Information for Counselling Agencies and Supervisors
Thank you for considering taking an ACAP student for their student placement.
We value our partner organisations and thank you for your interest in ACAP’s Student Placement Program which can provide an ongoing and mutually rewarding professional relationship.
Use the links below to find more information on this exciting opportunity:
- What is ‘Student Placement’?
- What are the Expected Outcomes of a Student Placement?
- ACAP Student Profile
- How does my Organisation Benefit from Having a Student on Placement?
- As Agency Supervisor, What do I Need to Do?
- What Insurance Cover is Provided for ACAP Students on Placement?
- What is the Process for Student Placement?
- How do I Give Feedback to ACAP Regarding the Placement Process or Other Issues?
What is ‘student placement’?
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.
What are the expected outcomes of a Student Placement?
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
ACAP student profile
The Australian College of Applied Professions is the largest trainer of counsellors in Australia. ACAP offers specialist courses in counselling, psychology, coaching, social work and case management and has over 5,500 current 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.
How does my organisation benefit from having a student on placement?
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
Note: Some of our students in the Master of Counselling & Psychotherapy course, are already qualified, experienced counsellors. If you would like to provide a supervised placement to one of our qualified students, contact the Student Placement Team.
Access to ACAP’s Online Library:
Organisations participating in the Placement Program can gain unlimited access to ACAP’s online library resources throughout their student’s placement.
This provides invaluable resources for a nominated staff member of your organisation.
As Agency Supervisor, what do I need to do?
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:
- determine the suitability of the placement and learning opportunities with ACAP staff;
- complete a ‘Counselling Agency Suitability Assessment’ form;
- carry out a pre-placement meeting with the student;
- read the ‘Placement Confirmation’ email from ACAP confirming the student’s placement. This email is sent after the student registers their placement with ACAP, and confirms the placement dates, requirements, insurance information, and provides log in details to the placement system Sonia Online. (By accepting an ACAP student on placement for the dates in the email, you are agreeing to accept ACAP‘s placement terms and conditions, as described in the following insurance link: Student Placement Insurance Information)
- fully induct the student into the agency including policies and procedures;
- set clear boundaries with students regarding access to clients files;
- collaborate with the student as they write the ‘Student Placement Learning Contract’ in Sonia Online, including agreement on regular supervision meetings, log into Sonia Online and view the student’s completed Learning Contract. Use the goals in the contract to guide the student’s tasks and activities undertaken throughout the placement;
- observe or co-counsel the student’s initial counselling session/s to ensure they are
counselling appropriately and/or the student is comfortable counselling independently
- establish the framework and process for assessment and supervision. ACAP requires students to receive daily debriefing, and a minimum of 30 minutes weekly supervision sessions
- 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 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 students carrying out home visits are accompanied by an agency staff member;
- 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’;
- ensure clients do not pay a fee for the student’s counselling services;
- set tasks, and guide the student in their daily activities;
- give regular and constructive feedback, preparation and debriefing on the student’s performance;
- 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;
- if required, participate in a three-way Mid Placement Review with the student and a Mid Placement Reviewer. Note that the review is not carried for every student, and will only occur if there are any concerns about the student’s progress
- 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 and demographic however students cannot counsel couples or children. Please note: Students working with clients who have severe mental health conditions (i.e. borderline personality disorder or bipolar disorder) or with complex issues are to work in conjunction with a mental health professional and only work on the client’s wellbeing (e.g. identified goals, communication skills), and not attempt to treat the condition.
*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.
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.
What insurance cover is provided for ACAP students on placement?
What insurance cover is provided for ACAP students on placement? 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 see further details in Student Placement Insurance Information.
WHAT IS THE PROCESS FOR STUDENT PLACEMENT?
- Meet with the student to discuss if and how a mutually beneficial placement can be organised.
- Establish placement dates and times.
- After the student registers their placement, you will be emailed the student’s placement details and log in details for Sonia Online. Please inform ACAP if any details are incorrect.
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
The student will complete a Mid Placement Reflective Report mid way through their placement. If the ACAP Clinical Supervisor assesses the student as not progressing satisfactorily, they may request a formal Mid Placement Review with the agency supervisor. The review will be conducted by an ACAP representative, and the student may attend if necessary.
It is important that any concerns are brought to the immediate attention of the Student Placement Team 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.
How do I give feedback to ACAP regarding the placement process or other issues?
Should agency supervisors wish to provide feedback about the placement and/or the placement process, please contact the relevant Student Placement Consultant.
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.