Happy summer pios! Hope you had a wonderful Independence Day. The third installment of our True Stories series highlights Alex, a master’s student who’s internship experience resulted in a job offer!
Employers: A.B. Counseling: A counseling center that offers personalized treatment plans for offenders, allowing them to reach an optimal quality of life.
Mental Health Center of Denver: A private recovery center that assists individuals recovering from mental illness. Alex was specifically involved with the Denver First program offered through the Mental Health Center.
What She Did
A.B. Counseling: I led individual and group therapy sessions with different types of offenders, including domestic violence offenders and sex offenders. I also conducted intakes there. I enjoy working with offenders and helping people, especially in individual therapy. The work is never the same because everyone I work with is different and has their own story.
Mental Health Center of Denver/Denver First: I, along with four other students in my program, conducted assessments at jails with “frequent flyer” offenders, meaning they continue to end up in jail over and over again. Our job was to conduct a few different assessments to identify the strengths and challenges that will help and/or hinder the inmates from being successful in the community. After meeting with an individual, we wrote a report recommending intensive case management, housing and/or substance abuse/mental health treatment in the community through MHCD. I really enjoyed going to the jail to conduct these assessments, and the work was really meaningful and valuable.
How her summer internships helped her career
A.B. Counseling provided me with my first experience doing clinical work . I gained a lot of valuable experience, including how to run group therapy, come up with treatment plans, conduct initial intake sessions, etc. It was extremely relevant to what we had learned in class, and it was a place for me to apply what I had been learning in a clinical setting. This internship also resulted in a job opportunity, as I have officially been hired on as a therapist at the agency. My main focus will be working with sex offenders; however, I will also likely continue working with domestic violence offenders.
The Denver First project was also extremely valuable. I had the opportunity to use many assessment tools that are relevant in forensics, such as the LS/RNR and START. In fact, I ended up taking a class last quarter focused on the LS/RNR and START. After the internship I felt like I had a better understanding of class material, because I had real world experiences I could relate it to.
Advice she’d give to DU grad students
I think taking advantage of the opportunities you are presented with is the most important thing. I applied to A.B. Counseling as my second year internship. They asked me to start in the summer, and I gladly obliged. I wanted to get a head start and try and get the most out of my experience. As for working with Denver First, I heard Dr. Neil Gowensmith mention the possibility of some work opportunities for students, and I sent him an email saying I was interested. Luckily, I was selected, but I’m really glad I reached out to him when I heard about the opportunity. I would also advise others to set boundaries, in regard to personal time and self-care. Although I worked at A.B. Counseling and did the jail assessments over the summer, I maintained a fairly set schedule and didn’t overload my work schedule. I made time for me, as well as time for other people important to me. Psychology in general, but specifically forensics, is a field where burnout rates are high and self-care is extremely important. To this day, I find setting boundaries at work and saying “no” when I have too much on my plate to be very beneficial for me.