Sunday, June 9, 2013

My Internship

A couple of weeks ago, I introduced my degree program. Today, I'll talk a little about my internship. Similarly to most programs, the internship is one of the last courses completed and is an opportunity to implement, practice, and enhance the skills learned in the classroom. Though in order for our degree program to prepare individuals for licensure, the internship requirements are different for each state. The internship requirements at Avila require 750 hours (half must be direct client contact) over a period of at least two semesters in which the instructor for the classroom portion must be different.

I have acquired quite the knowledge of the 12 steps during my internship! 

As for the classroom portion of internship, we meet for class weekly. We prepare case reports and share with the class, seek advice or suggestions about things going on at the internship sites, along with some coursework, too. This is the "capstone" course in which we will complete what is essentially a thesis during the final semester of internship. I am working on this now and it is by far the most lengthy, in-depth, and time-consuming paper I have ever written.

Lastly, my internship requirements also include weekly supervision at my internship site. My supervisor  reads over and signs off on all of my paperwork including my diagnoses, progress notes, and reports. We talk about each of the clients on my caseload and offers guidance and direction.

Students seek out their own internship sites. My classmates work in a variety of areas including the university counseling center, women's shelters, inner city mental health clinics, and inpatient children psych facilities. When I first began looking for internship sites, I was looking for a place to work with veterans and military personnel. It turns out, there isn't such site.
Side note: The VA didn't even recognize Licensed Professional Counselors as qualified personnel to work in the mental health services they offer until this past year. As it stands now, LPCs are eligible, however, openings for fully licensed LPCs are limited. Students are ineligible to serve as interns unless they are members of a specially accredited university, in which, only one school in Kansas City is such. 
Another side note: My degree program does not prepare students as school counselors. People always ask if I will do school counseling, but the truth is... I can't, at least not in the public schools. Basically, it all boils down to state regulations and requirements. Some schools may offer this option as part of a counseling psychology degree, but they are generally two separate degrees (at least in MO and KS). 
So, after coming to terms with my inability to serve the population in which I desired, I began to search out a site that claimed to have any veteran population whatsoever. I found a single site in all of the KC Metro that is all but officially a veteran facility-- a transitional living substance abuse treatment facility for homeless men. I work with veterans on a daily basis. In fact, almost 75% of our facility are veterans (ranging from the Korean war to OIF/OEF) and there have even been a few currently active duty military personnel while I have been there.

Despite the unfortunate reality of the alarmingly high rates of homeless veterans (and homeless individuals of any status, for that matter), I absolutely love my internship. I work 25 hours a week and at least 12.5 of those hours are required to be direct client contact, such as an individual session and/or group therapy (I love group therapy!! Actually, I love working one-on-one, too. I just love it all!... except the paperwork...).

At our facility, the clients work with their Substance Abuse counselors to create a treatment plan for their substance addiction (including plans for recovery, housing, employment, etc). Furthermore, all clients are required to participate in a mental health assessment. Clients may then chose to continue to participate in individual counseling sessions. The latter two fall into my job responsibilities-- to make an official diagnosis for each client along with a psychotherapy treatment plan if they so choose.

Often times an individual who presents with a drug or alcohol addiction has underlying issues that have contributed to the addiction in the first place (and many times, the drugs or alcohol use began as a means to self-medicate). It's my job to work through the underlying issues, such as depression, trauma, and/or anxiety. I have worked bipolar and schizophrenic individuals, too, though I work in conjunction with the staff psychiatrist and clinical psychologies who administer medication prescriptions and testing, respectively.

I lead three groups each week- Relapse Prevention, Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), and a Veteran's Processing Group. My average caseload is approximately 5-6 returning clients and I average about one new intake each week. I was told that I'd need to acquire some "tough skin" to work in this population, yet, I don't feel as if I have had to all that much! I am well respected by the clients, as well by other staff. The men hold the door when I walk by and they take me seriously. In the very few times a client has displayed a perceived disrespect, the other clients are quick to defend me-- even if it's unnecessary! I wish I could experience working where I do. I think it'd be such a great opportunity to realize that a majority of the homeless population don't fit the stereotype.

Internship is clearly a dedicated process, which will hopefully explain why my blogging has declined over the last several months. I started in January and will end at the end of July-- just seven weeks! This was a bit longer than I anticipated, but I wanted to cover the requirements, but also my experience of internship!


No comments:

Post a Comment

I love comments and I always try to reply. Make sure you include your email so I can contact you!! :)


Related Posts with Thumbnails