Supervised Clinical Experiences
Two levels of supervised clinical work in the counseling program at UNCG are required of students matriculating towards any degree: practicum activities and internship experiences. The following is a brief description of what these components entail.
In conjunction with most core and specialized counseling courses, corequisite practicum experiences are offered. These practicum activities allow students to directly apply knowledge from a specific course in a supervised clinical experience. For example, students in the counseling theory and practice course use several theory-based counseling interventions with a volunteer client; career development students administer and interpret a battery of career assessment instruments; and group counseling students function as a group leader. In other courses, students work with client populations (e.g., children, adolescents, older persons, families, couples) appropriate to course content. Practicum experiences sometimes include service learning activities in the Greensboro community. Students also may be required to observe counseling sessions in the Vacc Counseling Clinic. At the doctoral level, students also see volunteer clients or help supervise master’s-level students’ practicum work in conjunction with their courses. Students typically are enrolled in practicum activities throughout their program of study.
In the first semester of the master’s program, students are involved in a field practicum experience at a site appropriate to their program area (e.g., a school, community mental health agency, or a student services office at a local college or university). Students are at the site each week (approximately 5 hours per week) to observe and participate in activities related to topics being discussed in their course. Most other practicum activities take place in the Vacc Counseling and Consulting Clinic, the Department’s onsite, state-of-the-art clinic.
In Advanced Practicum, master’s/dual degree students log hours with University and/or community clients in the Vacc Clinic. Through these experiences, students become familiar with intake procedures, appropriate case note format, and crisis intervention, and focus on developing conceptualization skills and self awareness relevant to their clinical work.
Practicum supervision involves several modalities, from small group processing of field practicum experiences to live observation or videotaped review of counseling sessions in the Vacc Clinic. Practicum supervisors include faculty members and doctoral students being supervised by faculty. As a result, the supervisor-supervisee ratio is quite low, allowing for close and supportive supervision.
Masterâ€™s students are required to complete a minimum of 100 hours of practicum; most log 150 hours or more. Doctoral students complete a counseling practicum in the Vacc Clinic during their first semester, and receive individual and group supervision from faculty.
As an intern, students are involved in all aspects of a counselor’s role at a specific site. Internships enable students to integrate professional knowledge and skills through their work with clients, students, and new colleagues. Internship settings include a variety of campus and off-campus settings that reflect the various program areas and specializations offered in the Department. In fact, the immediate geographical area offers a rich array of internship sites.
For example, for college counseling/student development in higher education majors, there are five colleges and universities within the city limits of Greensboro. These include a large historically Black public university and a historically Black private college for women, two religious-affiliated colleges (Quaker and Methodist), and a mid-sized liberal arts public university (UNCG). Nearby are two large community colleges with strong ties to local businesses and schools. Within driving distance are at least five other institutions, including a large research university.
There is similar diversity and range in internship sites for other program areas. Clinical mental health counseling and couple and family counseling sites include agencies that offer family and children’s services. Several interns have worked with one of these agencies to provide in-home counseling for at-risk families and immigrant populations. Other sites include community mental health centers, inpatient and outpatient settings for substance abuse and psychiatric clients, hospice, support services for victims of domestic violence and abuse and those with HIV/AIDS, facilities for at-risk youth or delinquents, hospital programs for cancer patients and their families, pastoral care, and private practice settings. Students are encouraged to select one or more sites that fit their professional interests and career goals.
For school counseling interns, local K-12 public schools range from urban to suburban to rural, and include unique magnet school programs (e.g., Spanish immersion, technology and science curriculum), alternative schools, and middle/early college programs. Most schools in the area have quite diverse student populations, including a large number of immigrant populations.
Internship is a two-semester, 600-hour experience at the master’s-level. Supervisors include faculty members and doctoral students enrolled in a supervised supervision internship, at low supervisor-supervisee ratios. Supervision modalities are varied, but always include reviews of audiotapes or videotapes of a variety of counseling sessions.
Students are encouraged to explore internship experiences tailored to their individual needs and interests, in line with their own particular professional goals and talents.
Doctoral Students complete supervised internships in counseling, teaching, and supervisions.
Professional Experiences Outside the Classroom
Our students are strongly encouraged to participate in professional organizations, make presentations at professional meetings, and collaborate on manuscripts or original research projects. Opportunities for professional involvement include an active student organization in the Department as well as state and national counseling organizations. A number of students, at both the master’s-levels and the doctoral levels, serve on committees, hold elected positions, or have other leadership responsibilities within professional organizations at the state and national levels.
Our very active student organization is the Upsilon Nu Chi Chapter of Chi Sigma Iota, the international honor society of counseling professionals and professionals-in-training. Chi Simga Iota and our local chapter are dedicated to excellence in scholarship, research, and clinical practice. The purpose of Chi Sigma Iota is to promote and recognize exemplary attainment in the study and practice of counseling. Students who are enrolled in their second full term of a counseling program leading to a graduate degree, with a GPA of 3.5 or better (on a 4.0 scale), are eligible for membership.
Our students are involved in Upsilon Nu Chi as elected officers, committee chairs, or members of committees. A variety of activities are sponsored by our CSI Chapter, and all students are invited to participate. Professional development activities include workshops, guest speakers, an extensive mentoring program for new students, and a forum for shared experiences. Social activities include a holiday party, fall and spring picnics, and other opportunities to socialize with faculty, peers, family members, and friends. The annual talent show is a night of fun and surprises. Fundraising activities support students’ travel to attend or present at professional conferences.
In addition, a number of our students are involved in a variety of volunteer activities, including working crisis lines, serving as a mentor for an at-risk student in a local school, and offering conflict resolution training for disadvantaged children in an afterschool program.
Each year, an annual report of student activities and accomplishments is compiled. Consistently, the report offers an impressive list of publications, presentations, leadership positions, volunteer activities, and other professional activities. The report, which includes first-year and advanced students, at the master’s and doctoral level, is evidence of the professional commitment and accomplishments of the counseling students at UNCG.