Expectations for Practicum Placements

  • The practicum in the USPC is 2 days per week for 11 months. The USPC placement is for students who have finished year 1 coursework and continues until the end of the second year of coursework. This should equal 88 days of practicum.
  • Some practicum placements begin in September and end in April (24-26 weeks) and are one day/week. On occasion some practicum placements are 2 days per week for 4 months. This should equal 32 days of practicum. These are typically community placements, and these are typically only available to students in the 3rd or 4th year of training.
  • If the community placement is in the Saskatoon Health Region (SHA) they require a criminal record check (it is unclear how recent these must be so students are encouraged to check with site supervisors) and require that students have completed Occupational Health and Safety Training (OH&S). USask provides OH&S training.
  • A practicum day is typically 7.5 hours and includes the following:
    • 2 to 5 hours of direct contact with clients. If each practicum day has only 2 hours of direct client contact this is going to result in too few direct contact hours. This range is provided to reassure placements and students that there can be day to day variability in client contact hours but ideally an average of 3-4 client contact hours is achieved.
    • 2 hours of scheduled supervision (of which at least 1 hour is individual and 1 hour can be group or asynchronous supervision).
  • Begin with an orientation to the setting (e.g. meeting all professional staff; learning the agency's expectations concerning scheduling, appropriate clothing, etc.; observing the work of professional staff; learning recording procedures and office requirements).
  • Informal mutual verbal evaluation mid-way; formal mutual written evaluation at end of practicum.
  • It is desirable to create a written agreement specifying the student's goals and planned clinical activities and the plans for group and individual supervision. A copy of this agreement should be given to the Coordinator of Practicum Training.
  • Professional liability insurance in private practice settings:  If students in private practice settings do not already have liability coverage, they should obtain liability coverage prior to beginning the practicum.  Such liability insurance will be paid for by the practicum setting, exclusive of any required membership to obtain such coverage.  Reduced rates are available through student membership in the Canadian Psychological Association.
  • Students have Workers Compensation Board coverage if they are enrolled in the practicum course. Documentation can be provided if a private practice site needs this.

Process for Matching Students to Practicum Placements

For students entering 3rd or 4th year, information about available practicum placements is made available to students in mid- to late August and students are asked to rank order their top three choices by a date shortly before the beginnng of the fall term. Matches of students to settings are made by the Coordinator of Practicum Training based on consideration of the following factors, among others:

  • the student's preference (many students are assigned to their first choice, all other things being equal)
  • the student's past placement and other experiences (normally, students are placed in settings that will broaden their experience in terms of client population, type of service offered, etc.)
  • the student's seniority (in the last practicum, efforts are made to provide missing or highly ranked experiences if possible)
  • personal circumstances of the student such as parenting or health issues
  • requests for assignment of particular students that may be made by agency practicum coordinators (e.g., when a specific previous training experience is required for a practicum).

None of these factors necessarily takes priority; instead, an effort is made to balance all of these so as to make assignments equitable across students in the long run.

The variety of practicum experiences made available through our program and the careful consideration given to matching students to placements are considered to be special strengths of our doctoral program in clinical psychology.

Expectations for Practicum Training Derived from CPA Accreditation Criteria

Practicum training should facilitate the development of the following important capacities:

  • understanding of and commitment to professional and social responsibility as defined by the statutes of the ethical code of the profession,
  • the capability to conceptualize human problems,
  • awareness of the full range of human variability,
  • understanding of one's own personality and biases and of one's impact upon others in professional interactions,
  • skill in relevant interpersonal interactions such as systematic observation of behavior, interviewing, psychological testing, psychotherapy, counselling, and consultation, and
  • ability to contribute to current knowledge and practice.

All students are required to receive ratings of "meets expectations" or higher in all areas in order to pass the practicum. If a student does not meet this standard, remedial plans will be made by the Coordinator of Practicum Training based on the recommendations of the practicum supervisor. For example, the student may be asked to carry out additional supervised therapy and/or additional integrated assessments, or to meet a specified criterion such as error-free administration and scoring of a test, in order to advance to the next practicum.

Guidelines for a Practicum Training Agreement Between Student and Agency

To be created jointly as early as possible in the first month of the placement, or ideally prior to beginning a practicum placement.  The student is responsible for ensuring that this agreement is finalized with copies sent to the agency practicum coordinator and the university practicum coordinator.

  1. Student's name, address, telephone number, e-mail address
  2. Agency offering the practicum
    • Name of agency, department, program, site
    • Agency's practicum coordinator, telephone number, e-mail address
  3. Starting and ending dates (allow for 24-26 weeks -- the practicum should end no later than April 30)
  4. Days and hours of work (allow for 7-9 hours per week, with a maximum of 12 hours per week)
  5. Goals
    • Specify the major competencies, skills and values which the student hopes to acquire or develop during this practicum placement
    • Specify the ways in which diversity will be addressed in this placement (e.g., by exposure to clients from various ethnic or cultural backgrounds, religions, ages, sexual orientations, etc.)
  6. Intended activities
    • Expected number of clients of various types (assessment; treatment; individual, family, group, etc.)
    • Regular meetings which the student is expected to attend
    • Other activities
  7. Supervision
    • Names of primary and backup supervisors
    • Time and duration of supervisory meetings (see guidelines above)
    • Methods of supervision (live, video, audio, discussion, written feedback, etc.)
  8. Written work
    • Time frame for preparation of initial drafts (reports, progress notes, etc.)
    • Specify how feedback will be provided
    • Expected time frame for supervisor's feedback to student concerning written work
  9. Evaluation (see guidelines above)
    • Expected dates of mid-term/mid-year and final evaluation meetings
    • Indicate whether evaluation will be written or verbal
  10. Standards, guidelines, policies, and codes of conduct
    • Name any standards, guidelines, policies, codes, regulations, etc., that have been adopted by the agency and that may guide the student's conduct; certify that the student has been given copies of or access to these document.
    • In private practice settings: Identify any required arrangements for professional liability insurance.
  11. Problem resolution
    • Indicate procedures for managing and resolving student/supervisory issues which may arise during practicum.
    • Indicate name of university and agency persons to be approached for help in case of conflict with the supervisor or absence of the supervisor
  12. Signatures & dates
    • Student
    • Supervisor

Student Evaluation of Practicum

Please submit to the Coordinator of Practicum Training within 2 weeks of the end of the placement.

Part 1:  Self Evaluation

 Please report in numbered order

  1. Student's name
  2. Practicum agency and starting and ending dates
  3. Name of agency practicum co-ordinator
  4. List of other supervisors
  5. Summary of your own experience and supervision, based on AAPI form* for applying to internships.  Include information on non-direct-service experience such as consultation, ward rounds, group therapy, observation.
  6. Summary of your own relevant strengths and weaknesses and progress toward your learning goals
  7. What would you do differently if you were to repeat this placement?
  8. Date, student's signature, primary supervisor's signature

*AAPI = "APPIC Application for Psychology Internship", Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers, available from www.appic.org

Part 2:  Evaluation of Setting and Supervision

Please report in numbered order: 

  1. Student's name
  2. Practicum agency and starting and ending dates
  3. Name of agency practicum co-ordinator
  4. List of other supervisors
  5. Comments on the practicum setting: availability of learning opportunities, appropriateness of experience, office facilities, audiovisual and computer equipment, clerical support, interactions with other staff
  6. For each supervisor separately, comments on any or all of the following aspects of supervision, or others.  To what extent was the supervisor:
    1. accessible
    2. approachable
    3. open to feedback
    4. respectful - empathic
    5. supportive
    6. knowledgeable
    7. flexible
    8. clear in expectations
    9. prompt with feedback
  7. Date, student's signature, primary supervisor's signature