We formally launched our Practicum Program in 2020 as a way to increase the accessibility of counselling services for our community and also provide an empowering and supportive learning experience for practicum counsellors.
I remember during my internship opportunity (outside of Peak Resilience, at a Private Practice), my Supervisor told me to pack a bag of nuts to work because, ‘it’s unlikely that I would have time to eat lunch’ in between clients. I was expected to see as many clients as possible, and the minute that I was finished, I was moved into the kitchen to write my casenotes alone (minus the humming microwave) without any debrief, check-in, etc. Whenever there was a double booking, I was expected to see clients in a filing closet room, as the ‘full rate counsellors’ were prioritized over me and also my sliding scale clients. I felt completely alone and overwhelmed, and entirely powerless to stand up for myself. It’s unfortunate to share that this is not the only time I have heard experiences like this for practicum counsellors. It’s experiences like these, and the collective grief that other counsellors on our team have shared regarding their practicum and/or internship opportunities, that made our commitment to building a Practicum Program at Peak Resilience which would be different.
Working with a practicum counsellor at Peak Resilience can be a great way to access quality mental health care at a reduced cost. Sometimes counselling is not covered by benefits or sometimes practices have lengthy waitlists to access sliding scale services. Our Practicum Program aims to provide lower-cost / sliding scale counselling services that are accessible and affordable, without compromising on our values and experiences of our clients AND counsellors (practicum counsellors included!).
Why our Practicum Program is Awesome:
Support for Practicum Counsellors
- At a minimum, weekly supervision; on top of their clinical supervisor, practicum counsellors have access to collaborate or consult with anyone on our team.
- In addition to support from their supervisor, consultation groups, and the rest of the team at Peak, each practicum counsellor is also engaged in coursework to support their practicum journey through their Masters program. They also attend supervision both at their practicum site and at their University. So what this means is that there is an extended team of people working with our practicum counsellors to ensure clients are provided with the best care possible!
- As Masters students, they are connected to the most up to date research and evidence based practices in the field of Clinical Psychology; students are actively engaged in learning and are transferring this knowledge to their practice and bring this into each session.
- Working with a counsellor new to the field is often accompanied by a strong sense of curiosity and commitment to growth.
Protection (from burnout!)
- ‘Person first, counsellor second’ – we allow our practicum counsellors to create their own schedule and work at the pace that feels comfortable for them, we don’t require a minimum number of clients for each counselling shift and encourage boundaries such as not checking emails on the weekends, and taking breaks when needed etc.
- Smaller caseloads can ensure you’re working with someone highly attentive and focused. Practicum counsellors dedicate a significant amount of time towards planning sessions, developing client-specific activities, and consulting on relevant cases.
How it’s Feminism in Action:
- We recognize the oppressive structures of academic and education institutions; we strive to empower practicum counsellors in our Practicum Program to determine their own hours, schedule, and caseload.
- We dismantle power structures between Supervisor and Supervisee by encouraging practicum counsellors to choose their Supervisor after reviewing bios, scheduling consultations and diving deep to see if the Supervisor will be a good fit for them and their goals for practicum! This has the added benefit of allowing practicum counsellors to feel more comfortable seeking help and asking questions.
- We support and empower practicum counsellors who want to lead groups (for example, our upcoming Living in Colour Support Group) and are humbled by their lived experiences and wisdom
- We created a feedback system that ensures practicum counsellors have a safe place to go if they have any concerns regarding their practicum, supervisor etc.
- Practicum counsellors are invited to join, lead and participate in our Anti-Oppression Committees, social media content creation, and any other element of Peak’s day to day offerings that they might feel called to explore.
If you are interested in working with a practicum counsellor from our Practicum Program, you can schedule an appointment here. If you have any questions about the Practicum Program, or are interested in applying, you can contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our careers page here.