Just a few short weeks ago, my husband and I packed up our house and “family” (dog, cat, and two guinea pigs) and made the long drive from central Nebraska to Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He started his doctoral program in music this month at Louisiana State University; I’m still finishing up my counseling degree through my university in Nebraska.
We’ve moved a few times before, but this is the biggest, furthest, newest move, and I can’t say I’m feeling 100% positive about it right now. More like 75-80% positive. We don’t have any friends or family down here, and meeting people has been tough because I don’t have a job yet and am not affiliated with a Louisiana university like my husband. Everything else is different, too: the food brands in the grocery stores, the highway system (and traffic!), the plants in my backyard, the accents and ways in which people communicate.
One constant I’ve come to count on, however, is my internship. When I realized I’d be completing it in Louisiana instead of Nebraska, I got a little worried. Will I get the supervision I need? Will anyone even take me, since I’m from out of state? This only compounded the normal fears that new interns face. However, I kept working at it and eventually I got what I needed--an internship at a residential facility that will challenge me every day.
Challenge me it does, and I have a feeling there the challenges will grow so that my skills grow right with them. My internship also keeps me grounded right now by giving me someplace to go for a few hours most days of the week and definite tasks to complete. My anxieties melt away when the residents at the facility greet me, and from then on, helping them meet their goals and live better lives becomes my top priority. I didn’t fully understand what my professors meant when they said to “stay in the moment with the client,” but I get it now and it’s powerful. I can focus on the task at hand, which is helping my client, and put everything else aside.
Right now, I am so thankful for this daily reminder of the power of staying in the moment. When I come home from my internship, I usually feel much more centered and able to tackle those daunting tasks like job hunting and homework. I am also learning to put aside the worries and extra “stuff” that creeps in when I’m working on these tasks, too--much like only focusing on my clients instead of listening to all of the worries and self-doubt flitting around in my head.
The challenges associated with the move and the internship will soon start to shift and change, and when I graduate in May, I will realize how far I’ve come as a counselor and as a person. I now look back to my first Techniques of Counseling class two years ago and see the same thing. In the meantime, I’ll stay focused on the present and being the best counselor/wife/job hunter/writer/whatever I can be at that moment. If I keep at it, I’ll be feeling 100% positive about this move in no time at all, and ready to tackle the next challenge that both internship and life can throw at me.
Kristen Eckhardt is a counselor-in-training at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, completing her internship this year in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Read more about her experiences and her takes on counseling issues at www.feetintwoworlds.wordpress.com.