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Field experience is a unique opportunity to gain real-world confidence, hone your professional craft, and bridge the gap between theory and praxis.

While practically and professionally beneficial, field experience can sometimes be logistically challenging for students; navigating the field experience requirements of your state and your Walden program requires patience, thoroughness, and a willingness to ask for help.

To gather our best advice for a positive field experience, the Master’s Support Team interviewed Master’s of Clinical Mental Health Counseling alum and peer mentor, Tiffany Lucas. Her experience is specific to the School of Counseling, but students in many Walden programs with field experience requirements can benefit from her advice.

Tiffany successfully completed her field experience in 2023 and has these tips to share:


Do Your Research

Because licensing procedures vary from state-to-state, carefully researching your state’s requirements is a critical first step to a successful field experience.

Keep in mind, too, that—even within the School of Counseling—different degree pathways follow different guidelines for field experience.

To ensure that you “are taking the necessary steps to become licensed in your state and to complete your program,”

Tiffany recommends carefully working “your way through the School of Counseling's Office of Field Experience website” and “reading everything multiple times.” So that you can refer back to it often, Tiffany also recommends bookmarking the field experience website for easy future access.

Quick Tip! Be sure to review and bookmark the Field Experience Manual website as well!

As a final step, Tiffany says to “always check with your state’s board of professional counselors” and make sure that you are on track for licensure in your state.

You are not alone!

If, at any point during the research process, you feel lost or uncertain of next steps, know that you are not alone; the School of Counseling’s Office of Field Experience team would be happy to answer your questions and clarify requirements.

Contact the School of Counseling Office of Field Experience


Have a Back-Up Plan

Careful research is the best way ensure a successful field experience—but even the most well-laid plans aren’t immune to bad luck or unexpected challenges.

Tiffany recommends devising a field experience back-up plan: “When choosing a site,” Tiffany notes, “ensure you have a back-up site supervisor in mind—just in case the current supervisor quits, resigns, or retires before you start.”

While unlikely, it’s never a bad idea to plan for the unexpected, so that your graduation date is not delayed by unforeseen circumstances. 

Similarly, as a busy Walden student and professional, it’s important to plan for unexpected events in your own life: “If you are having trouble completing all your hours for practicum or internship,” Tiffany suggests asking “to sit in on other therapists’ sessions to get extra hours.” Though it’s best to build a relationship with a single therapist, it’s okay—and often beneficial—to observe different counseling styles.


Make Connections

Your fellow students are valuable motivators who can encourage you through a challenge, share tips and experiences, and celebrate hard-earned successes. Especially when it comes to field experience, your peers—students who are navigating field experience alongside you—are an informal but essential support.

To build your peer support system, Tiffany recommends sharing “your contact information with those in your practicum. Supporting each other is the best way to get through field experience. It’s also nice to have people you can reach out to with questions or confusion when waiting to hear back from your professor.”

On a similar note, Tiffany suggests joining the Facebook group for your cohort. That way, you’ll be able to ask questions and get support in real-time.


Ask for Help

Successfully completing field experience is an important part of earning your degree and preparing for your future role, so don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.

The field experience team is available to answer your questions via email, live chat, phone, or Zoom meeting. For live support, the School of Counseling’s Office of Field Experience also hosts weekly Q & A sessions. Even better, these sessions are drop-in, so you aren’t required to stay for the full hour—simply pop-in when you can to get your questions answered.

Interested in attending a drop-in session?

You’ll find the schedule and meeting information on the School of Counseling’s Office of Field Experience website.

There’s no replacement for a positive field experience.

To ensure that your experience is as smooth and productive as possible, take your time when researching state and programmatic requirements and consider devising a back-up plan. Connect with your fellow students, as well as the School of Counseling’s Office of Field Experience staff, so that you can ask questions and get support when you need it.

Emily Bruey is a member of Walden’s Master’s Academic Support team, which provides paper reviews, hosts webinars, and develops resources for Master’s students. Before joining Walden in 2020, Emily provided academic and social support to college students, including teaching and tutoring writing online. Outside of her professional life, Emily enjoys reading, gardening, yoga, and hiking.

Tiffany Lucas began her Walden journey as a Bachelor of Science in Psychology student in 2018. Shortly after earning her Bachelor’s, she completed a Master of Clinical Mental Health Counseling degree with Walden in 2023. Using the experience and expertise she gained as a student, Tiffany works as a trauma-focused counselor. Outside of work and Walden, Tiffany spends her time listening to true crime podcasts, baking with her young daughter, and re-reading Harry Potter.