According to the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), field experience (or professional practice) provides for the application of theory and the development of counseling skills and professional identity under direct supervision. These experiences provide opportunities for students to counsel clients who represent the cultural and contextual diversity of their community. Field experience consists of a practicum (one term) and a consecutive internship (two terms) experience.
The practicum is the first experiential training component of field experience. Practicum is defined by CACREP as a “distinctly defined, supervised clinical experience in which the student develops basic counseling skills and integrates professional knowledge.” The intention of practicum is to provide an opportunity for students to orient themselves to professional practice and begin working directly with clients while under the supervision of a licensed practitioner.
The internship field experience is completed after the student has fulfilled the practicum requirements. According to CACREP, internship is “a distinctly defined, post-practicum, supervised ‘capstone’ clinical experience in which the student refines and enhances basic counseling or student development knowledge and skills, and integrates and authenticates professional knowledge and skills appropriate to their program and initial postgraduate professional placement.” The intention of internship is to build on the foundational experience of the practicum and synthesize knowledge, skills, and dispositions as a competent and confident counseling professional.
Supervision is a tutorial and mentoring form of instruction in which a supervisor monitors students’ activities during practicum and internship and facilitates the learning and skill development experiences associated with them. The supervisor monitors and evaluates the clinical work of students while monitoring the quality of services offered to clients. The types of required supervision are as follows:
To learn more terms used to describe field experiences, see Appendix A.