Professional Training at UCC
Our educational approach at the University Counseling Center (UCC) focuses, to varying degrees, on the following activities.
An intake interview is a client’s first session at the UCC. The purpose is twofold:
- To allow the intake counselor to gather additional information about the client and his or her concerns.
- For the client to learn more about options available to address his or her concerns.
Together the client and intake counselor determine a course of action, which may include counseling/therapy at the UCC or referral to another more appropriate agency. The trainee may carry one couple on his or her case load (provided they have completed appropriate course work) and the remainder of the caseload will consist of individual clients and an interpersonal process group members.
The group training experience is developmental in nature. This means that fall semester practicum trainees will take on the role of an observer in an interpersonal process group and by spring semester the trainee will actively co-facilitate a process group. They also have the option to develop a special topic group during the fall and spring semesters. Planning and preparation for the group will be done in the last half of the fall semester in collaboration with a UCC staff member. Topics for groups must be chosen from those approved by the UCC Training Coordinator. Group counseling hours will be included in the practicum trainee’s weekly time allocation for counseling sessions.
During regular business hours, the UCC designates clinical staff as walk-in counselors to provide services for clients who display an emergent mental health condition, students in the midst of a personal crisis, or those who state they have an immediate need to consult with a counselor. Other duties of the walk-in counselor are to respond to inquiries by staff about the UCC services or serve as a consultant for students who may seek advice about helping friends with personal problems. On-call hours are scheduled from 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. daily; however, the CIR typically holds evening walk-in hours as well. Based on their schedules, trainees are assigned a two-hour block of on-call time each semester when they will assume the duties of the walk-in counselor. Because of the unpredictable nature of the walk-in counselor’s duties, this may provide trainees with time to prepare for counseling sessions, complete paperwork, or keep up with professional reading. Clients who decide to start ongoing counseling after completing an initial walk-in session are assigned to the walk-in counselor they were seen by giving trainees equal opportunity for diversity of clients and presenting concerns.
Case Conferences and seminars occur each week, typically on Friday mornings. Each case conference consists of staff counselors and trainees at various levels of experience. Case Conferences are offered to enhance the learning experience by allowing each person a greater chance to participate. Case conferences are designed to be informal and supportive in nature. Participation is expected. The case conference format provides both staff and student counselors the opportunity to seek the ideas and support of peers for their work. Seminars are typically facilitated by members of the UCC staff and professionals from the community. Topics typically offered include: initial evaluations, risk assessment, motivational interviewing, affirmative therapy with gay, lesbian, and bisexual clients, sculpting, couples counseling, etc.
Professional Development Group occurs each week, typically on Fridays mornings. Trainees participate in a one hour professional developmental group facilitated by the practicum coordinator. Active participation, which includes a willingness for learning, self-exploration, self-disclosure, and vulnerability, is encouraged and expected. Students are encouraged to openly explore developmental challenges and support one another. Topics that may be explored include: emotions and conflict in a professional setting, what does it mean to be a professional?, boundaries, multiple roles, what does change look like?, and self-expectations, etc.
The UCC training program recognizes the importance of supervision for the continued professional growth of student trainees. The practicum includes time for supervision preparation where supervisees are expected to review the videotapes of their clinical work and organize thoughts and questions to present in supervision. Utilizing cued tapes can help supervisees make use of supervision time effectively. Issues that might be discussed include observations about oneself as the counselor, observations about the client, demonstration of successful and challenging skills development, transference and counter transference issues, theoretical orientation and case conceptualization concerns, etc. At the beginning of each semester a Supervision Agreement will be developed and signed. One hour of individual supervision will be provided by a psychologist or psychology resident at the UCC. Times will be set according to the shared convenience of the CIR and supervisor. If supervision is completed by a psychology resident, the supervisor will, in turn, be supervised for one hour per week by a licensed psychologist. Supervisors at the UCC represent a variety of theoretical orientations. Trainees are encouraged to learn from these perspectives, yet develop their own orientation.
Outreach programs are an integral component of the UCC services. Outreach programs are both preventive and educative in nature, and the CIR is required to present at least one per month in the residence halls. Topics may be selected based upon supervisor suggestion, housing requirement, RA suggestion, or timely need as observed by the CIR (e.g. a healthy relationships program in February). A high level of outreach competence is expected in an applicant for the CIR position.
The UCC utilizes Titanium Software, which is an electronic medical record system. Trainees are given time weekly to maintain up-to-date records. There is a 24-hour gold standard for electronic medical records. It is expected that trainees will comply with this standard. Trainees are also given time for professional reading and training. A computer, printer, and Titanium software is available for the CIR at the Johnstone office as well.