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Clinical Practicum Placement

The training program at the UCC has much to offer students interested in a part-time clinical practicum experience. The UCC is a well-staffed, multidisciplinary counseling center with approximately 40 mental health professionals who provide comprehensive mental health services to Vanderbilt University undergraduate, graduate, and professional students from across the country and from all over the world. As a result, trainees have opportunities to work with students with diverse identities in terms of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, religion/spirituality, gender identity, sexual orientation, and ability, allowing trainees to develop a deeper understanding of the intersection of multicultural identity factors and the provision of mental health care. In addition, students present to the UCC with a variety of concerns that range from moderate to acute in nature. As such, practicum trainees also have opportunities to work with concerns that align with their interests and passions and can develop skills to support clients with more complex concerns. For more information on the clinical practicum placement please review the information below: 

The UCC provides an immersive, experiential training program, where we believe in learning by doing rather than only observing. Since training at the UCC takes place within the context of a fast-paced and high-acuity setting, we value clinical readiness to function in this environment and openness to feedback when considering applicants for all training positions. As such, please review the prerequisites below:

  • Graduate level courses completed:
    • Counseling Theory 
    • Psychopathology 
    • Ethics 
    • Techniques of Counseling course 
  • Willingness to record and watch counseling sessions individually and in supervision 
  • Previous direct clinical experience is preferred  
  • Please be aware, weekly seminars are held on Monday mornings from 8:30-10am 

Practicum Tracks: 

  • Counseling Track: 
    • Individual therapy represents the primary focus of the UCC’s Counseling Track. Throughout the course of the training year, practicum students are exposed to a variety of presenting concerns, which provides opportunities to engage in short-term, solutions-focused work. Adjustment, mood, and anxiety disorders are among the most common presenting concerns seen at the UCC. Specialty areas can include eating concerns, trauma, and substance use concerns.  

    • As a cohort, practicum students participate in a weekly seminar, which currently takes place every Monday from 8:30am to 10am. The seminar includes a combination of didactic lectures and case conference presentations by both students and staff. Seminar topics are associated with the mental health field and address core competencies expected for professional development. Practicum students also present cases to their cohort on a rotating basis and are given the opportunity to integrate feedback from their cohort as well as the seminar facilitators. 

    • Supervision is another key component to the practicum student training experience. All practicum students receive at least two hours of supervision per week, with at least one hour of supervision with a licensed staff supervisor and one hour of supervision from a mental health professional who is: 1) a pre-doctoral intern, 2) a postdoctoral fellow, or 3) a staff member in the process of accruing hours for licensure.  Practicum students generally build caseloads through the initial intake process and supervisors provide support by observing initial appointments, assisting in diagnostic formulation, and providing documentation edits. In addition, supervision throughout the year will involve recording sessions and reviewing tape.  

    • Practicum students have advanced training opportunities that become available in the spring with evidence of foundational skill development from supervision. Advanced training opportunities at the UCC include co-facilitating groups and workshops, engage in outreach activities, and joining the Urgent Care or DBT teams. While availability and the needs of the UCC are factored into these opportunities, practicum students’ clinical areas of interest and/or desired areas for growth weigh heavily in the decision-making process.  

  • Assessment Track: 
    • The Assessment Track practicum placement is open to doctoral students in clinical and/or counseling psychology programs. Practicum students selecting this track will gain experience conducting 1-2 brief targeted evaluations each week of individuals who present with indicators of ADHD.  Students may also have the opportunity to be involved in providing more comprehensive neurocognitive evaluations of individuals who are suspected of having a neurodevelopmental disorder and/or serious mental illness that is impacting academic performance.  Training emphasizes the role of formal psychological assessment in the context of a multidisciplinary team which includes psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, social workers, and licensed professional counselors. Under direct supervision by a licensed psychologist, practicum students will conduct clinical interviews; administer, score, and interpret tests of cognitive functioning and psychological symptoms; prepare psychological evaluation reports; and provide feedback to clients, other members of the treatment team, and, when applicable to families and campus partners.  Inter-professional collaborations often include campus accessibility services. 

    • Assessment practicum students are expected to attend in the mandatory weekly practicum seminar, which takes place every Monday from 8:30am to 10am.  

    • Students on the Assessment Track receive at least 1-2 hours of individual supervision with a licensed psychologist for each assessment case seen.  There is an expectation that the student will review with the supervisor video-recordings of clinical interviews and feedback appointments. 

    • Students applying for the Assessment Track are expected to have completed coursework on psychopathology, clinical interviewing, and cognitive and personality assessment.  They are also asked to provide a sample report as part of their application, which can be sent to Frances Niarhos, PhD at

  • Number of Positions Available:  
    • Counseling Track: 2-4 positions 

    • Assessment Track: 1-2 positions 

  • Time commitment:  
    • Practicum training placements are an academic year commitment, which is from mid-August through early May. Please note that we are not able to accommodate practicum trainees during the summer. 

    • Practicum trainees are expected to be present at the UCC for at least 15 hours per week to engage in: 

      • Direct service hours (both in-person and telehealth appointments are expected to be conducted while at the UCC for access to support)  

      • Documentation 

      • Supervision 

      • Weekly seminar on Monday mornings from 8:30-10am

  • Therapeutic Orientation:  
    • The UCC does not identify with any specific theoretical orientation and is integrative in nature. Practicum students are not expected to adhere to any particular approach or orientation to therapy. However, the Center does place great emphasis on helping students cultivate an understanding of the interplay between one’s theoretical orientation, conceptualization, and intervention, as well as the centrality of assessment, diagnosis, and treatment planning when caring for others.   

As staff members at the UCC, we strive to offer culturally responsive and empirically supported services in a space that feels welcoming, safe, and affirming to all students. Given this center-wide value, we are committed to engaging in ongoing dialogue about the intersection of identity and the work we do, with awareness that these opportunities contribute to students receiving more effective care. Our therapeutic, assessment, and outreach services are delivered in a caring and compassionate manner that recognizes the unique characteristics, experiences, and identities of the individual student. As a collective, we make space to support, challenge each other, and grow in understanding of our own biases during monthly Affinity Group meetings and in other staff trainings that are often organized by the Diversity Alliance, which is a group of staff members who hold the UCC accountable for taking steps to cultivate systemic equity. 

Given the diverse nature of the Vanderbilt student population, practicum trainees are expected to approach their work from a multicultural perspective. Knowledge of and sensitivity to individual and cultural diversity is essential in all areas of practice, including individual and group therapy, supervision, and training seminars. The UCC Solidarity Statement can be found here:  

The application window for the 2024-2025 training year is now closed. Please contact Ruth Howard at if you have any questions or concerns. 


This page was last updated March 2024