How To Interview For Post-Graduate Internships – Part Two

In my previous post, I discussed general preparation for internship positions. In this post, I will list some of the more common questions that are asked of grads interviewing for a school counseling position, suggested questions to ask your interviewer, and some websites for more information on how to interview for internships.
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How To Interview For Post-Graduate Internships – Part One

Securing an internship site is probably one of the most stressful, yet most important things you will do as a recent graduate. The competition is fierce- even though many of these positions do not pay! To help you, I have created this series of posts to give you tips and ideas.
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How To Interview For Practicum or Internship

At some point in your graduate education you must secure practicum and internship sites. (Depending on your program, often this can be the same site.) Securing  a site can be challenging, as there is usually a lot of competition. Here are some tips to help you excel during your interview:

Sites will usually ask students the same interview questions as their regular full-time applicants. Why? To main reasons:

  1. They want to make sure they secure qualified candidates. After all, the student(s) they select will have direct client contact, just as their regular full-time staff do.
  2. They may want to hire you after you graduate. If you’ve already been through the same interview process, you’ve already been vetted.

Things sites are going to want to know about include your adaptability to stress, how empathetic you are, and how well you work as a member of a team.

According to ACA member Joshua Harel, who has interviewed many interns for placement at his agency: “I want to know why you are interested in working at my agency, what you know about my organization, what interests you in the field, what brought you here ( without going to deep or too much self disclosure) It’s important that you come off authentic , confident, and humble.”

Interviewers will also want to know what modalities of therapy you specialize in. However, before you answer that question you should first research the agency to see if they practice a particular type of therapy. Some agencies only practice CBT, whereas others practice Solution Focused, for example. If that is the case, and you are a Gestalt therapist, then perhaps that agency is not a good match.

Expect questions such as:

  1. How do you adapt to stress?
  2. What are some examples of how you handled a challenging case?
  3. Would you describe yourself as an empathetic person? Give a few examples.
  4. How do you feel about working on a team?

All that said, probably the best tip is to relax and be yourself. Remember, your interviewer also has a lot of experience with people, and he/she will understand if you are nervous. If they don’t want you, then it isn’t a good match and you wouldn’t be happy there anyway.

Yours in the Joy of Knowledge,

Dr. Barbara LoFrisco

What Do I Need For Private Practice? Part Two

In this second post, I continue outlining considerations for starting your own practice:

  • Choose your clients wisely. You will likely be tempted to take everyone who calls you in order to build your caseload. Resist that temptation. Be selective about who you take. Take money out of the equation and objectively evaluate if you are qualified to work with the presenting problem of this individual. If you think you aren’t the best fit, refer them to someone who can treat them more effectively. (Here’s where your networking pays off. I recommend keeping a binder of business cards or a list for referral purposes). Taking on too many clients, or too many severe issues can overwhelm you and lead to burnout, particularly in the beginning of your career.
  • Make a business plan. Start by adding up all of your expenses. I recommend doing it per month, and amortizing yearly expenses such as professional memberships (i.e. ACA) and malpractice insurance. Now you know your business costs. Then, figure out how much you are going to charge clients. Lastly, figure out how much profit you want to make. Do the math, and you’ll know how many clients you need to see in a week to create the desired amount of profit. Too many? (For example, thirty clients a week is probably unrealistic for a novice practitioner). Then either you need to cut your business expenses, increase your hourly rate, or get a business loan.
  • It does cost a bit up front to open a practice, and it may take several months before you have enough income to cover your expenses, not to mention bring home a paycheck. So having a realistic financial plan (and a lot of patience and trust in yourself) is an important part of being successful. Talk to other clinicians who are in private practice in your area to get a sense of how long it might take to build your client base. Having these conversations can normalize the process of establishing a practice from scratch, which at times can feel unbearably slow. Therefore, plan on using savings or having some other means of support (such as a financially successful spouse or a second job) until you get your practice going.
  • Yours in the Joy of Knowledge,

    Dr. Barbara LoFrisco

Common Counselor Blunders

The first thing you need to accept is that as a counselor, especially a novice, you are going to make mistakes. Don’t get fooled into thinking that somehow with a master’s degree you have achieved omnipotence. However, thinking ahead of time about what could go wrong and putting strategies into place will speed up your professional development and also help to minimize your risk.
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