Practica and Volunteer Programs
The Psychology Department values experiential education. To provide students with structured opportunities for such learning, examples of Practica are Arsenal Family & Children's Center, UPMC-Shadyside Hospital Elder Life Program, a Forensic Psychology practicum opportunity that involves working with a local Psychologist, and a client experience research opportunity at Allegheny County Department of Human Services.
The practicum has two components: weekly activities at the specific practicum site, and meetings with the course instructor that integrate reflection on practicum activities with scholarly reading. The course, for which students receive a letter grade, requires a final paper demonstrating reflection and integration of the experience with relevant academic scholarship.
For all sites except, Emmaus Community of Pittsburgh, you are required to have an overall GPA of 3.0 and a GPA of 3.5 in psychology courses. You are also required to be a Psychology major with at least 12 credits completed in psychology.
Exact offerings will vary by semester, but here are more details about sites where we typically place students:
Arsenal Family & Children's Center
The Arsenal Practicum is held on Mondays and Wednesdays from 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. There is a class limit of 4 students. In this program, students learn about normal children by observing preschool children. In addition, they observe the teaching techniques used with normal children and learn about intervention strategies. Teachers meet with students to discuss various materials. Lectures are presented and teachers meet with students for discussion.
UPMC-Shadyside Hospital Elder Life Program
The practicum at the UPMC-Shadyside Hospital Elder Life Program is an innovative program designed to improve the hospital experience of older patients by exploring their past and current experiences, interest/values, and physical and psychological challenges. The practicum is 8 hours per week for the academic semester, often done in two 4-hour shifts. Orientation meetings for this practicum will take place prior to the start of the semester.
Emmaus Community of Pittsburgh
Emmaus Community serves adults with intellectual disabilities. They provide permanent homes and respite care, and are advocates for individuals in the community who are diagnosed with intellectual disabilities and/or autism. You will be at the site approximately 8-10 hours a week and scheduling is very flexible. The practicum experience will vary depending on your individual interests and agency needs, but duties could include helping the residents with tasks of daily living such as cooking, providing companionship (e.g., playing games, going out to eat), driving residents to appointments, and completing administrative tasks. Practicum students are required to possess a valid driver's license and must be able to pass a criminal background check. There is no minimum GPA/QPA requirement for this site.
Forensic Psychology Practicum
This practicum is supervised by Dr. Eric Bernstein, a licensed psychologist who specializes in forensic based work within Family and Juvenile Courts. This entails child custody evaluations and work for Office of Children Youth and Family Services in matters concerning abuse, neglect, and mistreatment of children. Practicum students will be exposed to all aspects of this clinical practice including observing interviews, assessment, and testimony within Court. Student activities include (1) observing and learning about the nature of a private practice and the responsibilities and practice of performing forensic work, and (2) offering administrative assistance such as filing, organizing, and other clerical duties. Depending upon students' experience and interest, they may also assist with scoring psychological testing. This practicum requires a commitment of 8 hours per week for the entire semester. Dr. Bernstein's office is located in a secure office building in Station Square, and all supervised field placement hours will occur during office hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Allegheny County Department of Human Services, client experience research
The practicum at Office of Data Analysis, Research and Evaluation (Allegheny County Department of Human Services) will be 8 hours per week, and students are expected to complete those hours during the work week (Monday-Friday, between 8:00-5:00). The practicum is flexible to accommodate days/times for practicum student(s). In this program, students will have the opportunity to learn about program evaluation and design in human services. There will be a special emphasis on qualitative research methods to collect service experience data. Students will observe and have the ability to participate in all aspects of our client experience research program: reviewing the literature, designing a project scope (research questions to methodology), collecting data/field research, data analysis (both quantitative and qualitative), as well as dissemination (reporting findings in narrative report and/or presentation with program stakeholders). Click here for sample reports prepared by DARE staff. Lectures and seminars will also be incorporated in the practicum. The main objective of this practicum is for students to increase their awareness about program evaluation and research in human services, especially methods that amplify client voice. If you have any questions about the practicum, please contact Mike Mitchell email@example.com). In order to apply for this practicum you must have completed Research Methods in Psychology (PSYC 201) and you will be required to pass a Child Abuse background check. Preference will be given to applicants who have completed Developmental Psychology: Childhood and Adolescence (PSYC 225W), Perspectives on Disability and Illness (PSYC 324/OCCTH 324), and/or Psychology of Gender (PSYC 353), but you are welcome to apply even if you have not completed any of those three courses.