The practicum provides students with supervised clinical experience, allowing them to integrate didactic and theoretical training with applied experience in general clinical psychology, as well as in the specialty areas of forensic psychology, health psychology, and neuropsychology. The practica are viewed by the program as introductory clinical experiences that enable students to become familiar with multiple clinical settings, develop interactive and communication skills, and strengthen psychological testing, evaluation, and intervention competency. In addition to clinical placements, students also attend clinical practicum seminars as part of their practicum requirement.
Students are required to complete at least two year long practica. A minimum of 1600 clinical hours must be successfully completed before a student is allowed to apply for internship. Practicum placements are located throughout the greater Philadelphia and Delaware Valley in medical centers, general hospitals, rehabilitation hospitals, university counseling centers, geriatric centers, psychiatric facilities (including those specializing in the treatment of substance abuse), forensic assessment and treatment settings, and private practices. Each year, the practica consist of higher-level experiences, with students performing clinical tasks with greater responsibility in preparation for a fifth-year internship. These are generally 12-month placements for 16 hours per week. Placements in excess of 16 hours per week require the approval of the department. In these clinical settings, students work directly under the supervision of some of the most well-known clinical psychologists in the United States in both direct patient care and research endeavors within a scientist-practitioner model.
The primary supervisors in this program are PhD-level clinical psychologists who are dedicated to teaching and training activities, and provide close individual supervision. Ideally, most of a student’s supervision for practica comes from a licensed clinical psychologist; however, the student could have one practicum with an individual licensed in his/her respective field (e.g., Ed.D., LCSW). Students and supervisors meet for formal individual supervision, as well as for informal and/or group supervision. At the beginning of the training year, students and their primary supervisors should meet to develop their specific plans for clinical training, type and amount of client contact, and supervision. Many supervisors are actively engaged in both clinical and research activities, and enjoy working with students in both of these endeavors.
Part of this requirement is that students must submit four evaluations for each practicum placement they have:
Students are required to obtain evaluations of satisfactory or better to successfully pass the practicum requirements. Students who earn an unsatisfactory evaluation in any term of the practicum course may be required to take the entire four-term sequence again, assuming that a placement can be arranged. Receipt of an unsatisfactory rating will immediately be brought to the attention of the Clinical Psychology Graduate Program for advice or action. Students will be granted only one opportunity to repeat a clinical practicum. Credit will not be given unless all four evaluations are submitted. Be sure to submit your evaluations in a timely fashion; otherwise, transcripts sent with internship applications may contain a notation of “no credit.”
A Practicum Fair will be held during the Winter term of each year. During the Practicum Fair, information is provided by current trainees and site representatives about upcoming practicum training opportunities. Students secure practicum experiences by first identifying training sites that are of interest. These sites must be chosen from the Handbook of Approved Clinical Psychology Practicum Sites distributed at the Practicum Fair. Students apply to each of the training sites in which they have an interest, following the guidelines outlined in the Handbook. Students may then be offered interviews by any of the sites to which they have applied.
Matching System Overview
A matching system is employed so that both students and practicum sites will have every opportunity to obtain their top choices. After the interview process, practicum sites rank students using the Practicum Match Form for Sites (link provided during match process), and students rank their preferences using the Practicum Match Form for Students (link provided during match process). The match forms are typically due towards the middle of March. The Coordinator of Practicum Training then conducts the match using an algorithm to give students their first choices, where possible. Match results are disseminated by email to students and sites. Students who do not match with a practicum site should work with their advisor and the Coordinator of Practicum Training to secure an alternate site.
Please note: Only training placements pre-approved by the Coordinator of Practicum Training can be counted as practica. To submit a training experience for consideration, students must have the site complete a Practicum Description Form and send it to the Coordinator of Practicum Training along with the CVs of all potential supervisors. Practicum Description Forms must be received by February 14th so that the new site can be included in the Practicum Handbook.
Clinical Hour Requirements
For training experience to be considered a clinical practicum, students must spend at least 25% of their time but not more than 66% of their time in direct patient contact. While the total number of hours a student may spend in clinical activities will likely vary according to placement, the minimum requirement is 400 hours of direct patient contact during two different practicum years. It is the combined responsibility of the student and the student’s Graduate Study Committee, in consultation with the Director of Clinical Training, to ensure that a balance of experiences be obtained and to allow the student the necessary focus of skills toward career goals.
Requirements for Practicum Sites and Supervisors
To be eligible as a clinical training site, there must be a designated primary supervisor on-site who meets in supervisory sessions with the student for a minimum of 1-2 hours per week depending on the total number of hours worked at that placement. One hour per week should be spent in formal individual supervision. The primary supervisor must be licensed in his/her field and competent in the area to be supervised.
The practicum seminars address professional practice issues, support practicum training, and will focus on topics related to serving as a clinician in a first practicum placement. The practicum seminar is taken the first term that students are on practicum (normally fall of 2nd year).
Up until 2005: Students generally register for PSY 899 in Spring of their 2nd and 3rd years (3rd and 4th years for JD/PhD students). Two credits are required before commencing internship. Credits are awarded as follows:
- Credit 1: Attend 5 practicum seminars + successfully complete a practicum placement in the year the credit is registered, including turning in all three evaluations.
- Credit 2: Attend 10 total practicum seminars + successfully complete a practicum placement in the year the credit is registered, including turning in all three evaluations.
Beginning in 2006: Students must earn at least 2 credits of PSY 899 and 3 credits of PSY 897 prior to commencing internship.
- Students must register for 1 credit of PSY 899 in the Spring term of each year they are on a practicum placement. Credit for 899 is awarded for successfully completing practicum (practica) and turning in all three evaluations (for each practicum placement). In addition, students register for 3 credits of PSY 897 in the Spring term of the year they will complete 10 practicum seminars.
- If you registered for PSY 899 during a year you completed a practicum, but did not receive credit, you will need to contact the Graduate Assistant Shelby Arnold (firstname.lastname@example.org) to determine what is on record in terms of forms submitted and seminars attended. Once all required documentation is submitted, a Change of Grade form will be submitted to the University.