Practicum & Fieldwork

Clinical Mental Health Counseling (CMHC)

The CMHC practicum (COUN 598P) experiences represent a major benchmark in the master’s level clinical training of students, as it is their supervised clinical experience providing direct service to clients. The practicum courses taken during the last three terms of the CMHC program, are oriented towards providing clinical counseling in settings that provide mental health services. These courses are designed to provide CMHC trainees with experiences enhancing their assessment, intervention, collaboration, and advocacy skills. The trainee is expected to demonstrate competencies of the highest caliber.

The CMHC practicum courses have a multilayer approach to supervision; CMHC trainees have onsite individual and group supervision, as well as weekly group and bi-weekly individual supervision from USD faculty.

The total number of practicum hours for the three semesters is 700, with a minimum of 280 hours in direct service hours with clients.

School Counseling (SC) & School-based Clinical Counseling (SBCC)

The field experiences courses (COUN 588P Practicum and COUN 590F Fieldwork) represent major benchmarks in the master’s level theory to practice training of students in the school counseling specialization, as they are the supervised clinical experiences providing direct services to K-12 students. Students in both the traditional school counseling and 60 units (PPS/LPCC eligible) specializations enroll in practicum and then yearlong fieldwork.

The practicum (COUN 588P) is a school-based model, where a small group of students (4-6) are assigned to a school site with an USD faculty instructor. The instructor and students spend one whole day at the site providing direct service to students, and engaging in group and individual supervision. Throughout practicum student continue to develop the basic counseling skills introduced in the counseling skills class and prepare themselves for the advanced clinical instruction provided in the yearlong fieldwork placements. School Counseling practicum requires 100 hours at a site with 40 hours of direct client contact.

The fieldwork course (COUN 590) course provides in-depth guidance and counseling experience in public schools and agencies working with school-aged children. The 3-unit course is designed to provide the fieldwork candidate with experiences enhancing knowledge, skills and dispositions included in the USD Counseling Program’s learning outcomes. Students participate in fieldwork over their final two semesters in the program. Fieldwork students are expected to demonstrate competencies of the highest caliber. Over the course of the two semesters of fieldwork, students are required to complete a minimum of 600 hours with 240 hours of direct service to students.

Marriage and Family Therapy

Practicum is a three consecutive semester sequence that is completed during the student’s final year. While enrolled in practicum, students work in a community agency for one year seeing clients with supervision from both agency and faculty supervisors. During the 12-month practicum, students are required to accumulate 500 hours of direct client contact, 200 of which must be with couples and/or families present in the therapy room. 100 hours of supervision must also be accumulated during this time, of which at least 50 hours must include supervision from raw data (video, live supervision). In reality, most students receive over 200 hours of supervision.

During the practicum class, students present videotapes of their clinical work during weekly group supervision, and receive didactic instruction on various clinical topics. In addition, students will have individual videotape and live supervision of their clinical work with a university clinical faculty member. Supervision is also obtained at the practicum site, which includes both group and individual supervision. Students receive a minimum of one to five ratio of supervision to clinical experience in accordance with state and national accreditation guidelines. All of the supervisors at USD and the sites are AAMFT Approved Supervisors or meet equivalency standards. AAMFT Approved Supervisors have taken special courses in supervision, and have had their supervision supervised by more experienced supervisors.

If you have any questions, contact Lily Vistica, Director of Clinical Training, at