My New Intern Part 2

Well I’ve been working with my new intern for a couple of weeks now and I have to admit, although I had a bunch of apprehension about it, I kinda like having her around! 

Unlike some people I haven’t forced her to be my secretary by doing all the paper work like intakes and assessments, or had her make coffee runs for me although the idea sounds good 🙂 I’ve taken on more of a mentorship role, which feels appropriate. 

Things I Do Like So Far

I can assign her female clients I know would benefit from a close, therapeutic relationship with another female.

I also like the idea of assigning her some of the borderline personality type female clients who are difficult to deal with, yet I think would respond more to a female. 

It’s not like I am trying to give her all of the difficult female clients, especially since I have to supervise and guide her anyway, but I know for a fact that some clients respond better to same sex therapists and so I will assign those clients to her and she seems fine with the idea so far. 

I also like having a partner. I mentioned before that most therapists work alone and like it, and so do I, but I never thought I’d enjoy the company of another person basically 7 hours a day. I enjoy being able to bounce ideas off of each other, exchange knowledge, and share experiences.

For instance, I had a treatment plan guide I use, but never purchased the treatment plan homework companion book (honestly because I didn’t want to spend the money for it), but she has it and was able to give me an electronic copy of it! In exchange I was able to share some of my books with her. 

What I Don’t Like So Far

The things I don’t like are actually very few. 

Being in graduate school she is still very “fresh”, meaning almost everything she knows comes from books or what she has been told, and very little from experience.  

When we’ve worked with clients and discussed situations, everything she often says and suggests is very theoretical, but often not actually practical. 

She talks and sounds very academic.

Being still in school, much of the lexicon used in psychology is very fresh to her, which isn’t a bad thing. Often times she says words I haven’t used in awhile and in some cases totally forgot because when working with the general population those words get replaced with words that are clearer. 

This isn’t a complaint as much as it is annoying. I think most people fresh into the field think they know everything because they just took a class in Neuropsychology or something, and I am sure I was pretty much the same way and as annoying, but the truth of the matter is, all of the jargon of psychology and many of the things learned in books gets quickly replaced with more real world language and procedures.  

You can read all you want about psychological disorders like bipolar disorder, self-injury, and depression, but until you have someone in your office bouncing off the walls, with two dozen still bleeding self inflicted cuts and telling you they are going to kill themselves, it’s a whole different ball game.  

Sure textbooks have their place, they can be great guides and they definitely teach you the jargon of psychology. I still go to books to inform me on many things, but there is no education like real life experience, so listening to an intern who thinks she knows what to do with every client because she read about their problem in a text book, is a bit annoying. 

I look forward to helping her as she realizes more and more that textbooks and lectures haven’t 100% prepared her for everything she will face. We’ve already had several instances where she didn’t know what to say or do, and I kinda smiled to myself and was happy to guide her through the situation. 

Overall, I am happy with her and realize that the things that annoy me are things I also did when I was still wet behind the ears and thought I was the brightest new therapist to enter the field because I made an “A” in every class, until I was face to face with a wide eyed, screaming, crying, shaking, scary, paranoid schizophrenic who thought a killer was in the hospital looking for her.

No book can prepare you for situations like sitting across from a tourist from Australia, just released from the hospital although her face is as red as a tomato from the broken blood vessels because she tried to hang herself with her bikini after finding out her husband was having an online affair.

No book prepares you for what to do or say to try to instill hope in that moment, but then again, that’s why internships are so important, to expose people to the real world and prepare them for the unpredictable nature of human behavior. 

**Side Note: I now keep my Dictionary of Psychology Book at the office** 🙂

My New Intern…

After years of dodging the bullet, my luck has finally run out. I am getting an intern.

I never wanted an intern. I like to work alone (most counselors/therapist do). I enjoy coming to work and not being responsible for anyone except myself, yet this week that’s all changing.

I’ve heard from fellow counselors that interns can be great assets if they are good, and major burdens if they aren’t. We are largely responsible for them and it can be like babysitting, so how on Earth did I get stuck with an intern?

Every few months as students approach their last semesters of graduate school, they have to complete approximately 1,000 hours of internship work. Usually when my company starts assigning us interns from the various masters programs, I just pretend to be busy and that has worked in my favor, up until last Monday.

As we sat in a meeting and met the interns I quickly scanned the room. There were six counselors including me, and four interns. I breathed a sigh of relief. Surely I would escape the curse of being assigned an intern once again.

As usual I sat quietly, doodling in my notebook in an attempt to look preoccupied and listened closely as the interns were being assigned.

I tried to rationalize why my superiors would not give me an intern.

  1. I was the only male there and all the interns were female. Surely they wouldn’t assign me a female intern.
  2. My office is quite small, there isn’t enough room for two people to work out of comfortably.
  3. My school is in the inner-city and has a reputation for being rough, most of the other counselors worked out of much nicer schools in much nicer areas.

My chances seemed pretty good and they were.

We were down to one last intern, another counselor and myself. I just knew they would give the intern to the other counselor, after all she has been with the company for over 17 years. If anyone could mentor, teach and guide a new, soon to be counselor it would be her.

And they did! They did give the intern to her, but then she stated she was moving offices and didn’t think she would have room for an intern. I felt gravity pulling my face to the floor. Seriously?

And that’s how I got stuck with an intern.

After they gave me my intern, we had a short meet and greet. I was not excited and my disappointment probably showed in my face and tone as I asked her why did she want to be a therapist, did she know anything about the school she had just been assigned to, a school that has seen it’s fair share of stabbings, shootings and deaths.

Yes I know I was not being as nice as I usually am, but I was annoyed and irritated.

There’s enough things to worry about working with teenagers and the last thing I wanted to be worried about was some naive intern, whose total sum of understanding human behavior and psychology mostly comes from $200 textbooks.

Don’t get me wrong, I love text books, but from experience kids in grad school tend to think they know everything because they got an “A” in a class when in all actually, they have just begun to scratch the surface of understanding human behavior with all it’s complexities.

To my surprise she stated she prefered to work in the inner-city with kids who came from violent and impoverished backgrounds.

Okay, she gets a point for that. Most interns I’ve met come from pretty prestigious programs and believe that all their clients will be upper middle class, college educated, well adjusted individuals with simple neurotic problems that can be cured at the rate of $140 an hour.

To be fair, she seems nice enough. She’s graduating from Virginia Tech so I know she should be smart enough. Only time will tell if she is capable enough to actually work with kids who live in neighborhoods that often resemble war zones.

I definitely want to change my attitude and try not to look at her as a burden. I want to teach, guide and mentor her as someone did me when I was in her shoes five years ago. So, in a way, I look forward to seeing how this plays out. I will keep you posted.