Student Therapist Articles

Doctors Don’t Grieve, Residents Don’t Sleep

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

Doctors Dont Grieve, Residents Dont SleepMany doctors appear to believe they aren’t human — and don’t have normal human needs like the rest of us. At least according to two new studies recently released.

In an opinion piece published in Sunday’s New York Times, researcher Leeat Granek shares the results of two studies that suggest to her that, “Not only do doctors experience grief, but the professional taboo on the emotion also has negative consequences for the doctors themselves, as well as for the quality of care they provide.”

A different study released by the JAMA journal, Archives of Surgery, last week found that residents don’t get as much sleep as ordinary professionals get — which directly impacts their ability to concentrate and be mentally attentive.

Combined, these studies add to the picture that’s been painted for years by research — that doctors believe they are somehow “super human” and beyond the reach of normal human needs, for both their body and their mind. It’s a disturbing picture, and one that the medical education establishment needs to remedy sooner rather than later.

On Being a Student Therapist: End-of-Semester Reflections

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

On Being a Student Therapist: End-of-Semester ReflectionsIt’s taken me a while to compose this last blog of the semester. How does one wrap up the teachings of 52 client sessions in just a few hundred words? Of course, by no means is this the end of my writings about my work, but the end of my practicum experience has arrived, and with it, thoughts and reflections on my first months as a counselor.

When my supervisor gave me my end-of-the-semester review, she gave me a great compliment, saying that I “seem very comfortable in my skin” and how that is a great asset for a counselor. Of all the words of praise she had given me over the past few months, those meant the most.

Years of my own therapeutic work got me to the place I am today, a place where I can be of most help to others. It has been a long, often difficult, but also rewarding journey to reach the place I am today, and that has made me all the more empathetic to the struggles my clients face.

Although our essential issues may not look similar, the human condition of working to triumph over adversity is the same.

On Being a Student Therapist: Unsatisfying Endings

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

On Being a Student Therapist: Unsatisfying EndingsThree weeks left in the semester, and the goodbyes begin.

Technically, I did say goodbye to four clients earlier in the semester, but over the next few weeks, I’ll be saying goodbye to clients with whom I’ve worked “long term,” as in, longer than our four required sessions, and therefore, with whom I have built more of a relationship.

The client I said goodbye to today made incredible progress during the semester. She came in very closed off, afraid to show emotion, and dealing with issues that would be hard for anyone to deal with, let alone a 20-year-old undergraduate. During our time together, she worked hard and was a rewarding client. However, today during our termination session, I was reminded of what counseling is really about: the client and her needs, not my needs or expectations as a counselor.

Last session, I had reminded my client that today would be our last meeting, and she was fine with that.

On Being a Student Therapist: Facebook and Process Commentary

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

On Being a Student Therapist: Facebook and Process CommentaryBuzz…buzz…buzz…

The Blackberry on my client’s lap was signaling a message. Usually, this client silences her phone and puts it away before our session, without any prompting from me. This time, she glanced down at it, pushed a few buttons, and resumed our conversation. I let it go.

Two minutes later: buzz…buzz…buzz…

My client looked down again and started pushing buttons. I called her out.

“What’s up with the phone today? Usually you put it away. Is something going on?”

“It’s just Facebook updates.”

She pushed a few buttons again and put the phone in her pocket. I didn’t hear it vibrate again during the rest of the session.

On Being a Student Therapist: Making a Diagnosis

Friday, March 19th, 2010

On Being a Student Therapist: Making a DiagnosisWe’re back from spring break, and the push to the end of the semester is on. Depending on who you ask, we either have seven weeks left (the university calendar), or approximately 35 more drives to campus (my personal calculation). Now that I’ve gotten over the hump of juggling six clients who needed to be seen four times each in five weeks’ time, seeing eight clients who need to be seen at least four times each in seven weeks’ time sounds like a piece of cake!

During my supervision session prior to break, I expressed frustration to my supervisor about a client who had asked to continue counseling beyond her class requirement. I questioned this client’s commitment to counseling and whether her problems were significant enough to warrant additional sessions, especially since I had been assigned six new clients, and therefore, continuing counseling with this client would mean extra work for me. My supervisor reminded me that I had been very excited to work with this client initially, and gently encouraged me to keep working with her for a few more sessions.

Then my supervisor did her job: she suggested that my client might have a serious disorder, one I hadn’t even considered, or honestly, would have even occurred to me on my own.

On Being a Student Therapist: Week Four

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

On Being a Student Therapist: Week FourOne of the “fun” parts of being a Master’s student (fun in quotes because it depends on how you take it) is that you get to be a guinea pig. Not just in your own experience as a learner, but at the mercy of professors doing research, doctoral students conducting experiments, and random investigators from other universities sending out electronic surveys via email for you to fill out regarding all aspects of your counseling life. All of them say participation is completely optional and there’s no compensation, but would be very much appreciated.

Last semester, I pretty much agreed to participate in everything. My helping nature made me think, “You might be asking others to do this someday yourself, and good karma comes around.”

This semester, I am way more protective of my free time and available brain cells.

However, a survey landed in my inbox on Thursday morning, and since the caffeine hadn’t connected with my brain just yet, I decided to fill it out.

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