Watching your intern become a counselor and then letting them go off into the world…
I am not sure what your approach is but I personally take very few interns. When I do take one, typically because they pester me to death for an interview and then show a certain spark, a kindred spirit and a fire that engulfs me, I take them in and they become part of the therapeutic family. Like having a child you watch them go through the stages of development. They are uncertain at first, taking each step very cautiously not wanting to let their clients down, not wanting to let them fall. You praise them as much as you can, help guide them into the professional that you know they are capable of becoming and providing constructive feedback as nurturing as possible; typically this feedback surrounds the quality of paperwork. Counselors unlike their social work counterparts typically hate paperwork. Don’t ask me why.
I started this academic year taking on a clinician at a time when I wondered if my career would be able to continue. Though I told very few people, I thought my days were numbered due to a number of lingering health issues. I feared for my family’s financial status should I pass. I continued to work but as soon as my last client left for the day I ate supper and went to bed. I feared having this bright clinician start for me as I did not know if I had anything left to offer.
We started our work slowly. I offered what guidance that I could and helped her to develop her own unique counseling experience. Wanting her to be well rounded and to fully utilize her experience working with kids, I had her contact local schools, soon she was working with several schools providing services to those in need. As she was unpaid, we never charged for any of her services.
I watched her grow into a real team member. I saw her dedication and was amazed. As I grew healthier she grew stronger in her abilities and kept marching on. I enjoyed the feedback from her clients as I saw the need for less and less feedback on her sessions during supervision. One day I read some of her work and explored the possibility of her joining the ACA blogger team. With encouragement she agreed so long as I agreed to provide input and provide guidance and I willingly agreed. Writing my first recommendation for her, I contacted the ACA and she was accepted.(You do not need to be recommended in order to become a blogger- see the ACA web site for information.)
Nurturing our students is a privilege. Though it can take a great deal of work, a great deal of time and can increase the costs of your business (if, like us, you do not charge for their services) it is a worthy endeavor that pays not only to the student and the supervisor but to the profession and those we serve.
As I begin the process of looking for the next intern, I welcome not a student but a colleague to the ACA bloggers panel. I hope you all take a look out for Nicole Michaud’s work. I know I am.
Warren Corson III (Doc Warren) is a counselor and the clinical & executive director of a community counseling agency in central CT (www.docwarren.org).