My STEP Project consisted of working as an unpaid clinical intern for Doc Wayne Youth Services. As a social work major, Doc Wayne was the perfect internship for my summer 2016. I was able to help run hour-long therapeutic sports groups for a variety of young kids and teenagers in the Boston area. This experience allowed me to have both direct and indirect experience in my future field of social work and helped me better understand the direction of my career. Truly every experience I had during my internship fell in line perfectly with the organization’s motto: do the good.
As I mentioned, I am a social work major so getting any experience in the field is extremely important and helpful as I continue my education and my career. I have always imagined myself working with children, especially in the field of social work, however I was not really sure of a specific population or setting. Through my time with Doc Wayne I was able to work with many children who have diagnosed mental illnesses or disorders and many who are also low socioeconomic status. More specifically, one of the groups I was able to help run was at a local residential home for teenage boys and girls. I never imagined myself professionally working in a residential home, but after my internship this summer, I no longer am so certain that I may not work in a residential facility eventually. I have such a grown respect and understanding for the complicated systems that are in place in residential homes in addition to changes that I believe may need to be made in these systems
Previous classes I have taken both within and outside of my major mainly have focused on traditional talk therapy. This makes sense since this is the typical approach that has been taken for hundreds of years and has continued to be used and adapted to modern day society. However, through my internship I am better able to understand and see the value in other nontraditional forms of conducting therapy and conducting groups in a therapeutic way. I always saw myself as more of the traditional “talk therapy” type of social worker, however I now really enjoy practicing social work in a nontraditional way. As many of our participants have in one way or another had to grow up too quickly, Doc Wayne provides a space where the game changers can still be kids, have fun with new and familiar friends, and also participate in a therapeutic group in a unique way.
As mentioned, one of the main aspects of my internship this summer was actually conducting the weekly sports therapy groups for a variety of children. However, another part of my internship was helping conduct and observing client intakes. Conducting intakes is a large part of the social work profession because no matter where you are working, you need to know the very basic information about your client, why they are seeking services, and be able to create an individualized treatment plan.
This was no different for my internship as we needed to conduct intakes with the parents or guardians of every game changer who participated in our programs. Conducting these intakes is usually only done by a licensed professional or at the very least someone who is in a graduate program to receive their master’s degree. Through supervision, I was allowed to conduct both over the phone intakes and in person intakes with some of our participants. Most undergraduate social work students are not able to have those experiences, and may not even conduct an intake in their undergraduate career. When I first accepted the internship position I was thrilled just to simply observe intakes conducted by another staff member. However, being able to actually conduct intakes was one of the most informative experiences as it helped me improve some of my professional skills, and also helped me boost my own confidence in my capabilities both in traditional and nontraditional forms of therapy.
Another required aspect of my internship was a weekly supervision meeting with my direct supervisor. Through these meetings we were able to discuss and reflect upon the groups that we had recently run, evaluate and provide updates on our game changers (participants), and also discuss some of my supervisor’s prior experience working in a residential home herself. Most of the information we discussed during supervision and the experiences I had during the sports groups is confidential as to protect the privacy of our game changers and their families. Nevertheless, I was able to build some strong relationships with many of our game changers and even see them grow and progress in the short few months that I was working with them. Something as simple as an hour long therapeutic sports group can do so much good for these kids. Seeing how excited they were to come to group each week kept me motivated to continue on with my internship and also inspired me to try working in a variety of environments in the social work field.
Often times, social workers must work in an interdisciplinary team with a variety of other licensed professionals in order to best benefit the clients they are representing. In fact, part of my curriculum this year is a field placement in a local Junior High and I am working and shadowing school counselors whose responsibilities are similar, yet different to those of a school social worker. In the instance of my internship, the members of the organization had a variety of past experiences both academically and professionally. Being able to work in an interdisciplinary team with people of different professional backgrounds helped me learn about not only my own profession but also others. Additionally, as odd as it may sound, being able to see everyone come together, collaborate, and work together for the betterment of our game changers, was really powerful. Lastly, I was able to gain more self-confidence in my professional abilities in addition to being able to better think of my feet as a variety of challenges were thrown my way. Simply acting as a person the participants can confide in can make the world of difference for our game changers and also made a world of difference for how I view my future career.