UW-Madison - Department of Counseling Psychology - Master's Practicum

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Main Office

Department of
Counseling Psychology

School of Education
335 Education Building
1000 Bascom Mall
MadisonWI  53706-1326

Tel: 608/262-4807
Fax: 608/265-4174

Email: counpsych@education.wisc.edu
or by contact form

Master's Practicum


All master's students are required an academic year-long applied experience as a professional counselor-in-training. The practicum experience, including both site placement and associated supervision, is designed to integrate and to expand upon the foundation of knowledge acquired in the core curriculum. Practicum students will have an opportunity to assume responsibilities of professional counselors and to practice counseling techniques under the close supervision of both on-site professionals and department faculty.

The Master's Degree stipulates that students must satisfy a three-semester practicum requirement, including Counseling Psychology 806 (a pre-practicum course taken Year One) and Counseling Psychology 807 and 808 (two field practicum courses taken Year Two). The 807/808 practicum courses take place primarily on sites selected by students to match career interests and consists of two semesters of practicum at a single site. Community agencies and college counseling settings provide services to targeted populations through one-on-one and group counseling, outreach programs, case management, crisis intervention, and/or in-home intervention programs. 

The practicum requires 600 hours of counseling tasks (on-site and at the university) under the supervision of an experienced professional counselor and the university supervisor. Practicum students are required to spend 20 hours a week engaging in practicum-related activities, including 16 hours “on-site” and 4 hours “within-department” (described below). These hours add up to 300 practicum hours per semester. Ideal practicum placements provide opportunities for on-going individual and group counseling, consultation, appraisal/assessment, program development, and career counseling. Practicum students meet individually with on-site supervisors one hour per week for advice, consultation, processing of activities, and feedback. On-site supervisors have a Master's Degree in Counseling, a doctorate in Counseling Psychology, or an M.S./Ph.D. in a related field such as Social Work, and they have relevant licensure as required by law. Practicum students also meet individually with a departmental supervisor with a primary focus on professional identity and development. Departmental supervisors (870/808 course instructors) have contact with your site supervisors during the year (phone consults and site visits). 

Responsibilities for practicum students, on-site supervisors, and university supervisors include:

Practicum Students

Practicum students will adhere to all rules and regulations of the school in which they are doing their practicum. The student is expected to adhere to the calendar of the school or agency settings in which s/he is performing the practicum. That is, regardless of the university's academic calendar and holidays breaks, practicum students are expected to work in the schools or agency settings from the beginning to the end of the public (or private) school calendar or agency calendar.
The practicum student is responsible to the on-site supervisor and the university supervisor.
Students are required to follow the ethical standards for community counselors and/or college student personnel.
The practicum student is required to attend supervision sessions at the University. These supervision sessions will typically be held for either two or three hours. During this time students will:
  • share their counseling experiences
  • demonstrate their current skills and limitations in counseling interventions, and
  • select goals for development of skills, knowledge, or self-awareness to address school or community/college counseling or professional development related matters in subsequent work.

On-Site Supervisors

The on-site supervisor is the key person in the practicum. The supervisor directs the practicum student in all activities related to the practicum experience. A practicum, by definition, should allow a practicum student to receive the benefits of close and intense experiences with students or agency clients, the on-site supervisor, and on occasion other agency personnel. Continuing encouragement and supervision is a vital factor in helping a practicum student develop into a professional counselor. It is expected that the on-site supervisor will assign the counselor-in-training experiences in all parts of their program so that there will be opportunities to fully experience and learn about the counselor's many roles.

It is the responsibility of the on-site supervisor to provide constructive on-going evaluations of the practicum student's performance of assigned duties. The on-site supervisor will complete a written summary evaluation of the practicum counselor at midterm and at the end of the student's experience. This form will be provided to the on-site supervisor by the university supervisor.
The on-site supervisor should feel free to consult with the university supervisor at any time during the practicum experience to discuss any concerns regarding the progress and performance of the practicum student.

University Supervisors

The university supervisor is responsible for communication between the UW-Counseling Psychology program faculty, on-site supervisor, and the practicum student.
It is the responsibility of the university supervisor to visit the practicum site on at least two occasions during the practicum to observe the student counselor performing the roles of a counselor (i.e., individual counseling, pair counseling, facilitating small groups, and large group guidance). The supervisor will provide the student verbal feedback following the observation visit and will then review the student's summary of developmental strengths and areas of growth for the remainder of the semester and help them develop skills in these areas. The university supervisor also will make contact with the on-site counselor during the visit.
The university supervisor is responsible for facilitating the group supervision sessions.
The university supervisor is responsible to assign a final grade to the practicum student. The general evaluation criteria include:
  • Evaluations by on-site and university supervisors
  • Documented completion of 600 hours of experience
  • Demonstrated growth throughout the experience (e.g., through written work, verbal contributions and discussions in supervision, case presentations, contributions to peers' and colleagues' development, and documentation in portfolio)
  • Completion of appropriate practicum forms at mid-year and at the end of the year. 
The university supervisor will work with the student and/or on-site supervisor to resolve and work productively through any problems relating to the experience.

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