Practicum Sites

Master of Arts in Marital and Family Therapy

Department of School, Family and Mental Health Professions

Practicum is a three consecutive semester sequence that is completed during the student's final year. While enrolled in Practicum, students work in a community agency for one year seeing clients with supervision from both agency and faculty supervisors. During the 12-month practicum, students are required to accumulate 500 hours of direct client contact, 250 of which must be with couples and/or families present in the therapy room. One hundred hours of supervision must also be accumulated during this time, of which at least 50 hours must include supervision from raw data (video, live supervision). In reality, most students receive over 200 hours of supervision.

During the practicum class, students present videotapes of their clinical work during weekly group supervision, and receive didactic instruction on various clinical topics. In addition, students will have individual videotape and live supervision of their clinical work with a university clinical faculty member. Supervision is also obtained at the practicum site, which includes both group and individual supervision. Students receive a minimum of one to five ratio of supervision to clinical experience in accordance with state and national accreditation guidelines.  All of the supervisors at USD and the sites are AAMFT Approved Supervisors or meet equivalency standards.  AAMFT Approved Supervisors have taken special courses in supervision, and have had their supervision supervised by more experienced supervisors.

Practicum Settings in MFT

Practicum students work in a community agency for one year seeing clients with supervision from both agency and faculty supervisors. The program provides the student with a list of pre-approved agencies where students complete their clinical work. The school has developed several outstanding practicum sites that offer a broad range of client populations and presenting problems. This allows students to seek a practicum site that best matches their interests and needs.  A description of these sites provided by the agencies is listed below.

Please note that this list is subject to change.

Catholic Charities

Catholic Charities Center for Counseling is a state licensed multidisciplinary Psychology Clinic staffed by licensed therapists, psychology interns and MFT trainees.  It is an outpatient clinic dedicated to serving the needs of the San Diego area and has provided services to the community for over fifty years.  We offer outpatient mental health services to individuals, couples, families, children and a specialized pre-marital counseling service.  We are committed to serving the needs of all clients, and offer treatment on a sliding scale.  We are especially dedicated to serving low-income families and provide a bi-cultural and bi-lingual experience for training staff.  Spanish speaking students are encouraged to apply. Catholic Charities offers a structured yearlong training experience committed to providing a quality training for students.  Our supervision program includes videotape, live supervision within an environment of quality feedback, encouragement and support for the student-professional.  Opportunities to provide group psychotherapy and to network with other professionals in the community via weekly in-service trainings are also available to staff.  Additional employment opportunities within certain programs in the agency may also be available upon graduation.

Community Research Foundation – Mobile Adolescent Services Team

Mobile Adolescent Service Team (MAST) is a community-based outpatient behavioral health program that provides services to children, youth and families enrolled in the County Office of Education - Juvenile Court and Community Schools (JCCS) district.

MAST provides comprehensive, strength-based and culturally sensitive mental health services in English and Spanish. Our services are client and family driven, and focus on addressing client and family needs while respecting and working within cultural beliefs, supports, and norms. Many of the students have been expelled from their home school districts and/or are on probation. Outpatient Counseling Services are provided at the JCCS class sites and in clients' homes. We welcome clients and families with co-occurring emotional/behavioral and substance use issues.

Department of Veteran Affairs

Therapists who work through the Veteran Affairs (VA) split their time between two clinics, The Family Mental Health Program (FMHP), and the Wellness and Vocational Enrichment Program (WAVE).  The FMHP specializes in providing conjoint therapy for relationship distress and features an integrated cognitive-behavioral and family systems approach to assessment and treatment.  Patients and their families are seen both at the VA Medical Center in La Jolla and the VA Mission Valley Outpatient Clinic. MFT trainees spend 12 hours/week in the FMHP. The WAVE Clinic is dedicated to enhancing the vocational prospects and the quality of life for veterans referred to the clinic. Trainees conduct orientation sessions, individual intakes, individual and group counseling sessions. The emphasis is on assessment for job readiness, assistance in job seeking skills, and general wellness activities. MFT trainees spend 8 hours/week at WAVE. The VA population constitutes a diversity of racial, ethnic, mental and physical disabilities, and socio-economic variables. Patients may be coping with major psychiatric and/or major medical problems.

Phoenix House

Founded in 1967, Phoenix House is the nation's leading non-profit organization devoted to the treatment and prevention of substance abuse. Students serve as Family Therapists conducting individual and family therapy and multi-family therapy groups for a diverse population of adolescent clients and their families at outpatient program sites in San Diego and Encinitas.  The program is not restricted to focusing on substance abuse behavior but rather addresses all aspects of clients' functioning.  Family treatment is considered a core component of the program and as such students have the unique opportunity to treat entire family systems addressing a broad range of clinical issues.  Students get a very comprehensive clinical experience as well as become familiar with family systems work and substance abuse and recovery issues among others. An AAMFT Approved Supervisor provides individual and group supervision with a strong emphasis on systemic treatment planning and techniques.  Videotape, live and case conference supervision are utilized in an encouraging and supportive environment.

Providence Community Services

Formed in 1997, Providence Service Corporation is an innovative provider of mental health services offering a wide variety of programs across the country; all of which share a primary commitment to provide care that builds upon participants’ strengths and responds to their concerns.  Providence specializes in counseling and supportive services in home and community-based settings, and our mission is to ensure the provision of accessible, effective, and high-quality community-based counseling and social services as an alternative to traditional institutional care.  Providence is dedicated to ensuring that all clients have access to professional community based care, proven treatment methods, and comprehensive service planning.  Providence Community Services’ Catalyst program opened in 2006. Catalyst’s services promote recovery and resilience through comprehensive, integrated, consumer driven, strength based care and a ‘whatever it takes’ approach.  Catalyst uses Assertive Community Treatment (ACT), which is a team-based approach to delivering comprehensive and flexible treatment, support, and services.  ACT is an intensive service for individuals who experience serious mental illness. Unemployment, substance abuse, homelessness, and involvement in the criminal justice system are common co-occurring problems with individuals referred for ACT services. People who receive ACT services typically have needs that have not been effectively addressed by traditional, less intensive mental health services.  Catalyst’s ACT team provides comprehensive, individualized services in an integrated and continuous manner. Services are collaborative and recovery-oriented, and treatment includes: psychiatric assessment, medication management, individual supportive therapy, substance abuse treatment, co-occurring disorders treatment, supportive housing, resource linkage, advocacy, family psycho-education and therapy, supportive employment and education development, legal assistance, community integration services, peer support, and group counseling. The goal of Assertive Community Treatment is to assist people in achieving stability, independence, and success. ACT offers services that are customized to the individual needs of the consumer, delivered by a multidisciplinary team of practitioners, and are available as needed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Rady Children's Outpatient Psychiatry Clinic

Rady Children's Outpatient Psychiatry Clinic is the interdisciplinary outpatient mental health department of Children's Hospital and Health Center.  We provide services in 3 main locations (Kearny Mesa, Oceanside, Rancho Bernardo), some smaller clinics, and at many school sites.  We are a full service clinic providing diagnostic assessment and treatment (individual, family, group), medication assessment and treatment, and psychological assessment.  We also provide consult/liaison services at Children's Hospital.  We serve a population of children and adolescents up to age 18 and their families, representing a wide range regarding family composition, ethnicity, presenting concerns, and socioeconomic status.  Our clients have a range of DSM-IV diagnoses, with Attention-Deficit and Disruptive Behavior Disorders, Mood Disorders, Anxiety Disorders, Adjustment Disorders, and Relational Problems being quite typical.  Most of our referrals are from schools, parents and physicians, and from mental health, social service, and juvenile justice programs. Trainees and interns receive individual and group supervision from licensed staff and participate in interdisciplinary teams, staff meetings, and case conferences, and Grand Rounds. 

San Diego Youth Services

San Diego Youth Services (SDYS) is a non-profit charitable organization that since founded, has stabilized the lives of over 500,000 homeless, runaway, abused and at-risk youth in the San Diego area. Launched in 1970 when volunteers established one of the first runaway youth shelters in America, SDYS now provides intensive services to more than 12,000 children and their families each year. This nationally recognized agency offers emergency services, safe places to live and long-term solutions for kids “on their own” by providing shelters, group homes, foster homes, community centers and transitional housing. Professional help for high risk youth is provided at all 14 major locations in San Diego County.

Second Chance

Second Chance was founded in 1993 with a commitment to breaking the cycle of unemployment, poverty, homelessness, substance abuse and incarceration that plague our city. The mission of Second Chance is to create opportunities for self-sufficiency by providing job readiness training, employment placement, and affordable housing and life skills for homeless and unemployed men, women and youth. The mission is reached by offering job readiness training, job placement, affordable housing, mental health counseling, case management, and financial literacy to men, women and at-risk youth who desire to change their lives. Since 1993, over 30,000 men and women have been served through a myriad of supportive services for those who have been chronically unemployed. The organization's programs have a tough-love, high accountability approach and partners with a wide variety of community, county and state partners. Second Chance, its staff and Executive Director have been recognized by local, state and national organizations and leaders.

Sharp Mesa Vista Hospital

Sharp Mesa Vista Hospital is the largest privately operated psychiatric hospital and provider of mental health, chemical dependency and substance abuse treatment in San Diego County. In 2010, Sharp Mesa Vista had more than 5,200 inpatient behavioral health discharges — more than any other provider in the county. Located in Serra Mesa, it provides behavioral health services for children, teens, adults and seniors experiencing anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, eating disorders and other conditions. (Source: Sharp Mesa Vista Hospital)

St. Vincent de Paul Village

Counseling Services at St. Vincent de Paul Village is staffed by a multi-disciplinary team of supervisors licensed in medicine, psychology, social work and marriage & family therapy. Interns provide much of the direct service to the client population of homeless men, women, children and seniors. At our Assessment Center, interns conduct psychosocial assessment of single men and women, as well as family assessment. At our Counseling Center, interns work with clients in the modalities of individual, couple, family, group and multi-family group therapy. Our SAFECHILD program offers interns clinical experiences with young children and their parents. Because of our multi-disciplinary approach to treatment, collaboration with professionals and students in medicine, psychology, social work, case management and addictions routinely occurs through staff/intern training, case conferencing, treatment planning and consultation.

UCSD Division of Family Medicine

The mission of the UCSD Family Medicine Residency Program is to foster resident individuality and growth in an academically rich and culturally diverse environment emphasizing the development of excellent clinical skills and evidence based analysis, community service to underserved populations and preventive medicine in the context of the entire human lifecycle.  USD students work collaboratively with residents and attending physicians in the Hillcrest and Scripps Ranch clinics.

UCSD Outpatient Psychiatric Services

UCSD Outpatient Psychiatric Services, also known as "Gifford Clinic" is an outpatient mental health and dual diagnosiscenter located in the UCSD Medical Center in the Hillcrest area of San Diego. For over 25 years ithas also been well known and respected in the clinical community for providing excellent training for Psychiatry Residents, Psychology Interns, Marriage and Family Therapy Trainees, and Social Work Interns. Their primary mission is to provide treatment, rehab and recovery services for indigent and low income adults with severe and persistent mental disordersor dual diagnosis. Client composition includes adults, couples, and families of all ethnic and racial backgrounds, a large gay and lesbian population, and many patients with coexisting Axis I and Axis II disorders. The Clinic provides such services as multidisciplinary treatment teams, medication management, supportive group psychotherapy, psychoeducation groups for patients and significant others, case management, social services and advocacy.

UCSD Department of Reproductive Medicine - Maternal Mental Health Clinic

The UCSD Maternal Mental Health Clinic was created to address the mental health needs of women. The clinic provides comprehensive mental health care to women with depression, anxiety and other emotional concerns during times of reproductive transition. Services provided range from single-visit consultations to ongoing medication management and psychotherapy. Therapists use a wide variety of techniques to help women recover from illness and maintain health. We also work closely with other doctors and health care providers throughout the community to coordinate care during infertility, pregnancy and the postpartum.

UCSD Eating Disorders Center for Treatment and Research

This program helps people develop more effective strategies to cope with the altered appetite, reward, anxiety, obsessionality, and impulse control alterations that contribute to a vulnerability to develop an eating disorder and the difficulties in sustaining recovery. (Source: Eating Disorders Center for Treatment and Research, UCSD)

UCSD Weight and Wellness Clinic

The Weight and Wellness Clinic is a multidisciplinary patient care team for the management of child and adolescent obesity. We screen patients for individual physical, nutritional, psychosocial needs and expectations and tailor a safe treatment for our patients and their families. We are dedicated to reducing the health burden of obesity in children, and our focus is on reasonable, achievable goals. (Source: UCSD Weight and Wellness Clinic)