physical proximity of the site to the student intern's residence and to the University. Sometimes a site will appear acceptable to the intern but not to the Coordinator; at other times the intern may find the site unacceptable; and sometimes the site supervisor will not find the intern to be a good fit for the site. For all of these reasons, it is important that the student not delay the search for a best fitting site. Anticipating when the Internship will begin is as important as planning when other required courses will be taken. Early in the program, the student, with his or her faculty advisor, should identify approximately when he/she will reach the Internship. In the first month of the student's Practicum, he or she should be informing the Coordinator of plans for Internship (expected semester to start Internship, sites under consideration, etc.). In other words, if you are beginning Practicum in the fall semester, you should make contact with the Coordinator in September.

School counseling interns who do not have three (3) or more years of public school teaching must contract with a site for a full-time position, have experience with all grade levels (pre-K through 12), have exposure to urban, suburban, andrural settings, practice for a 10 month academic year, and spend at least 700 hours on site.

FINDING AN INTERNSHIP SITE: The student should meet with the Coordinator prior to contacting any potential internship site to discuss the program's requirements for the site. As with the Practicum placement, this discussion will center on the student's career objective the availability of Internship sites within the student's area of interest, and the level of client services provided by the potential site. At the end of this meeting, a plan should have been formulated for which sites the student should approach, with a time schedule for completing these initial contacts. As with the Practicum site selection, the Coordinator stands ready to offer suggestions, but the ultimate responsibility for finding an acceptable site remains with the student.

SITE VISITS: Prior to, or at the beginning of the semester, the Internship instructor, student intern and site supervisor meet. At this time, requirements for the course and the site supervisor's role are reviewed. The purpose of this meeting is to assure that the site is an appropriate choice for the intern and to allow the site supervisor and/or the student to clarify any issues that may be pending. Additional visits will be arranged as needed, including visits to observe the student in the role of counselor and meetings with the student and site supervisor to assess progress.

THE INTERNSHIP AGREEMENT FORM: The Internship Agreement Form is discussed and conditions agreed upon by the site supervisor, the internship instructor, and the intern. This document is signed by all parties and kept in the student's clinical file.

Graduation
Students registering for their final course in the program should apply for graduation in the Graduate Office, Warner Hall. This should be done at the same time that they register. It is the student's responsibility to submit an "Intent to Graduate" form prior to the deadline set by the University. This deadline appears each semester in the Course Schedule bulletin.

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