Information for Agencies and Supervisors
Thank you for considering taking an ACAP student for their student placement. All the information you need is below. Click on the links above, or scroll down for full details.
We value our partner organisations and thank you for your interest in ACAP’s Student Placement Program. We look forward to fostering an ongoing and mutually rewarding professional relationship with you.
Student placement provides an opportunity for ACAP students to apply the skills and knowledge they are learning in a supervised workplace. Depending on their program, students complete 200 to 250 hours of placement. Placement also provides an excellent opportunity for students to develop professional networks and to explore career options and professional pathways.
At ACAP, placement is considered a vital and rewarding aspect of the student’s learning experience. While on placement, students are expected to:
Counselling Placement outcomes:
• Critically evaluate the use of counselling skills and interventions
• Demonstrate assessment and intervention planning
• Apply counselling models to meet client needs
• Integrate ethical thinking and decision-making in counselling to uphold the rights and autonomy of clients
• Facilitate effective use of theoretical knowledge and counselling skills to practice
• Evaluate counselling competence in preparation for future clinical practice
• Integrate feedback from supervisor
Applied Social Science Placement Outcomes:
• Apply social science concepts to analyse key practices in the placement organisations
• Analyse the influence of policy, funding, and social and cultural contexts on the organisation
• Demonstrate cultural sensitivity and provide culturally safe services to diverse groups
• Demonstrate ethical decision-making skills
The Australian College of Applied Psychology is the largest trainer of Counsellors in Australia. ACAP offers specialist courses in counselling, psychology, coaching, social science, social work and case management and has over 5,500 students studying on-campus or online. Approximately 500 higher education students are registered for placement each year over a network of more than 600 agencies, both nationally and internationally. ACAP students are predominately female (84%) with the majority being mature aged, the average student being in their late 30’s.
Organisations benefit in many ways. Some of our smaller placement organisations could not function adequately without our students, as they participate in every aspect of the business. Depending on the services offered by the organisation and the specialisation and experience of the student, benefits could include:
• implementation of services, projects or tasks that could not otherwise be carried out due to lack of human resources
• a source of potential employees or volunteers. Some of our students are employed by their placement organisation as they have had time to assess the student’s skills, attitudes and cultural fit
• reflection on and revision of current practices
• exposure to new theories and practices
• participation in the skilling of the industry workforce
Who can be an Agency Supervisor for an ACAP Student?
The Agency Supervisor directs the student’s activity and provides daily supervision. They must:
1. Be a practicing counsellor, social worker, psychologist or psychotherapist
2. Be in a supervisory role in the organisation
3. Have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree or equivalent in counselling, psychotherapy or a related profession with equivalent qualifications, including appropriate professional registration (or be eligible to apply for professional registration as approved by ACAP)
4. Have a minimum of 5 years relevant experience in a profession as listed above, or a minimum of 3 years in the profession, plus 2 years in the helping profession, such as youth work, medicine, nursing, education, life coaching, ministry, child safety officer, mental health case worker, or a registered carer.
5. Not have any other relationship with the student (e.g. family, therapist, current educator etc.)
Note: ACAP provides clinical supervision for counselling students on placement, however the Agency Supervisor must provide adequate daily support, and regular supervision for the student.
As Agency Supervisor, what do I need to do ?
As the Agency Supervisor you will need to:
participate in a pre-placement meeting with the student to discuss available learning opportunities and to determine the suitability of the placement for that student;
log in to the placement system Sonia Online and approve the placement confirmation form (log in details will be emailed when the student registers the placement);
fully induct the student into the agency including policies and procedures;
set clear boundaries with students regarding access to clients files;
review and approve the Student Placement Learning Contract in Sonia Online, including agreement on regular supervision meetings;
establish the framework and process for assessment and supervision (e.g. schedule daily preparation and debrief meetings with the student etc);
provide adequate training regarding the agency’s service delivery models, e.g. CBT, motivational interviewing, grief and loss etc, and explain requirements for case notes;
ensure students (except experienced masters level students) are not facilitating DBT, couples counselling or working with children under thirteen years, or working with Borderline Personality Disorder clients. Students cannot treat clients with severe mental health conditions, however they can work on the client's wellbeing;
ensure all clients are informed that the student is not yet qualified, is on a supervised placement, and is referred to as the 'ACAP Student Counsellor' ;
set tasks, and guide the student in their daily activities;
give regular and constructive feedback, preparation and debriefing on the student’s performance;
participate in a three-way Mid Placement Review with the student and a Mid Placement Reviewer and assess the student’s progress as satisfactory / not satisfactory / result withheld (if there are concerns that need to be addressed urgently);
follow the Process for Addressing Issues with Students on Placement as early as possible, should there be any concerns regarding the student’s performance on placement;
complete the online Final Placement Report in Sonia Online during the final two weeks of placement, and assess the student’s performance against their Learning Contract, placement outcomes and expectations of a student approaching graduation as satisfactory / not satisfactory;
approve the student's Timesheets in Sonia Online mid-way through the placement, and approve the remaining Timesheets on their final day. The student must submit their forms in Sonia within seven days of completing the placement;
- maintain the confidentiality of clients at all times and limit student access to files, notes, etc. unless the client has given their informed consent*.
Please note: The agency is responsible for managing client confidentiality.
Allocate appropriate clients for the student to counsel; the student is equipped to offer general counselling for a wide range of issues. However, they do not counsel couples, children or clients with a complex diagnosis or traits such as Borderline Personality Disorder.
*Counselling placement supervisors note: PACFA Ethical Guidelines state: (ii) Clients must not be observed by anyone other than their Counsellors without having given informed consent. This applies both to direct observation, client notes and to any form of audio or visual transmission or recording. (iii) Counsellors and Supervisors are responsible for protecting the client’s rights of confidentiality in the supervisory context by ensuring that shared information is disguised appropriately. Supervisors are responsible for ensuring that clients are aware that the student is on placement and is not yet qualified (www.pacfa.org.au).
Student taking leave while on placement:
Supervisors must ensure that students miss no more than two days of placement without a medical certificate. This is a College requirement and cannot be overruled by the agency supervisor. Please do not approve other leave.
Should a student request to miss another day – they must first seek permission from ACAP. The ACAP Placement Coordinator will then email you to advise that the student has been approved to speak to you about their need for a leave day and seek your approval.
The agency supervisor may ask the student to swap with another student to minimise disruption to the workplace.
Students are covered by ACAP for public liability, personal accident, and professional indemnity insurance*. These insurance policies will only cover students on approved, registered, unpaid student placements that form part of the academic requirements of their course.
There is an implied legal obligation on the part of the placement organisation and the placement supervisor to ensure that the student is not placed in a position where their actions can result in damage to property or injury to other persons. The placement organisation also has a legal requirement to provide a safe and secure working environment and not place the student in a situation where they may be at risk. The supervisor is responsible for the student’s wellbeing and participation in suitable activities at all times. The supervisor is responsible for ensuing all case notes are compliant with the agency standards and client files are kept confidential.
Placements outside of Australia have different insurance requirements and must be discussed with the ACAP National Placement Operations Manager.
*Conditions apply for all ACAP insurance policies. Please further details in Student Placement Insurance Information
- Meet with the student to discuss if and how a mutually beneficial placement can be organised.
- Establish placement dates and times.
- Approve the placement - the student will complete a Placement Confirmation, Insurance and Code of Conduct form in Sonia Online; log in details to Sonia Online will be emailed to you so that you can approve the placement. This online form needs to be completed prior to the commencement of the placement.
2. Beginning of placement
- Oversee student's orientation to the organisation.
- Determine frequency and means by which supervision and assessment of the student’s performance are to take place.
- Discuss and fine-tune the student’s drafted Student Learning and Supervision Contract within the first 20 hours or two weeks of placement (whichever comes first) in Sonia Online.
- Facilitate, monitor and evaluate their learning.
3. Mid-Way through placement
- Mid-placement review
The mid-placement review provides the forum in which ACAP can ensure that the placement is of mutual benefit to the student and the placement organisation. This is also an opportunity for ACAP to see how the placement relates to the student’s ‘Learning Goals’.
- Meet with an ACAP Educator and the student either on site (where possible), by teleconference or Skype.
- Discuss how the student is developing and their progress towards achieving their Student Learning and Supervision Contract goals.
- Discuss any issues that may have arisen for both supervisor and student.
- Allow approximately one hour for an onsite visit and 40 minutes for a telephone or Skype review. In preparation for the mid-placement review, please ensure that both you and the student have a copy of the Student Learning and Supervision Contract as this will provide the basis of the review. The questions the Educator will ask are available in Sonia Online.
- The student is responsible for organising this review and is expected to finalise a date and time mutually suitable for all parties approximately halfway through their placement (between week 9 and 13 of term). This appointment should be scheduled within two weeks of starting placement.
Note: Supervisors should not wait until the mid-placement review to air any concerns they may be experiencing. It is important that any concerns are brought to the immediate attention of the Student Placement Department who will then mediate, liaise and mentor as required.
- Approve Timesheets
Approve student's Timesheets in Sonia Online
4. Completion of placement
- Provide constructive feedback to the student.
- Complete the 'Final Placement Report' in Sonia Online, including the number of completed hours and performance grading (satisfactory/unsatisfactory).
- Approve remaining Timesheets in Sonia Online.
- The student is responsible for submitting all forms within 7 days of completing their placement.
Should agency supervisors wish to provide feedback about the placement and/or the placement process, please contact the relevant Student Placement Adviser.
If a student's progress is causing concern to you as their Supervisor, please advise the Student Placement Manager at the earliest sign of potential problems. We can then work with you and the student to ensure that the student is aware of what the issues of concern are and what they are required to do. Students must be given an opportunity to address concerns before a placement is cancelled.
If you experience any issues with Sonia, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or (02) 8236 8058.