Field Placements - Ph.D. Students in School/Applied Child Psychology

Overview of Field Placements

The field placement provides students with the opportunity to function in a work setting with a school or clinical psychologist (depending on the setting). The field placement may occur in an elementary, high school, or community setting and thereby allows students to develop a professional role, participate in multidisciplinary settings, and to work in school or community sites where problems are identified and addressed.

Throughout the field experience students are responsible to both the field and University supervisors. The University supervisor is a full-time tenure track staff member of the School/Applied Child Psychology program.

Student Eligibility for Field Placements
Students eligible for Field Placements must be accepted as doctoral students in the School/Applied Child Psychology Program in the Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology. As such, students have had the prerequisite course work in the following areas: clinic practicum, standardized assessment, behavioural consultation, child development, childhood psychopathology, intervention, and statistics and research methodology.

Schedule and Time Requirements
The field experience provides a minimum of 500 hours of supervised practice at an approved field site(s). These hours are distributed across two academic semesters. Usually students spend two eight-hour days each week at the field sites. In addition, students are required to attend a university-based seminar.


Standards for Field Placement Sites

The field placement site must provide appropriate experiences in school, applied or clinical psychology and supervision from a licensed psychologist who is a member of the Ordre des Psychologues du Québec (OPQ). The field placement enables students to gain further experience in providing educational, psychological and mental health services to children and adolescents. Issues addressed should be educationally relevant and field placements should support the skills previously learned through course work.

The field supervisor must allocate at least two hours of supervision for each 16 hours of practice, and the field supervisor must be given some flexibility to schedule this supervision time (e.g., supervision may occur in 15 to 30 minute intervals where appropriate). The acceptance of a field student into a particular site is dependent upon an agreement between the University supervisor (who specifies in detail the experiences that need to be provided by the field site), the Psychologist designated as the field supervisor, and the school or hospital administration.


Objectives of Field Placement

Professional development is a critical component of the field practicum experience and students are expected to demonstrate appropriate professional skills and conduct including being punctual, maintaining a professional appearance, attending all relevant training opportunities, and presenting reports in a timely manner. In obtaining this objective they are expected to establish congenial, supportive, and cooperative relations with staff, students, and parents. Students are strongly encouraged to gain insight and understanding of the school environment (e.g., case conferences, team meetings, IEP and ITP meetings).

Students are expected to become familiar with the process of special education referral, evaluation, placement, and remediation. In meeting this objective, students are asked to play an integral role in the referral process and to spend time in the classroom with children and adolescents who have learning difficulties or learning disabilities, emotional/behavioral disturbances, or cognitive disabilities.

Similarly, students are expected to become familiar with regular education. They are typically asked to spend some time in inclusive classrooms. Students are expected to gain knowledge of regular education curriculum and participate in activities for students without special needs.

The final objective within the professional development domain is that students become acquainted with community resources that may augment services provided by the school/clinical setting. Students are encouraged to observe and when possible become involved in the activities performed by the supervising psychologist that draw upon connections outside of the school realm.


Assessment and Diagnostic Skill Development

In terms of assessment and diagnostic skill development, students are expected to conduct assessments related to cognitive, social, and emotional functioning with preschool/kindergarten, elementary, and high school students. In addition, experiences in conducting assessments with children from diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds is highly recommended. Competence in report writing and dissemination of results to parents, teachers, children, and other professionals is required.

In addition to assessment, students are expected to function as a consultant with teachers and/or parents at the elementary and secondary level. They are asked to specify target behaviours, conduct observations, collect data related to target behaviours, develop treatment strategies, monitor treatment progress, and evaluate treatment outcome.

Students are expected to engage in direct intervention; short-term individual or family therapy and group therapy are expected.

Finally, field students are expected to demonstrate accountability for their activities as a practicing school psychologist. Students are expected to maintain the highest standards of professionalism during the field practicum experience, including but not limited to standards of dress, ethical standards, and professional activity.

The aforementioned objectives constitute a general framework that guides field placement activities, and clarifies expectations by all concerned parties. However, the objectives must be matched and or modified depending on the unique needs or circumstances provided by the field placement site. For example, in some schools the assessment of minority children may not be possible, so, alternative activities may be suggested.


Responsibilities of the Field Supervisor

  1. The field supervisor in conjunction with the university supervisor shall develop a field practicum plan based on the objectives outlined above. These guidelines can be expanded to include other activities that the field supervisor finds crucial. The student also has input into the planning of the field experience. Further, the field supervisor and university supervisor discuss how and when the field student will be evaluated. Ideally, a meeting should occur at the beginning, middle, and end of the field experience. However, realistically (dependent upon the number of students in a given cohort) two formal evaluation meetings may only be possible.
  2. The field supervisor evaluates the student through the Field Student Evaluation Form (provided by the University supervisor) but may add other relevant evaluation procedures. Importantly, expectations and evaluation procedures are communicated to the student at the beginning of the field placement.
  3. The field supervisor supervises the daily activities of the student through case assignment, incorporating the student into ongoing activities, monitoring student performance, and reviewing and discussing completed activities with the student.
  4. The field supervisor should provide at least two hours of supervision for 16 hours spent at the field site. Regular scheduling of supervision sessions is recommended as opposed to informal or ad hoc supervision.
  5. The field supervisor and the university supervisor communicate with one another on a regular basis, and the field supervisor is responsible for alerting the university supervisor of any issues that are interfering with the student's professional responsibilities.
  6. The field supervisor regularly evaluates the student through frequent feedback, discussion and direct observation, feedback from other school personnel and clients, and reviews the students' written reports, case notes, or other required documentation.
  7. The field supervisor must help to ensure that the experience is conducted in a manner consistent with the current legal and ethical guidelines of the Ordre des Psychologues du Québec.


Responsibilities of the Program's Field Experience Coordinator

  1. Recruits and approves field sites in collaboration with the Director of Clinical Training and ensures that each field experience site meets program standards.
  2. Consults with the field supervisor and the student to establish the field experience plan.
  3. Evaluates progress made toward the field experience plan objectives midway through the field experience.
  4. Supplements on-site supervision by directing group discussions of student activities during a scheduled University seminar.
  5. Reviews progress made during the field experience with the field supervisor and collaborates to determine the final grade for the field experience.
  6. The Field Experience Coordinator may be assisted by one or more Associate Field Experience Coordinators, Co-Instructors, or Teaching Assistants when warranted.


Field Placement Forms