M.S. in Mental Health Counseling students complete intensive supervised practicum and internship experiences during which they actively work with clients in mental health counseling-related training settings. The counseling practicum and internship constitute the students' primary applied training experiences and involve accruing many hours of direct client contact under supervision of trained professionals.
Admission into the Practicum and Internship
Students who successfully complete the three pre-requisite classes (COU510 Counseling Theories, COU515 Counseling Skills, COU520 Career Development, Counseling, and Assessment) are eligible for COU530 (Foundations of Mental Health Counseling) which includes a practicum component. The counseling faculty will review the student's academic performance and counseling skills and if these are deemed acceptable, then the student will be allowed to register for COU530.
Successful completion of COU530 makes one eligible for the full-year internship, which consists of a site placement and two accompanying courses (COU771 Ethics and Professional Orientation: MHC Internship 1 and COU772 Ethics and Professional Orientation: MHC Internship 2). The relevant counseling faculty will review the student's academic performance, counseling skills, and performance in COU530. If these are deemed acceptable, then the student will be allowed to interview at sites offering full-year internship placements. In order to take the internship classes, a student must interview with and be offered an internship placement by an approved site. Even if given the go-ahead by the faculty, students are never guaranteed internship placements; the offer of a placement is always at the discretion of the training sites.
Importantly, placement sites always reserve the right to determine which students will be placed at their site. At any time before or during a placement, should a site determine that a student is not fit to continue with a placement, then the site can dismiss the student from the placement. Further, all students completing the first semester of their year-long internship will be evaluated before being allowed to proceed to the second semester.
Mental Health Counseling Practicum and Internship Requirements
The practicum and internship experiences in Mental Health Counseling meet New York State requirements for licensure. Mental Health Counseling students complete their practicum training during COU530 by dividing their time at two on-campus sites: the SUNY New Paltz Student Counseling Center and the SUNY New Paltz Career Center. Students complete their internship training at either on-campus or off-campus sites. Off-campus fieldwork sites have been developed to broaden the learning experiences available to students.
Expected Practicum Requirements
- 100 hours on site, 40 hours of which are spent in direct client contact
- A combination of individual and group supervision totaling at least one hour per week
- Weekly class sessions, which include didactic presentations and discussions
Expected Internship Requirements
- 600 hours on site, 240 hours of which are spent in direct client contact
- A combination of individual and group supervision totaling at least one hour per week for every five direct service hours
- Weekly class sessions, which include group supervision, didactic presentations, discussions; particular focus is paid to ethics and practice issues in the didactic component of the internship classes
Note: Although each off-campus placement will have somewhat different requirements, it is expected that the specified hours designated above will be the same across all sites. Specific requirements for established off-campus environments will be completed by the on-site supervisor and according to guidelines established by SUNY New Paltz.
Procedures for Practicum and Internship Placements
- Trainees must understand that the supervisor at the off-campus site is clinically responsible for all cases and therefore has absolute authority in dictating client therapy.
- There is to be regularly scheduled individual and group supervision
- Regularly scheduled learning activities, such as seminars or co-therapy, will be scheduled and attendance required.
- Trainees should not schedule a client meeting if they do not have direct access to a supervisor.
- Trainees should have immediate access to a supervisor in case an emergency should arise.
Approved Internship Sites
Children's Home of Kingston
- Institute for Family Health (various locations throughout the region)
- Mount Saint Mary College Counseling Center (Newburgh)
Occupations (Middletown and Newburgh; other locations by request)
River Haven (Poughkeepsie)
Step One (Highland and Ellenville)
SUNY New Paltz Psychological Counseling Center
SUNY New Paltz Career Resource Center
Ulster-Greene ARC (Kingston)
Benedictine Hospital, Oncology Unit (Kingston)