To complete the M.S. in Family Therapy, students must complete 500 hours of client contact, 250 of which must consist of relational hours with couples and families. Students also must accumulate at least 100 supervision hours, 50 of which must be based on direct observation and videotape. They are responsible for documenting clinical and supervision hours, using the forms provided on the CAHSS website under student resources. Students are required to keep a copy of all documentation pertaining to both Internal and External Practicums. This includes their clinical and supervision hour forms, contracts, and clinical evaluations. A student's first two Practicums are at the Brief Therapy Institute, Family Therapy Clinic; therefore, they are called Internal Practicums. Students must pass the first two Internal Practicums to be eligible to continue clinical training in two External Practicums. Students may elect to take more than two Internal Practicums to better hone in their clinical skills prior to moving into their External Practicum setting. The External Practicums are internships in the community where students provide clinical services in school, hospital, agency, private practice, and other settings.
Before students begin their External Practicum, they collaborate with the DFT Internship Coordinator to identify and develop an external practicum, community-based site and a contract with the site. Prior to beginning their external practicum experience, students must have completed an internship contract, signed by the student, the internship site supervisor, their faculty supervisor, and the Program Director. If proof of a student's professional liability insurance coverage is needed for the practicum site, a copy can be obtained from the Internship Coordinator. Students must have ALL documentation completed and presented to the Internship Coordinator for approval prior to beginning any training or clinical work at the practicum site. A site supervisor must be a licensed mental health professional who meets the supervisory requirements based on COAMFTE standards.
Students must register for a minimum of two terms of External Practicum as part of their program requirements. Students will need to register for additional External Practicums if needed to meet the clinical and supervision hour requirements. The DFT faculty teaching the course will supervise the student in one-hour weekly face to face meetings or more as needed. Faculty supervisors are AAMFT Approved Supervisors. Students also are required to have regularly scheduled supervision with their site supervisor at their clinical site(s).
There are four important documents of information that students must provide the Internship Coordinator prior to beginning their internship:
- The original signed copy of the internship contract.
- A resume of the on-site supervisor to demonstrate that he or she has a master's degree and is a licensed mental health professional or meets the equivalent criteria and a copy of the AAMFT Supervisor Certificate, if applicable.
- A brochure or written information about the internship site.
- A written description from the on-site supervisor clearly identifying internship duties and responsibilities.
Students should plan on acquiring a minimum of 15-20 client contact hours per week at their site to ensure completion of the 500 required client-contact hours and supervision hours within two required terms of External Practicum. Students may also take a third external practicum to complete the required hours and to enhance their skills. Students must adhere to their site contract requirements (i.e., school systems provide therapeutic services throughout the school year and require student interns to sign a contract to provide continuous services). In addition to the weekly client contact hours, students are required to schedule additional time at the internship sites to complete paperwork, allow for missed appointments, and become a valued member of their site. Thus, 20 hours a week committed to the internship site is realistic. This time may include weekdays, evenings, and/or weekends, depending on the site requirements. If students are unable to commit the needed amount of time to a site, they will need to register and take additional practicum(s) to accrue the required 500 clinical hours. Students must be supervised throughout the practicums.
If students want more diverse experiences, or are not accumulating hours rapidly enough at one internship site, they may develop an additional site. A contract for each site must be completed prior to beginning at that site. The internship contract should be clearly understood by all parties. No more than two internship sites are recommended and must have their faculty supervisor's, Internship Coordinator's, and Program Director's approval.
Practicums are evaluated by both the site supervisor and faculty supervisor each term, utilizing the program's practicum evaluation forms. Students are invited to assess their own performance as well. These forms, designed by faculty, closely assess clinical skills and can be obtained online at the CAHSS website.
Students are enrolled in two Internal Practicums once they complete their core courses. Within the internal practicums and later the external practicums, the supervisor and students are able to evaluate their progress in therapeutic skills by reviewing the following:
- Attention to Professional, Ethical and Legal Issues
- Systemic Case Conceptualization:
- Clinical Session Management:
- Attention to Client/Therapist Position
- Effective Use of Supervision
It is recognized that student progress in acquiring and practicing therapeutic skills and formulating their therapeutic orientation as they move through the program from novice to professional. As such, students have the opportunity to identify their strengths and needs for further development throughout their clinical experiences. The evaluation forms can be viewed here.
In addition to successfully completing all coursework and obtaining the required minimum 500 client contact hours and 100 supervision hours, students must pass a comprehensive examination as required for the M.S. in Family Therapy degree. This clinically focused examination tests the student's ability to apply what has been learned. Exams are given at the end of each term. Students are eligible to take the Comprehensive Exam when they have:
- completed their required clinical and supervision hours, and
- completed their course work by or before the end of the term during which the examination is taken.