One of the most exciting things about the Dance/Movement Therapy & Counseling program is the opportunity we have to gain real clinical experience at our summer practicum and fall internship sites. The opportunity is amazing, however there are many steps along the way to completing the clinical placement process.
Currently, I am in the midst of this process, and I have to admit that it is both exciting and a little bit stressful! A lot goes into it, and I believe it is a good idea to have an understanding beforehand so that you know what sort of adventure you are getting yourself into.
First, it’s important to understand the difference between your practicum site and your internship site. Practicum begins the summer after the first year, and it is one of the very first ways we officially get our feet wet. It primarily consists of about 12 weeks working on site, with 24 hours of academic supervision for a minimum of 200 hours. There are a multitude of sites to pick from, providing us with exposure to a variety of populations. Psychiatric hospitals, substance abuse treatment facilities, community mental health centers, retirement homes and special education settings are a few examples of these site options. During this time we are primarily in an observation role, gaining a better understanding of what is expected of us as future dance/movement therapists in a professional setting.
Our internship site opportunity begins in the fall of our second year, and continues into our second semester. When we begin with our internship, we finally make it into the water and even begin to swim on our own. The workload consists of a minimum of six months and 700 hours, 350 of these hours involving direct patient contact, and 150 of them consisting of leading our own dance/movement therapy sessions. We must also dedicate 350 hours to clinical responsibilities including: team meetings, record keeping, staffings, and institutional duties. Don’t forget that you must have supervised hours logged as well! So, it is a lot to think about, but I feel it will be the perfect recipe for me to gain confidence in a clinical setting while also better preparing me for the field after graduation.
While I am still in the midst of all of this, I am noticing a few key elements that have made this process much easier for me along the way. The first being—look early! There are so many sites to pick from, it is a good idea to do your research and decide what type of population you are most interested in working with. Then from there you can pick the sites that best suit your interests. Secondly—be prepared! Have your resume and cover letters ready to go so that you can send them out to your prospective sites in an efficient manner. Third—stay organized. It can easily become very overwhelming if you have five or six different e-mail conversations going, or even several interviews planned within a short span of time. It’s always good to live by a planner!
Ultimately, I am very excited to discover what sites I end up getting the opportunity to learn from this summer and next fall. Who knows what life will bring, however I am sure I will gain many invaluable life experiences.