Step 2: Finding a Supervisor and Field Site
The second step to your field experience journey is searching for and securing a field site and proper supervision for both your practicum and internship. To do this you should
- Know the requirements for both practicum and internship.
- Brainstorm possible supervisors and field sites.
- Communicate with potential supervisors and sites.
- Get help if needed.
Practicum Field Site & Supervisor Requirements
Student and Field Site Practicum Requirements
Students must complete, and field sites must offer, learning experiences that meet all of the following requirements:
- A minimum of 750 hours with 1 hour of supervision for every 10–15 hours worked;
- At least half of the supervision must be individual as opposed to group;
- No fewer than 200 hours of assessment services (diagnosing or defining problems through psychological assessment and measurement) and the formulation of intervention strategies; assessments must be supervised by a licensed psychologist and cannot be conducted via teletherapy and all assessments have to be on site;
- No fewer than 200 hours of direct intervention services, such as individual therapy or group therapy.
- The 350 additional hours can be devoted to case management, case management, case consultation, record keeping, and other related activities.
- Since COVID-19, teletherapy has become a tool for patients to receive mental health services; many field sites conduct teletherapy as part of their practice, and it can also be utilized for practicum experience, but it is the students’ responsibility to check with their state boards to determine how many hours will be allowed for teletherapy while at their practicum;
- Some states may allow fully remote practicums. Walden allows students to complete practicums in teletherapy, but only for the psychotherapy requirement associated with practicum. The assessment component of practicum must be done in person. Students must be registered for a minimum two quarters of practicum;
- If a student does not accrue the 750 hours in two quarters, they must remain enrolled a practicum course until the requirement is completed;
- Some states require practicum hours beyond Walden’s required 750 hours; therefore, if a student remains enrolled in practicum in order to fulfill the state’s licensure requirements, then the student must be enrolled in a practicum course while completing those hours.
- Practicum must be successfully completed prior to internship; and
- Some states expect and require the presence of other practicum students at a site, therefore, students must check their state licensure guidelines to ensure that their field experience meets those requirements.
- Students may not use their employment to fulfill the practicum requirements. Practicum must be completed separately from the student’s employment.
Obtain Additional Practicum Experience
In general, the practicum should be focused on the development of a few discrete core skills rather than developing a broad range of skills. If students find it difficult to obtain the desired range of supervised practice in two terms of practicum, they should plan additional terms of practicum to obtain sufficient opportunities to develop needed skills. Investing too little time in developing skills during practicum may result in insufficient preparation for the demands of internship and subsequent practice.
Practicum Supervisor Requirements
- For the practicum, the primary supervisor should be a licensed psychologist. However, in certain instances, the supervisor can be any licensed mental health professional—including a clinical social worker, psychiatrist, licensed professional counselor, etc.—in the jurisdiction where the student will be conducting their practicum. If using a non-psychologist as a primary supervisor, the student must check with local state licensing boards to determine if this is acceptable as requirements may vary by state.
- When a nonpsychologist is used as the primary supervisor, a secondary supervisor who is a fully licensed doctoral-level psychologist is required to oversee the psychological testing and assessment work students are expected to do. All assessments must be supervised by a licensed psychologist.
- The supervisor (s) must be actively employed by the field site for a minimum of 20 hours weekly.
- The site supervisor (s) must have an active and unencumbered license for independent practice in the state, district, or province where the student is completing the field experience. A provisional license will not be accepted.
- The site supervisor must have at least 3 years of experience with the setting and population the student will work with for the field experience.
- Students are responsible for ensuring the site supervisor meets any state-specific requirements.
- Site supervisors’ training and experience must be consistent with student and university goals for professional psychology field experience and field site requirements.
Internship Field Site and Supervisor Requirements
Students must complete all required course work, except the dissertation, before beginning an internship. For students commencing the program from Winter 2023 quarter onward, the internship can be commenced alongside 1 elective course. All core courses must be completed prior to the start of internship. Students should reference their degree plan (DegreeWorks) and the Student Handbook. The only time students will be allowed to take a required, core course while completing an internship is when the required course has not been offered within a reasonable time frame (e.g., within the year before the planned internship). During the internship year, students should plan to devote their attention to their internship for 1 year (full time) or 2 years (part time). Students commencing the program from Winter 2023 onward will be expected to work on their dissertation alongside the internship as noted in the Program of Study.
Students who have completed their dissertation before the internship, or who defend their dissertation during the internship, are ready to graduate immediately after the internship is complete. After graduation, these alumni will be eligible to begin immediately accruing their postdoctoral hours toward licensure.
Student and Field Site Internship Requirements
- Students must register for a minimum of four consecutive quarters of the internship course and obtain a minimum of 12 credit hours of internship. The internship must completed during a full, 12 month, calendar year. If completing the internship part-time, it must be completed within 24 consecutive months.
- The field site should supply opportunities for a wide range of training duties designed to expand students’ skills and experience consistent with their Walden training and specialization.
- The field site must have a clearly designated doctoral-level staff psychologist who is responsible for the integrity and quality of the training program. The person must be actively licensed, certified, or registered with the State Board of Examiners in the jurisdiction where the program exists and be present at the training facility for a minimum of 20 hours per week.
- The internship must be for a minimum of 2,000 hours scheduled as either a full-time experience for 1 year (12 consecutive months),or a half-time experience for 2 years (24 consecutive month maximum).
- Part-time internships may not exceed 2 calendar years or 24 consecutive months. Students must check their state psychology regulations to be certain about the maximum time allowable for a part-time internship. Some states may allow less than 2 years for part-time internships.
- Some states may require more internship hours. It is a student’s responsibility to know if they need additional hours to meet specific state requirements.
- Some states require that students have an approved dissertation proposal before they are allowed to start internship to advance their candidacy as an intern.
- Students typically spend 40 hours per week in their internship setting (or, alternatively, a minimum of 20 hours per week at the internship site, if completing a half-time internship over 2 years). Students who are unable to complete the required hours within four full-time terms will need to apply for another quarter of internship via Meditrek and then be registered for an additional term of internship until this requirement is successfully met.
- If students fail a term of internship,, hours accrued during the quarter will be forfeited, and will need to be repeated. If a student is terminated from an internship and can, therefore, not continue the internship at the site, the student must start the internship over because the experience must include a continuous year of full time or 2 years of half time in an organized training experience that is designed to provide students with a planned sequence of training experiences. The internship cannot generally be completed at multiple sites unless there the internship is done at a consortium, and may not have a break in the required time of 1 or 2 years.
Internship Site Supervisor Requirements
- The qualified internship site supervisor has a minimum of 3 years of experience within the field setting and with the population with whom the student will work; they are responsible for supervising a student’s work at that setting.
- The internship will required to have at least two doctoral level psychologists on-site. One or more licensed doctoral level psychologists affiliated with the site must be designated as internship supervisors of the student. The primary supervisor must hold a PhD or PsyD degree in a relevant field, and be a licensed psychologist; however, in certain circumstances a licensed master’s-degree person can serve as a secondary supervisor for internship as long as the state allows this and does not require two doctoral level supervisors. Students need to contact their state board to confirm that a secondary supervisor with the master’s-level credentials will satisfy state requirements.
- Internship site supervisors must be in good standing with the licensure board or equivalent in the state or jurisdiction where they practice and have at least 3 years of postdoctoral experience. In the instance that a site supervisor is trained in a specialty that is different from that of the intern, students should also inquire of the state board whether this is acceptable under the licensure rules. Provisional licenses will not be accepted.
- Secondary site supervisors, also licensed, certified, or otherwise qualified in the jurisdiction in which they practice, are expected but not required. A minimum of 2 hours of individual supervision must occur each week addressing, in part, the delivery of psychological services rendered by the intern.
- The supervisor (or someone designated to cover for the supervisor) must be always on site with the student trainee. Trainees should never be working without a licensed professional on site to provide supervision and consultation.
- Students are expected to check with their licensing boards to ensure that the selected site supervisor meets any state-specific requirements for serving as site supervisor.
- The supervisor (s) must be actively employed by the field site for a minimum of 20 hours a week.
- The site supervisor must have at least 3 years of experience with the setting and population the student will work with for the field experience.
- At least 45% of the internship must include direct participation in activities, such as assessment/testing services, intervention services (individual and group), consultation services, teaching, research, and interdisciplinary collaboration.
- At least 25% of the trainees’ time must be in face-to-face psychological services to patients/clients.
- A minimum of 2 hours of individual supervision must occur each week, with no less than 100 hours over the course of the entire internship, addressing, in part, the delivery of psychological services rendered by the intern.
- Students should demonstrate the professional competencies outlined in the Field Experience Manual during their field experience.
- If students anticipate circumstances that would cause an interruption in their internship either through voluntary or involuntary termination from an internship site, they should confer with the field placement coordinator prior to terminating their internship and before reenrolling for a subsequent term of internship. If there is a break in the student’s internship at any time during the internship the student will generally fail the course and lose all hours accrued at the internship site. If this occurs, a student development plan will be created by Walden’s administration and the student cannot pursue a new internship site or return to their internship until all remediation areas are met. Each student case will be reviewed individually to determine the best way forward.
- Teletherapy is allowed as a part of the internship if the site provides adequate training on the proper use of teletherapy and teletherapeutic practices..
- Teletherapy cannot include assessment hours.
- Teletherapy can only include up to 50% of the therapy hours accrued at the internship. Student must check their state board allowance for teletherapy. Each state is different.
- Students may not conduct teletherapy without the virtual or physical availability of the approved supervisor. Supervisors will be required to engage in observation of the student doing teletherapy.
Brainstorm Possible Supervisors and Field Sites
Use the resources below to brainstorm some possible sites to contact for your field experience.
Possible Site Choices
University counseling centers
General hospitals – Inpatient and Outpatient Units
Military hospitals and clinics
Juvenile treatment centers
Substance abuse treatment centers
Residential treatment programs
Community mental health centers
Assisted living and skilled nursing facilities
Domestic violence shelters
Search Walden University Affiliation Agreements
In your Meditrek account, you have access to a list of all the current affiliation agreements that Walden University has with field sites.
To access the list:
- Log into Meditrek (https://edu.meditrek.com)
- Select "Search Affiliation Agreements"
- Select "psychology" in the School dropdown. Also consider selecting other programs (Counseling, Social Work, Public Health) in this dropdown to see additional potentially viable sites. We don't recommend using the "Program" dropdown in most cases, as this may limit the options displayed more than necessary.
- Enter your city and/or state to see the active agreements that Walden University has with potential field sites in your area.
- Before you contact the site, do an internet search to determine what type of organization it is and if they might have opportunities that would be appropriate for your psychology program.
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Utilize Professional Preparation Resources
These Professional Preparation resources may assist you in your search for a practicum/internship site. While they are not a required part of your application, it is recommended you review the resources.
Approach your field site and supervisor search with the same diligence you would when looking for a job. The search for a practicum and internship site and supervisor can benefit from the resources provided below.
Polish your professional brand
Take steps to polish your image and shine through your professional brand. Watch this video to learn more:
Transcript Presentation Slides Professionalism Resources
For more information and career resources visit the Career Planning and Development's School of Psychology Hub.
Update your resume
Build an impactful resume to communicate your academic and professional skills to employers:
- Review these Psychology samples for ideas on how to create or improve your resume (IMPORTANT: these templates are here to guide you; remember to use your own language when creating your documents):
- Visit SkillsFirst to view additional resume samples.
Tip: Refer to the SkillsFirst Resume and Cover Letter Guide for instructions on how to get started.
- Explore the Resumes & More tab for additional resume-writing tips, outlines, and videos.
- Learn how to become a resume expert by completing the career workshop, Build a High-Impact Resume.
You should begin the process of identifying potential field sites and supervisors for practicum and internship early. Networking options include, but aren't limited to:
- Consider joining state and/or local psychological associations and contact fellow members of those associations.
- Network with alumni associations from any previous schools you have attended.
- Reach out to Walden alumni generally and/or specifically to those who have graduated from your program.
- Look at the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers (APPIC) post-match sites that are still looking for interns (Walden students are not eligible for the regular match, but they can apply for the sites during the post-match process).
- California students can contact California Psychology Internship Council (CAPIC, https://capic.net/; although these placements are harder to secure).
- Try https://www.internships.com/psychology.
- Pretend you are looking for paid employment as a psychologist to find sites posted who use psychologists and are likely to have some on staff who could supervise.
Pretend you are seeking psychological services, and do a search to find places that provide the services in which you want training (e.g., Psychology Today online).
- Link through the APA website, https://www.apa.org/education/grad/internship, or https://www.internships.com/psychology.
- Try a general search on LinkedIn for someone who works at a site you are interested in.
- Search the web for possible sites in your local area.
- Reach out to your professional network: former & current colleagues and supervisors.
- Ask friends and family.
- Go to community events and network (e.g., health fairs) because they will have service providers onsite.
- Network with Walden University faculty members.
- Communicate with classmates who reside in the same area to see where they have found success.
- The Walden Career Services site offers resources for writing résumés and cover letters, searching for jobs and internships, etc.:
These tools can help you communicate with psychology professionals and potential field sites.
- Practice your elevator pitch.
- Learn how to share the benefits of being a Walden psychology student.
- Prepare to communicate with potential field experience sites via phone, email, in-person, and online.
Marketing yourself to Potential Field Sites
- Register on the Walden Job and Internship Search Locator job board.
- Access the GoinGlobal job search system using your Walden credentials.
- Use interest-specific job boards for Social and Behavioral Sciences to expand your field experience site search.
- Search for potential supervisors using the Meditrek database.
- Review the Career Planning Resources for Field Experience page.
Get ready to show potential field sites that you are the best candidate for the opportunity you are seeking.
- Log into SkillsFirst and use its Interviews module to practice your interviewing skills. Refer to the step-by-step SkillsFirst Interview Questions Guide to access 12,000+ interview questions.
- Learn more about effective interview strategies on the Interviews tab.
- Read a blog story on preparing for a variety of interview formats including one-on-one, group, and panel interviews.
- Watch the Interview Strategies video below to learn how to tackle tough interview questions.
Transcript Presentation Slides
Information to Provide to Prospective Field Sites
It will be important to communicate your program's requirements with your prospective field sites to ensure that they can meet your needs. You should review the Field Experience Manual to ensure that you are prepared to effectively communicate the requirements. Below are some resources that might be helpful to provide as well.