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From Intern to Licensed Counselor: Reflections on the Journey

Anna Wickett, LPC
Counselor, Insight Clinical Counseling and Wellness, LLC

New experiences often come with difficulty and challenge. However, that doesn’t mean they are bad! I reminded myself of this fact often throughout my journey of becoming a counselor. From the beginning of my master’s program to starting my internship, and all the way through to graduation and licensure, it was challenging; I was pushed to grow and learn in many new ways. There are a couple points in this process that really stand out to me: beginning to see clients during internship and stepping beyond internship and graduate school to being a full-time licensed counselor.

The step of beginning clinical internship with Insight Clinical Counseling and Wellness was a significant one in the process of my counseling education. After a period of observing other clinicians’ therapy sessions with their clients and meetings with my supervisor, I began to see clients on my own. While there was a certain level of apprehension (just as there is with anything new!), I felt prepared and supported by everyone at Insight to be able to work with and walk alongside each client I encountered.

As I reflect on this time, it was a unique experience in the sense that I was growing as a counselor while my clients were growing and learning in their own ways. Of course, that continues to this day as there will always be lessons for me to learn, but the year of internship was an intensive and refined one. I was receiving guidance from my supervisor, professors, classmates, colleagues, and in their own essential way, my clients. Aileen Delaney, who is currently in the last semester of her internship shares, “Being an intern at Insight has been such a great learning experience for me. The clinicians are so supportive, and my supervisor has been so helpful! I’ve really enjoyed having the opportunity to have my own caseload, which has pushed me to learn more and more so I can better help my clients. Being an intern here has pushed me out of my comfort zone in ways that have helped me grow as a budding therapist.” Aileen’s sentiments align so closely with my own experience as an intern; it’s vital to absorb as much as possible and from every direction during internship, so as to grow closer to being the best counselor possible.

Throughout my internship, I was also figuring out for myself what post-graduate life would look like. That meant I was asking a lot of questions about my future, wondering what would come next. The question that ran through my head most frequently was, “Will I move away for a job or stay and work at Insight?” We obviously know what I decided, so I will spare you the long version of that story. Throughout that decision-making process though, I felt the unconditional support of the Insight team. From conversations with Insight’s owner, Jessica Oates, to meetings with my supervisor, and interactions with the rest of the team, I knew I had a voice here: a voice to ask questions and communicate expectations in order for me to feel confident taking this step beyond internship. The openness and transparency that is found at Insight allowed me to make the decision that would be best for me.

I completed my internship and graduated with a master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling with a weight off my shoulders, knowing I had been given the grace to consider my options with clarity and confidence. Graduation had often felt like the “finish line” I was running (and sometimes limping) towards, but I see it now as a mile marker of a much bigger race. As I walked across the stage at graduation, I knew I was stepping into a great opportunity with Insight. I hold a lot of gratitude for the opportunity I was offered to complete my internship with Insight. Even more so, I am grateful that I was able to transition to being a full-time licensed counselor on this team. There was still a lot to adjust to in this chapter, but there was even more familiarity in having an established place here.

Amid the various changes that had been occurring in my life as I graduated, Insight was a constant. I could breathe knowing my transition from student counselor to licensed counselor was that much easier. My colleague, Kayla Winters, shares a similar sentiment with regards to her process: “It gave me time to adjust and to really look at things as a full- time counselor. It felt natural to transition like that… [and] helped me give space because I know it wasn’t rushed.” Time and space are so helpful to be able to move through changes gracefully!

A big component of Insight’s mission is creating and maintaining space for growth and healing for each person, wherever they are on their journey. It speaks volumes to me that this mission is not only applied to the clients that walk through our doors, but to each person who composes the team at Insight. Through this factor and being some months beyond internship, I feel much more settled into my place and rhythm as a full-time counselor. All the same, there is still so much to learn, and I am continuously being pushed to improve myself. Any uncertainty I feel in my abilities is a humbling call to open my mind and heart to grow, and I hope I never close myself off to that.

Throughout the course of this journey over the past couple years, I am continually grateful that I was given the opportunity to complete my internship and transition to a licensed counselor with Insight. I know I will continue to be pushed and encouraged to grow personally and professionally so as to not become complacent. I am reminded that if we never change, we will never grow. Yes, this might mean being challenged, and experiencing new and difficult things, but remember: difficulty does not necessarily equal negativity! Let each new day be an opportunity to take a step towards positive change for your life. I am humbled to work with people making these changes each day, and I strive to never lose a sense of wonder in my position as I encounter their resilience and vulnerability.

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