Two weeks in

So far, I have two full weeks in at my practicum site. I have sat in on so many sessions – thanks to the willingness of my supervisor’s clients – that I have lost count. Personalities of the various clients are starting to emerge and coalesce for me, and I am beginning to see how creating that safe space for a client is indispensable in trauma work especially.

Many of the clients we see come from blue-collar or low socioeconomic status backgrounds; many of them come from single-parent families, and a group home may or may not be involved. Others are preparing for facing their aggressor in court; understanding that process is a huge learning curve for me. Hopefully I will get to tour a courtroom next week.

My supervisor has even asked my input into some of the sessions. So far I have put in all of 2.5 hours of direct client contact out of a required 250 – it’s 1% but that’s a start at least. And it will pick up as time goes on. There has been a lot of reading, a lot of learning how the administrative stuff works, and a lot of discussion about what does and does not go into session notes. (And did I mention a lot of reading?) All of this is as it should be; I am learning scads of stuff every single day! Book learning is one thing, but this is skills development – and that is totally different… practical… rubber-hits-the-road stuff.


Photo “Psychologist Listening To Patient” by David Castillo Dominici at

My supervisor refers to my first two weeks as “Judy’s baptism by fire” and in a way, it really does feel like I have been tossed into such a situation. However, she is there and is guiding me through things, and quite frankly, I would be lost without it!

Other things may yet pop up, but I know that with her help and counsel, I will be okay.

I am unsure how I will handle things when I add my paying work into the mix; so far I have been on vacation from my job and already feel like I have never been so busy in my life! (Good thing I can’t afford cable; I would never be watching TV!)

I look forward to the quietness that exists after I get back to my place after being at my practicum site. I unwind with some music, read for school, calculate my various hours for the practicum requirements, post in my school’s discussion forum for the practicum course, and journal about any learning experiences I have had that day. It’s a full day, and a jam-packed evening … and then I have to go to bed, get up at 6:30 a.m. and do it all again.

But I have noticed something happening that I have not experienced for a very long time. I wake up with a smile on my face every morning. I look forward to getting to my practicum site on the days I go … and I wonder what else I will learn that day, or if I will get a chance to interact with a client or two.

My supervisor tells me that I will do that more and more – and that before long, I will be doing psychoeducation bits and pieces, as well as doing the “how we do therapy” and “confidentiality and its limits” pieces for new clients. It’s a start. She’s letting me get my feet wet, and sometimes it feels like much more than my feet! Yet I love it. More and more I keep thinking, “I was MADE for this.” How it took me so long to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up is beyond me. Maybe I just needed to grow up a bit. I sure am growing up now…  I made a mistake last week, and my supervisor called me on it in our debrief at the end of the day. I realize how my actions might have appeared to a client, so yes, she was right and I just hope that the client allows me back in the room (i.e, did not notice what I did …) Lesson learned. And it will not happen again.

I turn my sights now toward my first upcoming video assignment, which is when the camera is on me for at least 30 minutes during a session in which I am listening to or interacting with a client and asking questions or providing information (or some combination of those). I am trusting that someone will give their written permission for me to do that with them in a real session (the camera will not be pointed at them but their voice will be on the audio). I have to present the video at the first of November in a face-to-face evaluation session (after first giving a 10 to 15 minute presentation on my case conceptualization.) My prof and my classmates will be able to provide feedback and ask me questions on my approach and how things went. (Gulp!)

So essentially, I have until mid-October to record the video so that I can do up my presentation by October 30, and prepare myself for my one-hour stint under the microscope during the face-to-face evaluation. This evaluation will take place in Calgary, Alberta sometime between November 1 and 4, 2018.  And on the 5th, I will be heading back home to resume my practicum.

And in March, it all happens again… except this time, I imagine that I will be recording the entire session instead of just 30 minutes or so.

Can you tell that it is really starting to feel real for me? I can.


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