“A teacher cannot take a student where they themselves have not already been” -Shauna Paynter
Over my many years of teaching I came to the deep understanding that I can only know my material well if I teach it to others. The other saying I like is, “If you cannot teach your idea or concept to an eight year old then you do not fully understand it yourself”. As the next step in my professional career I have decided to take on Student Interns in order to really learn how to be a therapist and share my knowledge as best I can with the new generation of Registered Clinical Counsellors.
The late Dr. Natalie Rogers was my final professor, and I feel that her (and her father’s) legacy of humanistic psychology and methodology is to be shared and passed on.
Since September, we have taken on two students here at Safe & Sound and more will be coming on board to work within the safety of our interdisciplinary clinic.
Students have the advantage of working with a well trained, experienced therapist where direct observation and weekly group supervision augment their experiential learning process. The experience of working within a private practice is invaluable. It is very different than working within an agency in many ways.
As a student, you will have various demands on your time. You might be working and going to school and have a spouse or family to care for. When you choose to do your practicum within a private practice your ability to choose your hours and change them is flexible. If you are a morning person, you can take clients on early in the day or visa versa if you are more of a night owl. Weekends are an option too. This is the beauty of working within private practice. Set your own schedule and have it suit your personal and family time needs.
One-on-One Direction and Support
Your supervisor is available to you each and every day. If you have a difficult session or need to debrief after a session your supervisor will be available to properly support you in a way that works for you. Within private practice it is easy to become an “island” and this is not healthy, especially because we are supporting others in their mental health, we need to be sure ours is in check. By working within Safe & Sound you will be encouraged to reach out to your supervisor and colleagues when you need support, and also to connect in order to discuss what you are learning. We learn on many levels and in different ways. Private practice gives you more opportunities to find new ways that work for you. Within this learning environment you are encouraged to stay on your learning edge all the while being fully supported by your supervisor. In private practice, your supervisor will most likely be a business owner, so there is always learning going on in that domain as well and you will witness this as your practicum progresses.
Feeling Connected to the Group
Engaging in group supervision is a very different dynamic than one-on-one supervision. There is a place for one-on-one supervision but doing this in groups really adds to the experiential learning as a therapist. We learn from one another. Group process of Form, Storm, Norm, Perform does happen within our supervision group. This alone is embodied learning.
If you have read any of Dr. Dan Siegel’s work on interpersonal neurobiology you will discover that we all do better when we feel connected to something greater than ourselves. When I taught high school science I worked very autonomously. Yes there were 112 students going through my classroom each day but I was essentially alone (thank goodness for my CEAs!). Here in private practice I have not wanted to feel that ever again so this is why I have created this learning opportunity for Interns who are completing their Masters of Counselling or Social Work. There are times during your practicum where you will feel alone, or nervous or even afraid. This is normal. But with the knowing that you can reach out and have support either with your supervisor or connect with a fellow student makes a big difference. For me, I had trouble reaching out for help because I felt like I should know this. After years of doing this I realize the more I learn the less I know. A beginner’s mind is best when it comes to our professional careers. As a supervisor, I do not know it all and will never know it all. I continue to learn too.
More Demanding in Certain Ways
Being an Intern within a private practice might be considered more demanding. What I mean by this is you will feel more self directed at times. This is part of the learning within the business world. Entrepreneurialship is a skill and private practice is an entrepreneurial endeavour. You may be asked by your supervisor to do some of the duties that belong to a business owner. Don’t be surprised by this. For example, put together furniture if you are created a new consultation room. Secondly, wash the dishes in the staff room at the end of the day or create a spreadsheet of upcoming clients and their email address for admin purposes. Thirdly, book clients into your schedule and use specific software that you had to figure out. This is sometimes difficult but it will benefit you in the end.
As a supervisor, I consider part of my role as “student”. I am a student of each Intern. Meaning, I learn from them and discover what it is that I can do, that will help them become the best therapist they can. We are here to learn from one another.
If you are a student of Psychology or Social Work and would like to join Safe & Sound as an Intern, contact Shauna Paynter today via email:
If you are already client within Safe & Sound thank you in advance for allowing the space for these students to engage in direct observation learning. The direct observational learning is very important for new therapists and we appreciate your trust in this process. All Interns are bound by the same confidentiality and ethical code as a regular therapist, psychologist or medical doctor.