By Lauren Handler
Funding Source: CCPA Primary Care Pre-Medical Internship
I decided to apply for an internship at Hope Recovery because of its mission and because I thought it would be an incomparable and unforgettable experience. Currently, I want to work as a mental health professional, so my goal this summer was to gain experience in the field. Hope Recovery is a small non-profit organization that has rapidly grown as a result of the pandemic. They provide free support for survivors of abuse and trauma. Right now, I’m facilitating two groups: one called “Finding Me,” a group focused on improving survivors’ self-esteem, and the other a Binge Eating and Trauma group. I’m also working on resource guides for trauma survivors that will eventually be published on the organization’s website. Also, as a part of my internship, my plan is to develop a workshop discussing access intimacy and how to talk about needs with others, concepts I learned about in Professor Lindgren’s Critical Disability Studies course. Throughout the course of my internship, I will lead other workshops for survivors and gain key skills and knowledge used in the field of clinical psychology.
Over the past few weeks, I have become comfortable in my groups, especially as I’ve gotten to know the survivors. I eventually became less worried about saying the wrong thing and instead began to trust my own skills and experience to say the right thing. Having been a part of the Haverford community and taken relevant coursework for the past two years, I’ve learned invaluable skills and knowledge needed to be a facilitator. For instance, taking Introduction to Health Studies this past semester has made me more trauma-informed and aware of varying circumstances that allow me to sympathize with the survivors. These two years of honing these skills have led me to be more confident in leading these groups.
Working for a small non-profit is a privilege in many ways. Interning for Hope Recovery gives me a true hands-on experience, something that is a rarity for pre-health students. For instance, I get ongoing training from a Licensed Mental Health Counselor throughout the semester and contact survivors both with supervision and on my own. No, it is not the most glamorous position, but the experience I’ve had in just a few weeks has been truly invaluable.
I know that many pre-health students, particularly in undergrad, have a hard time finding hands-on clinical positions that aren’t administrative, shadowing, or research. While these two can be influential and helpful experiences, it is not hands-on in the way many pre-health students hope for. Sometimes the best opportunities are the ones that aren’t as obvious. For this reason, I’m glad that I have found this opportunity and received funding for the work that I accomplish. My advice is to search for something that you think will allow you to experience the most, meaning go beyond what is immediately out there. I also implore you to reach out and go for things even if you are unsure that you will get them. If it is something that you are passionate about, it is definitely worth trying for it. I was initially worried about whether I was qualified or skilled enough to get the internship or receive the Primary Care Pre-Medical Internship Fund funding. However, I was pleasantly surprised to have been able to get both.
I’ve learned an immeasurable amount, largely due to the flexibility and autonomy that this position has allowed me to learn and help others in an area I am most passionate about. Although I’ve only been facilitating for barely three weeks, I have become a more understanding and considerate person. Weekly, I have the pleasure of witnessing strength, courage, and kindness, something that uplifts and encourages me to be better to myself and to others.