I just finished my year long practicum (pre/part-time internship) at a local prison. I spent a year conducting therapy and administering personality and intelligence assessment to offenders in a unit specifically for those with a psychiatric diagnosis. This was my first of 2 practicum experiences before embarking on the adventure of internship.
Nervous. Scared. Worthless. Inadequate. Timid. These are mearly a sampling of the vast emotions that I was overloaded with upon my first entrance through those double walled and barbwired gates that lead into a completely different world. There are no textbooks or lectures that can prepare you for that first time you sit with a client in pain. Its just there, in the space between you, waiting to be experienced.
As many first time therapists do, I spent a lot of time thinking about what I should be saying or what orientation would best benefit this client....or "oh god, am I even using an orientation?" I fumbled. I faltered. I tried way to hard and thought about it all way too much. Then, I learned to just do what I am best at. I listened and I cared. I allowed for silence to do it's work. I expressed honest empathy. I sat with men who rarely get viewed as humans and treated them with respect.
I am not going to say I didn't make mistakes because I definitely did. I am not a world class therapist or even worthy of a degree yet. But, I experienced. I learned. And I grew. I made a very slight difference in a few people's lives. That is a beginning and it is enough, all at the same time.
Worthy. Strong. Accomplished. Hopeful. Valuable. I left those same gates with a different outlook. I went in scared and unsure. I left strong and aware of my effect on others. I am so excited to start my career in this field. I feel like I fit there, like I will not only be effective but also that I will benefit from the little changes that I will be able to witness in others. The joy is in the details of the experience. I am so proud to be a part of it.