Practicum and internship are required of all students and further extend their training in the scientific, methodological, theoretical foundations, and applied activities of psychological practice. The goals of practicum training are to produce professionals competent to practice independently and ethically, sensitive to individual differences and diversity, and committed to personal growth and exploration. Practica and internship experiences range from skill building in basic psychological assessment and counseling; to actual work with clients; to a year-long, full-time internship in an applied service setting. Early experiences often are completed in one of the university’s two departmental training clinics.
Students who enter through the School of Counseling with a Master’s in a counseling-related area typically begin their doctoral practicum training in their second year. This may involve seeing clients in the Clinic for Individual and Family Counseling or a community agency. The Clinic for Individual and Family Counseling serves a community population of children, adolescents, and adults (couples and families are also seen). The facility is housed on an entire floor of the Chima Building on the University of Akron campus and consists of a reception area, counseling rooms (including group/family and play therapy rooms) and supervision rooms. The facility uses a state-of-the-art computerized session recording and remote viewing system. Rooms are also designed with one-way mirror observation units and telephones for live observation call-ins. An adjoining confidential computer lab provides students with a secure area in which to view their sessions and prepare their case documentation.
Students in the Department of Psychology see clients in the department’s Counseling Clinic through much of their first and second years. The Counseling Clinic is embedded within the Department of Psychology in the College of Arts and Sciences building and serves an adult, community population. The facility has four interview rooms with remote DVD recording as well as one-way mirror capabilities. An observation area runs behind the interview rooms and allows for live observation, taping of interviews, confidential file storage and tape review. The Clinic’s reception area is physically separate from the interview rooms.
Students in both departments obtain additional applied experience via external practicum positions for a minimum of two years of their program. Students work at sites such as the Counseling Center on campus, the Cleveland State University Counseling Center, Baldwin Wallace Health and Counseling Services, Case Western Reserve University Center for Collegiate Behavioral Health, the Kevin Coleman Community Mental Health Center, Akron General Hospital, Summa Health Systems, Portage Path Behavioral Health, and the Northeast Pre-release Center. Practicum sites vary in their requirements, but wherever taken, they include a mix of client contact hours, individual supervision and professional development opportunities. In addition to required practica, students may also engage in optional supplemental practica to obtain additional experience in community settings of interest. The program has a designated Practicum Coordinator, a list of approved practicum sites, and formal procedures for obtaining required or supplemental practicum placements.
As is typical of applied psychology programs, internships take place at member agencies of the Association of Psychology Pre-doctoral Internship Centers (APPIC). APPIC sites that are approved by the American Psychological Association are highly recommended, and in nearly all cases are successfully obtained by our students. These sites are located across the United States and in Canada, and include settings such as university counseling centers, Veterans Administration Medical Centers, and Community Mental Health Centers. We are fortunate to have several APA-approved APPIC internship sites in our metropolitan area, and although many of our students have been placed at these sites, these and all APPIC site placements occur via APPIC's national competition and matching system. Thus, students are encouraged to apply to sites of interest in as broad a geographic area as is possible for them.
Consistent with the recommendations of the Council of Chairs of Training Councils for communication among doctoral training programs and the applied training entities serving their doctoral students, the CPCP views doctoral training as involving “…collaboration and partnerships with multiple training sites, including practicum placements, doctoral internship training programs, and others, such as research labs and other academic departments. Communication between doctoral training programs and these training partners is of critical importance to the overall development of competent new psychologists. Therefore, it is the position of our training program that regular communication about students’ performance and progress must occur between the program faculty and other training partners, and that the content from this communication will contribute to regular evaluation of the student’s progress.” (CTCC, 2007)