Selecting a Site
For all practica, students should meet with the Clinic Director to identify training objectives and potential practicum sites and to develop a rough plan of activities for the practicum to be finalized in consultation with the on-site practicum supervisor. When applying for practica, students should have ready an up-to date curriculum vitae that includes coursework, clinical experience, and research completed and planned for before the practicum begins.
For Practicum II (PSYC*7992), students need to meet with the faculty instructor for this course 4-5 months in advance of placement to review possibilities for placements at different school boards. Students should supply a recent CV to the instructor who will initiate contact with the chief psychologist and gain potential matches for students to follow-up on. If students are interested in placement with school boards (or other assessment placements) that are part of the Toronto-Area Practicum Group, they will need to apply one year in advance.
For Practicum III (PSYC*7993), preparation should begin at least a year in advance, as considerable lead-time is required for some settings. Students who are interested in completing practicum in one of the popular Toronto Area Practicum settings including, CAMH, SickKids, Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, Reach Out Centre for Kids, Hamilton Health Sciences, among many other sites, are advised that this group of settings has organized into a Toronto Area Practicum Group with a coordinated application date (usually early February) notification date (usually March) and procedure. Reference letters, transcripts and cover letters will be requested when applying for Practicum III.
Work completed as part of required studies is covered under the Canadian Universities Reciprocal Insurance Exchange insurance policy. Practicum settings may request proof of this Insurance Certificate. This documentation can be arranged through the faculty instructor or the DCT.
Police Checks, Vaccination Coverage, and Tuberculosis Clearance
Many practicum settings require that all regular and visiting personnel have a criminal record check with a vulnerable sector screen, proof of vaccination coverage/history, and certificate of being free of tuberculosis. Policies vary from setting to setting and may change from one year to the next. Students must determine what the policies are at the setting and ensure that appropriate documentation is submitted in advance of beginning the practicum.
Registering in Practica
Registration in each practicum course requires the consent and initials of the faculty instructor or Clinic Director (depending on the course). It is students’ responsibility to supply the instructor of these courses with the appropriate Add Form. Once a practicum setting and supervisor has been determined, the student completes three copies of the Practicum Agreement Form: one for the onsite supervisor, one for the Clinic Director, and one to keep for their records.
Students must register for a practicum before undertaking any clinical work. Clinical work undertaken while the student is not registered for practicum will not count as program sanctioned hours. This is to ensure that appropriate experiences and a suitable supervisor are in place for optimal clinical training.
With respect to practicum work at the CPS, students must register for PSYC*7991 for any type of work that may affect clients including shadowing cases and intake duties. Registration must be done in paper format and not through Web Advisor. The Graduate Secretary will assist students with getting the proper form and signatures before submitting the registration to Graduate Program Services. There is no charge for adding a course after the add period as long as the student is currently registered for the semester.
Responsibilities of the Student
Students are responsible for establishing training goals and objectives and monitoring their experience in conjunction with their supervisors. At minimum, progress toward these goals should be discussed with the supervisor at the mid-point and at the end of the practicum. Students must also keep a record of their hours and activities and submit these to their practicum supervisor for approval and signature. The Department also subscribes to the software program Time2Track to facilitate tracking practicum experiences and students are required to use it for their benefit and also so that their clinical training hours can be cumulatively tracked by the DCT and Clinic Director. Students are expected to resolve issues in a professional manner and to seek advice from their supervisors should any difficulties arise. Students are also able to bring any issues related to their clinical training to the DCT and/or Clinic Director for discussion.
Responsibilities of Onsite Clinical Supervisors
Clinical supervisors should provide students with information on the policies and procedures for the setting, as well as identify particular professional and legislative standards that apply. Ongoing feedback should be provided to the student through scheduled supervision. Based on the ASPPB Guidelines for Practicum Experience (October 2008) face-to-face supervision is to be provided for no less than 25% of the time the student spends in service-related activities. In addition as per the CPA Accreditation Standards, on average, one hour of face-to-face supervision is to be provided for every two hours of direct, face-to face client work. Supervision is expected to follow the students’ levels of competency. Typically, more supervision is required when students undertake new or more complex tasks. For example, students at earlier stages of training or undertaking new responsibilities on practica may require more intensive supervision ratios. Client work may also result in other service related activities such as report writing, scoring, progress notes, and classroom observations that also require supervision. In addition, supervisors should expect to be contacted one or two times by the faculty member responsible for evaluating the training experience to discuss the student’s progress.
At the conclusion of the practicum, the supervisor completes an evaluation form regarding the student’s competencies, recommends future training goals, discusses this with the student, and verifies that the documentation of hours and experiences compiled by the student is accurate. At any point during the practicum, supervisors are to convey any serious or immediate concerns regarding the student’s practicum work to the faculty instructor identified on the Practicum Agreement Form or the DCT.
Responsibilities of the Course Instructor
Currently, the Clinic Director is responsible for coordination and evaluation of PSYC*7991, PSYC*7992, and PSYC*7993 whereas a clinical faculty member is responsible for PSYC*7994. The instructor assists students in locating and setting up practica. Once a practicum supervisor is determined, the instructor invites the supervisor to submit their CV and then forwards this to the graduate secretary along with the student’s name and anticipated start and end supervision dates requesting that the supervisor be nominated to Clinical Associated Graduate Faculty.
The faculty instructor is also responsible for monitoring the progress and experiences of students while on practica and helping to resolve any problems that might arise. Monitoring is typically handled through a combination of scheduled cohort meetings and one-to-one consultation. Following the Guidelines of Council of Chairs for Training Councils Voluntary Guidelines for Communication between Graduate Program and Internships, the faculty instructor should make 1-2 informal (telephone or email) contacts with the site supervisor to elaborate on or answer any questions on the nature of the program and expectations for supervision and accountability and to monitor student progress. In cases in which a site supervisor expresses concerns over a student, the instructor is to document these concerns as they are conveyed, address them with the student, and follow-up with the on-site supervisor accordingly. These communications should be brought to DCT’s attention.
At the end of the practicum, the instructor is to write each supervisor thanking them on behalf of the CCAP Program for their contribution. The instructor also ensures that all practicum documentation for each student is complete and signed and that the final grade is submitted. Practicum documentation for each student is to be collated, provided to the graduate secretary for entry into the database, and then placed in the student’s practicum file. This file may be periodically reviewed by the DCT and Clinic Director. The PhD Qualifying Exam takes place following completion of PSYC*7993. At this time, the Clinic Director utilizes the information in the student practicum file to write a summary and recommendation as to whether the student demonstrates clinical competency commensurate with a senior PhD student. This letter will be weighed when making overall decisions about student PhD candidature.
Responsibilities of the Director of Clinical Training:
It is the responsibility of the DCT to consult with the Clinic Director who coordinates PSYC*7991, PSYC*7992, and PSYC*7993 and with the course instructor for PSYC*7994 to be aware of the progress made by students in the various practica. The DCT meets with individual students as needed to address any questions/concerns about progression in the program including practica. The DCT will also be available for consultation about professional and ethical matters pertaining to the practica and to ensure that the accreditation standards of CPA are adhered to.
The faculty instructor in conjunction with the clinical supervisor decides whether the regular practicum evaluation form or the short practicum evaluation form should be used, depending on the nature of the student’s involvement on practicum. Students are graded on a pass/fail basis by the faculty instructor based on written evaluation and verbal feedback from the clinical on-site supervisor. Practicum evaluations are reviewed by the Clinic Director at various times to gain an overview of student progress and provide guidance for future training experiences, as well as to provide a summary of clinical competence as part of the PhD Qualifying Examination. Unethical, irresponsible, incompetent behaviour in practicum activities that is egregious (e.g., harming a client) and/or which continues after explicit corrective feedback to the student would likely be grounds for failure in a practicum course. Should a student fail a practicum, the CCAP area will review the case to determine a recommendation that may range from remedial work to withdrawal from the program.
On rare occasions, typically due to circumstances beyond student control (e.g., personal illness, strikes, changes in clients) a student may not be able to complete sufficient practicum work or gain enough experience to be evaluated within the semester in which they are registered for a practicum. In such cases, the faculty supervisor in consultation with the on-site clinical supervisor may deem the course to be incomplete and the student receives an interim grade of Incomplete (INC) on their end of current semester transcript. Automatically, the student carries the practicum into the next registered semester and should not re-register for the practicum.
In the following registered semester, with the exception of extraordinary circumstances, the practicum must be completed and the appropriate paperwork submitted to the faculty instructor as per Practicum Responsibilities above. An evaluation of satisfactory or unsatisfactory will be assigned by the faculty instructor, replacing the INC on the student’s transcript.
To prevent dual relationships and ensure focus of all practica is centred on student learning, program-sanctioned practica are unpaid clinical training experiences.
Currently our program will review and occasionally grant permission for a site to offer a small honorarium to students to defray the expenses associated with training (e.g., travel, parking). If the practicum setting is able to offer this one-time amount, it should be provided to the student directly and should first be discussed with and approved by the DCT.