Practicum/Internship Training Program


Each semester the University Counseling Center (UCC) serves as a training site for graduate students in the Mental Health Counseling program at Southern University, as well as other interested programs in the surrounding area. Students may be first or second year master students. Trainees counsel university students and their families, or significant partners under the supervision of the professional staff at the Center. Trainees are supervised individually each week by one of the professional staff members and weekly in group staffing.

The maximum number of practicum students is limited to two each semester; pre- doctoral student is limited to one. Each trainee is offered supervised experience in individual and couples counseling; intake interviewing; report writing; crisis intervention; and personality assessment. Additionally, trainees are offered supervised experience in group counseling, outreach/programming, consultation with the in-house psychiatrist, seminars, and case conferences.

We welcome your interest in working at the UCC. We have an excellent reputation for training and supervision. Also, the UCC is fully accredited by the International Association of Counseling Services, (IACS). Please do not hesitate to contact me should you desire further information.


ValaRay J. Irvin, PhD
Director and Senior Licensed Psychologist


Philosophy of Training:

Graduate trainees have been an integral part of the counseling center since 1999; they are encouraged to participate in the center's daily operation and to actively participate in different aspects of the center's functioning while assuming a major role in the delivery of services. They are expected and trained to be knowledgeable and skilled about the many aspects of a university counseling center, as well as, refine and hone their ability to function as competent, effective, and responsible therapists.

The UCC staff regards training and supervision as an integral part of the center's mission. Each professional staff member participates in the training and supervision of graduate trainees by providing individual supervision, and participation in staff seminars and case consultations which includes the center's psychiatrist. These training experiences are designed to ensure that trainees are receiving appropriate guidance and instruction, as well as preventing them from being overwhelmed with direct service activities.

Supervision and Training:

The training program is designed to provide graduate trainees with various opportunities to facilitate their professional growth. Opportunities are designed to consider the trainee's individual needs in conjunction with the requirements and/or opportunities for; a) completing their academic program; b) preparing for licensure; c) entering the job market.


The first week of the semester is devoted to orientation to the center and its procedures and policies; trainees are expected to review both the center's P&P Manual as well as the Training P&P Manual; trainees both review the written Intake Evaluation and then ‘shadow' a senior staff member conducting an Intake Evaluation before conducting one him/herself; trainees sit in on various seminars designed to facilitate their knowledge of counseling center practices; these various practices are done to help the trainee become acquainted with each other, as well as, the staff before they begin to see clients.


Training seminars and professional developments are held bi-weekly. Seminars are typically led by different professional staff members, mental health professionals from the university's Counseling, and Psychology departments, participating Drug Representatives, as well as community members. This is also a time when all staff is expected to present a clinical case for discussion and review by other members of the center. Topics for seminars can range from assessment and testing; counseling techniques with specific populations; (e.g., CBT/ women & depression); multi-cultural populations; and a special seminar on the relationship between spirituality as a modality when working with women with depression.

In addition to the offered seminars, trainees are provided opportunities to attend off-campus workshops/seminars for the purpose of enhanced professional development and networking.


Staffing is a weekly meeting where professional staff and trainees meet to discuss counseling center business; share and discuss any clinical concerns, and prepare for any pending outreach activities.

Training Opportunities:

Individual Counseling
Clients typically present with problems in relationship (40%), college adjustment, stress/anxiety, self-esteem, mood concerns (20%), depression, suicidal ideations, and grief/loss. Most clients of the UCC range in age from 19-26, however, in recent years a higher percentage of 30-45 year-olds have utilized services.

Trainees, especially pre-doctoral trainees are encouraged to work with clients whose presenting issues and demographics fit their individual training needs and experience, and to maintain a caseload of clients that allows for depth and breadth of experience. Trainees are given some autonomy with respect to making decisions about client selection in conjunction with approval of the Director and the appropriate supervisor.

Group Counseling
Pre-doctoral and intern trainees typically co-lead a short-term psycho-educational or structured group. Practicum trainees may have opportunities to co-lead groups, pending availability.

Intake Interviewing/Crisis Intervention
All trainees are expected to conduct intake interviews. Training for conducting and writing up intake interviews is provided during the orientation period with additional assistance throughout the semester, if needed.

Pre-doctoral and intern trainees are expected to handle "priority clients" (i.e, emergencies); crisis intervention assignments are based on trainee's experience level as well as client's individual needs and concerns. The assignment of "priority clients" to practicum trainees depends on their level of experience. The pre-doctoral trainee is allowed the opportunity to ‘shadow' the Director if ever there is a need to PEC a center client.

Outreach/Consultation and Programming
All trainees are expected to facilitate and/or co-facilitate programs based on their training experience. Programs typically take place in residence halls, classrooms, the School of Nursing, or the UCC conference room. Programs are developed on topics such as managing stress/anxiety; healthy choices; relationship concerns; DV/relationship violence; alcohol misuse/abuse, and the effect of alcohol on decision-making.

A number of psychological tests and inventories are available to the intern and pre-doctoral trainee. Trainees should make assessment decisions in conjunction with the Director of the center and their individual supervisor; all testing adheres to APA testing guidelines.


Our trainees consistently evaluate their training experience with the UCC as essential in preparing them for gainful employment. In addition to the supervision and training experience, professional staff provides guidance during licensure and job application process and, trainees have at their disposal a multitude of resources (e.g., computers, internet, professional journals and publications). As stated previously, the staff of the UCC is committed to providing a diverse learning experience which serves as or, one of the many training experiences which will assist in developing a responsible, ethical, well-trained, and effective therapist.


ValaRay J. Irvin, PhD
Director and Senior Licensed Psychologist

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