I almost gave up last week. It wasn’t the greatest week of internship--or just life in general. I’m worried about not finishing my required direct contact hours by May, I missed a class assignment, I don’t have many counseling professional connections here in Louisiana, I haven’t seen my husband much, and I still don’t have a job.
The residents at my site were also starting to bug me a little. Obviously, I still care about them on a human level and respect how far they’ve come, but sheesh! Without going into detail, the behaviors of a few can be really off-putting and were making me pretty defensive when working with them, meaning I wasn’t being a very effective counselor. I couldn’t figure out exactly what was bugging me, though.
So in short, packing up my car and driving to my parent’s house in Pennsylvania for a little vacation looked pretty tempting. So did leaving my program for a regular 8 to 5 office job and doing whatever I want in the evening.
Then a few things happened this week that kept me grounded. On Sunday night, my husband and I hosted some of his colleagues for a home-cooked supper, a great reminder that we are starting to build a support system here. During my Monday evening supervision, some of my classmates revealed that they too worry about completing their hours. Most have difficult clients. My supervisor made sure to call me this week and check in, and when I brought up my frustrations, his exact words were: “You’re too good of a counselor to give up now. Hang in there.”
And then yesterday, the professor I respect most emailed me with the kindest kick in the pants I’ve ever received. Her words stung a bit, but were desperately needed. In short, what exactly am I doing to help myself? Have I been assertive enough in outlining my needs? Am I being patient? After all, it took me four years to build the network I left in Nebraska.
As usual, she was right. The pity party shut down immediately. Plans were made, emails sent, meetings arranged. As much as I believe that we’re in charge of much of our own success, I wasn’t doing a great job living that. I also realized what was bugging me about my clients--a few just expect things to happen, without putting in the work needed. I was doing the same exact thing. Oops.
Today is already a better day. We’ve been here a month and you know what? My husband and I have done a pretty good job of establishing ourselves already. We have some friends, we’re doing well in school, and we’re starting to make some professional contacts. If I keep at it, the internship worries will be resolved and will be a distant memory when I get my diploma in May.
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.