Description of Practica

(Note: Both MA and PhD level practica are described below).

Practica are an integral part of the CPA accredited Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology (CCAP) program and involve supervised placements in school boards, community mental health agencies, hospitals, and the Department’s in-house training facility, the Centre for Psychological Services (CPS). The sequence of practica provide opportunities for students to apply knowledge and clinical skills gained in coursework to develop and practice the professional competencies that are an essential part of the training program. Evaluated competencies on practica are also an important component of the PhD Qualifying Examination for determining suitability for Doctoral candidacy. Moreover, documented skilled performance and experience in practica are essential preparation for the required year-long CPA accredited clinical internship (PSYC*8000). Before applying for this internship year, students should have developed both breadth and depth of clinical training through a minimum of 300 direct contact hours  in interviewing, assessing or intervening with clients and 200 hours of supervision.

Guidance to students regarding practica is primarily provided by the Director of Clinical Training and the CPS Clinic Director. The typical sequence of clinical experiential training and course work that students follow across their studies is included at the end of this document. 

The CCAP Program acknowledges the invaluable benefit that students receive from their practicum experiences.  Integral to our program are four clinical faculty supervisors whose central role is to provide individual and group clinical supervision at CPS in addition to other service and research roles within the department (Assistant Professor, Contract-Limited positions). Our program is also grateful for the time and expertise provided by external practicum supervisors. In recognition of the important educational and training role played by these external supervisors, Associate Graduate Faculty standing may be accorded by the University.  

Note that students must carefully balance their coursework, practica and thesis/dissertation work to ensure that they make good progress on their research. The department has clear requirements regarding the deadlines for thesis and dissertation proposals and overall program timelines which must be considered while acquiring appropriate practicum experience. On a term-by-term basis, particularly in senior years, students must consult with their advisors and the DCT to ensure that they are appropriately balancing the clinical training and research components of graduate study.

Broad Learning Outcomes Assessed Via Practicum Training

The following broad learning outcomes (comprised of numerous more specific competencies) are developed and assessed on our integrated series of practicum experiences. 

Professionalism and Interpersonal Relationships: Demonstrates knowledge and ability to establish, develop, and maintain effective interpersonal and professional relationships (e.g., with clients, supervisors, students, research participants, colleagues) with consideration to diversity. This is a core competency that underlies all other competencies. Psychologists normally do their work in the context of interpersonal relationships. They must therefore be able to establish and maintain a constructive working alliance with clients and other professionals (e.g., colleagues, learners).

Assessment and Evaluation: Demonstrates knowledge about how and ability to assess, conceptualize, diagnose, and communicate the needs, challenges, and strengths of clients to inform practical plans of action. The skills required for assessment can and should be applied to many situations other than initial evaluation, including, for example, treatment outcome, program evaluation, and problems occurring in a broad spectrum of non-clinical settings. The primary purpose of psychological assessment is to provide an understanding that informs a practical plan of action. It may result in a diagnostic classification or in the identification of strengths or competencies.

Intervention and Consultation: Demonstrates knowledge about and ability to implement activities that promote, restore, sustain, and/or enhance positive functioning and a sense of wellbeing; this includes addressing clients' needs, concerns, distress, and impairment. A broad, comprehensive vision of the intervention competency should include explicitly theory as well as knowledge and skills.

Ethics and Standards: Demonstrates knowledge and application of ethical principles, standards of professional conduct, and jurisprudence in relation to psychology.

Required Practicum Hours 

Students traditionally experience anxiety about how many practicum hours they need to accrue to be prepared and competitive for their internship. Directors of internship sites repeatedly stress that it is the quality of the practicum experiences rather than the sheer quantity of hours that sets the applicants for internship in the best stead.  The expectations in our accredited program are informed by practicum hours guidelines set by both the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA) and recommendations from the Canadian Council of Professional Psychology Programs (CCPPP).  

“While 600 hours of practicum experience before beginning an internship has been set within the CPA accreditation standards as the minimum in which this competence might be gained, more typically 1000 hours of wisely chosen practicum experience is required to attain sufficient breadth and depth. This would include an appropriate balance of direct service, supervision, and support hours. Students and programs should strive in their practica for experience with cases varying in complexity in different service delivery settings, with a variety of populations, presenting questions, assessment and therapeutic models and methods, case conferences, and supervisors to acquire competencies for a successful internship year. This is more important than the number of hours recorded.” Excerpt from: Guiding Principles in the Preparation of and Selection of Applicants for Internship (Approved at CCPPP AGM, June 2007)

In keeping with CCPPP recommendations, the following table details the practicum hours that are expected throughout the program.

Year 1

PSYC*7991 Internal practicum which includes policies and procedures of CPS, CPS intake line, risk assessment training, and two assessments (intensively supervised).
Hours required: 50
Direct contact hours: 20
Supervision hours: 20

Year 2

PSYC*7991 PSYC*7991 Internal practicum which includes participating on in-person intake team (IPIT) and substantially contributing to a minimum of two full assessments at CPS.’ PSYC*7992 External practicum which involves completion of approximately four cognitive, social/personality and learning disabilities assessments; Consulting with teachers, school administrators, parents.
Hours required: 150
Direct contact hours: 50
Supervision hours: 50

Year 3

PSYC*7994 CBT practicum course with didactic, practice and supervision components within the CPS (1 therapy case min); Within PSYC*7991 carry one additional therapy case at minimum and contribute to a minimum of one assessment case at CPS.
Hours required: 200
Direct contact hours: 45
Supervision hours: 45

Year 4

PSYC*7993 is a two-day per week, 400 hour external practicum (typically hospital or community clinic based; therapy and assessment). 
In years 4 and 5 students return to CPS for PSYC*7991.  Students are expected to carry 1-2 therapy cases and have involvement in at least one assessment case per year.  Leadership on IPIT Team is an expectation for at least two semesters during years 5 and/or 6 as is involvement in supervised supervision of junior colleagues in assessment, intake, or therapy.
Hours required: 450
Direct contact hours: 200
Supervision hours: 100
 
Hour Totals:
Hours required: 850
Direct contact hours: 315
Supervision hours: 215

Description of Practicum Courses

Clinical Psychology Practicum I: (PSYC*7991) taken in most semesters of the graduate program

Approximately 350 hours (120 Direct; 120 Supervision)

Faculty Instructor (Coordinator): Clinic Director 

Throughout their MA and PhD studies, students are required to undertake ongoing supervised clinical work with children, adolescents and their families at the CPS. This practicum is undertaken in multiple semesters to permit a broad variety of case and supervisory experiences. This includes experiences from shadowing cases and performing intake duties early in MA training to participating on the In-Person-Intake-Team (IPIT), handling complex assessment and eventually therapy cases during PhD training. Senior PhD students will also participate in supervised supervision activities.  Supervision of clinical work at CPS is provided by the Clinic Director and several Clinical faculty. 

Note: In senior PhD years, some students elect to take PSYC*7991 as an external practicum (i.e., outside CPS). If a student would like to complete and additional PSYC*7991 in a setting other than the CPS, the student must obtain approval from the Director of Clinical Training.  It must be clear that the potential site offers sufficient quality clinical training and supervision and that the particular experience is not readily available at CPS within the same timeframe. 

Clinical Psychology Practicum II: Masters Level Practicum (PSYC*7992)  

Approximately 150 hours (50 Direct; 30 Supervision)

Faculty Instructor (Coordinator): Clinic Director 

This practicum is intended to provide students with a broad range of experience in psychological assessment and typically occurs in the psychological services department of a school board.  Under supervision, students are expected to conduct initial interviews, plan assessments, administer a range of tests, score and integrate assessment data, generate preliminary formulations, consider differential diagnoses, and write integrated, informative psychological assessment reports. Although the breadth and complexity of cases and level of involvement of students will vary depending on the abilities of the individual student, the client population, and the practicum setting itself, PSYC*7992 students have exposure to a range of presenting problems, including learning, attention, behaviour, social-emotional, developmental, and/or other mental health concerns. Usually students take on between 4 and 6 assessments over the course of a semester depending on the complexity of the cases and depth of the assessments. Students may also be involved in consultation or other in-service work.

CBT Practicum: PhD Level Practicum (PSYC*7994)

Approximately 100 hours (20 Direct; 20 Supervision) 

Faculty Instructor (Coordinator): Faculty Member Assigned to Teach PSYC*7994 

This practicum course is taken in the first year of the PhD and is intended to provide extensive support for first psychotherapy cases.  The course will foster graduate student training in early therapy skills with a focus on cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) and will include didactic and experiential components. Students will gain competency with the practice of CBT for child and adolescent mental health challenges within the CPS, be exposed to treatment manuals, and undertake at least one ongoing therapy case utilizing a CBT approach.

Practicum III: PhD Level Practicum (PSYC*7993) 

Approximately 400 hours (100 Direct; 50 Supervision)

Faculty Instructor (Coordinator): Clinic Director 

This practicum is intended to provide students with in-depth experience in the assessment of and intervention for complex social-emotional and mental health problems. Often this practicum takes place in a hospital or community mental health setting.  On this practicum, students continue to develop assessment, therapy and consultation competencies. Most students apply to sites that comprise the Toronto Area Practicum Group. An electronic resource about external practica available through the Toronto Area Practicum Group can be found here: http://psychology.gradstudies.yorku.ca/files/2013/09/Practicum-Brochures-Compiled-updated-Jan-2016.pdf.

Preparing for Practicum

Practicum I (PSYC*7991) can usually be arranged on a semester by semester basis, consistent with ongoing training objectives.