Practicum and Internship Experiences in the MSMHC
The MS in Mental Health Counseling (MSMHC) degree at Suffolk University includes practicum and internship training, which is an essential component of the program. Our students work through case material and have direct client contact, which enhances and reinforces classroom-based instruction. Both the practicum and internship training experiences are closely aligned with the goals of the MSMHC program, and are required by the Massachusetts Board of Licensure for mental health counselors.
Below, you will find additional information about our supervised training experiences in the MSMHC program from Professor John Smolinsky, Assistant Professor of Clinical Practice.
Generally speaking, what is the difference between a practicum and an internship?
While the use of these terms is not uniform across the field, the Massachusetts Board of Licensure uses the term practicum to refer to the first year experience and internship to refer to the second year. The training demands during practicum vary depending upon whether the student trains through role-play or in the community. While the practicum requirement can be fulfilled with a minimum of 100 hours, community placements generally require two days (16 hours per week) on site for a total of at least 210 hours and as many as 400 hours with a requirement of 3 - 5 ongoing clients, 40 face-to-face hours, and 25 hours of supervision. The role-play option occurs on campus and through intensive supervision of video-recorded sessions. During the internship year, trainees should expect to be on site three full days (24 hours per week) for a total of 600 hours, 240 direct client contact hours, and 45 hours of individual supervision. There is no role-play option for internship.
How do practicum and internship placements influence a student’s academic experience?
The MSMHC program is designed to support participation in practicum and internship training. Courses are held in the late afternoon and evening to offer maximum flexibility in selecting a training rotation. Working at sites, particularly during the internship year (year 2), is the MSMHC student’s opportunity to get a feel for a particular mental health service provision setting, develop skills related to site-specific treatment modalities, and begin to form a professional network.