Practicum Training Model and Philosophy

A Practitioner Model Informed by Theory and Research guides the CAPS training program. Practicum students are trained to ground their practice of psychology in theory and research. This model is principally accomplished in an intensive, supervised university counseling center experience working with a multicultural group of interdisciplinary professionals. Imbued in this model are service provision, didactic and experiential instruction and the use of psychological theory/research.

CAPS provides a setting in which practicum students increase and strengthen their abilities to practice psychology throughout their year with the agency. Practicum students successfully complete practicum when they reach a skill level that demonstrates sufficient ability to practice foundational therapy skills with ongoing supervision.

CAPS recruits students from scientist-practitioner and scholar-practice academic programs so that they come with a foundation of theoretical and research-based knowledge, the capacity to engage in theoretical and research-based inquiry, and readiness for intensive training in practice. CAPS continues training in integrating practice and theory and research as these provide the underpinnings of the practice of psychology. A part of competent practice also includes being informed about the seminal and current theoretical and research bases of psychology. CAPS accomplishes integration by encouraging:

  • Developing critical thinking to guide the use of research to inform clinical practice.
  • Generating clinical hypotheses to explore in supervision.
  • Learning the empirical bases that guide the use of comprehensive diagnostic assessment.
  • Participating in in-service training programs on best current practices in clinical practice, (e.g., supervision, group therapy, diagnosis, crisis response, clinical ethics, etc.,).

The mentor/apprenticeship work environment in which this model of training occurs is encouraged and developed. It is designed to provide a collaborative milieu for training. This is operationalized in a variety of ways including:

  • Staff provide clinical and professional identity role modeling.
  • Staff collaborate with practicum students.
  • Staff create a milieu respectful of practicum students: honoring their cultural identities, valuing their positive self-growth, and establishing a strong work ethic.

This is the basic model and setting for the CAPS training program. This model and setting are further guided by seven philosophical tenets which describe in more detail the basic values of the CAPS training program:

Training Philosophy

  1. Practicum Students Are Primarily in Training

The primary purpose of the training program is to train practicum students to practice psychology. Intensive supervision is the vehicle for training and evaluating practicum students.

  1. Mentorship is the Cornerstone of Professional Development

Practicum students are always under the direct supervision and guidance of staff members. CAPS Training Program is founded on the belief that individuals grow primarily as the product of significant collaborative relationships. The practicum student-supervisor relationship provides the foundation for growth in core skill areas and professional identity development.

  1. Practicum Students Are in Training to Develop Positive Professional Identities

CAPS staff provides opportunities for practicum students to work with culturally diverse professionals from various disciplines (e.g., clinical and counseling psychology, social work, licensed mental health professionals, student services, psychiatry, etc.,). Practicum students are provided time to process and reflect on their experiences to promote growth and integration of their professional confidence.

  1. The Growth of a Professional Identity Occurs Developmentally

The CAPS training program provides higher levels of direction and structure initially, with movement towards greater autonomy and responsibility. High levels of structure assist practicum students’ transition into a new system by providing guidance and direction.

  1. Training Needs Are Met Through the Expertise of CAPS Staff and Other Campus Professionals

CAPS provides exposure to a broad range of experiences during the year, both internally and externally. This allows practicum students to seek their areas of interest within different venues such as clinical intervention, programming, consultation, diagnostic assessment, cultural competence, and scholarly inquiry.

  1. Individuals Learn in Individual Ways

The CAPS training program uses various learning methods including practical experiences, modeling, process-based activities, group, didactic, experiential and self-guided learning. CAPS provides an environment that is supportive and challenging and based in part on the practicum students' self-assessments. Time is spent initially working with practicum students to assist them in defining their goals and desires for training. CAPS provides an array of training experiences, venues, and modalities so interns are provided the opportunity to learn based on their individual styles.

  1. Psychologists Are Informed Through the Integration of Science and Practice

Theory, research and practice mutually inform each other. Practicum students are encouraged in their pursuit of observing, inferring, formulating, and evaluating clinical hypotheses. Practicum students generate clinical hypotheses based on theory and research.