My Internship at a Glance

By Brad Ahern, MA

The first thing that I will say is that the year flew by. I can remember my first day feeling overwhelmed with my own worries about performing well and needing to learn as quickly as I could. Thinking back, I am not sure that was necessary. From day one, the environment at Center for Anxiety has always been very supportive and understanding. This helped me settle in and feel comfortable about the year ahead which enabled me to have more patience with myself. I think that having patience with myself transcended into the care I provided.

My goal for the year was to dive in and learn Dialectical Behavioral Therapy and Prolonged Exposure and Response Therapy, in order to work with patients presenting with various forms of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Agoraphobia, and other types of anxiety. The pace of the cases I was assigned was a great tempo which allowed me to gain theoretical knowledge of these types of therapies while applying the skills and learning from experience. 

In addition, supervision at CFA was very helpful for a variety of reasons. I was able to have access to resources and knowledge on behalf of my supervisors Drs’ Scherer and Holczer. They both have a wealth of knowledge and provided informed feedback throughout my learning process. They encouraged me to take trainings and read helpful resources to accelerate my knowledge acquisition. 

Developing the skills and techniques of these treatments initially took some time. It also takes time to develop a method of psychoeducation for patients that allows them to easily understand how skills can be effective in reaching their goals. However, I felt that I was given that appropriate time to learn the treatments and how to be effective with my patients. 

Tips and Tricks for Incoming Interns:

Just Breathe– Starting an internship can be overwhelming. The worries and concerns about being an effective therapist or being good enough in general can become early themes (at least they were for me). However, remembering that this is a learning experience can help soothe some of that worry. You are here to get better so embrace that whole heartedly!

Limit the timid – Okay maybe that’s a stretch for creativity, but what I mean is to not be afraid to take on new challenging cases. It will give you an opportunity to learn something new and add to your repertoire of becoming a well-rounded therapist.

Be Curious– Ask as many questions as you can. The internship year is filled with a lot of opportunities for supervision – so if you don’t know something, ask. If you want to learn new skills, ask. Need support on cases? Ask. Engage in conversations and discussions. Every week there are didactics trainings offering a variety of different topics. Being open to discussion and engaging in the material can help you find new treatments and acquire new knowledge.

Be a Team Player– One of the great things about my experience was the camaraderie at the office. Offering to support colleagues, in big ways or small, can go a long way. Ultimately, you will learn you are not alone in navigating your internship experience!

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