Department of Psychology at Illinois State University


Practicum Opportunities

Practicum provides the core of the professional training in the Clinical-Counseling Psychology Program. Practicum comprises several components that complement each other—a class seminar with didactic and case presentation elements, individual therapy supervision, and a clinical placement. The placement is a 12-month experience in one of a number of community agencies in the Central Illinois area (see below). The number of placement sites available at each agency varies from year to year, and practicum assignments are determined through an application, interview, and matching process. Practicum placements is from May 16 at the end of the first year of graduate study through May 15 at the end of the second year. Each practicum assignment is a 20-hour-per-week placement that includes a graduate assistantship and a full tuition waiver.

Practicum Sites

The Baby Fold (not available 2015-2016)

The Baby Fold is a child welfare agency in Normal, Ill. Services include a residential program, school program, and family services. Practicum students typically work with children and adolescents in foster care who have been removed from their homes as a result of neglect or abuse; as such, students learn much about the DCFS (Illinois Department of Children and Family Services) system. They also counsel birth parents and co-instruct parenting classes and groups. Training opportunities focus on developing a variety of therapy skills for working with children and adolescents, adults, and families.

The Center for Youth and Family Solutions

Located in Bloomington, Ill, The Center for Youth and Family Solutions is a not-for-profit social service agency that provides mental health, family support, community, and child welfare services to the McLean County community. Agency services reflect an eco-systemic, family systems perspective, although a variety of clinical techniques and theories are utilized. This placement involves a combination of providing outpatient/in-office therapy and outreach/in-home or community therapy through the Family Counseling division. Therapy experience can include individual, family, and couples/marital therapy.  Opportunities exist for group therapy, crisis intervention, and involvement in ICG (Individualized Care Grant) services.  Clientele served range in age from small children and their caregivers to adults.  Cases range from short-term assessment, brief therapy, and stabilization to longer-term, more in-depth therapy.

Chestnut Health Systems- Intensive Outpatient Substance Abuse

This division of Chestnut Health Systems provides services to individuals with histories of substance dependence or abuse; however, many clients also have coexisting psychiatric diagnoses. In their roles as addiction therapists, practicum students conduct group therapy, psychoeducational groups, and individual therapy to clients participating in intensive outpatient treatment. Clients may be self-referred or mandated to attend treatment as part of a court order. Other activities include conducting intake evaluations, interpreting personality assessments, providing treatment recommendations, and communicating with community professionals and legal entities.

DeWitt County Human Resource Center

This county mental health center in Clinton, Ill. (approximately 35 miles from Bloomington-Normal) has been a regular placement for a number of years. Practicum students completing placements at this agency typically are involved in a full range of activities associated with this comprehensive community mental health center. Students provide individual, group, and family therapy to clients representing diverse backgrounds, broad age ranges (children, adolescents, and adults), and a wide range of presenting concerns and diagnostic categories. Other responsibilities include conducting intake interviews and involvement in crisis intervention counseling – practicum students may be on-call a few days a month and may be called upon to assess individuals either at an area hospital or over the phone.

Practicum Sites

Heritage Behavioral Health Center (HBHC)

HBHC is a county mental health center located in Decatur, Ill. (approximately 50 miles from Bloomington-Normal). This center provides comprehensive community-based services through 33 separate program areas, focusing on providing mental health and addiction services. Practicum students may be involved in placements in a variety of program areas, and individual placements may be tailored to students’ particular areas of interest. Students typically work with clients representing a wide range of ages (children, adolescents, and adults), presenting concerns, and diagnostic categories. Representative practicum placements at HBHC would involve providing both individual and group therapy on an outpatient basis, conducting outpatient assessments, and providing services through the residential treatment facility for individuals dealing with substance abuse issues.

Institute for Human Resources (IHR)

The Livingston County mental health agency in Pontiac, Ill. (approximately 40 miles from Bloomington-Normal) is another of our regular second-year placements. This comprehensive community mental health center provides a wide range of prevention, education, treatment, and aftercare services. Through the Mental Health department, students provide individual and family counseling to clients of all ages (children, adolescents, and adults), conduct assessments, create individualized treatment plans, and work with clientele with a wide range of presenting concerns and diagnoses. Opportunities also exist to observe crisis calls, typically at the local hospital and jail.

Mental Health Centers of Central Illinois - Springfield

This county mental health center provides services for clients in Springfield, Ill. and surrounding counties. A branch of Mental Health Centers of Central Illinois (MHCCI), students complete this placement at the center located in Springfield, Illinois (approximately 60 miles from Bloomington-Normal). Practicum students primarily are involved in the adult outpatient services, conducting assessments and providing counseling for individuals with serious and persistent mental illnesses. It is typical for practicum students to have a case load of up to 30 clients, who generally are being treated for mood disorders, anxiety disorders, thought disorders, and personality disorders. The agency offers integrated treatment with psychiatrists, nurses, and caseworkers, providing ample opportunity for practicum students to collaborate with a variety of treatment professionals. Opportunities also exist for students to gain experience with crisis intervention services and involvement in emergency room services at the adjacent hospital. Similar experiences providing services for children and adolescents are available through the practicum placement at The Children's Center, a division of MHCCI also located in Springfield.