Clinical Field Placement

Find Suitable Placements with the Help of a Field Specialist

To become an effective counselor, you must be able to apply the theories and concepts you are learning in the classroom to real-life scenarios. Counseling@Northwestern field specialists identify suitable clinical sites where you can gain supervised experience helping clients with a range of needs.

Placement starts in the first or second term for accelerated full-time students, the fourth term for traditional program students, or the seventh term for part-time students. Whether you are enrolled in the Standard Program or the Bridge Program, you will gain unique insights as you complete both a Practicum and an Internship.

Practicum Training

The 200-hour Practicum shows you how a professional counselor performs various job responsibilities, while also giving you insight into the tasks you may perform as a clinician. The total expected time commitment for the Practicum is 10-15 hours per week.

Element Total Hours Additional Information
Direct client contact 50 Approximately one to three hours per week of direct face-to-face contact with clients
Indirect contact 50 Approximately two to three hours per week of record keeping, staff meetings, research, workshops, conferences, training, outreach, advocacy, and presentations
Supervision contact 99 Weekly one-hour meetings held on-site with your supervisor; weekly two-hour Reflective Practitioner Supervision meetings held online with your supervisor and a small group of students


You will complete the Practicum while enrolled in the Supervised Practicum in Counseling course, which prepares you to provide direct clinical services to clients and apply a basic repertoire of clinical skills.

Internship Training

The 600-hour Internship is an advanced, hands-on clinical experience in which you assume all the functions and characteristics of the role of a counselor as you continue to provide supervised direct counseling to clients. The total expected time commitment for the Internship is 20–24 hours per week. 

Element Total Hours Additional Information
Direct client contact 240 Approximately 80 hours across three quarters
Individual supervision 33 Weekly one-hour on-site meetings with your supervisor
Case conference 49.5 Weekly online meetings where you examine real cases with your supervisor and a small group of students
Record keeping 175 Record keeping; learning, scoring, and interpreting assessment instructions; information and referral; in-service; staff meetings; research; reviewing records of counseling sessions; case-related consultation; and case-related peer consultation
Personal growth 100.5 Participation in professional organizations, seminars, workshops, or other activities that contribute to personal growth, such as conferences and presentations


While you complete your Internship, you will also:

  • learn advanced client management and therapeutic skills during the Supervised Internship in Counseling course; and
  • assess your therapeutic effectiveness and articulate areas of concern during the Psychodynamic Case Conference Experience.

Field Placement Expectations

Counseling@Northwestern strives to give you a valuable Practicum and Internship experience that will enhance your education and growth as a counselor. You will work with our placement team to secure qualified clinical placements that meet The Family Institute’s and Northwestern’s high standards for excellence.  

Field Placement Policies

Please review the following policies to help ensure a smooth placement process.

  • Field placements must be completed at sites within the United States, not including US military bases abroad. If you live outside the United States, you must relocate to the continental United States, Alaska, or Hawaii before starting your placement.
  • You must adjust your schedule to your site supervisor’s schedule to complete field placements during regular business hours (8 a.m. to 8 p.m.).
  • We strive to place you as close to your community as possible, but you may need to travel up to 75 miles one way to your placement sites.
  • Due to potential conflicts of interest, students cannot complete clinical training at their current place of work.

*Please note: Our in-person learning and clinical field experiences are central to our highly collaborative program. Due to Covid-19, we are evaluating in-person experiences on an ongoing basis and communicating directly with affected faculty and current students.