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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 occurs in an elementary school, secondary school, or community settings (e.g., mental health setting or hospital), thereby allowing students to develop a professional role, participate in multidisciplinary settings, and to work in school or community sites where school-related problems are identified and addressed. Students are not permitted to work in a private office offering psychological services. All students are required submit a completed and signed Field Placement Form - Appendix F before initiating their Field Placement.

Throughout the field experience students are responsible to both the field and university supervisors. In addition to the on-site supervision, students are required to attend a seminar by a SACP core faculty member (Field Placement co-ordinator and EDSP 721/722/723 course instructor) where cases are presented, discussed and recommendations for intervention are presented, among other topics.

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: ethics, assessment, consultation, intervention, interpersonal relationships, supervision, child development, childhood psychopathology, statistics and research methodology.

Schedule and Time Requirements
The field experience provides a minimum of 700 hours (OPQ minimum) of supervised practice at an approved field practicum site. These hours are distributed across two academic semesters, with some students continuing during the summer semester. Beginning and end dates are negotiated with the training site, but usually span from September through to June. Typically, students spend three, eight-hour days, each week (limited to Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday) at the field site where they are actively engaged with clients, are involved in assessing children and adolescents with psychological or academic problems or both, prepare psychological reports, participate in case conferences, provide evidence-based interventions, and engage in professional development programs. In addition to the three-day field placement, students are required to attend a University-based seminar offered by a core faculty member.

 

Standards for Field Placement Sites

All practicum students are supervised by practitioners who are registered and licensed for independent psychological practice in the jurisdiction in which the services are provided. Practicum students receive supervision from a doctoral-level registered psychologist, where possible (Quebec still has a number of very experienced and senior psychologists who do not retain a doctoral degree who have extensive experience in supervising school, counselling and clinical psychological interns).

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

Over the course of practicum training prior to internship, the following criteria are assured:

  • A minimum of 700 (OPQ minima) hours of supervised practicum training in assessment and intervention strategies
  • At least 300 (CPA minima) of the 700 total hours is devoted to client contact (total), which includes direct, face-to-face patient/client contact defined as time students spend interviewing, assessing, or intervening with clients directly.
  • Students receive a minimum of 150 hours (CPA minima) of supervision (individual + group).
  • Students participate in support activities during their practica including case conferences, seminars, and workshops.
  • The balance between direct service, supervision and support hours required by the student evolves with their developing competence.

Seventy-five percent of the supervision provided to a student during practicum training will be individual supervision defined by the following criteria:

  • The supervisor is accountable for the psychological service the student delivers directly to patients/clients, and
  • Individual supervision consists of direct verbal communication in person between a supervisor and supervisee in which
    • the supervisor observes the supervisee deliver psychological service
    • the supervisor and supervisee review audio or video tapes of the supervisee’s delivery of psychological service, or
    • the supervisor and supervisee engage in case discussions

Twenty-five percent of the supervision provided can be either individual or group supervision defined as activities or meetings in which

  • students participate in the supervision received by another intern or trainee, or
  • some combination of interns and supervisors meet to discuss particular clients or issues.

 

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. 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, Individual Education Plans-IEP meetings).

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

students are expected to gain a greater appreciation and understanding of human diversity through their Field Placement experience. They are expected to become acquainted with available community resources that may augment services provided by the school or clinical setting. They are encouraged to observe and when possible become involved in the activities performed by the supervising psychologist that expose students to resources outside of the direct school context.

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 age students. In addition, experiences in conducting assessments with children from diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds are highly recommended. Competence in report writing and dissemination of results to parents, teachers, children, and other professionals is required.

In addition to assessments, students are expected to function as a consultant with teachers or parents or both at the elementary and secondary school levels. They may be asked to specify target behaviours, conduct observations, collect data related to target behaviors, develop treatment strategies, monitor treatment progress, and evaluate treatment outcomes. Students are expected to engage in direct intervention; short-term individual or family therapy and/or group therapy where available. Finally, field practicum 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 codes and standards, and professional activity.

The expectations elucidated above constitute a general framework that guides field practicum activities, and clarifies expectations by all concerned parties. However, the expectations of the field placement experience by the university supervisor must be matched and or modified depending on the unique needs or circumstances provided by the field placement site.

 

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 using the Field Placement Objectives Planning Form - Appendix G (using Time2Track). 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 approves student logs his/her and three evaluations are completed during the year.
  2. The field supervisor evaluates the student through the Field Student Evaluation Form - Appendix H (using Time2Track) but may add other relevant evaluation procedures. Importantly, expectations and evaluation procedures are communicated to the student at the beginning of the field placement. Two interim and final evaluation forms shall be completed by the supervisor(s) and discussed with the student.
  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.
  4. The field supervisor should provide adequate individual supervision during the field placement, according to both CPA and OPQ standards. 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 or as required, and the field supervisor is responsible for alerting the university supervisor of any presenting 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 ensures that the experience is conducted in a manner consistent with the current legal and ethical guidelines of the Ordre des Psychologues du Québec (OPQ).

 

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 through the field experience (three evaluations).
  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.

 

Example Forms specific to the Field Placement (Appendices F, G and H) can be found at https://www.mcgill.ca/edu-ecp/programs/schoolpsych/resource

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