When I first started at my internship a small concern I had was with the kind of counseling we provide to our clients. We primarily do pscyhoeducational which is surface level, educational information (as you could probably guess from the title), and does not typically address deeper issues such as trauma etc. The reason for this, at our agency, is because there is high turn over with our clients. We are residential but very short term for the most part and essentially the thought is that we don’t want to tap into some deep emotional wound in a session and the client leave the next day with this wound ripped open and no follow up support in place. We do make aftercare referrals for counseling and other services but it is ultimately up to the client to follow up on those services so there is no guarntee they will get the help they may need. The bottom line is we want to help without re-traumitizing the client.
I understand and respect why we use the approach we use, and I am grateful for any opportunity to practice clinical work. I know the work I want to do long term is the deep work though. It is what my life has prepared me for, much of my professional experiences have led me down this path as well. I want to help people heal at the source, not put a band aid on the wound.
My concern with this internship was that I would not have an opportunity to practice the kind of therapy I am interested in and that it might be hard for me to have the boundary of staying on the surface with a client when I know the issues hey present with run deeper. I am happy to share it had not been an issue. My boundaries have kept me in line with our mission and I have even gotten the opportunity to practice some of my deeper work in a way that is appropriate for my setting and the therapeutic goals we strive for with clients.
I have my own case load now, which I am loving, and I am self-advocating for the opportunity to run a group. I presented a topic for group, with an associated exercise, to my supervisor and she loved it so I am hoping she will give me a chance. We were told at the beginning of internship that we probably would not be running a group unless we really wanted to at some point, and I do! I want the full experience and this internship allows for that. I will have the opportunity to family counseling in addition to the individual counseling services I am already providing so I would love to try running a group as well. I have some experience co-facilitating a group but I would love to try my hand at it solo.
The opportunity I mentioned about getting to practice “deeper” work has showed up in the form of reframing things for my clients and working with them to identify internalized negative messages the outside world has given them that are now causing them to have low self-worth etc. It is still on the surface but they are important topics and I get so excited when I see them make the connection.
I started this post this morning before internship and then was pulled away by a phone call. I did not have an opportunity to wrap it up before I left the house so I left it as a draft to finish when I got home..
An update to the original post is that I was asked to run group tomorrow!! I am over the moon!! I created a visual to go along with group that will be used as a sample/example and I will have the opportunity to work creatively with our clients while they create their own version of my template. My heart is so full. Not only do I get to run a group on a topic that is very near and dear to my heart, I get to essentially do expressive art therapy with the clients which is also something that holds deep meaning for me. This is what whole hearted, authentic therapy looks like to me.. Being able to share yourself in an authentic, therapeutic way with your clients.
I cannot wait to report back and share how my first group session goes.
In the interim, today was another great day. I got a lot accomplished, I got to work creatively with another intern (we had a blast), I met with one of my clients and had what I consider a productive session. I also felt I made deeper connections with some of my colleagues.
I cannot tell you how good it feels to be doing well at this placement. It feels good to succeed, it feels GREAT to succeed at something you were afraid to do in the first place. Everyday I feel my confidence and my resolve to do therapeutic work growing. I am so so eternally grateful. My words are not big enough to hold the gratitude in my heart and soul.
My cup runneth over.