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What I learned during my counseling internship

This May I started my internship as part of my training to become a psychotherapist. Living in a big city during the Covid pandemic meant that everything was being done remotely. This meant that instead of working together in a clinic setting and getting a sense of what it is like to work in a busy clinic I had the challenges of miscommunication and forgotten information which resulted from having to quickly transition the way everything was done.

Saying bye to clients is hard. This was the hardest part of my internship. At the end of my internship I had to transfer my clients on to a new therapist. I was able to develop excellent rapport with all my clients and enjoyed our weekly sessions. Saying goodbye to all of them, especially knowing they were not done receiving therapy, was very difficult. My job felt incomplete, but it was time to transition to something new.

Clients need to know there are different possibilities. In my training we were encouraged to work collaboratively with clients to help them figure out how they want to approach their concerns. While asking these questions help shed light on the priorities and values of the client, I found it often revealed that they needed education on how to develop skills to challenge negative thoughts and emotions. Teaching skills to clients helps them address their issues and is an important part of the therapeutic process.

Clients care what I think. They want to know my opinion on how to handle a problem or they are concerned about what I think about them. I often heard the phrase, "I don't want you to think less of me, but..." This phrase is often used when someone shares something they are uncomfortable talking about, but its usually something I've heard before. While clients may feel like they are alone in their experience there are at least parts of their experiences are common to a lot of clients.

Online group therapy is hard. My supervisor has for years been running weekly sessions of interpersonal group therapy. This is a type of group therapy that is a long term form of therapy where clients gather and work through interactions with other people. Technical issues with zoom, along with limited use of web cams, and other technical challenges led to additional communication problems that wouldn't be present when meeting face to face. However, group members agreed, "It's better than nothing." When you need support you have to start somewhere in order to take the steps you need to get the changes you want.

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