Newsletter Article

Psychology Fieldwork Program Fosters Strong Community Connections

Prior to the mid-1990s, a handful of psychology faculty took on the growing job of sponsoring undergraduate majors who were seeking credit for their psychology related volunteer and internship experiences.  To better address the growing need, the Psychology Department resurrected its undergraduate fieldwork class, Psychology 497.  Psychology senior lecturer Kim Barrett initially took on the role of teaching the weekly fieldwork class that brought together psychology majors pursuing community based experiences. 

In 2005, psychology lecturer Dana Nelson took over the class which had grown from one to two full sections, plus an additional "section" of students who have already taken the class but wish to receive additional credit for their ongoing fieldwork.  Psychology academic advisor Tracy Maschman Morrissey works with Dr. Nelson, meeting with students to help them find appropriate field placements, managing class enrollment and site supervisor evaluations, and teaching a career exploration portion of the class each quarter.

Working in psychology related fields such as social services, education, counseling, criminal justice, human resources, and health related areas, students earn credit for the combination of the weekly class, academic assignments, and time spent at their volunteer sites.  The greater Seattle community benefits from the hard work and dedication of our undergraduates, while the students gain valuable hands-on experience.

Typical field placements over the past year include Childhaven, the King County Crisis Clinic, the National Eating Disorder Association, Seattle Children's Hospital, the UW's Experimental Education Unit, the Alcohol and Drug Helpline, Sound Mental Health, YouthCare, the Green River Veterinary Hospital, Circle of Friends Mental Health, and numerous public and private schools.  Students work in positions such as teaching assistant, hospice volunteer, clinical intern, physical and occupational therapy assistants, victim advocate, treatment intern, crisis counselor, and group facilitator.