On Friday last week, I nervously walked into a drug and alcohol counseling clinic near downtown, my heart fluttering. I went up to the front desk and was greeted by a friendly assistant, and told her that I was there to meet a man named Ben. She nodded, and told me she would call him down.
No, I wasn’t there to seek admittance to a rehab program, or to seek drug counseling. I was there for an interview. For an internship position. As a new counselor.
As I sat across the room from Ben and his colleague, I couldn’t help but feel like this had all become a little too surreal, but in a good way. There I was, someone who used to secretly struggle with alcohol – who had teetered on the edge of self-destruction for a long time, without ever falling completely over the edge – talking with two professionals about my approach to counseling individuals with chronic drug and alcohol abuse problems.
Me, someone who has managed to get and stay sober without any real therapeutic intervention, sitting there and discussing what I imagine the challenges in counseling the chronically addicted might be.
They talked to me about their organizational philosophy, and the opportunities I’d have to perform both individual and group counseling sessions. I could, if I really wanted, propose a new group therapy to implement into their treatment programs.
The majority of the clients they see are court-mandated, they said, and even though many come to the program with reservations, there’s often a magical turning-point in therapy where they decide they want to try and change their lives.
After our talk, we shook hands, and Ben led me back downstairs. He told me they’d be in touch within a few business days.
Well, this morning as I was driving to work from a doctor’s appointment, I saw the email come in:
“Hi Em! My colleague and I really enjoyed meeting with you last week, and we agreed that you would be a fantastic addition to our mental health team. We would like to offer you a practicum position.”
Yay! Yikes! And uh, wait, what? Ahhh!
It’s weird how things have changed in the past 6+ months. I honestly don’t know if I would’ve considered a drug & alcohol center for an internship site, had I been searching during my drinking days. Even now, I doubt that drug & alcohol counseling will be a specialty area that I want to pursue exclusively. It feels like a focus area that could quickly burn me out and test my nerves. But, as a learning opportunity, it may be a good first step in learning how to deal with people who are way far down in the weeds of addiction. Especially since drug and alcohol abuse is a common theme in the lives of countless numbers of people who never seek treatment for it (either because they’re self-managing, or because they face other personal/logistical roadblocks), having a good understanding of how to address these serious issues could prove invaluable to my future in counseling.
The great thing, too, is that the center where I interviewed also offers couple’s counseling, which is a specific area of interest for me. Because I’ll have 9-ish months of time with this organization, I may have a chance to learn about that realm of counseling and apply my knowledge to my future studies and work experiences.
So, there it is, today’s latest development in my funny little world of uncertainties and insecurities and excitement. I’m sure I’ll have even more to think and write about in the next few weeks. Until then – sober on, friends.