Well hello there! If you clicked on this blog post, it's likely you fit into one of the following categories:
You are a current Yorkville MACP student who is nervous, overwhelmed and/or frustrated with finding your practicum site;
You are prospective graduate student wondering about what it's like to navigate the wild world of student practicum;
You are a current Yorkville MACP student enrolled in your practicum and you're looking for some support (I got you boo!)
Have no fear, you're practicum fairy godmother is here to help you navigate this confusing and stressful time in your program!
I work with current and prospective graduate level students in the counselling psychology field to explore ways of easing their educational and career-based anxiety and support them in navigating a chaotic and overwhelm period in their educational development. Practicum is by far the most intense and stressful part of any educational program and the MACP program is no different. Dozens of prospective students meet with me every month to talk about what the program is all about and learn how to make it out alive (& with a reliable degree to boot!) It's safe to say...practicum is challenging, but it doesn't have to be! Let's challenge these practicum distortions and steer your anxiety ship in the right direction!
Practicum Tip 1: Start searching for your practicum site 8 months-1 year in advance to your start date.
Practicum sites are a needles in an autumn farm field full of haystacks, especially when it's a mad dash of students looking to secure their spots. With more demand then resource; practicum sites can be tricky to land. Ensure you start your emailing game ahead of time so you have the time to make connections with sites, interview, and complete your practicum application package. Keep in mind that many sites only take on students during particular months of the year or seasons that they can accommodate, so the time you are looking to begin may not work for every site. Also, it's important you find a site that is in line with your values as a future clinician and a supervisor who is going to help you to blossom into the therapist sprout you aim to be. Having a great and supportive supervisor really sets the tone for a successful practicum!
Practicum Tip 2: Refine your professional resume and cover letter
Many students make the mistake of not reviewing and revising their resumes' in time for practicum. Sites want to see the most important information related to your skills and experiences in the field (we also know you may not have any yet but the more information we have about your previous work experiences and education...the better!) Take some time to sculpt and mold your resume so it is easy to read, to the point, and showcasing your skillsets. Also, ensure your resume is concise and not longer than 2-3 pages. This will make it easier for a site to review and determine if you are fit for an interview!
Practicum Tip 3: Prepare your own interview questions
As much as your potential supervisor/site is interviewing you to see if you would be a good fit for their practice or organization, you are also interviewing them to determine if they would be the right fit in helping you to grow into your best therapist self during your practicum. As such, come up with a list of questions you would like to ask a potential supervisor to determine the suitability of fit. Some examples can include: what is your therapy style? what types of clients do you tend to see in your practice/organization? what is your supervision style? etc.! (I have a list of 16 questions you can ask a supervisor in your interview in my Student Bundle package!)
Practicum Tip 4: Be you!
When you attend your interview, you want to be genuine and yourself. Therapists are all unique and each have their own styles when it comes to the work they do. Clients get the best success in therapy when they are able to connect with a REAL PERSON and not a stone-cold professional without any personality (eww....no thanks!) With that said, come to your interview as you are. A site wants to see you and know who you might be as a therapist. After all, you would be representing their practice/organization, and ultimately, their brand. Trust must be established early on to ensure you get off on the right foot in your practicum!
Practicum Tip 5: Remember...this is a time for you to learn!
Keep in mind that you don't have all the answers and you likely have never sat face-to-face with a client before. Your supervisor and your site will know this and support your growth. It's okay to ask questions, not know the answers, feel anxious and uncertain, or generally unprepared. I sure did when I started! I can still remember my very first client and how nervous I felt about being in the room for a whole hour with her. I wasn't my best therapist self yet and I don't blame the client for not returning for session 2 (haha!) But I grew from those experiences and discovered who I wanted to be as a therapist and that's truly what matters. Your practicum is a time for you to discover who you are as a professional, the clients you wish to serve and support, and the places you find yourself most comfortable working within. No pressure, just be yourself and allow the learning to happen!
I hope this post has eased some of your anxiety about navigating your time in practicum and got you thinking about ways to start the process. You are not alone on this journey, I promise you that!
If you are interested in learning more about how I can support your student journey, please check out the Mentorship page! I offer various services to students and current mental health professionals who are navigating their first few steps in private practice!
Wishing you luck!