I’m about to leave my counseling internship and I want to keep seeing a few of my clients. Should I look for a private practice internship so I can continue working with these clients?
Leaving an internship is a big transition and it usually brings up many different feelings. Transition always involves uncertainty and we sometimes deal with uncertainty by looking for something that can stay the same, to give us a feeling of security in the midst of change. If you haven’t given thought to these issues, I encourage you to talk with your supervisor more about the upcoming change and the feelings you have about leaving your current placement.
Regarding the question of looking for a private practice internship, this is a decision to make based on your professional goals and direction rather than based on a desire to continue working with a few clients. A private psychotherapy practice is a business that requires a significant investment of time, energy and money. It only makes sense if it fits with your vision of what you want your professional life to be in the next several years.
I suggest asking yourself a few questions before exploring a private practice internship. How will I feel if one or two of my clients don’t want to continue working with me after I leave the agency? How will I feel in six months if I have no clients? Am I avoiding some feelings of sadness or guilt about ending with these clients? Am I worried that no one else can help them as much as I can? Your honest answers to these questions will help you sort out your motivations and determine the right course to take. Bringing these issues to supervision will also help you clarify what to do next.
If you do pursue a private practice internship, be sure you know the requirements of your agency in transferring clients to another setting and the requirements of your private practice supervisor in bringing clients with you into your new internship. There are legal, ethical and licensing board issues and regulations that need to be met. Make sure to have clear conversations with the private practice supervisor about the expectations that both of you hold about the business and clinical parts of your relationship. Each of you may have assumptions about how you will operate, and these need to be shared to maximize your satisfaction and success.
Most importantly, use this transition as a time of personal and professional growth. Take time to reflect on your training and supervision experiences, what you have learned and what you want to take on as your next step in training. Think about all the clients you have seen and what you learned in working with them—about yourself as well as about clinical work. Take time to say goodbye to your peers and supervisors as well as your clients.
Recognize what you’ll miss as well as what you’re glad to leave behind. Each phase of training contains lessons and prepares you to take on the next challenge.
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