Counselor Education

HCE 686: Internship in Counselor Education

The counseling faculty believes that a supervised internship is one of the most important components of the program. The internship provides on the job experience under the supervision of a member of the counseling faculty and a qualified professional at the designated placement site. As a culmination of the graduate program, it provides an opportunity for the student to demonstrate the knowledge and skills gained over the entire program.

The internship course has been designed for students to balance didactic, seminar, and experiential curricula. Since this is such an important experience, the counseling faculty first want students to work closely with their faculty advisor to get a clear focus on their career goals to select a field setting which best matches them.

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Purpose of the Internship

The internship is designed to enable students to:

  1. Expand upon the skills developed during other courses.
  2. Broaden their understanding of work settings where counseling skills may be used.
  3. Develop a background of experience for professional work in the field of counseling.
  4. Understand the relationship between their specialty and the many other services available in the field.
  5. Develop confidence in using a wide range of skills.
  6. Learn to work effectively with other professionals.
  7. Continue to research areas of personal interest.
  8. Evaluate themselves and their specific career goals.

Step-by-Step Directions for Starting the Internship

Step 1: Complete the Application Form for Internship. The internship is considered an end-of-program experience. Although there are firm restrictions as to the minimum number of hours to be completed prior to the internship, it would be unusual to take this course prior to completing two-thirds of one's program. Counselor education students must complete the practicum course (HCE 690/691) and satisfactory complete of the CPCE examination to be eligible for the internship.

The application should be submitted by the following deadline:

December 1 - of the previous year for fall semester
April 1 - of the previous year for spring semester
September 1 - of the previous year for summer

Specific courses are required prior to the internship and are listed on the application form. Applications may be submitted subsequent to these dates, but will be accepted only on a space available basis. All applicants will be notified prior to the registration period as to their status. Those accepted will be given a section assignment. This will allow students adequate time to plan for additional courses prior to registration. You must still register for the internship as you do for other courses.

Step 2: Meet with Faculty Advisor. The first step is meeting with your advisor to discuss your ideas and to ask questions about a possible internship site or to inquire about procedures you should follow. Your advisor will assist you in narrowing your focus to three or four potential sites which appear to meet your expectations and needs as a appropriate setting with respect to population served, supervision offered, issues confronted, services performed, geographic location, etc. You should schedule an appointment with your faculty advisor early to allow sufficient time to arrange a site. We recommend the semester prior to taking the practicum course.

Step 3: Contact the field placement coordinator. The field placement coordinator serves as the liaison between the program and clinical sites. The coordinator facilitates site development and is the contact person should site hosts have questions or concerns during the students’ placement sites. Discuss the type of placement that would fit your program. Do not contact any site without checking with the field coordinator first. Our field placement coordinator is Linda Evans and her contact information is (207) 780-5564 or evans@usm.maine.edu.

Step 4: Develop a brief resume prior to contacting Linda Evans, the field placement coordinator, and provide her with an updated copy of your resume. The field placement coordinator will contact sites to inform them of your interest, unless the coordinator indicates otherwise.

Step 5: Contact the Internship Site: After receiving permission from the field experience coordinator, call the site and arrange for an interview with the contact or supervisor. Have a brief resume ready for the visit. Develop your own ideas and questions as to how a particular setting might prove mutually rewarding to both the setting and yourself as a learner. This is a two way interview. You need to evaluate the site and your potential supervisor as well as expect to be evaluated yourself.

Step 6: Submit the Site Selection Form. When the internship negotiations have been completed between you and the site supervisor (and/or the school/agency administrator), complete the Internship Site Selection Form and return to the program office (400 Bailey Hall) as soon as possible.

Step 7: Complete the Memo of Understanding and submit the signed form to the instructor at the first class meeting. If a formal contractual agreement is required between the agency and university, the agreement should be submitted to the program office for processing well in advance of beginning the internship experience. Such agreements must be approved by University Counsel.


Site Supervisor Qualifications and Clinical Supervision Training

The site supervisor MUST meet these minimum requirements:

  • have at least a master’s degree in counseling or a related field;
  • a minimum of two years, post-masters experience; and
  • the appropriate licensure or certification to practice in the setting.

The USM counseling program has made a commitment to have all internship site supervisors trained in clinical supervision. For individuals who have not had advanced training, we offer a 30-hour training sequence which is in line with the national guidelines for an approved clinical supervisor credential. The training consists of both didactic and hands-on learning opportunities. As part of our commitment, we offer this annual training at minimal cost to our site supervisors.

Liability Insurance

All students are required to have professional liability insurance prior to participating in any supervised counseling experience. Students may not begin to accumulate internship hours or work with clients until proof of insurance has been submitted to the program office. Students are encouraged to obtain their insurance coverage well in advance of beginning their supervised counseling experiences. Click here to view your options.

Specific Internship Requirements

School counseling students must complete 600 clock hours (6 credit hours) of internship, and 240 (40%) of those hours must qualify as direct service. See Definition of Direct Service with Clients.

  • Students have done this in either two semesters of 300 clock hours (3 credit hours) each, or 600 clock hours in one semester. Three credit hours translate into 15 weeks of 20 hours a week for one semester of work.
  • Three credit hours (300 clock hours) of internship must be in a K-8 school setting under the supervision of a certified school counselor and 3 credits (300 clock hours) must be in a secondary program (7-12) under the supervision of a certified school counselor. See “Guidelines for School Counseling Internship Sites” in determining acceptable school internship sites.

Clinical mental health counseling students must complete 900 clock hours (9 credit hours) of internship, and 360 (40%) of those hours must qualify as direct service. See Definition of Direct Service with Clients.

  • Students have done this in three semesters of 300 clock hours (3 credit hours each) that translates into 45 weeks of 20 hours per week. This can also done in two semesters of 450 clock hours. This translates into 30 hours per week over the course of two 15 week semesters. These are possible ways to structure your hours. Other arrangements can be made to fit into your life situation and should be discussed with your advisor.

Rehabilitation counseling students must complete 600 clock hours (6 credit hours) of internship, and 240 (40%) of those hours must qualify as direct service and a minimum of 100 hours of the 240 direct service hours must be with persons with disabilities. See Definition of Direct Service with Clients.

  • Students have done this in either two semesters of 300 clock hours (3 credit hours) each, or 600 clock hours in one semester. Three credit hours translate into 15 weeks of 20 hours a week for one semester of work.

Definition of Direct Service with Clients

Direct service with clients means:

  1. Counseling - assisting individuals, families or groups through the counseling relationship to develop understanding of intrapersonal and interpersonal problems, to define goals, to make decisions, to plan a course of action reflecting their needs, and to use information and community resources, as these procedures are related to personal, social, educational and vocational development.
  2. Consulting - applying of scientific principles and procedures in counseling to providing assistance in understanding and solving a current or potential problem that the consultee/client may have in relation to a third party, be it an individual, a family, a group or an organization.
  3. Referral - determining the advisability of referral to other specialists, informing the counselee of that judgment, and communicating as requested or deemed appropriate with referral sources.
  4. Assessment - selecting, administering, and interpreting instruments designed to assess personal, interpersonal and group characteristics.

For the purposes of internship the following counseling-related procedures with clients constitute direct service:

  • Individual counseling
  • Individual consultation
  • Group counseling
  • Group consultation
  • Telephone counseling
  • Telephone consultation
  • Teaching/instructing
  • Intake/Assessment
  • Assessment
  • Referral

Expectations for Students. Students should gain a thorough knowledge of the placement site, its goals, objectives and operating procedures and structure. Students are expected to:

  1. Spend a minimum of 100 clock hours per course credit hour in the assigned setting.
  2. Meet on a regular basis for a seminar with other internship students. Students who divide the internship credit hours over two or more semesters must participate in the internship seminar for each semester they are registered. Counseling students are required to register for at least 2 credits for the summer internship section. In the spring and fall semesters students should register for the number of credits that match the number of on-site hours they expect to complete during the semester.
  3. Complete as soon as possible a goal contract in conjunction with the site supervisor and faculty supervisor.
  4. Appropriately use audio and/or video tapes for supervision. Taping is an expectation for all students at all sites.
  5. Maintain a weekly log of internship activities. The purpose of this log is to assist in the process of determining progress toward meeting your goal contract and related on-going goals, in the required number of hours. Logs should reflect total hours of supervision and direct service for each week. Interns are required to complete both pages of the log (the weekly summary (page #1) and weekly log of activities (page #2). Logs will be maintained as part of the student's file and serve as the primary means for documenting internship and supervision hours.
  6. Provide a final report on activities, including a self evaluation, as well as an evaluation of the placement site. Copies should be given to the site supervisor as well as the faculty supervisor. At the completion of the internship, all logs will be stored in the department. Logs will be kept on file in the Department for several years. After that time, they will be destroyed and a summary of internship activities for each student will be maintained as a permanent record. Students should maintain a copy of all internship logs for their own records.
  7. In the event that students registers for the internship and do not complete the required number of hours by the end of the semester, they will be assigned an incomplete (I) grade. A grade change will be submitted once students who have earned an incomplete (I) grade submit all required logs, evaluations and papers. Students are expected to attend all seminar classes while completing internship hours.
  8. Attempt to gain as wide a variety of experiences as possible while at the placement site, including staff conferences, training or other experiences that are normally encountered in that type of setting.
  9. The following is a list of expectations students should have met prior to the internship. Students are expected to:
    • have a clear view of their goals and objectives and expectations for the internship.
    • be able to identify and seek out support systems.
    • be able to establish relationships with staff.
    • understand the concept of confidentiality and privileged communication, as well as other legal and ethical issues.
    • have a clear perspective of role definition.
    • make a commitment of time for professional meetings, conferences, sessions with site supervisor, as well as to other appropriate activities.
    • understand that they work within a system and must accept that or seek another placement.
  10. In the unusual circumstance that a student wants to drop or change his/her internship site, efforts should first be made to address the dissatisfaction with faculty and site supervisors. If the issues are not resolved and the student decides to leave the placement, he/she should:
    • Immediately notify both faculty and site supervisors of the decision.
    • Work with agency/organization to professionally terminate with staff and clients when appropriate.
    • Inform faculty and site supervisor by letter stating the rationale for changing the internship, e.g. activity was inconsistent with goal contract.
  11. The final grade will be determined on the qualitative aspects of the student's internship by the faculty supervisors. The quantitative aspects of this experience serve only to establish minimum contact time. The final grade will be based on:
    • how well the goals and objectives of the internship contract have been met
    • how well the expectations of the semester--as detailed on the previous page--have been met
    • the site supervisor's evaluation
    • the student's self evaluation
    • the faculty supervisor's evaluation.

Procedures for Addressing Unsatisfactory Practicum/Internship Performance

Students deemed by virtue of their mid-term assessments to not be making satisfactory progress in their internship are required to take the following steps:

  1. jointly meet with both your faculty and site supervisors to discuss the student difficulties and develop a plan of remediation.
  2. collaboratively decide on corrective action that includes:
    • specifying the specific area(s) of weakness;
    • delineating concrete steps to remedy the problem(s);
    • identifying how each step will be evaluated;
    • agreeing on specific timelines for achieving satisfactory performance for each step.
  3. at the end of the agreed upon timetable, the parties will re-convene and assess student progress, repeating the above steps if the supervisors determine that student performance remains unsatisfactory and recommend further remediation.

Expectations for Site Supervisors.

The site supervisor is expected to:

  1. schedule time for supervision with the student on a regular basis. A minimum of one hour per week is expected.
  2. provide the student with ample experiences appropriate to the school, agency, hospital, or busines
  3. provide training and supervision needed for students to follow the policies and procedures of the school, agency, hospital, or business where the internship is being completed.
  4. assist the student to become an accepted member of the staff.
  5. provide adequate facilities for the student to carry out assigned responsibilities.
  6. provide a wide variety of experiences as possible for the student.
  7. assist the student in a periodic self evaluation.
  8. provide the student intern the opportunity to audio and/or video tape their interactions with clients.
  9. be available to meet with the faculty supervisor on scheduled visits and to advise the faculty supervisor of any problems which arise in connection with the student's progress.
  10. during the next to last week of the semester, develop a written evaluation of the student's performance. This should be sent directly to the faculty supervisor and will assist in determining a course grade. The evaluation will be treated as non-confidential and retained in the student's file.

Expectations for Faculty Supervisor

The faculty supervisor is expected to:

  1. conduct an introductory contact with the site supervisor. This will usually be via letter just prior to the beginning of the semester or during the first week.
  2. conduct class meetings or seminars at least every other week throughout the semester.
  3. visit the site supervisor and the student at the internship site at least twice during the semester.
  4. assist students in processing their new knowledge.
  5. assist students to integrate their experiences with theory and research.
  6. evaluate the internship sites and the site supervisor.
  7. evaluate the student and discuss that evaluation with him/her.

Typical Activities of Rehabilitation Counseling Interns

Typical activities we expect our rehabilitation counseling students to experience:

  1. Orientation to rehabilitation service delivery
    • familiarity with agency policies and procedures
    • observation of rehabilitation service delivery
  2. Case management
    • intake interview
    • client assessment
    • analysis/synthesis/interpretation of client information
    • job readiness and job seeking skills training
    • job analysis
    • job development
    • employer contacts
    • job placement
    • follow-up services
    • record keeping
  3. Counseling
    • provide counseling to rehabilitation clients individually and/or in group settings
  4. Supervision and evaluation
    • regularly scheduled supervision with a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor
    • on-going self evaluation
  5. Psychosocial Rehabilitation
    • performing functional assessments
    • developing individual skills
    • fostering community supports
    • developing vocational/career opportunities
    • establishing peer supports
    • acknowledging recovery experiences
    • advocating consumer choice

Typical Activities of School Counseling Interns

Typical activities we expect our school counseling students to experience:

  1. Individual Counseling
    • self referral
    • call in - parent/staff referral
    • staff members
    • parents
    • not just problem kids
  2. Group Work
    • group counseling
    • develop group activities - up to class size
    • classroom guidance
  3. Consultation
    • with parents, staff, community
  4. Assessment
    • administration and interpretation of instruments used in school systems
  5. Coordination and management activities
    • referrals - in and out of school (should include visits) participate in staff meetings
    • participate in pupil evaluation team meetings
    • record keeping
    • program and personal evaluation
    • career and educational information giving
      public relations
      (Also, refer to Guidelines for Internship Sites)

Typical Activities of Clinical Mental Health Counseling Interns

Typical activities we expect our clinical mental health counseling students to experience:

  1. Orientation to mental health agency
    • familiarity with office materials, agency policies and procedures
      understand philosophy and objectives
    • under role of measurement and evaluation within the agency
  2. Individual Counseling
    • exposure to individual counseling and therapy
    • maintain caseload of individual clients/patients
    • implementation of appropriate theoretical interventions
    • engage in treatment planning
  3. Group Counseling
    • active and regular involvement as a group co-facilitator
    • direct group facilitation after proper on-site training
  4. Coordination and management activities
    • referral - identify outside service agency staff
    • participate in staff meetings
    • consult with staff; meet with agency direct
    • record keeping
  5. Assessment
    • engage in intake assessment and diagnosis
    • provide follow-up & interpretation of standardized tests used in the setting
    • assist with program evaluation and research
  6. Supervision and Evaluation
    • regular clinical supervision
    • on-going self evaluation
  7. Education
    • exposure to various intervention strategies as deemed appropriate by field supervisor (workshop attendance, outside reading, etc.)

Typical activities we expect our clinical mental health counseling students with the substance abuse expertise to do:

  1. Intervention
    • confrontation-exposure to dealing with denial of addicted persons
    • referral to primary treatment
    • family awareness of illness
  2. Individual Counseling
    • exposure to individual counseling and therapy
    • maintain caseload of individual client/patients
    • implementation of appropriate theoretical interventions
  3. Group Counseling
    • active and regular involvement as a group co-facilitator
    • direct group facilitation after proper on-site training
  4. Supervision
    • regular and consistent clinical supervision; on-site at least 1 hour per 10 hours on site
  5. Education
    • exposure to various intervention strategies as deemed appropriate by field supervisor (workshop attendance, outside reading, etc.)
  6. Case Recording
    • maintenance of accurate and up-to-date clinical histories and treatment plans on each client/patient seen
  7. Diagnosis
  • diagnoses of clients utilizing diagnostic and statistical manual criteria
  • ongoing

The internship should be in both in-patient and out-patient facilities over the course of 600 hours. Overall, approximately 40% of an intern's time should be spent in direct client/patient contact in a counseling capacity. On both an in- and out-patient basis.

It is understood that some activities must be conducted only in conjunction with the supervisor or other designated person. However, most activities may be experienced in stages, first as an observer, then as a co-leader or equal member, and then as the independent leader.

Academic Support

Students encountering difficulty with a course, believing that they should be performing at a higher level, or requiring adaptations, or accommodations, should consult with the instructor as soon as possible. Assistance with these and other matters is available at the following USM offices: The Learning Center, 253 Luther Bonney Hall, 780-4228; the Office for Academic Support for Students with Disabilities, 242 Luther Bonney Hall, 780-4706; University Counseling Services, 105 Payson-Smith Hall (Portland) and 110 Upton Hall (Gorham), 780-4050.