Practicum and Internship Handbook and Forms for Counseling Students
Part I: Introduction to Your Clinical Experience Counseling Practicum and Internship
The clinical (practicum and internship) experience is the final step to your training as a counseling student at University of Houston – Victoria (UHV). This is an opportunity for you to enhance your clinical knowledge, diagnostic ability, treatment planning, psychoeducational, administrative and guidance skills. You will take on a serious professional responsibility as you work with diverse clients in various settings. This experience is the culmination of your theoretical and practical skills training, allowing the faculty to assess your ability to fulfill the professional responsibilities and mastery of an entry-level counselor within your chosen concentration.
Field placement may be a daunting experience for students, however with careful planning and execution, it can prove to be a meaningful learning experience. You will be supported through regular supervision from both the faculty and an on-site supervisor, as you serve clients dealing with varied mental health concerns during your practicum and internship training.
During Practicum and Internship, you are required to adhere to “ethical practice” as described by the American Counseling Association’s (ACA) 2014 Code of Ethics and Standard of Practice. You can obtain a copy of the ACA ethical standards by visiting the ACA website at www.counseling.org. Additionally, at the University of Houston-Victoria, the professional counseling program follows the Practicum and Internship standards as outlined by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). CACREP is the national accrediting organization for counselor education programs, and this manual follows CACREP guidelines for the field placement experience. Therefore, you are required to adhere to the guidelines provided in this manual throughout your clinical training.
In keeping with national standards for the preparation of professional counselors, the University of Houston – Victoria’s Professional Counseling Program (CACREP accredited) requires that students in the Professional School Counseling and Clinical Mental Health Counseling degree tracks complete COUN 6303 Counseling Practicum over one semester and two sections of COUN 6348 Counseling Internship I & COUN 6349 Counseling Internship II over two semesters.
CACREP Standards and Guidelines
The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs standards (CACREP, 2009) include guidelines for implementing both the practicum and internship. Because University of Houston-Victoria’s counseling program is accredited by CACREP, it is essential that the practicum and internship sites and the overall practicum and internship experiences adhere to the following standards: 4
COUN 6303 Practicum
Students must complete supervised practicum experiences that total a minimum of 100 clock hours over a semester.
Each student’s practicum includes all of the following:
- At least 40 clock hours of direct service with actual clients that contributes to the development of counseling skills.
- Weekly interaction that averages one hour per week of individual and/or triadic supervision throughout the practicum by a program faculty member, a student supervisor, or a site supervisor who is working in biweekly consultation with a program faculty member in accordance with the supervision contract.
- An average of 1 ½ hours per week of group supervision that is provided on a regular schedule throughout the practicum by a program faculty member or student supervisor.
- The development of program-appropriate audio/video recordings for use in supervision or live supervision of the student’s interactions with clients.
- Evaluation of the student’s counseling performance throughout the practicum, including documentation of a formal evaluation after the student completes the practicum.
COUN 6348 Internship I and COUN 6349 Internship II
The CACREP standards requires completion of a supervised internship in the student’s program area of 600 clock hours, begun after successful completion of the practicum. The internship is intended to reflect the comprehensive work experience of a professional counselor appropriate to the designated program area.
Each student’s internship includes all of the following:
- At least 240 clock hours of direct service, including experience leading groups.
- Weekly interaction that averages one hour per week of individual and/or triadic supervision throughout the internship, usually performed by the onsite supervisor.
- An average of 1 1/2 hours per week of group supervision provided on a regular schedule throughout the internship and performed by a program faculty member.
- The opportunity for the student to become familiar with a variety of professional activities and resources in addition to direct service (e.g., record keeping, assessment instruments, supervision, information and referral, in- service and staff meetings).
- The opportunity for the student to develop program-appropriate audio/video recordings for use in supervision or to receive live supervision of his or her interactions with clients.
- Evaluation of the student’s counseling performance throughout the internship, including documentation of a formal evaluation after the student completes the internship by a program faculty member in consultation with the site supervisor.
Part II: Applying for and Enrolling in Counseling Practicum and Internship
Procedure for Applying for Practicum
For Professional School Counseling and Clinical Mental Health Counseling students enrolling in COUN 6303 Practicum in Counseling must meet the following requirements:
- Complete the Student Field Placement Orientation (online) prior to enrolling in any field placement course. Student must receive a score of 100% to have the orientation marked as complete.
- Student must have successfully completed 30 hours in the counseling program. Each student works with their respective advisors to complete the required pre-requisite courses and meet the 30 hours requirement before enrolling in practicum.
- Complete the following pre-requisite courses before enrolling in practicum:
- COUN 6311 Multicultural Counseling
- COUN 6321 Professional Orientation & Ethics in Counseling
- COUN 6327 Theories of Counseling
- COUN 6329 Group Counseling Theory and Techniques
- COUN 6333 Counseling Techniques
Procedure for Applying for Internship I and II
All Professional School Counseling and Clinical Mental Health Counseling students enrolled in COUN 6348 Internship I must have satisfactorily completed COUN 6303 Practicum in Counseling and students enrolled in COUN 6349 internship II in Counseling must have satisfactorily completed COUN 6348 Internship I in Counseling.
Part III: Finding a Practicum and/or Internship Site and Site Supervisor
Selecting a Counseling Practicum and/or Internship Site
Students planning to enroll in COUN 6303 or COUN 6348 I & COUN 6349 II must seek out appropriate sites to collect experience. They are encouraged to begin networking and searching for their practicum and/or internship sites at-least a semester prior to enrolling in field placement courses. While faculties and internship coordinator would assist students with necessary referral, they will ultimately be responsible for obtaining and securing a site. Students may consider the following guidelines while securing a field placement site:
- Attend and network with various employers at the Counseling Internship Fair offered during the Fall semester.
- Contact the various sites from the list provided in the appendix.
- Find a site placement that is within a 65-mile radius of either the Victoria campus or University of Houston-Victoria at Katy instructional site.
- On finding a site, be prepared to go through an interview and possible training requested by the site.
- Notify the Internship Coordinator, by submitting a complete field placement application via email.
- To submit the application, students will need detailed information about their site and site supervisor, including address, contact information, licensure number, years of experience etc.
- Student can enroll on COUN 6303, 6348, and 6349 only after they receive an application approval email from their Internship Coordinator.
Selecting a Site Supervisor
As students find a suitable site for them to gain their clinical experience, they also seek out appropriate supervisor. Site supervisors must meet the following requirements as set forth by University Houston-Victoria:
- Site supervisors must have at least a master’s degree in counseling or closely related field and a minimum of two years of pertinent professional experience in the program area in which the student is enrolled.
- Site supervisors must also be credentialed as a Certified School Counselor (CSC), Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT), Licensed Psychologist, or Licensed Psychiatrist.
- Site supervisors must be willing to complete a 1-hour online training before supervising the student. The supervision training and orientation is sponsored by the UHV Professional Counseling Program. Supervisors will be provided with LPC supervision continuing education credit and/or SBEC continuing education hours. Supervisors are required to complete the site supervisor training each semester that they are supervising an intern.
- Be willing to offer in-person weekly supervision, observe and evaluate students during the course of practicum and/or internship.
Changing a Counseling Practicum or Internship Site
If at any given point during the semester, the field placement site becomes problematic for the student, they may consider a change in placement. In such situations the following procedures must be followed:
- The intern discusses the problem(s) with the faculty of record and the internship coordinator, to determine whether a solution can occur within the existing placement. The Intern may be asked to continue with the placement until the end of the semester, and an agreement may be made that a change of placement will occur for the following semester.
- If a solution is not found, and a change of placement is necessary during the semester, the request for change of site must be completed by submitting a new application to the Internship Coordinator.
Changing a Site Supervisor
If a change in Site Supervisor occurs at any time during Practicum or Internship, the faculty of record and the Internship Coordinator must be consulted immediately. A new supervisor must be approved, meeting the requirements set forth for UHV’s Site Supervisor. A new application with complete details must be submitted to the Internship Coordinator at the student’s earliest convenience.
If a supervisor, requests to discontinue supervising a student due to medical or leisure leave, an alternate supervisor must be approved temporarily. The alternate supervisor must also meet the site supervisor requirements set forth for UHV site supervisor. Application submission with complete details is required.
Part IV: Counseling Practicum and Internship Requirements
Number of Hours to be Completed for COUN 6303 Practicum
- Students in COUN 6303 Counseling Practicum must earn 100 hours of counseling experience (40 hours of direct service with clients, including experience in individual counseling and, during either practicum or internship I, experience leading or co-leading a counseling or psychoeducational group) to receive a satisfactory grade.
- Students must meet with their instructor and classmates for a minimum average of 90 minutes per week to receive group supervision (classroom faculty), and for an average of 1 hour per week of individual supervision with their site supervisor.
Number of Hours to be Completed for COUN 6348 Internship I and COUN 6349 Internship II
- After successful completion of the practicum, Professional School Counseling and Clinical Mental Health Counseling students must complete one section of COUN 6348 and one section of COUN 6349 over two semesters for a total of 600 clock hours of supervised counseling internship in roles and settings with clients relevant to their specialty area.
- Students in COUN 6348 Counseling Internship I &COUN 6349 Counseling Internship II must earn 300 hours of counseling experience (120 hours of direct service with clients, including experience in individual counseling and, for those who have not completed the requirement of leading or co-leading a counseling or psychoeducation group during the practicum course, MUST successfully complete this requirement during the internship I course) to receive a satisfactory grade.
- Students must meet with their instructor and classmates for a minimum average of 90 minutes per week to receive group supervision, and for an average of 1 hour per week of individual supervision with their site supervisor.
Practicum and Internship Hours: Direct/Indirect
Students, site supervisors, and fieldwork course instructors collaborate to document both the direct counseling and indirect supportive work that students need to successfully complete their Practicum and Internship experiences. Both types of hours are important for students’ professional development. As part of the direct hours, students must lead or co-lead a counseling or psychoeducational group. This group requirement must be successfully completed by the conclusion of internship I. Students are expected to create logs of direct and indirect hours and to review these logs with their site supervisor and with their fieldwork course instructor.
Should the site require the graduate counseling student intern to provide counseling services during the semester break, the site will provide weekly supervision and maintain full legal responsibility for client care during such time. The student is not allowed to count any direct or indirect counseling hours provided to clients during the semester break toward the required contact hours for COUN 6303, 6348 or 6349.
Direct Hours for Professional School Counselors (PSC)
Types of direct counseling hours for Professional School Counseling track students include the following:
- One-to-one individual and small group counseling sessions with students.
- Theory-based consultation and advocacy on behalf of students with teachers, administrators, parents/legal guardians, and other school personnel.
- Large group/classroom guidance sessions.
- Crisis intervention, assessment (affective, mental health & psychological nature), and counseling.
- Participation as a school counselor representative in Annual Review & Dismissal and 504 meetings (and other similar planning on behalf of students).
- Career, vocational, and educational counseling.
- Assessment of student issues and needs.
- Training and instruction for parents, teachers, and other school stakeholders; and
- Training and instruction of students in peer-facilitation and leadership for anti-bullying, conflict resolution, substance use issues, and other relevant academic concerns.
Direct Hours for Clinical Mental Health Counselors (LPC)
Types of direct counseling hours for Clinical Mental Health Counseling track students include the following:
- Individual, group, couple, and family counseling and psychotherapy sessions.
- Assessment and treatment planning with clients.
- Theory-based consultation, where the student provides consultation to another clinician, professional, client family member, or the parent/legal guardian for a minor-aged client.
- Training and instruction on mental health topics for professionals and community members (e.g., sexual assault and Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) prevention, signs of depression or suicidal tendencies, wellness, etc.).
- Career, vocational, and educational counseling.
- Counseling and psychotherapy for substance abuse, rehabilitation, and comorbidity related issues.
- Referral counseling (where students evaluate the needs of clients to refer the client to a specialist or other service); and
- Crisis intervention, assessment, and counseling.
Attendance, Incomplete, and Roll Over Hours
Class attendance is a requirement of Practicum and Internship I & II. Attendance on first day of class is MANDATORY! Lack of class attendance could result in an administrative withdrawal from the course. Students MUST begin the first week of the semester and complete hours by the last week. Students not receiving individual and/or group supervision, during a week, will not be able to count any direct or indirect hours for that week.
Students will need to successfully complete COUN 6303 Practicum to enroll in COUN 6348 Internship I and successfully complete COUN 6348 Internship I to enroll in COUN 6349 Internship II. Successful completion of Practicum must occur within one semester. NO Incompletes (I) are not provided for COUN 6303 Practicum in Counseling. If, a student does not obtain a satisfactory grade for COUN 6303 Practicum, they will have to re-enroll in the course the following semester. An Incomplete, is offered to a student for COUN 6348 Internship I in case they are unable to complete their hours successfully during a semester. They may enroll in COUN 6349 Internship II and complete the outstanding hours. All other requirements other than hours must be completed during Internship I.
Roll over hours are offered only from Internship I to Internship II. A maximum of 30 direct hours and 45 indirect hours from Internship I will be permitted to roll-over toward Internship II.
All students enrolled in COUN 6303 Practicum, COUN 6348 Internship I and COUN 6349 Internship II must obtain and carry professional liability insurance designed to cover students being trained as counselors and working in approved settings. The liability insurance policy should cover students for completing counseling activities identified by the Texas State Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors and/or the Texas Education Agency/State Board of Educator Certification as relevant to counselors’ roles and duties. Liability Insurance policy limits must be a minimum of $1,000,000.00 per incident and $3,000,000.00 aggregate. Certificate of coverage must be provided to the practicum/internship instructor prior to students working with clients and accruing hours toward practicum/internship.
Institution course instructor will visit the site where Professional School Counseling and Clinical Mental Health Counseling students are collecting fieldwork hours. Institution instructor, student, and site supervisor will work collaboratively to ensure date, time, and location of meeting. Site visits are made each semester for COUN 6303 Practicum, COUN 6348 Internship I and COUN 6349 Internship II.
Observations and Evaluations
Observation (live or recorded) and evaluation of counselor performance and skills during COUN 6303 Practicum, COUN 6348 Internship I and COUN 6349 Internship II are significant components to counselor training. The purpose of observing counselors-in-training is to provide individual supervision and consultation with an approved supervisor. Supervisors may observe the counselor-in-training individually or in the presence of other counselors-in-training. The content of these observations is confidential, and the information will not be shared outside of the context of supervision. To remain HIPAA compliant, any recorded counseling sessions for the purposes of observation and evaluation must be appropriately stored and not used for any other purpose.
Part V- Counseling Practicum/Internship Rights and Responsibilities
Student Intern Professional Responsibilities
- Maintain a professional image. As counselors, behavior, attire and attitude reflect upon the department, university and the counseling profession in general. Consequently, it is important to maintain a professional image for the community, clients, peers and professors. There are several things to do to enhance the image projected, including, but not limited to:
- Dressing appropriately and professionally when seeing clients;
- NEVER discussing cases outside of class;
- Not socializing in the client waiting area(s) or outside the office in the walkway;
- Maintaining the professional appearance of the practicum/internship site by keeping the rooms neat and clean. This includes returning chairs to rooms immediately after sessions and emptying trash containers as needed;
- Ensuring that play therapy toys are returned to their appropriate storage places, in a clean and orderly condition. Any broken toys should be left for the clinic director to repair or replace (Remember: toys are the children's words, and as such should be treated with care);
- Ensure that sand tray miniatures and sand trays are returned to their appropriate places. Also, watch to be sure clients do not take miniatures out of the room.
- Know and practice within the current ACA Code of Ethics andTexas Administrative Code §681. This includes, but is not limited to:
- Maintaining and advocating confidentiality. The privacy of the counseling relationship and material shared therein belong to the client. Cases should not be discussed with anyone other than the supervisors and other practicum students. Other than the legal exceptions to confidentiality, the client is the only one who can direct you to release information. Clients may also request access to their own records (e.g., session recording(s), file). Any request by a client for access to her/his records should be discussed first with your supervisor. A guided access, (i.e., the clinician's interpretations of the information in the records) may be planned. Check with your supervisor before releasing records. Even in the case of a court order, you need to get the opinion of your supervisor.
- Never reveal that your client is being seen in the counseling practicum/internship clinic, unless you have written permission from the client. Even with written permission, you can only disclose information agreed upon by you and the client, and only to individuals listed on the consent to release form. At times, you may experience pressure to reveal information from a parent, lawyer, or fellow mental health professional. If this occurs, inform your professor. Also, client files are not to leave the practicum/internship site. Files must remain double locked (in a locked file cabinet behind a locked door) at all times in the practicum/internship site.
Reporting Abuse of Children, Elderly, or Disabled Persons
If, during the course of counseling, you suspect that a child, elderly or disabled person is being abused, remind the client of your legal obligation to report. Obtain as much information as you can, including the name, address, birth date (or age) of the person being abused, form & types of injuries, date and time abuse occurred, and the name, address, and telephone number of the alleged perpetrator, if possible. Inform your professor and site supervisor as soon as possible. It is preferable that you and your client report the abuse together. If, however, you are not physically present with the client, and, consequently, cannot be sure that the client has or will report the abuse, you must report it. You are required by law to make the report within 48 hours after learning of the possible abuse. Dept. of Protective & Regulatory Services, (800) 252-5400, DFPS - Report Abuse or Neglect
Assessing and Responding to Suicide
If, during the course of counseling, a client states or suggests suicidal ideation, a Suicide Assessment and Recommendation Form must be completed so that appropriate action can be taken for the safety of both the client and the counselor. Should the counselor become suspect that a client may be suicidal; the counselor must immediately shift direction in counseling. This is true regardless of theory. The counselor must direct in order to fulfill the counselor’s ethical obligation to preserve the client’s well-being (Beneficence). Should a counselor consider a client to be at moderate to high risk for committing/attempting suicide, the student is to notify the site supervisor and call appropriate authorities immediately after completing the assessment interview. Inform your professor and site supervisor as soon as possible.
Site Supervisor Responsibilities
- Help the intern develop a work schedule that allows the intern to meet the required internship hours, as well as meet the needs of the organization.
- Meet with the intern formally at least once per week for an hour for an in-person individual or triadic supervision. Consistently supervise the intern’s work and while at the site, assign professional duties that allow the intern to meet the professional activities required by the internship class, as well as by the site itself for professionals working in the area of concentration.
- Evaluate students using the Qualtrics links using the Counselor Competencies Scale-Revised (CCS-R). These forms are submitted to the site supervisor via the email when site visits are scheduled.
- Assist the intern in completing all documentation in a professional and timely manner and sign off their weekly logs.
- Consult whenever necessary with the Internship Instructor regarding the intern’s progress or document formally in the CCS-R in case of any unsatisfactory work.
- At any time when an intern is not meeting the professional responsibilities of the site or demonstrating unsatisfactory, unethical or illegal performance in practicum or internship; notify the faculty of record.
Practicum/Internship Instructor Responsibilities
- Course instructor is directly involved with the intern during a weekly class that meets for group supervision, minimally for 2 hours.
- Meeting with a group of no more than 12 interns per class once a week for group supervision Assuming the various roles involved in clinical supervision to help interns develop professional skills in individual and group counseling, diagnosis and treatment planning, progress notes, psychoeducational work, and guidance activities.
- Following the course objectives as described in the syllabus and required by CACREP as meeting the requirements for clinical instruction.
- Providing midterm and final evaluations on all aspects of the intern’s performance throughout the course work.
- Following all ethical codes and legal statutes and assuring that interns do the same as they serve clients in the community.
- Assigning student grades, while considering input from Site Supervisors and evaluation based on document submission in the electronic practicum/internship folder. The final folder must include: application; forms 2, 3, 4, 5, 6; all weekly logs; summary log; TSBEPC form; midterm and final CCSR evaluations completed by the student and site supervisor; evaluation on the on-site supervisor (completed by the student); evaluation of the UHV program (completed by the supervisor); midterm and final evaluations completed by the faculty of record.
Part VI: Counseling Practicum and Internship Application/Forms/Evaluations
The following practicum/internship application must be reviewed and approved by the practicum/internship coordinator the semester before you begin COUN 6303 Practicum, COUN 6348 Internship I and COUN 6349 Internship II:
- Spring Entry: Nov 1 (11:59 p.m.)
- Summer Entry: Apr 1 (11:59 p.m.)
- Fall Entry: July 1 (11:59 P.M.)
Note on Deadlines: The dates and times above are mandatory. Starting Spring 2022, due to the urgency of scheduling courses and program accreditation policies, no applications will be accepted past the posted deadlines.
This application must be completed and submitted to the practicum/internship coordinator for review and approval by the published application due dates. A separate application is required for COUN 6303 Practicum, COUN 6348 Internship I and COUN 6349 Internship II. Once you have completed and submitted your application, you will be notified whether your site has been approved and you will be able to register for class.
The following forms are due to your practicum/internship instructor by the second week of class:
- Clinical Fieldwork Contract
- Site Supervisor Agreement Form
- Authorization To Release Educational Records
- Emergency/Crisis Management Plan
- Proof of Counselor Liability Insurance
The following forms are due as a means to evaluate your performance during your COUN 6303 Practicum, COUN 6348 Internship I and COUN 6349 Internship II experience; each instructor will specify course-specific due dates for the following:
- Evaluation of Student Performance (Midterm & Final); (completed by student and site supervisor)
- Evaluation of On-Site Supervisor; (completed by student)
- Evaluation of UHV Professional Counseling Program; (completed by site-supervisor)
- Observation Form for School Counseling Interns ONLY (completed by practicum/internship instructor)
At completion of each COUN 6303 Practicum, COUN 6348 Internship I or COUN 6349 Internship II course, two additional forms will be submitted. These forms include:
- Practicum/Internship Hours Summary Logs
- Practicum/Graduate Internship Documentation Form
Professional School Counseling students must participate in the requirements of Texas Administrative Code Title 19, Part 7, Chapter 228, RULE §228.35.g. Ongoing Educator Preparation Program Support for Professional Certification, which states:
Supervision of each candidate shall be conducted with the structured guidance and regular ongoing support of an experienced educator who has been trained as a field supervisor. The initial contact, which may be made by telephone, email, or other electronic communication, with the assigned candidate, must occur within the first three weeks of assignment. The field supervisor shall document professional practices observed, provide written feedback through an interactive conference with the candidate, and provide a copy of the written feedback to the candidate's site supervisor. Informal observations and coaching shall be provided by the field supervisor as appropriate. (1) Observations must be at least 135 minutes in duration in total throughout the practicum and must be conducted by the field supervisor. (2) An EPP must provide the first observation within the first six weeks of all assignments. (3) An EPP must provide a minimum of three observations during the term of the practicum.
Therefore, within the three semesters of field experience at least 135 minutes of observation must be completed; with the first observation being live at the school practicum site and the remaining two observations completed by recorded sessions.