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Internship

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Internship Sites

COUN 609-Practicum

The Counseling Practicum is a one term supervised experience in a site offering counseling and psychological services. It is designed to place student counselors in extended counseling relationships and situations with a variety of clients under close supervision. Due to CACREP 2009 Standards which require a minimum 10 week semester, COUN 609 Practicum is NOT offered during the Summer term. 

Students are required to complete a minimum of 100 hours of clinical work during the Practicum experience.

  • A minimum of 40 hours must be direct client contact.
  • The remaining 60 hours may be indirect or related responsibilities for the site.
  • The student must receive 1 hour per week of individual and/or triadic supervision throughout the internship at their site. Additionally, 1½ hours per week of group or triadic supervision by Mercer faculty are required.

NOTE: Requirements may change as law and certification standards change. Work closely with your Counseling Advisor and the Faculty Clinical Coordinator during your planning time.

COUN 610-Internship I & II
The Counseling Internship is a two-semester supervised counseling experience in a site offering counseling and psychological services. It is designed to place student counselors in extended counseling relationships and situations with a variety of clients under close supervision.

  • Students are required to complete a minimum of 300 hours of clinical work per semester for two semesters (a minimum of 600 hours for both semesters combined).
  • A minimum of 140 hours per semester must be direct client contact.
  • The remaining 160 hours may be indirect or related responsibilities for the site.
  • The student must receive 1 hour per week of individual and/or triadic supervision throughout the internship at their site. Additionally, 1½ hours per week of group or triadic supervision by Mercer faculty are required.

NOTE: Requirements may change as law and certification standards change. Work closely with your Counseling Advisor and the Faculty Clinical Coordinator during your planning time.

Procedures for entering and continuing the COUN 609/610 sequence:

  1. Prerequisite Coursework:
    COUN 602-Intro to Clinical Mental Health Counseling
    COUN 604-Psychopathology
    COUN 606-Psychological Helping Skills I
    COUN 605-Group Techniques and Procedures
    COUN 608-Psychological Aspects of Substance Abuse
    COUN 612-Counseling Theory

    COUN 613-Cultural Perspectives in Counseling
    COUN 614-Lifespan Development
    COUN 618-Ethics and Professional Issues
    COUN 635-Orientation to Professional Practice

    While you are completing prerequisite coursework, explore your professional goals and the type of field experience that seems appropriate for you. Plan to begin your Practicum after completing the prerequisites, but no sooner than your third semester in the program.

  2. You must attend an orientation meeting the semester before you begin your practicum and each semester thereafter until you have completed all three of your clinicals. At this meeting you will be provided with information regarding clinicals. You will also be required to complete an information/application form stating your intentions as well as a form stating that you have completed all of the prerequisites listed above. These forms will insure that you are counted as a practicum or internship student the following semester.
  3. Develop a list of possible sites from the Practicum/Internship Site Directory or discuss your proposed site with the Clinical Coordinator. Choose several sites for exploration because a particular site may not be suitable for you or the site may not be available that particular semester. Also, some sites may be available for internships but not for practicums. Investigate them, using other students who may have personal experience, or contact the site directly for information. You may also consult the evaluation file that includes site reviews from students who have used the site in the past. You should prepare a one-page resume to give to each potential site. Some of the criteria to consider in your planning and research may include:
    • The kind of work you wish to do or gain experience in
    • The kind of population you may wish to work with
    • Whether or not suitable transportation is available
    • The days of the week, the number of hours per day, and the time of day you are available or would like to request for your clinical
    • Your other schedule (class, work, family, church, etc.)
    • Availability and quality of supervision at the site (very important!)
    • Additional activities the site may require of their interns
    • Whether the site allows audio/video taping for supervision (also, very important!)

It is your responsibility to find a site acceptable to you and to whom you are acceptable. You may wish to begin your search early in the program since the site must be approved well in advance of the actual registration and commencement of your practicum experience. You are required to have obtained a signed contract from an approved site prior to registering for COUN 609 or 610.

  1. You must attend an orientation meeting and complete a formal application to enter the Clinical Sequence. Beginning in October, 2007, two orientation meetings will be scheduled each semester in an attempt to accommodate the schedules of as many students as possible. These meetings will be scheduled the third Tuesday and Thursday of the month of October (in preparation for the spring semester, and the month of March (in preparation for both the summer and fall semesters). There will be no scheduled orientation in the summer. If for an unavoidable reason you cannot attend either of the orientation sessions, it is your responsibility to meet with the clinical coordinator to obtain necessary information and to complete a formal application to begin each semester of your practicum or internships. You need to complete an application form each semester during your clinical experience to insure that you are counted for supervision.
  2. COUN 609-Practicum is a one-semester requirement. COUN 610-Internship is a two-semester requirement. This will include one summer semester. It is best to begin your practicum during that summer semester. Plan to do the sequence in three consecutive semesters.
  3. Most agencies, public, private, for profit, or nonprofit, which provide some kind of counseling or psychological services, are possible sites for the practicum/internship experience. If a site has been used before, it probably can be used again. If your desired site is not on the list of suggested sites you may talk with the Clinical Coordinator. As long as the site can provide the required experiences and the required supervision for interns and agrees to the conditions and requirements it should be acceptable.
  4. If your plans regarding your placement change, notify both the Clinical Coordinator and the site supervisor. You may also need to formally withdraw from the course if you have already registered.
  5. Be sure to register for COUN 609 and/or COUN 610 each semester you are in the sequence.
  6. ALWAYS REMEMBER: While doing your practicum and internship, you are a guest in their house. They are doing you a TREMENDOUS favor, although it may not always feel like it. This sets the stage for your professional life as a counselor. Practice being the consummate professional, doing everything graciously, to the best of your ability, exactly like they want it done, whether it is the way you would do it or not. Nobody sees eye-to-eye 100% of the time. Leave in such a manner that you and Mercer University are highly respected and future Mercer University Community Counseling students are welcome at the site.

Clinical Site Requirements

In order to be approved as a COUN 609-Practicum/COUN 610-Internship site, the site must be able to meet the following requirements:

COUN 609

  1. The student must be able to spend from ten to fifteen hours per week in on-site work in the practice of professional counseling, defined as group counseling, individual counseling, guidance and consultation, intake, assessment, or other group or individual activities in direct contact with clients, their families, or other professionals; (COUN 609- Practicum - 100 hours minimum on site hours - 40 hours minimum direct client contact, 60 hours indirect for the semester)
  2. Five of the hours per week need to be direct client contact (defined as interaction with clients that includes the application of counseling, consultation, or human development skills). The remaining hours may be used for other activities required for client care: management and maintenance of records, case management, meeting and planning, training, consultation, etc. (40 hours minimum direct client contact, 60 hours indirect for the semester)
  3. On-site supervisors must hold a minimum of a Master's in counseling or related field and be licensed, preferably as a counselor, but may be a licensed psychologist or hold a license in MFT or social work as an alternative.
  4. The supervisor must agree to 1 hour of individual supervision per week (a total of 15 hours of on-site supervision), which must be supervised by Mercer faculty. Additionally, 1½ hours per week of group or triadic supervision by Mercer faculty are required.
  5. The site must allow audio and/or video taping for supervision purposes.
  6. The site verifies the total weekly/semester hours kept by the student in his/her log.
  7. The site supervisors must agree to do a face-to-face evaluation and written evaluation of the student during the last supervision hour of the semester.

COUN 610

  1. Twenty-five hours per week of on-site work are required in the practice of professional counseling, defined as group counseling, individual counseling, guidance and consultation, intake, assessment, or other group or individual activities in direct contact with clients, their families, or other professionals; (COUN 610-Internship-300 hours minimum on site hours per semester)
  2. Approximately eight of the hours per week must be direct contact. The remaining hours may be used for other professional activities required for client care, such as maintenance of records, case management, meeting and planning, training, consultation, etc. (300 hours on site per semester: 120 hours minimum direct client contact and 180 hours indirect service per semester).
  3. On-site supervisors must hold a minimum of a Master's in counseling or related field and be licensed, preferably as a counselor, but may be a licensed psychologist or hold a license in MFT or social work as an alternative.
  4. The supervisor must agree to 1 hour per week of individual and/or triadic supervision throughout the internship. Additionally, students will receive 1½ hours per week of group or triadic supervision performed by a program faculty member.
  5. The site must allow audio and/or video taping for supervision purposes.
  6. The site verifies the total weekly/semester hours kept by the student in his/her log.
  7. Site supervisor agrees to do a face-to-face and written evaluation of the student during the last supervision hour of each semester (2 evaluations for 2 semesters).

Student Responsibilities

As a practicum or internship student in an agency, you are part of that system, having been permitted to learn about a particular aspect of counseling in their setting. It is a time when you can become familiar with that particular service-providing agency and with your role as a professional counselor. The following are your responsibilities as part of the experience and are designed to minimize problems and enhance your learning opportunity.

  1. Follow all the procedures outlined in this manual for approval of your site and your practicum/internship with special attention and adherence to the deadline communicated by the Community Counseling Program Coordinator.
  2. Register for COUN 609 or COUN 610 when the semester arrives.
  3. Realize that the agency may require more of you than the Practicum or Internship requirements state. You should be clear on organizational expectations and, since you chose the site, you have the responsibilities of a member of the organization, including:
    a. Abiding by any rules, procedures and regulations specific to the agency, including dress codes, lunch hours, etc. If you are unclear or have a question, ask before you act.
    b. Accept what the site says even if it exceeds the University requirements and expectations. Never pit the site against the University or vice-versa.
  4. Use on-site conflicts and problems as learning experiences, keeping in mind that you are there with the permission of the organization.
  5. Establish with your site supervisor and maintain a regular working schedule. Adhere to the schedule as you would a job for which you are being paid. For example, you must inform your site supervisor of any unavoidable situations that would prevent your being present according to your schedule and ask their permission to be absent.
  6. Establish and adhere to a regular schedule for supervision with your university supervisor and come prepared for supervision.
  7. Learn the organizational policies and procedures, particularly as they define responsibilities to clients in such areas as:
    a. Record keeping;
    b. Confidentiality;
    c. Use of assessment data;
    d. Obtaining consent for and creating audio and/or video tapes.
  8. Always clarify to the administration, supervisors, coworkers, clients and families that you are a practicum student or intern.
  9. Read and adhere to the Code of Ethics of the American Counseling Association.
  10. Keep a daily journal of your experiences at the site. The journal should be in the form of progress notes as if you are charting or making progress notes on your client. Record each day’s thoughts and activities. These journal notes should be typed rather than kept in a spiral notebook.
  11. At the end of each semester, assure that your site supervisor completes the evaluation form that is part of this package.
  12. Complete an evaluation of your site for future students to review when they go through the process of choosing a site for their clinical experiences.
  13. Keep a time log of your hours at the site and your supervision hours for each semester.
  14. Turn in your journal, all evaluations, time logs, and semester summary of hours sheet to the Clinical Mental Health Counseling Clinical Coordinator at the end of each semester.

Supervision: General Principles and Process

Supervision is the process in which cases are reviewed and studied by the student and the supervisor. The structure of the supervision process is as follows:

  1. Each week, the student meets with the site supervisor for 1 hour of individual one-on-one supervision time. This continues for the whole COU 609/610 sequence.
  2. Each week, the student meets with the University supervisor for either a 90 minute group supervision session or a 1 hour individual or triadic session. This continues for the whole COUN 609/610 sequence.
  3. Supervision groups consist of no more than 5 students per group.
  4. Individual supervision is defined as either alone or with no more than one other student/supervisee.
  5. Each counseling session should be audio or video taped.
  6. Each taped session you plan to share in supervision should be previewed thoroughly and should be accompanied by a case conceptualization. You should make enough copies of your case conceptualization for your supervisor and all students attending the session. See page 30 (Form L) for the format. Be prepared to present only about ten minutes of each audio or videotape and have the tape cued to the place where you wish to begin.
  7. You will be required to present a tape each time you attend an individual supervision session. The responsibility of providing a tape presentation will rotate among students in group supervision sessions. A schedule of when each student in the group presents is at the discretion of your Mercer supervisor and may agreed upon at the beginning of the semester.
  8. It is important that you present tapes that you believe are both your best as well as your worst work so that you can be provided with appropriate feedback from your fellow students and your faculty supervisor.
  9. The supervisor’s function is to provide feedback, evaluation, and support for the student’s growth in the counseling profession. It is the student’s responsibility to provide appropriate feedback and support to fellow students during supervision.
  10. The clinical coordinator, after consultation with the site and faculty supervisors, has the authority to withdraw a student from the practicum/internship if it is believed that the student’s performance is a detriment to the clients and/or the site or University. If such removal is deemed necessary, the student will be given a grade of U for the semester. Please review the Mercer University Bulletin for the policy on discipline and screening counseling students from the field.

Confidentiality

One of the most important aspects of counseling is ethical confidentiality. It is also an important component of the trust-building process. Some of the most important concerns include:

  1. Students must read and be follow the most recent Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice of the American Counseling Association.
  2. Students must be knowledgeable of the professional code of ethics and the regulations at your site regarding all aspects of confidentiality, especially regarding the keeping, maintenance, storage, and transmission of records and/or tapes. If possible, obtain a copy of any written policy your site has on records and confidentiality. Students must also understand and be able to explain the limitations of confidentiality at the beginning of each session with a new client.
  3. Since taping is a very important aspect of the supervisory process, it is your responsibility to get written permission or the written permission of the parent or guardian in the case of a student under 18. It is important that clients understand that their identity will remain anonymous and the tapes will be used only for supervision and education purposes. When asking for permission to tape, students should explain that taping is a requirement of the internship experience and that they will be destroyed at the end of the semester.
  4. Practicum/Internship students are expected to behave professionally at all times. All information shared in class is to be kept strictly confidential by all class members.
  5. It is best not to use any information that will identify the client. Use initials or some code to label your tapes. Avoid, if you can, referring to your client by name on the tape.

The importance of confidentiality cannot be stressed enough. It is YOUR responsibility to protect against violations of confidentiality or misuse or loss of your clients tapes or records.