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, and a Forensic Psychology practicum opportunity that involves working with a local Psychologist.
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.
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.
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.
Participation in this practicum requires the prerequisite course in Forensic Psychology (Psych 445) as well as Act 33/34 Clearances.