We focus on clinical practice—developing the capacity to provide effective counseling to a variety of clients. The bulk of internship hours will be direct hours, that is working with clients in counseling sessions. Because we work in elementary schools, our interns gain experience in both play therapy and talk therapy and will likely use both modalities with clients, many of whom like to talk as they play. The skills our interns develop in working with school-age children translate well to working with any age population. In fact, recent journal articles discuss play therapy as a useful modality for adolescents and adults.
Unlike most training sites, where there isn’t a particular theoretical orientation, we are client-centered. Our internship offers students the opportunity to understand the client-centered approach and how to put its principles into practice. These principles reflect deep respect for the experience of other human beings, a desire to protect the autonomy of clients, and, thus, a non-authoritarian or “non-directive” attitude. The therapy is one of attitudes rather than techniques, but is often misunderstood to allow only “reflective” listening. It can encompass a broad range of responses and, what others would call, “interventions” if this is what the client wants. In sum, client-centered therapists provide the conditions—empathic understanding, non-judgment, and congruence—that allow the client to grow. It is a disciplined approach that our students have described as challenging but extremely rewarding both professionally and personally.
It is also an evidence-based approach. A recent (2015) meta-analysis of client-centered play therapy showed it effective for disruptive behaviors, internalizing behaviors, academic and language issues, relationship stress, and trauma. Findings in neuropsychology also support a relationship-based approach to healing trauma.
Autism Home Support Services
Center for Self-Actualization (MI)
CFC Therapy Group
Cherry Hill Counseling
Chicago Fire Academy
Chicago Lakeshore Hospital
Children’s Home & Aid
Community Counseling Centers of Chicago
Crown Counseling (IN)
Eating Recovery Center
Lutheran Social Services
Metropolitan Family Services
Neumann Family Services
Orland Park Counselors
Pathways 2 Counseling (MI)
Pilsen Wellness Center
Trinity Services Inc.
The Schools Group works with Communities in Schools Chicago (CISC) to select CISC partner schools that have expressed a need for mental health services and can provide a supportive learning environment for the intern.
Interns work two full days per week in the same school for the entire school year, September through early June. Most of each day is spent meeting with students (“clients”) who are referred by the school counselor, teachers, or administrative staff.
Number of Clients
Interns typically see 5-7 clients per day, for a total of 10-14 per week.
What You’ll Do
In addition, based on the school’s needs, interns can conduct group counseling, sponsor after-school activities (e.g., book club), provide psycho-education in individual classrooms, or work on other programs.
Supervision provides both support and instruction. Although supervisors are not on-site, they are available for consultation outside the formal supervision hours by phone and email should issues arise relating either to clinical practice or the work environment. Interns have the backing of The Schools Group and its partner, CISC, for any trouble-shooting needs.
Individual supervision allows the students to discuss all aspects of their work as clinicians. Initially, emphasis is placed on how to approach, engage, and retain clients. Once a client base has been established, weekly consultations include a review of clients and case conceptualizations, review of session tapes with detailed feedback on responses and suggestions for alternatives, and reflection on the student’s thoughts and feelings about the sessions. In order to do this, interns keep process notes and also audio or video tape (with parental permission).
In weekly group supervision, students are encouraged to share experiences–both successes and challenges–and receive the support and input of the group. Together, we discuss articles about the theory and working with children in school settings, critique tapes and transcripts of established practitioners, and respond to the needs of the group as they occur. Group supervision is both didactic and experiential, based on group interests.
The Schools Group is committed to providing a rigorous and rewarding training experience that will prepare interns to work in agencies, hospitals, and private practices or continue with clinical graduate study.