Introduction: Say a Little about Yourself! {by 1/14}

Yes, this is a bit cheesy, but it’s been awhile and we need to break the ice.  Please answer the following about yourself: (1) Name?  (2) Where are you doing your internship (how’s it going?)?  (3) What has been your most adaptive coping skill during the pandemic?  (4) What are your thoughts about graduating soon, including being in the middle of a pandemic?

 

Your original post should be posted by 1/14.  Post your two replies no later than 1/16.  *Please remember to click the “reply” button when posting a reply.  This makes it easier for the reader to follow the blog postings.

 

*Strong suggestion: Write all your blogs on a separate document.  Then, copy and paste it.  This will make your life easier and less stressful in case something “wacky” happens with technology.

 

*Your first post may not immediately appear on my website.  I have strong spam filters.  So, I may have to approve your first post before it is visible.  I should only have to do this once unless you post in a different name and/or email address.

48 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Taylor O'Rourke
    Jan 08, 2021 @ 08:28:40

    Name: Taylor O’Rourke

    Where are you doing your internship (how’s it going)?
    I am doing my internship at Community Health Resources (CHR) in Danielson, CT, which is an adult outpatient clinic. I primarily work with individuals on probation/parole who are recovering from co-occurring mental health and substance use problems. I was struggling a bit during the beginning of my internship experience because I was expecting to work with more self-referred clients rather than those who are mandated to treatment. However, it has been quite the rewarding experience to see positive outcomes in individuals who do not even want to be in treatment. I have gained experience in both individual and group settings which has been beneficial for developing my counseling skills and I am highly considering remaining at CHR for my post-graduate internship.

    What has been your most adaptive coping skill during the pandemic?
    My most adaptive coping skill during the pandemic has been keeping a consistent schedule/routine each week. I am a highly structured person, as it helps me stay organized and accomplish everything I need to in a day. When the pandemic began last spring, it would have been easy for me to fall out of my habits because life was so different. However, I have found that scheduling time for myself and keeping calendars with everything I need to do or attend to has been helpful in keeping structure in my life in an otherwise chaotic time in the world.

    What are your thoughts about graduating soon, including being in the middle of a pandemic?
    I feel quite ready to graduate in May and am very excited! I feel as though Assumption has thoroughly prepared me to go out into the real world for job searches and clinical practice. It can be a bit disheartening thinking of how much the pandemic has affected job searching and the potential for employment, however with the development and distribution of the vaccine, hopefully we begin seeing a return to “normal” with our “new normal.”

    Reply

    • Zacharie Duvarney
      Jan 10, 2021 @ 11:29:28

      Hey Taylor,

      You and I share the same routine-focused lifestyle. As I mention in my blog post, having a highly-structured lifestyle has been very helpful for me throughout the pandemic. If it weren’t for my routine, I probably would have been paralyzed with choice-paralysis when it comes to dealing with inactivity.

      Regarding your caseload, I hope you get some more self-referred folks soon. It can be really difficult working with clients who have primarily been mandated for treatment. Of the 25 people on my caseload, about 4 are mandated, and they are definitely my most challenging clients.

      Reply

    • Olivia L Corfey
      Jan 14, 2021 @ 10:15:55

      Hi Taylor,

      Your internship sounds so interesting! Happy to hear (or read) that you’re able to see the positive outcomes in individuals who may have been apprehensive to treatment in the beginning! Also pretty incredible that you’re highly considering remaining at CHR despite your earlier hesitancy working with clients who are not self-referred! That definitely shows the impact CHR has made and vice versa!

      Reply

    • Mariah Fraser
      Jan 14, 2021 @ 14:54:46

      Hi Taylor,

      I didn’t know that you worked with adults with dual diagnosis as well! I can relate to your own surprise at how much you’ve actually enjoyed working with this population, I never would have considered working with this population post-grad school, but I really have enjoyed it! I also began using calendars to help me manage my time better and it makes such a big difference!

      Reply

  2. Adam Rene
    Jan 08, 2021 @ 12:59:37

    1. Adam Rene (I’ve been told by Dr. V that I have one of the best names ;))

    2. I am currently interning for the School-Based Outpatient Therapy Program at Community Healthlink in Leominster, MA. I am very fortunate to be interning in the same company that I currently work for. I am also fortunate in that I plan to stay with my current program and transition into an In-Home Therapist role after I graduate. I also plan to keep some of my clients from the School-Based program as Fee For Service clients, so I can continue to work with them. Overall my internship has gone quite well, I’ve learned a lot and really enjoy the caseload of clients I have right now. I have a mix of diagnoses and presenting concerns, I’ve seen a client through a suicidal ideation crisis, and am working with two siblings. I find myself very motivated and inspired by my outpatient clients to provide as excellent a service as I can for them.

    3. The pandemic has been challenging for everyone in small and big ways. Early on, I found that working from home was just a total drain on my energy and mental health. So, one of my most adaptive coping skills is being able to maintain most of my pre-pandemic routines (driving into work, listening to podcasts, being in my office, etc.). Several times a week I play video games with a group of friends, which has been a good pandemic-friendly way to socialize with friends. I’ve stayed heavily involved in my church, Grace Church in Hudson, serving as a drummer for the worship team (we recently had to stop that when the second surge started) and getting involved with the tech side of producing an online streaming church service each week.

    4. I’m honestly so excited to be graduating soon. It’s hard to believe that it’s actually coming…like, sooner rather than later. Having job security has eased my fears of not finding work, which could be more difficult with the ongoing pandemic – even though I feel the demand for therapy has never been more needed than it is right now. I believe this generation of therapists is walking into the workforce equipped with new skills in doing therapy virtually that will serve us well moving forward. Grad school has been a life-changing experience, I have learned so much, but man was it challenging and energy-draining – especially as we drastically shifted to online. I miss coming to campus. I miss seeing your faces. But we’re almost there!!

    Reply

    • Zacharie Duvarney
      Jan 10, 2021 @ 11:26:56

      Hey Adam,

      Glad to hear you have secured a job already. I am in the same situation and it has eased the mental dread substantially. I also see that you have been using music as a coping skill. I have done the same. As a matter of fact, one of the only good things about the pandemic is that it has acted as a catalyst for me to play more guitar.

      In terms of graduating, I cannot wait. If I could fast-forward time to April, I would. Let’s hope me make it to then relatively unscathed!

      Reply

    • Olivia L Corfey
      Jan 14, 2021 @ 10:23:17

      Hey Adam!

      Wow…I have not seen your face in such a long time! Grateful we have one last class together to wrap up our journey! As for your internship, it sounds like you’re really making difference in your client’s lives (But that was to be expected!)! So glad to hear your internship has gone well and that you are continuing to see some clients for fee for service after graduation. I’m sure they really appreciate the consistency and dedication you’re clearly showing!

      Reply

    • Melissa Pope
      Jan 15, 2021 @ 11:26:46

      Adam,

      I am so happy to hear about your job security after graduation. From working with you remotely for the past (almost) year, you are going to do amazing work during your lifetime.

      Last night you stated that one of your strengths was being grounded and patient, and i truly believe that its that specific quality that was able to have you be so successful with your client that was suicidal.- I am sure it was very frightening to deal with, especially with tele-health.

      I was moved by the coping skills you said have gotten you through the pandemic. My husband and I have not been able to walk into our parish for a year now, and it has been difficult. It is the services that have been able to switch over to live broadcasts, that have kept us going. So thank you for being one of those people that has kept the services alive- those of us who find spiritual/religious connection healing find solace and peace in logging on and knowing there are others out there that feel what we feel. On another note: I too find that routine helps immensely in keeping my head straight.

      Reply

  3. Zacharie Duvarney
    Jan 10, 2021 @ 11:23:53

    Name: Zacharie Duvarney

    What are you doing in your internship (how is it going?):

    I am currently working as an outpatient substance use counselor for Spectrum Health Systems in Southbridge, MA. My current caseload consists of 25 individuals. I also co-facilitate several groups. So far, I have enjoyed my position and feel that I have built a strong rapport with all of my clients. Although Spectrum’s business practice is not always conducive to conducting CBT therapy, I have developed ways to deliver CBT therapy despite these limitations. Most of my clients have responded to my style of therapy as evidenced not only by monthly toxicology screens, but also by the assessments I give them on a routine basis (e.g., Beck Depression Inventory). I cannot thank Dr.V enough for making his therapy worksheets from 708 publicly available, as I use these with my clients very frequently. In general, I feel that my competency as a CBT therapist has dramatically increased since beginning my internship In August. What’s more, I have gained recognition by my superiors who have offered my a full-time salary position upon graduating, which is certainly a relief!

    What has been your most adaptive coping skills during the pandemic?

    I have actually started to utilize guided mindfulness exercises before going to sleep. I am typically able to do this about 3-4 days per week. I find that these exercises have not only improved my sleep hygiene, but have also allowed me to maintain an emotional baseline most days. Aside from that, playing guitar and exercising routinely have helped me escape from the constant influx of distressing information being broadcast by nearly all media platforms.
    In terms of problem-focused coping, the pandemic has actually spurred me to develop a lot of new skills. Obviously, the state of the economy and our country in general is uncertain. Rather than ignoring the situation, I have forced myself to learn new skills and develop competencies that will assist me in coping with whatever socio-economic challenges unfold. For example, I have started a Roth-IRA, invested in precious metals, invested in small blue-chip funds, and developed a comprehensive budget for post-graduation as a way to handle the economic uncertainty. I have also begun to learn basic gardening and food canning skills to combat any food insecurity that may arise from the ongoing situation. In general, I have strived to be more financially literate as well as self-reliant.

    What are your thoughts about graduating soon, especially considering the pandemic?

    Pandemic or not, I cannot wait to graduate and enter the workforce. As aforementioned, I have secured a salary position assuming that the pandemic does not disrupt my graduate schooling or internship placement in a major way. I am feeling pretty burnt out with graduate school and having little free time in my life, so I am eager to move on to the next chapter of my life. One thing I will say is that throughout my internship I have been doing telehealth therapy, and so when things do go back to “normal”, it will be weird to conduct in-person therapy, despite the fact this is normally how therapy is conducted.

    Reply

    • Paul Avolese
      Jan 11, 2021 @ 10:56:21

      Hey Zach,

      It sounds like Spectrum is really keeping you busy! It’s great to hear you’ve been able to implement more evidence-based techniques in your work despite the lack of internal structure. I’ve found myself applying CBT and other forms of evidence-based practice in my work too. It’s nice to have a repertoire of skills to apply as needed.

      Reply

    • Katrina Piangerelli
      Jan 11, 2021 @ 12:40:28

      Hi Zach,

      Congrats on the position that you were offered. That makes things easier for the future for sure. It sounds like you have utilized a few coping skills and are prepared for whatever may happen with the current pandemic. I think we are all looking forward to graduation in one way or another.

      Reply

    • Ashley Foster
      Jan 13, 2021 @ 22:49:30

      Hey Zach! As being essentially coworkers, I’m so glad things are working out for you at Spectrum in Southbridge although Monica and I would love to have you with us on Lincoln Street! As you know, I can totally relate to the bringing in CBT aspects into a work environment that is focused on MAT. I do think though that Dr.V’s worksheets have opened many doors in aiding clients to cope with their addictions. Most of our client have more than just the addiction aspect, and we are faced with cooccurring disorders. The sheets definitely make it easier to engage clients in a different way and assist them in many aspects in their day to day life. Congrats on the job offer and I hope we continue to work together after graduating!

      Reply

    • Taylor O'Rourke
      Jan 15, 2021 @ 08:25:08

      Hi Zach,

      That’s super tough that Spectrum is not completely CBT-based! My internship site is very similar in that way; my supervisor is a graduate of our program so he uses CBT of course, however many of our other clinicians do not so it is an interesting dynamic.

      I’m glad that you are finding Dr. V’s worksheets and other resources helpful to use with your clients, as I have been doing the same thing. My clients have responded very well to resources like negative automatic thought records and many of the core belief worksheets, so I’m happy you’re having luck with your clients using them too.

      Keep up the good work!

      Reply

  4. Kelsey Finnegan
    Jan 10, 2021 @ 13:43:08

    (1) Kelsey Finnegan

    (2) Where are you doing your internship (how’s it going?)?
    I am doing my internship at Shrewsbury Youth & Family Services (SYFS) in Shrewsbury, MA. They provide outpatient counseling, school-based counseling, case management, and various other services to residents of Shrewsbury (primarily). I’ve had the opportunity to work with a wide variety of populations including children, adolescents, adults, and seniors in an outpatient setting. I also intern at Beal Early Childhood Center once a week, providing individual school-based counseling to kindergarteners. I have enjoyed the opportunity to work with such a wide variety of clients with various presenting concerns and diagnoses. Learning how to provide counseling services solely via telehealth has presented some challenges, but it is clear that this format also has many benefits and is here to stay.

    (3) What has been your most adaptive coping skill during the pandemic?
    My most adaptive coping skill during the pandemic has been finding ways to rebuild structure into my daily routine. I started using my Google Calendar religiously, which is helping me balance school, internship, work, and self-care. Also, I am relatively new to MA, so scheduling regular Facetimes and Zoom calls with family and friends from home has been an important self-care piece for me.

    (4) What are your thoughts about graduating soon, including being in the middle of a pandemic?
    I am very much looking forward to graduating soon. I’m feeling anxious about taking the Oral Exam at the end of this month and making the time to prepare for that, so I’m currently abiding by the cliché of “one day at a time.” After that, I plan to start spending some time on my job search, and I feel hopeful that there will be opportunities in this field, even in the midst of this pandemic.

    Reply

    • Paul Avolese
      Jan 11, 2021 @ 11:03:35

      Hi Kelsey,

      I had almost interned at SYFS as well. It sounds like you have had a lot of great opportunities to work with a variety of people while interning there. I agree that providing services via telehealth can be hard at times, especially with children. The structure has pushed me to get more creative, though I’m still learning. I am also wondering about the job market post-grad even though I am looking to stay at my current site at the moment.

      Reply

    • Katrina Piangerelli
      Jan 11, 2021 @ 12:37:31

      Hi Kelsey,

      As you know, I also do my internship at Shrewsbury Youth and Family Services and have similar responsibilities as you.
      I have also been utilizing the coping skills you mentioned and I am also anxious about the oral exam coming up soon. I think we have a similar mentality about it and I wish you the best of luck on your oral exam.

      Reply

  5. Anthony Mastrocola
    Jan 11, 2021 @ 10:00:17

    Name: Anthony Mastrocola

    Where are you doing your internship (how’s it going)?
    I am currently completing my internship at South Bay community services in Salem, MA. I am actually really enjoying my internship. My supervisor has been great with supporting me in providing a diverse caseload at first and narrowing the selection of my interests to my hopeful future specialties. I have found that the training from our program has prepared me well for individual therapy. Some difficulties involve following treatment plans designed by master’s level clinicians (company policy) especially when the clinicians are not CBT oriented and do not use measurable goals. All our work has been performed through zoom which can provide its own set of challenges, but altogether hasn’t been too bad. Although I have found my share of successes and challenges, I am eager to see what new experiences the second semester brings!

    What has been your most adaptive coping skill during the pandemic?
    I have found that establishing a consistent workout routine since the ban was lifted has helped me significantly during the pandemic. I decided to start going to the gym at around 5:45 am 4-5 days a week with one of my buddies and I believe this change has positively influenced my ability as a clinician. I find that working out helps me escape many of the anxieties in the current world. I am able to somewhat turn off my mind and listen to my music/podcast. Once completed, I feel well-prepared to tackle the challenges of the day by structuring my day. I also view myself as more organized and clear-minded when working with clients.

    What are your thoughts about graduating soon, including being in the middle of a pandemic?
    I don’t actually know how I feel about graduating. It’s a really weird feeling, because I have called Assumption home for what will be 6 years. Many of my greatest memories and people I know come from Assumption. Although I am sad, I am excited to take the next step into my professional career. I am confident in the education I have received throughout the years (especially last 2 years). In terms of the pandemic, I am grateful to be in an industry that is safe during unfortunate times.

    Reply

    • Bianca Thomas
      Jan 11, 2021 @ 12:30:43

      Hi Anthony! I was interested in reading about your experience working at South Bay! That was actually one of the locations that I keep seeing pop up on Indeed while I’ve been doing job searches.

      Creating and sticking to a gym routine has literally been my saving grace, so I’m glad that it benefitted you as well as it did during the pandemic! If you ever need help in that regard, let me know!

      Reply

    • Adam Rene
      Jan 13, 2021 @ 13:47:27

      Anthony,

      While I can’t say that I included a workout routine into my daily pandemic life, I do feel you on having activities that utilize full mindfulness. Listening to podcasts has been a help for me too, however I have found that I’ve needed to move away from my usual love of true crime and listen to things that are a bit lighter!

      Reply

  6. Paul Avolese
    Jan 11, 2021 @ 10:50:31

    Hi everyone, I am Paul and currently interning with the Counseling and Assessment Clinic of Worcester (CAC). Initially, I co-led groups for individuals in recovery for substance abuse. The work provided me with a good starting point in learning how to work with individuals as a counselor. As I became more comfortable with the work, I transitioned into individual outpatient services. My clients range from children to adults and I am learning that I enjoy working with teens and adults. I currently treat around 10 clients (this is fluctuating as service needs are changing). I have really enjoyed applying the skills I have learned through Assumption’s program in addition to other skills I have learned elsewhere.

    My most adaptive coping skill during the pandemic has been acceptance. In adulthood, I have always had difficulties “slowing down” and the pandemic has given me greater opportunity to practice more intentional emotion-focused coping. I meditate and reflect daily and have recently returned to practicing yoga. I am very grateful that I have been able to reconnect with myself and accept the state of the world as best as possible.

    In terms of graduating, I cannot wait to be finished with school (for now). I have enjoyed all of the learning opportunities I have been fortunate enough to have while in school, but also want to focus on applying my skills more regularly in professional environments. I reflect a lot on the fact that I am learning these skills during the pandemic with telehealth and try to be mindful of the additional skills I will need to practice when in-person with clients and peers.

    Reply

    • Bianca Thomas
      Jan 11, 2021 @ 12:35:56

      Hi Paul! I’m glad to hear that you were able to become more comfortable and obtain a full caseload! I love that you mentioned struggling with “slowing down” as I have had similar challenges over the past two years; doing my morning yoga/meditation has definitely been one of the best practices I implemented over the pandemic.

      And I’m right there with you, I am so read to be done with school (at least for now), and actually get to apply/master the skills we have been fortunate enough to learn.

      Reply

  7. Bianca Thomas
    Jan 11, 2021 @ 12:28:04

    (1) Name?
    Hey everyone! My name is Bianca Thomas

    (2) Where are you doing your internship (how’s it going?)?
    I am currently doing my internship at Open Sky Community Services. Because of the pandemic, internship has been a little slow. Thankfully I’m reaching my hours, but it was a really steep process getting clients initially and securing them. But overall I am enjoying it and the work I get to do with my clients every single day!

    (3) What has been your most adaptive coping skill during the pandemic?
    Two of the best coping mechanisms I used during the pandemic were exercise, and really submerging myself into personal development. I always exercised routinely, but with the gyms closing it was really challenging at first. I was able to create a pretty good home routine that I followed until the gyms opened up again and I was able to get back into my normal schedule and workouts. Personal development has been something I have been obsessed with for two years now, and really continuing on with that made all the difference. It allowed me to begin my podcast with my business parter, it allowed me to start a little side business that is doing pretty well, and honestly it helped me keep my sanity throughout the pandemic.

    (4) What are your thoughts about graduating soon, including being in the middle of a pandemic?
    I am very excited but also very nervous to graduate, as I would guess many are as well. The thought of beginning a brand new job via Telehealth is really challenging and a little frustrating, considering my experience with that for internship. I am, however, very eager to begin my career implementing the tools and knowledge that I have learned in this program, as well as through my own independent research!

    Reply

    • Jess Costello
      Jan 11, 2021 @ 22:05:22

      Hi Bianca! I definitely relate to the challenges getting and keeping clients with the pandemic, but I also relate to enjoying the work you do with them. I also agree that keeping a routine can be challenging when so much is uncertain but it’s really important to our personal growth. Congrats on starting your podcast too, it will be a great tool to expand your audience and share all your knowledge.

      I am also excited but nervous to graduate as well. I think we have both learned a lot from this program and have the added benefit of being comfortable using telehealth. Good luck with post-grad life and the job search!

      Reply

    • Monique GuilloryFarrish
      Jan 14, 2021 @ 12:57:05

      Bianca,

      It is so inspiring to hear that you have created your own podcast and continue to keep it going in the midst of a pandemic, acquiring internship hours, and completing your graduate work. As we know, personal investment is imperative, particularly as a mental health professional. I too had to meet the challenge of adapting my workout routine from the gym to my home environment, and I look forward to warmer months when I can get back into working out in nature!

      I’m a bit nervous about continuing teletherapy after graduation, too, and I hope to find a job that will allow me to safely conduct therapy in person, as I’m very much a hands-on, activity oriented individual when it comes to connecting with clients. More so, because I work predominately with children, and I’ve always relied on my presence and active engagement to build therapeutic rapport. Just think how flexible and innovative we all have had to be in order to provide therapeutic services to our clients during such a historically profound moment in time. We now have the experience of teletherapy, which is definitely here to stay, but not the only means to therapy.

      Reply

  8. Katrina Piangerelli
    Jan 11, 2021 @ 12:30:42

    Katrina Piangerelli
    My internship is at Shrewsbury Youth and Family Services. It is going really well! I am also at Paton Elementary School one day a week through Shrewsbury Youth and Family Services.
    My most adaptive coping skill during the pandemic has been setting time aside for self care each week. It has been challenging managing school, work, and an internship all from home while maintaining healthy boundaries between my work life and regular life. Setting aside time to do some self care as well as try my best to only work during work hours has been helpful.
    I am very excited to graduate soon and have some time off from school. I entered this program directly from my undergraduate program and I am looking forward to some free time!

    Reply

    • Jess Costello
      Jan 11, 2021 @ 22:14:10

      Hi Katrina! Glad to hear your internship is going well. I’ve enjoyed getting to know you through the classes we’ve had together. I relate to what you said about self care, it’s so important to avoid burnout especially early on when we’re managing schoolwork as well as regular work. I hope you find some free time as you wrap up school!

      Reply

    • Anthony Mastrocola
      Jan 14, 2021 @ 10:48:57

      Hi Katrina,

      I’m happy to see that your internship is going really well! I’d be interested to hear how therapy is in an elementary school. I relate to your points about self-care and free time after graduation. I find myself also trying to normalize self-care in my routine. I also started this program right after graduation, so I commonly find myself patiently awaiting a chance to take a breather!

      Reply

  9. Paola Gutierrez
    Jan 11, 2021 @ 16:45:43

    1. Paola Gutierrez
    2. I’m doing my internship at Open Sky Community Services in their Counseling Center, doing individual outpatient therapy with adults. I have one adolescent client as well, who has surprisingly been really fun to work with. I have only done telehealth therapy with my clients up to this point, which has been interesting yet challenging. I’m fortunate to work with diverse clients and different clinical populations as well – such as anxiety, depression, psychosis, and PTSD. I’m enjoying the opportunities to practice CBT with my clients. I’ve not yet had the opportunity to observe or lead groups, as we indefinitely suspended our group services when we transitioned to telehealth. I am, however, looking forward to (eventually) resuming in-person therapy whenever it becomes safer to do so. One positive of tele-services is that I’ve been able to participate in training opportunities provided through my agency – I’m currently completing a training on group DBT.
    3. Getting outside on a regular basis, connecting with friends virtually, and watching soothing shows (like Great British Bake Off) have helped me cope with the pandemic and keep going even when its tough.
    4. I am excited about rounding out my graduate education and launching into my career. I am also looking forward to having more free time and (hopefully) not being so busy all the time. I am anxious though about finding a job in the circumstances of the pandemic, although I believe that mental health services are high in demand during this time – for a reason!

    Reply

    • Kara Rene
      Jan 12, 2021 @ 20:02:37

      Hey Paola!

      I’m glad that you’ve been enjoying your internship and the population you are working with. It’s awesome that you are getting to do training in DBT, as that is such an effective and popular modality! I’m sure that will make you even more hire-able than you already are!

      I love the honesty with watching soothing TV shows. Adam got Animal Crossing for Christmas and I have found it so soothing to play! Thanks for the reminder that coping skills don’t necessarily have to be productive to be adaptive!

      Reply

    • Adam Rene
      Jan 13, 2021 @ 13:49:58

      Paola,

      I haven’t had a class with you in some time so I’m looking forward to sharing a screen with you again, haha! I am absolutely looking forward to having more free time – Kara and I joke about longing for the days when the most stressful thing I was doing was keeping up with readings for classes! I hope that the free time you gain is refreshing and allows you to focus on new and exciting things.

      Reply

  10. Jess Costello
    Jan 11, 2021 @ 21:23:36

    Name: Jessica Costello

    I am currently interning at Keystone Educational Collaborative based in Townsend, MA. They provide school-based individual and group counseling to kids aged 6-12 with emotional and behavioral diagnoses that impede their functioning in a public school setting. Our population is very small and circumstances constantly changing with the Covid response, so it has been a bit of a struggle to maintain my hours, but I currently see 6 of my own clients and co-facilitate dyad or group activities. Working remotely has come with its own challenges, but I’ve been able to build a good rapport with my clients. I have definitely experienced that real-life cases are not as neat as our textbooks would make it seem, and CBT does not always perfectly align with a client’s goal or my placement’s structure. However, in these moments I’ve learned to be flexible and keep the client’s best interest in mind.

    As many others have said, one of my most adaptive coping skills during the pandemic has been sticking with a routine. I find I get very easily overwhelmed without physical boundaries between work and home and having an idea of what I need to do helps me feel accomplished. I have also relied on scheduling FaceTimes/chats with friends and family, listening to music, and writing.

    I’m not graduating until the fall, so I have a little more time than most of you (I’m not sure if that’s good or bad!). I’m confident there will be plenty of job opportunities for all of us, given the rise in mental health needs because of the pandemic, and there will be flexibility with remote opportunities plus in-person roles once vaccines are widely distributed (fingers crossed?). Our familiarity with telehealth will be an additional skill. I am very grateful for what I’ve learned in this program and am excited to continue applying my skills to both my clinical work and personal growth.

    Reply

    • Kara Rene
      Jan 12, 2021 @ 18:33:40

      Hi Jessica!

      I’m sorry that maintaining a larger caseload has been a struggle due to the pandemic, but it sounds like you are getting experience with a number of individuals and settings (group vs. individual) which will be so valuable! I love what you said about cases not always being as neat as they are in textbooks- I have had the same experience and at first was so hard on myself for it!

      As silly as it is, one thing that has really helped me with work/life separation while working at home is changing into my comfiest pair of PJ’s when I finish working. My favorite has been a fuzzy onesie that my mom gave me- it’s really hard to be productive while wearing a onesie!! One of my clinician friends recently got a onesie for the same reason and agrees- you can’t “adult” when you’re wearing a onesie- it forces you to relax!

      Reply

    • Kelsey Finnegan
      Jan 14, 2021 @ 18:32:22

      Hi Jess,

      I also get very overwhelmed without having the physical boundaries between work, school, and home. I like the way you worded that!

      I can relate to the frustration or challenge of CBT not perfectly aligning with my client’s treatment goals, especially at my school placement, so I agree learning how to be flexible in my approach with different clients has been important for me as well.

      Reply

  11. Kara Rene
    Jan 12, 2021 @ 18:27:20

    1. Kara Rene

    2. I have been interning with two different programs at Community Healthlink (CHL), the adult and children outpatient programs. I am also working with my supervisors to determine whether it will be possible for me to spend some time interning with the intake clinicians, which is a brand new position at CHL. I currently carry a caseload of six adults and six children with varied diagnoses including PTSD, panic disorder, GAD, MDD, and schizophrenia, and have learned that I particularly enjoy working with mood disorders and combining CBT treatment with mindfulness skills. Not only has interning been a great opportunity to practice and hone my skills and experience different populations, but it has been a journey in growing in my identity as a therapist and rediscovering my passion for the field. When I began my internship I had just quit my job as a Case Manager due to burnout, so my own healing as well as my client’s healing has been a large focus for me during my internship! I am lucky to have not one, but two incredible and supportive supervisors, and in the last two months or so I have really begun to become confident in my role as a therapist and to rediscover the soul in my work! I definitely have a few clients that I hope to continue working with on a fee-for-service basis if I remain with CHL after graduating, which I hope to do!

    3. Coping during the pandemic has certainly been an interesting challenge! I have a few adaptive coping skills that I have cycled through. When the weather was warmer, I found that getting outside was incredibly helpful and important, especially as I am working from home most days each week. I have also been working to maintain my creative interests, and have particularly enjoyed helping my parents-in-law decorate their new home in NH (which I miss going to! Darn COVID.) Recently, I have begun to dip my toes into having more personal routine- I tend to be very “Type B” with how I spend my free time and have always bristled at the idea of routines, but I am beginning to learn (with the help of my husband, Adam, who loves routines) that routine doesn’t have to be boring, time-directed, and duty-driven, but can empower me to make sure I am really spending my time on rewarding or restful activities rather than getting stuck in a holding pattern. I’m still a newbie to intentional routine but I’ve been particularly finding that making sure I have time to relax how I want to and to spend time on spiritual reflections is giving me better refreshment and more hope (which is so important these days!)

    4. I am so excited to graduate, regardless of the pandemic! It’s hard to believe it is almost here. I am proud of the work we have all done and how we have persevered in the face of many changes and challenges. I must admit that I look forward to my time being mine again and not having homework! I am a little bit nervous but mostly excited and determined to find a job that will be a good fit for my skills and interests. I think that as the pandemic wanes with the distribution of the vaccine we will see some trends in therapy, such as possible PTSD in those who suffered from COVID or COVID-related losses, and increased rates of anxiety in social settings as we return to (hopefully) “normal.” As difficult and a “trial by fire” it has been to be learning and practicing in the midst of the pandemic, I believe it has equipped us with new skills (such as telehealth) that will prove useful as we embark on our new careers.

    Reply

    • Ashley Foster
      Jan 13, 2021 @ 22:42:15

      Hey Kara, as being in multiple other classes together you know I love your answer to number 4. I totally, full hearty agree that covid has opened the doors to so much anxiety, depression, and trauma that is going to have a long last effect on individuals. I agree that our skills that we’ve learned within this program alone is already a leg up, and the fact we’ve learned it through this pandemic is only going to make us stronger clinicians and be better for it for our future clients. I’m glad you and Adam we’re able to spend time together and build on the new routines that will only help you make it through your final semester! (So excited to be back in class with the two of you :))

      Reply

    • Paola Gutierrez
      Jan 14, 2021 @ 12:04:10

      Hi Kara! I’m glad to be in a class with you this semester. I’m glad that your internship has been positive and a good learning experience so far. I appreciate your answer for the last question. Although it’s been especially challenging to adapt our skills to a tele-therapy format, I think this experience will ultimately equip us for practice in the long run.

      Reply

    • Monique GuilloryFarrish
      Jan 14, 2021 @ 12:42:21

      Kara, it sounds like your internship has offered you such a wide variety of clients and diagnosis to work with, as well as rekindled your passions in the field. I really admire your focus on finding activities that are personally rewarding and restful. I completely agree with the ever evolving challenges that COVID-19 has brought to each of us, and you highlight such an important facet, that we all have learned so many valuable skills that will better prepare us for the chapters ahead!

      Reply

    • Kelsey Finnegan
      Jan 14, 2021 @ 18:16:03

      Hi Kara,

      I tend to be very type B when it comes to routines as well, and I realized I really relied on the natural structure of going to work and class before the pandemic. So finding ways to get myself into a more structured routine and spending time outside most days was helpful for me also!

      Reply

  12. Ashley Foster
    Jan 13, 2021 @ 22:36:09

    (1) Ashley Foster

    (2) I am currently interning at Spectrum Health Systems on Lincoln Street in Worcester, Mass. I am currently conducting individual therapy with 24 clients, co-facilitating 4 groups, assisting with multiple of client’s for walk-in hours when no show’s and cancelations occur, and collecting psych updates for our psychiatric provider. In day to day, I’m not able to conduct much CBT as it is filled with more of addressing client’s needs regarding their methadone dose and utilizing MI, but I have a few clients I get to bring out aspects of it. I also haven’t experienced a in person session as the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed us into a telehealth universe. Otherwise, I am blessed enough to work with such amazing and dedicated staff at my site and many Assumption Alumni who have been assisting me along the way.

    (3) The most adaptive coping skill I have been utilizing is reflection. I have been working in the hospital through this whole pandemic as well as completing school, internship and being a mom of a preschooler growing up in a pandemic. It has been draining and emotionally nerve wracking but looking back and processing how far I’ve come so far keeps me going even if it means a full shift of wearing PPE and a N95. I still keep a positive attitude through out my day to day even though the whole world seems to be falling apart at times. Furthermore, before the pandemic, my mom passed away due to ongoing illness. In many ways before this pandemic, I was stuck in the grief. Since the pandemic, all I can be is be great full for being able to be there for my mom in her last moments and make decisions while in her room at the hospital where so many individuals today cannot and were not able to. This reflection process has kept me humble and brought a different light to this pandemic that most have not experienced. On a lighter note, getting engaged also brought a great distraction to all the horror in the news.

    (4) It’s a little unreal to consider that I’ll be graduating with a masters in general, let alone in a pandemic and multiple historical events day in and day out. I still tell my fiancé we’ll see if I actually get through this. It’s hard for me to look at my time in grad school and talk about the positive experience I had. On the other hand, my experience I believe prepared me for the next portion of my life and opened up new doors I never thought of. Through loosing my mom, working on the front lines with psychiatric covid positive patients, and living through a pandemic, I’ve found that I have a true desire to bring a more integrated approach between the medical field and the mental health field by bringing CBT and clinical counseling to intensive care units (ICU). This desire has pushed me to continue to achieve this point in this program as there were moments I questioned if I should have continued at all. All and all, I’m glad to finally see the light at the end of the tunnel in my academic career.

    Reply

  13. Monique GuilloryFarrish
    Jan 13, 2021 @ 22:43:11

    1) Where are you doing your internship (How’s it going)?
    I’m currently completing my internship at Shrewsbury Youth and Family Services in Shrewsbury, MA. Prior to the pandemic I was on track to intern in a school setting, and was advised to consider an alternative placement. I feel extremely fortunate to have landed my internship with SYFS. I’ve had the opportunity to wear many hats at SYFS, where they provide outpatient counseling services for youth and families, school-based wrap-around services, and a variety of educational youth workshops. I’ve enjoyed learning about the variety of community-based resources available to those living in the Shrewsbury area, such as utility bill assistance. I currently have a varied caseload, with clients ranging from the ages of 6-55, all with varying diagnosis and presenting concerns. The majority of my caseload are children under the age of 10, and let’s just say we’ve gotten very creative in sessions! Telehealth certainly has many benefits, and a variety of challenges. My supervisors at SYFS are extremely supportive and are available whenever necessary.
    2) What has been your most adaptive coping skill during the pandemic?
    My most adaptive coping skills during the pandemic has been factoring in 10-minute time slots of stretching, breathing exercises, journaling, and/or working on an art project. I found that allotting shorter, more frequent coping breaks throughout my day definitely helps keep me focused.
    3) What are your thoughts about graduating soon, including being in the middle of a pandemic?
    I’m looking forward to accomplishing the goal of obtaining my Master’s degree, as a means to having the opportunity to continue my dedication to provide quality care to the children and families in the Worcester community. For the past 4 years I’ve worked at the Central Mass Collaborative, a day school that provides specialized programs for children with mental and behavioral health needs that exceed the resources of the Worcester Public Schools; and I intend to continue my investment at the collaborative as a school clinician. I also feel fortunate to be living in this technologically driven era, in which we can provide teletherapy in the midst of such global
    turmoil. With graduation on the horizon, I look forward to being of greater service in the community, sharing the wealth of knowledge that I have acquired over the last few years at Assumption, and continue my passion for cultivating the social and emotional wellbeing of our youth in the public-school sector.

    Reply

    • Paola Gutierrez
      Jan 14, 2021 @ 11:59:10

      Hi Monique – Glad we have one last class together this semester! I’m glad to hear that your internship has provided you with different opportunities. I really like your coping strategy of scheduling 10 minute breaks to stretch, move around, and relax. I might take that up too!

      Reply

  14. Olivia L Corfey
    Jan 14, 2021 @ 09:59:38

    Name: Olivia Corfey

    2. Where are you doing your internship (how’s it going?)?: I am currently doing my internship at Harrington Hospital in Webster at the Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP). The program serves those with co-occurring disorders including substance use and other mental health disorders. The program consists of group therapy sessions from 9 AM to 3 PM along with individual therapy and medication assisted treatment. The internship itself is going well, my roll consists of conducting group therapy sessions and occasional individual sessions. One of the more challenging aspects of the internship is the relatively short term treatment the patients receive. The patients are typically admitted for approximately 1 to 2 weeks. However, group dynamics are ever changing, which is beneficial for gaining a well-rounded group therapy experience.

    3. What has been your most adaptive coping skill during the pandemic?: One of my adaptive coping skills during this crazy time is attempting to create and maintain a productive routine. The dramatic changes in the beginning of the pandemic helped to force some self-refection. A small benefit of the pandemic was helping me come to the realization that I did not maintain a healthy routine or structure, which had it’s own negative implications as we all know about! Therefore, as many people strive to continue their routine and structure they had pre-pandemic, I have begun to create structure and consistency into my life including regular workout routines, guided meditations, and time for reading (for fun!). Although, the pandemic is a dark and difficult time, attempting to find the positives and stories about resiliency has been extraordinarily helpful! An example I found recently is a 102 year old women named Mildred. She has survived the 1918 Flu Pandemic, cancer AND the Covid-19 Virus!

    4. What are your thoughts about graduating soon, including being in the middle of a pandemic?: As for graduating, this has been almost fictional for some time. The realization this is only a few months away is so weird to think about! No other way to word it! Nerve-racking and exciting also come to mind. I believe my internship will be offering me a position within the hospital, whether it’s outpatient work or in the inpatient psychiatric unit. Having some job opportunities available is definitely helpful in reducing some anxieties about post-graduation. It is crazy to think this journey is almost over, but I am forever grateful for the education I have received and friends I have made.

    Reply

    • Anthony Mastrocola
      Jan 14, 2021 @ 10:45:03

      Hi Olivia,

      Its great to hear that your internship is going well! I have also found that establishing a routine has been a great coping strategy during the pandemic, and would’ve helped pre-pandemic. I also couldn’t agree more with how hard it is to believe that graduation is almost here! Seems like yesterday we started at Assumption and 6 years has come in a blink of an eye! Also, congrats on the pending job offer!

      Reply

    • Mariah Fraser
      Jan 14, 2021 @ 14:52:01

      Hi Olivia,

      I liked the example you provided regarding stories of resiliency! It’s kind of crazy that we ‘get’ to say (not that it’s any privilege I asked for) that we lived through the COVID pandemic. I agree that structure and routine have been a main proponent of getting me through these past couple months since summer ended. Graduation feels so far away but time flies!

      Reply

  15. Mariah Fraser
    Jan 14, 2021 @ 14:45:27

    Name: Mariah Fraser

    Where are you doing your internship (how’s it going?)
    I am doing my internship at Harrington Hospital in Webster, working in the Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) and the Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP). In both programs, I work primarily with adults with co-occurring mental health and substance use diagnoses. PHP tends to have more of a focus on mental health and IOP focuses more on the substance use. It took a while, with the restrictions of the pandemic/telehealth, to begin seeing individual clients, so I for a while I was just running lots and lots and LOTS of groups. I’m really enjoying my experience so far. Being able to see both sides of things, in two programs that provide different levels of care, has really been valuable and has provided me with different experiences and knowledge. A year ago, I wouldn’t have said that this population is of interest to me, but having been there for over six months now, I will definitely continue to work with this adult population.

    What has been your most adaptive coping skill during the pandemic?
    It was easy to zone out in the beginning of the pandemic by filling my time with Netflix, so when I was finally able to shake that unstructured day-to-day living, I began feeling so much better. Structure and routine are essential for me. Also, I’ve been scheduling time to meditate before bed which has definitely improved my sleep, thus improving my mood. My family is from Maine, so facetiming with them has also helped me through this time.

    What are your thoughts about graduating soon, including being in the middle of a pandemic?
    I’m definitely a bit anxious about graduating. I usually feel a bit weird after graduating because I’ve identified as a student for so many years, when I’m no longer in school I feel like I have to find a new role to fulfill (this time as a clinician). All in all, I think this program and my internship experience has been helpful in equipping me with the necessary skills to best serve my future clients.

    Reply

    • Taylor O'Rourke
      Jan 15, 2021 @ 08:30:18

      Hi Mariah,

      Your internship sounds so interesting! I like that you are getting both the PHP and IOP side of things rather than just outpatient like I am at my site. My clinic offers both men’s and women’s IOP, however I have never been able to attend or facilitate because they take place in the evenings. It must be really interesting to see the differences between individual’s recovery state between the two different programs.

      I completely understand your feelings about working with co-occurring disorders, especially those with SUD. I never really considered working with this population either until my internship experience, and I am glad that I kept an open mind because I am really enjoying it too!

      Keep up the good work!

      Reply

    • Melissa Pope
      Jan 15, 2021 @ 12:27:10

      Hello Mariah,

      I really enjoyed reading your thoughts. What about this specific adult population has changed your mind versus what you thought previously- in regards to working with them?
      I am jealous that you have a nightly routine to meditate. It is something that I want to do so badly, but my days are such a whirlwind that by the time I actually have a moment to clear my head- im usually asleep. I am sure the mindfulness and time to calm down and center yourself really helps.

      I am anxious too about graduation- especially with filling my new role as a counselor. Are there particular parts of filling this new role that make you more nervous than others? Also, do you feel a bit sad- (grieving) or leaving your current identity behind? I love learning, and if I could be a life-time student I probably would. It feel safe being a student, even though I work and have been for many years, staying in school stressing me out but at the same time grounds me. I dont know what I will do when I am not in school all the time. I think it will be a major adjustment.

      Reply

  16. Melissa Pope
    Jan 15, 2021 @ 08:29:19

    1/14
    Hello all, Melissa Pope here, I am currently doing my internship at Glenwood Elementary School in Rutland. It is going well thus far, however this upcoming week is my first time to step into the building
    (Fingers crossed). It has been difficult to feel as if I am actually doing counseling with any of the kids, due to the pandemic and tele-health. Most of the sessions are check-in’s with the exception of my groups. I am praying that moving to in person may help this situation more. During the pandemic my best coping skills have been sticking to my “normal” rigid schedule, and lots of exercise. Depending on my mood I either watch a tv show, listen to podcasts, or music while I workout. Good way to release any extra energy (positive or negative), and keep me grounded.
    I am a bit nervous with graduation coming up soon, although I am excited. Finally after 5 something years, my masters will be done. I am staying at Assumption for my CAGS, but very happy that Ill be able to apply for job, and start my life long dream of being a mental health therapist.

    Reply

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Adam M. Volungis, PhD, LMHC

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