Friday, August 29, 2014

5 Ways To Broaden Your Training Experience (Even If You’re In A Single-Focus Internship)

Thrilled with your current position as an intern at a domestic violence shelter, a hospital ER, or a faith-based counseling center, but wishing you had the chance to explore more of the variety that is out there in the counseling field?

Here’s your guide to getting the most out of the time you have in training – no matter what your internship focus is!

1. Multitask. Whatever you’re doing for hours now, think

about how you can get the most possible experience for your time there. Can you spin your work with preschool play therapy into some parent coaching sessions? Can you develop and use different sets of skills with the same group of clients, like trying cognitive-behavioral & EMDR-based methods on your trauma clients?

2. Observe. Other interns in different specialties. Your supervisor. Any other counselor that will allow you to watch them in practice. 

3. Read. Case studies, journal research articles, autobiographies, memoirs, counselor-authored practice books. Here’s some possibilities to get you started:

Journeys To Professional Excellence: Lessons From Leading Counselor Educators And Practitioners 
Ariadne's Thread: Case Studies in the Therapeutic Relationship 
On Being A Therapist 
Inside the Session: What Really Happens in Psychotherapy 

4. Volunteer. Any kind of social services agency will work!

5. Man (or Woman) a Hotline. Sexual assault recovery, crisis pregnancy, suicide prevention, LGBT, domestic violence – there is a hotline for almost any specialty you might want to explore further. While you would likely be a volunteer in this position, it’s still worth your time to pursue if it’s of significant interest to you. 

Right now, you may be feeling stuck, or out of options. But you have more flexibility than you realize. This is literally the only time in your life when you are new to the field of counseling, AND you have the assistance of a trained supervisor to help you with any and all of your counseling-related questions.

And that’s the key that’s going to make the suggestions above work for you. Any of these suggestions on their own might do you some good. But if you consciously filter these new experiences
 that you’re having through that lens of new counselor experience you will have insights you’ve never gained before and some you’ll never have again. If you take notes back from these experiences to discuss with your supervisor, or practice with a fellow intern, you’ll find your intern experience to be both diverse and more rewarding than you ever thought it could be! 

How do you suggest finding diversity in a more narrow internship experience? Comment and share below!