Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Department of Counseling & Marital and Family Therapy

The CMHC practicum (COUN 587, 597 and 598) experiences represent a major benchmark in the master’s level clinical training of students, as it is their first supervised clinical experiences providing direct service to clients. The practicum courses taken during the last three semesters of the CMHC program, are oriented towards providing relevant clinical counseling and training experiences in settings that provide mental health counseling services. These courses are designed to provide CMHC trainees with experiences enhancing knowledge, skills and dispositions in the USD Counseling Program’s learning outcomes. The trainee is expected to demonstrate competencies of the highest caliber.

The CMHC practicum courses have a multilayer approach to supervision as the CMHC trainee in addition to onsite supervision, by a licensed mental health professional,  also participates in weekly group supervision and a bi-weekly individual supervision session with USD clinical supervisors.

The total number of practicum hours for the three semesters is 700, with a minimum of 280 hours in direct service hours with clients.

If you have any questions, contact Peggy Hetherington, Director of Field Experiences at

Approved practicum sites for Clinical Mental Health Practicum supervised experiences. Please note that this list is subject to change.

Practicum Sites

San Diego Center for Children (SDCC)

SITE DESCRIPTION: Comprehensive children's behavioral health agency providing therapeutic care to youth (ages 5-18) in outpatient, school-based, residential, and foster care services. Services provided emphasize evidence based practices and trauma informed care for youth at the greatest risk in our community 

PRACTICUM TRAINING AND DESCRIPTION: Practicum training occurs within our residential and non-public school settings on our Kearny Mesa Campus. Student trainees work alongside a professional staff from a variety of mental health disciplines and education. Youth receiving services present a wide range of ages, abilities, behavioral health needs, socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds. Student trainees will have the opportunity to work with youth in individual, small group, and family therapy; classroom and milieu settings. Supervision will be provided by licensed staff in both individual and group formats. Student trainees must be available a minimum of 3 days per week (M-F), between the hours of 9:00am and 4:00 pm, for an average of 20 hours per week on site.

Center for Community Solutions (CCS)

SITE DESCRIPTION: Founded in 1969, Center for Community Solutions (CCS) helps more than 11,000 adults and children each year to heal and prevent relationship and sexual violence. CCS operates the only rape crisis center in the city of San Diego along with a countywide 24-hour bilingual crisis helpline. The nonprofit agency also provides emergency domestic violence shelters, hospital and court accompaniment, as well as legal and counseling services for those affected by rape, domestic violence, and elder abuse. CCS also works with local community groups and schools to provide innovative prevention programs to promote healthy relationships and peaceful communities.

PRACTICUM TRAINING AND DESCRIPTION: As a CCS Trainee/Intern a student can expect to spend 20 hours at their given site for the duration of one year. During this time the student can expect to learn about the clinical and counseling aspects as well as resources in the community involving survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence. Students can also expect a great deal of training both prior to placement in the form of a required 60 hour certification crisis intervention training, as well as throughout the entire placement. Topics will include trauma informed care, neurobiology of trauma, PTSD, dissociation, play therapy, expressive arts, sand tray, group therapy, as well as trainings and information about community partners such as the District Attorney’s office and the office of Victims of Crime- and more. Along with training students will be asked to see clients directly on an individual, couple, family, child, and group basis. Students will be asked to work on ETO software to document and conduct phone intakes in order to schedule clients. The greatest amount of time at the agency will be doing direct service, holding a caseload of about 10 clients, while attending one hour of individual and two hours of group supervision at the site. CCS is a wonderful agency and emphasizes the uniqueness of our clients and so, we meet clients where they are, and do not come from any specific orientation. We have used, CBT, Solution Focused, EMDR, Positive Psychology, Psychoanalytical, and Narrative approaches just to name a few. This allows a student to explore her/himself as a Therapist both while conducting individual and group services. We foster growth while providing a supportive environment.

Alvarado Parkway Institute

Site Description: Alvarado Parkway Institute Behavioral Health System is a private behavioral health system offering inpatient and outpatient psychiatric services. We are dedicated to the wellness of individuals, their families, and our community through prevention, intervention and treatment in a safe and culturally sensitive environment. Our culture of caring is designed to provide patients and their families with quality-driven psychiatric care and outstanding customer service. We understand the challenges, the stigma and the treatment of mental illness, and we consider it an honor and a privilege to serve those who entrust us with their care.

Practicum Training and Supervision: Alvarado Parkway Institute provides a yearlong structured training experience for advanced students in CMHC promoting further growth and development in the counseling field. Counselor trainees conduct individual and group therapy sessions with an inpatient adult population under a licensed supervisor. Supervision includes review of audiotaped and in-vivo (live) counseling sessions in individual and group formats for all trainees along with constructive feedback for trainee professional growth. Each trainee is assigned a postdoctoral mentor who assists with training, co-facilitation of groups, and documentation training. Individual supervision consists of one hour face to face sessions with the trainee’s clinical supervisor. Group supervision consists of three hours of supervision in a group format with the clinical supervisor.

North County Lifeline

Site Description: North County Lifeline is a social service/counseling agency comprised of case managers, counselors, therapists, mentors, social service workers, assessment specialists, program developers, mediators, educators, youth leaders, volunteers, interns and administrators devoted to helping youth and their families connected to resources within their community. North County Lifeline’s vision is dedicated in building self-reliance among youth, individuals and families through problem solving, skill-building and accessible community- based services.

Practicum Training and Supervision: North County Lifeline provides a yearlong structured training experience for advanced students in CMHC promoting further growth and development in the counseling field. Counselor trainees work in a variety of capacities including providing individual and group counseling for youth and their families, primarily focused on an “at risk”, juvenile diversion population. Counseling trainees provide direct services under the supervision of a licensed clinical supervisor. Supervision includes review of videotaped and in-vivo (live) counseling sessions in individual and group formats for all trainees along with constructive feedback for trainee personal growth.

Veteran’s Village of San Diego

Site Description: VVSD's Veterans Rehabilitation Center (VRC) is a state licensed residential early treatment program for homeless veterans who have substance abuse issues. The VRC offers homeless veterans a safe, clean and sober village-like setting for several months to a year, depending upon individual needs. Formulated as a social model, VRC is integrated with structured case management and mental health therapy that simultaneously addresses addiction, issues of mental health as well as medical health, legal issues, familial struggles etcetera.

Practicum Training and Supervision: Veteran’s Village of San Diego’s Veteran’s Rehabilitation Center provides a yearlong structured training experience for advanced students in CMHC promoting further growth and development in the counseling field. Counselor trainees work in a variety of different capacities by providing clients with comprehensive clinical assessments, crisis counseling, EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) and art therapy, substance abuse and case management, inpatient psychiatric referrals, medication management and educational counseling under a licensed supervisor. Supervision includes review of videotaped and in-vivo (live) counseling sessions in individual and group formats for all trainees.

Community Research Foundation - New Vistas

Site Description: New Vistas Crisis Center (NVCC), affiliated with Community Research Foundation (CRF), is a START (Short-Term, Acute, Residential Treatment) program for adults having a psychiatric crisis. Clients meet the admission criteria of hospitalization at a voluntary level of care. The majority of clients are dually-diagnosed with a secondary substance use disorder. Many of the clients are also homeless. Our target population is the severely and persistently mentally disordered.

The purpose of our program is to provide the least intensive level of care utilizing a psychosocial rehabilitation approach to treatment. Clients receive psychological and psychiatric treatment while learning social and daily living skills with the intention of stabilizing the presenting crisis and hoping to reduce the likelihood of subsequent crisis. Treatment core competencies utilized at START programs include Motivational Interviewing; Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT); Comprehensive, Continuous, Integrated System of Care (CCISC) model for individuals with co- occurring psychiatric and substance disorders; Cultural Competency; and Psychosocial Rehabilitation. Each resident is connected to a variety of social service supports within the community, to aid the transition into successful living beyond the START programs.

Practicum Training and Supervision: New Vistas is dedicated to providing outstanding clinical training to multiple disciplines (clinical psychology, nursing, marriage and family therapy, social work, & psychiatry) along with outcomes based treatment for a challenging population. New Vistas provides an 800-hr structured training experience for advanced students in CMHC promoting further growth and development in the counseling field. The focus of training is on individual and group counseling; intake assessment; diagnostics; treatment planning; consultation; documentation; case presentation; and crisis intervention. Counselor trainees complete their practicum experience under a licensed supervisor. Supervision includes review of recorded and in-vivo (live) counseling sessions in individual and group formats for all trainees along with constructive feedback for trainee personal growth.

Southern California American Indian Resource Center (SCAIR)

Site Description: SCAIR is a nonprofit organization founded in 1997 to provide educational and community services to San Diego’s Native American community including both the Native urban and reservation communities of San Diego County. Participants include individuals and families from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds, and various levels of mental and physical ability. The types of services offered through SCAIR include Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) training programs through the Southern California Tribal Chairmen’s Association.

Training and Supervision: SCAIR provides a yearlong structured training experience for advanced students in CMHC promoting further growth and development in the counseling field. Counselor trainees conduct individual and group counseling sessions with teens, individual adults and couples, as well as provide career counseling, under a licensed supervisor. Supervision includes review of videotaped and in-vivo (live) counseling sessions in individual and group formats for all trainees along with constructive feedback for trainee professional growth. SCAIR has provided employment opportunities for trainees during and/or after the completion of the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program.

San Diego County Office of Education Juvenile Court and Community Schools

Site Description: Juvenile Court and Community Schools (JCCS) provide a fully-accredited educational program and mental health support for school-age youth who are either wards of the court or have been referred by social services, probation or one of the 42 school districts in San Diego County. Services are provided to incarcerated youth, pregnant minors, foster youth, expelled teens, chronically truant youth, students in drug treatment centers and group homes for neglected or abused children, and homeless youth. JCCS serves about 12,000 students per year with 52 schools that are split between two networks that cover the entire county. JCCS educators are committed to high expectations, social justice and equality for all students. They value diversity and strive to eradicate institutionalized racism and discrimination in all forms. Their priority is to raise achievement of all students while eliminating the achievement gap between students of color and white students. They accomplish this through the delivery of culturally and linguistically responsive standards-driven instruction, courageous and advocacy-oriented leadership and relevant professional development. All JCCS community members stand personally committed and professionally accountable for the achievement of this mission.

Training and Description: Practicum students will work with in both the court and community school settings. Experiences may include individual, groups as well as whole class presentations or lessons. Individual supervision will be conducted weekly. There may also be opportunities for group supervision, depending on the number of practicum students. Additionally, the practicum students are invited to participate in monthly counselor and school psychologist meetings and professional development.

Mental Health Systems School-Based Program

Site Description: MHS School Based Program provides mental health services to students at eleven schools in the San Diego Unified School District. The program helps our clients reach their potential and achieve success in school, at home and in the community. We work with them toward specific goals, such as increasing school attendance, improving school performance, and decreasing any further school related problems. Our therapists meet weekly with teachers and/or school counselors to ensure effective communication and make certain that integrated services are provided. Services are offered at school, in home, and in the community and they include: individual and family therapy, case management, referrals to community resources, psychiatric/medication evaluation and monitoring, and bilingual services with available interpreters. We serve students in specified schools, ages 5 to 18 years old, who are Medi-Cal eligible or MHSA eligible (without insurance) and who are struggling with academic success, anxiety, alcohol or other drug use, ADHD or defiant/oppositional behaviors, depression, and other emotional hardships.  

Training and Supervision: We provide on-site supervision both individual and in groups.  We provide training through staff meeting in-services, seminars, webinars, on-line trainings, and all staff have access to BHETA trainings through San Diego State.  Requirements are once per month staff meetings, weekly individual supervision and monthly group supervision.  Video presentations are required at every group supervision to aid with training as well.  Primary focus for theory-based training is CBT and SFBT. 

Maria Sardiñas Wellness Recovery Center

Site Description: The Maria Sardiñas Wellness Recovery Center's services are based on the principles of psychosocial rehabilitation, with emphasis on attending to the whole person and re-establishing one's life as a result of the consequences of mental illness, rather than simply attending to the symptoms of the illness. The services focus on recovery, rehabilitation and community integration, and are individualized to meet the needs of each client. Clients actively participate in setting service plan goals and are encouraged to involve family and significant others in the recovery plan. The team at the Maria Sardiñas Wellness Recovery Center is multi-disciplinary, and consists of psychologists, marriage and family therapists, psychiatrists, nurses and master's level interns. In addition, the team at the Maria Sardiñas Wellness and Recovery Center is bilingual and bicultural, across all disciplines, in order to linguistically and culturally address the needs of the large Latino population in the South Region of San Diego County. In addition to outpatient psychiatric services, the Maria Sardiñas Wellness Recovery Center also has three specialized programs: Full Service Partnership Case Management, targeted services for Transitional Aged Youth (aged 18-24) and Older Adults (aged 60+). 

Training and Supervision:  Maria Sardiñas Wellness Recovery Center has three onsite clinical supervisors, two licensed clinical psychologists and one licensed clinical social worker. One hour of individual supervision, two hours of group supervision, and two hours of a multidisciplinary treatment team meeting are provided with each practicum/internship experience at Maria Sardiñas Wellness Recovery Center.  Maria Sardiñas Wellness Recovery Center is one of many programs operated by Community Research Foundation (CRF).  CRF has numerous training opportunities in a plethora of topics necessary to successful delivery of mental health services.  Trainings are delivered in multiple modalities including didactic face to face instruction similar to a traditional university classroom as well as synchronous and asynchronous online instruction

UPAC Positive Solutions Program

Site Description: UPAC Positive Solutions Program is a nonprofit mental health agency contracted by the county of San Diego. UPAC serves homebound, socially isolated older adults (60+) in San Diego those who are suffering depression and/or have symptoms of depression. All services are home based and free from the county of San Diego.

Training and Supervision: All interns are provided the training on PEARLS, an evidenced based therapy to treat depression among older adults. We provide variety of relevant training face to face, webinars, BHETA, etc. We have 2 hours Clinical Group conducted by LMFT every Thursday from 9-11 am. This group meeting takes place at UPAC-EMASS, located at 200 N. Ash Street, Escondido, CA 92027. Students are expected to contact the Clinical Consultant to schedule their Individual meetings with the Clinical consultant at their mutual convenience. UPAC-PSP Program Manager is a licensed Clinical Psychologist who provides intensive 1:1 training on weekly basis initially and as needed thereafter and is available 100% of the time when clinicians are at work/or field. Mileage reimbursement is provided to the interns when they drive their vehicle to see the clients.

Project Enable

Site Description: Neighborhood House Association’s Project Enable BPSR Wellness & Recovery Center provides time-limited outpatient specialty mental health services to adults 18 years of age and older who are affected by serious and persistent mental illness and/or co-occurring disorders that interfere with their ability to function in key life roles, as parents, students, spouses and employees. The program strives to reduce psychiatric symptoms and the need for hospitalization while rehabilitating clients to their highest level of functioning. Services focus on stabilization and recovery goals with the expectation that with treatment, clients will effectively recover and graduate from the program. Comprehensive services include mental health assessment, medication management, short term individual and group therapy, rehabilitation counseling, case management and linkage to supportive community services. Project Enable clients must be 18 years of age or older, meet the criteria for severe mental disorder and/or a co-occurring disorder, be insured by MediCal or uninsured and meet the financial eligibility criteria established by the County of San Diego Services Mental health assessment. 

Supervision and Training: Individual and group supervision is provided. Training on issues of substance abuse, multi-disciplinary staff work and County medical documentation, and severe mental illness treatment is provided.