I went to my first day of my practicum placement this past Wednesday. After an orientation presentation, during which my CEO sent me a couple of policy manuals to read, I was able to connect with my supervisor and chat about my feelings and expectations regarding the upcoming 8 or 9 months. She eased a lot of my fears about not being prepared for this or that kind of situation, and she gave me quite a few administrative and scheduling tasks to complete before Monday, most of which I have done.
I have been doing some thinking about my expectations and my fears, and with her guidance, I have been able to see that everything will be fine. It will not be easy, but I will learn and grow in confidence because that is the nature of an internship: my supervisor will mentor and guide me into what I need to know and practice to be a good counselor. Simple as that.
It is like having a safety net, or safety equipment (and a buddy to help) when learning a new and potentially dangerous skill like tightrope walking or rock climbing. You don’t go it alone at first. There is a net for the tightrope walker; there is a safety harness and there are ropes for the climber – and someone is always there. You are never alone. And I won’t be going this alone either; I will have my supervisor there with me as I get a comfort level with the clients and the work. There will be all kinds of mentors for me – the clinical director, other therapists, and my CEO, who are there to answer any questions I might have, and help to direct my focus.
Another encouraging thing is that there is another therapist there who graduated from my grad school last year. She has offered to help me navigate the requirements of my school for the practicum if I have questions, and that – to me – is a sign that maybe I will make it. After all, she made it, and she is a therapist at the agency now. That is encouraging for me.
My supervisor – bless her – encouraged me to create a reflective journal of my experiences (without referring to specific client information of course) so I could work through some of the things that will come up for me. Already I have been reflecting on how I will handle certain types of clients with various issues that might “trigger” me – and thanks to her inimitable style, I am understanding that as long as my focus remains on the client’s needs and not my own reactions, I should do fine.
Next week, I will get to sit in on a session with a real client, participate in a case conference with other therapists and the clinical director, and probably do many other things I have never done before. I find myself looking forward to it!!