MACP Site Showcase | Calgary Counselling Centre


February 25, 2022

Yorkville University boasts a network of nearly 1,900 practicum sites that regularly host our Master of Arts in Counselling Psychology placement students. These supervised practicum placements allow students to integrate the theory they’ve learned during their online studies at Yorkville, with 400 hours of experience in a professional counselling setting.

In this newly launched series of profile articles, we will be highlighting some of the stand-out practicum sites on Yorkville’s roster, as well as the amazing work each are doing in their respective communities. 

Logo Calgary Counselling Centre

A Yorkville University practicum site for many years, Calgary Counselling Centre is the largest student training centre in western Canada, boasting a “robust” student program.

Its clinical staff of more than 20 not only provides world-class individual and group counselling services and programs, but are also committed to training the next generation of counsellors in the practice of Feedback-Informed Treatment.

Sarah Rosenfeld (MSW), an associate director at Calgary Counselling Centre
Sarah Rosenfeld, MSW

“Students are really integral to the centre – they’re really a big part of what we do, and that’s why we offer such a comprehensive program,” said Sarah Rosenfeld (MSW), an associate director at Calgary Counselling Centre and the team lead of its intern program.

“We provide the training, we provide the supervision, and we provide the structure, because it’s really a client-directed organization – our focus on Feedback-Informed Treatment puts the client first.” 

We recently sat down with Rosenfeld to discuss Calgary Counselling Centre’s practicum program, which accepts approximately 20 Yorkville students each year, in depth. Here’s what she had to say: 

What is the process of applying to become a practicum student at Calgary Counselling Centre like? Who is your ideal student? 

We really have a lot of faith in our students, because they go through a really robust interview and selection process – we don’t just take anybody. What we have seen is that people who really have that ability to take initiative, to harness their own learning and to ask for what they need, seem to go a long way. 

We recognize that we’re a first practicum for a lot of students, so we select ours not so much based on their previous experience, but on how they can pull from other things and transfer other skills to the kinds of work they might be doing with us – how they problem solve, how they critically think…We need people who can think out of the box and make those connections. 

What kind of roles do practicum placement students get the opportunity to take on at Calgary Counselling Centre?

We have a pretty robust, eight-month placement program that allows students to do direct client work. Once they complete our orientation process, they’re pretty much self-directed and supported to manage their own caseloads and see their own clients.

Most students see between eight and 10 clients per week, although that number varies depending on the presenting concerns of the clients. I would say anxiety, depression, and relationships are kind of the primary issues people come into the centre with, but we also work with families, we work with couples, we work with grief, we work with trauma, we work with everything. We are a cradle-to-grave organization, so you can see young people, and you can see people that are close to the end of their lives – and we try to structure our training to be able to support our students to work with all of those presenting concerns and issues. 

Feedback-Informed Treatment is the anchor point that helps students ensure that they’re working with the client to meet their needs and that they’re getting the outcomes and results that they’re looking for. 

Guests seated in meeting room

What kind of supervision and training is provided by Calgary Counselling Centre to its practicum students? 

Our students get individual and group supervision weekly. They’re part of a clinical practice seminar, in which all interns are exposed to three hours of training a week with a staff facilitator around certain specific areas, in particular those areas related to skills they’ll need to be able to do the counselling. We cover things like working with different client populations, working with children, working with families, working with couples, how to foster a therapeutic alliance, and how to ensure that there isn’t a premature termination of a client. So, they get specific training around that every week.

All students also do a monthly consultation with Dr. Michael Yapko, a clinical psychologist based out of California who’s an expert in the area of clinical hypnosis and depression. And they do a monthly consultation with Dr. Scott Miller, the director of the International Center for Clinical Excellence, around Feedback-Informed Treatment and how we use that particular way of working with our clients. Everybody at our organization works that way (with Feedback-Informed Treatment), so students have the opportunity to consult with these leading experts in the field.

In addition to those pieces, there is also a self-directed Michael Yapko study that students do over the first six weeks of their placement to onboard them to his way of looking at depression and helping people work from a sequencing and skill-building perspective. 

And they also do a trauma-informed module, which is basically helping students work with at-risk populations and giving them a framework and some skills around how to do that.

Woman seated at desk during a remote video call

Are the student placements at Calgary Counselling Centre currently in-person positions or online ones, due to the COVID-19 pandemic? 

It’s still all remote, although we’re looking at what that will look like moving forward. One of the things about our centre is, we are a very large operation and we want to ensure we’re doing things safely. We don’t want to expose our staff, our students or our clients to risk. We did 40,000 counselling sessions last year – we’re talking very large numbers – so we need to really be very conscientious about how we’re going to reopen. It’s an ongoing conversation, but we have to make sure we reopen in a way that keeps everybody safe.

If you were to offer some words of advice to incoming practicum students about to embark on a placement at Calgary Counselling Centre, what would they be? 

My message would be to learn about Feedback-Informed Treatment and that way of working, because you have to be able to trust the process that we have in this organization…and we know that it works, because we’ve been doing it now for close to two decades. 

More About Calgary Counselling Centre:

At Calgary Counselling Centre, people learn to thrive. Since its inception in 1962, the centre has been driven by the purpose to provide the best counselling treatment possible – not just the best in the community or country, but the best you could get anywhere.

Every year, thousands of people go to Calgary Counselling Centre to change their lives for the better. Its clinical staff of more than 20 provides world-class individual and group counselling services and programs. The Centre has more than 100 volunteers and dozens of committed donors who make its services possible.

The centre is always learning, growing, and beating benchmarks. Its staff members measure progress and know that their counsellors help people achieve their goals – in fact, they have unparalleled results in the counselling industry. They are committed to providing the best counselling possible so people in the Calgary community can achieve better emotional, psychological and social well-being. And, they also train the next generation of counsellors, so more people in their community and around the globe have the right knowledge and skills to do the same.

Calgary Counselling Centre is widely recognized as a Centre of Excellence in research. Its evidence-based work propels its practice, informs its treatment methods and improves its quality of service.

Areas of Counselling Offered at Calgary Counselling Centre:

Every day, Calgary Counselling Centre’s counsellors meet with individuals, couples, children, youth and families who want to learn how to better cope with a wide variety of concerns including: addictions; anger; anxiety and panic; Attention Deficit Disorder; bereavement and grief; bullying; child behaviour problems; couple and martial relations; depression; domestic abuse; eating disorders; elder abuse; family of origin issues; family relations; gender issues; health issues; job loss and termination; parent-child conflict; parenting; pastoral counselling; personal growth; physical and sexual abuse of children; relationship problems; self-esteem; separation and divorce; sexual abuse; sexuality and intimacy; stress; trauma; victim of crime; violence in intimate relationships; and workplace conflict.