ACA Blog

Susan Jennifer Polese
Jan 10, 2012

Sage Advice from the Frontlines

In the latest issue of Counseling Today there is a great article exploring counselors in transition by Lynne Shallcross, a senior writer at the publication. This cover article is a tour de force focusing on interviews with various counselors in certain phases and experiencing different transitions in their careers. As I read and thoroughly enjoyed the piece I pondered my own impending transition: that one being from the classroom to an internship in the fall - which will be the start of my final year of graduate school. Hmm, it gives me the willies just thinking about it.

I can sense similar anxiety from my fellow students on the cusp of taking a giant step into the active field of counseling. As the existentialists say anxiety can be a motivator, but it can also leave you shaking in your boots. Moving forward I feel, as always, that information is power - but where to look for sage wisdom? Our professors, of course, are a source of support and our families will always be our cheerleaders. But where else can we find encouraging words?
Just this week I applied for one of my first choices in internships – time will tell if that is where I end up doing my “basic training.” Consumed with this reality and having read the wonderful piece in Counseling Today, I’ve chosen to speak with a very good friend of mine, Laura Davi, who graduated from Western Connecticut State University’s graduate program in clinical mental health counseling and is now employed in the field working with children and families as a Masters level clinician.

I asked Laura what advice she would give to counseling graduate students who will be interning. She didn’t hesitate - she rarely does – and was forthcoming with some sage tidbits from the frontlines of mental health care. Here ‘tis: Seek out your own therapy because you will have to deal with a lot in your internship and it’s important to continually work out your own issues. –At your internship you may feel that you don’t know what you are doing. Be comfortable with this and don’t judge yourself. – Seek out additional mentors in addition to your supervisors. They will bring new perspectives to what is going on. – If it turns out that the internship is not the right fit for you and you don’t feel supported but merely criticized talk to your advisor as adjustments can be made. You should feel challenged, but basically supported as well.

All good points and food for thought - Thank you, Laura.

It seems that in all phases of becoming and practicing as a counselor, communicating with our peers and especially tapping into the knowledge of those who are a few steps ahead of us on the journey is valuable. Being open, flexible and working towards maintaining our own mental health is essential.

Susan Jennifer Polese is a counselor in training, a personal coach and a freelance writer. Her areas of interest are mindfulness, divergent thinking, and creativity in counseling.

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