Practicum Handbook

See the complete student practice handbook here:  VCU RC Clinical Handbook 2019

Students are required to complete a 100 hour field experience as part of RHAB 692. 40 hours of direct client contact are required at a minimum, and 60 hours of administrative activities. Supervised clinical experiences in a rehabilitation setting are required for all students. Clinical practice provides an opportunity for all students to develop techniques and skills in connection with the total rehabilitation process. It gives the student an opportunity to apply theory to the practice of rehabilitation counseling and case management.

General Objectives for All Supervised Clinical Experiences
The following objectives are felt to be appropriate for all students and should be achieved by students enrolled in a practicum or internship. Achievement of these objectives is important not only for the development of students, but for continuing refinement of the graduate curriculum of the Department of Rehabilitation Counseling, and ultimately for the benefit of the persons we serve. Therefore, students will have an opportunity to:

  • Apply and test academic/theoretical knowledge in a realistic rehabilitation setting;
  • Experience the realities of the therapist/therapeutic relationship and the part that self-understanding plays in this relationship;
  • Develop confidence in their abilities (knowledge and skills) in an environment which provides consistent and appropriate feedback necessary for maximum professional growth and development;
  • Demonstrate high standards of professional ethics;
  • Develop an appropriate professional identity;
  • Acquire an understanding of agency structure, protocol, processes, and intra- and interagency working relationships.

Practicum Experience: A minimum of 100 contact hours in a single agency completed as part of the requirements of RHAB 692 Advanced Issues in Professional Counseling.  RHAB 691 Counseling Techniques is a pre-requisite to 692.

Practicum Site: An agency, organization, facility, institution or program which provides a rehabilitation and/or mental health practice setting and appropriate supervision for students enrolled in a practicum. If you are already employed in a rehabilitation setting, your regular work site is not automatically an acceptable practicum site. The practicum is intended to constitute new learning and typically is not incorporated into your current daily work activities. The site must be approved by Denise Hall, Clinical Coordinator, in conjunction with your faculty advisor.

On-Site Supervisor: That individual responsible for the student/employee at the practicum site. Responsibilities will vary according to the agency and the student´s objectives. The On-Site Supervisor arranges for adequate facilities, provides general orientation to the setting, participates in evaluations, and provides on-site supervision.

Clinical Coordinator: This person coordinates the field experience. This Faculty member communicates with the student to facilitate the development of sites and learning objectives. The Practicum Instructor must approve the site selection (and On-Site Supervisor) and student learning objectives. They also, as a regular part of his or her instructional assignment, provide the supervision of practicum students. It is anticipated that the bulk of faculty supervision will be electronic, telephonic or in person.This individual is responsible for: 1). Confirming the placements for those students assigned, 2). Providing orientation and evaluation criteria for the On-Site Supervisors; 3). Providing individual supervision as indicated; 4). Holding conferences with On-Site Supervisor and Student as needed; and 5). Providing, in consultation with the On-Site Supervisor, final evaluation of the student´s progress.

Appropriate Field Experiences
The practicum site and tasks must constitute new learning, and if incorporated into current work activity, must go beyond the job duties currently being performed by the student. For example, an individual who has not been involved in job placement or vocational assessment activities could elect to increase their skills in these areas; or an individual who currently works with individuals with psychiatric disabilities and is interested in working with transition age youth may select to do so. However, the ideal intent is that the practicum experience occurs at a new setting performing new tasks.

The practicum must be supervised by a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC), or a similarly certified rehabilitation professional, or a rehabilitation professional whose scope of experience and depth of specialty supports the student in balancing his or her own professional aspirations with the operations of the agency, program or organization. The majority of on-site supervisors will meet one of these criteria, and all faculty supervisors will meet the CRC criteria.

Each student is responsible for locating an appropriate site. Students should consult the Clinical Coordinator while enrolled in RHAB 691 Counseling Techniques to assist in identifying prospective sites. These discussions should focus on the clinical experiences that the student is looking for in the practicum.

Evaluation Requirements
Practicum grading occurs within the context of RHAB 692. The 100 hours of clinical practicum are a part of the course requirements and contribute to a student´s overall grade in that course. Specific details regarding the grading procedures for the course will be found in the syllabus for RHAB 691. Successful practicum completion includes: 1). completion of all 100 hours of practicum including weekly log; 2). acceptable On-Site/Faculty Supervisor Evaluation; and 3). completion of a written evaluation report by the student.