Practicum and Fieldwork

Trainee placements are an integral part of the graduate program--the student's opportunity to gain direct experience with clients and to develop skills. The Department has prepared a separate handbook detailing all policies, procedures, and expectations relating to trainees. Students will acquire a copy of the handbook at the time they enter the program and will be responsible for its contents. The following are some of the general policies regarding trainee placements about which students should be aware: (The Practicum & Trainee Handbook should be consulted for a full description of all policies and practices.)

Placements are for the full academic year (two semesters). Exceptions are made only in consultation with area coordinators and the Department Chair.

Students should expect to have two different one-year placements during their graduate program. A student must spend two consecutive semesters in each specialized trainee placement.

Students using their place of employment as a traineeship setting cannot expect to fulfill all four semesters in the setting--at least two semesters must be in a placement other than the one in which they are employed. Authorization from the field placement coordinator is required and conditions must be met in order to use work as a field placement.

Students must put in 840 hours of field placement for each specialization, with at least 280 hours of direct client contact.

Students completing a school counseling credential must divide their trainee placements between both elementary and secondary school levels. The ratio of this division will be determined by the student's adviser and Department Coordinator for School Counseling.

A traineeship setting is considered appropriate if it meets a variety of criteria:

  1. An identified supervisor with a Master's Degree in Counseling or its equivalent and two years of experience in the field. 
  2. Availability of regular (at least 1 hour per week) supervision. (For each 12 hours of trainee placement, students must receive 1 hour of individual supervision per week spread out over the entire semester.)
  3. Location within a 30 mile radius of the campus of San Francisco State University or faculty liaison approval.
  4. Approval by trainee placement liaison faculty, and trainee placement coordinator.

Trainee placements are developed by the Coordinator of Field Placements in conjunction with practicum and trainee instructors. Students will be asked to specify preferred geographical locations and areas of specializations. Students need to check with the coordinator of field placements for each specialization to get approval of any particular setting for a specialization. The final selection of a placement is a matter of negotiation between the student and Coordinator of Field Placements.

Liaison Faculty

Each student is assigned a liaison faculty who is his/her contact between the fieldwork site and the University. The instructor acts on behalf of the student to ensure an optimal learning situation.

Liability for Professional Practice

The CSU provides liability insurance for students in field placements. Some agencies request additional coverage.

Several professional associations in the area of guidance and counseling offer inexpensive professional practice insurance coverage, either as a part of general membership or through additional coverage which can be purchased. As specific rates and options vary from time to time, we recommend that you consider requesting information from one of the following organizations:

American Counseling Association

5999 Stevenson Avenue

Alexandria, Virginia 22304-3303

Phone: 1.703.823.9800 or 1.800.545.2223


California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists

1660 Hotel Circle North, Suite 624

San Diego, California 92108

Phone: 1.619-280-0505