|ECU Graduation - 2009|
I reluctantly took an internship in my hometown. It was bad enough that I was in school in the next town over but to be working in my hometown was not exactly in the set of plans I had for future. When I graduated from high school I told my moma I was never coming back (to stay, but I would visit...LOL).
Since I didn't have a plan in place after undergrad, it was my fault I ended up right back where I started...but I made it okay with myself because I was in school. BUT to take an internship there that would potentially turn into a job was something completely different!
I did my internship as a Clinical Intern. It was a great internship because I was getting paid! Being a college student is not all it's cracked up to be in the finance area, so having a steady paycheck was nice. The internship did turn into job offer after graduation and I was promoted to the Substance Abuse Program Director. I also received my certification as a Rehabilitation Counselor (or CRC = Certified Rehabilitation Counselor) at graduation.
Being in charge of a substance abuse program at an agency that quickly expanded from a small provider into one of the largest providers in the area was one thing. I was a part of growing that program into what it became and that attributes to some of the accomplishment I feel. The staff I supervised was a great group because we were small in numbers but we handled a large caseload very well. Being in charge of a substance abuse program in my hometown was another thing. There were many people sitting in front of me that I knew...it was awkward at times, but as a counselor you must be professional regardless of who's sitting in that chair (unless it's family, then you must refer them to someone else).
Besides running this program administratively (which included things like billing, chart audits, supervisory duties for staff, leadership meetings, committee roles & meetings, etc.), I provided services as a counselor. At this time I was provisionally licensed as a clinical addictions specialist (or LCAS-P = licensed clinical addictions specialist - provisional) so I had to have contact hours with consumers to get my license. I was being pushed to get my license but I didn't really want it right then, so I decided to wait on it. I did comprehensive clinical assessments, individual counseling sessions, group sessions, case management, treatment planning, and referrals just to name a few things. If you're keeping up with me (and have read this, this, and this) then you know, out of all of that stuff I just named, running groups was not my favorite thing to do, but it had to be done!
Working with people with substance use issues is not always as simple as someone coming to you for help. We had many referral sources. Most referrals came from a program that worked with people who tested positive for substances while on probation. They had to either come see us for substance use counseling...or go to jail. So, many of the people that came from that program weren't there because they wanted to be. We got referrals from the Department of Social Services, Vocational Rehabilitation, court programs, etc. I have heard some of the craziest stories and seen some of the craziest things during my time at this agency!! You wouldn't even believe it!!
I ended up leaving this place. If you work in the mental health/substance abuse field, you know things are constantly changing. There were changes made to the system that required certain things. Once these things were in place, the agency turned into something I couldn't stand behind. I got fed up and couldn't take it anymore, plus that commute was wearing me and my poor car down. Something had to give. Things were so bad I resigned with no job to go to and ended up being unemployed for four months. Looking back, I also wish I would have had more supervision during my internship. Once I got into the field and started at such a high position, there were different expectations of me than of someone starting at a lower position.
I learned some very valuable lessons, in spite of it all, and the things I learned there are things I still carry with me to this day.
Since this post was SO LONG I'll post part two tomorrow (or Monday - depending on how I feel because I don't like posting on the weekends...!)