Because future practicum and internship placements depend on the willingness of the field placement site, it is important that one should always be mindful of how one should complete the final internship placement. Ideally, besides completing all internship requirements, one will express their gratitude to the field site supervisor and colleagues in the school, agency and so forth, in addition to saying goodbye to the clients. A job search involves many facets: planning, résumé writing, mock interviewing, applying, interviewing, following up, dealing with rejection, entertaining an offer, accepting a job, and negotiating salary, to name a few. This chapter is devoted to completing the practicum/internship sequence and preparing for the job search. It addresses termination of the field supervisor–intern relationship. It also covers preparing for the job search, including preparing a résumé or curriculum vitae, letters of reference, cover letters, interviewing, and issues of licensure and credentialing.
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- Go to chapter: Completing the Practicum/Internship and Preparing for the Future as a Professional Counselor
The practicum and internship experience is the backbone of any counseling program. Beginning a practicum/internship represents a major step in our development as a counselor. The goal of this book is to provide orientation and guidance to help us successfully navigate our field placements. This chapter first discusses various general issues regarding the counseling profession itself; then, it offers a brief overview of the practicum/internship process. It reviews some basics of the counseling profession. The chapter briefly describes some of the key organizations that one will likely encounter as a student or over the course of our professional career. It provides brief introduction to the counseling profession, professional counseling organizations, licensure and certification, theoretical approaches, and our practicum/internship experience. The counseling profession has experienced dramatic growth in the past two decades and the future suggests continued expansion, particularly for the areas of clinical mental health, addictions, and clinical rehabilitation counseling.
Multiculturalism is a critical issue in the counseling profession. Cultural humility is essential for sound, ethical, effective practice, particularly when working with diverse populations. Multicultural counselor education seeks to establish a foundation for cultural pluralism in counselor training, counseling practice, and in the manner counselors conceptualize multiculturalism. This chapter provides an overview of some of the issues related to becoming a culturally competent counselor. Because of the wide variation in global cultures, no one can reasonably claim to be an expert. Therefore, it is highly recommended for counselors to continue their education well beyond the classroom through workshops, networking, and reading texts on multicultural counseling.
This chapter adresses how to maintain a healthier, more balanced life during the practicum and internship. It provides insights into recognizing stressors that accompany counseling a struggling population of clients. The chapter provides several exercises for the purposes of self-reflection. The ability to step back from an experience, however successful or disappointing, can be key skill for personal success as a counselor. The chapter explains how to develop and maintain a healthy and mindful lifestyle. It also includes assessments on quality of life, burnout, and mindfulness.
Amid all the excitement of beginning practicum and internship, where many counseling students encounter their first actual clients, one must of necessity consider the nature of the counseling relationship. Many students are idealistic and likely attracted to the profession due to the helping nature of the field. Thus, it would be no stretch to say counseling students and professional counselors are idealistic with regard to philosophical orientation. Many schools and agencies do a very good job of creating safety plans for students, clients, and staff, but some do not. This chapter covers some of the basics regarding safety on the practicum and internship. Still, the potential of assault is real and counseling programs must prepare students to deal with it. The chapter explores various ways one might identify, defuse, or deal with violence during the practicum/internship.
This chapter offers a brief overview of common clinical issues one may encounter at the practicum/internship site, along with suggestions and examples to assist us in counseling and assessment. Students beginning the initial placement may find the experience difficult at first, because they are actually encountering real people with real issues instead of theoretical scenarios in a textbook or on an educational recording. Compounding the issue is the amount of information and data that accompanies counseling. The chapter outlines some of the basic skills to be aware of: building the therapeutic alliance, handling intake and basic assessments, understanding counseling techniques, and other basics. The most critical factor in establishing the counseling relationship is creating an attachment with the client or clients. Beginning counselors should be aware that the counseling process might be new as well as intimidating to clients beginning therapy.
Ethical termination of the counseling relationship should be planned, thoughtful, and prevent harm. Up until recently, the process of termination in counseling has largely been avoided in the literature. First, termination is associated with loss, which is often an avoided topic in our society. Second, termination, unlike establishing the counseling relationship, is not directly related to the skills that promote counseling. This chapter focuses on methods of termination and also illustrates some issues that impede termination both for the counselor and the client. Terminating with clients can be difficult for both the counselor and the client. It is natural for clients to want to “hang onto” a relationship that has been positive and growth-oriented for them. Whatever the counselor does, acknowledging completion by honoring the client’s accomplishment is a good practice regarding completion. Celebrating achievements, and this certainly includes “graduating” from counseling, can be a healthy habit.
Ethical and legal issues tend to be perceived as significant concerns among graduate counseling students and for good reason. Functioning in the client’s best interests includes protecting confidentiality, practicing within our scope of competence, avoiding harm, avoiding conflicts of interest regarding your clients, and refraining from sexual and business relationships with clients, to mention a few. This chapter discusses these types of ethical issues and many others. Counselors practicing in various specialty areas must also be familiar with the ethics of their particular specialty (e.g., American School Counselor Association, American Rehabilitation Counseling Association, American Mental Health Counselors Association [
AMHCA]). The chapter focuses primarily on the American Counseling Association ( ACA) Code of Ethics as it represents the counseling profession’s flagship organization. Understanding the ACACode of Ethics can provide guidance and spare the student anxiety.
Writing clear and descriptive clinical case notes is very different from most other types of writing. This chapter provides an overview on writing clear, concise, and effective case notes. Counselors have an explicitly stated legal and ethical duty to create and maintain client records on every client. Failure to maintain adequate records could form the basis of malpractice as it breaches the standard of care expected from a mental health professional. Counseling students should remember that like all other counseling training, developing good, clear, and concise clinical writing skills takes time and comes through experience. The practicum and internship placements are good beginning points for developing good clinical writing skills.
The practicum/internship experience involves not only the on-site clinical experience, but also structured supervision, individual and group, at the clinical placement and in the classroom setting. This chapter provides guidance to help us and our fellow students make the most of our supervision experience, both in the classroom setting and with our on-site supervisor. Remember, while counselors are specifically trained in supervision models (particularly at the doctoral level), not all on-site supervisors have received such training. Furthermore, on-site supervisors will vary in their supervision skill, just as clinicians vary in their counseling ability. Some excellent counselors may be mediocre supervisors, and there are mediocre counselors who are very good clinical supervisors. Clinical supervisors will vary in their skill and facility in providing helpful supervision to graduate interns as well as to professional staff.