thepathNY

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Should you stay or should you go?

April brings showers, visions of spring, and the beginning of the end of your field year experience. What are the benefits to staying or saying good bye? Here are some things to consider as you begin the process of winding down your field experience.

“Should I stay or should I go…” ~ The Clash

Termination
Go: While it may seem counterintuitive to begin with the end in mind, this is precisely what fieldwork students should be thinking. A large part of the learning process during the internship experience is learning how to terminate with your clients. Clients will (and should) move on. Knowing how to say goodbye and prepare them for either your departure is just as important as the very first session.

Stay: Even if you decide to stay, termination is one of those phases of treatment that is inevitable and unavoidable. Stay tuned for tips on how to terminate with clients.

New Faces, New Spaces
Go: Experience a different environment, coworkers, supervisors, client population. Building and growing your skill set is an important part of your career. You can use the end of your internship to explore a different side of yourself while practicing and enhancing your skills as a counselor.

Stay: If you decide to stay, be sure to make clear your new role as a professional. Perhaps there are new responsibilities you can add or change so that you are not continuing in the same role that you were in as an intern.

Taking Time Off
Go: If you’re graduating and completing internship concurrently, it might be a good time to take a much needed break. Processing doesn’t stop just because there’s no professor after you for that reflection journal. Taking a break allows you to process your whole experience and the experience of being a graduate. Journal, dream, meet and greet other professionals. You can still be productive in your career outside of the office.

Stay: If you decide to stay, be sure that you’re building in self-care and discuss new work schedule options with your agency.

“If I go there will be trouble…”

Staying On

They love you and they want you to stay. Congratulations! Use the “Stay” strategies above to really define yourself as a professional counselor in your new role. Seek opportunities to grow within your position. You’re in a prime position to help new interns acclimate to the fieldwork experience. Utilize your skills, share what you know, and please do not forget to schedule your first vacation!

“If I stay there will be double…”

Saying Goodbye

Remember to always give a clear ending date and remind your supervisors and colleagues at least two weeks before you end. Treat it like a job, put in your notice and make time to wrap up loose ends before you depart. Maintain the partnership once the internship comes to an end. Connect on your social media and professional networks. YOu can stay up to date with them and they with you. As you job hunt, they may even endorse some of your skills. It never hurts.

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ACA gets sexy…

I am thrilled to hear that the American Counseling Association has just created the Sexual Wellness Interest Group.  

As described by the facilitator of this group in a recent interview: “

The intention of this interest network is to focus on sexual wellness for all clients, rather than focusing on the needs of sexual minorities or the overall wellness of clients. While both of these areas are extremely important with regards to advocacy, it is important that a greater emphasis on healthy sexual development and expression takes place for all people. 

 

 

This interest network will provide an opportunity to explore diversity within sexual expression, provide resources for counseling professionals to use in various settings with a variety of clients and share experiences that will benefit each other as we work to incorporate sexuality into the counseling process as a part of clients’ overall human experience.”

As a counselor working within a private practice that has a vested interest in just this type of work, it’s exciting to know that now there will be many more points of connection around sexuality and our practice.  Kudos! 

 

Read it all here


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The Power of Social Media

I will be the first to say that I do not quite get social media. I typically un-tag myself in Facebook photos. I’ve been known to make mistakes when using the past tense of tweet that would make one blush. For a long time, I thought LinkedIn referred to a concept as opposed to an actual website and online community. Over time and with a lot of help from some amazing and patient people, I’ve been able to get a handle on how to use use social media to both delight and connect with others. But, nothing that I had engaged in thus far prepared me for what I was going to encounter at SMARMIE.

Funny acronym right? When I first heard of it, my imagination ran wild with all the things each letter could stand for. What I did not expect was that this conference of a peculiar name would be so singularly powerful and educational that it could very well change the way that I view social media and its powers forever. Now, I realize this this sounds very dramatic but it wasn’t until the presentation by the keynote speaker (blew my mind) that it really hit me.

Social media is crucial in the development of a global community of volunteers and it directly contributes to and enhances our ability to respond to those in crisis.

For counselors and counseling students, it is so important for us to be aware of the ways in which we can be involved in the creation and maintenance of this burgeoning movement. Humanitarianism is going digital and if you are a counselor YOU are engaged in humanitarian work.

Below are a few things I took away from the conference. I invite and urge you to check these sites out. Sign up for updates. Be involved. Get connected.

iRevolution – This blog features short thought pieces on how innovation and technology are revolutionizing the power of the individual through radical self-sufficiency, self-determination, independence, survival and resilience. While you’re at it, follow the incredible Patrick Meier.

Standby Task Force – Tired of feeling like you could be doing more when crisis hits? STF organizes digital volunteers into a flexible, trained and prepared network ready to deploy in crises.

Crisis Mappers – The largest and most active international community of experts, practitioners, policymakers, technologists, researchers, journalists, scholars, hackers and skilled volunteers engaged at the intersection between humanitarian crises, technology, crowd-sourcing, and crisis mapping.

iDisaster – The amazing Kim Stephens heads up this blog that seeks to provide exemplary practices, news and information about applications of new media, with the longer-term objective of improving practice and outcomes in emergency management.

Geofeedia – Identify “hot spots” by quickly performing situational awareness on impacted communities, prioritize resource allocation and logistical efforts using real-time intelligence from Geofeedia, and communicate with impacted populations using social media.

I’d also highly recommend keeping your eye on what’s coming out of Dr. Mark Dredze’s team at JSU. Social media for public health: very much here and now.


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Work the Cube: multidimensional cultural competency

I am looking at you,
You at him,
Kabir asks, how to solve
This puzzle —
You, he and I?

Kabir
(Philosopher, 1440-1518)


 

I’m trying to write a post about my multicultural experience during my internship and I’m finding that I don’t know where to begin.  This is not surprising.  I think it’s fairly common “not to know where to begin” when dealing with these issues of culture, the -isms, and clients.

I walked into the agency armed with my Multiculturalism in Counseling Resources and an abstract understanding of what might take place in the room.  I also walked in feeling worried that I might say something silly, or worse yet, insulting.  I’d had many classes that provoked thought, required self-reflective journaling and processing, demanded experiential activities, and imbued the theories of identify formation and multicultural counseling competencies – but putting it all together in a new environment with real clients was something entirely more challenging.

The key thing I made myself remember during my internship was that it’s a learning experience.  As a mental health counseling intern, I was there to grow, to contribute, to practice the skills and begin to make the transition from theory to practice.  Becoming a culturally competent counselor follows a similar path.

A few weeks into the internship, I returned to the Cube (see below).   I’d had an array of clients at that point – many with cultural norms, religious beliefs, and race, class, and educational experiences that differed from my own.  The Cube served the same purposes then as it does for me now.

The Cube reminds me of the interlocking components that lead to the development of cultural competence.  Using the Cube, I can determine which component (skills, awareness, knowledge) I need to focus on, for which group, and at what level.  Working the Cube reminds me that acquiring cultural competency is an ongoing and proactive process.

So, while honing your interviewing skills, learning the fine art of identifying discrepancies and mastering interventions, take some time to Work the Cube and flex that cultural competency muscle.  As counseling goes global and our society continues to evolve (Counseling Today, Aug 2012) we need to be equipped to deal with with clients and colleagues from all walks of life.

A multidimensional model of developing cultural competence (Sue, 2001)

An edited version of this blog appears on CounselingInternships.com


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*New* Resources Page!

I’ve been excited to publish this Internship Series featuring resources to help you find, track time, and make the most of your experiences. There’s more to come!

If you missed resources mentioned in the last few posts, check out the new resources page. Not only will you find internship resources there but you will also have access to resources on other topics and links to noteworthy sites. Check back often for new content.

If you have ideas or links that you think might be helpful, please contact me! I look forward to hearing from you!


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So, you want to be an intern?

Entering the second year of your counseling program is a thrilling time.  You’ve gotten through the first year (congratulations!) and now, it’s time to think about working towards the internship/ fieldwork hours for graduation.  The task can seem daunting, but we have all been there and it is doable.

Outside of recommending an early start, I’ve put together a quick list of six steps you can take to guide your search.  

Access them here: Tips_Obtaining an Internship

Good luck!

Stay tuned for more tips and ideas about the internship experience.


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“Who are you?”

As a neophyte counselor there are still a slew of issues and topics that I’m getting used to.  I was lucky enough to continue my work with ex-offenders during which I’ve grown more comfortable dealing with issues of probation, prison experiences, blush-worthy sex topics, and a gamut of experiences that pull on the full range of emotions.  Still,  it’s the personal questions directed towards me that make me freeze up.

“Do you want kids?”

“Why aren’t you married?”

“Do you believe in God?”

While I have answers and explanations for each of those questions that I would normally be happy to spout over a drink at the bar, in the counseling chair I feel just like…

deer in headlights

While there are a number of reasons they might be asking those questions, I realize that sometimes it’s just a humanizing method.  These questions are just leading to the bigger question clients might have: “Who are you?”

Who Are You – Alice in Wonderland

How much of who I am is important in session and I still struggle with determining when it might be appropriate to answer any questions the client might have; disclosure isn’t always cut and dry.

I try to determine whether disclosure would have any therapeutic usefulness.  Does it matter if I pray to one God, pray to several gods, don’t pray at all?   What value does the answer have and if it does have value, what is the best way to express it and where do we go from there?   Is it unreasonable that some would want to know more?  To feel less like they’re coming in for therapy and more like they’re meeting with someone they know?  It’s tricky ground this therapeutic relationship stuff and the rules around disclosure do not seem to be “one size fits all.”

I tend to err on the side of caution, not giving too much, volunteering virtually nothing, and when I do answer, it may be the bare minimum.  Would it be so bad to share a real answer to any of their questions?  The answer for me is, “yes, sometimes.”   The balance of private and professional feels precarious at times, disingenuous at others.  I’ve seen the damage that it can do to have a hard-fast rule that removes the person from the experience.  The “It’s Not About Me, It’s About You,” approach.  I’ve also seen what happens to counselors that cannot seem to hold their tongue – their usefulness quickly comes into question.  From personal experience, I’ve enjoyed the bond that can take place when a therapist discloses; I know that it is a decision they made to do so and that when made correctly it can add something invaluable to the therapeutic experience.  Maintaining boundaries is important to me and in the profession.  Disclosure is part of that, but learning how to navigate the nuances is still a work in progress.

How to others navigate self-disclosures?

“Damn, and just when I was starting to get it.”  ~Edgar Degas

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