Psychology and Social Work Field Placement Training Manual
UNC Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) addresses the needs of undergraduate and graduate students, as well as post-doctoral fellows and spouses. UNC Chapel Hill has a diverse population of about 29,000 students. A fairly representative portion of the student body at UNC accesses services at CAPS at some point in their academic career. We are part of Campus Health, which is administratively located within Student Affairs. We offer a wide array of clinical services in order to meet the needs of students with a variety of difficulties, ranging from academic stress or adjustment concerns, to more severe pathology. Students most commonly present to counseling services for assistance with depression, anxiety, academic concerns, and/or relationship difficulties. We have found that students at UNC are bright and motivated and are able to make significant gains within the brief treatment model at CAPS.
Our multi-disciplinary staff is composed of ten psychologists, four psychiatrists, seven social workers and four administrative support staff. Our clinicians are all involved in training in some capacity and have a wide variety of clinical interests and expertise (please see staff bios page for more information). As a staff, we are committed to training and supervision, and enjoy this aspect of our work. Each year we work with a total of 10-12 trainees at various levels of training from psychology and social work graduate programs.
Mission of CAPS:
CAPS staff is strongly committed to addressing the needs of a diverse student body, as well as continuing to develop multicultural competence among our staff. CAPS’ values the opportunity for people of every background to have access to our services and to be treated with respect and dignity. The professional ethics and standards of the various mental health fields represented at CAPS set a framework for understanding how facets of identity (e.g., gender, ethnicity, race, sexual/affectional orientation, age, physical and mental abilities, religious beliefs and socioeconomic class) enhance the treatment of all people. We have an approach to mental health that integrates physical, emotional, spiritual, social, and cultural dimensions of wellness.
Structure of Training Program:
UNC Counseling and Psychological Services offers a field placement experience for social work and psychology graduate students. The field placement for both programs is directed by the Coordinator of Training. In addition, there are also specific coordinators for the respective social work and psychology programs. The specific coordinators’ roles entail selecting trainees, planning and implementing orientation, facilitating the service delivery team, gathering feedback, and overseeing the general logistics of the program on a daily basis.
Training experiences are structured to be sequential, cumulative, and graded in complexity. Over time, trainees are expected to assume greater responsibility in order to develop their skills as a clinician. Program choices are based on trainees’ individual needs, areas of strength and interest, and skill level. Trainees may have the opportunity to participate in a wide array of core university counseling services including: intake assessments, brief individual therapy, longer-term individual therapy, group therapy, outreach and workshop program development and delivery, triage interviewing and decision making (or observation of services), academic intervention assessments, and referral coordination services. Trainees have the chance to work with a large and diverse multi-disciplinary staff with a wide range of theoretical orientations (including interpersonal, cognitive-behavioral, object-relations, feminist, multicultural, humanistic, existential, narrative, and integrative) and areas of specialization (such as gender issues, LGBTQ identities and communities, disordered eating, sexual and relationship violence, substance abuse, spirituality and mindfulness, suicide prevention, career development, and crisis intervention). Learning will be further supplemented by didactic seminars, service delivery team, and professional continuing education opportunities.
Model of Training:
The CAPS training program is grounded in a practitioner-scholar model of training. Consistent with this model of training, we assist trainees in integrating critical thinking skills, a strong foundation in theory, scientific inquiry, empirical literature and use of local data (empirical data collected from the UNC population) to inform their clinical practice. As a center, we are committed to giving feedback to trainees in an atmosphere that is both supportive and challenging. It is not uncommon for trainees to also receive interpersonal feedback, as we value self-awareness and a commitment to life-long learning and development. Along these lines, we encourage the practice of self-care for trainees and staff. Multiculturalism and cultural humility are also values of ours and are woven throughout training activities and ongoing staff dialogues. Finally, we as a staff, strive to model the above-mentioned values for our trainees.
Psychology practicum students are expected to be at CAPS on Mondays and Tuesdays from 8-5pm (with an hour for lunch) during the academic year. They are also expected to attend two hours of other training activities (service delivery team and seminar as described below) on another day of the week. The day of the week for those two hours of specific training activities may change from year to year and is based on staff and trainee schedules. Psychology practicum students typically provide about 8-10 hours of direct service, which is mostly comprised of Brief Therapy. Generally, they have the opportunity to participate in a group therapy experience in the spring semester, which would also count as direct service and therefore reduce the amount of individual therapy slots by the amount of time spent in group. Students also have ample time in their schedules for supervision (described below) and to complete notes and paperwork.
Social Work students
Second year UNC MSW students attend their field placement Wednesday, Thursday and Friday during the academic year. Smith MSW students attend four days per week. All MSW interns are expected to be present from 8am through 5pm (with an hour for lunch). They typically provide about 8 hours of direct service, divided between Brief Therapy (5-7 hours per week, 60 minutes per appointment) and Referral Coordination (2-3 hours per week, 30 minutes per appointment). Participation in a group therapy experience would also count as direct service and would therefore reduce the amount of individual therapy slots by the amount of time spent in group. Students also have ample time in their schedules for supervision (described below) and to complete notes and paperwork.
First year MSW students attend their field placement two days per week from 8-5 with an hour for lunch. The days they are expected to be at CAPS will be decided on an individual basis each year (based on staffing, seminar schedule, program needs, and trainee preference). They typically observe and then co-facilitate referral coordination appointments, provide outreach, and help with the Bounce Back program. Depending on trainee interest, other opportunities could also be developed.
We utilize a brief treatment model at CAPS. This does not include specific session limits, but involves working on a defined concern that can be reasonably addressed through brief therapy. Trainees are assigned clients who agree to audio/video taping and who do not present with risk on triage. If a trainee has specific clinical interests, supervisors and staff will try to facilitate this opportunity within their caseload. Trainees also typically have the chance to work with one long-term client during the year.
Triage is the manner in which all students enter our system. A routine triage appointment involves assessing the students needs, risk, and making an appropriate disposition for services. Some triage appointments may also involve crisis intervention. Trainees would be on a team with three staff members who would always be available for assistance and consultation. They would begin by observing triage appointments and could work up to seeing students independently. This opportunity is based on trainee interest and is not a required aspect of the field placement.
Students with presenting concerns which are not appropriate for brief therapy may be encouraged to utilize referral coordination appointments to assist them in getting connected to appropriate providers and resources in the community.
CAPS has a thriving group therapy program and offers a variety of groups each semester. Trainees can have group therapy experience by being a process observer, or by co-facilitating a group with a staff member or intern. Current group offerings are listed on our website each semester.
Students will occasionally seek a psychological withdrawal, or need assistance in petitioning to drop a course or semester. Trainees could be involved in assessing the student and completing the necessary paperwork.
Outreach and Consultation
Practicum students are encouraged to partner with staff/interns on workshops or other events we are asked to participate in, or to create their own opportunities for outreach/consultation on campus. Though outreach is not a requirement of the field placement, we strive to reach underserved populations at UNC and welcome trainees’participation in this goal. These activities will be overseen by individual supervisors, or the practicum coordinators. Examples of outreach opportunities that trainees have completed in the past include: Fallfest, tabling at the LGBTQ Ally Fair, and stress management workshops with Covenant Scholars.
Supervision and Training Strategies:
Trainees from UNC programs are requested to come to CAPS prior to the beginning of the fall semester for orientation. Orientation typically lasts 3 full days, and is held the week before and/or week of the first day of classes in August. Orientation provides an overview of services offered by CAPS and introduces the skills required to perform these services. Some activities are also designed to help trainees get to know the agency and staff and to become familiar with resources on campus. Smith School for Social Work trainees start on or around the first day of classes at UNC as their academic schedule allows.
CAPS values our training program, and supervisors are able to set aside time to provide regular supervision for all trainees. In addition to regularly scheduled supervision, we have an open door policy and encourage trainees to consult widely with all staff members. Supervisors are assigned based on trainee interest areas and goals, as well as staff availability. Individual supervision varies per program as follows:
First year MSW students from NCCU receive one hour of individual supervision with social work staff per week.
Second year MSW students receive two hours of individual supervision with two different social work staff per week (one hour per supervisor).
Psychology practicum students receive two hours of individual supervision each week. One of these hours of supervision is with a staff psychologist and the other hour is with a psychology doctoral level intern who is completing their internship at CAPS.
Supervision of Group
If trainees engage in the provision of group therapy, they also receive additional supervision in this area. This typically takes place by group facilitators directly after each group therapy session.
Service Delivery Team
In addition to individual supervision, social work interns and psychology practicum students will meet for an hour a week for “Service Delivery Team.” This hour is similar to a clinical case conference or group supervision, and is co-facilitated by the coordinators for the social work and psychology practicum programs. In addition to formal and informal case presentations, we use this time to focus on cultural humility, self-care, and social justice issues.
Trainees meet weekly for one hour with various staff members who have expertise on the designated topic. Seminar topics include multicultural competence, professional identity development, ethics, assessment, brief therapy, different treatment models, and issues prevalent in a college population. Please see our website for the current seminar schedule.
Professional Development Activities
Trainees often have the opportunity to participate in continuing education activities designed for our staff. Examples of training topics offered in the past have included: suicide assessment and prevention, the Bounce Back program for academic retention, the needs of students who are veterans or in the military, and ethics. We also occasionally have presentations by clinicians from the community on their areas of expertise.
Currently, we work with second year MSW students from the UNC Chapel Hill School of Social Work and the Smith College School for Social Work, first year MSW students from the North Carolina Central University School of Social work, and psychology graduate students (generally third year and above) from the UNC Chapel Hill PhD program. Although the programs with whom we work provide us names of interested students, the placement requires an interview to determine fit and further explore the trainee's goals and interests. In order to avoid situations that involve dual relationships, we may not be able to accept trainees who have had a significant role on campus working with UNC students and/or who have received treatment from CAPS in the past.
For both social work and psychology trainees, written evaluations are completed at the end of each semester, though informal feedback is given throughout the year. Evaluations are primarily completed by individual supervisors, but also incorporate input from other staff members who have been involved in aspects of training for the supervisee. The evaluations that are used at CAPS are those provided by the trainee's respective academic programs. In addition to providing evaluation information to trainees’ home departments, we communicate with representatives of respective departments regularly and work with them as partners. The major purpose of the evaluation is to provide the trainee feedback in order to facilitate professional growth and development. Trainees are also invited to schedule any additional meetings with the coordinators of training and/or their supervisors if they would like to process concerns or reactions to the given feedback or other aspects of the practicum experience.
Audio and Video Recording:
Video and audio recordings are used as a tool in supervision. Therefore, trainees are required to audio or videotape all therapy sessions. Each trainee has an external hard drive, camera and accompanying software installed in their office. The technology section of orientation introduces the trainees to each of these systems.
Trainees are expected to be at the placement during the academic year and are not required to work during intersessions. Vacation requests are directed to the trainee's supervisor and practicum coordinator for approval. If a trainee needs to take a sick day, they are required to notify their supervisors and call the front desk (919-966-3658) to let them know that they will not be at the office that day. If necessary, arrangements to make up clinical hours for vacation/sick days will be made with individual supervisors.
Standards of Professional Conduct for Trainees
(adapted from University of California Santa Barbara)
All trainees are expected to comply with Campus Health and University policies that apply to all staff. These policies are listed on the Campus Health website. Policies include but are not limited to: non-discrimination and non-harassment, confidentiality, HR policies, and Joint Commission specified regulations. Trainees are expected to conduct themselves ethically, responsibly, and professionally and to follow the same standards of behavior required of all CAPS professional staff. It is our intent at CAPS to provide effective services in a competent, respectful and ethically informed manner. Thus it is expected that trainees are aware of and maintain behavior within the scope of APA and NASW ethical guidelines and HIPAA standards, especially around issues of practicing within one’s competence level, confidentiality, disclosure of information, maintaining appropriate boundaries and multicultural competence. In order to work together as an effective team, we have to treat one another with respect, and strive to communicate effectively. Trainees are expected to behave in a manner that promotes professional interaction within CAPS and is accordance with the standards and expectations of the center. This would include treating all staff, fellow trainees, and clients in a considerate, respectful and professional manner at all times, including when working out disagreements or conflicts. Furthermore, conveying respect requires the earnest effort to become aware, and considerate of values/beliefs based upon cultural, ethnic, racial, gender, sexual orientation, age, ability, religion, etc.
In addition to the professional behavior expected of all staff, there are certain expectations of trainees, commensurate with their roles and needs, as participants in a training program. At CAPS, we view training as an active process that requires trainees to take responsibility and actively participate in defining and communicating their own training needs. In addition, the following expectations are also geared to maximize the gains trainees are likely to derive from the program:
- Attend, be on time and be prepared for supervision and other training activities and clinical responsibilities.
- Advise appropriate staff if unable to attend training activities or other responsibilities
- Be cognizant of and meet specified deadlines
- Fill out requested evaluations in a timely manner
- Follow appropriate and professional guidelines if problems are encountered
- Maintain appropriate boundaries and negotiate multiple roles within the training program, staff and University.
- Be aware of and follow all responsibilities delineated in the training manual
- Take initiative and contribute your skills as part of the CAPS team
- Use good judgement in choice of attire in order to appear professional
Conflict is a natural part of teams of people working together. However, the atmosphere in the organization is directly impacted by the manner in which conflict is addressed and managed. Thus, it is important to maintain responsible and professional behavior in attempting to resolve interpersonal conflicts, differences and disagreements. It is also recognized that power differentials within the organization may sometimes make it difficult to resolve a conflict directly, especially if the person with whom you are having difficulty has authority over you and is in a position to evaluate you.
Positive steps towards resolving a conflict could include any of the following:
Attempt to discuss the situation/disagreement directly with the person involved. It is always appropriate, but not necessarily required, to seek consultation regarding a disagreement from one’s supervisor, or the Coordinator(s) of Training. If the conflict involves these people, other resources for consultation might include CAPS’ Associate Director or Director, as appropriate. One of the purposes of consultations is to try and slow down the process of conflict resolution in order to sort out and clarify assumptions, expectations and misunderstandings. If consultation is sought, discuss the outcome with one’s supervisor, the Coordinator(s) of Training or the Director. Give direct feedback, after appropriate consultation and preparation, rather than talking about the person in question to others. While an intern would be encouraged to initiate resolution of a conflict, to the extent that staff members are aware of a conflict, it is expected that staff would initiate and model conflict resolution by taking the steps outlined above. Defining and initiating resolution of conflict should never lead to punitive or retaliatory behavior.
CAPS is committed to promoting the personal and professional development of all trainees. This process of development is fostered by respect for each trainee as an individual and with an atmosphere of openness and honesty in communication. Our goal is to create an environment conducive to learning where trainees feel safe and respected. We strive to foster positive mentoring relationships while not compromising our ability to adequately maintain objectivity and serve in an evaluative role. Staff is encouraged to form strong, authentic, supportive, relationships with trainees in which they can serve as positive role models, supervisors, and mentors while also maintaining appropriate and clear boundaries and operating within the ethical guidelines specified by the governing ethics bodies.
CAPS Practicum Program Guidelines for Addressing Unsatisfactory Performance and/or Problematic Behaviors
Guidelines for feedback ensure that decisions made by the CAPS practicum program about trainees are not arbitrary or personally based, and are consistent with ethical standards.
Trainees have access to copies of the evaluation forms (which are supplied by their programs) which are utilized to assess their skills and professional functioning. Generally, these evaluations are completed in November/December and April/May of the year. Communication with the trainees’ graduate program about any suspected difficulties with the trainee may also occur. CAPS, in its discretion, may seek input and knowledge from the trainees’ graduate program in order to create a remediation plan for identified skill deficiencies and/or problematic behaviors, including a time frame for expected remediation and consequences of not rectifying the areas of concern. CAPS may use input from multiple professional sources (e.g., CAPS training staff, trainees’ graduate program staff, etc.), as it deems appropriate, when making decisions or recommendations regarding their performance. Generally, the action taken by the CAPS training program and its rationale will also be documented in writing.
Trainees are expected to meet the training requirements that are delineated in the UNC Psychology and Social Work Field Placement Manual as well as specific training objectives and goals defined by their individual graduate programs. In addition, trainees are expected to abide by the APA and NASW professional and ethical guidelines and any other relevant, professional documents, standards and laws which address mental health providers’ ethical and legal responsibilities.
The remediation guidelines below are intended to address a trainee’s unsatisfactory performance and/or other problematic behaviors. CAPS reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to determine the appropriate remedial action, up to and including immediate dismissal from the program, as are necessitated by the individual facts of a particular case.
At any time during the year, a CAPS staff member may designate some aspect(s) of a trainee’s progress, performance, and/or behavior as “unsatisfactory for a practicum student in training” and “needs remediation.” One or more of the following guidelines will be initiated according to the level of unsatisfactory progress and/or problematic behavior. The Coordinator of Training Coordinators for the social work and psychology field placements, in consultation with relevant supervisor(s), will make a decision as to the appropriate response. In addition, as noted above, CAPS may also communicate with the trainee’s graduate program regarding any unsatisfactory/problematic behavior and remediation procedures implemented by CAPS. The following interventions are listed in ascending order of severity, but the process may begin and end at any point.
A. Verbal Warning: Direct communication and verbal warning to the trainee identifying the unsatisfactory behavior and/or the need to discontinue the problematic behavior.
Examples: A meeting is scheduled with the trainee and Coordinator(s) to discuss the trainee’s failure to submit progress notes in a timely manner, or tardiness to meetings or work.
B. Initial Written Acknowledgement: Written acknowledgement to the trainee formally stating:
1. That the Coordinator(s) of the practicum and supervisors are aware of and concerned about
unsatisfactory progress and/or problematic behavior;
2. That the concerns have been brought to the trainee;
3. That the Coordinator(s) of the practicum will work with the intern to rectify the skill deficit and/or problem behavior and;
4. That the skill deficit and/or problem behaviors are not significant enough to warrant more
serious action at that time, but that if the deficit and/or behavior continues, or if additional
performance or behavioral issues arise, additional action may be warranted, up to and including dismissal from the program.
C. Written Warning: Written warning to the trainee indicates the ongoing need to address unsatisfactory progress and/or discontinue problematic behavior. The written warning will contain:
1. A description of the unsatisfactory progress and/or problematic behavior;
2. Specific actions required by the trainee to address unsatisfactory progress and/or correct
3. The time line for addressing the area of concern; and
4. What action will be taken if the unsatisfactory progress and/or problematic behavior is not
An example: A trainee consistently violates a specific CAPS policy or procedure or does not adequately address areas of unsatisfactory progress and/or problematic behavior specified in Procedure B above.
D. Schedule Modification: Schedule modification is a time-limited, remediation-oriented, closely supervised period of training used to assist the trainee in overcoming unsatisfactory progress and/or problematic behavior, often associated with personal reactions to environmental stress, with the full expectation that the trainee will complete the field placement experience. Any element of the training program is subject to schedule modification. Schedule modification may include, but is not limited to:
1. Increasing the amount of supervision, either with the same or other supervisors;
2. Changing the format, emphasis and/or focus of supervision;
3. Recommending personal and/or professional development, as deemed appropriate;
4. Reducing or otherwise modifying the trainee’s clinical or other workload;
5. Requiring specific didactic activities
The Coordinator(s) of Training and/or individual supervisor(s) will determine the length of the schedule modification period. Generally, the documentation will include the reasons for the schedule modification, the actions taken, and the basis for a decision to return to a normal schedule.
E. Probation: Probation is also a time limited, remediation-oriented, closely supervised training period. Typically, probation is a response to unsatisfactory progress and/or problematic behavior that requires the training staff to assess the ability of the trainee to successfully complete the placement. The purpose of probation is to clearly identify and define the problem area and to specify what needs to be done to improve the trainee’s performance or behavior. During probation, the Coordinators of the field placement program, in consultation with appropriate supervisor(s) and Coordinator of Training, systematically monitors for a specific length of time the degree to which the trainee addresses, changes, or otherwise improves the unsatisfactory progress and/or problematic behavior. Generally, the trainee is informed in a written statement that includes;
1. The specific skill deficits and/or problematic behaviors that need remediating;
2. The recommendation for rectifying the problem, including any recommendations for personal
and/or professional development, as deemed appropriate;
3. The time frame for the probation during which the problem is expected to be ameliorated;
4. The procedure to ascertain whether the problem has been appropriately rectified; and
5. The consequences of not ameliorating the identified performance or behavior issues.
Examples: Supervisor evaluations in one or more of the major competency areas reflect significant skill deficits inconsistent with level of training and/or expected level of development, supervisor(s’) reports indicate consistent significant lapses in ethical or
professional judgment, or client care is jeopardized based on the decisions and/or behaviors of the trainee.
F. Notice of Insufficient Improvement: If the training staff, in consultation with the appropriate supervisor(s), finds that there has not been sufficient improvement in the trainee’s progress and/or behavior to remove either the schedule modification or probation, the Coordinators of the practicum will discuss possible courses of action to be taken. It will be communicated in writing to the trainee that the conditions for revoking the probation or modified schedule have not been met. This notice will include the course of action to be implemented. These may include, but are not limited to:
1. Continuation of the remediation efforts for a specified time period;
2. Suspension of direct service activities for a specified time period;
3. Dismissal from the placement, which involves the termination of all CAPS field placement
responsibilities and privileges.
G. Dismissal: Generally, the above guidelines are intended to aid the trainee in achieving expected competencies for their level of development and training goals. However, staff may feel that in spite of adequate feedback and remediation, the trainee is still unable to make sufficient gains in areas addressed, or that immediate dismissal from the program is warranted without implementing any of the remediation efforts identified above. The Coordinators of the program, the Coordinator of Training and/or the appropriate supervisor(s) will meet to determine the trainee’s progress. One outcome may be that the trainee is dismissed from the placement, which involves the termination of all program responsibilities and privileges. Trainees who are dismissed prior to their completion of the program as a result of unsatisfactory progress and/or other problematic behaviors will receive a written dismissal notice, which will include the actions resulting in the dismissal and, if applicable, any previous attempts to address the concerns.
Guidelines for Trainee Response to Training program concerns
A. Trainees who have a concern with a CAPS staff member are first encouraged to raise the issue through direct communication with the staff member if possible and appropriate. If direct communication with the CAPS staff member is not possible or appropriate, the intern is encouraged to bring the issue to the Coordinators of the field placement, Coordinator of Training or Director.
B. Trainees may respond in writing to an initial decision to be given a written warning, schedule modification, probation, notice of insufficient improvement or dismissal. In addition, they may challenge a written warning, schedule modification, probation, notice of insufficient improvement or dismissal through the review committee procedures described below. Trainees may also use the review committee procedures if they have general work-related concerns about the CAPS training program or staff.
C. If the trainee challenges an action taken by the staff, s/he must, within 5 working days of receipt of the written decision, inform the Coordinator of training for the given program in writing and explain the grounds for the challenge.
D. The trainee will then meet with a review committee, typically consisting of The Coordinator of Training, the Associate Director and the Clinical Coordinator. The trainee retains the right to hear the relevant facts and/or concerns with the opportunity to respond and/or explain his/her behavior. The Coordinators of Training (or other relevant CAPS staff) may also provide relevant information to the review committee. The review committee will then submit written recommendations for further action to the CAPS Director.
E. The CAPS Director makes a final decision regarding what action is to be taken regarding the trainee’s status. Once a final decision has been made, the trainee, the trainee’s graduate program, and other appropriate individuals are informed in writing of the final action taken.
Other University Resources for Addressing Training Program Concerns
A. Another University resource to address work or training-related complaints is the University Ombuds Office. The Ombuds Office listens to complaints from employees, provides information, facilitates communication, and helps arrange mediation or conflict resolution between or among members of the University’s faculty, staff and Postdocs. More information about the Ombuds Office and additional resources are available at: http://www.ombuds.unc.edu/about.html.
B. Trainees are also invited to openly discuss and resolve any workplace issues through the University’s facilitated conversations program, which is available at https://hr.unc.edu/managers/consultations/facilitated-conversations/.
C. Trainees who believe that they may have been discriminated against or harassed based on their age, color, creed, disability, gender, gender expression, gender identity, genetic information, national origin, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or veteran status (their “protected status”) should contact the University’s Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office (http://eoc.unc.edu) or the University’s Title IX Compliance Coordinator (http://sexualassaultanddiscriminationpolicy.unc.edu/ procedures/title-ix-coordinator/). In addition to prohibiting all forms of discrimination and harassment based on an individual’s protected status, the University’s Policy on Prohibited Discrimination, Harassment and Related Misconduct also prohibits related misconduct, including interpersonal violence, stalking, complicity, and retaliation. Further information about the University’s Policy on Prohibited Discrimination, Harassment, and Related Misconduct can be found at the following website: http://sexualassaultanddiscriminationpolicy.unc.edu/