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