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Advanced Practicum and Externship Training


Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) is a department of Student Development and Campus Life at Montclair State University. CAPS provides a full range of services and programs, which promote the personal development and psychological well being of students and the attainment of personal and educational goals. The staff is strongly committed to programming related to student diversity and to an overall university environment, which is accepting of individual and cultural differences. Among the services offered are short-term individual psychotherapy, group therapy, couples counseling, crisis intervention, consultation, Let’s Talk and referral. Skill-building and psycho-educational workshops are offered to augment the personal growth and development of students and staff members of the university. As the only mental health agency for a student body of over 23,000, CAPS works with students comprising the full range of functioning, from developmental issues to severe psychopathology. At times, students require referrals or further evaluation at the psychiatric emergency room of the local hospital to meet their immediate needs.

We have a staff of four full-time psychologists, three part-time psychologists, four full-time licensed professional social workers, two full-time licensed professional counselors, one part-time psychiatrist, and practicum students who are graduate students from local universities.

Setting and Facilities

CAPS is located on the south end of the campus in Russ Hall. The facilities include a reception area, a group room for seminars, individual counseling offices, video recording equipment and computer resources.

CAPS has a strong commitment to maintaining close working relationships with other departments of the division of Campus Life and Student Development, including the Academic Success Center, Career Development, Global Education, Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF), Residence Life, Student Health Center, Office of Social Justice and Diversity and the Disability Resource Center.

Training Philosophy

Since each trainee brings a variety of skills to CAPS, we believe it is important that training be tailored to the experience and needs of each trainee. Staff members utilize interventions from a variety of theoretical orientations, including psychodynamic, cognitive-behavioral, multicultural, feminist, and humanistic approaches.

CAPS staff is dedicated to the concept of excellence in a training experience within a multifaceted, service-oriented agency. While broad exposure to a variety of professional activities is advocated, a genuine commitment to intensive supervision and to the furthering of the trainee’s personal and professional growth exists as the foundation of our philosophy. Overall, we work to create an atmosphere of respect and trust where trainees and professional staff support their own and others’ growth both personally and professionally.

The Typical Week

Externs are expected to be on-site approximately 16-20 hours/week depending on their particular program requirements. Please note that Thursdays from 9:30 a.m. – 12 p.m. is mandatory for all trainees. Externs’ time will be devoted to a variety of activities, some recurring, and some occurring only once, as the needs of CAPS and externs’ training dictate.

Externs are required to be here only when Montclair State University classes are in session. This placement ends at the end of finals week, but externs are encouraged to terminate with their clients before then if possible, to leave time for paperwork and final supervisory issues.

Here are some of the typical activities externs will engage in (please note, this list of activities is accurate at the time of this writing, and is subject to change):

Individual Therapy

Externs will carry a caseload of approximately 4-8 clients– typically 4+ short-term (semester or less) cases, and 1+ long-term cases (year long).

Group Process Observation

Externs who are interested in learning about group therapy have the option to apply to be a process observer in an interpersonal process group at CAPS. Process observers are an integral part of the CAPS group therapy program. Being a process observer provides an “in vivo” opportunity to learn about group process and effective group leadership, as well as the management and record-keeping needed to run a successful group. Process observers are at CAPS an additional three to four hours per week to accommodate weekly observation and post-group processing. They also participate in a five-hour process observer training with the CAPS group therapy coordinator prior to the beginning of the fall semester. Participation in group therapy training will require a 20 hour per week commitment.


Externs meet with their individual supervisor for at least one hour of supervision each week. More individual supervision can be provided if needed based on client load or difficulty. Additionally, externs who participate in our group program will meet for group supervision for one hour each week.

Clinical Meeting/Training Seminar

Externs meet with the entire staff once weekly during which time cases and clinical issues are discussed. This can be a lively exchange of ideas and externs are encouraged to “jump in” and participate. Additionally, this time is often used to present a training seminar on a variety of clinical and professional topics relevant to your CAPS experience and development as a clinician.

Paperwork and Miscellaneous Prep Time

Time will be built into externs’ schedule for paperwork and preparations for therapy sessions and campus outreach. It is essential that paperwork is kept up to date at all times.


Externs will be trained in our intake procedures during the beginning of the fall semester. There will be formal training sessions and externs are encouraged to observe “live intakes” being conducted by staff members. When ready, externs are observed conducting intakes by staff members and provided with feedback. Upon receiving the necessary training, externs will be scheduled for approximately four (4) intakes a week.

Community Intervention/Outreach

Externs’ participation in presenting workshops on campus or staffing CAPS information tables (such as at the Wellness Fair or for Alcohol Awareness Week) throughout the semester is required. Externs are expected to conduct two to three workshops and/or presentations each semester and are encouraged to collaborate with other externs or staff members on these outreach efforts.

Performance Feedback

An important aspect of training is providing regular feedback to the trainee about his or her performance. At the end of each semester, a formal feedback process occurs, during which trainees will receive feedback from the people they have worked with during the semester. This process is also a time for externs to formally give us feedback. At all times this process is seen as a two-way street, where facilitation and growth are the goal, not the assignment of a grade or other measures of ranking. Trainees are encouraged to browse through the CAPS evaluation forms during the first few weeks to familiarize themselves with areas of focus.

Practicum / Externship Application

In order to apply, please email, fax or mail a cover letter, current curriculum vitae and letters of reference in early January for consideration for the following fall semester. Contact Dr. Melissa Shuman Zarin at 973-655-7329 for additional information.

Please Note: that current and previous CAPS clients are not eligible to apply for training at CAPS due to ethical considerations.

  • Email:
  • Fax: 973-655-4470
  • Counseling and Psychological Services, Russ Hall,
    1 Normal Ave., Montclair State University
    Montclair, NJ 07043


Weekly Work Expectations

  • Individual Counseling
    • Intakes, 1-2 hours
    • Individual clients, 4-8 hours
    • Paperwork/Preparation Time, 2-3 hours
  • Supervision/Training
    • Individual, one hour
    • Group, one hour (Tuesdays at 1 p.m.)
    • Clinical meeting/training seminar, 1.5 hours (Thursdays 9:30 a.m. to noon)
  • Outreach
    • Presentation/Workshops, up to two hours
    • Preparation, up to two hours
  • Group Process Observation (optional), two hours

Total hours for the week: 16-20