The Psychotherapy Practicum at the Counseling and Mental Health Center at UT-Austin is designed to provide students in the Counseling and Clinical Psychology doctoral programs at UT with a focused and intensive experience in conducting individual and group psychotherapy to university students and to provide training and supervision in the following areas:
Clinical skills and competency in providing individual and group psychotherapy
Understanding of and competence in the process level dimension of psychotherapy as well as use of the therapist's self and the therapy relationship as agents of change
Working competently and compassionately with clients from diverse life backgrounds and with wide-ranging presenting concerns
Developing skills for working with a multidisciplinary professional staff in a large university counseling center
Understanding and working with the "Use of Self" model of training at CMHC
All practicum students at CMHC participate in individual therapy training and may have the option of receiving group therapy training.
Structure of the Practicum
The practicum at CMHC consists of a designated block of time (a minimum of 8 hours per week) of direct clinical experiences. Students may choose to emphasize individual therapy and thus dedicate all of their clinical hours to this activity, or they may schedule a lower number of individual clients in order to gain experience in co-leading a group. Students may also increase the number of hours (beyond the 8 hour minimum) in order to incorporate more individual clinical time, or to add a group experience. Including direct clinical services, supervision, seminar, and case management time, the total minimum commitment to the practicum is 13 hours per week. (Please note that the specific structure of the practicum is subject to change)
Prior to the beginning of the Fall semester, incoming practicum students take part in a two-day orientation session designed to familiarize students with various aspects of the Center and the practicum. The orientation session is held within one week of the beginning of the Fall semester classes.
Individual Psychotherapy Experience
Each trainee is expected to provide a minimum of six hours per week for individual psychotherapy sessions. Given the variability in attendance rates and the fact that clients may be seen less frequently than every week, the size of trainees' caseloads varies.
Practicum students receive clients onto their caseload in two ways. First, practicum students have weekly Initial Consultations (ICs). The IC session is the client's first extensive experience with a therapist at CMHC, and includes a clinical interview designed to target the client's presenting concerns while also focusing on other important clinical tasks (e.g., risk assessment). When the Practicum Training Director and the student's supervisor determine, based on observation, clinical judgment, and consultation with the trainee, that the trainee is prepared, the trainee will begin conducting ICs independently. Following the IC, clinicians (including practicum students) make treatment recommendations (trainees make these decisions in consultation with their supervisors) regarding their clients. In most cases, clients seen for an IC continue with their IC counselor. Practicum students will generally have 1-2 ICs per week, and 4-5 hours of additional time for follow-up sessions.
The second way that practicum students receive clients is through participation in our Continued Care program. Clients are referred to the Continued Care program so that they can engage in consistent, weekly therapy throughout the course of a semester or an academic year. By working with clients in the IC system and in the Continued Care program, practicum students have the opportunity to receive training in both brief and on-going individual therapy at CMHC.
Individual Psychotherapy Supervision
Each practicum student will receive 1.5-2 hours per week of one-to-one individual therapy supervision. Supervision consists of various elements, including case review and consultation, joint observation of video recorded clinical sessions, exploration of practicum therapists' reactions to clinical relationships, and issues related to professional development. Supervision is tailored to each student's needs.
Supervisory assignments are made at the beginning of each semester by the Practicum Training Director in consultation with CMHC staff members and other mental health professionals, and with trainee input, to help maximize learning and growth and to minimize the impact of dual-role issues. In the Fall semester, each practicum student is supervised by a licensed member (either a licensed professional counselor, a social worker, or a psychologist) of the CMHC staff. During the Spring semester, most practicum students are supervised directly by psychology interns.
Group Psychotherapy Experience and Supervision
During each semester, trainees may participate as co-leaders of a group experience offered at the CMHC. Interested trainees will be matched with a CMHC staff member, who will serve as the trainee's group supervisor and co-leader. Throughout the practicum, trainees who choose this option will gain experience as a co-leader and will receive one hour of supervision weekly, in addition to the direct supervision provided during group sessions. In addition, for one semester of the practicum, the trainee may have the opportunity to observe a psychotherapy process group and participate in weekly discussions related to this experience. The group psychotherapy portion of the practicum is optional, and availability to participate may vary, depending on the number of groups offered each semester.
Practicum Seminar / Group Supervision
Each practicum trainee is expected to attend the seminar every week for the duration of the practicum. The seminar is scheduled during the early part of Monday afternoons. Practicum students are asked to arrange their course schedule in order to include the seminar. Practicum trainees are able to adjust almost every other aspect of this training experience to fit their academic schedule.
The two-semester seminar provides an opportunity for practicum students to be guided by a senior staff psychologist as they process with, learn from, share with, and teach each other.. We will cover a range of clinical and diversity topics, utilize case presentations and consultations, and have guest speakers to introduce and discuss several critical concepts in therapeutic practice. Various collaborative learning methods may be used in the seminar to foster cohesiveness, mutual learning, and respect for diverse theoretical and worldviews.
Time Allocation for the Psychotherapy Practicum at CMHC
Direct clinical services (individual and group therapy)
Individual Psychotherapy Supervision
Group Psychotherapy Supervision
Observation Group and Discussion (one semester)
The Use of Self Model
Regardless of the specific work activity, a primary "thread" running through all our training activities is the skill of "Use of Self" and its variants. For us, this means assisting the trainee in exploring and understanding the qualities and dynamics that he or she brings to each interpersonal encounter and how these facilitate or hinder effective interactions. It also means that the trainee is encouraged to become more attuned to his or her own thoughts and feelings in working with clients, and recognize how this increased self-awareness can be used to better understand client dynamics and develop effective treatment strategies. Because we believe in the working alliance as an indispensable ingredient in any helping relationship, we encourage trainees to recognize, improve, and employ those personal qualities that will assist in forming effective working relationships with clients, peers, center staff, and other members of the university community.
Because our training programs are based largely on a relational, use-of-self training model, and because we believe that optimal professional development occurs within the context of self-reflection and personal exploration, our various training activities will, at times, ask trainees to disclose personal information. Our training staff takes very seriously its responsibility to foster and maintain a safe, trusting, and supportive environment that will allow such disclosures to occur in accordance with the goals and objectives of our training model.
The CMHC staff is strongly committed to addressing the needs of a diverse student population, and our training programs strive to incorporate and highlight issues of difference as a fundamental part of the training experience.
In 1991, CMHC was one of the first university psychotherapy centers to adopt a Statement on Diversity, as we believed that it was important to make a public statement about our values, commitments, and responsibilities in this area. Recently, in 2007, this statement was reviewed and revised by our staff in order to reflect the evolution of knowledge that has occurred over the years as well as our staff's ongoing reflection, discussion, and appreciation of these issues.
Trainees are expected to commit to and demonstrate ethical behavior as defined in the APA Code of Ethics and observe all CMHC policies and procedures. Trainees are viewed as emerging professionals and are respected for the services and skills that they provide. Accordingly, it is expected that they will conduct themselves in a professional manner.
Psychotherapy Practicum students will also be expected to:
Provide six to eight hours each week to be used for scheduling individual therapy clients. During these hours, it is expected that practicum students will be present at the CMHC even when no clients are scheduled. It is expected that practicum students will use unscheduled time to focus on assigned readings, prepare for supervision, review client records, or to perform case management activities (e.g., making referrals, writing progress notes).
Video / audio record every client session. Supervisors often view sessions privately and ask the trainee to show an individual therapy session (or specific part of a session) to aid supervision. Digitally recorded material related to clinical work is treated as confidential and trainees are instructed in how to ensure that this material is secured within the Center at all times.
Be punctual, consistently attend, and actively participate in the practicum seminar. Practicum students are expected to read and be prepared to discuss assigned readings, to be actively involved in group discussions, and to openly discuss and enlist support and assistance with their clinical caseload.
Be punctual, consistently attend, and actively participate in supervision. Students are expected to prepare for supervision on a weekly basis and to initiate and actively engage in discussions which will lead to their professional growth and to receiving the feedback necessary to provide high-quality services to their clients. Trainees are expected to utilize the CMHC resources available to them if their clients experience clinical crises. These resources include individual supervisors, the Practicum Training Director, the daily crisis counseling teams, and the Assistant Director for Clinical Services.
Be familiar with, commit to, and follow the APA Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct along with the APA practice guidelines for multicultural populations, women and girls, LGB individuals, and older adults.
Maintain timely and accurate client records, including written and electronic documentation, according to established CMHC policies and procedures.
Protect and safeguard ALL CONFIDENTIAL client material Specific procedures for protecting client information will be explained during orientation. Absolutely no records or recordings are allowed to be removed from CMHC premises, under any circumstances.
Dress in a professional manner, consistent with agency norms for clinical staff members and interns.
Evaluation and Feedback
Evaluation and feedback is an ongoing process that occurs verbally throughout each semester. At the start of the semester, supervisors and trainees, in consultation with the Practicum Training Director, will identify supervisory and clinical goals. At mid-semester, the Practicum Training Director will meet with the student's supervisor(s) and then individually with the practicum student to discuss the student's progress on goals and to highlight any areas of concern or growth so that trainees can focus their training efforts on these issues. As indicated, feedback is provided to department faculty who coordinate the practicum placements.
A written evaluation process takes place at the end of each academic semester. Supervisors provide a written summary of each student's competencies and progress, while the student completes a written evaluation of their experiences with their supervisors. Each practicum student meets with her/his supervisor at the end of the semester to review and discuss these evaluations.
Copies of written departmental evaluations will be provided to the appropriate Directors of Training at the student's academic department.
The CMHC psychotherapy practicum is open to doctoral students who are enrolled in the Counseling Psychology or the Clinical Psychology training programs on the UT-Austin campus.
Applicants must submit a completed practicum application form, a current resume/vita, and one letter of recommendation from a clinical supervisor to the Practicum Training Director. If possible, please submit the application and vita via e-mail. After the deadline, all applications will be reviewed, and qualified students will be contacted to schedule an interview to discuss applicants' interest and to evaluate their suitability for the practicum. References and/or departmental representatives may be contacted in order to gather pertinent information.
For the 2013-2014 training year, the application deadline is Monday, February 11, 2013.