The beginning of the internship was a lot of behind the scenes for working in the human services field. I got to learn about auditing, billing, and seeing the business side of things. I created a newsletter for the organization for all employees to see based around getting to know the staff. I also had the opportunity to attend career fairs and mental health fairs to experience the widespread community we have growing in Iowa to better our needs. The best part of the experience and what I did often was shadow counselors and their clients. The Habilitation services is for adults 18-100 where they work with clients to reach certain goals such as budgeting, finding new housing, assisting them with groceries, taking them to appointments, etc. There is also Behavioral Health Intervention Services (BHIS) which works with kids 4-18 on working with their families and them individually to better manage their behaviors. Every client has some sort of struggle with a chronic mental illness, and as a counselor, it is their job to do what they can to improve their circumstances.
My greatest accomplishment at Stepping Stone Family Services has been that the position started as an internship and will be ending as a career! A little over halfway through the internship, I had the opportunity to get my own caseload of clients who I work with alone now. Currently, I am seeing 12 different clients during the week, sometimes multiple times, and help them with community goals like getting essential needs from the food pantries, working on exercise and healthier eating plans, discuss their mental health and coping skills, and try and relieve some of what they struggle with mentally, and overall build rapport and a positive, professional relationship with each of them. COVID-19 has been trying for everyone, so I am doing Telehealth services with them where we talk on the phone and/or video chat for our sessions. It will be exciting to get back to face-to-face services, though.
What advice would you give?
My biggest piece of advice is to try everything, even if you think you might not like it because more than likely you will, and dislike what you thought you would love. This field is meant to always grow into and never just have the right answer instantly. There will be mess ups and there will be complications, but every single person will experience that one way or another. Just keep an open mind and be willing to accept not everything is what you thought; learning is the best form of improvement.