Community Development Practicum
The Community Development Practicum (CDP) provides students with an integrated experience utilizing the concepts, research and applications emerging from the field of Community Psychology. Community Psychology focuses on the context in which social issues develop through studying a wide variety of forces and structures which influence individual and group health and well-being.
Under faculty supervision, students will be required to provide 350 hours over four months of direct project related service within an agency setting (i.e., non-profit, government, schools or public service) to support the application of critical awareness of social factors (such as barriers, challenges, injustices and disadvantage) through classroom learning to actual social development work. Specific projects may involve roles such as small group leader, consultant, program planner and evaluator, community developer or social change agent. Projects will be designed to produce a specific outcome in collaboration with the practicum partner agency. Practicing roles will require both generalist skills (problem solving, communication skills, research and evaluation skills) and specialist skills (knowledge and skills applicable to a specific issue, problem or group; for example, implementing programs for adolescent single mothers wanting to complete high school).
In addition, using a peer consultation model, students will participate in a Community Development Practicum Seminar that provides opportunities for professional development through mutual support and critical reflection upon these experiences. Specific student projects will be discussed to illustrate general principles of community psychology and related social development concepts and practices, including case studies and role plays to build skills in community development and consultation.
Students will have completed most of their course work, including Principles of Community Psychology, History and Foundations of Community Development, Research Methods in Community Psychology, and others. As community development leaders and practitioners in training, they will learn to assess and understand community issues and problems from multiple level of analysis (i.e. person, group, community, organization and society) and to identify and critically review related interventions, evaluations and research in the development and evaluation of community programs.
Both individuals at the CDP site and the faculty member involved in the practicum are responsible for supervision in the placement. Students will meet in their settings with an identified site advisor, and will have supervision time with practicum faculty on a regular basis through their Community Development Practicum Seminars. The primary objectives of supervision and evaluation are to enhance the student’s learning and to ensure that the student achieves an adequate level of competencies in the application of theory and research to practice in addressing community concerns.
What is ‘Adlerian’ about the CDP?
Social interest is to feel as a fellow human being. This is the essence of the Adlerian commitment to social justice. As graduates, one of your hallmarks is your developed knowledge, skill and attitudes for socially responsible practice. As community development leaders and practitioners in training, your skills need to reflect new realities that confront a global society and the needs of individuals who make up that society – embracing the depth and breadth of the true meaning of diversity, including societal forces and structures that influence individual and group health and well-being.
The foundation of this practicum is based on a simple question: What would Alfred Adler do today? He emphasized deeds over words. The strength of this training component lies in the practice of social change under Adler’s philosophy, holding the common goals of social action and collaboration through community engagement for social justice.
What are the benefits of the CDP to Adler students?
You get to work as part of an interdisciplinary team; acquire knowledge about community-based issues; work in collaboration with agencies to develop programs and services to address identified issues; develop and implement policy to improve practice; participate in strategic planning and facilitation; develop program assessments and evaluations; and professional networking.
Through this scholar-practitioner model, you are building relationships and advancing community capacity and engagement by developing vital skills in community development and social responsibility. As community development leaders and practitioners in training, you are taking on roles such as small group leader, consultant, researcher, program planner and evaluator, community developer and social change agent, and opening doors for this field of work where there has been a historical void.
What am I learning during the CDP?
Adlerian philosophy and training is focused on social justice and social responsibility by applying skills in collaboration, consultation, systemic change and leadership. We believe this training is enhanced by practical experience in community organizations where students have the opportunity to “walk the talk.”
Learning objectives of the CDP training component:
- Witness and develop compassionate understanding for the effects of systems (i.e. healthcare, schools, and prison) and social injustices (i.e. poverty, racism, abuse) on individual and group functioning.
- Understand the community development practitioner’s role and responsibility toward initiating systemic changes and addressing injustices that support individual and group well-being.
- Learn about specific ways to plan and enact systemic changes that will benefit human welfare.
- Reflect on values about people/systems, and assumptions about the nature and causes of social problems.
- Learn how to function effectively within a multidisciplinary organization and work collaboratively as a team to effect change.
A few points of clarification: This is a non-clinical practicum. Therefore, students should not be engaging in direct therapeutic services. The CDP approach is “voluntary” rather than “volunteer” work. The work performed as part of this training component is designed to meet the objectives described above and to promote learning based on the involvement of a project that is mutually agreed upon by the site supervisor and student.
- Students are required to develop competency in specific, relevant and transferable skills in applying community psychology principles, (i.e., posing community issues and problems from multiple levels of analysis – person, group, community, organization, and society in the development, delivery and evaluation of community programs).
- Each practicum placement can be started only after the successful completion of the requisite community psychology designated courses as specified in the program curriculum.
- The community development practicum is to be a minimum of 350 hours in length at an approved site and designed to be completed during a period of one semester (approximately 20-25 hours per week over 4 months).
- Unlike many other practicum and internships opportunities, community development practicum placements may involve the provision of a stipend and may be completed at a student’s place of employment, as long as the practicum is not part of their regular duties.
- The requirements for the practicum are at least two hours per week of supervised time with the student. At least one hour of these two hours should be individual face-to-face supervised time with an authorized individual on site. The remaining one hour of supervised time must be focused on experience obtained in a group/ team setting, a conference, presentation or shadowing related professionals across a broad representation of organizational disciplines.
Possible areas to be covered during the practicum:
- Development: Research proposals, grant writing, program design, resource development, policy formulation.
- Delivery: Research methodologies such as surveys, focus groups and interviews, assistance in training and services, strategic planning and facilitation, fundraising.
- Evaluation: Needs assessment, program evaluation.