Skip to Main Content

Field Instruction Standards

Qualifications of Field Instructors

Practicum 1 Practicum 2
Hold a BSW (with at least 3 years of experience), or an MSW degree from an accredited social work program, or co-supervise with a colleague who holds a BSW or MSW degree.

Review relevant sections of FIFSW Practicum Manual.

Hold an MSW degree from an accredited social work program, or co-supervise with a colleague who holds an MSW degree.

Review relevant sections of FIFSW Practicum Manual.


Learning Opportunities

Practicum 1 Practicum 2
Provide multiple opportunities for developing, demonstrating and refining a range of:

  • direct practice skills, (e.g. assessment/ intervention with individuals and/or groups)*,


  • indirect practice skills (e.g. research, program evaluation, resource development, policy analysis).
Provide multiple opportunities for developing, demonstrating, and refining a range of:

  • direct practice skills (e.g. assessment/intervention with individuals and/or groups),


  • indirect practice skills (e.g. research, program evaluation, resource development, policy analysis)
Please see the FIFSW Practicum Manual for more information on Direct and Indirect practice.

*FIFSW students in the ITR field are not required to have a direct practice experience in their practicum.

Note on Psychotherapy

As of December 31, 2019, performance of the controlled act of psychotherapy is restricted under the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991 (RHPA) to members of six regulatory colleges. This includes members of the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers (OCSWSSW).

Students engaged in psychotherapy in their practicum must be under the supervision of someone holding an MSW or BSW and registered with the OCSWSSW.

According to the OCSWSSW, psychotherapy is not considered an entry to practice competency (Practice Guidelines for Performing the Controlled Act of Psychotherapy). They recommend that graduates of accredited social work programs have additional specialized training and 2000-3000 hours of supervised practice (2-3 years) beyond their educational program in order to be considered competent to perform the controlled act of psychotherapy. Students need to be aware of these recommendations and that a private practice field placement is not an endorsement of readiness for independent practice.

Note on Practicums in Private Practice

Field Instructors in private practice are asked to use the title of “MSW Student” when advertising student-led services to the public (e.g., on a website).

Fee structure should be clearly outlined to service users. While there are no recommended fees for services provided by students, student rates are typically significantly less than rates charged by qualified practitioners from pro bono, sliding fee, insurance coverage to full payment. Field Instructors may describe this range in the PAS description and/or discuss this with their students.

If students are required to recruit clients, Field Instructors must provide significant support and training on topics such as marketing, entrepreneurship, and networking to establish a caseload. This requirement must be clearly indicated on the PAS description.

Private practitioners are responsible for adequate insurance coverage to host practicum students.

Note re FIFSW students continuing with employment: If a graduating student provides evidence of an offer of employment and all grades have been submitted, FIFSW can provide a letter for the student to present to OCSWSSW.


  • Provide a thorough orientation
    • Discuss the physical practicum setting, the student’s role, and safety policies/procedures, including risk management, self-care resources & strategies, and charting/communication protocol.
  • Introduce topics such as EDI, use of self, social position and their impact on the student-client and student-field instructor relationship. Students expect you to discuss the topics they have discussed in class.
  • Discuss and practice the process of giving and receiving constructive feedback (see “Giving and Receiving Effective Feedback: A Review Article and How-To Guide“).
  • Support the student in developing their Learning Contract: establishing learning objectives, assignments and activities to achieve objectives, indicators of success and methods for evaluation.
  • Assume responsibility for the practicum student at all times or designate an alternate supervisor when unavailable.
  • Ensure students receive comprehensive training before they begin meeting with clients.
  • Provide a minimum of one hour per week of protected time for student supervision (e.g., instructing, establishing learning objectives, integrating theory, debriefing, administrative supervision, giving and receiving constructive feedback, etc.)
  • Ensure students have enough (indirect) learning assignments and project work to keep them engaged when they are not meeting with clients or “no-shows”
  • Provide students adequate time to prepare for and document sessions as the practicum focus is on learning
  • Provide continuous support via check-ins, team chats, and e-mail to develop and sustain feelings of connectedness.
  • Consider different Practicum Supervision Models.

Student Safety: Implementing Safety Measures at Practicum Sites

  • Be transparent with students and service users about the range of services offered by an “MSW Student” under the supervision of a Social Worker or allied professional.
  • Clarify the protocol to follow if a client is in crisis.
  • Offer students training on maintaining confidentiality, including handling client notes, client information, and storage practices.
  • Provide students with secure methods for documenting client information.
  • Establish clear boundaries regarding the use of students’ personal phone numbers and email addresses. If a separate email or phone number is not available, consultation with the Practicum Office is advised for student’s protection.
  • Ensure students are familiar with guidelines for determining when they should meet with clients remotely or in-person. Students must always have access to a supervisor in case of emergencies.
  • Review FIFSW guidelines about student safety, including information about disclosing experiences of discrimination and/or harassment in practicum and protocols for conducting home/community sessions.


  • Provide regular opportunities to be observed by the student.
  • If in-session observation is not possible, a suitable substitute should be arranged, such as creating a bank of resources including videos of social workers in sessions and readings.
  • Regularly observe the student’s work and provide constructive feedback which focuses on the development and demonstration of Social Work competencies.


Complete the online PAS evaluation tool (mid-term and final) by the designated dates, with constructive comments for the student’s future development.  Ideally the constructive comments have already been shared with the student and the opportunities to develop them have been offered.


  • On the Practicum Administration System (PAS) database: provide a description of the practicum and requirements; indicate whether direct, indirect, or mixed practice setting.
  • If a Practicum 2, indicate field(s) of study (Mental Health & Health, Children and their Families, Social Justice & Diversity, Social Work in Gerontology, Human Service Management and Leadership) that most accurately reflects the practicum, as the practicum must provide opportunities for development in the indicated field(s) of study.
  • E-mail a resume to the Practicum Office.
  • Notify relevant personnel in the practicum setting (Education Coordinator/supervisor/manager) of intent to offer field education.
  • Inform the Faculty-Field Liaison (FFL) or Practicum Office of concerns or major changes in the practicum. See Practicum Office contact information.
  • New Field Instructors are strongly encouraged to attend the Practicum Office’s Field Instructor Professional Development Series and complete the free 10-module certificate Online Field Instructor Course with the Canadian Association of Social Work Education (CASWE). For a registration code for the CASWE course, contact Alexi Sparaggis. 
  • Field Instructors are not paid for supervising a student. Practicum sites are responsible for infrastructure, training and technology (eg. internet, Microsoft Office, email etc) to support the practicum, its supervision and evaluation, and cannot charge the student a fee for such.  A Field Instructor cannot pay a student for services provided during their practicum unless approved by submitted application to FIFSW (PDF).