You’ve made the decision to enter therapy. Now comes the next hard part – deciding on a therapist. You look on a directory, or do a search and find some likely websites. As you scroll through the staff on a group practice site, you see someone listed as “intern.” Or, when you call to arrange therapy, the intake coordinator offers an immediate opening with John Smith, an intern.
Do you keep scrolling?
Do you read more?
Do you say no thanks and call the next practice?
What is an intern anyway?
What is an intern?
Interns are graduate students who are in a counseling or therapy degree program. They have completed some of the coursework and have been approved by their educational department to continue their education and work with clients. Students are also required to get a certain number of “hands on” field experience in order to graduate. Makes sense, right? How good would your mechanic be if they only read the book and never touched a car until they worked on yours?
Interns work closely with licensed supervisors during their field experience.
An intern therapist must have a clinical supervisor, and often have two – one at the site where they are practicing and one through their program. Supervisors are fully licensed and often have additional training specifically for supervision. As part of the process, interns review all their cases and get feedback, which means you are getting two (or more) perspectives to help you!
Interns can bring a fresh perspective and new theories or techniques into your care.
An intern is completing their coursework as they practice and likely learning the process of therapy based on current research. They are exploring different techniques and models and are invested in spending their time learning as much as they can about them and the process of therapy. While it may be more helpful to have someone more experienced, there is also benefit in having someone look at your issues from multiple perspectives and fresh eyes.
Interns often work on a reduced or sliding fee scale.
In most cases, interns (or the practices involved) do not charge regular session fees for therapy. For interns, the benefit is the hours accrued. For some practices, like Whole and Holy, our benefit is being able to offer low cost therapy as a community service to those who would otherwise not be able to afford out of pocket rates or whose insurance has a high deductible (among others). For you, the benefit is quality therapy with two (or more) clinicians involved and knowing you are helping grow the field of mental health.
Visit our About page to see the quality interns currently available to support you at Whole and Holy.
Still have questions? Email Susan Stewart, who functions as supervisor for all our interns, or use our contact form to find out more.