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Forming a new external prac while in grad school?

Discussion in 'Psychology [Psy.D. / Ph.D.]' started by GoPokes, Mar 9, 2012.

  1. GoPokes

    GoPokes Post-Doc 5+ Year Member

    Sep 19, 2011
    Hi all, couldn't find a thread on this so I thought I'd create one.

    I'm entering into a Counseling Psyc. Ph.D. program this coming Fall (yay!) and looking into the future into outside practicum experiences while I'm there, I was wondering if anyone had any information (or simply how and when to do this) on forming a "new site".

    I'd like to do some forensic work (as I'm heavily considering the forensic arena as a career), and unfortunately the program I'm entering right now doesn't have any practicum experiences in the forensic realm. There is a prison under 50 miles from the campus that has psychologists on staff, so what I'm wondering is:

    1. Can students create new practicum experiences for their program?

    2. How does one go about doing so?

    3. What are the requirements for it to be considered a practicum? I.e., does there just need to be a licensed psychologist there for supervision?

    4. How would I go about this whole process? Do I just e-mail the psychologist to start a relationship with him/her?

    Thanks for reading and sorry if any of my terminology is off or this is unclear. :)
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  3. paramour

    paramour 7+ Year Member

    Jan 16, 2007
    This is going to be heavily dependent upon your program, your DCT, your adviser, etc.

    Here, students are sometimes allowed to volunteer at sites outside of what is offered by the program. These opportunities are very far & few between. When they do occur, they are often with sites that students have worked at previously or that faculty have established a relationship with already (usually due to past students' experience or students from our program who have landed there upon graduation).

    In this geographical area, there also are a great number of sites that have a number of practicum opportunities that anyone from any program could apply to technically. But you need to register through this nifty organization, obtain approval from your program, apply, so on & so forth. It's a very formal process.

    There are other sites within this area that do not participate in the above process who still have a formal application process in place for training opportunities. So, you would simply contact them (with your dept's approval), apply, and hope for the best outcome.

    Finally, there are sites that may not have a formal process or participate in the "practicum" fair experience but that you may be able to establish a relationship with to receive some type of training experiences.

    Supervision is required by a licensed clinical psychological and needs to be adequate for the amount of hours you put in at the site. Our program has pulled sites due to inadequate supervision hours previously.

    We are required to complete a formal learning agreement between the clinical supervisor and the student/program, and we are required to register for practicum credit hours.

    If it's not a program that already has an established relationship with your program, I would recommend speaking with your advisers and DCT first. Ultimately, they have final approval of whether you can work there (or so it goes here). If they do not approve, then your hours will not "count." If they know your interests, someone somewhere may be able to direct you to folks they do know--and save you some legwork & introductions along the way.

    I'm currently in the process of trying to find or "create" a site myself for the second time. It did not pan out last/this year. So hopefully it goes better this time around now that the dept seems to be on board with things . . . maybe.

    Congratulations, and G'luck! :luck:
  4. psypsypsy

    psypsypsy Member 7+ Year Member

    Jan 28, 2006
    Congrats on the acceptance! So, that's a good question, although the answer is it truly depends on that school and that specific program within the school (i.e. the counseling and clinical PhDs at my university are in different departments, and thus have different procudures).

    At my program, usually do 3 years of outside externships. I would highly recommend doing an established externship first. That way, you get a sense of how it's supposed to work from supervisors who are already experienced, so that when you're trying to create one, you have a template. Also, you want to get a lay of the land. Did this forensic place used to have an externship and they got rid of it, has anyone tried before? Do any of the faculty have any connections to this place that could help you. You can certainly cold call, network, and try to get it, but it helps if someone has connections.

    Again, at mine, people can and do start new externships, and that's how a number of existing ones first became established. But there are a number of steps. The supervisor has to talk with our DCT, and basically fill out an application of how the externship would look, ensuring sufficient supervision (minimum 1 hour/week was our rule, I think...), appropriate therapist activities (not just being a mileu coordinator, for example), and training opportunities. Then, a committee comprised of students and faculty has to approve the placement. If approved, I believe the supervisor ends up some sort of adjunct member of the faculty. Aside from these steps being needed so that you know the DCT would approve those hours for internship, etc, it also has to to do with insurance and liability. Our university pays for our liability insurance as students, and so some of this rigamarole involves that.

    I imagine that there are also steps on the externship's site that need to be approved. What is your you need a badge, are you classified as a volunteer, as what...their HR dept is usually involved somehow, if it is a larger instituation.

    Anyway, so that sounded like a lot of steps, and I think people get started a couple of months early to get through it all, but every year, it seems like at least one person created something new.
  5. Moose03


    Jan 3, 2017
    I've run into this issue and I'm hoping to revive this post.

    Have others had experience creating new external practicum sites? There is one person who I know that has taken a practicum experience outside of the state to which we are training in. There is another APA-accredited program about 3-4 hours away which has external practica and is closer to where my partner relocated for work. Any tips? Has anyone had recent experience with this?
  6. MamaPhD

    MamaPhD Psychologist, Academic Medical Center Psychologist 7+ Year Member

    Aug 2, 2010

    Surely there is a process in your program for vetting and approving new practicum sites. It's not unusual for practicum sites to accept trainees from multiple programs, especially in larger cities. Bring it to the DCT's attention and go from there.

    I had a long commute to one of my practicum sites in grad school, but it would take a pretty dire situation for me to drive 3-4 hours one way. I guess if you had somewhere to stay near the site you could drive in the night before, spent two or three consecutive days at the site, and then drive back. Still, that would get old FAST and would be a huge drain on your productivity.
  7. PsychPhDStudent

    PsychPhDStudent 7+ Year Member

    Sep 5, 2009
    I know people who have set up external practica near partner/family (but away from grad program -- usually during final year before internship). More common than I had realized. Each program seems to have its own standards for vetting the site. If it's already a site for another accredited program, it's a hopeful sign.
    futureapppsy2 likes this.
  8. G Costanza

    G Costanza Psychologist - UCC 5+ Year Member

    Jun 23, 2011
    I did it in my program and it wasn't too difficult. it was a few years ago but I think the steps were:

    Ask your chair
    Ask the DCT
    Ask/interview at the site
    Have the supervisor on site fill out a form that goes to the DCT
    Have your chair sign off on it
    Start your prac

    My DCT was really happy I took the initiative as it opened the door for other students to work there the following years.
    modestmousktr likes this.
  9. NeuroLady


    Feb 15, 2016
    I also did this in much the same way.
  10. MCParent

    MCParent Faculty Bronze Donor Classifieds Approved 5+ Year Member

    Jan 10, 2012
    Yup, all this. Everything has to be cleared, or you may not be able to count the hours on your APPI and they'd be less than worthless then.
  11. Moose03


    Jan 3, 2017
    MamaPhD - Thanks for your post. We've been married for several years and they moved away to start their own career. It's become difficult to think that we'd be living apart for 2-3 more years as I complete the program, which is why I'm considering a practicum site in a different location. I'll figure something out.

    Thanks, everyone for your words of encouragement!
  12. Moose03


    Jan 3, 2017
    Would you be willing to share with me more information about what their experience was like?
    Were their hours supervised by a PhD/PsyD? This is the challenge I'm running into. The area where my partner lives and works is rural and there are no (not a one) psychologists nearby.

    An organization has mentioned that they could arrange work and space (with a MOU I would need to draw up with approval from my DCT) for me, but I would not be able to receive supervision from a person with the equivalent degree (all MSWs for the most part). This will be my last practicum year before internship and I'd love to, at least for one year, live with my partner before having to move away for internship. I'm a bit worried that my DCT would reject the site if I was not being supervised by someone with a PhD or PsyD...
  13. psych.meout

    psych.meout 2+ Year Member

    Oct 5, 2015
    I don't think it's just your DCT rejecting the site that you need to worry about. How can you list the F2F hours you would accrue at this site on your internship application if you didn't have proper supervision for them?
    Moose03 likes this.
  14. Kadhir

    Kadhir 2+ Year Member

    Nov 13, 2015
    You should be supervised by a licensed doctoral-level psychologist, especially in a makeshift practicum.

    1. Do you need a practicum? Are your hours sufficient for the sites you're interested in and can you instead spend the time on dissertation?
    2. Find out what the closest accredited program is and where they do practica. Can you make it to those places?
    Moose03 and psych.meout like this.
  15. Moose03


    Jan 3, 2017
    Psych.Meout -- Glad you mentioned this. I really appreciate folks chiming in on this as I work through the details. The issue you mentioned is probably my biggest concern, and one of the chief reasons I'm reluctant to sign-on to doing a practicum without supervision from someone with a PhD or PsyD.

    That said, there are advantages of creating a makeshift site in the location closest to my partner.
    - Networking opportunity for future
    - Familiarity with population

    I've also given thought to another option, which is trying to obtain a practicum experience closer to this location and splitting time (perhaps taking a practicum that is approved by a DCT at another program AND drafting a MOU with some hours / responsibilities in the community closer to my partner).
  16. Moose03


    Jan 3, 2017
    Kadhir -- Thank you for posting these questions. These are very helpful suggestions -- both of which I'm going to put on my radar. The second option is what I had in mind and what I'm currently leaning toward. Great suggestions.
  17. psych.meout

    psych.meout 2+ Year Member

    Oct 5, 2015
    But how is this other option going to get around the issue of not having proper supervision in the community near your partner?
    Moose03 likes this.
  18. MCParent

    MCParent Faculty Bronze Donor Classifieds Approved 5+ Year Member

    Jan 10, 2012
    I may be misreading this, but it reads like you are thinking of an "ask for forgiveness not permission" approach, and doing this and then asking the DCT to pass off on it later. That is a BAD idea, if so.

    Just ask your DCT about the site and see if they are open to brainstorming fixes. There are ways around the problems you mention. At the same time, none of those ways around matter if the DCT isn't willing to do them.
    irish80122 likes this.
  19. Moose03


    Jan 3, 2017
    Psych.meout - This is a detail I'm trying to work out and one that I have the most concern about. Most service in that area is provided by MSWs. I've had a MD (Psychiatrist) and a MSW offer supervision (which I was grateful for), but I had to explain to them the issues with this. Mentors in my program have encouraged me to explore this opportunity (and one has even offered supervision), but I'm wondering how best to proceed. I was hoping that others on this forum may have suggestions about a framework. I was a case manager with a similar organization in the past and have familiarity with the structure of the environment and services available, but also recognize that this is a very different function / role. If I create something I want to make sure that it's initiated and conducted in an ethical manner; beneficial to all parties involved, more especially the patients.
  20. Moose03


    Jan 3, 2017
    Hi all,
    I should have clarified -- the DCT is aware that this option is of interest and they have not outright rejected it. The DCT is actually the first person I spoke with, it's just that the details are still not worked out and it's likely they'd reject it without all of the issues with supervision addressed. They were reluctant when I talked with them about it, but mentioned that I'd have to figure out the details. Sorry for the confusion.
  21. irish80122

    irish80122 DCT at Miss State U. Faculty 10+ Year Member

    Apr 26, 2003
    I would be happy to speak with your DCT about options under APA SoA rules if it is helpful. Our program is in a rural area, and because of this many of the supervisors are not psychologists. You just have to have regular meetings with a psychologist to discuss your practicum work (it isn't formal supervision, but rather we make sure that you have the resources you need, questions answered, etc.). There are ways to make it work, at least in my reading of SoA. APA did not have any problems with our practices in regard to this in our last self-study.

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