After satisfactory completion of the first-year sequence of study, students are prepared to begin practicum, the “hands-on” experiential learning component of doctoral training. Practicum is a set of closely and individually supervised clinical activities completed in various environments, ranging from college counseling centers to community mental-health centers to medical settings. Students typically register for two semesters of practicum in both the second and third years for a recommended minimum total of four semesters. Practicum training is also available at some sites during the summers.
Accompanying each practicum is an on-campus class wherein counseling psychology faculty members provide additional supervision, consultation, and training in a group format. In 2913 the advisory bodies for both Counseling and Clinical Psychology endorsed a policy describing internship readiness. The policy states that applicants for the predoctoral psychology internship should have completed 450 hours of direct assessment and interventions activities, and 150 of face to face, individual supervising. Four semesters of practicum are required, and we suggest exceeding these minima if at all possible. Grading is pass/fail based on the campus supervisor’s evaluation of in-class activities and progress reports from on-site supervisors.
Practicum sites and placements are planned and selected in consultation with the faculty and each student’s interests. Current placements include college counseling centers, veterans’ medical centers, hospital clinics, community mental health centers, child/family guidance settings, and private practice, with opportunities for gaining both assessment experience and in providing individual and group interventions. Most practicum sites are in Morgantown, but several are in surrounding communities and will require some travel. Classes are organized such that at least two full days available for practicum work and another half-day is usually available as well, depending on the schedule for a given semester.
Comprehensive doctoral qualifying examinations are administered twice yearly in August and January. Students typically take them following two full years of coursework. The examination consists of four essays done in situations covering a range of topics in counseling psychology, including a critical review of a research article. The exams are conducted over a two-day period. For more information, please see the current Doctoral Student Handbook.
Upon successful completion of the comprehensive examinations and all coursework except credits for the dissertation project, students are required to apply and compete in the national pre-doctoral psychology internship selection process. This program is jointly administered by the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers (APPIC) and National Matching Services, Inc. (NMS). Students should expect to relocate for the internship year, and an affidavit of understanding accepting this condition is required for admission.