Have you taken a school counseling intern before? An extra person to take some students for counseling sounds like a dream. We all know it requires preparation and reflection to make this relationship successful for you and your school counseling intern. So how do some confident counselors set this relationship up for success?
The best advice I can give is to prepare yourself for the time commitment. Interns are still learning and some require more support than others. If you do not believe you will have the time to properly train an intern, do not take one.
The first thing I consider is if I have physical space for the intern to work from. I believe interns should have access to the basics, a phone, computer, desk, and a space to meet with students. If an intern does not have access to these “basic needs”, I find it ends up being more work for me, as I need to facilitate this access over the year, when my time is limited.
Next, I make sure to meet with the prospective intern’s supervising professor to go over the program’s expectations. I then meet with the intern to outline the programs and my expectations, and try to get a feel if this partnership will be a good fit or not. Having an intern can be a great help if these suggestions are considered before saying “yes.”
Comprehensive Counseling Programs
Taking on a school counseling intern is a huge responsibility. This is the culminating coursework to obtaining that coveted degree, so it is important to make sure you can do this with confidence.
Interns need to experience a functional and developed comprehensive counseling program. If you do not have a program and are still trying to figure your role within your school building, having an intern is not for you.
Interns need to be able to experience looking at data to understand how to create groups, identify student and building needs to develop classroom lessons, and have access to students requiring individual counseling sessions. Interns need to learn how to create goals, promote their program, develop relationships with faculty, understand the importance of their role as a team member, and create positive relationships with students.
I always give my interns a planner to help keep them organized. Your role as a supervisor is to model these experiences and help your intern hone in on these skills. After all, you are helping them to create their first school counselor resume in preparation for their first job. While it takes work to have an intern, the payoff is work it.
Provide Beginning Resources
Taking on a school counseling intern can be a wonderful and rewarding experience. Communication is paramount to having a successful experience. Providing clear, detailed expectations helps eliminate miscommunication and problems. Taking the effort to help your intern feel welcome and part of your school culture goes a long way.
One way of doing this is gaining input from your intern on what goals and experiences they would like to accomplish during their time at your school. School interns typically don’t have a lot of resources starting out, so I like to give them this new counselor starter pack that they can use in any school setting.
Having a school counseling intern does require effort on your part, but the end result can be rewarding in sending your intern into the field with a solid foundation for their future career.
What are your tips for making a practitioner-intern relationship successful? Did you have a positive experience as an intern? As a practitioner?
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