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What to Expect from Working with a Student Therapist

When searching for a therapist, an important consideration is the experience and work history of the practitioner. You may be looking for a clinician with years of experience working with a variety of issues, or someone with extensive experience in specific types of therapy or with particular populations. Keep in mind that every single skilled therapist started out in the same way: working with clients who gave the student therapist an opportunity to support them and develop their clinical skills. This piece will explore the assets that practicum placement students and newer therapists bring to the table when you’re looking to start therapy.  

How do I know if someone is newer to the field?

When searching through therapist profiles you can usually find this information, as well as when a therapist registered with the CRPO or other regulatory body. You can also inquire about experience when you are having an initial consultation with a therapist. You may also see profiles for practicum placement students - these are Masters level students who are completing the direct client contact hours and clinical supervision hours required to graduate the program and enter the field. You will also encounter Registered Psychotherapists (Qualifying). These therapists may be completing their practicum placement at that time, and can transfer to the category of Registered Psychotherapist (RP) after they pass their registration exam and complete a determined number of clinical hours. More information about this can be found here, and please ask your therapist to explain their designation if you have any questions.

Cost, Availability, Flexibility

Practicum placement and new therapists often have adjusted fees and even pro-bono spots. If you do not have benefits, or have other barriers to accessing therapy, consider working with a student/new clinician for affordable therapy services. These therapists are building a caseload for the first time, and may have flexibility and availability in their schedule. This is great in terms of convenience and ease of access to quality mental healthcare, and also reduces the stress that can accompany sitting on a waitlist for supports.

Cutting Edge Training

Practicum students and new practitioners have likely recently completed their education. These programs are competitive to get into, require completion of an undergraduate degree from a university, and involve learning about a wide range of information under the psychotherapy umbrella (such as theoretical orientations, modalities, and critical thinking around case studies). While all psychotherapists are required to demonstrate continued learning/professional development throughout their careers, newer practitioners are likely to be up to date on the most cutting-edge, evidence-based research in the field.

Enthusiasm and Contribution

Psychotherapists work in this field not simply as a job, but as a calling; we consider it an honour to do the work we do, regardless of how long we’ve been practicing. When you are working with a student/new practitioner, you are investing in their growth and the future of care for others. You are also working with someone who is eager to gain experience in the field, and is genuinely invested in developing and executing a top-tier care plan. Newer practitioners are excited to walk this path alongside you, and are grateful that you’re providing an opportunity for them to grow their body of knowledge and practice. Investing your time and trust in a newer practitioner is, in many ways, giving back to your community in the future. You have an opportunity to share your knowledge and experience as a client to contribute to the highest level of care in the future.

Clinical Supervision

Practicum placement students and newer practitioners are required by their school and/or regulatory board to practice under clinical supervision. When you’re meeting with a placement student or newer practitioner, the work you are doing is reviewed and discussed (with confidentiality in place) with that clinical supervisor. Active and regular participation in clinical supervision ensures the highest quality of care for clients, the professional development of the therapist, and adherence to all ethical considerations in the field. Put simply, clinical supervision is how therapists learn, grow, and enhance their practice as they continue along the helping profession - hence why practitioners with many years in the profession also seek out clinical supervision along the lifespan of their career. When you work with a placement student, you can rest assured that the work you do with them is informed by detailed and dynamic feedback from a clinical supervisor. One of the advantages of working with a student therapist under supervision is the assurance that diverse perspectives are considered, beyond just the student’s. This collaboration involves the combined efforts of two practitioners, ensuring thorough and effective therapeutic planning.

Sedâ Psychotherapy is investing in the growth of future psychotherapists as a practicum site for Masters level students entering the field. We offer both clinical supervision and clinical consultation to psychotherapy students and practitioners. Starting in May 2024, we are thrilled to welcome Registered Psychotherapist (Qualifying) Sarah Khedr to the practice! Sarah is offering low-cost therapy while completing her practicum hours in her MACP program at Yorkville University. If you’re interested in meeting with Sarah for a consultation, you can book one here and explore the many benefits of working with a passionate and talented new therapist!

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