Psychology students in class

PSYC 391: Practicum is an experiential learning opportunity for students interested in a hands-on placement in an agency or setting involved in human service work. It allows students to see how the knowledge, methods and models they have been studying in the classroom apply in real life situations. Such practical experience is especially valuable both for students who intend to seek employment in a human service area and for those considering graduate school in clinical or counseling psychology, social work, addictions counseling and similar helping professions.

Requirements for Practicum students:

  • A sufficient background in psychology (normally a junior or senior).
  • Develop a list of practicum objectives, in conjunction with the Psychology department practicum supervisor (currently Dr. Casey Trainor).
  • Be accepted for placement by the practicum supervisor and an approved agency.
  • Participate fully in the practicum; fulfill agreed upon responsibilities in a professional manner; establish and maintain a work schedule with the agency.
  • Keep a daily journal, reviewed weekly (more often during J-term or summer) by practicum supervisor, of what they have seen, done, learned, liked and disliked.
  • Meet periodically as necessary with the Psychology department practicum supervisor.
  • Write a five-page paper summarizing the practicum experience.
  • Request their in-agency supervisor(s) to complete an evaluation form provided by the Psychology department practicum supervisor.

Practicums may be taken for 2, 3 or 4 credits. Each credit hour requires 40 hours of in-agency time under the supervision of agency staff. A typical 3-credit practicum requires 120 hours of time in-agency (approximately 9-10 hours per week in a semester or 30+ hours per week in J-term). Practicum schedule will be arranged in conjunction with the practicum agency based on students' schedules and the program of the agency.

Some agencies require fingerprint background checks and/or certification of immunization record. Expenses, if any, are paid by the student.

Students who have specific names of appropriate agency personnel outside of Sioux Falls may request the Psychology department practicum supervisor contact them and attempt to establish a practicum for the student (normally during the summer). Some local agencies which have accepted practicum students include:

  • Augustana College – Human Resources Office, Student Services, others as available
  • Avera Behavioral Heath Center – short term, hospital treatment programs, all ages
  • Children's Home Society – residential treatment center for children
  • Compass Center – sexual and domestic violence programs
  • Help!Line Center – volunteer telephone information and crisis (suicide) help line
  • Keystone (Canton, SD) – adolescent addictions programs
  • Sioux Falls School System – Occupational Therapy Services
  • Summit Oaks Center – residential treatment center for adolescents
  • Minnehaha County Human Services – work with indigent, homeless and/or addicted population
  • VA Hospital, Psychology Service – veterans with various disorders, depending on particular unit
  • Volunteers of America – various programs with adolescents, young moms (addictions involved)

The current practicum coordinator is Dr. Casey Trainor.