Jul
14

Internship: One year in reflection

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As I write this, I am looking forward to my first real job as a psychologist and looking back at a year that has gone by much too fast.

 

This time last year, I was just beginning my internship, and now my only thought is - Wow how did I get here? If I could simplify one year’s worth of experiences, clients, and trials into once sentence it would be this:

 

Everyone makes mistakes…..

 

My internship started by packing up and moving 1000 miles east to York, Pennsylvania. I spent most of my time seeing outpatient mental health clients for traditional therapy. I supplemented this time with chronic pain evaluations and primary care visits along with many meetings, supervisions, and didactic responsibilities. This fit really well with my CBT mind frame and my extensive background in the primary care concentration. I was very excited to begin my internship. What I realized when I came here was that I would accumulate more therapy hours in a few months than in most of my practicums. What I didn't realize was just how hard being a full-time psychologist might be. I felt a lot of pressure when I began. We discussed motivational interviewing, cognitive behavioral therapy, and case conceptualizations, all in the first week. I knew this information, backwards and forwards, but in the heart of therapy, it didn’t always go so well. Furthermore, role plays and weekly supervision had me quickly evaluating myself. My own thoughts jumped to comparisons to the other interns, my friends, colleagues, and even my supervisors. At times I really doubted myself (Impostor syndrome anyone?).

 

It wasn't until my fourth month that I had a revelation. I had spent so much time trying to do the techniques the right way, have the right answer, or say the perfect thing, that I really stopped being myself in the therapy office. As I expressed this to my supervisor she said something that seemed bizarre at the moment. "We picked you because of who you are. We can teach you the rest.” The idea that I am still learning and that is okay finally set in. It wasn't too long after that my own work began to improve, and wouldn't you know it, even the interventions became easier. Internship is not about being perfect. It is about learning and improving and the quicker you accept that you will make mistakes, the quicker you will be able to learn from them and become a better therapist.

 

Internship is now over and I am off to Toppenish, WA to begin my Post-Doc. I will be working in a medical clinic for farm workers and I am sure that this new setting will give me plenty of opportunities to make mistakes and I can’t wait!