There are so many memorable experiences that I have had at Oesterlen, but I would say that the most memorable experience occurred while I was in the residential unit with Dr. Cynthia Richards. She had just finished a session with one of the residents, so we were engaging in some casual conversation. While we were talking about some of the kids on the unit she said, "These children are our sacrificial lambs." Shocked by this statement, I asked her to explain what she meant by this, and she said these children [referring to the children living on the residential unit] are a product of bad decisions made by other people in their life that has had a negative impact on them. Her words have reaffirmed my desire to be a counselor who works with youth.
If someone came to me and told me that they were interested in working at my internship site, I would tell them to try to take advantage of everything Oesterlen has to offer. I have found that the people at Oesterlen are more than willing to help someone gain some good experience, but you just have to be actively seeking out those opportunities.
I am currently taking Mental Health Practice, which is a 300-level class taught by Dr. Stephanie Little. One of the many things that I have learned from her course is how to conduct a clinical interview. When conducting a clinical interview, a therapist should be working to develop positive working relationships with the client, practicing self-awareness and learning how to quiet themselves. What's cool about my internship is that I get to see all these skills being implemented in actual therapeutic sessions, which makes my learning all the more richer in the classroom.
For example, I know one therapist who spends time teaching his clients how to play chess during their sessions because he feels that it helps teach his clients’ critical thinking skills and builds patience. By just playing a game like chess the therapist is also working to develop a positive rapport between him and his clients along with using a nondirective therapeutic style. This is not a paid internship, but it most definitely could lead to a possible job opportunity in the future.