Thursday, October 7, 2010

Feet First into Social Work and Diversity Internship

An Intern's Perspective of the Diversity and Social Work Training
By Denise Munoz

Summer came and went. With a summer internship and a summer class, I can say that with the exception of the warm months, summer, as conceived by students on break, was never mine. With the beginning of classes and my first day of internship fast approaching I could only think "I'm not ready…just 2 more weeks." Interestingly, I wasn’t nervous about beginning my internship, just anxious about creating a schedule that would allow for self care. Giving up your Friday evenings and Saturdays is part of the Social Work Diversity Internship. This is not to say that my weekends were free prior to beginning Ackerman, but I had options. Now, for the next nine months my weekends would be spent at 149 East 78th street.

I was not worried about my sessions being taped or that a team would be watching me through a two way mirror observing my work, but I was curious and anxious about who my co-therapist would be. Yes, co-therapist: the Diversity and Social Work Internship is unique in that it requires students to work in teams. Two therapists per family/couple treated, a true example that two heads are better than one. Never having worked in this manner and understanding that energy flows between two people may possibly affect the therapeutic relationship, I was obsessing about my potential co-therapist. I perceived this person as my partner for the next 9 months, for better or for worst, in the process that is the diversity training program.

Three weeks into my internship I can say that although I am aware that as cases are assigned the semester becomes more demanding, for now the experience has been a smooth transition. The passing weeks have been filled with connecting with my fellow colleagues and supervisors, foundations class, videos, and our first case. Since I don’t have any cases yet, I do not know who will be my co-therapists. (Co-therapist plural, because I will a different co-therapist for each of the 3-4 cases I am assigned.) I look forward to working with any of my colleagues; the past 3 weeks has allowed me to get to know them and show me how much I can learn from each.

I have fantasized about training at Ackerman Institute since taking my first course in family therapy 5 years ago, and, yes, the professor was Ackerman trained (hmmmm, what would Freud have to say about that one). Has my time at Ackerman (to this point) met my expectations, fantasies and all? Yes, and I am loving every minute of it. Although I must admit, Mondays I'm at Ackerman from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., and while we do get breaks, by the end of the day my mind feels scrambled. I guess in the big picture of life a scrambled brain is worth the training.

Standing along a pool of water, timid, with one toe barely touching the water, I am now ready to jump wholeheartedly, feet first.