If you’re planning on becoming a clinical mental health counselor, a couple critical components of your graduate program will be your supervised clinical practicum and internship, which allow you to apply what you learned in your classes to real clinical settings.
Your clinical practicum and internship are where you get to see firsthand what your on-the-job duties of a clinical mental health counselor will look like, receive training and guidance from a seasoned licensed professional, and gain hands-on practice.
At West Coast University, we believe in supporting the students in our Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program every step of the way, including through their practicum and internship experiences.
“We actually help students with finding the practicum site, and we help them with finding the site for their internship as well,” said Dr. Colleen Logan, Dean and Program Director of Counseling at WCU. “Even after graduation, we help them find employment where they can accrue the licensure hours that’s needed under an approved supervisor. Whenever students find out about the level of support we offer, it’s always a huge point of relief for them.”
Continue reading to learn more about WCU’s mental health counseling practicum and internship requirements and how our faculty can assist you.
Counseling Practicums & Internships at WCU
How many practicum and internship hours are required at WCU?
The MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program at WCU requires each student to complete a total of 135 hours of supervised clinical practicum, which must include 60 direct hours and 40 indirect hours under the supervision of a site supervisor and a faculty supervisor.
Students in the program must also complete 600 internship hours, which do not count toward the licensed professional counselor intern hours that they must acquire after graduation and before licensure. The internship hours must include 240 direct hours and 360 indirect hours. Students are usually at their internship site 20 hours per week, though the hours may vary.
Clinical and internship site placements must be approved by WCU.
As part of your Fieldwork Practicum course requirements, you will participate in various activities that are commonly required of a professional counselor, including activities such as:
- Intake interviews
- Client assessments
- Treatment planning
- Individual, group, and family counseling
These practicum experiences allow students to see the key concepts of professional counseling they are learning through their coursework applied in real-life clinical settings. Students are able to learn through application of:
- Theoretical knowledge and skills
- Communication/counseling techniques
- Professional dispositions
Teaching and learning through the student’s clinical practicum may be completed online, in-person, or through a blend of the two modalities.
What will I do in my internship?
Your internship is where you will gain more hands-on experience with direct clinical practice. Not only will you have the chance to interact more directly with clients, but you will get to practice case conceptualization, help develop clinically relevant interventions for groups, and much more.
You are required to have individual supervision with your site supervisor for a minimum of 1 hour per week in both your practicum and internship. You will have the opportunity to work with your assigned faculty member in a group setting in the course itself.
Similar to your practicum, teaching and learning for your internship may be completed online, in-person, or through a blend of the two modalities.
Leveraging Partnership & Deep Industry Connections
While we cannot guarantee placements, we are committed to providing assistance and guidance wherever we can in the practicum and internship site selection process. Our instructors are veterans in the mental health counseling field who are well-connected within the industry.
Between WCU’s formal partnerships and our faculty’s personal networks, we leverage as many resources as we can to help connect our MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling students with strong fieldwork and internship opportunities that match program requirements as well as their interests.
We also gladly offer students guidance along the way to help them overcome any hurdles they’re experiencing as they complete their supervised clinical practicum and internship hours.
“Coordinating clinical practicum placements and internships can be a really overwhelming process,” Dr. Logan said. “We have been able to take some of the stress off students by saying, ‘We’re here for you from the beginning of the program through your courses, through your immersive learning experiences, through fieldwork, and beyond. Because one day, you’re going to be our colleague.”
WCU’s MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program
The MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program at WCU is a 29-month program that is offered both online and in a blended format, meaning it combines both online and regular in-person instruction. Students in the program learn from well-established leaders within the field of counseling and benefit from innovative learning tools, whether they’re learning online or in the classroom.
Learn more about our Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program or read our recent post about what a mental health counseling career looks like.
WCU provides career guidance and assistance but cannot guarantee employment. The views and opinions expressed are those of the individuals and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs or position of the school or of any instructor or student.