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Behind the Scenes: Interning at the Prevention Center

April 30, 2016

A mother walks in the door. She is tired, stressed, and trying to care for three kids. She does not remember having a loving mother herself. Her father worked all the time. He was not there to shield his daughter from her mother’s blows. Now this daughter is trying to be the loving mother she never had. It is not easy. She needs help.

I am an intern at the San Francisco Child Abuse Prevention Center. This mother is one of my clients. Parents who walk through our door tell this type of story again and again. They are having a tough time and they want to be good parents. My job is to help support them in this goal.

As an intern I provide talk, art, and play therapy to both kids and adults. Some parents have been through abuse, many have been through separation, some have other challenges such as a history with addiction, financial strain, or experience with domestic violence. All are trying to better their lives. I strive to help them by providing support through weekly face-to-face psychotherapy sessions or by telephone through our 24-hour parental stress hotline.

Here at the Prevention Center we offer myriad supports such as drop-in counseling, parent support groups, parenting classes, family dinner night, a children’s playroom, and concrete needs such as food bags and toiletries. As an intern I participate in supporting all of these services.

Every day I come to work I know I am in good hands. I have been an intern in many other places, working with both adults and kids. Many times I have felt like an “outsider” — as if the staff and clinicians were working together and the interns were on the sideline. That’s not the case here at Prevention Center. I have multiple people supporting me and supervising my work.

Each week I am given training directly related to the work I am doing. This training includes how to navigate the entire therapy process and covers the latest therapeutic techniques. All training relates to working with both children and adults. I am allowed to ask questions and encouraged to ask for help. I am invited to staff meetings and gatherings so I know what is going on throughout the rest of the organization. Because I am so well supported, I can feel secure to support families.

It is hard to choose an internship site. There are many things one must look for. I was looking for a place that could provide exceptional training, competent supervision, and comprehensive experience all while allowing me to accrue valuable hours. I also really wanted a place where I would feel part of a team. I was lucky to find all of that and more here at the Prevention Center. When I leave here each day I know I have spent the day doing something meaningful for others and I know I have spent the day doing something meaningful for myself.

Find out how you can be a clinical intern too, here.

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