The Institute for Clinical Social Work

Syllabi Archive

CCP 521: Field Placement Seminar II

Master's Program: spring 2012-13

Kevin McMahon, LCSW

  • 3139 N Lincoln Ave.
    Suite 222
    Chicago, IL  60657
  • 312-545-2179
  • ICSW Office Hours by Appointment
  • Class Meets Fridays, 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Course Description

This course will serve as a supervisory seminar for students in their field placement.  Specifically, students will participate in case discussions, sharing observations and experiences related to the practice setting, reading and discussing relevant literature, and providing, as well as receiving, feedback from peers and the instructor.  Supervision will provide students with the opportunity to increase awareness and understanding of the clinical process and other professional activities.

Specific Course Objectives

  • To look at multiple levels of assessment.
  • Practice through role play being with different clients.
  • Using what is learned through assessment to formulate the case
  • Thinking about how the formulation informs the actual treatment.
  • Completing a case study on a client that the student has been seeing at their placement.
  • Discussing potential obstacles and roadblocks to treating the client.

Respect for Diversity, Confidentiality, and Fellow Students

Discussing patients, clinical material, and patients’ impact on clinicians can be intense; students are expected to be sensitive to their colleagues’ during class discussions, and to protect confidentiality of clinicians and their patients. In addition, students are expected to be respectful of the opinions of others while at the same time striving to support the values of clinical counseling.

Students with Special Needs

Students with special needs or difficulties in learning and completing courses assignments are strongly encouraged to notify instructors as soon as possible so that appropriate resources and accommodations can be provided.

Student Evaluation and Grades

Classroom instructors grade students on their course work and submit written evaluative reports on the caliber of each student’s work. Practicum consultants/supervisors grade students and submit reports each semester evaluating their work. Students’ overall performance will be monitored each semester by the Student Progression Committee.


The purpose of grading is to provide a learning tool for students, i.e., to provide feedback on progress, strengths and weaknesses, and issues that need to be addressed.

Grading Standards

Grades are assigned according to the following standards:
A - Superior Work - 4.0 value
B - Satisfactory Work - 3.0 value
C - Marginal Work - 2.0 value
F - Failure* - 0.0 value
P - Pass* - 0.0 value    
AU - Audit - 0.0 value    Auditing a course with approval of instructor
INC - Incomplete - 0.0 value**

Grading Decision

  • *Applies only to Field Placement/Practicum and Thesis Seminar
  • **A grade of INC (incomplete) requires the instructor’s written approval. Incomplete grades should be reserved for extenuating circumstances. If an incomplete grade is given, the student must finish any work required to complete the course requirements by the end of the semester. If the course is not completed by this deadline, the student automatically receives an F (Fail) grade for the course.
  • Instructors are required to submit full letter grades (not pluses or minuses) within two weeks after the end of each semester. A written evaluation of each student’s performance accompanies the grade.
  • All papers submitted for class requirements are to conform to the style guide in the “Institute for Clinical Social Work Style Manual,” which is located on the ICSW website in the academic resources section. Insofar as is practicable, ICSW style follows the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, commonly referred to as the “APA style manual.”

Academic Dishonesty

Any student who engages in academic dishonesty, which includes giving or receiving unauthorized aid to any assignment or examination, plagiarism or tampering with grades or irregularities shall be subject to disciplinary action. Such action may include a failing grade in the course, suspension, or dismissal from the program.

Plagiarism Policy

When plagiarism is suspected, students may be asked to submit their papers electronically to a third party plagiarism detection service. If a student is asked to submit the paper and refuses to do so, the student must provide proof that all work is correctly sited and/or original.


Students are required to read all assigned material and should be prepared to discuss the reading material assigned for each class.

Class Attendance and Participation: Active discussion of the ideas contained in the readings and lectures as well as class attendance and participation in class exercises are central to the success of this course. Excessive absences (more than a total of TWO classes) may result in a lowered grade. The instructor always appreciates being notified in advance by email if you will not be attending class.

Required Textbooks

  • Hall, J. S. (2004). Roadblocks on the journey of psychotherapy. Lanham, MD: Jason Aronson.
  • McWilliams, N. (1999). Psychoanalytic case formulation. New York: NY: Guilford Press.

Course Assignments

Assignment #1 (20%)

Students will think about a client they have seen for no more than five sessions (if this isn’t possible pick a client that you have had the least amount of time with). What do they see as the presenting problem? What do you see as the presenting problem? What patterns do you notice as the client talks about the presenting problem? How does the client stay stuck and what constraints need to be lifted to help them? Discuss how Gender, Race, Culture, or Spirituality may play a part in the presenting problem. Where might there be potential for change and are there things that can’t be changed? The paper should only be 5-6 pages in length.

Assignment #2 (30%)

Students will be asked to select a movie in which the main character is going through some kind of psychological turmoil or transition in their life. Examples of a such a movie might be, Hillary and Jackie, Girl Interrupted, Fatal Attraction, Lost in Translation, Pan’s Labyrinth, the Wrestler, the Beaver, etc.. Based on what we’ve discussed in class about possible ways of assessing a client, how would you go about assessing the main character if he/she was your client? In your concluding paragraph, think about how the assessment leads to your formulation. The paper should be 8-10 pages in length and your thinking should be supported by the readings from class.

Assignment #3 (30%)

Students will write a complete case study for their final paper. Think about a client you have been seeing the longest or wish to think about in greater depth. You can use the case study from the first semester and improve upon it from what you have learned this semester or start with a new case.

Class participation counts as the final 20% of the grade. Students are expected to show up prepared and open to learning from the instructor and their classmates. Students are encouraged to bring up questions and provide thoughtful feedback to their peers when we begin to discuss cases and as we practice role playing.

Weekly Course Schedule

Class 1

January 11, 2013 - Discussion of course objectives and assignments.

The first session: Introductions, Alliance, and the Presenting problem.
Role play #1

  • Required Readings: McWilliams, Chapter 2: Orientation to Interviewing

Class 2

January 18, 2013 - Problem sequences

What patterns do you notice that keep repeating?
Where does the client get stuck?
Role play #2

  • Required Readings:Breunlin, D. C., Pinsof, W., Russell, W. P. & Lebow, J. (2011). Integrativproblem-centered metaframeworks therapy I: Core concepts and hypothesizing. Family Process, 50(3): 293-313. (Given to Elizabeth for Scanning by Michele Martin)

Class 3

 January 25, 2013 - Constraints

What stops the client from solving the problem?
A closer look at the “web of constraints.”
Role play #3

Class 4

 February 1, 2013 - Biology, Gender, Race, Culture, Spirituality

In what way does this help us understand the client?
In what way may they act as constraints?
Role play #4

Class 5

 February 8, 2013 -  Development

Where is the client developmentally?
What would be developmentally appropriate for the client?
What stressors are associated with this stage of development?
Role play #5

  • Required Readings: McWilliams, Chapter 4: Assessing Developmental Issues

Assignment #1 Due

Class 6

 February 15, 2013 - Transgenerational Models and Identifications

Differentiation , Enmeshment, and Rigidness
Intergenerational transmission of symptoms
Brief introduction to using the Genogram
Role play #6

  • Required Readings: McWilliams, Chapter 7: Assessing Identifications

Class 7

 February 22, 2013 - Affect

What emotion or absence of emotion do you sense from the client?
How may affect be used defensively?
What affects do you, the therapist, have the most difficulty being with?
Role play #7

  • Required Readings: McWilliams, Chapter 6: Assessing Affects
  • Hall, Chapter 6: The Many Faces of Rage

Class 8

 March 1, 2013- Defenses

What are the main defenses?
What is the client defending against?
Role play #8

  • Required Readings: McWilliams, Chapter 5: Assessing Defenses
  • Hall, Chapter 4: Inner Roadblocks

Class 9

 March 8, 2013 - Defenses Continued: Primary and Secondary

We will look at the differences between primary and
secondary defenses.

  • Required Readings: From Psychoanalytic Diagnosis: McWilliams, Chapter 5,6.
  • Chapter 5: Primary Defensive Processes
  • Chapter 6: Secondary Defensive Processes

Class 10

March 15, 2013 - Transference

What or who might the client associate you with?
What is your first impression of the client?
Role play #9

  • Required Readings: Hall, Chapter 1: Transference: It’s Ubiquity and Utility 
  • Hall, Chapter 3: Tracking Transference: Connecting Now and Then

Class 11

March 22, 2013 - Countertransference

Distinguishing between what is ours and what is the clients.
How does countertransference inform the therapist?
How is countertransference an obstacle to the therapist?
Role play #10

  • Required Readings: Hall: Chapter 2: Countertransference

Assignment #2 Due

Class 12

 April 5, 2013 - Formulation I

We will begin to look at how to pull the pieces of assessment together into a comprehensive formulation.

Class 13

April 12, 2013  - Formulation II

Students will look at their previous case study and think about how they would add to it from what they have learned in this class.

Class 14

April 19, 2013 - Formulation III

Going over any questions and concerns about the Case Study.  This class can be used to begin working on the case study.

Class 15

April 26, 2013 - Obstacles to Psychotherapy 

Looking at potential roadblocks to the therapeutic process.
Students should bring in a case to discuss in which they feel stuck.

  • Required Readings: Hall, Chapter 8: Stalemates and Beyond

Class 16

May 3, 2013 - Professional Dilemmas

Ethical considerations, dual relationships, disclosure, and other sticky areas in psychotherapy.
Think about a client in which you felt such a dilemma.

  • Required Readings: Hall, Chapter 7: Professional Dilemmas

Assignment #3 Due

Please note that links to some course readings have been purged from archived syllabi. Electronic texts on the ICSW website are protected by copyright law. These files are made available strictly for individual, educational use and may not be copied or distributed in any way. Distribution of copyrighted material to non-enrolled individuals or ICSW students will be considered an act of Academic Dishonesty and be dealt with accordingly as indicated in the Student Manual. Federal penalties for copyright infringement may be found at