Clinical Counseling Field Experience

In both Practicum and Internship experiences in clinical counseling, students complete field experiences that are designed to help them integrate the knowledge and skills which they have learned in their core and foundation classes. Students will begin to crystallize their professional identity, polish their counseling skills, obtain invaluable information related to the varied roles of a professional counselor, and provide highly skilled service to the agency or agencies where they will work. In these experiences, students are expected to act in an ethical and professional manner, complete all assignments expected for the course, attend supervision classes on the main campus, and work to learn and grow as much as possible. Both of these supervised experiences have been developed to prepare professional counselors to work within an agency setting, and they are designed to meet or exceed educational and licensure requirements in the state of Ohio and CACREP.

The clinical counseling Practicum and Internship are courses that focus on the application of knowledge and skills applicable to clinical counseling. Practicum experiences, as defined by CACREP, are supervised clinical experiences in which the student develops basic counseling skills and integrates professional knowledge. The Internship experience, as defined by CACREP, is a post practicum, supervised capstone clinical experience in which the student refines and enhances basic counseling or student development knowledge, skills, and integrates and authenticates professional knowledge and skills appropriate to the student’s program.

Click on the links below for additional School Field Experience information. More specific information can be found in the Field Experience Handbook.

Student Eligibility for Clinical Practicum and Internship

  1. Course Pre-requisites:
    • Practicum: COU 609
    • Internship: COU 580 Practicum in Clinical Counseling
    • Individuals who have a Masters degree in Counseling and are pursuing the Clinical Counseling Licensure endorsement may enroll for field experience with approval of the MAC program.
  2. Sites/plans must be preapproved by the Clinical Director one semester prior to registration.
  3. The Petition for Practicum or Internship Form must be completed by the student, signed by the proposed site supervisor, and submitted by the posted deadlines. Students must submit a new petition for each term of in the practicum/internship sequence. Additionally, for students with more than one site, a separate Petition form must be submitted for each site.
  4. Provide additional documentation as outlined in the Field Experience Checklist.
    * Upon approval of the petition, students are notified and provided instructions on how to proceed and register for their course. Students cannot register for COU 580, COU 581, or COU 582 without prior authorization.

Site Supervisor Criteria

  1. A minimum of a Masters degree in counseling or a related profession with equivalent qualifications, including current license/certification in the state of Ohio as a Supervising Professional Clinical Counselor (PCC-S)
  2. A minimum of two years of clinical counseling experience
  3. Knowledge of the Program’s expectations, requirements, and evaluation procedures

Site Selection: Ethical and Legal Implications

  1. Students who wish to select their place of employment as a possible Practicum or Internship site need to set up an appointment with the Clinical Director to avoid dual relationship issues.
  2. Students who are employed by the agency they will use as a field placement site may not use their employment hours to fulfill requirements for Practicum and Internship. After a discussion with the Clinical Director, a supplemental contract, signed by the site supervisor will be established to clearly designate when and what hours may be applied to their Practicum or Internship hours.
  3. Any other special circumstances should be discussed with the Graduate Counseling Clinical Director.

Site Selection: Helpful Tips

  • Locate a practicum and internship site that reflects career goals
  • Choose a site where employment after graduation would be favorable. If a permanent position becomes available, then you will be well positioned for consideration.
  • Interview as well as be interviewed by agency personnel to make sure that the site and the site supervisor can provide the type of experience determined by CACREP and the Graduate Studies in Counseling Program. Samples of interview questions are provided on our website.
  • During the site interview identify the specific experiences in which you wish to participate. The more specific you can be the better you and the site personnel can determine whether the site will be a good match.
  • Approach a prospective site as though it were a prospective employer and conduct behavior as if seeking employment and being interviewed for a job. School personnel have the ultimate authority to approve or disapprove placement with their organization.
  • Ensure in advance that this site supervisor will be able to provide the type of supervision you will need to receive. Supervisors should be prepared and willing to listen to tapes, co-lead a group, provide live supervision, provide additional training etc. This will be important in determining whether this site will be appropriate to student needs.

Please Note: While you are asked to make an initial contact with a possible on-site supervisor to discuss the suitability of the site, all potential sites are subject to approval by the Heidelberg Graduate Counseling department.

Supervision Requirements

Weekly class meetings are required in both Practicum and Internship. These meetings include: case conceptualization, discussion of site related issues, lectures, dissemination of professional information (professional organizations, licensure tests, etc.), and role playing in the Counseling Laboratory. In addition, the Practicum and Internship experiences include:

  1. For Practicum, 100 contact hours are required. A minimum of 40 of these clock hours need to be direct face-to-face counseling service with clients conducting individual, couples, family, or group counseling. Direct service is defined as time spent working with clients. Direct hours are hours completed within an agency under the direct supervision of an approved site supervisor.
  2. For Internship, 600 total contact hours are required to occur in a clinical counseling setting. A minimum of 240 of these clock hours need to be direct counseling service with clients conducting individual, couples, family, or group counseling. Direct service is defined as face-to-face time spent working with students. Direct hours are hours completed within a school setting under the direct supervision of an approved site supervisor.
  3. A minimum of one hour per week of individual supervision with the on-site supervisor.
  4. A minimum of one and one-half hours per week of group supervision on campus in a classroom setting that may be applied towards indirect hours of Practicum and/or Internship hours.
  5. Opportunities for students to become more familiar with myriad roles and activities for which professional counselors are responsible; present formal case studies, discuss case conceptualization issues, understand mental health agency culture, and various agency-based meetings. Students will have the opportunity to interact with other agency professionals and fully understand the ethical implications of professional counseling.
  6. Formal evaluations of student’s performance during the Practicum and Internship will be performed by the site supervisor and the program faculty member throughout the field experiences; students will be apprised of these evaluations.

Accumulation of Field Experience Hours

While it may be possible to accumulate more than 300 hours in Internship I, only 300 hours will be applied to Internship I and II, respectively. Hours accumulated beyond the 300 hour minimum required will not carry over into Internship II, but additional hours should be viewed as invaluable added experience. Once students have completed all of their hours for the term, they are still required to complete the course by attending class and participating in activities outlined in the syllabus.

Examples of Clinical Counselor Activities

Individual, Couples, Family and Group Counseling

  • Intake Interviews/Assessments.
  • Diagnostic Interviews.
  • Developing treatment plans.
  • Co-facilitate or facilitate groups.
  • Assist in developing new counseling group(s).
  • Provide career counseling.
  • Provide individual counseling to assist with decision making, deal with adjustment problems, and treat mental and emotional problems.
  • Provide couple’s counseling.*
  • Provide family counseling.*
  • On a limited basis, provide counseling to children.*
  • Participate in weekly clinical supervision.
  • Consult with site supervisor and other staff members as needed and as appropriate.
  • Provide in-service trainings within the agency or to the community.

*Couples, family, and child counseling services should not be practiced in the absence of close supervision unless the student has completed the appropriate coursework in these areas.