Clinical Training & Field Experience

Welcome to the challenges and excitement of your practicum and internship experience. You have successfully completed the required course work and acquired the necessary number of credits making you eligible to begin your clinical field experience.

Your efforts, professional interests, and continued openness to learning will largely determine the quality of your internship experiences. The counseling faculty will assist you through this period of professional and personal growth. The practicum and internship experience bridge the gap between the knowledge & skills acquired in the classroom and the world of professional practice. Entering into a clinical placement signals that you have attained sufficient competencies in the practice of counseling and are ready to function as a beginning professional under the supervision of faculty and site supervisors.

The Counseling Clinical Experience

Students in the Master’s Program participate in three semesters of field experience.  Students are expected to obtain experience in a broad range of skill areas, including: individual counseling; group counseling; psycho-educational groups and/or classroom guidance; parent and/or family counseling; program development, implementation and evaluation; staff development and training; and appropriate administrative functions and processes relative to their clinical placement.  The practicum experience consists of 150 hours of on-site work, during one semester, with 60 hours expected in direct contact with clients.  The internship experience consists of 600 hours of on-site work, across two consecutive semesters, with 240 hours expected in direct contact with clients.

Students in the Post-Master’s Program for School Counseling Licensure will be required to complete one 300 hour Advanced Internship unless additional clinical work is recommended by the program coordinator.

Concurrent with a masters or doctoral student's clinical experience, a student will attend a university clinical seminar (class).  The seminar will integrate the students' field learning experiences with discussion of the theory and practice of counseling, as well as provide an opportunity for the student to receive university-based clinical supervision (both individual and peer).

The clinical experience is one component of a comprehensive preparation program for counseling professionals.  It is an essential component, as it provides an opportunity for each counseling student to integrate the information and skills gained from courses, workshops, seminars, and readings into a personal philosophy of counseling work.  It also provides the student with an opportunity to explore areas of interest within the field and test out possible career options.

During both Masters and Doctoral Practicum and Internship experiences, students are required to adhere to “ethical practice” as described by the American Counseling Association’s (ACA) 2014 Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice http://www.counseling.org/docs/ethics/2014-aca-code-of-ethics.pdf?sfvrsn=4 . Your area of specialization may also have ethical standards of practice covering specific clinical work with clients/students:

American School Counselor Association (ASCA):

www.schoolcounselor.org/asca/media/asca/home/EthicalStandards2010.pdf,

American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA):

http://www.amhca.org/assets/content/AMHCA_Code_of_Ethics_2010_update_1-20-13_COVER.pdf

Association for Addiction Professionals (NAADAC)

http://www.naadac.org/code-of-ethics  

Association for Play Therapy (A4PT) Best Practices http://www.a4pt.org/download.cfm?ID=28051 .

Additionally, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte Department of Counseling follows the Practicum and Internship standards as outlined by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) http://www.cacrep.org/doc/2009%20Standards%20with%20cover.pdf . Throughout a student’s clinical training, these ethical codes and standards of practice are enforced and serve as a guide in the development of a professional identity.

Further details regarding the clinical experience for masters and doctoral counseling students can be found in the Department of Counseling Clinical Experience Manual [link].